Summer Bucket List · Uncategorized

Summer Bucket List 2016

Lately I’ve seen a few blogs with lists of things to try to squeeze in before summer is over. I just keep thinking–but friends, we’re only about a month in! And while I am a bit late in posting this year’s Summer Bucket List, I have a great excuse: I moved countries AND I have a baby. Forgive me? 🙂Summer Bucket List 2016I like making seasonal bucket lists because they help me remember the fun things I do over the seasons. They remind me to do more and to try new things, too. This is my 4th Summer Bucket List on the blog, and each time I’ve made one I’ve tried to add some things I know I’ll do with a reminder (though it doesn’t seem like eating s’mores should need a reminder!), as well as some things I hope to try/do. This year’s list has some tried and true things to check off, like making the watermelon rind pickles enjoyed at the Pretentious Tea Party again or going to the beach and grilling. It also has new things, like lots of fun stuff with our Lily (we’ve already finished the summer reading program at our local library!) and attempting to replicate amazing choux cream pastries I had at my favorite bakery in Japan

Despite posting my list after summer already started, I have started checking things off. I’m looking forward to sharing my summer adventures with you, but in the meantime, what are some fun things you’ve got planned?

xx Caitlyn

Life with Baby · Travel · Uncategorized

Excuse the mess!

The final countdown is on: less than two weeks until we pack up our (many) bags and haul ourselves to another country! We’ve made the move back and forth from Michigan and Japan several times, but this will be the first time making the journey with a sweet baby in tow (who also happens to get pretty fussy whenever she’s away from home!). I’m a little nervous about a lot of different things, but I just keep telling myself we can make it through anything if we’re all together! Let the packing begin! Messy, messy…!

In the meantime, we’ve been trying our best to get ready for the move in between making sure our little sweet pea’s needs are met. This may be the last time living in Japan for us (at least for a while), so we’re been doing our best to get a fill of some of the things we’ll miss the most! My top three? Friends, food and pastries! (Specifically yakiniku, ramen & rice balls for food, and amazing cakes & cream puffs from our favorite bakery for pastries!).

Wait, can I add a couple more? I’ll also really miss cute Japanese gardens and cherry blossom season! And barley tea! And…well, I guess I’ll miss a lot…!

What would you miss the most about where you’re living if you had to pick up and move? Wish us luck–things are getting a little messy around here!! 😉

xx Caitlyn

57 Things Series · Uncategorized

57 things series

Did you happen to come across this fun article back in January? It’s a list of 57 doable, mostly food-related goals. Before even coming across it, we had been doing many of the things listed, but I thought it would be fun to occasionally post about some of the items on the 57 things list as a series. For example, number 38: “Save your oldest, softest shirts for sleeping—not oil splatters. Invest in an apron.”

Now, I already have an apron–two, in fact. The first one I received as a going away gift when we moved back to Michigan from Japan a few years ago. It’s this Cath Kidston one below (I absolutely love it!).
    My second apron is the black apron I earned for becoming a coffee master at Starbucks. I love any occasion to use either in the kitchen, but I especially can’t wait to use them once we’re back in the states and have an oven again!

Do you have an apron for your kitchen adventures? The Cath Kidston print on my apron is no longer available, but check out these prints!

xx Caitlyn

PS when studying for my coffee masters I was inspired in the kitchen and in the craft room–check out these Chocolate Temptations or this Vintage Coffee Clock DIY to get started on just some of the coffee fun 🙂

Food & Cooking · Tried · Uncategorized

What can you celebrate today?

 Years ago when I studied abroad, I remember coming back to my dorm from class to a special surprise: two of my friends were waiting for me in the dining area with cakes to share! What was the occasion, you wonder? There wasn’t one! I remember thinking that was so fun–enjoying pretty cakes just for the sake of it, because every day is worth celebrating with a little cake. I love all the gorgeous cakes and pastries available in Japan, and to this day every time I buy a cake here I think of that memory.    

   
    
 I picked up these lovelies yesterday to celebrate that Chad is done with his last official term of school before we go back to the states, and also to celebrate each other and our sweet baby girl (she’s six weeks old today!). What are some things you’re celebrating today?

Uncategorized

My week in pictures (mostly)

We’ve had a pretty full schedule since last Saturday, enjoying festivals, good food, and a visit from an old friend. We also had training at work, and I’m happy to say I am now Medic First Aid Certified in the PediatricsPlus Program! I feel like I have a lot to share in general between this week, our time in Thailand a couple weeks ago, and more, but I suppose this is a good start! IMG_2616This was taken at the Otsuka Bon Odori Festival last Saturday. Below are a couple of videos I took that night. (If you’re interested, you can see another short video on my instagram.)

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On Sunday we went to Harajuku to try out Max Brenner, the famed chocolate restaurant. We had a nice time together, but the price was expensive and our desserts really didn’t blow our minds. Lesson learned, I suppose!
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Despite our rather mediocre experience at Max Brenner, the next day we more than made up for it when we went to Tsukiji and tried Chuka Soba Inoue ramen. Chad read that the ramen is well-known for being really delicious, and there was a good sized queue to get a bowl. Only one type was offered, but that all that’s necessary because it is oh-so-good.
IMG_2665After our ramen, we went to Kappabashi Dori, a street named after the fabled kappa that sells loads of kitchen goods. I had fun spotting different kappa up and down the road in between looking at the different kitchen supply stores. IMG_2667See the Tokyo Sky Tree in the background?  IMG_2670                                                             I made a friend.IMG_2676 IMG_2683This picture was taken before we went to a really great yakiniku restaurant Thursday with our old friend from Mie. (The restaurant, by the way, is called Kazu, and I highly recommend it if you’re in the Bunkyo area of Tokyo! Make sure you get a reservation.)
IMG_2757Today we tried a new (to us) Italian restaurant called Heinz Beck. The creme brulee dessert and cappuccino were lovely and everything else was well-presented, but the restaurant didn’t do much for me overall. (I’d much rather go to Chez Olivier again and try out their lunch special!)IMG_2717This was taken today outside the Imperial Palace Gardens, a great place for a walk even with the drizzling rain.IMG_2732
Imperial Palace Gardens
Excuse my wild hair (I told you it was a bit rainy!) 😉 IMG_2738After our walk we stopped for Starbucks and then headed back to Tokyo station to head home. (I think this side of Tokyo station is really cool.)

That brings us to this evening! I hope you enjoyed getting a peek at my week. I’ll be ready to share more soon, but in the meantime, what sorts of things have YOU been up to? I’d love to hear about your week in the comments.

xx Caitlyn

Uncategorized

Bookspiration: Summer Reading

So I know I told you I was starting to read Keys to Good Cooking, but I got a little…distracted. In the meantime, I’ve managed to finish three other books since The Miniaturist, a book which I briefly reviewed back in my Summer Bucket List Post here. I thought it might be fun to tell you what I’ve been reading, and about the little inspirations I’ve gotten from each book!

1. Harriet the Spy
The first book I read after The Miniaturist was Harriet the Spy. Ever since watching the movie years ago, I wanted to read the book and disappear into the excitement of Harriet’s spy world. One of my favorite scenes from the movie was one that does not take place in the book: the wind chime garden scene. The scene always made me want to make pretty wind chimes to add a bit of whimsy and magic to a future garden. I imagine the movie scene was made to replace a less magical, rather solemn scene from the book where Harriet is taken to meet her nanny’s mother.harrietAlthough the book didn’t inspire much whimsy for me, it did have some good observations from Harriet, like these:

“I’M GLAD I’M NOT PERFECT. I’D BE BORED TO DEATH.”

“PEOPLE WHO LOVE THEIR WORK LOVE LIFE.”

“THERE ARE AS MANY WAYS TO LIVE AS THERE ARE PEOPLE ON THE EARTH AND I SHOULDN’T GO ROUND WITH BLINDERS BUT SHOULD SEE EVERY WAY I CAN. THEN I’LL KNOW WHAT WAY I WANT TO LIVE AND NOT JUST LIVE LIKE MY FAMILY.”

The book also introduced me to a beverage I’d never heard of: Egg Creams! Harriet loves getting Egg Creams at the soda fountain, so I looked up the beverage and found this article (and image) on seriouseats.

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The beverage is basically chocolate syrup, milk, and seltzer, but apparently it takes a lot to get it right. I’ve looked at a few recipes like this one, but I’m wondering if it might be better to just go try one in Brooklyn someday 🙂

2. The Secret Garden
The next book I chose was The Secret Garden. This reading choice was also inspired by a movie version I saw bits of when I was young, and though I don’t remember much about the movie, I do know I’ve always thought there was something very appealing about the idea of a secret garden. To be honest, the book didn’t blow me away, but it did inspire me to look up a few types of pretty flowers, like snowdrops (below), which are actually quite sought after. I also stumbled upon a gardening website that summarizes the book with added floral pictures throughout a blog post.

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A nice quote from the character Colin in the book: “Of course there must be lots of Magic in the world…but people don’t know what it is like or how to make it. Perhaps the beginning is just to say nice things are going to happen until you make them happen.”

3. The Lotus Eaters
The most recent book I finished is called The Lotus Eaters. Briefly stated, the novel is about three characters whose lives are changed during the Vietnam War. To be honest, this premise wouldn’t normally appeal to me, but somehow I kept seeing the title pop up over and over again, and I’m glad I chose to finally go ahead and read it. After getting only a short way through the book, I realized my knowledge about the war was extremely limited, and so I brushed up a bit on my history (one of the ways I did this was by watching Crash Course US History #37 and #38, short videos that were quite helpful for a brief understanding). This book was a good read for me for several reasons. First, and perhaps most obvious, it inspired me to learn more about important history. Second, although the setting is drastically different from anything I’ve ever experienced, I could still relate to the characters:

“This is what happened when one left one’s home–pieces of oneself scattered all over the world, no one place ever completely satisfied, always a nostalgia for the place left behind.”

Lastly, the book made me want to learn more about Vietnamese culture and food. When looking up traditional Vietnamese crafts, I came across carved wooden cookie molds, like this “Lotus in the Lake” mold, so I started researching them and how they’re made and used. You can find some baking molds sort of like this in Japan, too, so I’m going to keep my eyes peeled!

As for Vietnamese food, recently Chad and I tried an amazing dish called bún thịt nướng, which is Vietnamese grilled pork and rice noodles. It was so light yet flavorful, and has become a frequent craving for me! I found this recipe I might have to try making sometime, but in the meantime I think we’ll have to keep frequenting a nearby Vietnamese restaurant!

I hope you enjoyed seeing the inspiration I got from my recent reading, and look forward to sharing more with you after I finish my next book. Hopefully whatever I chose next will get me crafting or cooking something delightful!

What have you been reading lately?
xxCaitlyn

Uncategorized

Spring 2015 Bucket List

Happy weekend everyone! After a very busy month and kind of a stressful couple of weeks personally, I have been so grateful for a weekend of taking things easy. Spring is officially here, though the weather has been quite gloomy on our side of the world lately. To cheer myself up and help me let go of anything crummy from recently, I’ve decided to make my first ever Spring Bucket List (a great accompaniment to the autumn and summer ones I’ve been checking off the past couple of years!). Spring 2015 Bucket ListI’m really looking forward to getting back into the habit of checking off items from a fun to-do list. I think these seasonal bucket lists really help me stay motivated and always give me something to be excited about!

What kinds of things are you planning on doing this spring?

xxCaitlyn