21 December 2009

Break Mode

I've officially been on winter break since last Friday, and I already feel like a lazy bum. You always feel like you should be doing something after you've been doing non-stop college work for a few months!

Already, Takeshi's had to go into work on his days off a hell of a lot more than wanted. But on the sunny side (which he pointed out to me), he is getting overtime for it. Personally, I'd rather have him instead of the money. But since we're trying to save up, I guess every little bit helps, for now.

Some of my class grades are still coming in on the college's website, but so far, I've done pretty well this semester - mostly As with a couple B's. Right before we left for break, my Senior Design Studio class picked from a hat, our fictitious company to work on for our senior thesis for the spring semester. We have a little bit of work to think about over break, for that project. I'm also participating in a small gallery show at the college - students are creating pieces for the show with the theme "blurring the lines between art and design". I'll probably do something on canvas, which I still need to go buy. But I didn't have any oil/acrylic paints to my name, so I've already bought a limited palette of oil paints to use.

Ummmm....what else. (my winter-break brain no doubt)

We got a pretty good snow over this past weekend! Wow - about 14-18 inches all told. Snow that actually sticks around for a bit! Hehe. Takeshi and I kept marveling at all of it, when we went out for chores. We haven't experienced a good snowfall in about 2 years.

A little treat - tapioca pearls from the nearby Vietnamese store

Some water biscuits I baked the other day

Kenyan Chai tea - a present from mum!

08 December 2009



I come into class this morning and the guy who sits next to me comes in after me, and scoots his chair way, way far away. For those of you who haven't heard the scoop - it's this guy who has been asking me multiple questions every class, about information the professor JUST told us. Stuff that he should have been paying attention to, since it's y'know - like - COLLEGE. He was frankly, pissing me off and getting on my nerves. I mean - can't you think for yourself? Sheesh. Anyway, I don't give a crap if he's giving me cold-shoulder treatment, since that means he'll stop asking me questions 4 times a day now. Hopefully.

We received our first snowfall of the season this past weekend. It didn't stick at all and most of it's gone by now. It was so distracting that day! I love watching snow fall.

I put together my own Christmas card design over the weekend. It's very cute I think, and I'm very pleased with how it came out! Just have to print them out. I hope to not only send a card to my husband's family, but send cards to some of Takeshi's good friends as well. I'll have to ask him if he could get their addresses.

Next week is our last week before winter break. I'm not feeling the crunch so much right now, with getting projects done and all - let's hope I don't to that point of panic! Haha.

Another downer - my 2 new pairs of shoes that my mum bought for me, which are the EasySpirit brand, are cutting into my ankle ONLY on my right foot. Argh. I think it's the type of shoe design that's doing it - they had no laces, kind of slip-ons. The opening where you put your foot through - it's slightly curved in (to help it stay on your foot I believe). So the curved in part at my ankle sits wrong on my foot, and cut into my ankle the other day. By the time I made it to college, I KNEW my ankle was rubbed raw. Ouch.

So I'm waiting for it to heal up. I went out and bought some "inner shoe-padding sticky-foam strip" things. I attached some strips to the inside of both right feet, but I can't truly test them out, until my foot heals. Everything rubs against it now, and it hurts. Bleh. I really like these shoes and would like to wear them without tearing myself up. So let's hope this helps, in the end.

01 December 2009

Back from Break


So, I'm back from break now, sitting in my morning class. Thanksgiving this year was very good, since my parents came up from Belize to visit the States; they'll be here for a bit of a long stretch, so we'll probably see them for Christmas as well. I got all of my Christmas gifts early while they were here - mostly new clothes and shoes, and some books as well. Also got to trade in my old, dinosaur iPod for a new one - even though they only gave me about $25 bucks for it. But it didn't surprise me any.

Takeshi's birthday is tomorrow! He'll be 23 - but I guess my FIL forgot, and sent Takeshi an email that added in a, "happy 24th birthday." Oops. I gave Takeshi his presents early this time, but they were a little....lame. So I'm glad that my parents were generous enough to get him some things as well - they can afford to get him really nice stuff, compared to me! And he's so hard to shop for! Men. I hope to go out for dinner somewhere on his days off this week.

I wonder what the family is up to over in Suzuka. Probably the same old thing - FIL is going to work at the Honda plant, getting back at about 7pm - MIL is probably spending some time sewing up all kinds of things - GIL is staying at home doing the household chores and watching immense amounts of TV - and SIL is working somewhere teaching English, perhaps still in Nagoya. It's probably getting cold there in Mie-ken, with blustery winds. Mister Donut probably has some new fall/winter/holiday donuts coming out.

Gah. I'm homesick now. Can I visit one of you ladies in Japan? I'd FedEx myself to you. Haha. ;)

We've only got 3 more weeks of the semester's classes before winter break. All the profs are gearing up for final projects and such. I've got to assemble and turn in my portfolio by the 14th for review. I've got most of the pages designed and laid out so I just need to print them at the college.

Yesterday, Monday, was the first day back at classes - my morning (and only) class didn't last long at all, so I left and went to the print shop on the 2nd floor to work on my monotype prints due on Wednesday. I got all of them done - they only bad part was that I was doing Xerox transfers - which includes using lacquer thinner. You usually don't want to inhale that chemical at all. I tried to go quickly as possible. The process goes as such: you print out an image from a Xerox printer - you put it face down on another piece of paper - you rub the lacquer thinner (with gloves on) on the paper = you transfer the image onto the paper.

I don't get into the Christmas spirit too much usually - not one of those people who decorate everything they own or whatnot. If I ever get into the holiday spirit a little, it's usually half-way through December. I wish the holidays this year weren't spent in Lancaster, PA AGAIN. Hard to get into to the spirit when it's a small, backwater town! Or maybe I'm being too much of a scrooge. I can definitely say that by next Christmas, we'll be somewhere else. That's something to look forward to.

20 November 2009

Over the Hump


Next week we only come in on Monday and then we break for Thanksgiving. Thank goodness it's almost here. The professor has to shorten the class on that day as well (to attend a board meeting), to about an hour instead of the usual 3 hours, so that's even better news. ;)

This past weekend, Takeshi took me by a small Vietnamese/Asian store I had found online a while ago. He had already been there, but I was itching to see what was there myself. We rode our bikes there, and it was totally in an area of the city I had not been in. Go figure, since I don't get out much!

This place was bigger than the teeny-tiny Korean-mart we usually go to, but mind you, it's no where as big as a regular grocery store. But still, I was excited to browse through everything there! And lo and behold I found something to be excited about - they have natto there! I almost did a little dance in the freezer aisle when Takeshi noticed the familiar Japanese packaging. Soooo I bought a pack, and have it sitting in the freezer because I want to make it last. There's no way I'm biking all the way there and back all the time, just to pick up natto for $2.50. So, it cheered me up, knowing there's some kind of foodstuffs I can find here, that remind me of home. :) しあわせ。。。They did have a good number of Japanese snacks (as all Asian marts do), but I'm not as interested in stocking up on Pocky than I am on good wholesome Japanese cookin'! I'd trade that for some yakisoba, or onigiri any day.

12 November 2009

Holiday Break Now, Please

A project due on Tuesday for our Senior Design class is threatening to make everyone in the class to have a mental breakdown. It's a lot to get done over the weekend; it's comprised of designing about 4-5 pieces of printed material for the client, mounting them as a 2D presentation, and then printing most of them out again, to create 3D forms (brochures, postcards, etc.) so that the client can handle them and look at them. And then for some of us (me included), have another Indian art history exam to study for, which is being administered on the same day as the other project. Well, it's crunch time for most classes, and they're pumping us up with more projects, because we'll have Thanksgiving break soon.

I sent my FIL an email a few weeks ago, just say hi and make small talk. I addressed it to the whole family really. He answered back a few days ago, and added,

"わたしは、すっかりえいごをわすれてしまいました。にほんごのMAILで ごめんなさい。"
(I totally have forgotten English. Sorry for this mail in Japanese.)

Well...I'm not really surprised that he's forgotten the little bit of English he knew, since he has no use for it at all! I am a little sad to hear it though - just means that I will definitely need my Japanese-speaking skills to be able to communicate with him (never mind the rest of the family) when we see them again.

Somedays it's really really hard to not just GO and buy lunch during class days. It's not that we don't have money to do it - we're trying to save as much as we can every month. But since I know that Takeshi doesn't buy "miscellaneous food items" or takeout right now, I would feel guilty if I went and bought a sandwich for lunch or something...

Sitting in the same room with people who are eating pizza or Chinese food is torture somedays. Haha. :) My cooking is not terrible, but their food always smells so much better!

Another gloomy day. Bleh.

07 November 2009


"I want it to snow!" That's what I think about often these days. It's been so cold outside - so I believe that if it's going to be so freezing, then we should have something pretty to look at! But I don't say that over and over again out loud because Takeshi said to me once, "Well, I don't want it to snow because I bike to work everyday..." Oops.

Recently I've learned a group of kanji (from 'My Japanese Coach') which have to do with nature. I'm practicing these kanji this time around:

竹 - bamboo

森 - grove

田 - rice paddy

雨 - rain

山 - mountain

川 - river

I already knew the kanji for mountain, since it's simpler - and the kanji for river which I should be able to do since it's part of my last name now! ;)

I've been making more types of cookies lately. Usually we go through some heavy-cooking phases in this household! Haha. This time I ended making flaxseed cookies, since I bought a package of flaxseeds a while ago, and they've been sitting around. These cookies are very delicious, and have that crunchiness to them - because the recipe calls for a LOT of flaxseed! About 2 and 1/4 cups. This recipe yielded a huge amount, so I also have 2 more "logs" of the dough in the freezer for later. Anyone who wants the recipe, let me know!

For Photography class, we've been getting homework assignments which call for us to take about 80-100 shots! This time around I decided to take close-up shots (not "macro-shots" - thank you Dad) of the different tea leaves I have. The best thing I've learned from this basic photography class so far, is the process you can use in Adobe Photoshop to eliminate unwanted color-schemes in your photos, pumping up the contrast, and really making a photo look 200x better. Anyway, I've been drinking up all of this older tea I've had for AGES, so I can buy other tea finally. I try to get Takeshi to help me with it, but I know he's more likely to think of his beloved coffee first! Here are some shots:

rosemary tea leaves

pu-erh tea leaves

chamomile tea leaves

05 November 2009

Wish I was home instead...

I'm in my Advertising class - well the end of it. Next is my Art History class which goes until 6:45pm. Ugh. It's totally dark when I get out now, from my evening classes, since daylight savings and such. And to boot, it's freezing!

Takeshi and I have been talking more and more about what we'll do after I graduate, since we are planning to move to a bigger city. He flashed a small initial list of places he's interested in, or knows of around the country. At first, we left it open to possibly moving anywhere in the U.S. but the other night we came to a decision to, for now, limit our move to somewhere on the east coast. To make the move all the way over to the other side of the country will take up a lot more time and money. So far, I really liked the idea of moving to San Francisco or somewhere in CA, but I agree that we don't have oodles of money to spend on, going out there to look at possible jobs, possible apartments, just SEEING what the city's like, and then moving everything there. I've started to do my own research and bookmarking of certain design studios in major cities.

Onto to my next class! I wonder what I'll do for dinner.

01 November 2009


The title should be "East of the Sun and West of the Moon". Favorite song of mine, redone by Diana Krall. Look it up sometime, if you like jazz. I'm listening to it right now, while drinking some hot tea. Takeshi's on the floor checking his Mixi account.

Another busy start to the week, but not in a "homework-overload" sort of way. Went to a nearby printing company outside of town, called "Intelligencer Printing Company", for a printing-101 walkthrough tour of the factory-like interior. After I got back from that trip, Takeshi and I jumped a bus to the mall. Bought some kitchen utensils. We're still without a whisk, of all things. Evidently we can go without one right now, since we feel like asking $8-12 dollars for one is a little stupid. Ah well.

Thanksgiving break is growing closer - about 3 weeks from now! My college gets 6 days off.

Every store has begun (or already finished) their personal transformations to have a Christmas theme. Personally I don't usually get into the "holiday-spirit" until December, which I think is very reasonable. When people start mentioning Christmas in October (I've witnessed it), I think that's just crazy...

Been sketching in my sketchbook a little more these days, probably because I want to get away from the digital-art-creation scene for a bit in my spare time. In a strange way, I find that sketching out something totally random, by hand, is very calming at times for me. It's a more personal creation, than even drawing it on my laptop. When I have my holiday breaks, I want to do a lot more sketching and perhaps painting as well. Got to go buy some paints first. Haha!

Man, the weekend went fast. On to another week, and before I know it, it'll be Friday night again! Everyone have a good week!

My jack-o-lantern this year! リラックマ

This may turn into something more! It's a random doodle.

29 October 2009

Hiya There

Heya everyone - I just wanted to have another check of who still may be reading my blog after all this time - especially since I've made it necessary for the reader to get an invitation to do so. Of course one will never really know how many lurkers they have visiting as well! But also, I'm thinking that most of you ladies in Japan may not read as much anymore, since I am not living in Japan anymore! I know it's not as exciting or different as it used to be. :(

So please just give me a "here" or "aye" to give me a good idea of who reads! ありがとう。

24 October 2009

Coffee in the Morning

いま、わたしはコーヒーをのみます。うまい! <3

This past week of classes went by in a busy blur, more so than my average week.

Yesterday I made a personal goal for myself - I plan to study up and try for the Level 4 exam of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, or JLPT. It is administered by the Japan Foundation and Japan Educational Exchanges and Services, and is held within the United States in Atlanta, Chicago, Arkansas, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, San Francisco, and Washington. The closest city to us, at this time would be New York. Level 4 is the easiest leveled-exam to take - I figure that starting there would be smart for me. At this point, since I've taken up learning Japanese for in-law reasons, I feel that I'd be proud of myself if I were to study towards an acknowledgment of that study-time. To be certified even with basic Japanese would be a great thing to have under my belt! It also can't help to put it on my resume as well. ;) The next test date is December 6th, but I'll probably try for next year. With school right now, I definitely cannot spend too much time on Japanese study, so shooting for a later date is better.

The three part to the exam are (1) Writing-Vocabulary (2) Listening and (3) Reading-Grammar. The website states that to pass the Level 4 exam, "The examinee has mastered the basic elements of grammar, knows around 100 kanji and 800 words, has the ability to engage in simple conversation and read and write short, simple sentences. This level is normally reached after studying Japanese for around 150 hours and after completion of the first half of an elementary course." I plan to make flashcards for vocab terms and more importantly kanji. がんばります!

Everyone enjoy your weekend!

Here are some recent photos:

Our printing-monotype classroom.

Prints from our class. Mine is the abstract line conposition - supposed to be the character 'ろ'

Hallway on the 2nd floor

The printing lab, where we create monotype prints. See all the huge printing presses?

Very dirty ink containers

Our instructor, Becky Blosser :)

17 October 2009

Cold and Wet

Freezing cold rain yesterday, and today, and probably tomorrow the weather forecasts say. I'm getting together with a friendly acquaintance from college tomorrow to perhaps partake of the Lancaster city "Art Fall Walk". This means numerous art galleries and food places will be open and having interesting things going on, but I'm sure the rain will muddle things a bit...

Takeshi and I went to the CVS Pharmacy on West Lemon Street to get our flu shots for the winter. It's the first time either of us had received a flu shot (in a while) from anywhere but a doctor's office. We headed out early, got there when the line was only about 8 people long, and was out in about 30 minutes. Paid $30 each. It didn't hurt as much as I thought it would. Hurrah for the advancement of medicine and technology, and therefore smaller needles. ;)

I received my new social security card in the mail a couple of days ago, which means I can finally, finally take Takeshi's last name officially, on paper. Took long enough! We've been married since last May! Haha... I need to bring in the card to show the college people so that they can change my name in their system - for now, I still have to write my maiden name on all of my assignments! Meh. I'm leading a double life, as two different Lauras. :)

The weekend is here. Exhale...

Enjoy your weekend everyone!

11 October 2009


I don't know why I've never thought of doing it before now, but Takeshi mentioned this Japanese grocery store "Mitsuwa" that has online shopping! I've been peeking around the site (and other sites as well) and looking for all of my beloved food items. The thought of being able to eat natto, kimchi, mochi, and konnyaku again makes me SO excited!

I totally flipped out when I saw that Mitsuwa sold natto in their online store! I didn't they would, for some reason. Maybe because it's so stinky? Well it's already fermented, so I guess there's less of a chance of it going bad. Haha. :)

Another bit of good news - Takeshi told me last night that his restaurant is going back to the schedule of giving their employees 2 days off a week instead of 1. So, for right now (since they do still change days off every month or so) he has Sundays and Mondays off. I'm happy that he's got another day off to do things he wants to do! ばんざい!

Today we went did our laundry together at the laundromat, and then we just got back about 10 minutes ago from the Korean/Asian grocery store in town. I picked out some red curry, kimchi (we'll see if it tastes different than the kimchi you'd get in Japan...probably), and frozen pork buns. Takeshi picked out some basic curry powder, some desert gelatin, and 2 packs of red beans. He's soaking them right now, so hopefully we'll be able to make some homemade azuki! I always ask the lady up front in the store, if they have any mochi - she says she carries it, but she always says "we're out of it right now." But I have a feeling that if it is indeed Korean mochi, it will be different than Japanese mochi.

This month, upperclassmen go to speak to the Dean of Students about Spring 10' class registration. That shall be interesting, picking and choosing elective classes. Hmmmmm.

The aloe plant I received from my best friend Todd, has gotten so big from what it was when I got it! I hope in the future, to have a huge aloe plant in our house, in a big ceramic pot. :) Hehe.

the schoolwork continues...

06 October 2009

One Room Disco

The title's a song by the group パフューム (Perfume), which I am listening to right now! Perfume has to be one of my ultimate favorite groups right now - I listen to their songs every day.

The 3 of them in all their Japanese-girl-cuteness

Schoolwork is going well enough, and at a decently-paced speed. This is mostly because at the start of the semester, I made a personal goal to kick my usual twinge of procrastination in the butt, and work on projects for a certain class days ahead of when it's due. I've been utilizing "schoolwork triage", if you will. Anyway, it's working really well for me!

So far, I feel good about most of my classes - this is in reference to how successful I feel the process and execution of a certain project went, and the feedback I've gotten from the professors. So far, all of my different projects have turned out for the better; sometimes I was pleasantly surprised about how much the professor ended up liking my final product, even though I had thought they would have graded it lower. So that always gives me a little boost. :)

I need to create some really nice pieces, within the confines of the different projects I'm given in my classes, because I need new, strong pieces to put in my official portfolio. I will be taking this pieces to future interviews, so it needs to be good!

It's crazy - I think I've been in classes for at least 3-4 weeks now, already? Before I know it, it will be springtime which means graduation! My last year of college...wow! Then the college will unleash its graduates into the real world. Muahahaha...

I rented the movie "Twilight" from the college's library - watched it over the weekend. Great...now I'll have to end up buying the books. I'm a fan now, I believe. ;)

I'm going to make time for more Japanese study time this weekend. I don't know, with the projects I have to work on for classes, if I'll time to successfully study on the weeknights. Grrr...

Now for some photos!

Some homemade Takeshi-bread

Another small loaf

A tossed concept for prints in Monotype class - 6"x6" in size

Inner and outer spread of brochure for Lancaster City Contacts

More project pictures as they come! :) Enjoy your week everyone!

27 September 2009



I'm still studying Japanese and memorizing kanji as much as I can, even though schoolwork takes up most of my time during the day! I just wrote that part above on my own, so hopefully it's grammatically correct! I'll probably have Takeshi check it for me when he gets home.

The plants my friend gave me about a month and a half ago haven't died yet, so I think I'm doing much better with my plant-care this time around! My goal is for these plants to have a long, long life. ;)

For this month of September (following the finance plan we set up), we've been able to save about $600! We're very happy, because every little bit counts. Part of the plan calls for not eating out at all, but I do stare longingly at the 'Sakura' Asian restaurant, and the Chinese restaurant in town, every time I walk by them! I wish the most for some sushi once and a while. But that kind of meal doesn't come cheap, most times. I know that when birthdays and holidays come around, we'll probably make an exception!

Here are some recent random photos!

Takeshi drying out some of his sage

Schoolwork and a snack

Photography class - blurry because I was still tampering with it!

16 September 2009

Interest and Frustration

I am sitting in my college's library at the moment. It' freezing cold in here, as is the rest of the building. I believe in that's issue of the college still having the air conditioning pumped up, since we're just getting over summer, but seriously, you could really use some of the classrooms as meat lockers instead. All of this traveling from freezing interiors, to warmer exteriors, makes me feel all achy, as in "I might be coming down with something"-achy. Or I might just be coming down with something. :(

A professor told us today, that there's now a reported 40-ish-something cases of swine flu at the neighboring college in town. I think we're supposed to have a serious "meeting" overall about what they plan to do if people start catching it here as well.

I've been taking a multivitamin, but I'm about to run out of that bottle. I'm sure I want to stick to that particular brand of multi-vitamins, since I bought the damn thing at Walmart. When I think of a good place to get vitamins, I don't think of that store.

Takeshi has brought in the herbs we had sitting outside the front door, since soon enough it will be getting pretty nippy during the nighttime. I just hope he didn't bring any bugs into the house, with the plants. They've been sitting outside for about a month now, and who knows what kind of little bugs decided to make a home for itself in and on the herbs. So far I haven't seen anything crawling around.

My frustration with a few classes so far, has gotten me in a semi-defeated mood. There's been two classes (one including the Monotype Printing class I just came from), where I have totally (in my mind), botched my initial concept designs for different projects. Either I sketched some thumbnails in entirely the wrong size, or misunderstood the directions, and was a few concepts short. But I keep on keeping on. I'll just go home, regroup, and come back with another shot at it.

Random annoying people in some of my classes. I'm not trying to offend anyone in anyway, I'm just going off of what I've experienced but - it seems that in all of the art colleges I've gone to, there is this same type of girl. I have one of these in my classes right now, and she's downright annoying and I've seen her exact personality in other girls. She's very short, very overweight, and is loud, and outspoken. And this girl right now, has this very bouffant haircut that sticks out and up about 6 inches from her face. It looks amazing. The other day I was watching her and thought that she reminds me of a little fat hen. She's loud, she's short, and pudgy. And her cleavage is humongous! I hope she has another backbone handy, to help support those things.

Anyway, I'm off to another class - Photography! I've brought my Nikon D60 today with me, as required. Hopefully I'll enjoy this class, more than my last class.

09 September 2009

Pile on the Work

Homework to be exact. And more issues and things to worry about, in my head. But this is college! And my senior year.

I don't mind classes at all - what I hate it getting up early. I'm not a morning person.

This morning I really had to force myself to eat my usual breakfast of oatmeal. The whole portion of it. If it's too early in the morning, I don't want food near me. I just can't eat a meal that early!

Classes are going well so far, even though there's not much to talk about yet, since this is still the first week of school. Today was Wednesday, and I think of it as my "Non-graphic design" day, since I don't have any classes that have to do with computers, designing, etc.

I had my Monotype Print class, and my Basic Photography class. No laptop required. ;)

I still have my Thursday and Friday classes to go. Tomorrow I have 3 classes to attend, and I stay at school from 10am until about 6:45pm. Thursdays will always be my longest days in the building. On Friday, I have only my History of Graphic Design class, which runs from 10am til 1pm. Yay for a short class day on Fridays!

On a totally different topic - I miss watching Japanese TV. American TV cannot compare, I believe. I miss watching the "Language Channel" with Takeshi on weeknights, and watch programs on learning French, Arabic, and Italian. I miss watching owarai comedy pairs, like Downtown. Now I see channel after channel of reality TV shows, and average or below-average movie reruns.

Maybe someday in the future we can order some Japanese channels for our TV! That would be nice. It would also be just another thing to remind me of my wonderful time in Japan. Bring a little bit of home back to us. And that Takeshi could follow his country's own news without having to read it online!

31 August 2009

The Beginning of the End

Not in a bad way though! My last year college starts soon. Tomorrow is the mandatory orientation for all upperclassmen. The arrival time is a disgusting 8:30am, which means I'll have to wake up at around 7am. But it'll get me ready for waking up early anyway for all of my classes, so, bleh.

It says you have to bring your student ID card with you tomorrow, and I hope I don't get any weird looks when I present my "Fall 07'" ID card to them. "I've been away for a year..." Etc, etc.

It lasts until 2:30pm, and they break sometime in the middle for a go-find-some-lunch break. My future class schedule has me going to classes every day of the week - it just depends on how long I'll be at classes on that particular day. Monday and Friday are the days where I'll only be there (for 1 class) from about 10am until 1pm. Thursdays are my latest days at classes, from 10am until about 6:45pm. The rest of the days are until 5pm. I would have liked to have one weekday where I'd have no classes, but I'll play the cards as they're dealt to me!

On another note, Takeshi told me today that he read that Prime Minister Aso will be leaving his position - and that his former debate opponent, Yukio Hatoyama, will be stepping up as Japan's new prime minister! Very interesting news. We'll see how he does in the coming months. As I heard from Takeshi, Aso was beginning to piss people off, since he wasn't really doing anything as prime minister, other than just getting a hefty paycheck, and being in the spotlight. So I hear.

Autumn feels like it's finally arriving! We were a little giddy the other day, to feel a crispness in the late afternoon air. I love Autumn and definitely want a change from the hotter weather. The weather forecast has the rest of this week at nothing above 79℉(22℃)! And no more rain! Thank YOU.

29 August 2009

Recipe and a PhotoWalk

As requested by Renee, here is the complete word-for-word recipe description for applesauce cookies! They were so yummy, so anyone else who loves baking cookies, should try it out themselves!


-Applesauce Cookies-

"This reduced-sugar cookie relies on the natural sweetness of apples to save adding extra sugar. The applesauce also helps to make them moist."

*1/2 cup (1 stick) sweet butter
*1/4 cup unrefined light brown sugar
*1 egg
*2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
*1 tsp. baking powder, sifted
*1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon, sifted
*1/2 tsp. baking soda, sifted
*pinch of salt
*1 cup unsweetened applesauce
*2 tbsp. water

Preheat the oven to 350℉ (175℃). Beat the butter and sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy. Add the egg.

Stir in the dry ingredients, applesauce, and water one at a time.

Drop teaspoonfuls onto a non-stick baking sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes.

Store in a airtight container for 2 to 3 days.

Makes 2 1/2 dozen


Enjoy everyone! Those cookies didn't last long with us. ;)

Here are some photos that I took a few days ago. Takeshi and I were out walking around town, and I brought the Nikon along.

28 August 2009


Lately we've been cooking TONS of things at the apartment! The other day I finally took my maiden voyage into baking cookies on my own! This must sound lame to everyone else, but truth-be-told, I had never baked cookies by myself before. I was a little nervous, but it actually was fairly simple! I made one of my favorite cookies - oatmeal raisin! They were very yummy and I was proud of myself. Hehe! ;)

After that, I baked up a batch of applesauce cookies! Those are very delicious, and I'm sure I'll be baking up more of them in the future. Together, Takeshi and I made a bunch of lemon-and-black-pepper biscuits. We cut them into the shape of bears. I'd like to think they were tiny little リラックマ characters.

Takeshi has been going crazy with cooking all sorts of delicious dishes for the both of us, ever since we began buying most of our groceries from the local Farmer's Market. We love the freshness of everything we buy, and it's cheaper too! We've also, once again, started our own herb plant collection. At the market, Takeshi bought a rosemary plant, a thyme plant, a huge basil plant, and a Russian sage plant. All of them are potted and sit outside in front of the door. And oh my, does Takeshi do GREAT things with those herbs! Yum.

Takeshi checking on the lemon/black pepper biscuits

Out of the oven!

Buttery, lemony, with a dash of sea salt on top!

Oatmeal raisin cookies going in! がんばれ!

They look OK!

They came out great! Yummy.

Here are some delicious, beautiful dishes that Takeshi has made over the past couple of weeks!

18 August 2009

The Clan

Here are some photos from when Takeshi's family and relatives came together, before we left Japan, to have yakiniku one evening. My FIL's younger brother and older sister came. Takeshi's uncle and wife have three small girls. I think they had, conception after conception, been trying to have a boy, but to no avail! And Takeshi's uncle, I hear, got married later in life - when he was in his forties. Their three girls are very cute (as I think almost all Japanese kids are!) and seemed to not shy away from me, the gaijin new-comer, too much. I had been used to Japanese kids being more than a little wary of me, while living in Suzuka. So it was nice to be around kids again, who weren't afraid of me!

Takehi's aunt came with her husband and daughter, who is about my age; in her early twenties. She was soooo nice, even though she had only met me twice, including that very day. All of them were so wonderful and warm to me, that it really brought home the idea of "family". That, for family, you reach out to them and take care of each other and accept each other, even though you may be from different cultures.

My FIL was pushing almost everyone (in this case, all of the men present) to make a little speech of some sort. Haha. Takeshi's uncle made a really touching speech about marriage and relationships; the need to support each other, you will be there for each other so that you can get through anything, etc.

He also mentioned (I was told later by TK) something along the lines of, "You should have kids as soon as you can..." Which I was thinking, "Uhh...not right away, thanks!" I think he just wanted to bring that particular tip home, because he himself had had children fairly late. Kind of like a "Don't do what I did" tip. But I don't think we're in any danger of waiting that long! Yikes.

Here are some photos from the day!

My SIL, Saori, and I before we left for the restaurant.

HUGE salad! They ordered about 3 of them. No one was able to finish them completely off.

Everyone digging in. Obaasan on the left!

Takeshi's aunt playing with the girls.

Okaasan and Takeshi's uncle's wife.

Saori, me, and Takeshi's cousin holding the little kiddies!

Both of us were busy pigging out on chocolate...darn you Takeshi!

The youngest of the three girls - Chika-chan! She was very adorable. :)

Saori poking Chika's chocolate-filled cheeks!


The Brothers: my FIL on the left, his younger brother on the right.

Everyone outside, about to take off.