Crazy deer, temples and sake

Japan Day 3 205 After my morning run, we headed to the hotel restaurant for breakfast. Mr BBB went for the American breakfast, while I stuck with my favourite – oatmeal. It was then time to check out and head to Osaka station, where we caught another train to Kyoto. We dropped off our bags at the hotel, then took a train to Nara – approximately 50 minutes away. It wasn’t long before the view of the city and its buildings was replaced with views of the gorgeous Japanese countryside. Once we arrived, we re-fueled with a little coffee then started to explore the area. Japan Day 3 131 Japan Day 3 132 My belly was starting to rumble at this stage, so I convinced Mr BBB that sushi was again in order for lunch. We stumbled across a sushi ‘train’ and was to excited to try the various kinds of sushi. Japan Day 3 135 Amongst those sampled were tuna, egg, fermented beancurd (disgusting!), salmon etc. Japan Day 3 136 Japan Day 3 138 Japan Day 3 141 Our bellies full, we started the climb through the Nara Koen area. We first came across the Kofuku-ji temple and the ‘Five storey pagoda’. Japan Day 3 153 Followed by the Todaji temple…gorgeous. Japan Day 3 181 The whole park was swarming with deer, over 1200 we were told, which in pre-Buddhist times were considered messengers of the gods. It seems that today they are spoilt by the tourists who can purchase biscuits to feed them. Japan Day 3 156   They are certainly not shy creatures, at least in this park, and were actually quite greedy once they realised that you had biscuits to offer! Japan Day 3 173 Japan Day 3 174 After surviving the deer stampede, we headed further into the park, passing hundreds of gorgeous lanterns. I can only imagine how majestic the area would look if all the lanterns were lit. Japan Day 3 188 Japan Day 3 186 We finished off our adventure with a walk back down the mountain using the paths lined with trees, lanterns and of course, deer! I think we walked over 6km all up, and my legs were certainly feeling tired by the end. Japan Day 3 192 Japan Day 3 198 Japan Day 3 204 Daylight was fading fast, so we caught the train back to Kyoto. We arrived after 7pm and decided to head straight to the shopping district for dinner. After some more walking (coupled with indecision), we finally settled on a quaint yakisoba / okonomiyaki restaurant which turned out to be quite busy. Japan Day 3 225 I ordered a rice filled omelette, with sake on the side, and Mr BBB went for the okonomiyaki (a Japanese pancake). Japan Day 3 219 Japan Day 3 218 Both dishes were placed on a hotplate in the middle of the table to finish cooking and to keep warm while we ate our way through them. Both were delicious – and were eaten up quickly. We were starving after our long day of walking!! Japan Day 3 222 I also ordered a sake to drink on the side….not my favourite drink but certainly interesting…. Japan Day 3 216  (Don’t be alarmed by the size of the glass…it was mixed with water for this first timer!!) Dinner was delicious – and we made our way back to the hotel quite tired yet satisfied after the long day. It’s off to bed for me now. Tomorrow we are set to explore the city of Kyoto! Happy baking 🙂

Come run with me

Training: Run 40 mins (6km approx) This morning I practically jumped out of bed when my alarm went off. Well rested, I layered up and headed out for another morning run – this time solo as Mr BBB wanted the extra rest. Japan Day 3 001 It was still a little dark when I started, so I headed along the river. Japan Day 3 004 Then across a bridge and through some of the back streets. Japan Day 3 003 I then headed back to the river, which I followed for the next 25 minutes or so, running under several bridges… Japan Day 3 007 Past some tall buildings… Japan Day 3 008  Near some awesome lamps and structures… Japan Day 3 014 Japan Day 3 015 Japan Day 3 013 By now daylight had broken so I looped back around and finished at our hotel – sweaty yet refreshed. Japan Day 3 017 Now I am off for a quick shower and breakfast, before we head to Kyoto.

Sushi and castles

Japan Day 2 067 After a solid night’s sleep, we rugged up and headed straight out for a 30 minute run in the chilly Osaka air. I felt so refreshed afterwards, and ready to start the day. Japan Day 2 002 Japan Day 2 004 We were running a little behind schedule this morning so we opted for breakfast in the hotel. I chose the reliable oatmeal, and Mr BBB went for the “light breakfast”. Both meals were okay – but a little expensive for what was served. Japan Day 2 008 Our bellies full from breakfast, we set about leaning the Osaka rail system, and soon found ourselves at the main subway station. Japan Day 2 020 After finally finding an ATM that accepted our bank card (which proved quite difficult!?!), we wandered the food halls of the Hanshin Department Store. The store was HUGE and full of interesting foods and treats….a food blogger’s delight! Japan Day 2 014 Japan Day 2 015 Japan Day 2 016 I could have wandered these food halls for hours! I loved that most of the shops had windows through which you could see the chefs and bakers preparing the treats. Japan Day 2 017 Japan Day 2 018 Japan Day 2 019 Our taste buds soon led us to a sushi restaurant – where we chose a variety late each including tuna, salmon, octopus, squid etc. The sushi was delicious – and so so fresh. Japan Day 2 013 I suspect that you will be seeing a lot more of this over the next week! We then caught another train to the Osaka Castle – which was simply gorgeous! While the castle itself was not open, we were able to wander the grounds and admire the huge walls in all their glory. Japan Day 2 027 Japan Day 2 032 Japan Day 2 033 After spending the afternoon at the Castle, we headed back to the hustle and bustle of the city and found ourselves in the Tsutenkaku area – surrounded by pachinko and other game parlours. Japan Day 2 068 Japan Day 2 070 Our bellies started rumbling again by this point, so we headed to Dotonbori, an area filled with shops and restaurants. Japan Day 2 074 We decided on ramen / soba for dinner which were a delicious way to end our big day of walking. Japan Day 2 078 The sun had long since set by this stage, so we headed back to the train station, for our ride home. Japan Day 2 081 Overall, we had a fantastic day in Osaka and are looking forward to our trip to Kyoto and Nara tomorrow. Happy baking 🙂

Konnichi wa

Greetings from Japan! Japan Day 1 031 Mr BBB and I arrived last night – and I only just found the time to blog!! We have been go go go since we arrived – so I’ll break this update into two parts. Day 1 – Australia to Osaka Yesterday morning started at 4.00am, so that we could be at the airport shortly after 5.00am. Our first flight to Brisbane went relatively quickly, and it wasn’t long before we arrived and connected with our Tokyo flight. Japan Day 1 002 Japan Day 1 009 Japan Day 1 010 Japan Day 1 011 Japan Day 1 014 Japan Day 1 012   A few meals, movies and magazines later, we arrived at Narita Airport in Tokyo. Given that it is the middle of summer in Australia, I was quite surprised at how cold it was. Once we had cleared customs and immigration, we boarded (another) flight to Osaka – our final destination for the day. 18 hours, 8,563 kilometers, 2 taxis, 3 planes, 2 buses and 1 train later, we arrived at our hotel – the Royal Hotel in Osaka. Japan Day 1 026  We were famished – so headed straight out to grab a quick bite to eat. We found a little tempura restaurant a short walk away – which was perfect for a late dinner. Japan Day 1 022 Japan Day 1 023  We literally fell into bed after dinner, tired from the days travels – and excited to explore the city in the morning. Day 2 recap to follow! Happy baking 🙂

Christmas greetings!

IMG_1861 We have just returned from what was a lovely time down the farm for Christmas. Although the weather was a little cool, it turned out to be the perfect weather for a hot Christmas dinner. We started the day with brunch – fruit platter, cheeses and pate. The mangos were delicious 🙂  IMG_1841IMG_1846 IMG_1842  IMG_1844  I tried a little of everything.  IMG_1849 While waiting for the rest of the family to arrive, we set up the tree, and decorated the dinner table. IMG_1851    IMG_1859 IMG_1860 I spent the afternoon catching up on some reading (and possibly took a nap somewhere in there too!) Before long, dinner was served – with all the trimmings. IMG_1872 We had a selection of ham, stuffing, baby beetroots, quinoa salad and potato salad. IMG_1871 IMG_1869IMG_1870 And a selection of hot food including roast turkey, pork and vegetables. IMG_1885 Served with some Sparkling Shiraz…delicious! IMG_1868 I tried a little of everything….and may have gone back for seconds on the roast vegetables… IMG_1886 I was asked to bring dessert – and decided to try something a little un-traditional this year… summer berries with white russian mousse. IMG_1903IMG_1902 The mousse was really really sweet – but worked nicely with the berries.  IMG_1901 Overall we had a wonderful day! We even got to spend a little time with the newest additions at the farm…so adorable! IMG_1945IMG_1942 IMG_1939 IMG_1941                    I hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas! I am now back home frantically finishing our packing for our Japan trip! I managed to borrow a lap top so I should be able to keep blogging throughout our trip too 🙂 I can’t wait!!! Happy baking 🙂

Urban Polaris

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Today Mr BBB and I competed in the Urban Polaris – a biking and orienteering event. The general concept is that teams of two must reach as many checkpoints located around the city within a 7 hour time period. Each checkpoint is worth a certain number of points – with the closer checkpoints usually being lesser in value than those which are far away or difficult to reach. The winner of the race is the team that has collected the most points overall at the end of the 7 hours. Our day started  early so that we could be at registration by 6.30am. IMG_1281

We soon arrived at the event HQ and collected our race bags which included a map and a list of grid references for the various checkpoints. Having not completed in the event before, we decided to avoid the “far” checkpoints and concentrate on the ones closer by. We did, after all, have 7 hours on the bike ahead of us!

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After plotting all the checkpoints on our map, we headed over to the start line – to commence the race! Apparently there were over 150 teams competing so there were people everywhere!

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During the first half of the race, we were north of the city – and came across     some beautiful bike paths, equestrian trails and tracks.

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We stopped for some fuel at various points along the way – although my ‘game plan’ to eat more during the event did not go too well as I didn’t really have an appetite for a lot of food. I did, however, manage some bananas and gels which seemed to keep my energy levels ok.

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There was not a cloud in the sky however so the sun was relentless – especially when we reached this hill!

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We also encountered a few obstacles along the way…

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We also arrived at one checkpoint only to find out that we had to swim to an island to have our score card stamped! I was not expecting that – but the thought of a cool swim did not bother me in the slightest!!

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Having cooled down, we continued our journey (now south of the city) where the scenery was a little more bland and the heat a lot more intense! Thank goodness for sunscreen – that is all I can say!!!

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I can’t believe how dry it is! Someone needs to cut the grass – especially with the hotter weather / bushfire season yet to come. By now our muscles were tired and sore – so with an hour or so left on the clock we started our way back to the event HQ. We stopped at a few checkpoints along the way – but were quite happy when we reached the last one knowing that the end was in sight!

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We then headed back to event HQ – arriving with around 30 minutes to spare. We debated whether to try and reach another checkpoint using the time we had remaining – however the lure of a cold drink and a cold shower was too enticing to ignore!

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(hmm the headband may have made an appearance at this point due to an interesting combination of lake swim + helmet hair = so hot….not!!) All in all it was a fantastic day and we learnt a lot. I have so much respect for the teams that scored well in the event – knowing the hills they would have had to climb – and the speed in which they would have had to have done it. Both Mr BBB and I are already sore and will no doubt feel worse tomorrow. But this was the longest distance that both of us have ever ridden, plus the longest time we have spent on our bikes, so we are very happy with our effort! Now we are just waiting for the local Indian restaurant to open so that we can order a yummy feed to replace some of the ++++ calories burned during the race! Happy baking 🙂

Pregnancy Update – Week 13

(And finally….the final entry from my ‘hidden’ pregnancy diary!) How far along? 13 weeks 3 days How big is baby? This week baby BBB has grown to the size of a peach (in length). It’s hard to believe that not all that long ago baby BBB was the size of an apple seed! week13 How I’m feeling?  I am feeling a lot more energetic than I have been over the last few months, and have even managed to stay up past 8.30pm most evenings lol. Apparently this resurgence of energy is quite normal as one enters the second trimester! Weight? +0.9 this week (4.2kg overall)   IMG_2456   (I have no idea why my t-shirt looks like this?! All I know is that this is possibly the fugliest weekly photo we have taken thus far lol) How I’m changing? Physically, I am certainly continuing to grow – with a decent case of chubby cheeks developing eek. But, on the plus side,  I am back to ‘blonde’ and very happy to be rid of my icky brown hair! What I miss? Poached eggs again! Mr BBB and I went out for breakfast today, and although the scrambled eggs were ‘ok’ they had nothing on glorious runny yolk poached eggs! Symptoms? Headaches. Horrible headaches. I have been waking up with them, and they don’t go away no matter how much water I drink, or how much sleep I get. Apparently headaches are quite common during pregnancy, and are attributable to increased blood flow to the placenta (TMI???). All I know is that they are starting to get really annoying! IMG_2457 Cravings? I had a random craving for chocolate brownies this week. Although, once I made a batch, they tasted too sweet and I ended up throwing the whole batch out! Food Aversions? I still have no desire to eat seafood. Highlights this week? Being able to share our happy news with more of our dear friends and family. And the blog world of course 😉

Pregnancy Update – Week 12

(Another entry from my ‘hidden’ pregnancy diary….) It is with so much heartfelt joy and happiness that I am able to write this diary entry. When I first found out that I was pregnant, I hoped and wished with all my heart that it would not end sadly, as it has done so twice before. And I am so pleased to say that here I am 12 weeks later, with no complications to report, and feeling ever so grateful for this true blessing that is our growing baby BBB. How far along? 12 weeks 3 days How big is baby? This week baby BBB has grown to the length of a plum! Week12 How I’m feeling?  I was mentioning to Mr BBB the other day that I have been so lucky to not have suffered any morning sickness at all during the first 3 months of this pregnancy, and be relatively symptom free. He suggested that perhaps it is a small consolation for all the stress of fertility treatments, injections, scans and blood tests I have been through over the last year – which I think is a lovely and appreciative way to look at things. So how am I feeling at the moment? truly blessed and gushing with happiness.   IMG_2301  Weight? up 1 kg (and 3.3 overall) How I’m changing? My body continues to grow – in all the wrong places lol. I guess being 3 months pregnant + weight gain means that your clothes no longer feel right 😉 I am still squeezing into some of my regular work clothes, although they are feeling less and less comfortable and more and more ‘snug’. What I miss? My belly button ring! After 15 years, my favourite little piece of jewellery was taken out at this weeks ultrasound. My tummy looks so funny and naked without it (to me at least!) Although I guess it had to happen eventually.   IMG_2303 Symptoms? While I have been focusing on my ‘negative’ (albeit minor) symptoms lately, I have forgotten to mention the positive ones! My hair and nails are growing wonderfully – and for the first time in a long time I have long strong nails. Am loving it! Cravings? Cheese sandwiches. With butter. Hmm – perhaps this is a calcium thing? Food Aversions? I was watching a seafood cooking show the other night and just the thought of the seafood was making me gag. So I guess its safe to say that I am not in any way craving seafood at the moment. Highlights this week? Where do I begin???? I had my last blood test with the fertility clinic and was advised that my progesterone levels are strong and I no longer need to take the progesterone pessaries yay! This may not sound like much of a big deal – but after taking them for 6+ months (twice daily for a while), the fact I can now stop them is bliss. But of course, the big highlights of the week were seeing our precious little plum during the 12 week NT scan, and getting fantastic NT results. scan Oh and hearing the reactions of our immediate family when we told them there was to be a new addition to the family come March 2012. Let’s just say everyone is super excited (as we knew they would be!) What a wonderful week it was indeed 🙂

Pregnancy Update – Week 11

(Another entry from my ‘hidden’ pregnancy diary…) How far along? 11 weeks 3 days How big is baby? Farewell berries, hello citrus fruit! This week we have ourselves a little lime. week11 How I’m feeling? This has been a rather strange week, as I have been back at work and had more time to focus on how I am feeling (rather than being distracted by my overseas travels). Each day this week I have developed a lingering headache by the end of the day, which I attributed to my lack of afternoon nap? Speaking of which, my fatigue is still hitting hard, and I am generally in bed by 8.30pm each evening. Crazy right!   IMG_2163  Weight? down 0.3kg from last week. Strange…. How I’m changing? This was a big week for me in terms of mental change. While I still have moments of disbelief, I can tell that my anxiety is slowly starting to lessen. I even felt comfortable heading back to the gym this week, and although it was only for short workouts, the positive effect it had on my mood was indescribable. After almost 2 months of little to no ‘gym’ workouts, this girl was in heaven. I’ll have to post about my approach to pregnancy exercise sometime soon. What I miss? Being able to do up my jeans comfortably lol.  I can get them done up….just…..but are far from comfortable when done up. I see an investment in a belly band sometime soon 😉   IMG_2165 Symptoms? Fatigue, headaches and hunger. Insatiable hunger. More of the same really 😉 Cravings? I don’t know whether it was due to the cooler temperatures that greeted me on my return to Australia, or whether it was a pregnancy craving per se, but this week I was craving rich, comfort meals – loaded with carbs and vegetables. Hence the re-appearance of risottos, soups and stews on the blog. IMG_2079 But hey, given that some of my previous cravings have included fried chicken, I am taking this latest craving which at least includes some vegetables, as being a positive one! Food Aversions? Nothing springs to mind. Highlights this week? Oh my goodness this was a wonderful week. Mr BBB and I met with our Obstetrician and saw our little jelly bean lime measuring spot on for 11 weeks with a good strong heartbeat.  The relief and happiness we felt was indescribable! And, clearly not one to sit around, baby BBB put on quite a show for us during the scan, doing flips and somersaults for our viewing pleasure. It was seriously one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. Sadly we didn’t get any pictures, but I have another scan next week at 12 weeks so hopefully we get one then!

Pregnancy Update – Week 10

(Another entry from my ‘hidden’ pregnancy diary…) This week we said our farewells to the USA, returning home to the “real world”. I suspect today will be a long day back at work after having spent the last month travelling!! How far along? 10 weeks 4 days How big is baby? This week baby BBB has grown to the size of a …. prune?! Hmmm, not the prettiest size comparison that’s for sure! week10 How I’m feeling? This week I seemed to go from moments of disbelief that I am pregnant, to incredible excitement, with constant thoughts of how much I cant wait to share our exciting news with family and friends (in due course!. I did have one total emotional tantrum moment as I uncomfortably squirmed my way through the 14 hour flight back to Australia.  I am blaming pregnancy hormones, and the tiny economy middle seat 😉   IMG_2059  Weight? So on our return from holidays, I am up +2.8kg on the scale. A shock for me to see, but not all that surprising really given the lack of exercise and the "no lack" of food throughout our holiday. How I’m changing? My lower abdomen is starting to look very soft, no matter how much ‘sucking’ in I do. And I have already well and truly outgrown my regular bra, opting instead for one without an underwire. What I miss? I really missed regular sushi again this week, although vegetarian sushi rolls are still proving to be a nice compromise.   IMG_2060 Symptoms? Aside from bouts of fatigue, that seem to hit me mid afternoon, I am still feeling really good. I did have a couple of lingering headaches during the week, which no amount of water or fluids could fix, so I suspect that they might be pregnancy related? Cravings? Throughout the last week I have been craving vegemite on (GF) toast. Simple as that. So, I made it my ‘priority meal’ to have when we returned to Australia. It was the first thing I ate when we got home and I loved every mouthful. Food Aversions? None. A big contributing factor to my weight gain thus far I suspect lol! Highlights this week? This week was spent in Las Vegas, where the highlight for me was clearly the trip we took to the Grand Canyon. GC Standing atop the Canyon, staring out to the majestic cliffs, it was hard not to feel emotional and incredibly happy. Knowing that this will be our last overseas trip for quite some time (and our last overseas trip without children!) was certainly amazing and overwhelming, both at the same time.