Monday, 30 November 2015

Our favourite Melbourne - Bibelot (Chez Dré)

One of our favourite pastry shops in Melbourne is Chez Dré in South Melbourne. They make beautiful French style pastries. 

When we were deciding a cake for our wedding, we thought we didn't want a massive  icing cake which costs $$$$. The wedding industry is funny...even if it's the same cake, if you say "Birthday cake", that's $60 and if you say "Wedding cake" it's $600. 


We wanted a really yummy cake which our guests would enjoy. Then we went to the 'famous' Chez Dré and ordered their bigger cake, which was priced pretty normal. We asked for a little plaque "Paul and Allie" and just in case we didn't say that it was for our wedding ;) We ordered another cake from there too for our friend, whose birthday was on our wedding day and we got a plaque saying "Happy birthday ***" .


A couple days before the wedding, Paul called them up and checked the order and they said "You ordered two cakes, one says "Happy Birthday ***" and another says "Happy Birthday Paul and Allie" "! I'm so glad we double checked our order beforehand. Paul explained to the shop after all that it was actually for our wedding (they didn't charge us extra!) and we got the right plaque for our wedding day. 

our wedding cake!

On our wedding anniversary, we went to Chez Dré to get lovely cakes again, but we were surprised that they didn't have much of a selection any more. They just had tarts and breads..Although we were a bit shocked, just in case we asked the shop staff if that's all they had. And then they told us that their pastry section is now a separate shop called "bibelot" and it's next door! We were too busy with parenting to catch up with Melbourne must be famous by now but we didn't know that.

cakes we got from Bibelot

Well for those who are not really catching up with the latest trends, I'm sharing this info here;-)

Don't get disappointed at Chez Dré, just go next door.

285–287 Coventry Street, South Melbourne 

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Self-esteem for mums

Recently I had a little crisis of my self-esteem and I wanted to share the experience with you today because I thought some of you might have had (or are still having) the same problem. Even guys can experience this too I guess.

Ever since I graduated from uni at age of 21, I kept working without a break. When I was in Japan, I lived with my parents, but after I moved to Australia, I couldn’t rely on anyone, so I made a living for myself. I always worried about becoming sick or losing my job.

My mum kept telling me since I was younger that I’d better have a job and my own money even after I got married. She had a little marriage crisis with my dad (they are fine now!!) but because she didn’t work after marriage, she couldn’t get any high paying job and had to rely on my dad financially. That’s why she thought women should be financially independent all the time. After the crisis, she studied hard and got a medical office work certificate and worked for a clinic for long time. Now she’s enjoying travelling around the world.

I liked my job and having my own money, so I was happy to continue it when I got married but I had to stop working when I got pregnant…my maternity leave started a month before my due date.

Then soon after I got back to my work (Nico was only 4 months old), I lost my job. Although I started my business soon after that, I was just spending my savings to set up my business and couldn’t actually contribute to my family financially. In Japan we often say that “he who does not work, neither shall he eat”. I was working, but not getting money so I felt bad about eating with Paul’s salary.

I know Paul doesn’t mind at all and many housewives do that, but I just wasn’t used to it. When I was working, I could also keep some of my own money for myself, so I could often buy Paul a cup of coffee or nice treat, a lovely Christmas present and Birthday present, but now I can’t do much of those stuff. That makes me a bit depressed.

Timewise, I couldn’t spend my time for myself either and that gave my self-esteem a bit of damage too. Doing my own business, looking after Nico and taking care of the house work at the same time never gave me time to look after myself. When I go to the supermarket with Nico, I always have bed hair and wear T-shirts and pants which Nico touched with his dirty hands. I don’t really have time to iron my lovely blouse. I don’t have time to put lipstick or contact lenses on.

When I see a mirror or window, I just think “who is this miserable lady?” Probably this is what Paul is thinking too...haha. It’s too different from someone who he got married 3 years ago - I always wore my makeup, nail polish and dressed up nicely.  But Paul is so nice and he always says “you look beautiful no matter what”. Well I know I don’t look beautiful with bed hair at all, so that only makes me doubt that all the lovely words he’s saying are just out of consideration...although I think he really means it - I think he’d better see an eye doctor!

I lost all my confidence. I started to think Nico must be pretty unhappy with this terrible looking mum and Paul better find a new beautiful wife. I’m not really contributing anything to my family and just eating food from our money.  I just hated myself.

Well…how did I got recovered from that point? Of course with my family’s support and encouragement. Paul said to me that if being a mother is a job, it has to be one of the most high-paying jobs and that’s how I’m contributing to my family. And then I could change my thought like this: “Well.. although I’m not making any money, we don’t have to pay $50 a day for childcare fee, so it’s same as I’m making $250 pw. It’s not zero at least! And being able to spend time with Nico is priceless.“  I know how working mums struggle too, this way of thinking just helps me feel more positive about my own situation.

About my miserable appearance? Well I try to look nicer on the weekend when Paul can look after Nico too, but on weekdays I just decided not to care much. I just don’t have time to feel depressed. No matter if I’m feeling down or up, the battle with new dirty dishes, clothes, nappies and hungry boys come. The most important thing is that I’m actually happier now than those times when I could spend all the time for myself and dress up nicely. Next time when I see myself miserable in mirror, I will just think “She’s trying so hard for her family!”

I hope this entry helps some mums (and even dads) thinking the same way - as parents, you're all doing something amazing!

With love,


Tuesday, 24 November 2015

New items: Fun Sticky Notes

Take a look at these colourful fun sticky notes. These will make your travel planning extra fun! Or you can make your work/study a bit more enjoyable;)

So many uses, all of them fun.

Price range $4.95-$6.60
See the products :

Monday, 23 November 2015

3 years ago today

3 years ago today, Paul and I got married. We're still not marriage experts and are still learning how to be a good wife, how to be a good husband. Paul sometimes gets upset with me because I don't listen to what he's saying until he finishes his sentence. I sometimes get upset with him because he keeps playing games in bed without getting ready. We sometimes have silly arguments at Bunnings. But we love being together and spending time together. We never wanted a break from each other. (Our ultimate dream is to work together so that we can stay together for 24 hours a day!) Sounds weird? Haha...I know. Many married couples want some kind of break from each other sometimes. We want to stay together all the time, not only because we're loving each other, but we really are best friends. You know when you hang around with your besties, the time really flies? It's just like that.

Today, we're planning to go to South Melbourne, where we got married. The restaurant we had our reception at is under renovation now so we'll have lunch at our favourite cafe and visit the church where we got married. We're so excited about going there with our son Nico! Well, it's our wedding anniversary, so we could have asked Paul's parents to look after Nico so that just the two of us could spend some time together, but oh we looooooove spending time with that little guy sooooo much! Now when we think about "us" time, that definitely includes Nico, because we're family.

Hope everyone has a lovely day today!

With love,

Friday, 20 November 2015


Last weekend we caught the train and went to the city to meet our photographer friend Wei Wei. She took several polaroid photos at Nico's birthday party, so we were going to pick them and the USB up from "FilmNeverDie", Wei Wei's partner's (Gary) film shop.

Look at these lovely polaroid photos!


We loved her digital photos too but these are really special. What film can do is really amazing. "Capturing a moment." I especially loved this photo of Nico and his grandpa. These smiles are priceless.

Gary's shop sells heaps of different kinds of films and retro polaroid machines. They had a shop in Parkville, but recently got this pop-up space on Bourke St. They share a space with MAGNET Galleries and there's a lovely, light-filled communal space. Gary also has a cool espresso machine in his little shop, so after you get your film, you can just relax with coffee and chat with people who love photography, cameras and films in this space!

What I found is that his shop is not just a "shop", but a "place" to connect people who love photography. You can just hang around there for ages. They run a photo walk too (the most recent one was 'city rooftop walk' - sounds like fun?).

Aww, they brought my love of photography back again. I used to carry my camera with me everywhere, but what I'm carrying now is nappies and baby wipes. Being a parent is pretty busy, but I'd love to capture our precious moments more. 

Thanks Gary and Wei Wei for such a wonderful time. They have hearts of gold and made us really happy. Nico often cries with new people but he was so comfortable with them and laughed a lot. That made us happy again.

FilmNeverDie Café 
Level 2, 640 Bourke St, Melbourne
 Mon-Fri : 8-6, Sat & Sun : 11-6  
With love,


Thursday, 19 November 2015

Register now and get a 10%off discount code!

Register our monthly news letter now! You will get a 10% off discount code for Christmas gifts with the November issue, out tomorrow:-)

Sign up here

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

New items: Christmas TENUGUI and Fireworks TENUGUI

New items: Get ready for the festive season! These are lovely for wall decorations and table runners. Create a theme in your home that is sure to impress your guests. After the festivities, it’s great to be able to fold these away and and put them in your drawer - that doesn’t take up space wink emoticon

Holy Night $24.20

Christmas Ornaments $24.20

Friday, 13 November 2015

My favourite things – Isamu Noguchi

Isamu Noguchi is my all-time favourite artist and I just adore his talent! He’s got a Japanese name but he was actually American. (His dad was Japanese.) If you love mid-century furniture, you might know some of his mass production items like the Noguchi Table or Akari, but in fact he was more of a sculptor.

artnouveauenfrance - Isamu Noguchi, Coffee table, 1959

I got to know about this artist when I was working in Tokyo. I used to catch trains to go to work and one day, I saw a poster for his exhibition in the train. I always felt exhausted from my work in those days and usually didn’t feel like doing anything on the weekend, but when I saw the image of his “Energy Void” and himself , I felt a strong power and had to go to the exhibition.

The exhibition was really wonderful and I just fell in love with all his work. I always adore something Japanese that's mixed with Western things, but when western artists try to do something like that, sometimes their Japanese images are biased – for me, like the movie “Kill Bill”. But Noguchi did it very well.

His life was quite interesting too. He had a hard time as Japanese American around World War 2. He once had an affair with the famous artist, Frida Kahlo. But I like this episode about him and designer George Nelson’s famous iconic ball clock.

George Nelson recalls:

And there was one night when the ball clock got developed, which was one of the really funny evenings. Noguchi came by, and Bucky Fuller came by. I’d been seeing a lot of Bucky those days, and here was Irving and here was I, and Noguchi, who can’t keep his hands off anything, you know- it is a marvelous, itchy thing he’s got- he saw we were working on clocks and he started making doodles. Then Bucky sort of brushed Isamu aside. He said, this is a good way to do a clock, and he made some utterly absurd thing. Everybody was taking a crack at this, pushing each other aside and making scribbles.

At some point we left- we were suddenly all tired, and we had a little bit too much to drink- and the next morning I came back, and here was this roll (of drafting paper), and Irving and I looked at it, and somewhere in this roll there was a ball clock. I don’t know to this day who cooked it up. I know it wasn’t me. It might have been Irving, but he did’t think so-(we) both guessed that Isamu had probably done it because (he) has a genius for doing two stupid things and making something extraordinary.
George Nelson: The Design of Modern Design; p.111

Noguchi is just like this episode. His work is just beyond the ordinary people’s imagination, his talent is a real “gift” from God. He was often told that he was too advanced for the times to catch up, but I think the time still hasn’t caught up with the work he did almost 50 years ago.

There are so many places all over the world on my wish list to visit his work, but the top 2 are the Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum in Takamatsu and Moerenuma Park in Sapporo, which Noguchi designed just before he died.

My good friend Riki, who is a tour guide of Riki’s Tours Japan, took his Aussie group to the Noguchi Garden Museum just recently and I saw it on Facebook. I was soooooooo jealous! After reading this, you might visit there (with Riki’s Tour?) before I make it and if you do, I’d still be jealous, but also so happy if you become interested in this wonderful artist from this blog entry. 

With love,


Monday, 9 November 2015

Sweet home project 4 – endless inspections

Stories before this

Sweet home project 1 buying an apartment in St Kilda East

Sweet home project 2 choosing an agent to sell the St Kilda East apartment

Sweet home project3   selling an apartment

Paul and I got married in November in 2012. Ever since then, we kind of started to look for a house. I grew up in a two-storey town house with a small backyard, front yard and sideway in Tokyo. My otousan (dad) looked after the garden but it looked like a chaos, at least for me, and I knew I’m not good at looking after plants anyway (I just don’t bother water them and then they die soon…poor things!) So I felt that if we couldn't afford a house, I was okay with an apartment. But for Paul, the idea of a "dream house" was a place with a decent size of yard. He grew up in a big house with a big backyard (typical Aussie home!) and his parents have lovely vegie patch and their garden always looks neat.

Well, I definitely didn't hate the idea of living in a house, as long as we can afford it, so we kind of decided that we want a 3BR house. It’s good to have 3 bed rooms because we might have 2 kids in the future. Even if we don’t, it’s good to have an extra room for guests from Japan (especially my mum.) We were pretty happy with our St Kilda East apartment before we had Nico, so we weren’t that serious about trying to find a place quickly. We just occasionally checked and when there was something interesting, we went to the inspection for fun.

We thought it’s nice to live close to Paul’s family in Mount Waverley, but Mount Waverley was becoming one of the most expensive suburbs because of the high-ranked public school. Then we found this area called Clarinda (near Clayton) which is about 15 mins by drive from Mount Waverley and where the houses were still affordable. In 2012-2013, a 3BR house in a big block of land was around 500k there. Because of the land size, we thought we could build one more house in the backyard and sell or share the land with a friend or someone from Paul's family and build two new units. We weren’t ready to buy yet, but we went to a couple of auctions too. We saw at least 15 houses around this area over around 6 months. During that time, while we weren't that serious, the prices went up so quickly and we started to doubt if we could afford a house in Clarinda. That was the time we found our little Nico was in my tummy.

Then, as I wrote in Sweet home project 2, we decided to sell our apartment first and rent from Paul’s parents temporarily while we were getting ready to welcome our baby.

Once we started to settle in our new life with Nico, we started looking for our house again. Our first inspection after Nico was born was when he was 2 months old and my mum was there. Paul found a new area called Heathmont near Ringwood which was still affordable at the end of 2014. That suburb was a bit farther from the City and Paul’s work, but it’s still 15 mins drive from Mt Waverley and quite handy with express trains from Ringwood and a big shopping centre nearby.

inspections with little Nico

The first house we saw there was a lovely mid-century style house with a big backyard. The inside of the house was very very old, but it had some potential. It had a big front yard too, but they were selling the front yard separately and we couldn't know what kind of house would be built there.

My mum went to the inspection with us and I could tell that she was a bit shocked by how old the house was and how rubbishy it looked. By that time I had gotten used to looking these old houses in Australia and when I inspected them, I didn’t think about living there unchanged and was really just looking at the parts we couldn't change, like the structure of the house or location. But my poor mum, she didn’t really understand - in Japan, when people get married, they usually buy land and build a new home. Usually they'll never sell it and will continue to live in one "family house" for a long time. Once they pass away, their kids live in the house. (These days, many people buy a high rise apartment though!)

Looking around at houses with a newborn baby wasn’t easy. He was often sleeping in the car and one of us had to stay in the car with him. I often had to make formula in a moving car and try to cool it down while Nico was crying so hard. We sometimes had to change his dirty nappy in our car or on the nature strip too! We went to Heathmont almost every weekend and had 2 or 3 inspections each time. It was quite tiring.

Well this is becoming a long story (and felt long for us at the time), so I will share some interesting stories about inspections and auctions next time.

With love,


Friday, 6 November 2015

Photo present for Nico

Today I'm so happy to share our Nico's First Birthday photos taken by a professional photographer, Wei Wei. She's our friend from years ago. Paul and I met Wei Wei for the first time soon after we met each other and we weren't even dating! (Actually the day we met Wei Wei, Paul gave me a lift to my apartment for the first time!)

It was at that time that she just came to Australia to stay with her boyfriend and to study photography. We didn't see her much for the last 4 years, and during the time, she became a professional photographer and we got married and became parents.

I occasionally saw her lovely photos on Facebook or her blog and kept thinking to ask her to take Nico's photo someday. Then this special occasion came along...Nico's first birthday. When I checked her website, I was pretty surprised how reasonable the cost is for her to photo shoot for parties. A styled photo shoot involves a bit more cost and effort, but just asking her to come to our party and take photos was something we could afford. After seeing her photos now, I think she should have charged us more, but we're so happy that we could have her at our special boy's first birthday.

As I mentioned in my blog entry about Nico's First Birthday party, having a photographer at the party was the best choice we made (and not any photographer, but Wei Wei!) We were too busy to take photos and if she wasn't there, I'm sure we wouldn't have any photos. My sister-in-law Maria had her son's first birthday 6 months ago and she said she didn't have any photos (except for the ones her friends or family took) and she regretted a little that she didn't have a photographer.

If you have your kid's first birthday soon, I do recommend to get a photographer. It's much better than buying expensive toys! Your child will get heaps of toys from other family or friends, but they won't remember his/her first birthday, so being able to keep lovely memories in photos for them is really great.

Am I writing for too long??? Ok, I'll share the photos!

All the editing is done by Wei Wei.

Nico wore a bow tie from nuno and stitch!


Here is Wei Wei's details

her website

I'm sure Nico will love these photos in the future too!

With love,

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

3 month turning point


Soon it’ll be the 3 month anniversary of my shop “nuno and stitch”. When I started my blog, I wrote that I’d share my struggles and excitement for opening the shop in this blog, so I’ll be honest. At the moment when someone asks me “ how is your business going?”, I can't really say “it’s great!!!” so far.
Everyone knows that starting business is not easy so I shouldn’t be discouraged I guess. When I decided to start this business, I didn’t expect to be able to sell anything in the first 3 months, so it’s great that someone already bought something from my shop (even if they are my friends and family!) or left comments on my blog, or liked us on Facebook. 
But after 3 months, I feel like I probably need to start seeing some improvements in my business, so that I can say I’m going in the right direction. If not, I might need to change something, or stop what I’m doing (when to stop is always important!) .
Some of you might have seen my ad on The Design Files (it's Australia’s most popular design blog), but I’m hoping that this will take us to a new stage. It was quite a big decision for me to advertise my shop on a famous blog, but Paul convinced me that my business is worth making this big (at least for me ‘very big’) investment. I’m pretty nervous about whether I will get any reaction from this ad… maybe not even an instant reaction, but some future reaction in next 3 or 6 or 12 months. It’s a bit like getting the marks for my exam. 
Many people give up their business at this early stage because it’s unbearably insecure and uncertain. When you’re climbing a mountain, you can’t see what is over the mountain. I feel like I can still keep going not because I can see something promising but I have a strong support from my family (especially from my husband Paul) who always make me feel a bit more positive about my business. 
Thanks everyone for supporting nuno and stitch for the last three months. I will keep trying my best so that hopefully I can say big thanks again on our 1st year anniversary!  
With love,

Monday, 2 November 2015

New item: TORINOKO napkin

This lovely, handy size napkin is great for wrapping, covering or for your own sewing projects like cushion, kids’ clothes, or whatever you want!

sheep (red)
sheep (blue) 
lion mountain
lion mountain (night)