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

5 comments:

Unknown said...

Kinokuniya sells food in Tokyo??
Julie

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!

pigonthego 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.