Monday, January 30, 2012


I am a huge fan of bacon. I love it. It's just so delicious.

While bread is not a traditional food 'round these parts, Japan certainly does not shy away from bakeries. They are all over the place. You quickly find which bakeries are better than others and which breads are amazing (cherry blossom bread), weird (curry bread) and for the adventurous (potato and fish egg bread).

When I used to frequent bakeries (way back when I was working outside the house), the bacon bread was a favorite. I hadn't had it in ages and it was calling me from the pages of my trusty bread cookbook. The bacon vine did not disappoint.

The base is a French Bread, so the outside is a bit on the crunchy side while the inside is soft and (obviously) filled with bacon. It's amazing.

Y seemed pleased with the results as well! Maybe K will share our love of bacon one day. For now, however, I won't hold my breath. Instead I'll busy my mouth with eating more bread.

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Friday, January 27, 2012

Hello Baby

One of my friends across the street is about to give birth to her third little boy - as in she might be in the hospital right now. The due date is actually Monday, but it seems that things are moving right along and she thinks that the little guy is set to make his appearance before the weekend is over. Only time will tell!!

The two older brothers are about 5 and 9 and love soccer. They are super sweet kids and seem really stoked about the new baby. I think I have a particular affinity towards the family as the mom and older brother speak English quite well. They lived in Vietnam for a few years and it seems that English was their main language for communication with the locals, as well as other foreigners.

Anyway, since soccer seems to run in this family's blood, I figured I'd get the little guy started off right with his own pair of 'Adidas' cleats!

They are teeny tiny!! It was crazy to me to think that K's feet were that small less than two years ago. His shoes look like they belong to a giant compared to the mini cleats! (I should have taken a photo.) While making them, I had an old pair of K's socks and they are roughly the same size - I'm hoping they fit though; they are so itty bitty!!

The mom says such lovely things about (photos of) my sweets, so I decided to whip up a batch of cookies for the rest of the fam. I made my first ever batch of Monster Cookies.

Turns out they're quite delicious. They're basically peanut butter, oats, m&ms, chocolate and raisins. What part is not going to be delicious?!?

I used Paula Deen's recipe - I know, I know, I've read heaps about the diabetes scandal and Anthony Bourdain is one of my heroes, but there's really no denying that this cookie doesn't at least sound like it's worth making. It totally is.

It was super quick and easy to make - all ingredients were chopped (bootleg chocolate chips were a must for this recipe), measured and mixed and the cookies were baked within a nap time. But, I must warn you to use the BIGGEST bowl you own. I nearly ran out of space!!

The recipe says it makes three dozen tablespoon sized cookies. I much prefer smaller cookies, so I used a half tablespoon as my scooper and got almost 9 dozen! Yikes!!

Luckily I taught English today so I sent the girls home with cookies as well. Tomorrow we are having some friends come over while I go out boozing (more on that next week). So I'm pretty confident that most of these cookies won't make their way to my mouth - thank God. Have I mentioned that along with the goal to make and bake at least once a week is also a goal of not gaining weight?? Ha! Wish me luck!!

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Art Folder

Just last week or so, we booked tickets for K and I to head to the US. I am so excited that we are going, but not as excited about the flights. It's always a bit rough, but lucky for me K is very good about it all. I, as well as my fellow passengers, could have it much worse.

I've learned a lot from our past two flights home. One of the main things is that snacks and new toys must be readily available. Recently K has really gotten into stickers and "drawing." I decided to make him a compact little art kit to keep him entertained on the flight.

I'm pretty stoked with how it turned out. I think K will like the colors and patterns. He even picked out the red train ribbon.

The inside has a pocket for pencils, behind that is a pocket for stickers and on the right is a pocket to slip a pad if paper into.

I found a tutorial for this here. I followed it quite closely, but added the ribbon. While the example on the website has the three fabrics on the front cover, she didn't give the measurements for that, so it took a bit of figuring. Other than that, the tutorial is super clear and easy! It took me a nap time to do all the cutting and about an hour and a half after K was in bed to sew it all. Done in a day!!

Hopefully he likes it and it keeps him busy for a few hours.

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Edamame Cheese Bread

This week Y will be taking Edamame Cheese Bread to work. This time the recipe made 8, which means 3 are for me - wahooo!!

I've made this bread before and we both really liked it. K still won't touch it, but I guess that means that the leftovers are all mine.

Notice the lovely oven mitt in the background? Yeah, that's right, it's Romeo and Juliet that you see. Shakespeare himself even makes an appearance. I'm bringin' the posh this time around. The mitt was a lovely gift from one of the girls at yesterday's lunch. Thanks, B!!

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Too Many Layers

It had been ages since all of my foreign (as in Canadian, British and Australian) girlfriends and I had gotten together. Ages ago, before kids were in the picture, we used to get together about once a month. The first baby was born, then K was born and our gatherings became less and less frequent. The Canadian decided to host a girlie lunch at her house, so I decided that a special cake was in order.

Enter my seven layer (3 horizontal, 4 vertical) cake.

I had originally wanted only vertical layers, but the chocolate cake didn't rise as much as I was hoping. It would have been a short, little cake. Special occasions call for tall cakes. I decided to slice a vanilla cake in half and sandwich the vertical layers between to give it a bit more height. It ended up being quite tall.

Making it was quite the process. I started by making two vanilla cakes and immediately putting them in the freezer. Then I made two chocolate cakes, but they were both so thin that I chopped off the tops, put the cut sides together and put them in the freezer to fuse them together.

Once frozen I had to cut concentric circles out of both cakes and then layer them. I then wrapped parchment paper around the outside and back to the freezer.

The cake was delicious, but I'm not sure how many times I'll do it. While totally fun to make, it was a fair amount of work. I imagine it will be a special-occasion-only type of thing.

But seriously, yum.

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Felt Hair Ties

Twice a week I teach English to two little girls. At the beginning of the month, one of the girls turned 8. Today was the first time I've seen her since her birthday because of the New Year holidays and last week she was sick.

For her birthday gift I made her two hair ties. One with a flower that was modeled after a flower headband my good friend made. Hers was way cuter, but it's all good. The other is just a simple bow.

She was super stoked when she opened them. Wahoo! I also gave her a bunch of peanut butter cookies. Let's be honest, the faster I get those bad boys out of my house and away from my mouth the better.

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Peanut Butter Cookies on Steroids

To the untrained eye, these may just look like your standard peanut butter cookie. Take a bite and you will find, however, that there is a treat inside.

Ta dah!!! Yes, that's right. It's a peanut butter cookie stuffed with an Oreo. I don't mess around, yo!

I saw this idea on the internet ages ago, although I believe they were made with a chocolate chip cookie on the outside. I've been wanting to make them ever since, but got busy with other things. Until yesterday.

I decided that enough was enough - I was going to make these cookies. Unfortunately, chocolate chips are near impossible to find here. I have been known to chop chocolate bars into tiny pieces for makeshift chips, but I thought that they would be just as good with peanut butter. Although I can't compare, they were pretty good.

I used the Mrs. Field's Peanut Butter cookie recipe found online and then your standard Oreo. The recipe said to bake 18-20 minutes, but they ended up a tad crispier than I would have liked. I would have cooked the next tray for a bit less time, but our Oreos only come with 18 in a pack. Bummer. The recipe, however, made about a million more regular cookies that were sufficiently chewy (but were only baked for 11 minutes).

Making this cookie got me thinking, could this be the beginning of a cookie turducken?

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Monday, January 16, 2012

Sweet Potato Slices

For my birthday, ages ago, Y got me a bread maker. I was beyond thrilled! I was particularly excited to bake nice, healthy breads for K. It quickly became apparent, however, that bread just isn't his thing, homeboy likes his rice. Furthermore, the recipe book that came along with the maker was ok, but not great. While I loved the idea of a bread maker, it turned out that I didn't know how to get creative with it.

A few months back, while waiting to pick up a prescription, I stepped into a bookstore and found the most amazing bread maker cookbook. What luck!!

Since then, nearly every week I've baked up a batch of bread for Y to take to work as snacks. This weeks winner was...Sweet Potato Slices.

I made croissant dough and then went through the folding, refrigerating and rolling out process a number of times - by a number of times, I mean for the entire afternoon. Then I made up a sweet potato mash (that while delicious was extremely sweet) and added that before a final folding. After slicing the roll into thin slices, I topped with black sesame seeds and baked.

The result was pretty good. They are buttery, sweet and flaky. In the end, I vote that my afternoon of folding and rolling out was well spent.

I'm a bit bummed that it's a 5-day work week, yet I only made eight of the little guys. I need to ration out my final two for the week and it's only Monday. :(


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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Crochet Scarf

I think this is kind of cheating, but my first real post is of a crochet scarf that I finished today. The reason I feel this makes me a bit of a cheater is because this scarf has taken me MONTHS to finish. I started it in maybe October or November, but with holidays gifts and baking to do it got sidetracked.

By our New Year holiday it was less than halfway done. Once we were in Yokohama for the New Year, however, thanks to grandparents who were eager to see their only grandchild and a lack of cooking, housekeeping and laundry, I had lots of time to devote to it.

Once we got back to Osaka, however, it was put on the back burner. Again. On Friday, I decided that the guilt from not finishing it was encroaching on my enthusiasm for started any new projects. It was going to be finished by the end of the weekend. I worked on it on the Friday and Saturday nights as well as during K's nap time today. As of 3:00, my months long journey was complete!

It can be thrown around my neck like a very long necklace or looped once or twice. This is what it looks like if a bit squished, truer to how it looks draped around my neck, I suppose.

There you have it. My first real blog post blog. How exciting. As I do feel like I'm cheating with this post, however I hope to make a few more things this
week. I'll post when they're done!

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The Daunting First Post

Hello! I am Anna and this is my blog. I've never blogged before, but thought that in addition to encouraging my own creativity, it could be fun for my family and a few friends to see what I do here.
While I love baking and making things I sometimes let other things, such as taking care of my little boy and sleeping, get in the way.

My goal with this blog, therefore, is to both bake and make one thing each week. Wish me luck!

As I rarely turn on my PC these days, most posts will probably be done from my iPhone (unless I see that the photo quality isn't up to snuff).

I hope you enjoy reading or just looking at the photos of things I make.


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