Saturday, November 22, 2014

5 Ways To Declutter Now

I'm in this constant state where I have to declutter. Not just my home, but life in general. I never realised it before, but having things like a messy home, a never-ending mental to-do list, too many activities and too little time really dampen my motivation.

While I am still constantly finding new ways to declutter and to maintain order (which is even harder), here are some techniques that I find useful so I thought I'd share. Best of all, these are things that can be done easily, without using too much brainpower! (Great for those uninspired times when you need some easy victories.)

#1: Expired items

Grab a stool and a garbage bag and sit in your kitchen. Go through everything you have in the fridge and the pantry. Throw out anything that is well past its due date. For me, I found sauces, salad dressings, a hidden box of Weetbix and lots of miscellaneous items that were used only once. After you're done in the kitchen, head to the bathroom and sort through the drawers. You'll probably find expired cosmetics, sunscreen and, if you're lazy like me, empty containers of shampoo, conditioner and toilet paper rolls.

#2: Wallet

Get rid of all the loose papers and receipts you don't need in your wallet. Sort through your rewards and loyalty cards - do you still shop at most of these places? Keep the frequently used cards and chuck out the ones for places that you don't shop at anymore. If you do happen to return, chances are they can search you up on their system anyway. Also check if any of these cards can be replaced by a mobile app (e.g. MYER One) and throw those out too.

#3: Facebook

Do you have those sort of friends on Facebook that constantly whine and complain and just emit negative energy, in general? I used to have a few of those, so to prevent myself from getting frustrated from reading their status updates, I decided to unfollow and hide posts from these people. Just click on the down arrow on the top right of the post and click 'Unfollow'. I do this for people who keep reposting spam and forwarded messages as well. Now my feed is relatively clean!

#4: Emails

I like to keep my inbox tidy too. Instead of deleting spam messages and newsletters everyday, why not unsubscribe once and for all? Apply a junk email filter and unsubscribe yourself from mailing lists of retailers. The unsubscribe button is usually located at the bottom of the email in very small font. This way you will become less tempted to shop online as well!

#5: Go Paperless

Instead of receiving snail mail and keeping tons of files in your study, go paperless. Ask to receive correspondences such as bank statements and bills online instead. In addition to keeping loose papers to a minimum in your home, you'll never have to worry about losing any of these records.

I hope these tips have helped! I would love to hear how you guys keep yourselves organised, so if you have any advice, please do share!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Isshin Japanese House, Forest Hill

The combination of Japanese cuisine and all-you-can-eat is not something I can resist. Not even poor ratings and reviews or having to drive out of the way. A colleague told me about Isshin Japanese House, Forest Hill and very soon I booked a table for two nights later.

We went there at 7:30pm on a Friday night. The indoor dining area was already bustling, so we were asked to take a seat outdoors. Without a doubt, we chose the all-you-can-eat option for their promotional rate of $32.95 per person (usually $37.95 per person) and we had two hours to order.

I read most of the reviews before going, and two main concerns that were constantly brought up were small portions and slow service, especially when it involved the more expensive items. 

Firstly, hubby and I actually loved the fact that the serving size was so small. It meant that we could order a huge variety of dishes instead of filling ourselves up with just a few. 

In terms of service, all of our dishes took literally just minutes to arrive, with the exception of the nama shii hotate and seafood tempura which took at least 45 minutes with two reminders in between. Otherwise, service was actually quite attentive. I thought we would be quite neglected as we were the only ones sitting outside, but every so often a waiter would pop in and ask if we wanted to order more dishes. 

Food wise, it is more the variety that you are paying for, rather than quality. There are lots of choices on the menu, from entrées to sushi to teppanyaki. The dishes were a little hit and miss. Most of the entrées such as the agedashi tofu, croquette and panko oysters were very tasty, but the teppanyaki was mediocre and I would recommend avoiding the chawanmushi. 

Then came the desserts! You can choose from daifuku, green tea ice cream, black sesame ice cream and plum wine chocolate mousse. Once again, the servings are really small, so order at least a couple to start off with. The green tea ice cream was pretty nice and the plum wine chocolate mousse was so lovely! I would have ordered more but I knew I was going to feel nauseous from being so ridiculously full.

All in all, we ordered about 4 or 5 times and we were done in just over an hour. I think we were quite pleasantly surprised because we went there with zero expectations. From what we experienced, it wasn't too shabby at all, but the only way to truly find out is to try it for yourself!

Isshin Japanese House on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Home-Cooked Seafood Feast

There's a few of us at work who are 'foodies'. One cooks, another bakes, and I... well, I eat. It started out as a simple conversation about how we all love seafood, and after a few rounds of "I love [insert seafood type]" and "OMG me too!", it was decided. We had to have a seafood party.

We got up early on a Sunday morning and headed to Springvale to buy our ingredients. We left at 8am and 3 hours later, we were home starting prep. The feast took a total of 7 people and 4 hours to prepare, excluding the time we spent shopping for ingredients!

On the menu:
  • Salmon sashimi
  • Natural oysters with lemon
  • Seafood paella (fish, prawns, mussels, calamari)
  • X.O. sauce pipis with Chinese donuts 
  • Scallops pan-seared with garlic herb butter
  • Tempura (prawns, eggplant, mushrooms)
  • Mussels in white wine and parsley
  • Chicken wings with honey mustard sauce

For 4 hours we had everyone constantly washing, chopping, cutting..

And then came the cooking, frying and simmering. We even created a makeshift cooktop outdoors using a portable gas stove so that we could get more cooking done at the same time.

As you can guess, we had way too much food. We really only started eating at 3pm, and so I was too full for dinner that night. Everything turned out pretty amazing, and even though we would definitely scale it down for our next party, I'm glad we did this! Even though it took a lot of effort it was really fun and I learned more than a thing or two. For example, tempura mushrooms, I didn't think it was possible but it was so yummy!

So there you have it, a home-cooked seafood feast. I wonder what our next theme will be? 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Geometric Door Mat

One of the tasks on the "beautifying our home" to-do-list was to replace our door mat. We had a dull blue mat that was boring to look at and didn't really fit in with the rest of the space. I spent months looking for a pretty yet affordable one, but had no luck. The closest to ideal was a geometric door mat from Lime Tree Kids, but I did think $50 for a door mat was a little pricey.

So imagine my happiness when that very same mat went on sale!

$35 is still a little expensive but the happiness I feel everytime I enter or exit makes it so worth it. They offer flat rate shipping at $9.95 excluding bulky items, and free shipping for orders over $150. Delivery was very efficient, as I placed my order on a Friday night and received it early in the week.

The mat itself is bright and cheerful and made from very thick and sturdy fibre. The mat measures 75cm x 50cm.

This option is unfortunately out of stock but there are still a lot of attractive options:

Look, how fun are these prints?! I absolutely love the grey and yellow door mat on the left, I wish I had many more main entrance doors to dress up!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Platform 3, Carnegie

Last week, hubby and I visited Platform 3, Carnegie in an attempt to put our Entertainment Book to better use. For us, it's one of those cafés that we pass by every so often, overshadowed in its little corner by all the other popular eateries like Huff Bagelry and Shyun. If it wasn't for the voucher, it would have probably sat on the to-try list for at least a few more months.

I wanted something lighter that morning, so I got myself a cup of chai. It was my first time having chai, and I'm happy to say that I liked it! I found the aromatic blend of spices quite comforting.

Hubby ordered a blend of freshly squeezed juices (the greedy man!).

I wasn't too excited by the breakfast menu, so I took a peek at the mini burgers section. There were so many tantalising choices but I finally settled on the calamari burger. When it arrived, I was absolutely charmed by its cuteness. There were tender, tasty calamari and cucumber slices wedged between brioche buns with a slice of gherkin to provide a pop of acidity. Its size was perfect for a light meal.

Hubby picked a safe breakfast option - eggs florentine. 

I also ordered potato salad as a side, which arrived a little later after my burger because they had run out. It was a nice little dish to pick at while we were finishing up our drinks. 

I really liked my experience at Platform 3. I wouldn't say that the food was amazing, but every aspect was quite good. Service was prompt and friendly (no sour faces even after presenting our 25% off voucher!) and the atmosphere was very relaxing. I can totally imagine myself here alone, with a book in one hand, hot beverage in the other, watching the world go by. In fact, I think I will come back and do that one day in the near future. 

Platform 3 on Urbanspoon