August 31st, 2016

What I can do

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“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.”  ― C.G. Jung

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I believe that how well I react to the given situation would help me to overcome this and see me through to the healthier me again. To react well means acknowledging its existence & accepting it. It means dealing with it head on, working hard to become who I’d want to be.

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It’s not me to lament over what happened. I am not going to let the fearful emotions take control of me. I have always been the ‘glass is half full’, happy-go-lucky type & that’s who I shall remain to be.

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So in practical terms, what can I do right now? Here’s what I’m thinking at the moment:

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1. Eat a well balanced diet.

2. Check my body regularly.

3. Exercise regularly.

4. Breathe well.

5. Don’t dwell on the negative. Never play the victim.

6. Radiate positivity. Glow.

7. Stand tall, have grace.

8. Appreciate everyone with respect & love.

9. Be thankful for the second chance in life.

10. Proceed forward.

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For now I would like to share my thoughts with you on the first one:

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Eat a well balanced diet. 
Just like how I have my own beliefs that is tailored to just me, I have my own eating system. The current global health & wellness trend is absolutely amazing in that it’s become much easier to buy healthy foods so readily, but on the other-hand I can’t help but feel cautious of how commercialised it has become. Do you ever feel this? I feel slightly overwhelmed by all those heavily branded, need to be instagrammable, touting big health benefits, over hyped ‘products’. They are hitching a ride on the trendy bandwagon, I feel. I also think that I don’t want to be the sucker that laps it up, it’s commercialised health boom is just going to be costly for me!

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Don’t get me wrong, I’m in love with the clear trend in fighting food causes, being ethical, sustainable, nutrition-led & high moral. It serves in informing us, the public, on the impact of our food choices to our body & to our Earth, & be mindful to try to change it for the better – for us & for our future children.

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I just need to train my eye to wade through some of the more colourfully illustrated ones to find what makes sense to me…

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What I wonder is this: what is ‘real’ food? Real food to me is made from ingredients that are honest. It means simple. It means unrefined & unprocessed. It means authenticity. It doesn’t need to be prettily packaged or marketed heavily. = It means buying authentic raw ingredients to notch up a meal.

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I am still a learner at this (always will be in life!), but in trying to cook as much as possible from scratch at home, I enjoy controlling what is in my food. More than ever before, now that I have breast cancer, I recognise the need to cook healthy & nurturing foods for my self-preservation!

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Here’s some pics of what I’ve been eating lately!

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Coco&Me blog - homemade cauliflower soup - www.cocoandme.com

(Lunch: I made cauliflower soup. Sprinkled lots of rocket salad.)

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Coco&Me blog - AZUKI AND PUMPKIN DISH - www.cocoandme.com

(Dinner: Azuki & pumpkin macrobiotic stew, steamed broccoli, daikon radish & carrot pickle, with brown rice.)

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Coco&Me blog - sun dried apple pieces for snacking - www.cocoandme.com(Making snacks: sun drying apple pieces on a very hot day.)

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Coco&Me blog - boiled chicken breast with spring onion sauce - www.cocoandme.com

(Dinner: Poached chicken breast with ginger & spring onion sauce.)

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Coco&Me blog - pub salad - www.cocoandme.com

(Went for pub lunch. Chose salad over the choice of fish & chips…, sigh…)

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Coco&Me blog - steamed Japanese sweet potato - www.cocoandme.com

(Snack: Steamed Japanese sweet potato.)

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Coco&Me blog - homemade green smoothie - www.cocoandme.com

(Breakfast: Green smoothie. Very filling…)

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Coco&Me blog - sea bream, arame rice, nameko miso soup - www.cocoandme.com

(Dinner: Pan fried sea bream, white rice with arame, sautéed broccoli & egg. Together with nameko mushroom miso soup.)

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Coco&Me blog - sandwich bento - www.cocoandme.com

(Bento for S.)

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Looking for answers within.
You might or might not have realised that this Coco&Me blog is going to have to do a 180 degree turn. It is no more a cake blog, or a blog by a cake baker/ seller. I can no longer continue my refined sugary ways.
It’s taken a bit of soul searching to say these words – I am going to ditch the 10 years of my relentless cake obsession. I am going to renounce my ways.

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It is a no brainier decision, I’ve got to, if I want to live a long healthy life that keeps my breast cancer at bay!

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So yes, here it is folks, here’s the scenario from now on! This Coco&Me ship is changing course!

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Just imagine a typical scene that you might read in a book, set perhaps in an injured warship, it is terribly under threat, so much so that it’s almost been battled to a halt. In the control room, there is the panic stricken confused crew running left right & centre. And to top off their distress, there is the emergency alarm piercing the troubled air.

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Then…, the good guys – a brigade of ornately armoured commanders storm in. They authoritatively shout,
“This station and its crew are now under our command! We’re here to help you, lighten your load, drop the sugar cargo!” “Commence with our advance!”

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And then we enter the next chapter…
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August 2nd, 2016

I cut my hair!

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www.cocoandme.com - Tamami with new shorthair cut! - Coco&Me blog

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So!
Yesterday my lovely hairdresser friend Ms.M cut my hair short for me! Thank you so much Ms.M!
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This is in preparation for the chemo. In the hope of keeping as much hair as possible I’ll be wearing a ‘cold-cap’ which cools the scalp during chemotherapy to reduce the amount of drugs reaching the hair follicles. I’ll be wearing it before during & after the treatment & apparently it’s better to have short hair for it. Also, if hair does fall out it’ll be less dramatic when it’s shorter hair…!
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Hairdresser Ms.M chopped off 40cm!
I decided to send the chopped off hair to a hair-donation charity called The Little Princess Trust. It’s a children’s cancer charity that supply real hair wigs to children suffering with cancer.
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Initially I was thinking of selling my hair but Ms.C’s comment on this blog about her teenage daughter donating her hair so willingly without wanting anything in return has inspired me to do the same. I also can not shake off a scene I saw of a little girl with bad hair loss innocently playing by the toys at the Great Ormond Street Hospital that I visited 2 weeks ago for my genetics test. Maybe my un-dyed Japanese hair can be of use to someone somewhere. Maybe in this way I can repay, even a little bit in a roundabout way towards the kindness given to me by so many people.
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Today is going to be a busy day.
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At 11 I will be getting my heart scanned. Apparently the treatments are quite harsh for the heart & so they want to see it beforehand I suppose. Then at 11.45 I’ll meet the oncologist. 1.30pm I’ll be admitted to the hospital to fit the portacath which was supposed to be done last Thursday but was prosponed because the anaesthetist was suddenly unavailable at the last minute! They say the surgery will be at 4pm. By around 7pm I should be fully awake & ready to be discharged. Mr.D will come collect me after his work & we’ll go home by cab…
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Next biggie date is going to be the chemo starting this Thursday…!

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So far this illness thing is believe it or not keeping me very busy! One would think that quitting work will bring about easy-going bliss
but oh no-no it’s appointments after appointments to keep up with! On top of the appointments – I’ve been super busy reading up on breast cancer. Knowledge is power right? The more I know the better. I feel less scared & I feel more in control of the situation, I’m never going to let it get on top of me! Graaah! :)
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T xx
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July 27th, 2016

Update:

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I just want to quickly update you.
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I’m just so relieved & happy! (within the given situation…!)
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Yesterday, I was given a piece of good news I had been praying & praying & praying for.

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My breast cancer hadn’t spread anywhere else!!!!
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And this is for sure with complete certainty after the CT scan & whole body bone scan!
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I’m SO relieved…
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Now that the diagnostic stuff is over, it’s all a matter of onwards & upwards with treatments.
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The ‘next-to-do’ is to go in to hospital again tomorrow to implant a device called a ‘port’ under the skin on my upper chest, which connects to a large vein near the heart. This will be used as the access point for pumping in the upcoming chemo meds. I was a bit surprised that it’ll be another general anaesthetic op, & that there will be a noticeable bump but this is like nothing for me & I welcome every step that needs to be taken to get better!
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Huh, tubed up with implanted access port… I also already had two lots of radioactive dye injected too. I feel like a robot in the making! Tamami ver.1.2…?? Lol… Lol… Lol… due for completion in December 2017…!?
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t xx

July 8th, 2016

Bye bye Broadway market

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It pains me to write this.
I don’t even know how to start, as I had no idea that I was to write this message. So I guess I’ll cut straight to the point.
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I have bad news.
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Just last week, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
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I can just imagine that this news must come as a shock to you, as it obviously did with me and my family..

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I have a lump on my right breast, I had it checked out by mammogram, ultrasound scan, biopsy and a MRI scan. (In fact, I had the first three of these tests done twice! – I’ll tell you more about it in another post.) On the first day of the tests already, the consultant told me that I have breast cancer. The consultant was confident that it hadn’t spread to the nearby lymph nodes though, to which words I will hang on to.

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So please don’t worry for me. The tumour is actually not big either and is treatable, and the prospect is very good. The surgery is already scheduled for next Monday! Which is a huge relief as I can’t wait to get rid of it!

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Nevertheless, this turn of events has changed certain things.

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I am disappointed to say the least to tell you that I will no longer do the market.
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The most sensible thing for me to do is take better care of myself. This means, live with less stress, live life slowly and have time to cook well, eat well, and spend quality time with my family. The last thing I want is to push my body to tiredness while I go through the expected treatments ahead.
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This unexpected news comes actually comes at the worst possible timing.
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I was in the middle of planning a Coco&Me outlet…!
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My good friend Ms.V asked me to move in to her shop in St Paul’s and co-exist. In 2 to 3 months from now, I would have had my cakes across 4 metres of window display – in the middle of the city, literally a few minutes walk from the Millennium Bridge and St Paul’s Cathedral. My cakes would have been available all week. It would have been the perfect next phase for Coco&Me, which I’m sure would have opened many new amazing opportunities. I am in shock myself to change my plans with the shop like this. I am also very sorry to Ms.V for suddenly exiting on her.
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I am so gutted that I am posting this sad news today. The next post on this blog would have been about the most happy announcement of Coco&Me shop opening. I wrote a draft-version of that happy news ages ago, and I couldn’t wait to roll out the news to the whole world. – The only reason why I hadn’t told you any sooner was because I was awaiting signing.
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To my dearest customers who have supported me during all those years at the marketthank you for being so kind to me, and I am so sorry that I had to disappear from the scene so abruptly like this. Many of you have purchased cakes and chocolates frequently, and I loved that it was like a routine to see you every week. I loved chatting to you all, and I loved that we’d notice each other missing if that routine is broken even by a week.
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I hope you understand and agree that I have taken the right course of action to solely concentrate on getting better, rather than juggling it with work. It would be impossible to do it hand-in-hand anyway as I will be going to radiotherapy and possibly chemotherapy everyday for a while. I have enjoyed my time at Broadway Market with you tremendously over the almost 11 years that I was there. It has been such a big part of my life!! I am already missing you all! But like I said before, please don’t worry for me, you know that I’m a trouper right? :-) I can put up hell of a fight! Grahh~!
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To my dearest blog-readersas for this blog, I will continue to write, so no worries there! :)
I have always felt comfort from the great support you have given me with the comments you leave! How can I give up on that! ;-)
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Add to that, I am thinking of using this blog as a food diary to motivate me to eat well. Some of you might be surprised as to why I am revealing my illness so frankly, but, like I wrote ages ago here, I hate keeping secrets, or to cherry-pick who to tell, as once, I had an experience of a good friend doing that to me and I was hurt when she said it’s because she didn’t want to ‘jinx’ it! Besides, breast cancer isn’t a taboo to tell. Hopefully, by documenting mine on the world-wide-web, I can ramp up awareness and more women check themselves regularly? 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer. I never knew that for example, and I wished somebody told me before, then I would’ve checked myself more regularly!
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Those who know me know that I eat healthily despite my job surrounded by cakes and chocolates, but ever since I have been diagnosed, I have been eating strictly healthily to give myself the best possible chance. I can document that too, and share my knowledge on my food choices.
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Again, thank you to all those who have supported my Coco&Me stall for all those years!!!!
I have enjoyed my time at Broadway Market absolutely tremendously over the almost 11 years (!) that I was there. :) And I will miss it dearly (I already do!) as it has been such a big part of my life!
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With love, t xxx

February 29th, 2016

Japanese kitchenware!

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Firstly, I was going to write ‘Happy New Year to you all~!‘ but it’s just so late for me to post this, it’s too silly right? But I do want to squeeze in a cheeky blog post before it’s March atleast, so here it is, on a leap day of all days!

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But seriously, can you believe that it’s almost March…??
Can I ask, how have you been doing so far this year? Have you acted upon your new year’s resolution? (that is, of course, if you’ve made one?)
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My new year’s resolution this year is to get fitter (cliché! I know! Lol…), so I have joined a local fitness club!
I must say, I’m pretty chuffed with myself for actually ‘really’ signing up to it! Y’see, normally I slack on these types of actions until the very decision get dusted under the carpet… (of shame…)
But! But! But! Not in 2016! No, this time I’m doing it, & to prove a point, I have so far been to pilate classes twice a week since the beginning of January already! Yay to me! ^^
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Anyway, as promised in my last post, here’s pictures of the kitchenware I purchased during my Japan trip! 
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1. Japanese fish scaler.
The phrase “… the scales won’t fly everywhere!” on the packet was the clincher for me! Try as I may, to my annoyance, the pesky scales ‘ping’ away high, so hopefully with this promising tool those days will be over…?!
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Japanese cfish scale remover kitchen tool / kitchenware - www.cocoandme.com
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2. Cabbage shredder.
I l.o.v.e eating shredded cabbage! I will happily tuck in to a big mound of it, no problem! I love it even better when it has a guilty squeeze of ‘Kewpie’ mayonnaise on it…, &, &, oh,,,, whilst on the guilt trip, I might as well give in & accompany the cabbage with a calorific deep fried ‘tonkatsu’ (Japanese breaded & fried pork cutlet)… hmm…, writing this paragraph makes my craving go unmanageably wild… (cue the sound of stomach rumble.)
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Japanese cabbage shredder kitchen tool / kitchenware - www.cocoandme.com
Anyway, whenever I have tried to cut the shredded cabbage manually with my knife, it is always on the thick side…, but… hopefully no more with this handy gadget! Airily fine shredded-cabbage-heaven is on the horizon…?
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3. Stainless steel water flask. 
Lol, this one, I had no intention of purchasing. It was meant to be one of those items that you pick up off the shelf to have a briefest of looks, & then put down, y’know, as you do when browsing a shop. Then…, I made the fateful action of having a peek inside…
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Japanese water flask with a smiley opening - www.cocoandme.comcocoandme_flaskwithsmile
Gahhhhh! Cuuuute… It’s got me~!
I imagined how every sip taken from this bottle will make me smile… like forever… & ever.** – SO it was off to the till with an item I had no intention of buying… I think it was helped by the ‘I’m on holiday, I might not come across this EVER again’ feeling. Do you ever get that? There’s something about being on holiday that makes one’s purse-strings loosen, don’t you think??
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4. Bento-ware
For the past two years I’ve been making packed lunches for my children to take to school – because they are not much of a fan of english school dinners. To make their bento, I have to wake up an hour before everyone else in the house, but I never really find it boring or tiring. I keep my interest up by having inspiring tools. Well that’s the excuse for these purchases anyway! Lol! ^^
So I bought:
– A set of plastic toothpicks in shape of stalks. If you pierce mini-tomatoes on the ends, it’ll look like cherries! Fun! ^^
– Two ‘furoshiki’ style cloth bags for transporting the lunchboxes. You tie the two ends in to a knot to close the bag! Simple & beautiful.
– Seaweed punchers. You can punch out cute facial features from a sheet of ’nori’ seaweed sheet & stick it on to ‘onigiri’ rice balls! My almost-teenage son wouldn’t dare be seen with such cuteness at his secondary school, so I’ll use these only for my seven year old daughter…
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Japanese bentoware / kitchenware - www.cocoandme.com
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5. Stainless steel lunch box from Seagull
I’ve been lusting after a stainless steel lunch box for a while! Apparently theses are leak-proof. Super cool. ^^
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Seagull bento box / lunch box/ kitchenware - www.cocoandme.com
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6. SpreadTHAT Self Melting Butter Knife with serrated edge
Made from thermal conductive titanium, this modern looking knife transmits the warmth of your hands to heat the knife itself! It makes spreading the straight-from-the-fridge cold butter effortless. I’ll enjoy using this! ^^
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Spread That butter knife/ kitchenware - www.cocoandme.com
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7. Traditional “Jyu-bako”

And then, saving the best ’til the very last… – my best friend A surprised me with this beautiful present for Christmas!!! Wow…, I now own MY VERY OWN jyu-bako… I feel so grown up & proper…! ^^ Thank you Mrs.A!

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Japanese jyu-bako/ lacquered three-tier box kitchenware - www.cocoandme.com
It is a lacquered three-tier box called a “Jyu-bako”. It is traditionally used as a special food container on New Years Day, or on special occasions during the year, for example Japanese people might use it for ‘ohanami’ = which translates to ‘flower-watching’. Japanese people picnic feast under the cherry blossom tree in Spring.
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Talking of cherry blossoms, just last Saturday, I noticed that there were petals drifting in the air in front of my stall. For the initial second, I thought it was sprinkling snow because it was so c.o.l.d. that day, that it wouldn’t be so surprising that it did! Instead, it was nature’s gentle reminder that Spring is around the corner.
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Anyway, for now, best of days to you all,
T xx
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