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Where I have been hiding

Auckland New Zealand Waterfront

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to sit down and write a long blog post. The last few weeks and months have just flown by in a flurry of organising a million different things.

It started with closing down Turquoise Port Japan, selling all the stock, getting our personal belongings packed up and shipped to Auckland, New Zealand. On top of that came the farewells – fun and heartbreaking at the same time and the quiet goodbyes to the city and country I came to love during our 5.5 years in Tokyo. And all of it in the space of just over 3 weeks.

Things didn’t slow down when we arrived in Auckland. Having lived here before and Mr M being a New Zealander meant we already have a network of friends and family. So following in the footsteps of all of the ‘goodbyes’ in Japan came the ‘helloes’ in New Zealand.

The initial plan was to move back into our house which we bought more than 10 years ago before moving to Bangkok. Coincidentally around the same time as Mr M was approached with a job opportunity in NZ, our tenants handed it their notice. Coincidence? Was it meant to be? Did the universe make plans for us? Who knows…

Well – it didn’t turn out that way and we decided to sell the house. I’ll write another blog post to explain why we made that decision. Quite a few of my Instagram / Facebook friends and followers have asked that very question ūüėÖ

The house need a very large dose of TLC. It was rented out for almost 10 years to families with kids and dogs and it looked tired and dated. I took on that project (more about that in a later blog post) and turned the place around in just 8 weeks. 24/7 neck deep in dust & paint, finding & dealing with tradies, organising lawyers and real estate agents.

At the same time we found another fabulous house to buy just down the road. That meant more stuff to organise – finance, building inspections, lawyer.

Meanwhile we moved from one very small apartment where we stayed for a month to another small apartment for yet another month. Fully furnished places are hard to come by in Auckland. We needed one of those given that all our worldly belongings were packed into a shipping container when we left Tokyo.

After those 2 first months we moved into our new and very empty house. We’ve been glamping in the house for more than 3 weeks with an airbed, a small table and a couple of chairs and some borrowed kitchen items. Extreme minimal living! ūüėā

Luckily we just had word, that our shipment will be delivered on in a couple which is when I will disappear in mountains of boxes. I love unpacking and setting up – can’t wait to turn the house into a home and take you along on the journey!

Alex x

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This month I’m … June 2022

spending some time in Germany with family & friends

Turquoise Port will be closed for the month of June Рclick here for the summer schedule.

having visited each of the 47 prefectures in Japan!

I’ve written a blog post about the best hotels we have come across on our travels. Read it¬†here.

days without rain in our little garden

Watch the “Styling Video: How to create a stylish outdoor space for summer” for inspiration

the house

Being stuck inside during rainy season is the perfect time to declutter.
There will be some things I’ll give away – keep an eye out for them on my¬†Instagram¬†and¬†Facebook¬†Stories.

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This month I’m … May 2022

Sitting woman holding ceramic jar
Sitting woman holding ceramic jar

the arrival of new ginger jars & candle jars!

The lovely new items will be released to my mailing list, on Thursday, 26 May. Not on the list? Sign up here.

Japanese temple at night

Tokyo before the heat of the summer hits

Some of my favourite Tokyo places are listed on my blog. Take a look here.

Corn fritters with tomatoes and avocado

weekend brunches

Happiness = a simple home cooked Sunday brunch. These corn fritters topped with chopped avocados and tomatoes, a dollop of sour cream and some Thai sweet chili sauce are yum!
Recipe: here


the last ‘InstaBasics¬†–¬†Instagram for small business’

We have 3 spots left for the last class (1 June) before the summer break.
Click here for further details

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This month I’m … April 2022

Auckland New Zealand skyline from the water
Small balcony overlooking trees

the spring weather on our small balcony

Click to watch the short Tiny balcony styling video’.

Japanese historical town

Japan travel blog posts

Have you seen the one about ‘Hiking the Nakasendo trail’?

Cloud Cuckoo Land book cover

“Cloud Cuckoo Land”

by Anthony Doerr

I loved “All the Light We Cannot See” by the same author and can’t wait to get started on this novel!

Auckland New Zealand skyline from the water

New Zealand!

Can’t wait to catch up with family & friends¬†after¬†such a long time! Turquoise Port will be¬†closed for Golden Week – click here for¬†further details.

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Recipe: Homemade granola

I shared pictures of the granola I made over on my Instagram and Facebook stories at the weekend and received a number of messages asking for the recipe.
So here you go!

– 3 tbsp sunflower oil
– 150ml date molasses (substitute: maple syrup)
– 2 tbsp honey
– 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
– 350g jumbo rolled oats
– 1 large pinch sea salt
– 25g sunflower seeds
– 25g pumpkin seeds
– 35g pistachios, roughly chopped
– 35g flaked almonds
– 50g mixed, dried fruit, roughly chopped, such as sour cherries, raisins, apricots, mulberries and figs

Off you go:
– Pre-heat the oven 170 degrees Celsius.
– Add the sunflower oil, date molasses, honey and vanilla extract to a small bowl and mix very well.
– Mix all dry ingredients, expect the almond flakes and dried fruit, in a large bowl, add the sticky mixture and stir well to coat everything.
– Spread mixture onto a large baking tray, pat down with a wooden spoon and bake for 12 min.
– Gently stir in the almond flakes and bake for another 10-15 min until the granola is evenly toasted. Don’t let it burn!
– Leave to cool on the tray before stirring in the dried fruit.
– Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.


*Recipe from “The Saffron Tales | Recipes from the Persian Kitchen” by Yasmin Khan

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This month I’m … January 2022

The arrival of some fab new home decor items!

These beautiful trays and a range of other treasures will get here soon – can’t wait to share them with you!
Want to know when they arrive? Sign up here!

5 years in Japan

Happy Japaniversary to me!
Who would have thought Mr M & I will still be here 5 years after we set foot onto Japanese soil on a cold 2017 January night…

At home

With the excitement of Christmas gone, the temperatures dropping¬†and Covid¬†numbers rising, it’s time to retreat back into the home cocoon, snuggle up with a good book, cook¬†comfort food and drink¬†mulled wine.

“The Green Road”
by Anne Enright

“From internationally acclaimed author Anne Enright comes a shattering novel set in a small town on Ireland’s Atlantic coast. The Green Road is a tale of family and fracture, compassion and selfishness‚ÄĒa book about the gaps in the human heart and how we strive to fill them.”

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This month I’m … October 2021

The arrival of some fab new earrings!

These (and other) pretties will get here soon – can’t wait to share them with you!

To those amazing autumn colours!

Autumn in Japan is simply stunning.

The Showroom

It’s been a while and I’m excited to open the¬†Showroom up again. Did a bit of a re-style during my last day of quarantine – take a look at this¬†quick videoūüôā

“Unwell Women: Misdiagnosis and Myth in a Man-Made World”
by Elinor Cleghorn

“A trailblazing, conversation-starting history of women’s health – from the earliest medical ideas about women’s illnesses to hormones and autoimmune diseases -brought together in a fascinating sweeping narrative”

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This month I’m … August 2021

Our tiny house in Germany!

The place was built last summer and we were meant to be there for it, but Japan had closed its borders for non-Japanese visa holders. I just cannot wait to walk through the door and start decorating! 

That tiny house

Internet connection permitting, I will post videos and pictures on my Instagram and Facebook stories as I go along. Did I mention I’m mega excited? ūüėÖ

“Physical” (Apple TV+)

I’m a couple of episodes in and love it!

“Sheila Rubin is a quietly tormented housewife in ’80s San Diego. Behind closed doors, she battles extreme personal demons and a vicious inner voice. But things change when she discovers aerobics, sparking a journey toward empowerment and success.”

“What Could Be Saved” by Liese O’Halloran Schwarz

“An enthralling, redemptive novel set in Bangkok in 1972 and Washington, DC, in 2019 about an expatriate child who goes missing, whose family is contacted decades later by a man claiming to be the vanished boy.”

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This month I’m … July 2021

“Peaky Blinders” (Netflix)

We got absolutely hooked on this Netflix series.
It’s a fictional story based on the real life Peaky Blinders, a notorious gang in Birmingham, England who were active in the city from the 1890s to the early 20th century.

Expect brilliant acting combined with a great soundtrack.

Old Filth by Jane Gardam

FILTH = Failed In London Try Hong Kong – is, in a nutshell, the life story of an English lawyer, born in Malaya during the British Empire’s heyday, his schooling in pre-war England, his professional success in Southeast Asia and his return to England toward the end of the millennium. I loved this book and I was sad when I turned the last page.
But hurray: It’s the first of a trilogy so I will keep on reading!

How to make my own clothes!

I’ve always loved fabrics and tend to collect them on my travels wherever I go. Melanie Uematsu offers sewing & pattern making classes in her atelier in Oyamadai – 5 classes later I’ve already made a skirt and I’m half way through sewing a top to go with the skirt.

Our trip to Germany

I haven’t seen my family in 2 years and after postponing our flight 5 times, we keeping our fingers crossed for our mid-August departure. Travelling used to be fun – I’m currently buried neck-deep in Covid-related rules & regulations…

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This month I’m … June 2021

“Halston” on Netflix

Ewan McGregor is absolutely fabulous in the role of fashion designer Roy Halston who dictated American glamour in the late 1960s and 1970s. 

The “Superwoman Wellness” Podcast

If you only listen to one episode, make it EP 218 – Bras & Breast Health. It’s truly eye opening.

Lots of yummy summer fruits

Click here for the recipe of this refreshing Mango Lassi Bowl recipe – a summer breakfast favourite in our house

My mornings on our tiny little balcony

To watch the fun little 30 second balcony styling video I made a couple of weeks ago, click here.