Forest Flower Bouquet in a Pre Wedding Photo Session

vintage themed bouquet

Taking pre-wedding studio photos is a norm in East Asia. It’s quite similar to the concept of taking engagement photos in the America. The purpose of such is to capture more romantic moments in a quieter setting as opposed to photos taken on the actual wedding day which is mostly about putting on a show for guests who participate at a big banquet.

Unlike engagement photos, taking in semi-formal or casual wear, typically the bride-to-be and the groom-to-be will take pre-wedding studio photos in wedding dresses and tuxedos. This is often an opportunity for the soon-to-be-married couple to look at their best, especially since editing is a big part of the photo package. The edited photos will later on be used for decoration for the wedding banquet.

I am not sure why there’s such cultural difference, but I do notice that many Asian couples prefer what I call “celebrity-style” photo shoot. Many of them prefer to be much accessorised and pose in a way that is more likely seen in fashion magazines than in real life. This is rather different from the minimalistic approach of taking photos in simple and intimate setting that is popular in the West.

When my husband and I went to a photo studio to discuss the details of our pre-wedding studio photos, our person in charge had to double-check with every choice that I made since no one wanted to look “clean and simple” in their wedding photos. “Clean and simple” meant elegance to me but shabby in Chinese standard.

forest flower bouquet
Muted color bouquet, perfect for a fairytale-themed wedding


We didn’t end up taking our pre-wedding studio photos in Taiwan, but we still needed some studio photos for our debut wedding video, so we found a Swedish photographer to take our photos while we were on vacation in Sweden. Here are a couple of photos of the bouquet I put together from flowers picked from my mother-in-law’s lovely garden to be used for our photo shoot. I just love this kind of pale, muted colour palette.

Our pre-wedding photo taken in a forest

bridal shower

Bridal shower, a gift-giving party traditionally thrown by the maid of honour or a good friend, a celebration for the bride-to-be is  the most common in North America, Australia and New Zealand.

Here in Japan, it seems to be a thing that people have never heard of. I am so very lucky to have my maid of honour, who is my high school friend from Canada living in Japan as well. She planned a such a beautiful party. I had a blast. It’s a day that I’d always remember.

The theme was ‘British afternoon tea’. We had a bruschetta bar which included pan-fried baguette and three kinds of toppings such as a mix of tomato and basil, fresh ricotta cheese and a mix of avocado and shrimp.

It would not be a British-themed tea party without scones. I didn’t know what clotted cream was, though I am still not sure what it is. All I know is that it’s yummy and it can actually be found in the Japanese supermarket nearby. Mmmm…scones, clotted cream and strawberry jam…mmmm.

bridal shower advice treasure box

Here’s a couple of pictures of the advice box created by MK, my maid of honour. Sheep sticky notes for advices to be read next year in the year of sheep; pig ones to be read in five. How cute and adorable. And I got my very own BRIDE CHAIR!

bridal shower finger food

ブライダルシャワー(bridal shower)というの結婚を控えた女性にプレゼントを贈る北米で一般的なパーティーです。



a bridal shower table

英国のアフタヌーンティーを主題としてスコーン、マカロンとケーキを準備しておきました。紅茶はもちろん v(^0^)v。ミニブルスケッタバーも準備しておきました。




Chocolate Chip Cookies: The Chewy by Alton Brown

The Chewy by Alton Brown
The Chewy by Alton Brown


8 ounces unsalted butter
12 ounces bread flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 ounces granulated sugar
8 ounces light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 ounce whole milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

Melt the butter in a 2-quart saucepan over low heat. Set aside to cool slightly.

Sift together the flour, salt and baking soda onto a paper plate. Pour the butter into your stand mixer’s work bowl. Add the sugar and brown sugar and beat with the paddle attachment on medium speed for 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together the whole egg, the egg yolk, milk and vanilla extract in a measuring cup. Reduce the mixer speed and slowly add the egg mixture. Mix until thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds.

Using the paper plate as a slide, gradually integrate the dry ingredients, stopping a couple of times to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Once the flour is worked in, drop the speed to “stir” and add the chocolate chips. Chill the dough for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and place racks in the top third and bottom third of the oven.

Scoop the dough into 1 1/2-ounce portions onto parchment-lined half sheet pans, 6 cookies per sheet. Bake 2 sheets at a time for 15 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. Remove from the oven, slide the parchment with the cookies onto a cooling rack and wait at least 5 minutes before devouring.


Chocolate Chip Cookies: The Thin by Alton Brown

chewy chocolate chip cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
2 ounces milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
Ice cream scooper (#20 disher, to be exact)
Parchment paper
Baking sheets


Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda in a mixing bowl. Combine the egg, milk, and vanilla and bring to room temperature in another bowl.

Cream the butter in the mixer’s work bowl, starting on low speed to soften the butter. Add the sugars. Increase the speed, and cream the mixture until light and fluffy. Reduce the speed and add the egg mixture slowly. Increase the speed and mix until well combined.

Slowly add the flour mixture, scraping the sides of the bowl until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chocolate chips. Scoop onto parchment-lined baking sheets, 6 cookies per sheet. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, checking the cookies after 5 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet for more even browning.

Remove the cookies from the pans immediately. Once cooled, store in an airtight container.


My Report

This part of my report seems to be about what milk does to chocolate cookies. This recipe calls for 1 less egg and a bit of milk compared to the one that I had above. Milk makes the cookies softer. It seems to open up some pores on the cookies, too. I think these cookies are probably those ones that are described to be cakey cookies. I like crispy cookies more. Now I am certain that for making so-called my perfect c.c.c., I will not be needing milk. To the next batch I go.




Chocolate Chip Cookies by Bobby Flay

thin chocolate chip cookies


2 cups plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup dark brown muscavado sugar
1/3 cup light brown muscavado sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 (5-ounce) block semisweet chocolate, chopped into chunks (recommended: Callebaut)
1 (5-ounce) block milk chocolate, chopped into chunks (recommended: Callebaut)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or silicon pads.

Whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda in a large bowl.

Place the butter in the bowl on an electric stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment and beat until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the sugars and continue mixing, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes longer. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and the vanilla extract, beating until incorporated.

Add half of the flour and mix until just incorporated. Add the remaining flour, again mixing until just combined. Remove the bowl from the stand and fold in the chocolate chunks.

Using a small ice cream scoop, spoon the dough onto a baking sheet, leaving at least 2 inches between each cookie and bake on the middle rack until the cookies are lightly golden brown and still soft in the middle, about 11 minutes. Let cookies rest for 2 minutes on the baking sheet before removing them to a baking rack with a wide metal spatula. Let the cookies cool on the baking rack for a few minutes before eating. Repeat with remaining dough.


My Report

The above photo shows how the cookies turned out. I like them a lot. I have to admit that I probably used a bit too much butter when I made those. That much grease dripping out of the cookie dough balls on the baking sheet was quite a sight. At the same time, I am starting to think that a large amount of butter is the secret to making crispy cookies that are very thin.

These cookies are thin, crispy, brown around the edge and very sweet. The recipe does call for quite a bit of sugar, lots of sugar and in 3 different kinds. I suppose the sugar contributes to making the crispiness since that’s how caramel candy is made. Heating up sugar until it browns creates a thickened texture. The same process seems to happen to all the sugar that we include in the dough inside an oven as well. Compared to the recipe above, dark brown sugar makes the cookies look much more sophisticated. Kosher salt gives the cookies a little twist. Flavour of salt is not entirely blended in every bite. In sweetness comes the salty twist every second bite or so. I think kosher salt gives cookies an elegant taste. Of course, the type of chocolate used makes a difference, too. But for that matter, no experiment needed – I like dark chocolate, period.

Crispness cccx3

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My Big, Fat Chocolate Chip Cookies by Tyler Florence

chocolate chip cookies


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup white sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 (8-ounce) block dark chocolate, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.

Place the butter, sugar, and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer; cream together on medium speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Beat in the vanilla and eggs. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and continue to mix until a smooth batter forms. Turn off the mixer and fold in the chocolate chunks using the spatula.

To form the cookies, scoop about 1/4 cup of cookie dough into your hands and roll it around into a ball; place them about 3-inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets; you should get about 4 cookies on each pan. Press down the tops of the dough slightly and bake until the cookies are light brown, 12 minutes for chewy cookies, or about 15 minutes for crispy cookies.

Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough/cookie sheets.


My Report

I enjoy those cookies. It is pretty close to what I would consider a perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe for me. They are fairly sweet, crispy and not dry. I really don’t ask for more. What surprises me though, is that my taste of C.C.C. seems to change from time to time. After following the other recipe for a couple of times and not having enough people at home to consume the cookies, I seemed to enjoy those cookies a lot just for the fact that they did not taste the same. Like how we can get tired of the same dish no matter how great it is, my conclusion of this perfect-C.C.C.-finding journey is that “the perfect recipe” should actually be “the perfect recipes”.

Crispness cccx3

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Sweetness cccx2