Field Trip: Hello Melbourne! Queen Victoria Market and Books for Cooks

Information: Books for Cooks:  Address: 129-131 Therry St Melbourne VIC 3000 [opposite the Queen Victoria Market] Phone: +61 3 8415 1415| Hours: Monday-Sunday, 9 to 5. Most public holidays 11-5. Closed on Easter Friday, Easter Sunday, Christmas Day, Boxing Day & New Year’s Day

When I was living in Melbourne, I made weekly trips to Queen Victoria Market, (or Vic Market). For a student on a limited budget, the Market was a wonderful place to hunt for fresh produce, fruit, and an occasional bunch of flowers. 10 years later, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the Market for the most part, still looked largely the same.  One “new to me” addition that I really wanted to explore was Books for Cooks, which is located on Therry Street, just across from Vic Market.  Books for Cooks is an independent culinary bookstore, filled to the brim with new and old books about food and wine.

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Monthly Roundup for January ~ February 2018

The last few months of 2018 can only be described as a tumult.  I lost my grandmother this past December.  She was a feisty, strong-willed woman, with a quick laugh, and was actively present in my everyday life.  When I first came back to Taiwan, before college, and afterwards to work, I would stay at her house, and we would spend hours together cooking, watching TV and chatting.  I think the reason why my conversational Chinese improved so rapidly over the years was because I always had an enthusiastic grandmother to chat with.  (My parents always found it a little amusing that she also picked up my speech patterns in her everyday speech, such as “uh-huh” and “ok,” “yeah” and “天啊” tian-ah~ a Mandarin version of, “oh my!”)

Until a year ago or so, she always used to say to me “I feel like a young person in an old person’s body.” She loved doing what she referred to as “young people’s activities,” such as going to Starbucks and playing Angry Birds and Fruit Slice on her iPad.  As her only granddaughter, I was indulged and protected by her love,  and this is something I will remember and carry with me for the rest of my life.  I’m not sure how I will get used to not having her around, but I am trying my best.

I had originally planned a trip to Melbourne for this winter, and I almost didn’t go. But my mom and dear friend Peter convinced me that a change of scene would do me good. Aside from a few wobbly moments during the trip~ one was while shopping and realizing I didn’t have to bring back a present back for my grandmother, and one was after arriving back in Taipei, when I absentmindedly dialed her number while waiting for my luggage at baggage claim, for the most part, I really enjoyed the trip; it really helped to be in a completely different environment, frame of mind and pace of life.

The last time I was in Melbourne was 10 years ago, and the city has changed so much since then. This post will highlight 10 of my favorite moments from the trip, in no particular order, just as they pop into my head. In addition, I will write a “Hello Melbourne!” series,  which will be more organized, and similar to my other travel posts (Hello Tokyo! , Hello Seoul! and  Hello Hong Kong!)

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Cooking Project: Miffy Curry Rice (inspired by Rilakkuma Cafe)

Recently, I tagged along with my friends to the Rilakkuma Cafe in Taipei.  The food was abysmal, but the presentation was irresistible.   So even though the rice was dry, the chicken hard and flavorless, everything tasted more exciting because it was molded into the face of Rilakkuma.

In the end, I was so charmed by the effect that I decided to recreate the experience at home with my favorite cartoon character…Miffy.  I did a quick search online, and found a Miffy rice mold.

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Field Trip: Heritage Bakery and Cafe

Information: Heritage Bakery and Cafe: Hankou Street, Section 1, No. 73-2, Taipei City, Zhongzheng District| Phone: 02 2311 1079| Website: |台北市中正區漢口街一段73號之2

I grew up in the U.S., and I will always have nostalgia for some of their more hearty desserts, such as carrot cake, chocolate chip cookies, cinnamon rolls, and cake with thick buttercream frosting.  In the past, when cravings struck, I usually had to roll up my sleeves and make these desserts myself.  However, this has all changed  upon my discovery of Fika Fika Cafe, and most recently, Heritage Bakery and Cafe. Both cafes serve carrot cake the way that it’s supposed to be~ sweet and cinnamon-y, with visible carrot shreds, and most importantly, topped by a generous swirl of cream cheese frosting.

Heritage Bakery Cafe is located near Taipei Main Station and Ximen Station. (If you are a camera enthusiast, you will be familiar with this area, because there there are several camera stores grouped in this neighborhood).

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Monthly Roundup for December 2017. See you next year!

As 2017 draws to a close, instead of the usual monthly 5 things,  I wanted to recap and reflect on some of the more significant moments on the blog.  Blogging has fallen to the wayside a bit these past few weeks, but I will be back, with great enthusiasm in 2018.

  1.  The year started off with a trip to Tokyo.  Highlights from the trip include a journey to my beloved Traveler’s Factory and cake and coffee at Harbs. 
  2. I discovered two new favorite places to enjoy dessert: QuelQues and Chantez.
  3. I tried my hand at being a minimalist.  I’ve discovered that it is harder than I expected, but it’s worth the effort to be living a much more streamlined lifestyle. So far, it’s very much a work in progress.  But I watch this video whenever I feel my resolve waning.
  4. I also started writing Monthly Roundup posts on my blog this summer, and it’s a post that I look forward to writing each month.
  5. Finally, for inspiration, I’m reading New York Time’s Smarter Living article on How to Make (and Keep) a New Year’s Resolution.  Find the link here.

Happy New Year everyone! I’ll be back to blogging in full force in the New Year.  See you in 2018!

 

Monthly Roundup for November, 2017

November is home to one of my favorite holidays, Thanksgiving.  Now that I’m living in Taiwan, this holiday has taken on different iterations.  One part that remains the same is that I still make sure to take some time to reflect on all that I am thankful for. This season, I am thankful that I have a strong support network, thankful for a career that is almost equal parts challenging and rewarding, and also thankful that I have some time to pursue my interests and hobbies, with cheerful abandon.

This month has been a particularly trying one for me and my family, and in the midst of it all, I’m trying my best to keep everything afloat.  A method that has worked particularly well is to make meticulous lists of things that I have to do~ which really brings a sense of calm and order.   The other method is to find a few moments everyday to do something that occupies both my mind and hands in a happy and healthy way (which really rules out sitting in front of the TV and eating potato chips!)

Early this morning, I spent a few minutes wrapping this adorable gift for a friend’s baby, and it made me feel happy and content knowing how much she would enjoy it.

P.S.: I may have to delay my posting scheduling here for the next few weeks. But I’ll try to update when I can!

This was not a sponsored post. I paid for all items shown here with my own money, and all opinions are based on my own experiences. 

Looking forward to 2018 with the Hobonichi Techo Planner 

It’s almost that time of year again to shop around for a new planner! I always enjoy the annual the calendar and planner display at Eslite (Xinyi Branch)~ it’s a well-organized and inspiring place to discover what’s new in the field.

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There are so many colorful and tempting options this year!  In addition to the Taiwanese brands, there are also many different imported planners from around the world.

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The displays at Eslite also have good examples of how to incorporate washi tape and post-it notes to brighten up an otherwise staid calendar. (Seriously, I never thought to use my washi tapes vertically.  Or to cut them in half)

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However, despite all the colorful temptations, for my yearly planner, my preferred planner is the Hobonichi Techo, English edition.  I’ve been using this planner for the past three years, and I’ve been very happy with the format and size. It is the A6 size, with a January start. For this post, I thought I would give you a quick peek into how I use my planner, and a quick look at the 2018 edition.

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