30.6.14

| Thoughts | Bubble


I've been doing some thinking lately. Giving root to little saplings of thinkings that tumble out of my constant questioning of myself when I am not looking. 


Blogging is an odd thing to do isn't it? Sharing excerpts of our life and thoughts with anyone with the time to stop and look/read. Sometimes I wonder why I am still doing this. Then I remember that there are few people in the world who have an appetite for my chats about Africa, abandoned spaces, sewing, Jamaican music, packaging, the subtle variations of black/blue ink etc 

In truth, I am an outsider/loner/weirdo. I know that this is a consequence of being myself and being stubbornly comfortable with it. As time passes I realise that I have less and less in common with people that I come across and it is increasingly common to be met with looks of bewilderment when I talk to people about my interests or points of view. Equally, when people talk to me about stuff important to them......I haven't a clue what they are talking about. I also realise that I am comfortable with these distances of psychology yet somehow it makes others uneasy around me.  

Funny enough, Hiro is just the same. So we exist in our own little bubble of comfortable happy oddness when we are together. 


Don't suppose that anyone else is prone to bubble-living?




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28.6.14

| Recipe | Fluffy Prawn Croquettes


4 people tried their own variation of my tofu salad recipe and then Tweeted about their successes. This made me crazy happy and not a thing could wipe the smile from my face!

My next recipe is one that Hiro really enjoyed tucking into recently. Made with fish and prawns, these croquettes are crispy on the outside yet creamy light and fluffy inside. Yummy with salad or in a bap in replace of a burger.



Ingredients:

250- 280g Frozen peeled prawns 
2 Hanpen fish cakes
2 tablespoons Kewpie mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to taste
Shredded ginger to tatse
Vegetable oil
Katakuriko or plain flour
1 egg - beaten
Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)


Method:

1. Zap the defrosted prawns in a processor or use a hand blender to turn it into a smooth thick paste then transfer it to a mixing bowl.

2. Rip the hanpen and zap that too. Stop when it turns into a smooth paste then add that to the prawn mixture.

3. Mix together the prawn and hanpen paste with salt, pepper, ginger and kewpie. Mix well till it reaches a sticky consistency.



4. Apply a bit of vegetable oil to your hands as the mixture is rather sticky and this will help to form smooth balls.

5. Scoop up portions of the mixture and form them into balls.



6. Dip each ball into the potato starch then the egg and then the panko.

7. Shallow fry in vegetable oil taking care to turn them so they cook evenly. Remove when golden brown and place on a cooling rack.

8. Serve as you fancy with your favourite condiments.



Enjoy!

P.S. please do let me know if you give this a try.

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25.6.14

| What I Wore | Sweeties in my Pockets Chardon Skirt


Words squabble about my head when I try to articulate the feelings I encounter when I come to the end of a sewing project. I am a palpitation of accomplishment, expectation and apprehension as I try on the finished garment for the first time. 

My latest project was Deer & Doe's Chardon skirt and I have to smile and say that I am thrilled with how it turned out.

Sunglasses from Liberty and RetroSuperFuture. Skirt made by me.
Silk shirt from Reiss.



Liberty Tana Lawn "Truly Scrumptious" print pocket.

Deer and Doe is a French company specialising in the prettiest "simple, modern and well-cut sewing patterns".  I had this and a couple of others sent over from France recently. They arrived lickety-split in a pretty parcel with a label addressing me as Madam. So many reasons to smile.

Chardon is a high waisted skirt that features inverted box pleats and inseam pockets. 2 things that I have never done before. I opted for a mid-weight high quality cotton from Klona which is made in UK and got a little mischievous with the pockets using a Liberty print cloth that made me think of my little sister and how she would always have sweeties in her pocket. 

I don't think I have ever had a skirt that fit me so well at the waist. I want to make another and another. 

P.S. Pardon my crinkly behind and skewed bow!

LINKS | Deer & Doe Patterns Liberty Print Fabric |


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24.6.14

| Abandoned | Zanzibar


There are 2 sides to Zanzibar. The stuff for the tourists and then there is reality. For us, we cannot see one side without the other.

These photos were taken on a long walk along one of the many beaches of Zanzibar. An island that many people associate with expensive resorts and exotic paradise imagery. 








It might shock you to know that behind this abandoned failed hotel was a small village where people are scraping together a living in whatever way they can.  I have no photos to share with you about the more human aspect of this because my heart couldn't bring me to take them. But we walked through the village, greeting those that we passed, paying our respects to the elders and laughing with the children. 

I have been told that showing aspects of poverty on our blog makes for uneasy reading. Challenging our comfort zones can be a positive thing to do so this is something that we will continue to explore on the blog. After all a huge portion of the world's population live in poverty and we cannot pretend that they don't exist. 

Despite being born in East Africa. I have not grown accustomed to seeing poverty. Instead I understand these scenes in the belief that these are my people and this is my homeland.  see the people with the respect, compassion and dignity. These are people just like you or I. People trying to make the best of the life that they are given.

Travelling with an open heart and mind will open doors to experiences that no amount of money can buy.


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23.6.14

| A Maker's Life | Making Patterns


People are often curious about how I go about making the items for my shop. Up till now I have been a little nervous about sharing details from my little workshop. I admit that I have been worried about copy-cats and so kept my work in the shade in many ways. I've got over that fear now, very little in life is truly original and more positively, we grow in many ways by sharing. Learning from each other is a beautiful thing!

Scissors from Anything Design. Coloured Pencils from Tombow. Fabric pencils from Clover. Tray from Fog Linen. Multi pen from Pilot. Highlighters from Zebra. Pins from Sajou. Tape from MT.



My sewn items always start out as scraps of paper. I tend use whatever I can find in our home so my patterns can be drawn on A4 paper, greaseproof paper and even brown parcel paper. Often these are not wide enough so I use bits of tape to stick my scraps together to complete a pattern. 

My memory hasn't the space to remember all the little notes that I will myself to remember whilst making each item so I often make notes on the patterns and highlight them with shocking colours that will catch my attention (after a pattern hasn't been used for a while) and to myself smile.

While a use a variety of drawing and writing implements one of the most important tools I use is a wide ruler. This one once belonged to Hiro's dad and we think it is over 25 years old. It feels good to work with something with this provenance. I am sure that it makes my work better!


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21.6.14

| What I Wore | Share in Style Gold Edition


Gold is a colour I really like but don't have much of in the way of clothing. Yet for some reason I am hook-line-and-sinker for gold accessories. Gold bags, eyeshadow, suitcases, nail polish, lip glosses and shoes are my thing!



Button back sheer panel top from COS. Trousers from Seleted Femme. 

My Gold Converse All Stars are my newest gold coloured things. They are perfect for street stomping.

The top once belonged to my sister. She gave it to me because she knows that I love extra fine knit pullovers. 



Thank you Mis Papelicos for nudging me to join in with this fun link-up project. If you haven't 'met' this blogger yet, I suggest that you toddle off to her site soon. She's such a vibrant personality, full of warmth and vivacious creativity in her style.

LINKS | Mis Papelicios Guidelines to Share in Style |

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20.6.14

| What I Wore | Denim + Samue


Samue are normally worn by Japanese Buddhist monks. It is a centuries old traditional form of workwear made of cotton or linen usually indigo or brown in colour. I bought this in Japan from the wife's favourite granny shop or as she would prefer to call it, a 'traditional Japanese goods shop'. I wear the trousers at home during summer because they are light and very comfortable. I like wearing the top over a T-shirt when I am out and about. Summers in London are usually changeable and sometimes the wind is still a bit cold so I need something to cut the chill.

Jeans from Kapital Denim Japan. Samue from a traditional goods shop in Japan.
Cap from New Era, bought in Japan. 
Old but still going trainers from Converse. 


These trainers are rare but now a bit shabby because I've worn them so much. Actually, they are one of the 1st pairs of Converse trainers I've owned and I still like them and their asymmetrical slant. I think they are about 7 years old now. 


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19.6.14

| Events | L'Eroica Britannia


We don't normally do event shout outs on this blog but that's because most events don't call to us so to speak. We recently heard about L'Eroica Brittania and were duly impressed by the concept and heritage behind it so it felt right to share!


3 days of vintage shopping, music, stunning English scenery, lashings of scrumptiousness and not to mention the cycling. Speaking of which, imagine the spectacle of 2000 riders in vintage attire upon pre-1987 cycles. This could magnificent. So if you have the time, inclination or just happened to be in the area......stop by! It's free! We would if we could.

LINKS |L'Eroica Brittania Website |


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18.6.14

| Recipe | Tofu Tomato Salad


This is a real east-meets-west dish in my mind. I have met so many Japanese people who don't get on with tomatoes and even more Brits that dislike tofu. Both are good for you in many ways and lucky for me, I love both! 

My tofu-tomato salad is a zingy summery starter or lunch. I am equally dismal at following recipes as I am at writing them so this is more of an outline that relies more on your own palate as a guide. So keep tasting as you go.


Ingredients:

1 block of chilled soft tofu
A handful of cherry tomatoes - quartered
1 spring onion - finely chopped
1 - 2 tablespoon(s) of ajipon
1 teaspoon of sesame oil
1 teaspoon of sushi vinegar 
a few drops of rayu (optional)



Method:

1. Drain the tofu and wrap it in some kitchen roll for 10 minutes to take out some of the moisture.

2. Cut the tofu into large squares and put them into a dish. I love cutting tofu. 

3. Put the tomatoes and onions in a bowl and mix in the ajipon, sesame oil (rayu if you fancy) and sushi vinegar and mix together well. Taste and more of what you fancy.

4. Spoon the mixture over the the tofu and and serve.



Let us know if you try it okay?


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17.6.14

| Photo Diary | Layers, Lace and a Lake.



Recently, we escaped to the Forest of Dean where we found adventures + rejuvenation by winding our way around the verdant meadows, country lanes, lakes and forests. 

We are far too lackadaisical to do any strenuous hiking or rambling. Instead we dawdle our way in the fresh air taking in the aleatory beauty of nature in the British countryside.





P.S. I wore this dress HERE and HERE


Comfort precedes elegance on forest walkabouts so my faithful old denim shirt came in handy. It is beginning to show all the signs of age and dare I say it, overuse. Parts of it are a little threadbare yet it gets softer and somehow more comfortable with each wash and wear. 

While it may be tatty and can never seriously be regarded as smart, it is so versatile on adventures and perfect for layering. I don't think I could ever chuck this shirt. So I've found some inspiration from a very talented fellow Instagramer Brown Tabby Works AKA Naritabby. Mr Narita runs a secondhand clothing and repair shop in Osaka where he does some truly wonderful repair work using Sashiko techniques. I must visit his shop one day!


Sashiko is a traditional Japanese stitching technique that dates back to the Edo Period. It was mainly used by fishermen and farmers to protect or  patch up the holes in their clothes.  Mending things is a skill rarely celebrated these days but it is something that I tend to do more of.

Do you have a humble garment that you just cannot part with?


LINKS |Naritabby Instagram|Brown Tabby Website|Sashiko Wikipedia|

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16.6.14

| Food | Shouga


One of my must-eat-at places when staying with family in Japan is a little place called "Shouga" in Shinyurigaoka on the outskirts of Tokyo. Shouga means ginger in Japanese, so it won't be much of an astonishment to know that they specialise in cooking unique,interesting and mouthwateringly good dishes all laced with the warming ingredient.  


Mentaiko, ginger potato salad. Rice. Miso.

Tomato, yuba, miso and ginger.

Tonkiko

Buta no shougayaki 

Shouga is an independently owned and is the 1st restaurant in Japan specialising in ginger cuisine. The founder is Morishima Tokiko who has published quite a few cookbooks on the subject. Shouga seems to be a hit with ladies in particular which means that Hiro is usually the only man in the restaurant. He doesn't mind at all unless they give him what he refers to as a "lady-sized portion of rice" which is never enough for him. Luckily, they are always happy to refill his rice bowl.

We visited Shouga back in 2012 and it was nice to see that it is still bustling at lunchtimes.

Set lunches consist of a medley of 2 small side dishes, rice, miso soup, salad and a larger main dish for ¥1050 which at the time was the equivalent of £6.25 per person. Oh and did I mention that you can get free refills on the rice and salad? Incredible value, always unique and truly delicious. 

P.S. Sadly, it is such levels of quality and cost that makes it so difficult for us to justify eating out in Japanese restaurants when back in London. 

Shouga address: 1 Chome-6-3 Kamiasao, Asao Ward, Kawasaki, Kanagawa 215-0021


LINKS | Shouga Website  




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15.6.14

| Aspiga | Mzuri Sana


This is my beloved Mzuri clutch from Aspiga.  Mzuri because means good in Swahili, very fitting I think. It is something that will make many an appearance on the blog in the future so I thought it deserved a post all of its own.


This gorgeous and intricately beaded clutch has become more than just an occasional accessory to me. It something that I take on every adventure and look at everyday and wonder at the workmanship and time that it must have taken to place every single little seed bead in place. It is a stunning item that sings of quality and is just at home at a fancy evening soiree as it is in a park full of cherry blossoms.  Come to think of it, I have not taken it anywhere without receiving compliments galore. 



Aspiga's Mzuri clutch features intricate beadwork on the front and reverse. It is lined with satin, has in internal pocket and a  has a silver plated magnetic closure. 

Aspiga in sakura
Jumper from Muji. Scarf from a street vendor in Zanzibar. Clutch from Aspiga.

I love coming across brands that put a lot of heart into what they do. Today' s world can be cruelly avaricious so finding people that  care about how they treat people while conducting their business restores our faith in humanity. Aspiga is such a brand. Established by Lucy McNamara in 2006 after a holiday in Kenya, Aspiga is an online shop providing luxury ethical items that are designed in UK and handmade in Africa and India. 

Aspiga do their bit to "fight poverty through trade" by working closely with local individuals leading small work forces who use traditional techniques to hand make the stunning items in their shop. They not provide jobs and pay fairly for their items but encourage good working conditions, fair wages and help to maintain traditional craftsmanship. It is no wonder then that Aspiga's ethical values resonate with our own.

P.S. Aspiga did a wonderful piece on their blog about Kenya it is really worth checking out! We LOVE it see it HERE.

LINKS | Aspiga Shop  


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13.6.14

| Photo Diary | Sunrise in Zanzibar


Sunrise is every bit as beautiful as her sister Sunset. We woke one particular daybreak on a lonely beach in Zanzibar to find that she had shot shades of pink and lilac into the skies. 






Travelling has a way of putting life into perspective and as I breathed the air of my motherland I was reminded of me as a child. A  scared little girl who while facing a road of obstacles, dreamed of leaving Africa. Now that I am grown I dream of returning to seek out the beauty of my memories. I wish I could have spoken to little me on the day that our father gave us up to be adopted by relatives. I would have said to me; "be strong little girl, the future will be hard but bright.....So bright. And one day you will come back home again and you will be so happy that you came".

That day when Hiro woke me so that we could watch the sunrise together, I stumbled out of our hut with just a secondhand shirt over my night-dress and shuffled about the beach thinking about nothing but how beautiful life is. That day if Mr Stickhead offered me a job in his tourist information office. I would have taken it in a heartbeat.

If you could go back and meet yourself as a child. What would you say?



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