30 Years Around The Sun

As soon as February 18, 2019 ended, I was faced with the reality that 2019 was going to be my last year being 20+. I knew then I had to make the best of being Twenty Nine and that I did and that I did *winks* (more on this later)

               
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New York Lounge

Last year I wanted to celebrate my birthday at The Strings Hotel Nagoya, Japan (ストリングスホテル名古屋) by having a tea party, however, that idea didn’t go according to plan for various reasons that I mentioned in my birthday blog, Seven Months to Twenty Nine. A year later, I decided to revisit the idea. I took a tour of the location once again (not that I needed to but I’m extra lol) and I was still in love with it just as much as I did the first time I laid my eyes on its beauty. As is the norm for the New York Lounge (the area where they serve afternoon tea), there was a theme for this season. The theme for this winter was Marie Antionette. You know, the “let them eat cake” lady. Anyways, I was pretty excited about this because it meant they would serve colourful pastry with some very flavourful tea.

Frame Just For Me

Now, I needed something to make my birthday afternoon tea a real standout…well more than it already would be. I’ve always wanted one of those Instagram selfie frames that you see people with in photos for different events and thought this would be perfect. I did a quick search and to my surprise, there were quite a number of places in my city that I could seek info. Lord, please let it be inexpensive. One evening, I visited the closest office to the main train station I use to commute to and from work. I was lucky enough that a staff member was able to communicate effectively with me in English. Yes, I’ve been living in Japan for too long to not know Japanese, but that’s the way life goes. After gathering the information I needed about the cost for a specialized frame, I made the choice to make the project a DIY. The end result, perfection.

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Who’s Coming To Tea?

I invited two friends to join in this intimate birthday celebration. Unlike last year’s wish for getting dressed up in fancy pastel garb, I opted for a monochromatic theme. When I mentioned this to my friends they were a bit confused at first but were right on board after I explained it to them and what I was going for (I had a vision of an explosion of monochrome, knowing in the back of my mind that I’d still get just a hint of pastel. I wasn’t fully letting go of that fantasy. LOL). The only rule was that they couldn’t wear any of the colours I had in mind to wear for myself. LOL. Even if they didn’t show up in monochrome, I knew I’d be.

Did Someone Say Monochrome?

As with any birthday or event, I needed to choose the perfect outfit for me. Read that again, I needed to choose the perfect outfit for me. I had bought this coat from Zara over the Christmas holidays for about 250USD and I was just dying to wear it. The Strings Hotel Nagoya was the perfect place. The problem though was finding the right shades of the colour I chose to go with to match the theme. I spent days and weeks trying on different pieces of clothing in multiple stores, sometimes the same outfit more than once but I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted. You see, it’s still winter but it’s also almost spring so the stores are in transition between the two seasons. This meant that most of the warm stuff were being phased out. Options that weren’t going to be available when I would finally arrive at a decision. Chidi from The Good Place would be proud. Haha!

Since I wasn’t sure what the actual weather conditions would be like on the day of my party, it was much harder to make a choice. The weather forecast said it would rain but knowing my city, I didn’t know whether it would be heavy or light rain, whether it would also be windy or even what the temperature would be. See my dilemma? Should I wear a sweatshirt? Carduroy pants? Should I risk wearing white sneakers? I pondered these questions and more for several days and I made the choice of buying all that I could, put the looks together in my apartment and return (yes, return) the items I no longer needed. I’m unapologetic when returning items. I ended with a look I was really happy with. A head to toe look with everything from Zara (I won’t tell you how much this costed me. Haha!)

Talk 30 To Me: Happy F-ing Birthday

The day finally arrived. The day I’d celebrate 30 Years Around The Sun. I was beaming with the utmost gratitude for just being alive. The weather forecast said it would rain all day but I didn’t care. It’s not like we were having the event on the outside. I reached out to my guests just to reconfirm the time and place so that we were all still on the same page. I started getting ready while blasting the speakers in my apartment with Troye Sivan’s Dance To This ft. Ariana Grande. I’m really 30. Wow!

I arrived at The Strings Hotel at around 13:31 and was just taken aback by the overwhelming feeling of pure joy. It was an indication that all I was really pleased with what I chose to do. The lounge had more people than I expected and I was definitely all right with that. My first guest arrived shortly after I did and we started the drinking until my other guest showed up. Now, when I say drinking I mean orange juice. LOL. Guest number two showed up and the tea party began. We glanced at the menu to see what we’d be served as the menu was set for afternoon tea. The only choice we’d have was for the different flavoured teas, my fav was the Marco Polo.

Tea Is Served

Our waitress brought out a pair of three-tiered trays filled with the sweetest scrumdiddlyumptious desserts, two plates of scones, biscuits with a cold savoury soup an two plates of savoury nibbles. Yum!

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Let Them Eat Cake

Just like last year, I ordered a special cake from the amazing Trisha Painuyl. I reached out to her at the beginning of the month and explain exactly what I wanted. My cake was a cookie n cream cheesecake with a caramel crust and mirror glazed fondant that was dyed pink. I had to make it match the theme. The only thing we couldn’t do was have our cake and eat it too. LMAO, this so funny cuz it’s true.

The conversation kept flowing. The energy was just right and I couldn’t have asked for anything more. I didn’t feel any different than I did at 29 nor 28 nor…well you get the picture. But I suppose I was different or I am now different. Whichever. The hours went by and it was time to leave the venue. Gutted. However, we brought the cake back to another friend’s apartment to cut it and for them to have a taste of what Trisha made. The cake was superb and met my every expectation. Thank you Trisha.

There’s so much more I could say but it wouldn’t be enough. I’m just thankful for this life. At times I thought (and maybe I still do from time to time) that things just don’t ever go right for me but so much has gone right and for that, I am thankful.

30 Years Around The Sun ain’t half bad.

KEIRN

Seven Months to Twenty Nine

7 months ago I had an idea of making my 29th birthday one for the books. I wanted something unlike my usual dinner and or trip. I wanted a tea party. Sounds a bit lame when you think about it. But, I didn’t want just any tea party, I wanted it to be very posh, with a very British afternoon tea vibe. You know, the pastels, the broad hats for me female guests and the accent. LOL. With this idea in mind, I knew 7 months in advance would be enough to find the perfect place (I live in Japan), make the guest list and inform the guests of the dress code. I tend to make my birthday a big deal. Haha! The search was on.

My city, Nagoya, is just like any other major city in Japan. It’s filled with great restaurants and event spaces, you just have to know where to find them. Since I wanted this British afternoon tea setting, I pondered over whether it would truly make sense since my birthday is in winter. I googled “afternoon tea Nagoyaand found the perfect spot. The Strings Hotel had everything I wanted; the menu, the decor, the lighting (gotta have that good natural light), the place was perfect. I was very excited and a site visit was in planned. When I visited The Strings Hotel I was even more awestruck by its beauty than I was, seeing it online. It was just right.

Retrieved from expedia.co.jp

STRINGS CUT LOOSE

The idea of The Strings Hotel was short-lived. I tried to ensure my guests wouldn’t be spending any large sum of money and the tea party would be too much. So I had to let the fantasy go. Luckily, I always have a backup plan. I recalled seeing an Alice in Wonderland restaurant in my city and thought this would be an amazing back up. My guests were excited about it and so the second venue was decided on.

I thought for sure everything would go smoothly but little did I know what was on the horizon. The cake shop that I had made reservations with to bake my cake closed down for renovations, so I was now cakeless. I felt like I was being punished or something. To make matters worse, I felt as though my guests weren’t giving me positive feedback, remember I’ve been planning this for 7 months, so I cancelled the whole thing. Everything seemed to be pointing to me not having a party. Full on panic mode! It was then that I saw a post from one of my friends on Facebook, about a pastry chef in Japan. I searched for the Instagram account and stumbled upon a spectacular feed.

I was sold. I messaged Trish, the owner for the account, and placed an order for some red velvet cupcakes. I informed her that I’d be dining at an Alice in Wonderland restaurant so she had full control over creativity. Trish came up with the most beautiful designs for my cupcakes and believe me when I tell you, they tasted just as good as they look.Having now secured the cupcakes, it was time to confirm my reservation with the restaurant. Now this is where I feel like God was having a good ol’ laugh with me. Such a jokester, that God.

The restaurant closed down.

I couldn’t believe that this was happening the day before my party. I started to panic and was the verge of tears. Maybe I did shed a tear or two but it was my birthday I could cry if I wanted. I gave my head a good wobble and went back to the drawing board. I had another backup for my backup. It pays to be a planner. I wasn’t going to let 7 months of planning go down the drain.

After all the cancellations and disappointments, I now had a new venue and my two guests, who would celebrate with me on the 16th (had to celebrate before my actual birthday cuz of work).

The Light Cafe turned out to be the perfect choice. It was obvious that everything which occurred happened how they were supposed to. I could now enjoy this beautiful place.

Thanks to my friends Dani and Kerisha, I had a bomb ass time. I laughed so hard by Kerisha’s antics and my girl Dani was right there to capture my silly moments as she has done for quite some time. The food at Light Cafe was other worldly. I got the Chicken Parmesan w/ potatoes, rice and the best salad you’ll ever have and a tequila sunrise cocktail. The perfect lunch combo. 美味しい!

This is my last year in my twenties and I must say it has started off well, in spite of everything that led up to the milestone. I can’t wait to see what the year has in store for me.

Check out my Instagram: @chatterboxkeirn

CHATTERBOX KEIRN

Pops for Christmas

It’s that time of year again, Christmas. I’m always excited for Christmas because there’s always something new to look forward to. As usual I did my Christmas card photoshoot a month ago with the help of a very good friend, Dani (Check out her instagram if you are a cat lover). I had a theme in mind and I was lucky to find the perfect setting to go with my plans. Last year, I did the ugly Christmas sweater and made two short videos so I wanted something more relaxed. Well, I would have done another video but my videographer moved. LOL. For this shoot, I decided to wear pyjamas or rather, loungewear. I wanted the card to give off a homely vibe. I think I achieved that.

Since I was going to be spending yet another Christmas away from my family, I was invited to a Christmas party by an ex coworker, whose home I hosted a Christmas dinner last year. I get the feeling that they planned this just for me. I was planning on having afternoon tea at The Strings Hotel, so I was really happy for the invite. Even more so that my travel plans for the holidays had to be changed at the last minute. I now had to decide what I’d take to the dinner. Then an idea popped in my head. Cake Pops. I’ve been wanting to make these for over two months now and this would be the perfect opportunity to do so, I thought. I watched as many videos as I could to find the best ingredients and method, to create the perfect Pops.

I got all the ingredients and began preparation. I used Ghana Milk Chocolate and whipping cream milk to make the ganache to bind the cake together. I didn’t make my own cake because I do not own an oven so I bought a cake from the store. Works just the same. I opted for the ganache because it’s not as sweet as the buttermilk frosting. I had the same brand of dark chocolate but it too forever to melt and when it did, it wasn’t to my liking. I literally had to pause and run to the store to get chocolate block used for coating (alternative to chocolate melts) to get the desired outcome. The process was long but after a few misses, I made the perfect sized cake pops. I’m no pastry chef but I think I did an okay job.

Merry Christmas

– CHATTERBOX KEIRN

The Restaurant With The Refrigerator For A Door

Every now and then I try to find a new place to eat out. Japan (日本) has an insane eating out culture as you can find a restaurant at every corner. Living in the busiest and largest city the Tokai (東海地方)region, Nagoya (名古屋市) I have many places to choose from. I usually shy away from restaurants that aren’t on the forefront until a few days ago when I decided to make a change.

Taking my usual evening stroll through Sakae () I stumbled upon a menu board for Amelie, near one of my favourite restaurants to have breakfast, Eggs ‘n Things. I saw some amazing summer drinks and thought I’d try one unfortunately I later found out they didn’t have the one I wanted to try. Upon exiting the elevator on the third floor, I was greeted with one of, if not, the most interesting entrances I’d ever seen. At the entrance lay a very antique sink and a door looked like a refrigerator. Very Little House on the Prairie meets Pleasantville. I knew immediately this was a good pick.

I was seated by one of the waitresses in a cozy section. After browsing through the menu for about 10 minutes (it was all in Japanese) I made my order. To start, I had the most delicious herb chicken, quinoa salad cuz that’s what we do, LOL. The salad was everything. You know how sometimes, chefs get carried with the herbs, well, this salad was balanced and flavourful. Then again, I’ve only ever had quinoa from Costco so I didn’t have much else to compare it to.

Believe it or not, the salad sorta filled me up but I wasn’t done. I wanted something sweet, so I got the triple berry pancake for dessert with a pink grapefruit juice. When the waitress brought out the pancakes, I began salivating. I’ve had something similar at Eggs ‘n Things but never with fluffy pancakes. Every bite I took of this berry filled goodness sent me to another realm. It was that magical.

Amelie did not disappoint, especially when I saw the bill (35USD). It would have been less but I ordered two rounds of that pink grapefruit juice. If you ever find yourself in Japan (日本), particularly Sakae () in Nagoya (名古屋) make sure you visit Amelie. You’ll be happy you did.

As most who follow my instagram would notice, currently, I’m on this pink trend. So here’s something that I thought about wearing (I actually did wear it but just to get a photo at the door).

I really liked this shirt I got from Zara for roughly 22USD and knew it would be worn sooner than later. (Though I didn’t wear it inside Amelie. LOL. I contemplated on wearing plan denim jeans or ripped jeans but when I threw on the latter, I loved it too much to take it off. These jeans I’ve had for about two years, purchases from H&M but I forgot the cost. My shoes are from my favourite store…you know itBershka which I’ve only now worn for a second time. These babies cost me just a measly 40USD, on sale. The main look was complete so I grabbed my messenger bag from GU and my accessories from both WEGO Japan and H&M. How’d I do?

CHATTERBOX KEIRN

The Best Hot Dog I’ve Ever Had

Like the title suggests, on April 5, 2018 I had the best hot dog ever (so far). Where, you might ask? Well, I just happened to be doing my usual scroll through Instagram when I noticed a friend of mine promoting an eatery. As an on & off again vegan for a year and 3 months, this was one instance when I’d forget that path. I mean, how could I? It’s a freaking HOT DOG. The eatery I’m speaking of is The Original Hot Dog Factory. Now, I had no idea what I was in for when I visited and I wasn’t disappointed. I went to one of two locations in Atlanta, more specifically, at 75 Piedmont Ave NE, Atlanta.

When I walked inside I immediately fell in love. I live for a graffitied wall and when I saw that the walls of The Original Hot Dog Factory has that illusion, for sure the food would good. You can do whole photo shoot in the freaking restroom. Haha! But let’s get back to what we’re all here for, the food. There were so many good options but I went for the Chicago Dog with Onion Rings and my friends got the California Slaw Dog and the New Yorker. As Jamaicans, we couldn’t pass up the chance of indulging in something jerked so we all shared the Jamaican Jerk Chicken Dog.

I took one bite, and a burst of flavours enveloped my mouth. How the fuck could a hot dog be this good? I bit into it again and I swore I died and was in heaven. In Jamaica terms, di hot dog baaaaaad! bloodclaat!I was extremely happy to support my girl, Fel, and I was happy that I brought other along for the ride. If you’re ever in Atlanta, you have to check them out. You will not be disappointed.

CHATTERBOXKEIRN

Matcha x Vanilla

It’s the weekend which means I would be spending it in one of the many Starbucks (スターバ) in Nagoya, Japan (名古屋、日本). I had the intention of first attending my students’ volleyball game but I missed it by about two hours. Seeing as it was too early in the morning make my weekend Starbucks (スターバ) visit, I went to the Nagoya Port Aquarium (名古屋港水族館) to kill time. But, my cravings were getting the better of me, so that visit had to be cut short and to Starbucks (スターバ) I went. 

ORDER UP

Matcha Donut

It seems the trend this summer is to fill Starbucks (スターバ) with traditionally Japanese (日本人) desserts, particularly matcha flavoured desserts. After trying the delicious American Scone Matcha (アメリカンスコーン 抹茶), I was more than willing to go all in on the Matcha Donut (抹茶ドーナツ). Not only is this donut appealing to the eye but it’s as delectable as it looks. Sinking my into this treat was like taking a bite out of a well made shortcake. Heaven!

Trying to add some colour to my tray, I got myself a Vanilla Frappuccino (バニラフラップ). This was the perfect choice because it wasn’t as sweet as some of the other frappes on the menu. 

Vanilla Frappuccino

My afternoon was made. Sitting in Starbucks (スターバ), catching up on Orange Is The New Black while making my tastebuds dance with today’s orders, is how the weekends are supposed to be spent. Get into a Starbucks (スターバ) as soon as you can, and have a frappuccino on me. 

CHATTERBOX: Keirn

Matcha Baby! Matcha!

As the seasons come and go in Japan (日本) so do the frappuccino of the season. Summer is technically here and a new frappuccino was launched on June 14th. I introduce to you the Chocolate Cake Frappuccino with a Matcha Shot (チョコレートケーキトップフラップ). 

Chocolate Cake Frappuccino w/ Matcha Shot

As a connoisseur of all things Starbucks Japan (スターバ) L O L, I was very excited to try it. Can I just say, I wasn’t disappointed. The chocolate cake sits perfectly on top of the the almond milk mixture, topped with the matcha syrup and whipped cream, garnished by matcha powder. Usually, when I purchase a new frappuccino, I go for the sweetest treat that is paired perfectly with it. This wasn’t much different. Like the boss Starbucks Japan (スターバ) is, the American Scone Matcha (アメリカンスコーン抹茶) was on the menu. 

American Scone Matcha
My tastebuds were in matcha heaven. The matcha flavour didn’t overpower chocolate, nor did the chocolate overpower the almond milk. Perfection! This is by far two of my most favourite types of frappuccino and scone ever to be served in Starbucks Japan (スターバ). If you’re making a trip to Japan (日本) any time soon, be sure to get you matcha shot. It’s well worth the 8USD. 

Chocolate Cake Frappuccino & American Scone Matcha

CHATTERBOX: Keirn