Travel: Japan Trip #4 2016 (Day 6 & 7 – Yakushima, Kumamoto, Takachiho, Beppu)

See: Travel: Japan Trip #4 2016 itinerary and intro

Day 6: January 23

For our last (half) day in Yakushima, we checked out of our hotel in the morning and drove to Kigen-sugi, which is also one of the major cedar trees on Yakushima, in terms of its age (over 3000 years old) and size. You can drive straight to this destination and a very short walk from the car park.







Those snow people were made by someone else!

After rain on the first day, and dry and warm weather on the second day, we had snow! As touched upon earlier, Japan was experiencing very strange weather and cold storms around the first week of our trip. It had snowed very heavily overnight and snow was piled quite thick on the mountains. Though Yakushima is quite south and tropical, it does snow during winter on the mountains, and some of the more difficult hikes are not recommended in snow. Yakusugi Land is pretty accessible and not much of an issue though. We had light drizzle for most of the morning.

After Kigen-sugi, we drove to Yakusugi Land, another major nature park featuring Buddha-sugi, Futago-sugi and Sennen-sugi. For short visits, most of the main cedar trees are located quite close to the car park, and there are much better hiking trails compared to Shiratani Unsuikyou from yesterday. Since we only had until early afternoon, we did the 80-minute trail. We were incredibly lucky that it stopped drizzling when we got to Yakusugi Land!










I was aiming for the 1:30pm ferry back to Kagoshima, so after our morning activities, we drove down to Anbo port, filled up the car’s petrol and dropped it off in the car park specified to us (at pick-up). We checked in for our ferry and had some time to walk a few hundred metres to the nearest supermarket to pick up some packaged food for lunch (and snacks including mochi, of course. Dango and mochi are my jam!). As before, the ferry trip was two hours.

On arriving back at Kagoshima, we took a taxi to Kagoshima-chuo station, where we were catching a shinkansen back to Kumamoto (~45 minutes)! I know my travel route is seeming ridiculous, but because Kumamoto is a pretty central and major city, I decided it served as a good base to get to our next two destinations.

We stayed at Hotel Route-Inn Kumamoto Ekimae since it was located right outside the station. We were really just in Kumamoto for an overnight stay and needed to be close to the station to pick up a rental car to drive the next day. I thought it was one of the poorer business hotels I’ve stayed at in Japan. I wouldn’t particularly recommend it.

Also, it was snowing in Kumamoto again. It was still a big deal and people were exclaiming how rare it was to see snow. For dinner, we went to Hanatsuzumi, which was the quintessential family-run homely Japanese restaurant. We sat at a cosy low table (kotatsu-style but minus the heating) and had mixed nabe (seafood, meat and vegetables). I had some language barriers as the family members were trying to explain the contents to me but I didn’t understand one particular thing they were concerned about. I eventually figured out one of the items was fish guts so I tried to subtly make sure T ate all of those, haha. The nabe was actually a huge amount of food and we struggled to finish but we did the very best we could since it’s rude to leave food unfinished. The family were incredibly nice and friendly. They even gave us mandarins to take away as a souvenir!!


Back at the hotel, it was time for us to do laundry. This hotel did have a female and male onsen (bath houses) and it turned out the coin laundry was actually located in the respective gender-segregated areas. To enter the onsen area you actually need to get a key from reception. As you can imagine, this was quite bothersome. We chose the washing machine in the female section, so only I could go in there to access our stuff and I had to obtain a key each time. This was definitely inconvenient as I had to return to put the washing into the dryer then again to bring everything upstairs. (Also it’s just easier with two people and four arms.) We hung everything up overnight in the hotel as they hadn’t completely dried. After all that, we ended up sleeping quite late.

Day 7: January 24

We woke early and checked out of the hotel. We picked up another rental car. It was snowing heavily today and poor T had to drive us in a pretty serious snow storm. Even better, the rubber on our wipers kind of broke so they didn’t wipe half the windscreen and we had to make frequent stops to manually wipe all the solidified snow/ice off the windscreen! We took the drive very slow, and despite being another tiny car, it drove very well in the snow to Takachiho-kyou/Takachiho Gorge (east of Kumamoto). What was meant to be a 80km, 2-hour drive took at least twice as long because we were driving on mountain roads through heavy snow. Luckily there were practically no cars. For a while thought we were driving behind a taxi which kept worryingly slipping and sliding side to side…!

Takachiho Gorge is best visited in warmer months so that you can also rent a boat and paddle along the river and look at the waterfall from below. Apart from the gorge, Takachiho is also famous for inventing nagashi soumen, a summer cold noodle dish where noodles flow out with water on a slide and you have to catch them with your chopsticks! Unfortunately we also couldn’t enjoy this because it definitely isn’t available in winter. But we both love Kyushu so much that we are considering revisiting Kyushu in the future, and possibly visiting Takachiho again! We also didn’t get time to visit the shrine.

When we got to the gorge, everything was covered in snow and it was already like 2pm. There was one souvenir store and a soba restaurant (where we had a quick and late lunch). Staff in both places advised that it might be too dangerous to walk down to the gorge in these conditions. This was super disappointing especially as it was already so much later than we had wanted to arrive. Nonetheless we decided to just start walking and see how it was. It was manageable and they had probably exaggerated a bit. Certainly we had to be careful but it wasn’t so bad because it was fresh snow. It was freezing but so worth it! I think we saw other visitors once, and otherwise we had the whole place to ourselves! I enjoyed how pristine the snow had fallen on everything.





My not-pristine snow person





After our short but sweet visit in Takachiho, we continued on north to Beppu. This leg was just over 100km and meant to take just over 2 hours (but it took us around 3 hours). We gradually left the mountains and the roads became easier though the whole journey was very isolated and we rarely saw any cars. It also stopped snowing eventually.

After arriving in Beppu, we drove to our hotel, Umikaoru Yado Hotel New Matsumi. They had a car park that we had to pay for (since we were keeping the car for half of the next day). Because Beppu is a very famous onsen town, we were staying in a ryokan (traditional inn). It was really lovely and a nice change to have a spacious room. The hotel also used water from the onsen for the baths so we planned to try that after dinner (since I have never wanted to actually go into a communal onsen).




We walked out to a nearby restaurant, Toyotsune, for dinner. They specialise in tempura but have lots of other izakaya dishes too. The food was delicious!

While walking to and from the hotel, we noticed the streams and drains had steam coming from them from all the hot spring activity. I thought that was pretty cool! On the walk back, I also had a terrible slip and fall on a patch of slippery ice. I landed smack bang on my butt, but thankfully I was fine except for some bruising and pain.

Back in our room, we started to draw the bath. Unfortunately it took about half an hour of running the water before it was warm enough! We had been warned by the staff that the water would take a while to be hot since they were using water from the hot springs, but I thought half an hour was pretty extreme. Anyway, the bath was lovely but mostly a novelty (to say I had experienced the onsen waters of Beppu) since I never actually take baths.

What I bought & Wardrobe diaries: February 2019

New in

Celine Trotteur bag (black, compact, pre-owned via eBay): I’ve loved the Trotteur bag for a long time but the small size (the size order is small, compact, medium), which I think looks the best, simply wouldn’t fit enough for me, and I don’t like the medium size nearly as much. I didn’t actually know about the compact size until recently. I jumped when I saw this from an Australian seller in near-new condition (sticker still on the back of the chevron plate), and got it authenticated before purchasing. The price is generally cheaper than what this bag typically goes for on the pre-owned market. From the receipt, the bag was purchased for $2550 in 2017. The compact size doesn’t look quite as cute the small, but I can almost fit my bare essentials, haha. The issue with the scaling of the size is not so much the dimensions from the front, but the depth is similar to the small size, and it’s really shallow so you can only really fit things on top of each other. Technically black was not one of the two colours I had always dreamed of owning the Trotteur in but I really couldn’t pass this item up considering the pre-owned market for Celine these days. The Trotteur was one of two bags at the top of my wishlist but Celine discontinued it during Phoebe’s run before I could go ahead and purchase it. I had a bit of a saga with this bag after purchasing it as it started travelling to the wrong destination during postage. Thankfully she arrived safe and sound! (I did offer $1700 but the seller declined) $1800 – $75 promotion + $14.55 shipping = 1739.55

Frame Denim Le High Skinny Triangle Jean (“Sulham” mid-wash blue, 26): I wanted some high-waisted jeans and was quite interested to try Frame Denim. I went to David Jones the other weekend to try on AG’s high-waisted “Farrah” skinnies and Frame Denim’s high-waisted skinnies. Frame Denim seems about half a size smaller (than AG) so the 26 worked better than my usual AG size 25 (last year I purged all my jeans after discovering and purchasing AG “The Legging” jeans in three colours – they’ve changed my life as I always hated jeans until then). This particular pair I purchased is not the particular style I tried, but I found these on sale from this website I’ve never used before. I noticed Frame Denim was still going for around $100 on the pre-owned market and there were very few pairs floating around. Notably, the material has a lower percentage of cotton compared to the one I tried on in store – similar to AG’s “The Legging” in cotton percentage, but the material is noticeably softer and feels more like a jegging, whereas AG “The Legging” feels really sturdy and “denim-y” (they’re so awesome!). This pair does retail for less than most of the Le High Skinny range so maybe I should have figured that out. I’m pretty happy with them though and they are really really comfortable. I would love to pick up a darker wash or black in the higher cotton content if I find I good deal. Since I have pretty short legs, I will be re-hemming these jeans straight, because I am not a raw hem or triangle hem kind of person. However I enjoyed horrifying T with them and letting him think I was going to wear them like that. $135

Equipment Shiloh silk shirt (black and white vertical pinstripe, XS): To be honest I found Order of Style because I was originally looking at the Equipment Slim Signature silk shirt IN CACTUS PRINT. I saw it pre-owned on eBay and definitely hyperventilated. If I don’t win the auction in a few days, I’ll be buying it new (hopefully the last one doesn’t sell). I did see this Shiloh shirt in a decent price and quite liked the stripes. After trying this on, I much prefer the Signature shirts. I could immediately tell I liked the cut of the Signature shirts more because they are longer. I can’t put my finger on it but they just look nicer. I probably didn’t need this shirt, especially as I will hopefully get the cactus print one, but it’s not really worth sending back especially as silk shirts are such a workhorse in my wardrobe. $108.80

February 2019 total: AU$1983.35 (!!)

Other purchases and returns

I made a significant order from The Outnet when they had their Chinese New Year 15% promotion. Their 15% off sale comes around every few months and I was waiting to make this order just in case they would have a site-wide sale for Chinese New Year. Thankfully it happened as I would have made this order on the same day if they didn’t run the promotion (although it wouldn’t have mattered since I returned everything).

Proenza Schouler Wool-blend twill coat (black, 0): This coat grew on me after I passed it on the site a few times. I wanted size 2 because I thought there was no way I would be a size 0, especially as I would want to fit chunky winter clothes underneath. I tried to find more pictures online and thought mayyybe size 0 could work since it looks oversized. I contacted The Outnet for measurements and they could not help me. I decided to just try size 0. It completely swamped me. It was not cool and slightly oversized on me. I just looked like a teepee. I think it’s because I have sloping shoulders so can’t pull off a dropped shoulder garment. Also I think it weighed about 2kg. I was quite disappointed because I had looked at it several times a day for few weeks and was going to buy it without the 15% off promotion. The fact that I had to find ways to convince myself it was nice and I spent an hour trying on winter clothes in the middle of summer to try and make it work was a clear indication that it was not for me. It had to go back (and my first experience of the returns process for The Outnet, which is completely free, was positive). Reduced from $2210 to $884, minus 15% off = $751.40

Joseph cotton-terry sweatshirt (grey, S): This looks sooo cute on the website. I sized up because XS was sold out. Unfortunately when the bow was tied up, the neckline sat uncomfortably high. I also thought the jumper itself was a bit longer but it was a bit cropped. Also why didn’t I realise earlier that of course I would not be able to tie it myself (I’m horrible at tying things). There was no question about returning this. Reduced from $185 to $86, minus 15% off = $71.30

I also made a huge order from Jigsaw, which is a brand I’ve been liking for their quality but their fit and sizing tends to run a bit large (especially for tailored items). I ordered everything in two sizes to try on in case I wanted a looser fit. I ordered the polo neck top in two sizes for me and two sizes for my Mum. I sent everything back except one polo neck for my Mum.

Jigsaw Cotton Cashmere Stripe Jumper (“Eucalyptus”, XS and S): This is 85% cotton and 15% cashmere so definitely the kind of material I love for jumpers. It felt beautiful. There was a hole on one of them at the stitching which I think was poor design on where to join the fabric. I would have kept the XS (the S one has the hole and it was too boxy anyway) except I had mistakenly thought it was a dark navy or black, but the stripes are a really dark green and I didn’t like the colour. $89

Jigsaw Silk Cotton Polo Neck Jumper (grey, XS and S for me, S and M for my Mum). This is 80% silk and 20% cotton. I found it a bit itchy actually, but my neck is extremely and annoyingly sensitive to fabrics (I call my neck the ultimate fabric snob). My Mum doesn’t find it itchy at all. Boy this runs slim though. I would have chosen S or M. Due to the material, this was a “no” from me, but my Mum liked the one in S so I bought it for her. $89

Jigsaw V-Neck Silk Mix Top (white, XS and S): I wanted a simple white sleeveless blouse to replace my polyester one that my Mum keeps telling me is too old and I should get rid of it. I don’t agree but I do dislike the quality and fabric. I can’t remember which size I tried on in this top. This was an immediate “no” because the back was a really see-through kind of jersey material that made it look so cheap (and inappropriate for work). $64

Other updates

I gave that Saba silk dress from last month to my Mum. It looks much better on her and she loves the colour. She added some darts in the back. I’m glad this piece went to a better home because the material is really lovely. But it remains in my shopping tally since I purchased it for myself.

I also gave my Mum my Equipment silk shirt dress in a pink abstract print (purchased pre-owned). This was the first piece I picked up from Equipment, in size S. It is big on me so that’s how I learnt my sizing for Equipment, haha. I brought this and an XS shirt to my Mum to see her sizing for Equipment (also XS), but she fell in love with this shirt dress so I gave it to her.

A pair of Hush Puppies heeled sandals I decided many months ago to part with (brand new) sold via eBay. I don’t know why I thought it would be practical to own black high heel sandals “just in case”. It’s doesn’t work for my problematic feet. Minus eBay and Paypal fees, +$24.48

I also decided to cull a white Cue shirt. It was purchased pre-owned and is honestly such an uncomfortable polyester material. I would never wear it on its own except becauses there is so much static. I was wearing it under jumpers but the material is really uncomfortable and stuffy. It didn’t look like it was in great condition so I didn’t put it up for sale.

Travel: Japan Trip #4 2016 (Day 5 – Yakushima)

See: Travel: Japan Trip #4 2016 itinerary and intro

Day 5: January 22

We awoke to a glorious day of blue skies! We were so lucky to have gotten all the driving out of the way the day before and would be able to go hiking today in dry weather! It didn’t rain all day! Although I had specifically brought waterproof gear for Yakushima, including borrowing my cousin’s (large and heavy) waterproof hiking boots, I was definitely glad to see dry weather for hiking.



We had lunch at Yakudon, which featured a lot of really intricate and impressive cedar wood sculptures. My lunch set featured flying fish tempura. I had never heard of flying fish before and was incredibly amused when I watched them on Youtube – guys, FLYING FISH! We discovered it was quite a thing in Yakushima as the flying fish industry is based in Anbo (an area in Yakushima).


(Me, the driver, constantly wanting to stop to take photos.)

After lunch, we drove to Shiratani Unsuikyou, a nature park which features many famous yakusugi (Yakushima Cedars). The walk/hike wasn’t difficult though there are long stretches between major yakusugi where paths aren’t built (either no path at all or just small logs positioned as steps), and you just rely on strategically tied red ribbons to know that you’re still going the right way (as well as judging based on the ground what would logically be the “path”). I think we saw many one or two people during our 3 hour hike (see how the parking lot was empty except for our car). The park is just beautiful and so lush and green. We saw Yayoi-sugi (3000 years old), Nidai-oosugi and Sanbonashi-sugi (and possibly others that I didn’t jot down).















We then drove to dinner but since it was a bit early to eat, we decided to go see Yaku-jinja/Yaku Shrine. We did get lost walking to it and almost walked into someone’s house but he pointed us in the right direction. It quickly got dark and it was actually quite creepy there since it was so deserted and eery. Despite being “in town” by then, we didn’t see anyone on the streets except the man who gave us directions.


We went to Toyotsune for dinner and I chose a dinner set that also featured flying fish – gotta have the local specialty!

What I bought: January 2019

I didn’t expect this post to get delayed until now, but Lunar New Year has been hectic. Happy Lunar New Year if you celebrate! 🙂

Uniqlo rayon short sleeve blouse (white, S): I purchased two sleeveless “new rayon” tops before Christmas and enjoyed the fit and ease of wash and wear. Obviously, the higher the polyester proportion, the less it’ll wrinkle. I think it wrinkles but looks like relaxed linen when dried on a hanger. I think it shrinks less than the old (100%) rayon, but there was still a tiny bit of shrinkage as evidence by the twisting at the hems (suggests some stitching and fabric shortcuts). I wash in cold and air-dry, but as I have sized up, it’s not noticeable (after the very slight shrinkage) and the overall looser fit is perfect for summer. This fabric is nowhere near as wrinkly as the old rayon blouses – I purged those from my wardrobe because they just shrank too much and were a pain to steam. I especially love this crisp white – it looks so chic. It’s also really light and breezy. I notice there is another shirt on the website that looks the same but with a different product code and is not reduced. This seems to happen a lot and I find the website rather confusing. Maybe one’s old season and one’s new season? No idea. The comfort and ease of maintenance is really good. Maybe not worth $40, but I’m happy with $30. Reduced from $39.90 to $29.90.

Uniqlo rayon sleeveless blouse (navy, S): Navy is another staple colour for me. I wanted it in this style (which I have in the wine colour and love the fit of), but it was sold out in the colour and size I wanted. I have this same style in black, but the navy is so dark I have trouble telling the two apart. Again, there appears to be the same style with a non-reduced price and I’m not sure what the difference is. With the four that I now own, I am basically wearing each one at least once a week and more if I get the washing done. They are just so easy for summer! Reduced from $39.90 to $29.90.

Uniqlo HEATTECH crew neck long sleeve tee-shirt (dark grey, S): The main reason for purchasing this was I needed to reach the free shipping threshold. I first tried Uniqlo’s HEATTECH almost ten years ago. I never enjoyed them and thought they made little difference. It’s been a while now and people always rave, so I think it’s time I gave these another shot. I haven’t opened them yet to try the size on, oops. I’m not sure if I should include thermals, but anyway… $19.90.

Uniqlo total: $79.70 minus expected cashback of $3.63 through Cashrewards = 76.07

Pre-owned Saba silk 3/4 sleeve dress (AU 8, via eBay and using the seller’s photo): I thought this was a steal for a silk dress in a pretty versatile and work-appropriate style. The shoulders are a bit puffy and I’m not sure if I’ll like that. It was listed as and I thought it was a really deep purple/eggplant colour. Instead in all lights it looks more dark brown to me (T also thinks it’s brown). I actually hate brown so I’m not sure I will end up keeping this because I just can’t bear the colour. I may pass it on to my Mum or sell it after washing it. I have to have a closer look and careful try-on after it’s been washed. I dumped it straight into the delicate wash laundry basket when I got it and it might take several weeks before we run a load for wool/silk items. $25.00 + $8.55 shipping = $33.55

January 2019 total: AU$109.62

Money Diaries: #3 Back to the grind

I am trying to be more mindful of our finances starting this month as we really need to buckle down to save for a house in the next two years. I’ll not be counting my Airbnb expenses but I will note prices if I’m purchasing something.

Day 1: Monday 21 January

Usual morning routine – I pack breakfast (mango with yoghurt and muesli), lunch I cooked last night (kimchi rice, Japanese egg roll – tamagoyaki – and sugar snap peas), a banana, and a bag of spicy snap peas (my Mum can’t eat spicy food anymore so she gave them to me because they were going stale).

I drive to work as it’s a Monday and I visit my parents for dinner. I lend T my transport card.

Every Monday, money is taken out of T and my separate accounts to go into our joint bank account which we use for joint spending (cash and paying off credit cards). We decided this was the easiest method and usually there is enough money or else I will just have each of us deposit a bit more (I am the chief financial officer of the household, haha). This way we can still keep most of our money in our own mortgage offset accounts but there is a communal pool that is easy to access. I go ahead and pay off last month’s credit card bill.

After work, I visit my parents. When I leave, my Mum sends me off with lunch for the next day (rice, cabbage and carrot stir-fry, tofu, and a prawn-egg-corn dish) as well as her (slightly famous amongst friends) pork floss bread. She’s really into making it!

When I get home, I make T’s lunch for the next day. I make a pasta salad with corn, edamame, lettuce and egg (and I will add tuna the next morning).

Day 2: Tuesday 22 January

I add dressing and tuna to T’s lunch. I pack my own food – lunch from leftovers from my Mum, coffee, breakfast of nectarine with yoghurt and muesli.

I train to and from work today.

In the morning, I go down to Coles to get bin bags for my Airbnb ($2; the size I need has been sold out during our weekly shop for the last month – get your stock right, supermarkets!) and David Jones gift cards which are on offer with 10% added value. I was planning to get maybe $200 ($220 value) but they’re sold out. I should have taken this more seriously… argh!

After getting home from work, I make Japanese curry (potato, carrot and peas) with rice, which I cook with quinoa mixed in. We also pack our two lunches, but there is still some leftover curry (no rice)… I’ll think about it later. I also start making sponge cake because I want to have a second go at making mango cake (Natasha’s Kitchen recipe). I didn’t think I used enough filling for my first attempt at Christmas.

T is invited to go out and Pokemon Go raid for a bit and I want to go too. The cake-making is put on hold. (For anyone interested, we are playing hard in these two weeks because of an incredibly meta-relevant Pokemon)

After getting home again, I finish making the cake but I definitely put too much filling between the layers this time. Plus I don’t have time to cool everything in the fridge between steps so it’s a sloppy mess when I cut two slices for us to eat. I consider this attempt a bigger fail than last time and I am not going to try making this again because the recipe’s ratios are all wrong for me. The kitchen is a nightmare and T helps me clean up.

Day 3: Wednesday 23 January

I take my breakfast (peach with yoghurt and muesli today), curry lunch, banana and a slice of cake, which is holding itself together now that it’s cold.

I train to and from work.

I leave work early to go see my allergist and pick up my kit as I’m starting immunotherapy. It’s $120 and the Medicare rebate goes through overnight. $54.80 (personal account)

After I get home from work, I make tacos using the vegetable mixture I use to make vegetable puffs (I froze the leftover after making vegetable puffs for Christmas) and frozen crumbed fish (taco toppings are lettuce, cherry tomatoes, pickles and cheese)

After dinner we go and clean my Airbnb. I’ve gotten good at predicting which guests will give me a minor or major headache. I was right about this one. 🙁

After we get home, I cut up nectarines and we eat that with some more mango cake.

Day 4: Thursday 24 January

I pack breakfast (peach with yoghurt and muesli), coffee, a banana and some Vegemite bagel chips.

I train to and from work.

For lunch, our department goes out to lunch to farewell our colleague. I’ve worked closely with her and I will really miss her. She’s returning to another country but will be working with us via distance. I order a breakfast tortilla ($19.50) and surprisingly, the boss pays for all of us!

As I’m leaving work, eBay notifies me that an item I am watching is ending. I put a lot of things on my watch list and most I’m not serious about and often just curious to see the final price. This one I will commit to if it sells low (near the asking price) as it’s a Saba silk dress and I’m a sucker for silk. It’s starting at $25 plus $8.55 shipping so I bid $33 as I’m only ready to pay a little over $40 for it. I’m the only bidder so I win! $33.55

It is like 42 degrees when I leave work and I think I’m going to die. I do make it home. It’s a mishmash dinner. I make a potato pasta salad with leftover pasta from Monday night, some vegetable dumplings from the freezer, and heat some pork floss bread from my Mum that I totally forgot about and now we need to hurry up and finish. I decide I’ll have to finish it for lunch the next day because I don’t think I should keep it much longer.

I have to have an icypole, and we somehow manage to finish the mango cake (T thinks we can’t keep it in the fridge any longer) but we do regret this decision…

Day 5: Friday 25 January

I pack breakfast (banana with yoghurt and muesli), coffee and lunch (leftover salad from taco night, and the remainder of the pork floss bread). I’m very please because we had enough leftover curry that T also took curry for Thursday’s lunch and today’s lunch. This marks the first week ever that we have not bought any lunches during the work week! It wasn’t intentional but I’m very happy.

I train to and from work. It’s also over 40 degrees today… ugh.

After I get home, I get to work making slow baked (boneless) beef ribs with onion, carrots and mushrooms. We bought some meat from Costco a few months ago, portioned and stored them in the freezer but actually I’m not good at cooking meat so I’ve been trying to work out how to cook this. The last attempt at slow-cooked ribs was pretty bad. This time I go with a slightly different approach. Unfortunately I realise we don’t have canned tomatoes or tomato paste (the former is my fault since we have a house inventory rule of putting items on a grocery list that is shared on both our phones when one opens or uses the last of an item, and I was the last to use the canned tomatoes). I send T out to get tomato puree and he comes back with a huge bottle. I make two cling film balls with the remainder that I don’t use and freeze. $2.75 but paid with a 5% off gift card so ~$2.61.

We eat close to 9pm, haha. We eat with some broccoli, but it’s not much food, oops. Also the beef wasn’t good. Braised beef isn’t a good weeknight idea.

Day 6: Saturday 26 January

It’s Australia Day today (and Monday is a public holiday in lieu).

We go to Louis for a (late) brunch. T gets the green chilli scrambled eggs ($18) and a latte ($4). I get the salmon baguette ($11 – I order this in an effort to be more frugal at brunch as I’m weary that we might eat out more than usual this long weekend if things get hectic…) and an iced latte ($4). The eggs are nice but not spicy at all, the salmon baguette is super stingy on the filling, and the iced latte is pretty horrible. $37

We spend all afternoon out and about (Pokemon Go) and pick up a slurpee from 7/11 to keep hydrated. $1

But by the time we get home at like 7:30pm, I am super hungry and dehydrated. T suggests we go have Vietnamese so we drive to Thanh Ha 2 (I’ve never been before). We get beef satay skewers ($8), and a broke rice dish each ($14 and $15) plus ice tea for me because I need to rehydrate as quickly as possible with sugar ($4.50). $41.50

Day 7: Sunday 27 January

We decide to eat in for lunch but don’t have much breakfast/lunch-friendly food. I make french toast (savoury because I never liked sweet french toast!) and some broccoli. I rationalise that we can pick up a snack in the afternoon since I’ll probably be hungry very soon. T gives me a blind taste text of the two coffee capsule brands I’ve been buying for the Nespresso machine. I can’t tell the difference because they are both so terrible so seems logical that I’ll just continue to buy whichever is more discounted (I think all capsules including Nespresso taste bad, but do not want to regularly pay for someone to make me coffee).

We spend all afternoon walking around the city again (Pokemon Go). The snack situation never eventuates but we grab another slurpee from 7/11. $1

For dinner, we visit T’s parents for our near-weekly catch up. We have chicken rice, loh bak, snow peas pumpkin shoots, and try the 2X spicy Samyang HEK Buldak chicken ramen. The ramen is painful and I go through half a glass of milk while almost crying. We also have fruits after dinner, including the best cherries I’ve had this season!

After dinner, we hurry to do our weekly grocery shop. I have $30 of rewards stacked up from spend-and-earn offers I’ve been doing for the past three weeks (it didn’t require us to spend more than we were already going to), but somehow the whole shop goes out of control because quite of lot of discounted meat that we talk ourselves into getting since the freezer is looking a bit empty. We usually buy meat when cheap to freeze in portions (T likes his meat so we try to keep the freezer stocked). We buy (deep breath): bulk-pack free range chicken thighs ($13.41 at $15.00/kg); 6-pack chicken, rosemary, thyme and chive sausages, 6-pack Italian beef and pork sausages, and 8-pack sweet and chilli chicken tenders (3 for $17 offer); organic chicken drumsticks ($4.67 on clearance as expiring); quarter red cabbage ($1.47); half green cabbage ($2.94); gold sweet potato ($3.94 at $5.00/kg); purple sweet potato ($3.48 at $5.50/kg); broccoli ($2.49 at $5.90/kg); a bunch of kale ($3.00); flat large mushrooms ($1.33 at $9.00/kg); nectarines ($3.07 at $3.00/kg); bananas ($2.84 at $2.00/kg); 700g wholemeal bread ($3.20); 750g sliced cheese ($8.75); Marion’s Kitchen Thai green curry and Thai red curry kits ($3.72 each – highly recommended by Ozbargain when it went half price this week so I want to try it!); 105g beef stock cubes ($2.60); 1kg iodised cooking salt ($1.09); 1kg yoghurt ($4.00); 3 cans 400g diced tomatoes ($0.60 each); 230g chipotle in adobo sauce ($4.50); 120-pack surface wipes ($5.00); 48-pack liners ($3.80). The total is $101.80 minus $30 of rewards, and we pay with a 5% discount gift card. I almost cry because I can’t believe our total grocery bill (minus rewards) is so high and can’t remember this happening before… $68.21

Notes on the grocery shop: the sweet potatoes broccoli were both very expensive but I did really want them (I love both so much!). Otherwise everything was pretty cheap, but we just bought a truckload of meat.

I also buy fresh milk for my upcoming Airbnb guests ($3.20 for 2L because they are staying a long time).

We retreat home and I’m still moping about how large the grocery bill was. I was really hoping it would be low considering we had $30 of rewards. 🙁

Total spend: $239.67 ($184.87 joint account; $54.80 personal account)

We had the Thai green curry the other night and it was pretty good. I’m impressed! Even at half price, I find it a bit pricey so I’ll have to think about whether I’d repurchase.