Sunday, January 26, 2014

Cake Baking + IKEA

This weekend was really cold, but really fun. I baked a real cake, something I rarely do due to Japanese kitchen limitations, but I was lucky to have access to a full-sized kitchen with an actual oven (and not a toaster oven…), so first thing I did was to bake a cake. I stocked up on ingredients at Kinokuniya (an upscale/import grocery store near Omotesando), and made a tasty vanilla cake complete with frosting. My Japanese friends think that our cakes are always too sweet (and after living here for four years, I cannot eat North American-style sweets anymore, gasp!) so I completely cut down the sugar and only kept it in the frosting, which was a nice balance, for me at least. It's amazing how happy I felt to bake again- such a simple thing, but oh-so-much pleasure.

We also took another trip to IKEA. This time I had a list of specifics, along with a budget to strictly follow, but everyone knows it's impossible just to get only one or two things at IKEA. My friend Jonathan went there thinking he would only buy a tiny coffee table, but ended up buying a sofa. I filled my basket along the way, and towards the end I decided to be reasonable and I ended up discarding half of my loot, and only sticking to my needs. What an achievement! I can't wait to re-arrange my apartment, all those new additions really make it more livable and cozy. 

I'm always extra careful not to accumulate too much as I live abroad; I tend not to buy books or house furnishings I don't absolutely need, and not too many decorations. But well, it's been four years, and it's ridiculous not to feel completely at home just because I live 'abroad'. My life is here now and even though I may end up moving back to Canada or somewhere else someday, I'll deal with it. I think too many people who live abroad don't make their homes fully comfortable, and it's probably not a good thing. So here I am, I now am a bit more settled, and don't feel guilty about buying a semi-decorative pillow for my sofa.

I also went to my favourite cafe/cocktail bar/furniture shop Fuglen, a branch of the Norwegian shop. They have really skilled, mustache-sporting mixologists, and I tried a cocktail called "After Bath", a mix of bourbon, cynar, lemon, rosemary and lavender. It tasted just as fresh as it sounds. Fuglen is non-smoking, which I love, and they have piles of magazines like Monocle and home stuff for sale around the place. If you get there early enough, they bake those delicious cinnamon rolls.

It was a wonderful weekend, but I've been having chills for the past two days, and now a sore throat. Trying to fight it off with hot tea and honey, hope I can sleep it away.

Baking and drinking: not one without the other

Vanilla cake! Dense and tasty!

The pile of discarded stuff and pouty face

After Bath at Fuglen


Unknown said...

Kinokuniya sells food in Tokyo??

Alexandra Howell said...

Hi Vivian! I love your blog!! I also live in Tokyo. I went to Ikea this weekend too and had a similar battle. It’s so hard not to want to buy everything there. Kindred spirits!

Anonymous said...

Oooh, that cake looks good! I'm envious of your skills. I can cook, but the baking skills eludes me.

I think you're right about decorating. I was in Japan for almost three years, and I feel very sorry for the teacher who got the apartment after me because I had NOTHING. Just the basics it came with and a few hand-me-downs (a cupboard, a mirror, a busted kotatsu, a few others). All the disposable income I got I spent on going out or traveling abroad.

I think it's a good investment to make one's living space a warm and welcoming place, regardless of where you are. Wherever I move to in the future, I'm definitely going to sink some money into a comfy couch and some bookshelves.

Vivian said...

Julie: Yes, apparently! I think only that location. it's a really nice supermarket, I'll take you next time!

Alexandra: Thank you! Great you live in Tokyo too! And glad we share the IKEA love. Maybe we'll run into each other sometime!

Pigonthego: I'm not that great at baking, but thanks! I just miss it so much! Indeed, it is a good investment to make yourself feel at home- there is no price tag for that!

philly said...

I agree that making your dwelling comfortable and welcoming is important. Sometimes, and most especially in a small place, all you need is one great piece of art, one fresh flower or small pot you can vary with the seasons, a pillow and a throw artfully arranged.

If I stay in a city for several days when I travel, I even buy fresh flowers and pay for several extra pillows for added comfort. I always carry a card-sized photo collage of my loved ones and place it on the desk or somewhere I can see it when I return to my room. Those little touches immediately make a bare-bones hotel room homey.

I love the pouty-face photo, Vivian.