Saturday, 30 July 2016

10 things I love about Summer

Hello! ♡
We are now well into the Summer, a time of year I associate with freedom, amazing memories and long days. Even despite its annoyances, such as mosquitos (and other insects), sometimes unbearable heat and sunburn, I always look forward to Summer- it's a season full of life with many fun opportunities.

Below are the 10 things that I look forward to every Summer, and of course- why!
All pictures in this post are mine.

  1.  Long Days- Summer is a time when there's daylight at 4am, and it's still light outside at 8pm. This means that there's more time to get things done while it's still light- spending the warm evenings outside, where it's pleasantly cool and not unbearably hot like during the day, or perhaps taking a walk while admiring the sunset. The days are bright and lively and everything is bathed in sunlight from the early hours of the morning and even throughout the majority of the evening.
  2. Ice-cream- Yes, technically you can eat ice-cream during the winter, but it's just so much better in the summer! To me, one of the best feelings is eating some cold ice-cream on a hot day. It's not only refreshing- there are so many types and flavours! From bubblegum to strawberry, I love trying out different flavours of ice-cream, while cooling down at the same time. There is an amazing ice-cream shop in my city, it is very small but the ice-cream there is delicious! It comes in only one flavour, but chocolate sauce is also available and it's heavenly!
  3. Summer Clothes- Don't get me wrong- I love winter clothes, but it's nice in the summer to not have to bundle up in layers of coats and scarves and jumpers. In the summer, shorts and a shirt or a sundress are not only stylish, but are needed to keep cool. In the summer, I can wear my favourite skirts, dresses and shirts that are made for the warmer weather, which is always a good thing!
  4. Smoothies- Smoothies are also another thing I associate with summer. Not only refreshing and tasty, but they are also usually very healthy! The best thing about smoothies is that you can be as creative as you want with them. Mix your favourite fruits, perhaps add in some vegetables or whatever you want to add. The best thing is that a lot of delicious fruits are in season during the Summer, such as strawberries and blueberries. My favourite smoothies are green tea and strawberry smoothies, and the best thing? Smoothies are easy to make! I also love other summer drinks- Green Tea Latte, Starbucks Frappuccinos, iced tea! 
  5. Swimming- Sure, you can go to a pool anytime, be it December or July. Summer, however, is the season for outdoor pools! Nothing beats cooling down in a pool on a hot day, where I feel happy and carefree. Sometimes it even feels like a surreal escape from reality, because there's no time to worry when there's a large water slide right there! A visit to the swimming pool can be relaxing and exciting, which makes it one of the highlights of summer.
  6. Freedom- Summer is the time when I lose track of time, not knowing what day it is. It is a time of freedom, allowing me to dedicate more time to my interests, or perhaps start something new. Having a lot of time on my hands means more opportunities to travel, to make incredible memories. 
  7. Picnics- Picnics are a lot of fun to have every once in a while! Just get a picnic blanket, a cooler with some delicious food, find a nice grassy spot and have a relaxing meal in the company of friends and family. They are a great opportunity to both unwind and enjoy the warm weather.
  8. Nature- Every season is characteristic in terms of nature. I love summer nature- from the hydrangeas in June and July, to the strawberries, linden blossoms and vibrant weeping willow. Summer is a season where nature is vibrant and lively- vivid green trees, the sound of crickets at night, beautiful dragonflies. 
  9. Summer Sports- Since the weather is so fine, it's the perfect opportunity to play some summer sports! My favourite is badminton, which I have fond memories of playing. A few years ago I used to go to the front yard with my sister soon after I woke up, and we spent a large portion of the day playing badminton with our neighbours. I still enjoy playing it, but there are many other summer sports, such as volleyball!
  10. Summer Evenings- Finally, I also absolutely love summer evenings! This was mentioned in the first point, but the warm and pleasant evenings are hard to beat. Watching the sunset from a nearby hill is an amazing experience, and I also love sleeping outside when the nights are warm. I live in an apartment and there is a nice terrace, where I can bring out my mattress and sleep outside during summer nights. 
That's it for my list of things that I love about summer! What about you? What's your favourite thing about summer, and why? On the contrary, what annoys you the most about summer? Let me know by leaving a comment!

 Have a lovely day!

Monday, 25 July 2016

Green Tea Latte

Green Tea Latte, despite its name, has no coffee in it! It is made mainly with green tea (usually powder, however it can also be made with tea bags), milk and water.
I believe it called a "latte" because of the layer of foam or steamed milk on the top, much like a latte, and how it is mostly milk with a bit of matcha, resembling the structure of a latte.

Green Tea Latte is a great summer drink, as it is very refreshing, and of course very healthy! It can be enjoyed hot or cold, and can be modified according to your personal tastes- for instance, you could add mint or lemon. You can also modify the ingredient amounts to your personal taste.

What is matcha powder? Matcha powder, briefly, is very popular in Japan and is used in a variety of foods, such as cakes and mochi. Matcha ice-cream is also very popular. It is also used in tea ceremony, which is an important part of Japanese culture which focuses mainly on the preparation, serving and drinking of green tea. I'll perhaps cover tea ceremony in more detail in a future post. It is a finely ground powder, and it's not just ordinary green tea. The plant grows in the shade for around three weeks before the harvest, and during processing the stems and veins are removed. Matcha is very versatile, and a very important aspect of Japanese culture.

I first tried Green Tea Latte at Hyper Japan 2015, where it was available. I instantly loved it, and was very happy to discover that it can also be made at home! I looked around for some recipes, and with some modifications I created my own version. If you would like to make Green Tea Latte at home, keep reading!

  • Matcha powder (1-1 1/2 tsp.)
  • Water (1-1 1/2 tbsp.)
  • Milk (around 1 cup, but this varies)
  • A sweetener- sugar, honey, stevia, etc. (Optional)
  1. Prepare a cup or glass that you will drink the Green Tea Latte in.
  2. Sift matcha into the cup. This will get rid of any lumps.
  3. Add hot (but not boiling!) water, and whisk or stir the mixture, creating a paste.
  4. Heat the milk and your chosen sweetener in a microwave or using a stove, until it is hot. However, if you want to make iced Green Tea Latte, don't heat the milk and just add the sweetener to it.
  5. Add the milk to the matcha mixture. Stir with a teaspoon. Leave some space for froth!
  6. The froth can be made in different ways. I heat some milk in a saucepan, whisking it as it heats up. It will turn into a froth once it is whisked enough. If you are unsure, look online to see which method is best for you.
  7. Using a spoon, add the froth on top. 
  8. Sprinkle some matcha on top, and you're done! 
Tips and pointers:

  • If you're making an iced Green Tea Latte, add ice cubes. This will make it even more refreshing!
  • Matcha powder can be found online, at Asian food stores and health food stores. You might also find it in a large supermarket.
  • As I mentioned before, there are many variations! Add mint and/or lemon to make it more refreshing, or perhaps a drop of flavoured essence to give it a hint of another flavour, such as vanilla. Your imagination is the limit! 
  • If you're using cane sugar, I'd recommend using around 1-1 1/2 teaspoons.
  • You don't have to use cows' milk. You can use a substitute, such as almond milk or soy milk. 
This is how mine turned out! I added a bit too much matcha, but apart from that it's very tasty!
 Have a lovely day! ♡

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Hyper Japan 2016 & Japan Centre

Hello! ♡

From July 10th-20th I visited London, where I visited friends, attended the Hyper Japan festival and went to Japan Centre.
The Hyper Japan festival is an event that takes place in London every summer for three days (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) and celebrates Japanese culture, it's a lot of fun and it has everything from games, to anime, food and fashion! There is also a Christmas Market that takes place each year in November.
Japan Centre is located near Piccadilly station, next to the GAP store. It has a wide selection of Japanese food and ingredients, as well as books, magazines and gifts. There is also a street food stand in the front. The prices are also very reasonable, especially bearing in mind that the products are straight from Japan.

Anyway, I bought a lot of things, because how could I resist? In this post I will tell you about my experience and show you everything I bought ^-^~

Disclaimer: I am not endorsed by any of the brands mentioned below. The reviews in this post are not paid.

Japan Centre
I've already been to Japan Centre a few times before, and I enjoy it every time! There is a street food stand in the front, serving things such as shaved ice and buns. There are also different lovely ceramics near the entrance, once you go in. I saw some gorgeous tea sets there. There is an escalator that takes you to the main shop. Although Japan Centre is a bit small, it has a very wide selection! Bear in mind that it can sometimes get quite cramped. There are chilled and frozen products such as sushi, bakery products such as dorayaki and mochi, raw ingredients (matcha, vegetables, etc.) and more. There is a wide selection of sweets, from pocky to ramune to Kit-Kats and puccho! You can also get seasonings and unique ingredients. There are also magazines and books, the magazines are quite expensive but they looked very interesting! I wish I bought one. There are also a few gifts, I saw bento accessories and boxes, a few fluffy keyrings and maneki neko!

Here is a picture of what I bought:

I bought red bean daifuku, puccho candy, powdered green tea, matcha mochi, matcha pocky, strawberry ramune and melon soda!
This was my first time trying anko (red bean paste) and at first, I didn't really like the taste. However, now I love it! The combination of sweet, chewy mochi and sweet anko is a match made in heaven ^-^
I love puccho- it's a chewy candy with little sweet balls in them, and it has cute packaging, which is always a bonus! 
I bought powdered green tea because I love it, and also for cooking. I will write a green tea latte recipe soon- it's a great summer drink! 
The matcha mochi (mochi is one of my favourite foods) and matcha pocky continue the theme! In case you don't know, mochi is a Japanese sweet rice cake made with glutinous sweet rice flour. It has a chewy texture, and has many uses! It can be used to make sweets, or even be used in soup. It's very versatile.
Pocky is basically biscuit sticks covered with different flavours of icing. My favourites are matcha and strawberry.
Ramune is a very interesting drink- it is a Japanese soft drink with a unique opening! To open, you have to push down on the ball stopper with the tool provided. A very interesting drink! It comes in many flavours- my favourites are peach and strawberry.
Finally there's melon soda, with a very sweet, unique taste that I love. 

What do you think about the foods I mentioned above? Which one's your favourite, which one would you like to try? Feel free to comment and let me know!

Hyper Japan

This year, Hyper Japan took place at Olympia London, from the 15th-17th July. I was looking forward to it for so long, and it passed so quickly! I had a lot of fun nonetheless. I recommend that anyone interested in Japan attends at some point! 

I attended on the Saturday first session, I got there early and the queue went very quickly. There were lots of different areas and stalls. There were anime and gaming stalls, but I didn't really visit them. There were several live performances throughout, I managed to see some of the nihon buyo dance, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The kimono of the performers were really beautiful, as was the dance itself! The dancers performed with grace. I spent the time wandering around the stalls, which were all very interesting! There was a wide range of Japanese candy and cute gifts available at Tofu Cute, which was one of my favourite stalls. I bought a peach Ramune soda and some matcha mochi there. I also bought a panda sandwich making kit. Next to it was Dreamy Bows, which was heaven as it had so much fashion- sadly they didn't have anything I really wanted, but I did buy some really lovely shoes when I came back later ^-^ I might have looked around a bit more, there were so many cute things! They had a few beauty products too, such as Japanese false eyelashes.

Also downstairs there was a wide range of kimono, it was all very stunning! There was even a 3-hour kimono rental. There were also stalls selling traditional Japanese gifts, such as Doki Japanese Tableware where I bought a few gifts. I bought a red feng shui maneki neko for my dad. It is meant to be placed in the south of the room. In case you don't know, to summarize, feng shui relies on placing differently coloured objects in different parts of the room, for different types of luck. For instance, a green object would need to be placed in the east, to bring health.  I saw traditional wagashi as well as kokeshi dolls and uchiwa fans on sale at various stalls. I bought an uchiwa fan, because it got hot as the event progressed!

Upstairs was where most of the food was, there was bubble tea, shaved ice (though it hasn't opened yet when I was there) and taoyaki, rice boxes and more! I bought a matcha latte at a bubble tea stall.
There was also a range of interesting stalls, such as a stall dedicated to pandas! Of course, I loved that stall and bought a lilac panda purse there. I contemplated buying a panda shirt, but it wasn't really my style. A nearby stall had a selection of cute tees and dresses. I bought a Lizmelo tee there, I think it would look great in Fairy Kei! 
There was a wide selection of adorable accessories and stationery and gifts in the upstairs stalls, as well as some fashion stalls. There was one stall at which I bought a strawberry skirt with lace trim, and pink and white striped socks with macarons. 
Roxie Sweetheart had really adorable clothing and accessories, I love the unique aesthetic combining creepy with cuteness! 
Stalls such as Something Kawaii, Artbox and Tofu Cute had lots of little gifts, such as pens and notebooks. I bought a few pens, because I just couldn't resist! 
There was also a kanzashi stall called Kikuya Kanzashi. All the kanzashi are inspired by the geiko and maiko of Japan and are handmade! The petals are folded using a technique that resembles origami, creating tsumami kanzashi. I bought a small kanzashi ornament, which reminds me of cherry blossoms ^-^

Overall, I really enjoyed Hyper Japan. Whether you enjoy games, anime, culture, fashion or food... there's something for everyone! It is a very fun event and you will learn a lot. You will have the opportunity to witness elements of Japanese culture, every year is different but there are performances like nihon buyo, tea ceremony, martial arts... it's an amazing experience! There is also the opportunity to try a wide variety of Japanese food, and to immerse yourself in modern pop culture. 

Here is what I bought! ^-^
Green tea latte I got at a bubble tea stall ^-^

Peach ramune soda I bought at Tofu Cute. The wrapper is so adorable!

The purple shoes I bought at Dreamy Bows ^-^ They took a while to break in, but they're comfortable now :D

The Lizmelo tee I bought ^-^ It fits me very well, and is ideal for Fairy Kei!

The three adorable pens I bought. The two on the left were purchased at Tofu Cute, the one on the right was bought at Something Kawaii. I write a lot, so maybe I should have bought a few more pens >_>

The uchiwa fan I bought at Doki Japanese Tableware!  It is very effective,  especially considering how hot it is in Poland at the moment. Uchiwa fans are essential for summer ^_^
I am really happy I purchased those socks,  I love the macarons and bows. Some socks were on my Hyper Japan wishlist,  so I'm glad I bought them. 
I love pandas and pocky, so panda pocky is the perfect combination! There are no real pandas involved,  it's cookies and cream flavour.  The packaging is so adorable, I couldn't resist! 
This perfect strawberry skirt!  A strawberry skirt or dress was on my Hyper Japan wishlist too, so the second I saw this skirt I bought it regardless of the price ^_^ The print is super adorable,  and the lace trim is really soft and pretty. There is also an elastic waistband. 
I bought this at Kikuya Kanzashi,  it's very pretty and perfect for any occasion. I love the fact that it's handmade, that way it's very unique ^_^
Mochi is one of my favourite foods,  and I also love green tea. When I saw this at Tofu Cute, I instantly bought it (for a very good price, too) and I loved it. I wish I bought another box! 
This really cute panda sandwich making set! I absolutely love it, even my sandwiches reflect my love for pandas! 

Have a lovely day! 

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Welcome! ♡

Hello! ♡
Welcome to my blog! ^-^
My name is Weronika and I live in Poland, but I have lived in London for most of my life. My interests include Japanese culture, beauty, Japanese fashion and cute things!
I really love writing, which is why I have started this blog! Writing this blog is a way for me to share my interests with you, I really hope that you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it :)
Aside from writing, I also love macarons, bubble tea, smoothies, pastel colours, mochi and pandas!
In my free time, I am learning Japanese. I hope to start my own company one day based on what I love ^-^

Image credit: Cherry_macaron_1348 on Flickr
What can you expect from my blog? I will post about my interests, sharing my passion and knowledge with you. I will try my best to make my posts enjoyable and fun to read!
Hopefully you will find this blog interesting! <3
Have a lovely day ~~