#Milestone: 1-Year Blogiversary!

 

It was past midnight that it dawned on me…

It’s been 1 year since I started blogging!

Wow. Just wow.  How fast time flies… I’ve never been able to stick to blogging this long before!

When I launched this book blog on August 25th last year, I didn’t expect it to grow this much; I didn’t think I’d come this far.
As I started this book blog on a complete whim in addition to the fact I’m Japanese, I never expected my blog to grow this fast and, more than anything, I didn’t even trust myself to blog for as long as a year.  Simply surprising. Continue reading “#Milestone: 1-Year Blogiversary!”

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Musings: Envy

Sometimes life gets ugly.
I learned my lesson the hard way yesterday.

I woke up to a very disturbing message yesterday morning; one of my e-acquaintances who I got to know through a language learning site sent me a message that totally shook me up.
She and I actually met in person a couple of years ago and it turned out she was my senior in junior college – we hailed from the same school.
As she has been battling with depression for a long time, there were times when she kept nagging at me saying things like, Continue reading “Musings: Envy”

Lessons from Grandpa #4

Here’s a post from my beautiful one and only Mischenko that teaches us how important it is for us NOT to paint others based on preconceived, discriminatory ideas and skin colors and everything.

Being born to a Buddhist monk, I went through a similar childhood myself and was drilled into moral sense and humility since my early age.

It is quite easy to bash whatever that you don’t like or things that don’t go the way you want. But I do think it is hugely important to take a moment and reflect on what significant repercussions our deeds and words can have; what big an impact our conducts can possibly have on others. Continue reading “Lessons from Grandpa #4”

#Milestone: 200 Followers – Thank You!!

I am really getting to sound like a broken record but look at this; 

I’ve just hit 200 followers!!!

To be more precise, 200 WordPress followers plus 1 E-mail follower and THAT makes 201 followers in total.

Gobsmacked. Seriously. Could this be real?????

It was July 2nd (omg, it’s been only a month!) when I hit 100 followers and I seriously cannot believe what I am seeing right now.
I’ve been blogging almost a year and come August 25th, this book blog will celebrate its 1 year-old anniversary, but did I ever imagine me having as many as 200 followers?

Honestly, No. I didn’t think that would EVER happen to me. EVER.

I honestly cannot believe this. I never imagined that my blog would be followed by so many people.
There are hundreds of thousands of great blogs out there in this blogging community, and I always thought mine is just a humble, little blog and I’ve always been comfortable with that.

But my goodness, 200 followers … unbelievable.

Thank you so much, everyone! This really means the world to me!

I really appreciate your taking time to visit, read and interact with me!
None of this would have happened had you not been there for me! I will definitely keep striving to grow my blog and make it more entertaining for all of you to enjoy 🙂

Thank you so much for your support, everyone!
I hope you all will stick around ❤

Love,
Noriko

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Question Answered: Audiobooks and Goodreads

Hello, friends!
Thank you so much for responding and giving me tips on my previous post – as to how to go about updating audiobook progress on Goodreads.
I really appreciate all your comments and input, thank you so much!!

As I connect my blog to Twitter, some of my Twitter friends who don’t have WordPress account gave me a great tip that you may find convenient and I would love to share it with you all!

Let me walk you through how to do it!

 

Step 1  Open Audible app

First, open your audible app (in my case, it’s on my iPhone) and tap the icon that I marked with a blue circle.

 

Step 2   Choose “Share my Progress”

 

Step 3  Choose the platform

Tap the platform you want to share your progress on. In my case, I’ll go for Twitter.

 

Step 4   Post it!

Add some text if you like and then tap ‘post!’

 

Then, here it is – your progress has been shared on Twitter and you can tell how much progress you have made!
I tried on Twitter this time, but I’m pretty certain it’ll work the same way with other platforms!!
Although you still can’t share your progress directly on Goodreads, better than nothing, don’t you think?

Hope it helps!

Thank you so much once again for responding to my previous post. I’ll see you again later today!

Noriko

Question: Audiobooks and Goodreads

Hello, friends! I’ll be posting my WWW Wednesday! post later today, (it’s already Wednesday in Japan), but I am here writing this post to ask you all readers/audiobook listeners a question.

I’ve just started listening to Fangirl and am really liking it so far, but I don’t know how to go about updating my reading/listening progress on Goodreads 😦

Let me show you an example to elaborate on this:

Here is a Goodreads page for A Man Called Ove audiobook edition; as you can see, it says ‘9 pages’ in this edition.
But the problem is, I don’t know how many chapters there are (as I haven’t downloaded this audiobook yet), but in most cases, there are more than 9 chapters in an audiobook, so you can’t go like, ‘Okay, I’m on chapter 2, so let’s update my Goodreads status that I am on page 2.’

As for Fangirl, thank goodness, I already owned a paperback so I can compare and see how much headway I make.
But how would you go about it if you didn’t have a physical/e-book?? Would you wait until you finish a chapter and calculate how much progress you make and just type in the percentage you read in the update feed???

Let me pick your brain, my dear readers! I’m in over my head already lol

Thanks for reading as always, I’ll see you in my next post!

Noriko

Life Updates: Book Reviewing Project

Hello, friends! How are you all doing?
Today, I’d love to share with you a snippet of the project that I had been working on for the last two months.

If you have been following my blog since June, you might recall me talking about being contacted by an editor for a Japan-based English entertainment magazine for a book review.
I was initially balked at throwing myself into this project because the book for the review was a biography – a genre that I don’t normally gravitate towards – but I decided to at least give it a try.

The editor and I got connected on Facebook through our mutual friend. My friend with whom I had been taking online English lessons first messaged me and told me that the editor wanted to connect with me on FB.
After being friends with her, she asked me if I was interested in reviewing a biography book for their September issue; an offer that came as a complete surprise. As I said earlier, I was momentarily flustered; I had never officially reviewed a book before, and I wasn’t confident in myself at all.
That said, I decided to at least take a look at the book; she went out of her way to approach me and I wanted to reciprocate her willingness.

After a while, she sent me the book up for the review and I decided to give it a try after skimming through the book. The book seemed interesting and the writing was so captivating. It didn’t feel like I was reading a non-fiction book. It almost felt like reading a novel.

She gave me a plenty of time to read and work on my review. She clearly stated that she was expecting a 1200-1400 words review – perhaps the longest review I had ever written – again, I was balked at the enormity of the project I threw myself in, but I decided that I would power through it.
Basically, once I say I’ll do it, I don’t want to take my words back. I don’t want to let anybody down, I want to live up to their expectations.
In about two weeks, I finished reading the book. It took me much longer than I had expected, but with the notes that I took along the way, I was ready to tackle writing my review.

When I contacted the editor to get her up to speed on my progress, she suggested that I contact the author and send some questions about the book. I was granted a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity to directly ask the author what was going on in the author’s mind prior to/when writing the book.
Within a week or so, I got a reply and was I surprised to read his answers!! All the vision and the intentions that the author had in mind were reflected in his writing beautifully; I was amazed by his prowess in writing and the execution.

It was certainly so hard to put my thoughts in the review as well as including the author’s responses/what he had envisioned upon writing the book. Writing and deleting, writing and deleting… I took me a whole week to work on my thoughts.
To tell the truth, my heart was in my mouth when I clicked the ‘send’ button to send my first draft to the editor – it was literally a nerve-wracking experience and I was so concerned about the potential critiques from her.
In fact, I had some nightmares – probably several times while I was working on my review, in which I was knocked for my amateurish, incomplete, lackluster review. It was truly excruciating to sit and wait for her response.

That night, at around 10 pm, I got an e-mail from the editor. When I heard the ringtone telling me that I’d just had an incoming message, my heart was in my mouth once again; my hands were trembling when I opened the message.

On the contrary to my trepidation, quite surprisingly, the response was a positive, pleasant one – the editor commended me for doing a great job in writing a ‘delightful’ book review.
She also said that my writing is ‘vivid, clear, and attractive’ and that it made her want to read the book. I couldn’t believe what I was reading… I was literally on cloud nine. So relieved and felt accomplished. I slept like a baby that night.

But then again, there was another nerve-wracking mission in store for me the next day; I had to send my first draft to the author for approval! Oh, man, how flipping out I was when I sent it to him!!
Although the editor commended me for doing a great job, she hadn’t read the book, so I had no idea whether the author would approve my review or not, and how accurately I got to capture the essence of the book. To be honest, this is one of the concerns that I always have whenever I write a book review; whether I manage to capture the book accurately or not.
The waiting was literally killing me – I was wringing my hands with anxiety,

Within a couple of hours, I got a reply – the author approved my review!!!
He wrote that he had nothing to fault in my review and that it was well observed and crafted, with just the balanced analysis readers need to form an objective judgment.

You can never imagine how relieved I was – I couldn’t believe how swimmingly everything went. I was expecting rejection after rejection; I had actually set aside a large chunk of time for rewriting.

My review is now in the midst of the editing process, and the editor told me my review will be a very important part of the next issue of their magazine. Omg, she should have told me that sooner!! Lol

Anyways, I still cannot believe I actually made it; it was truly a nerve-wracking but an incredible experience.
I am so happy and relieved that my review was appreciated both by the author and the editor… all my time and effort AND nightmares totally paid off! lol

Although I cannot give you any detail or put the actual review up on my blog until about a month or two after the publication, I just wanted to share with you what had been going on in my life, because all of you mean the world to me. I just wanted to share the happiest moment of the year with you all!

Sorry for this post being so lengthy, but thank you so much for reading 🙂
Hope you have a wonderful day and I’ll talk to you all again in my next post!

Noriko

#Tidbits about Japan: Sponge Cake

Hello, everyone!
In my last post, I talked about my obsession with baking sponge cake when I was in high school.
I knew from watching an awful a lot of FoodTube by Jamie Oliver that our sponge cake is pretty different from yours.
Inspired by a chat that I had with Stephanie, I’ve decided to make a post on our sponge cake and show you how it’s done! Hurray spontaneity!
Anyways, here we go!

 

Japanese Style Sponge Cake

For ingredients and instructions, I found a very authentic Japanese sponge cake here. (Link to Japanese Cooking 101.com)

To see how it’s actually done, check out the video down below created by the same author.

I think you’ll find both the ingredients and the process are quite different from yours.
Our sponge cake doesn’t call as much butter (fat) as yours, so it is very important to line the cake pan with parchment paper to prevent the cake from sticking to the pan.

My Personal Tips

If you don’t have enough time to shift the flour twice as shown in the video, you can put the flour in a bowl and whisk it really REALLY well instead. As you can see in the video, the point of shifting is not to have any lumps in the batter AND to incorporate air in the flour, so whisking thoroughly in a bowl will definitely work.

You don’t have a stand mixer? No worries! You could always use a hand mixer or even with a whisk and your bare strength.  It might take a while and is actually pretty strenuous if you do it by hand, but I used to do it by hand when I was in high school lol

I personally recommend you turn the bowl clockwise with your left hand (or your right hand if you’re left-handed) when folding the flour. It makes it easier to evenly distribute and incorporate the flour.

What makes our sponge cake so light and fluffy is the air incorporated during the whipping process. So, you need to be really careful when folding the flour so as not to burst and ruin the air bubbles in the batter.

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So, there you have it; this is the recipe for our sponge cake!
I think it’s quite different from the one you’re familar with. Let me know how it’s different and what you think!

Thank you, Stephanie for the inspiration. It’s been so much fun to do this post 🙂
I hope you enjoyed reading this and I’ll see you next week. (This one is totally on a whim.. But I thought I had to do this!!!)

Noriko

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#Tidbits about Japan: Pizza Toppings

TGIF, everyone! How are you all doing?

Sparked by an inspiring and wonderful chat that I had with Nel@Reactionary Tales the other day, I decided to take full advantage of being Japanese and introduce this new feature on Japanese culture from now onwards 🙂

Let me remind you: I’m not big on Japanese culture nor a pro, so please take what I say here with a grain of salt; the general ideas I’m going to introduce in this feature can differ from region to region! Things can be totally different from a small city where I’m living and big cities like Tokyo!
Also, this is going to be a weekly (or biweekly: I haven’t decided yet) feature; I might fall behind in my updates at times, but I’ll try to keep to the schedule the best I can!

All right, enough of my yakking, let’s get started 😀

When I was racking my brain to come up with the very first topic, I could think of nothing else but this : Pizza toppings.
Again, this was sparked by the chat that I had with Nel AND so many comments that I got on The Sunshine Blogger Award post! There was a question asking what my favorite pizza toppings are and I answered potatoes and bacon and my fellow bloggers were like, ‘OMG, that’s a first for me!’ or something along those lines. More than anything, we all love food, yes?

So… here you go, these are what Japanese pizzas look like:

 

 

 

Obviously there’s neither time nor space to explain EVERYTHING, so I’ll just pick some of the toppings what I think uniquely Japanese or particular to Japan.

Potato Bacon

potato bacon

This is the choice that I made on my post and to my great surprise, it drew a lot of attention. This one is from one of the top pizza franchises in Japan and it’s got buttery cube cheese (supposed to give the ingredients an extra rich texture and flavor), potatoes and seasoned bacon on top of their special mayonnaise sauce.

Seafood Mix

seafood mix

I think this is a typical ‘seafood pizza’ in Japan. This one has got mayonnaise-flavored seafood (shrimp, squid, tuna) and boiled broccoli and onions on top of tomato sauce. You may get to choose the sauce either from tomato sauce or white sauce. Again, it depends on the franchise (or restaurant).

Teriyaki Chicken

teriyaki chikin

You cannot miss this one if you come to Japan – Teriyaki Chicken!
I don’t know if you have ever tried Teriyaki sauce which is unique to Japan, but it’s got a very bold and thick flavor which is great as a marinade or as a sauce served with your favorite meats. (you can watch how to make Teriyaki chicken here 🙂
The name is pretty self-explanatory and yes, here you have marinated chicken, corns, some shredded seaweed on top of their special mayonnaise sauce.

Mochi Potato Mentai

mochi potato mentai

Has any of you ever tried Mochi (rice cake)? We Japanese mainly have rice cake in January especially during the New Year’s holiday (Jan.1st – Jan 3rd), but we throw rice cake in pretty much everything as a topping. Another Japan-specific thing you should note here is Mentaiko (spicy cod roe) and it really goes with mayonnaise hence we have special mayonnaise sauce with boiled potatoes, bacon, onions, corns, and some shredded seaweed as toppings.

Crab Gratin

crab gratin

The last one that I’m sharing with you is ‘crab gratin.’ Yes, pretty much self-explanatory, and here’s the description of a major pizza franchise in Japan:
The sweetness of the crab is balanced by the saltiness of the pancetta under a blanket of creamy white sauce. With baked potato slices also in the mix, this is one hearty pizza!

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As I told you before, it is next to impossible to introduce everything here, so I’ll put the links to two major pizza franchises in Japan. (Although Chicago Pizza is now available in Japan, but I couldn’t find the English page, so I guess that’ll have to do.)

 

There you have it; those are some examples of pizza toppings that are popular in Japan.
What do you think?? Have you tried any?
I hope you enjoyed this new feature and definitely let me know what you think!

Thank you so much for reading, and I’ll see you (hopefully) next week!

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