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.

16 August 2009


As much as I try, I can never get ready in the morning fast enough. At least that’s why my honeybunny (said sarcastically) says. Well, how am I supposed to compare with someone like him? He who can get up, take a shower, not eat any breakfast (hardly ever), have his smooth, straight Japanese hair be totally dry in about 5-7 minutes, groom himself, and get his shit together – all in about 10-15 minutes.

I am a very different morning person. Him and I will never, ever be the same, when it comes to how we like to wake up. But I CAN hustle in the morning if it’s for work or school – don’t get me wrong. But it’s Sunday today, for pete’s sake! I wake up slower than he does – I don’t bounce out of bed in the morning. And I usually never used to like taking showers in the morning (spraying water onto a still half-asleep Laura, makes for a slightly grumpy person) – but, recently I have been doing it more often. I feel proud of myself, in a weird way.

But the other things that slowed me down this morning were, actually eating breakfast, and taking a shower – which means I have to frantically try to dry my thick, poofy gaijin hair within 30 minutes, and then (idealistically) singe it into straightness with a flat-iron. This stuff takes time. But the hub probably doesn’t see it from my point of view. I can tell.

Because instead, I get the meaningful looks and glances all the while, as if to say “Are you done yet?” And the very small sighs of boredom and restlessness, as I run around trying to not have him wait on me any longer. Jeez. He was being extra restless because the he wanted to go to the café down the street, for internet purposes, and it closes at 3pm today. Fine, I get it. You want to make it there before it closes. But I’m not gonna’ take 3 hours to get ready. And I think he was a little annoyed that I ended up making eggs this morning without cooking him anything. Bt he usually doesn’t even BOTHER with breakfasts – so what am I supposed to think?

TK: (watches me eat eggs, disgruntled)
Me: You want some?
TK: Did you make any for me?
Me: No…you don’t eat breakfasts usually…right?
TK: ….
Me: You want half? (thinking I’m being nice)
TK: No that’s ok. I know that if you only had half of that to eat, it wouldn’t be enough for you.
Me: (thinking) Oh, so I’m a glutton or something?

A few minutes later:

TK: SIGHING…. (fiddling with a pillow)
Me: I’m going as fast as I can!
TK: Well, I want to get to the café before it close!
Me: I know, I know. It’s only 11:20am though!
TK: Well, you still have to wash the dishes and do your hair, and stuff. You probably won’t be ready until, like, noon or 1pm or something.
Me: I already DID the dishes! (defensive)
TK: Ok! Whatever.
(I’m flat-ironing my hair.)
Me: Y’know what? Just go, then. Don’t wait for me. Jeez.
TK: Ok, fine. (leaves for café in a huff)

And I ended up finishing my hair a minutes after he leaves. And I thought, maybe I’ll run out quickly and meet up with him as he’s walking to the café. I did want internet too, after all. But, I decided not to. Screw that. We need alone time. If he’s going to be so vexed by me right now, then I’m happy to let him go off on his own for a while. I let him go without me also because I really didn’t want him to miss out on internet time. That would make him even more pissy for the rest of the day (I guess I would be ticked too). So I sacrificed my internet time today, to let him go off and have his time with his laptop. Bleh. Mornings…


Well, damn…

30 minutes after he left for the café, he calls me and asks me if I’m coming. I said, “Oh well, I was going to come, but I decided against it.”

So then when he got home, he was (presumably) pissed off even more, that I had not called him, when I had decided to not come after all.

Thus, started the silent treatment. Pissy, seething, Takeshi silence. Great. The familiar dance begins.

At this time, he left again with a great huff and a door slam, to go…somewhere, anywhere. I’m pretty sure he took his phone, but no use calling him too soon…Hopefully he’ll call me after a while. A long while, I’m guessing.

I apologized for not calling him, but…yeah, like that’s going to help.

Usually how this goes is – he vents for hours, perhaps all day. In short, I just have to wait until he cools down. Let’s hope he calms himself down within 3-5 hours, so we can at least have a civil, pleasant dinnertime.

(face to palm motion)

It’s just one of those days.


He finally cooled down. It’s 2:36pm. Only about 4 hours. Not too bad.

14 August 2009

Hand-held Review

A few days ago I decided to trade in some of my Nintendo DS games, and in turn bought a new one, "My Japanese Coach". It is really nifty! This certain company has a bunch of these games out such as "My Spanish Coach", "My Weight Loss Coach", and so on. I didn't know if I would regret getting it, but I am so glad I have it now! It goes so much more in-depth with learning Japanese than I thought it would. I was figuring it would be fairly basic stuff, but I learned it goes so far as to start teaching you how to read and write kanji! Wow. I can't wait (said half sarcastically and half genuinely!).

It will be a good review tool to use until all of my Japanese textbooks arrive with the rest our things, later on. And it didn't cost me anything to get it. Yay! In the beginning, it gives you a small placement test, to figure out which lesson it should start you on. I did pretty well, but I forgot some days of the week! Argh! So I started out on that lesson, but since then I have blown past a lot of lessons that I already know (hiragana lessons, katakana lessons, greetings, etc.)

Takeshi thought it would be very funny to try out the placement test himself. Silly man. Of course he got 50/50 questions right. He was very amused with himself. Hehe.

12 August 2009


Yesterday I finally got around to transferring a huge chunk of photos off of my camera - mostly photos I took during the last few weeks we were in Japan, before jumping on the plane. Seeing these photos just makes me more 'homesick' for our lovely Mie-ken and for Japan, altogether. There are random photos of our tiny K-sized apartment, all bare and empty. I took photos during two different trips to places with Takeshi's friends from work - one trip to the nearby beach right outside of downtown Tsu with Kato-san, and the other trip to visit some really wonderful cafes in Sekijuku with Mayumi-san. Both were wonderful little day trips (or the beach trip was actually at night, though), and we had a lot of fun with both guys.

We ended up going to the beach one night, out of the blue, with Kato-san after we had been debating what to do together, before we left Japan. We finally decided to go buy a pack of fireworks from the Super Viva Home store and set them off at the beach, at night! It sounded great. A small percentage of the fireworks didn't work at all, but we were most disappointed that almost all of them didn't last longer than a minute before dying. But we had a variety of different fireworks and it was fun nonetheless. It very windy that night on the water, actually, which didn't help with trying to light the fuses with the click-lighter we also bought. It was a little funny though, because we were all trying to huddle around the lighter and protect it from going out. But that's what we got for doing this event last minute. We worked with what we had, and still had a good time. :) Takeshi took most of the photos of the fireworks, since he has found a passion for taking photos of fireworks. I remember him going crazy with his camera last year during all of the summer fireworks shows in the area. He managed to take some really neat looking ones that night!

The trip to Sekijuku with Mayumi-san was my favorite out of the two, for sure. It gave us a glimpse into yet another unique place in Japan, that doesn't have to be 2 hours away! It's just right next door to our city. :) And also, just another way of showing how close the Japanese are to nature and how they utilize natural surroundings instead of chopping it down or build things away from it. Mayumi-san had been interested in visiting this particular little neighborhood in Sekijuku because they had preserved the buildings for ages, back to the Edo period, even (not sure about that, but probably!). Mayumi-san had read about particular two cafes within the neighborhood, so off we went in search of them. Both cafes were extremely unique, and totally awesome in their own way. The three of us on the ride back, tried to debate about which one was better, but both were really equal, in the end. The first cafe 'Jikonka' was set in a single, small room, and they were serving 'lunch and sweet sets' that day. The meal was totally vegetarian, very delicious, and it was almost too much to eat, for me! All the seating was on the floor on the usual cushions, except for a pair of whicker chairs set at a tiny, round table. We sat at a low wooden table in the center of the room. It was the biggest table in the room and it about 8 people could sit at it. To the left of this table, next to the wall, was another pair of cushions, and two dark metal table-pieces that were placed together to mimic the look of a singular small table for two people. It was really interesting.

Pickled okra and miscellaneous root veggies, rice bowl in the back with shredded root veggie on top, vegetable soup.

Mayumi-san and Takeshi drinking oolong

Mixed grilled veggies; carrots, okra, eggplant, cucumbers

The second cafe we went to right afterwards used to be a pharmacy, actually. The man working there told us that the owner of the pharmacy passed away, and his wife continued to run it for a while, but when she died, the family decided to turn it into a cafe. Again, the building itself was ancient, and we were told that it was over 200 years old! Wow. The menu was simple, and short, only sticking to a few teas and coffee, and 2-3 different deserts to choose from. I ordered a coffee and a slice of cheesecake, and the boys ordered tea and slices of chocolate cake. No one was there except for us, so it we stretched out in our seats, and felt like it became our own little cafe for a bit. :)

This cafe was really unique because in the back-most room, the wall had been totally removed, leading out and down into a thick, but well-kept garden! So it really felt more like a back deck, but you were technically still under the ceiling of the room itself. It was so pretty to look at, while sipping our drinks and nibbling our treats. There's nowhere like that in the U.S.!

10 August 2009



We're back at the Prince St. Cafe right now, checking up on things online, and soothing our wifi addiction, for the time being. :)

We're pretty much settled into our new apartment. All of the necessary big furniture is there; bed, sofa, table, desk, smaller appliances, etc.

We just tried to stop by the Bank of America around the corner, to ask someone about getting our checks mailed to us finally, since it shouldn't be taking this long to order them. This one young woman who works there, who aided us in creating an account and all, gets on my nerves a little, every time we go there. Like everyone here (in the U.S.) she had a problem pronouncing Takeshi's name right. Up here in Pennsylvania so far, it seems Takeshi is always pronounced, "Tah-kee-shee". So, she actually one time just proclaimed that from now on, since she couldn't get his name right, she would start calling him "Juan". She said it would be his nickname from now on. What??? I'm more than a little annoyed that she totally gave up on being professional and working on getting a customer's name right, and just decided to give him a Latino nickname. Give me a break.


Recently I went to the local Social Security office to have my social security card changed to my married name. They said it should be mailed to me within 4 weeks. Then finally I can start using my married name on everything. I'm tired of saying to people, "Yes, we're married, I just haven't gotten my last name changed yet, blah blah."

I have officially gained weight since we started the process of moving to the U.S. this past month and a half-ish. I was expecting to not have as much time (and at some point no time) to exercise. Since we landed in the U.S. we've been too worried with finding an apartment, and finding a foundation for everything else. Before we left Japan I weighed about 64.6 kgs. Now I weigh 66 kgs. UGH. Well, since we've been able to buy our own food and make our own meals again, I plan to work off that weight, yet again. :(

04 August 2009

Homeless No More!

Finally some relief! And a huge relief, at that.

Yesterday, our application was accepted from 'American Heritage Property Management' here in Lancaster, for the 1 bedroom apartment on North Lime Street. We arrived at their office at about 5:30pm to fill out paperwork, get the new-mover talk, and got the key. Went to the 'Home Depot' store and got a copy made.

We were extremely happy after that meeting, especially since we weren't sure if the landlord would let us stay for only 1.5 years at that apartment, when they had said (and the lady FORGOT to tell us, from the beginning) that they wanted at least 2 years out of us. Staying in Lancaster for 2 years would be too long, for sure. The lady (name is Penny) who helped us get the apartment is very nice, and I'm glad to have someone who is down to earth, and is fairly understanding. But she is a very busy lady, no doubt, with her type of job - she always has a full plate, endless calls from tenants and landlords, etc.

But that morning and started out rough for us. On that day, we had put in two applications and were waiting to here from people about if they were going to be accepted or not. In hindsight, we should have perhaps put more applications in, and not just two, but most of the other places we had seen, we hadn't liked nearly as much as these two apartments. Penny ended up calling first - with good news about acceptance! - but - we then found out about the 2 year rule....uh oh. So she said she'd ask the landlord if 1.5 years would be ok, and that she would call us back. So we were very nervous about that - would they still want 2 years, no deal?

I decided to call the other place - more bad news. No, they hadn't even processed our application yet because, someone had applied for the same apartment before us, and had been accepted. They said, "The person has until tomorrow to pay the security deposit for the apartment, so if they don't pay it then we will call you instead." But really - there is a small chance, in my opinion, that someone would be stupid and not pay it, for an apartment they want...(And it stands true, I haven't gotten a call from them yet = the person paid it.)

So at this point, Takeshi and I are sitting in the rental car with all of our belongings in luggage, and our moral is crushed. We just sat there for about 5 minutes, not talking. We were just blank. We decide to get a hotel room AGAIN for the night, after about 15 days of staying in hotels. We drag ourselves to the nearest cafe in downtown and I park the car. We start looking for apartment listings again online, something which we had been doing since we got back. I didn't want to slip into another cycle of not finding anything, while spending our savings on mediocre hotel rooms. We wanted to have a home finally to rest at, and we were hoping to hear from Penny about the landlord's decision. While we were sitting there at the cafe, the street-cleaner comes by on the same side of the street where I'm parked - and I didn't read the sign right about the right and wrong times to be parked where they are cleaning on certain days - I get a $20 ticket. Great. Another blow. Takeshi's stomach starts hurting and he doesn't feel well - he always gets this when he's stressed out. This makes me feel worse because I hate to have him low in spirit AND feeling ill.

We decided to check out a printed apartment listing from the Hershey Reality place on Duke Street, again. Maybe there was something new listed that we could look at. We park at a meter and go in. The list has about 3 listings and they're all too expensive for us - about $700-800 a month. The lady at the counter says, "We'll have new listings that are available for September." That's too long. We needed an apartment now. We walk back outside and sit in the car. Since we had gotten back to the States, I had managed to stay pretty optimistic and all - but I was feeling SO frustrated and had myself a cry right there. Takeshi gave me a little hug, and put his head on my shoulder. At least I'm not alone in this. We soldiered on.

But then we finally got the call back from Penny, that afternoon, and the best news in a while came to us. So there ended the huge weight being on our shoulders. Whew!

After we got the keys, we still had enough energy to go to a couple stores and get clothes hangers, bathroom things, etc.
We're planning to go to the 'Ikea' store near Philly to get most of our furniture.

I'm sitting at the Prince Street Cafe again right now. Takeshi's at work today and tomorrow initially, and then we have a little bit of a stretch before he starts full time on the 15th.

Even though there's no furniture in our apartment yet, we are planning to stay and sleep there. We bought pillows and the carpet isn't so bad to lay on. We definitely don't want to spend any more money on hotels...