Friday 29 January 2016

Sweet home project - Renovation

Finally our tenant moved out last Saturday and now we have access to our unit! The builder started his work from Monday and we’re all excited.

Before the renovation started, we wanted to do something there, so we planned an afternoon tea in the empty house. We invited Paul’s parents and sister Maria, but…the tenant came back to clean the unit on Sunday (maybe he couldn’t finish it on Saturday and thought he’d finish before the agent comes on Monday..) so we had to change our plan – we had our afternoon tea at nearby park.

The last 8 months, we went to see this unit from just the outside so many times… a bit like a stalker… So it’s hard to believe that now we can freely go inside and have a look.

Here is our plan for the renovation.

This is the original floor plan.

And this is the new plan which Maria designed.

We’re super lucky that we’ve got a talented sister helping us! She is doing our project management too, so she takes all the stress off from us and we only need to think about fun staff, like which bathroom vanity we want and so on.. Also she helps us to choose those things too. She’s good at finding the right thing for the right spot!

Renovating is fun but it can be stressful when things don’t work as planned. Maria checks the progress and tells us what we need to decide next. I think it’s good for the builder to have a project manager too, because he doesn’t have to wait for the indecisive client’s decision (it’s all organised by the time he needs it) and doesn’t need to worry about other stuff.

It will take about 6 weeks for this renovation so probably we will move into the new place in March or April. We’re very excited, but at the same time, I started to feel a bit sad about moving out this house where we’re living now. It’s only a three minute walk from Paul’s parents place. We had so many memories since we moved in this place - I had contractions here and Nico grew up here! I even started my own business here.

But I’m sure we will have more memories at our new place. It will be our dream home.

with love,


Tuesday 26 January 2016

Two weeks with my okaasan (mum)


So my mum has gone back to Japan. Last Saturday, we said good bye to her at Melbourne Airport. I wanted to be strong as I am someone’s mother now, but I couldn’t really stop my tears. Probably Nico wondered why I was crying. And the fact that our little son didn't really know what was going on also made me more sad somehow.
Of course I don’t blame him because he’s only 15 months-old and very little. He doesn’t know how much he means to my mum. He doesn’t know how much she looked forward to seeing him and cuddling him. The night before she arrived in Melbourne, she even had a dream about meeting Nico.
In her dream, Nico didn’t come to her and just walked away because he thought she was a stranger. She worried that would actually happen. In a way, that became true.

Nico broke her heart many times without knowing it. He was sometimes very upset that my mum was around when he was enjoying a morning warming-up time with me.  When my mum tried to cuddle him, he bit her. We thought he would recognize her as we had skype chat every second day since he was very little, but...oh well it’s hard for him to understand the concept that the person in a box he chatted with at the dinner table can come out to real life and wants to touch or cuddle him. 


But, as much as he broke my mum’s heart, he melted her heart too. She loved seeing Nico eating lots of food. She was very impressed by how brave Nico was with the water at the swimming pool. He once let her cuddle him when I went to pick up Paul from the train station and she looked very happy. 

After two weeks, Nico started to get used to her and on the day she was leaving, he even went to her room to look for her and said “ baa ba! “ (Baba means Nana in Japanese.)  Two weeks was a bit too short, but we had lots of fun. I will share things we did together here

Diamond Valley Railway in Eltham


Trip to Mornington Peninsula

Ikea shopping 

St Kilda Beach

Australian Open with Paul's mum and dad

Last day in Melbourne.  Lunch at Baba Sus

Nico trying to reach yummy Hong Kong Waffle

Indoor Play centre-my mum was so happy to see Nico's happy face!


I hope she will come back again soon!
With love,

Saturday 16 January 2016

Our little trip to Mornington Peninsula

We’re just back from a three-day-trip to Mornington Peninsula. We took my mum there. Paul’s mum and dad went with us too and we all had lovely time!!!

Thanks to new Peninsula Link, it doesn’t take that long to go there, so many people go there for a day trip, but when you stay there a bit longer, you can see many more things. We booked our accommodation in Mornington this time. Last time we went there, our accommodation was in Tuerong and it was really lovely, so we wanted to stay somewhere hill-side, but we started looking for accommodation only about a month ago and they were all booked. In the end, we really enjoyed staying in Mornington. It wasn’t a busy part of Mornington but it was also close enough to convenient shops. We really enjoyed an evening walk along the beach there too. 

Our 3BR accomodation

Main Tourist Spots we visited

- Cape Schanck – We had lunch at RACV club there. 


- Point Nepean – this is such an exciting spot to visit! The combination of old historical buildings and geographical features is amazing.

- Arthur’s Seat – the weather wasn’t perfect, but we enjoyed the lovely view. 


- Sorrento pier 

- Cherry Farm in Red Hill 


Our all-time-favourite spots 
Ten Minutes by Tractor – ah we really looove this restaurant. They never disappoint us. If you haven’t tried it, this is a must-go. Don’t forget to make a booking beforehand. 

complimentary dish
Paul's dad is teaching Nico how to drive a tractor...
Ten Minutes by Tractor
1333 Mornington Flinders Road
Ph. 03 5989 6080

Red Hill House – Super cute homeware shop in Red Hill South. I've never left there without buying something… This time My mum bought me this.


And I bought this for Paul

bottle opener!

They have quite interesting kitchen tools. We have bought tomato knife and olive pitter before.

Red Hill House
169c shoreham road
red hill south

Our new finds  


In Sorrento, all the cafés and restaurants are very busy so it’s hard to find a good one, but it seems like this one is a new local favourite. We enjoyed Pulled Pork Roll and BELT!

Buckley's Chance
174 Ocean Road Sorrento 

Italian Pizza shop – they have a shop on Lygon Street too. We ordered margherita pizza, vegetable lasagne and focaccia for take away and they were all yummy! We got Ciobar (thick Italian hot chocolate) from their grocery shop too.

22 Main Street Mornington
Ph. 59770988

Our other favourites we didn’t make it to this time

Peninsula Hot Springs – Yes, Japanese people love Onsen (hot springs). 

Sunnyridge Strawberry farm – strawberry picking!


Nico had a great time with his nana, pa and baba (Japanese nana) too. He was exhausted by the end but we’re so proud of our little guy being a good boy all the time. (Well..of course he had some moments he wasn’t happy, but overall he was great!!!!) 


I can’t wait to go back there again.

With love,


Tuesday 12 January 2016

New items:Noraya heavy cotton towel

This heavy cotton towel is a handy size (33 x 88cm) just like TENUGUI, but thicker and more suitable as a handtowel or tea towel.  This towel is designed by Naho Yamamoto (Noraya) and made in Imabari, Ehime-prefecture, a town famous for the best quality towels. Enjoy the nice feel of these lovely towels!

Nora-ya heavy cotton Japanese towel (a sheep and bread)

Nora-ya heavy cotton Japanese towel (good morning)

Nora-ya heavy cotton Japanese towel (good night)

Monday 11 January 2016

Two days with auntie Yuka

My sister came from Sydney with my mum and she stayed with us for two days. Our son Nico is often a bit funny with new people, but he absolutely loved his auntie! She’s a bit like his mummy and her voice and the way she talks is similar to his mummy’s, but she pays all her attention to him unlike his busy mummy!

My sister met Nico when he was two months old, but I guess he doesn’t remember that. Since then, he's grown up so much and my sister was impressed by how much Nico can do now – running around, talking his own language, eating a lot.

We went to South Melbourne Market on her request. She wanted to eat paella there. She also enjoyed buying cheese and hams at the deli. There are not many markets with delis in Sydney somehow… She also introduced us to some yummy Polish ham – a bit like prosciutto. We had a great time together.

Since we were in South Melbourne, we couldn’t really miss the chance to go to bibelot. We had a lovely sweet platter there. You can taste a bit of each of the different kinds of cakes. We all loved the Green Tea Mousse there.

The last two days, I didn’t have to cuddle or play with Nico as much because my mum and my sister wanted his attention all the time… I felt like I had two baby sitters and I was off duty. But now I started to miss his attention and nice warm cuddles.  Nico’s favourite auntie has gone back to Sydney now so I might get it back;-)


My mum will stay for two more weeks. I’m super happy to see her enjoying playing with Nico. All her excitement is even a bit much for Nico sometimes (haha…) but he’s starting to get used to his nana. I know how much my mum was looking forward to meeting her grandson, so just seeing her happy face makes me teary*

I might be a bit quiet for the next two weeks, but when I’m not around here or Facebook, please excuse me as I’m on duty as a daughter and mum!

With love,


Wednesday 6 January 2016


Tomorrow, my mum is coming to Melbourne. Yay! I bet that the worst thing you can do to your parents is live overseas. I always feel guilty about it. So I would like to spoil her as much as possible! I guess all she wants to do is just give a hug to her grandson though. 


I ordered some Japanese food from Ichiba Junction – an online Japanese grocer - for her. 

One of my favourite items from this shop is this.



It’s chopped (almost minced) raw tuna. You can defrost this (be careful not to cook it though, because it’s sashimi and has to be raw!) and put it on cooked rice with chopped spring onion (or chives) and then pour on a little soy sauce. It’s easy! This dish is called “NEGITORO DON”. You can mix sushi vinegar in the rice too. If you don’t have sushi vinegar, you can make it with normal vinegar - just add some sugar and little bit of salt to the vinegar.  


This one pack of tuna will serve about 4 people. I have seen NEGITORO DON for about $13.00 at a Japanese restaurant in Melbourne, so this is pretty good value.

NEGITORO DON was always my favourite dish and I always had it at Narita Airport before leaving for Australia, but thanks to Ichiba Junction, I can have it here now. Oh I feel like I’m advertising for them, but don’t worry I’m not being paid. I’m just seriously recommending this yummy dish!    

With love,


Tuesday 5 January 2016

Sweet home project 6 - how we got our home

So we bought our home in May in 2015. Not in Ringwood or Heathmont, but in Burwood. Yes, Burwood! Much closer to the city as well as Paul's parents place in Mt Waverley. But how did we manage this? I'm going to write about it in this entry.

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 project 3 - selling an apartment

Sweet home project 4 - endless inspections

Sweet home project 5 - private sales and crazy auctions‏

I didn't mention it so far, but we had a great helper throughout this tough house hunting time. That was Paul's sister, Maria. She has studied architecture at uni and she has her own furniture business. She loves looking at houses, so she couldn't help checking for us when we started looking for a house. She sent us the links to properties almost everyday! She sometimes came to the inspections with us and even made bids for us at the auctions (we were pretty nervous).

Sometimes she sent us links to 2br units with a new floor plan she designed for 3br. She's very good at this. Then when we found it's almost impossible for us to buy a 3BR house in the Ringwood area, so we started seriously looking at 2BR units, because thanks to Maria we realised that some of them were changeable to 3BR.

We never thought we could afford a property in Burwood, but some of the 2BR units were within our range - unfortunately, they were usually pretty small and almost impossible to change to 3BR.

One day Maria sent us a link to another 2BR unit in Burwood, which seemed to be a pretty decent size, but their asking price was pretty much at our limit (even without the extra percentage added on), so I didn't even look closely.  It was an auction property, so I could just guess it would become more than we could afford.

But a couple of weeks later, I noticed the same property was still on market and it had become a private sale. They didn't sell at the auction. So I thought it might be a good chance. We wanted to see it as soon as possible, but the agent told us it was difficult because of the tenant. So we waited until the next inspection on Saturday....but oh no...we went shopping before the inspection and run out of time. We arrived there 5 mins after the end of the inspection time.

Fortunately, Maria was there too and asked the agent to wait for us, so we could manage to see the inside. We quickly looked around and agreed that we both really liked it. There was the possibility that they might sell it before the next inspection, so we had to make a quick decision. We decided to put in an offer after only a three minute inspection! By that time, we learned a little bit about private sales, so we weren't trying to bargain or anything, we just decided the price that we were happy to pay, but we thought the vendor might ask for a bit more, so we left some room for negotiation.

After putting in an offer, we nervously waited, but pretended like nothing happened. We experienced so many disappointments after being excited, so we didn’t want that feeling again and tried for keep our expectations low. But in the end, the vendor just accepted our first offer and we didn't even have to negotiate or pay extra. Actually, we were told she wanted a bit more, but the agent suggested that she accept it. We never thought the agent would work for us buyers, so we were very surprised but at the same time, very happy. Probably after the auction, the agent wanted to sell it quickly rather than waiting a long time to sell at a higher price.

Three days after we saw the unit, it felt like ours already (although not officially until the settlement). It’s small but really decent, there’s no back yard but we've got some front yard and a sideway. The building itself is very solid. The best thing about the unit is the location. Within a 30 second walk, there's a school, play ground and a cafe. It's not far from public transport and shops too!

how do we change this to 3BR?

Although we haven't moved into that place yet, we're loving the unit more and more since we bought it. Why could we get our perfect place at a good price? Well, we can think of at least a couple of reasons. Firstly, the property had a tenant renting and the contract finishes in late January in 2016, so maybe people who wanted to move in quickly avoided that place. Secondly, our unit is a part of a group of flats so although our place is single story and has its own street frontage, the price was similar to an apartment.

Anyway, we got our home finally. Although we had to wait to move in, this have us time to think about how we want to change the 2BR into 3 BR. We pinned so many images of kitchen, garden, bathroom on our Pinterest board! 7 months of waiting to move in so far has felt very long, but at the same time, quite enjoyable. In a couple of weeks, the renovation at our new place will start. We’re so excited!

This is how we got our home, but I will write about how we're making our dream home in this series too. Stay tuned!

With love,


Sunday 3 January 2016

Discontinued Items

We received a notice from Japan that there are some discontinued TENUGUI items. ”Discontinued” means that they've stopped making it, so once they run out of stock, we can’t order these again.


City (cloudy day)

They are two of our favourites, so we'll try to restock one last time but we might not be able to do that. We currently have 2 Theatre (+1 Theatre lampshade) and 2 City (cloudy day) left in our stock, so if they are on your wish list, be quick!

Friday 1 January 2016

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! Hope everyone will have a wonderful 2016, we'll do our best to add some colour and happiness to your life this year:)