Through my eyes: the streets of Shinjuku by night, Tokyo, Japan

We don’t indulge in many luxuries or extravagances at home; we buy our groceries at the market or homebrand at the supermarket. Majority of my clothes are from Target or KMart or items I’ve bought online at ASOS for 70% off. Our furtniture is far from designer. But one indulgence we do allow ourselves is our Foxtel subscription. Not so much for the reality rubbish marathons, but the BBC Knowledge and VICE docos, and the travel shows. It’s amazing how much of the world you can experience at least second hand from home!

Anyway, we spent an hour as hysterical as hyenas on the weekend watching a new show on channel 9, Travel Guides; “a new seven-part TV series where ordinary families are sent to review some of the most exotic and popular tourist locations around the globe. Six groups from all over Australia will travel to seven destinations and tell Australia what they truly thought of their holiday adventure. And it’s fair to say that not everyone’s idea of paradise is the same. Each group comes from a very different walk of life, and each holiday will suit a particular group’s taste.”

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They visited Tokyo in the first episode, and it was an absolute scream for me, having been there myself – seeing it through the eyes of other people so different to me was great, incredibly entertaining, and such a poignant (albeit sometimes not the most dignified) reminder that, with different backgrounds and experiences, we all see things so differently.

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I can’t wait to get back to Tokyo, though, and that episode got me even more excited. Looking back through some photos, I found these, all taken around the area I stayed in at night. It was gorgeous, fairly quiet, and I never once felt unsafe walking around alone. I can’t wait to get back!

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Eat here: Sookie La La, Melbourne V.2 (diner)

Sookie La La
593 High St, Northcote
http://www.sookielaladiner.com.au/

It’s hard to believe it was September 2015 when I first visited and blogged about this place… since then, it’s become our favourite Sunday breakfast nook and feels like a second home :)

Almost 18 months since that first visit, nothing about Sookie La La is slipping. The service is wonderful, prompt, and most importantly, welcoming and friendly. The booths are perfect – your own private little breakfast nooks. And the standard of the food is still top notch – it’s simple, homely, comforting food that makes you feel like you’re in a favourite aunt’s home.

Husband’s new favourite thing in the world is their fried chicken on waffles. You can probably see why. But tasting it is another story – the waffles are soft and fluffy, and the chicken is perfectly white and tender on the inside, with the perfect crunch on the outside. We’ve eaten a bit of fried chicken, but Sookie La La’s is both of our favourite.

I went with the reuben sandwich, the towering king of bread and corned beef and sauerkraut and pickles and cheese and Russian dressing. This is a proper sandwich. For breakfast or lunch, it’s just magic.

After a long week, when we roll up to their glass front door on a Sunday morning and slide into one of the beautiful wooden booths, it really feels like home. We both seem to sigh in relief as we sit down to a hot pot of strong tea for me and a chocolatey coffee for the husband, always brought over by the ever-smiling lady of the house, and we know that no matter what we order, it’s going to be delicious. We’ve spent many hours planning our #👫WorldTour there. Talking about our weeks at work. Mulling over problems that need solving. Discussing our plans for the future and remembering all of the good and bad from the past. We eventually look out at the street through the shuttered windows with the Sunday morning light streaming in, and reluctantly slide out of our booth to get on with the day. Always knowing we’ll be back soon :)

Sookie La La Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Logistics of RTW travel – part 3: How to create your savings budget

Now that you know how much money you’re going to actually need for your trip, creating a savings budget is pretty simple (actually sticking to it may be another story…).

STEP ONE
Take your summary from STEP EIGHT when you did your spendings budget back out again:
TRANSPORT: $4,600
ACCOMMODATION: $2,850
SPENDING: $2,400
INSURANCE: $400
COSTS AT HOME: $1,700
TOTAL FOR TRIP: $11,950
STEP TWO
Work out what cash flow you already have going towards your trip. For example, you may have already started saving a bit, you may be entitled to some holiday pay while you’re away, or maybe you know that you’re going to be getting a half decent tax return.
NEED: $11,950
MINUS:
Annual leave pay $2,000
Already saved $1,500
Tax return $500 (approx)
TOTAL: $4,000
STEP THREE
Easy maths: how much do you need between now and when you want to start your trip?
Currently: January 2017
Travel starts: January 2018
Need: $7,950
STEP FOUR
Break it down to less scary numbers:
1. Need $330 per person, per month for 12 months
2. We both get paid fortnightly, so we each need to put away $165 per pay
And that’s pretty much all there is to this part! Like I said, once you know roughly how much you’re expecting to spend on your trip, it’s super easy to work out what to save. Sticking to the budget can be hard, but one of the best things I’ve ever done was to open a separate travel bank account. Now, every pay day, whatever I need for my next trip goes straight into that separate account, not to be touched until I start booking and paying for it!

Cook this: matcha magic cake

After my trip to Japan gave me a much deeper appreciation for matcha, I started following Matchaeologist’s Instagram account. Since then, I’ve made a few of their recipes, like these mini matcha balls and these white chocolate matcha muffins.

A recipe for a pretty easy but very delicious-looking matcha cake popped up, and I knew I had to try it. I was intrigued by the amount of egg and milk in it, compared to the very low amount of butter. The video of it being cut up also made it look like it had a really interesting/different texture to a standard cake…

It was super quick and easy to throw together, and required no special ingredients that I didn’t already have. It also came out looking a little differently to the Instagram video, with an almost glutinous/gelatinous layer on the bottom, and an incredibly light and fluffy cake layer on top. I suspect that may have had something to do with the beaten egg whites folded in, the low amount of flour, the melted butter, maybe a combination of it all… whatever it was, I loved it! The only real difference I made to the recipe posted on Instagram was to add a little more flour – the amount they called for really didn’t seem to be anywhere near enough compared to the amount of milk, and I’m pretty happy with the results. Anyway, here’s how I put mine together; if you give it a try, I’d love to hear how it turned out for you!

Ingredients:
– 2 eggs, separated
– ⅓ cup caster sugar
– ½ tsp vanilla extract
– ¼ cup melted butter
– ⅔ cup plain flour
– 1 tsp matcha
– 1 cup milk, lukewarm

 

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 160ºC and line a square cake tin with baking paper.

2. Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until peaks just form (be careful not to over beat), and set aside.

3. In a larger mixing bowl, beat together the egg yolks and sugar until pale. Then, add in the vanilla and butter, and beat again until completely combined.

4. Sift in the flour and matcha, and stir until just combined.

5. Gradually pour in the milk, stirring to combine.

6. Lastly, use a spatula to fold in the egg white, bit by bit. It’ll be a wet batter, so don’t freak out – it will cook into cake form in the oven!

7. Pour the batter into the cake tin and bake for 40 – 45 minutes, until set and golden on top. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

8. This cake goes particularly well dusted with icing sugar – and a pot of green tea :)

From my travel journal: Los Angeles, 2014

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“Our first trek was out to Rodeo Drive. An unseasonably warm day had us overly-toasty from the outset – we were dressed completely inappropriately due to a crappy weather forecast. So, in my leggings and $5 top, I wandered down Rodeo Drive; we were actually passed by a couple being preceded by not one but TWO nannies to deal with their dead-silent, stroller-bound twins. Why in the name of all that is sane, would you feel the need to PAY someone to push the pram holding your own children?!

Chanel, Dior, Gucci, Tiffany’s… I felt like I wasn’t even fit to breathe the same air. I do wonder how they live, the other side, the rich and famous. There are times I think I’d give my own arm for the chance to swan around a fabulous party in the perfect gown and jewels, just for the night… there are probably more times that I wouldn’t trade in my life for anything else…

Anyway, we didn’t last long in that shiny Golden Triangle.”