Studio Alice


Studio Alice advertises itself as a “children’s photography castle” and it certainly can feel that way from all of the poofy gowns children can have a chance to wear. They advertise that you can take photos in as many outfits as you’d like, but when we go you never expect it to end up being an all-day excursion kind of thing. I guess it’s because we keep choosing to go when they’re pretty busy?

The Sunday that we went was like a zoo! Everyone was trying to get their pictures in for the Japanese holiday that celebrates children as they grow up, Shichi-Go-San, which I did not realize was going on when I booked us for the day I do. So of course J was overwhelmed and not happy at all. Lots of crying, especially in the pretty pink dress I chose for her. We tried to get a family picture of us on the ground holding her hand, but she kept rolling back over. We decided to come back the next day since she was so unhappy in hopes that it would be less overwhelming for her.

The next day she was still unhappy to have strange ladies waving toys in her face, but managed to eventually warm up to them. I was hoping to get pictures of her in a Santa outfit too, but after we did the third outfit I think she had enough for the day and I couldn’t imagine going back a third time to continue the shoot. Just those two days were stressful enough!

She did so great the first time we went and got pictures of her, I was kind of surprised that she didn’t do so well this time. But she is teething so I guess that was part of it. It’s also kind of a shame too because I didn’t understand how Studio Alice worked at the time. Their model is that they’ll only save the pictures that you use to buy frames and cards and such with, and then they’ll delete all of the other photographs. No one warned us of this the first time we went there, though I was warned three times this time. We got a pretty expensive package the first time since we wanted the data CD (normally you have to wait 1 year after the photoshoot to be able to purchase the raws on CD), and we kept choosing the best pictures for all of the frames, thinking we would get all of the photos. We didn’t. So even though it was kind of strange, we lost photos like family photos we didn’t choose, like the one with me holding her in a kimono. I’m just glad that I selected one photo of her in a kimono so that we have that.

Those lost photos are something that’s really bugged me these past months, and I feel like I overcompensated for it this time. Looking back at the photos I chose, there’s probably some I could’ve done without and we could’ve saved a little money by not purchasing them. In the end though, it wound up being about $10 per photo, so it’s not so bad. I bought postcards this time with three pictures on each. It still wound up being $30 per ten postcards thanks to some hidden fees I didn’t realize we’d have to pay going in (on the website they just say that it’s like $10 for 10 postcards, they didn’t mention the design fee), and I’m going to have to wait a year to expand her photo album when we get the raws, since I plan to go to a cheaper place to get them printed out. I think when it comes time for her one year old photos though that I’ll be a bit more conservative with choosing the best photos so that I feel like we’re getting the most out of our money. Hopefully she’ll be more into the whole process too!

On the bright side, they gave us one photo as a present, so at least one of our albums will get to be expanded. Despite all of the difficulties and some regrets about the whole process, I’m looking forward to getting the postcards and sharing them with everyone!


Busy Days


All bundled up for the cold days.

Phew, what a busy week and a half it’s been! I’m not even sure where to begin. Last Saturday and on Wednesday I worked, Sunday, Monday, and Thursday I was busy with handling our photoshoot at Studio Alice, on Tuesday Juliette had her first play date, and then yesterday I had to run around getting some stuff for Thanksgiving. Today was all about Thanksgiving, even hubby was running around for it. I’m really ready for a break though and a chance to sit down so I can write and finally start putting some time into the new Pokemon game!

The weather has been crazy too. One day it’s 20 degrees C, the next it’s snowing! I heard that it’s been over 50 years since it snowed in November around here.

As far as how J is, I would first like to mention that she got her first tooth last Wednesday! I can already see her second tooth and I think it’ll break through any day now. I’m really surprised how quickly those teeth grow. Thankfully she isn’t a bad teether and is handling the pain pretty well.

J turned 8 months on Sunday. We still have to take our 8 month photo of her, but I feel like we’ve finally gotten into a bedtime routine groove finally (though I feel like I have to put on a circus show to get her to sleep). She’s been practicing standing on her own for a few seconds several times a day now. She loves to “feed” her toys to anything with a mouth, including my socks with kitty faces on them! I’ve caught her even “feeding” my phone and glasses to her new Wanwan peek-a-boo doll and our Slime plush that she likes so much. She also likes it when we make animal sounds (especially monkeys), and it feels like she’s even trying to join in on the sounds. She’s also becoming quite the troublemaker! I think she’s finally figured out how to open the wipes because she discovered what a fun never ending toy the wipes are from a newly opened package while I was doing the dishes the other day.

I think she’s starting to become interested in other babies too. She took a little bit to warm up to her new surroundings during her play date with hubby’s coworker’s baby, but I think once she did, she had a lot of fun! And then on Friday I stopped to let her play at the big crawling space that Aeon has and she was really interested in another 8 month old baby. It was so cute how they kept trying to steal one another’s pacifiers!

I think she liked the Aeon space more than the childcare center’s. It’s really loud and overwhelming with all of the mothers and babies in such a small space, I think, whereas the Aeon crawl space is pretty wide with not so many people there. It’s kind of funny how some mothers are starting to recognize me around town though as I keep going to these kinds of places. In any case, I should be sure to let her crawl around at Aeon more often when we stop by there from now on.


Homemade Japanese-Style BBQ Wings Recipe

While the Japanese flavored wings were pretty tasty, I decided I needed some BBQ wings in my life. Also I had some wings leftover since I bought too many before, so I figured I’d use them. This recipe was sooo good that we were sad when it was over!! I wonder if five more wings could fit in the frying pan. I think I’ll have to use the sauce for other cuts of chicken too.

I really need to figure out some better sides, but for now shredded cabbage is an easy go to.

Original recipe on Cookpad

Ingredients: (Serves 2 for dinner, 4 for bento)
600 g of wings (about 10-12 wings)
A bit of salt and pepper
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
☆1/2 tablespoon of grated garlic
☆1 teaspoon of sugar
☆2 teaspoons of soy sauce
☆4 tablespoons of ketchup
☆2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
☆2 tablespoons of mirin (sweet cooking sake)

1. Make a cut along the bone. Add salt and pepper.
2. Heat up the vegetable oil in a frying pan. Fry the wings until they turn golden on both sides.
3. Add 1 cup of water and the ingredients marked with ☆ into the frying pan. Put the lid on and cook on low heat for 5-6 minutes.
4. Remove the lid. On medium heat, shake the pan while the sauce boils until it thickens.

Treat Yo Self

This has been a busy week! Lately my back has been killing me, so I took the plunge and went for a massage. It was 2,700 yen for 45 minutes, and boy did my poor back need it. A friend told me about a cheaper way to get my back pain treated though (which includes massages), so I think I’ll be looking into that more next week or the week after.

We’re planning to get pictures taken on Sunday, so on Wednesday I finally took my neighbor up on her offer to watch Baby J for a bit and I went and got my hair done. Unfortunately it took a lot longer than I expected and I didn’t have enough time to get the color that I want. I’m not sure if I want to go back and get that fixed yet, or if I just want to stick with this color. They did a very good job with my haircut though. This guy felt a lot more professional than the other place hubby and I used to go to, and I even got a massage that I’ve heard so much about Japanese hair salons doing but never experienced myself.

The hair salon that we used to go to has English signs and such everywhere, and the area we live in has become a popular place for tourists and other non-Japanese people because there’s a sharehouse there. However, I think the English signs and their location brought a lot of unexpected non-Japanese customers to them, and it just felt like they never liked dealing with us very much. Maybe it’s just the people I got, but I also felt like the guy at this salon I just went to also knew hair better. The people at the other salon never mentioned how things might affect my hair differently than it would typical Japanese hair, but he seemed to know.

I mentioned it took a lot longer than I expected, but I was kind of shocked just how much longer. When I made the reservation on a website called Hot Pepper Beauty, it said that it would take about two hours for a cut and dye. It wound up taking closer to three though! My appointment was at 2 pm, and Baby J usually takes her second nap around 4:30 pm, so I started getting really worried about her around 4 pm. Sure enough, when 4:30 pm hit she became a crying sleepy mess for my neighbor even though (according to my neighbor) she did great up until then. Poor baby! I had to rush home from the salon and managed to get her napping pretty quick.

It was nice to be able to go out and do something, even if I did worry about her the whole time! I’m glad to hear that she had a good time exploring someone else’s apartment though, and I bet my neighbor has a lot cooler toys than we have since she has two older boys.

Baby Recipe: Vegetable Soup

I haven’t posted many baby recipes yet, so here’s one that’s been lasting me the past few weeks. Since baby got sick, she hasn’t had much of an appetite for anything beyond yogurt, but I’ve been slowly feeding this to her. Unfortunately she seems to hate the veggies in soup itself (figures), but she really liked it when I mixed it with a little bit of beef stew broth, and she seemed interested in it when I used the ingredients in a simple cream stew for her too. Baby J has definitely started chewing though, so I think these veggies are a good size for her. However, she still doesn’t eat much yet though, so I almost feel like I made too much!

Unfortunately I learned that I’m not made for making tiny cut pieces of onion, so there isn’t much onion here. I might have to check if there’s any easy onion dicing tools out there.

This recipe is intended for babies who are 7-8 months old.


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Dinner on November 10: Sweet and Sour Curry Chicken


Since this is my learning about cooking blog, I suppose I should blog my failures too. I really like this recipe, but I forgot to double the recipe for the sauce when I made it this week. Unfortunately it didn’t come out as good as usual as a result. I would’ve added more sauce but my chicken was already covered in mayo before I realized. I’ll have to make sure to remember for next time.

It’s not in this picture, but I did add some rice. I found it was too much food though, so I think I’ll be skipping it next time.

Recipe can be found here.