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Showing posts from 2009

Tadaima (I`m home)!

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Hi everyone,

A very happy belated MERRY CHRISTMAS to you all!

I just got back to Osaka after a divine 14 days back home in New Zealand.

(Here is me and my family before Christmas lunch!)...


Everyone in Japan is always surprised to hear that we celebrate Christmas during the summertime in New Zealand (like when else are we going to have it??), so I thought I would share some things that make Christmas special for us kiwis.

The New Zealand Christmas tree = the pohutakawa
The New Zealand santa (although a few images of santa feature a shorts-wearing, surfing santa, the one i remember looks similar to santas all over the world).
The New Zealand Christmas sport = beach cricket
The New Zealand Christmas dinner ...

hehe, nah, just kidding. Most people have roast chicken or lamb chops;

The New Zealand Christmas dessert = the pavlova

The New Zealand Christmas holiday home = the bach (pronounced like `batch`)
New Zealand Christmas footwear = jandals
I am off to Yoshi`s family home tomorrow to celebrate New …

Cambodian waffles

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I currently sponsor a child through the World Vision program and get monthly newsletters from the organisation. This month, they included some delicious looking recipes, and I want to share one with you all...

Try it out if you have time (and a waffle iron)!!

Num Poum (Cambodian Waffles)Ingredients1 ½ cups of rice flour (sifted)
½ cup of coconut milk
½ cup of brown sugar
2 eggs
½ teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons of coconut oilMethod
Preheat the waffle iron or griddle to a medium-high heatMix the sifted rice flour, sugar, eggs, coconut milk, coconut oil, and saltBrush the griddle with a little coconut oil and pour batter Cook until brownedServe with other Cambodian favourites such as fried banana, coconut or fresh fruit

Kawaii rice?

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Would you buy rice grown, produced and marketed by these kawaii girls?


Well even if you wouldn`t, there are hundreds of thousands of Japanese people who love this idea.

A young pop-star turned entrepreneur (with her own marketing company named G-rev = gyaru revolution) named Shiho Fujita; famous in Japan for her `Shibuya Girl` appearance, decided to start a rice farm in Ogata (Akita prefecture) and has grabbed a lot of media attention.


Her project is called no-gal / nogyaru (ノギャル), which is a combination of the words `nogyo` (agriculture) and gyaru (girl).

Shiho and her `gyaru` friends appearance has caught the attention of local high school girls."This is totally new. Girls like models are farming,"
said Kana Sato, 18, as she watched them work.Rural areas in Japan have long seen young people fleeing to cities after they reach working age, and the number of young farmers keeps falling with no end in sight. This is one of the reasons some Japanese farmers decided to lease 24 hect…

10 things that make me smile Sunday

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* the lovely sunny view from the train station this morning
* drinking red wine and talking with my best friend T for more than 5 hours last night @ one of our favorite restaurants
* sleeping in til 11am this morning!
* yesterday`s Winter Celebration show at the kindergarten
* making and devouring strawberry jam muffins for brunch this morning
* Yoshi`s family throwing an engagement dinner for us tonight
* Yoshi`s mum`s new adopted kittens, Mel and Ben (she named them after Mercedes Benz)!
* at-home egg white facials
* just 8 days til I fly back home for Christmas
* the Japanese hangover drink Ukon no Chikara (the power of Tumeric)!!!

Who thought of this?

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I love azuki (sweet red beans) and you all know my kitty kat Azuki-kun;

But... I really want to meet the weirdo who came up with this one...

`Suntory’s latest addition to the Pepsi Cola lineup is azuki-flavored cola, Pepsi Azuki, which will go on sale Oct 20. The aroma of azuki has been blended into the original Pepsi flavor. Suntory has been releasing seasonal Pepsis every year, and the theme for 2009 is “wa”. The product is the second seasonal drink this year, following the “shiso”-flavored cola released in summer. Suntory says the product targets consumers in their 20s and 30s and said the azuki flavor blends uniquely with the refreshing tang of the carbonated drink. Priced at 140 yen excluding tax (490ml). The sale will be limited to 200,000 cases (24 bottles/case) and will be sold at supermarkets and convenience stores throughout Japan.`
In case you were wondering, `wa` is all things Japanesey and is as common adjective in word compounds like Washoku (traditional Japanese food), Waf…

Love those happy news stories...

Sometimes I hate reading the news because it always seems so depressing...

But I read this article yesterday that cheered me right up. Have a look -->


TITLE : Wrong number miracle
BY : Eric S Page
Virginia Saenz could hear the desperation in the voice of the telephone message. It was 5 a.m. on the day before Thanksgiving, and the caller, Lucy Crutchfield, was trying to tell her daughter that she'd send money for groceries -- but she'd have to miss a mortgage payment to do it.But Crutchfield dialed the wrong number. Instead of getting her daughter, she got Saenz, a real estate agent from the San Diego suburb of Tierrasanta."I know right now we are all struggling," Saenz said. "Lisa on the phone, she sounded so desperate for her daughter, it broke my heart."Saenz did the only thing she could think of -- she called Crutchfield back and said not to worry. Crutchfield would pay the mortgage, and Saenz would handle the groceries."She said, 'You have the w…

I watched Ramen Girl

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My little sister (in NZ) recommended that I watch `The Ramen Girl` (ラーメン・ガール) . It is a movie made in 2008 and stars Brittany Murphy as an American girl living in Tokyo who decides (after being dumped by her American boyfriend) to work in a very japanesey Ramen restaurant.


It is a cute, sweet and easy to watch movie; and as with most movies these days, gets mixed reviews. Basically every review I read mentions that if Abby (Brittany Murphy`s character) didn`t cry so much, the movie would have been loads better.


There are a few moments where people who live or have lived in Japan may have a little giggle (like when the old ladies say that Abby speaks Japanese `fluently/perfectly`, when she says `do itashimashite` = `you are welcome` after they thank her), and other moments that over simplify or stereotype Japan / japanese culture ... but overall, does a better job than `Lost in Translation` - a similar type of movie that got a lot more (undeserved in my opinion) hype!


oooh, and by the way…

10 things that make me smile Sunday

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10 things...
* my diamond ring!! (yes, it is still making me smile!)
* the 100yen shop... managed to buy 6 metres of tinsel, 6 kids santa hats, and a classroom clock for less than $15!
* being asked if I had eyelash extensions (and I don`t)
* soy milk shabu shabu
* Thursday date nights
* my cute new tee shirt from forever21
* my cute new shoes from forever21 (much more like charcoal grey in real life)* getting excited about going back to NZ for Xmas (less than a month to go, and I`ll be able to wear forementioned tee shirt and shoes)
* my new Ipod touch applications (brain training and solitaire make for quick train journeys)
* leaving work at 5pm and it being almost dark... in a weird way I kind of like winter (so dark and mysterious)

+ 2 more (cos I am super smiley today)

* watching Japanese dads play catch with their sons outside (a rarity indeed)
* only 2 weeks of work left before the Christmas holidays!! yipppppeeeee :)

Tonkons

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So on date night this week we ate soy milk shabu shabu(Tounyu shabu shabu 豆乳 しゃぶしゃぶ) one of my all-time favorite Japanese foods!

Tonkons was one of the first restaurants I found when I was living in Tenroku (Tenjinbashi-suji-6-chome) and fell in love immediately!



They serve a shabu-shabu set which comes with the pork, veges, and an appetiser. When you have finished all the pork and veges, they use the leftover soy milk to make your choice of carbonara or risotto! Sooooo good!

The interior is really cute too...


See all those pig drawings on the wall? Each pig has a different facial expression (angry, sad, confused etc..) and Tonkons claims to use only really happy pigs in their food preparation.

Breakfast on your face!

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So I have just tried an egg-white mask on my face, followed by a moisturising egg-yolk mask. My skin is so soft and even glowing a little!!!!



Sounds weird, but I love trying new things on my skin - especially all-natural, cheap face masks!

If you want to try this one, give it a go...(I copied the instructions from ricebunny - a cute beauty blogger)...

1. Take one egg and break it. Separate the egg whites and the egg yolk.

2. Take a fork and beat the egg whites until they become foamy. When you do this, the egg whites become easier to apply .

3. Now evenly apply the egg whites on your face while avoiding the eyearea. Leave the mask on for 15 minutes or whenever you feel the mask isdry. You should feel your skin tightening.

Results?? The egg white mask is known to shrink your pores giving you a temporary skin lift. It also helps to combat oily skin and to help calm acne!

If your skin feels dry, try the egg yolk mask after you finish.

1. Wash off the egg whites with warm water and pat your skin …

Strawberries, sekihan and manjuu oh my!

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So yesterday I made apple crumble and took it to Yoshi`s family home to serve for dessert. It was so yummy and tasted great with some french-vanilla icecream!

This morning when I was about to leave his house, his mum gave me a bag with some yummy looking strawberries, some sekihan, and some manjuu.

What is sekihan?

Sekihan (赤飯) is traditional red bean rice. It is sticky rice, steamed with azuki beans which give it its red color.



Red Bean Rice is often served on special occasions throughout the year in Japan, for example, birthdays, weddings and some holidays, such as Shichi-Go-San (a special festival for 7, 5 and 3 year-old children which Yoshi`s youngest niece took part in this weekend!!)

It is believed that Red Bean Rice is used for celebrations because of its red color, symbolic of happiness in Japan.

It can be eaten hot or at room temperature (served in a bento box) and is usually served with gomashio (a mixture of lightly toasted salt and sesame seeds)


And Manjuu?

Manjuu (饅頭) is a veeeer…

Too many apples

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After being given a whole bag of apples from Yoshi`s mum last week and having no time off to eat them (and have you seen the size of a Japanese apple?? it would almost be enough to feed a whole family!!), I decided to make a good old-fashioned kiwi (don`t know if the recipe really comes from NZ and don`t care) apple crumble!!!!

It is cooking in my tiny oven as I write this, and smells divine.



p.s. image from sainsational.com - because I haven`t served mine yet ;)

10 things that make me smile Sunday

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(image from juicylucydesigns)

* my new diamond ring
* Yoshi (my new fiance)!
* hearing the happy reactions when I told my parents I got engaged
* wintery nights snuggled up in my bed
* the final of ANTM - gotta ♥ Nicole
* skype conference calls with my sis and dad (NZ, Japan and England all talking for FREE)
* getting through a tough week at Kindy
* having a day off tomorrow (another 3-day weekend here in Japan)
* wearing woolly tights - sooooo comfy
* looking back at old photos

He put a ring on it!

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I am not so sure that drunken blogging is a very good thing - but as with many things, it may be better than nothing, so here goes;

I am sorry that I have been out of touch all week.

I have had a HELLISH week at work (don`t want to use my blog to complain about my job so will leave it at that).

I haven`t been home for enough hours this week to put a load of laundry on, so I literally have two big piles of clothes and towels on the floor of my LDK (whites and colours of course) ready for me to get organised. And tonight I went out drinking with some lovely people from work to vent about all things kindergarten related - hence the slightly drunken blogger I have become...

... but this is the week - the only week in my whole life - where I got engaged!

OMG...!!!




Someone in this world loves me enough to want to spend the rest of his life with me... kind of unbelievable when I put it like that.

SO last Wednesday - the 18th of November 2009 was a lucky day on the Japanese calendar --> (大安 = tai…

10 things that make me smile Sunday

* Yoshi and my anniversary last week!
* giving Yoshi a PS3 (because he had been saying he wanted one all month) and seeing his happy face
* the FABULOUS italian dinner we had to celebrate 4 years together
* watching 2 of my cute students playing their violins at the concert this morning
* eating cake at school twice last week - love birthdays (my 5-year-old students, not mine)!
* eating lunch and gossiping like old ladies with my best friend T and my friend Mamie
* people-watching from the balcony of a restaurant right next door to a busy wedding chapel on a sunny Saturday afternoon
* my room steamer
* counting down till I go back home for Christmas (only 30 days to go!!)
* practicing with the other teachers for our crazy Winter Celebration performance at school. This is what we are trying (in vain) to reproduce...



oh my god! All we can do is laugh.

They got Ichihashi

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This is definitely the best news I have heard in ages! They got him!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Japanese police have arrested the man they believe murdered British teacher Lindsay Hawker and left her naked body buried in a bathtub filled with sand.
Tatsuya Ichihashi was caught just hours after Linday's mother appealed on television for him to turn himself in.
The arrest comes just days after police released new images of what they believed Ichihashi now looks like after undergoing a raft of cosmetic surgeries while a fugitive.The Foreign Office has confirmed the arrest.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1226599/Japanese-police-arrest-prime-suspect-Tatsuya-Ichihashi-murder-British-teacher-Lindsay-Hawker-years-run.html#ixzz0WMS03zTV



RIP Lindsay ♥

10 things that make me smile Sunday

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aaaagh cute little sea turtles (image from AP photos)!!

* trains that arrive RIGHT on time, and come every 5 minutes
* being just cold enough to wear my ugg boots
* getting my hair cut and colored and treated - and now it smells sooooo good!
* looking forward to mine and Yoshi`s 4-year anniversary next Thursday
* buying a great anniversary present for Yoshi and wrapping it up
* UNIQLO heat-tech tops (in very cute colors this year)
* having 2 national holidays = days off this month
* hearing that my Mum (in NZ) and Dad (in England) are both happy and well
* deciding to upgrade my cell-phone and perusing the Softbank brochures
* autumn food!

Creep

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I know that the news about this creep is everywhere, but this is something I feel really strongly about and want everyone to be really careful.

Linsday Ann Hawker (a British girl working as an English teacher) was murdered here in Japan (in March 2007) and her killer is still on the loose. Lots of people are blaming the police, but I am sure that there is more to the story than has been reported, and it has been so long since anyone has seen him, someone (or many someones) must be helping him to evade arrest.

The latest news is that he has visited a plastic surgeon here in Japan and now looks something like the second photo...


I say he looks something like this because the 2nd picture was taken by a plastic surgeon BEFORE his most recent treatment in Nagoya.

Police have revealed that the doctor at the clinic contacted them after performing a procedure on Ichihashi's nose on October 24 and that officers were prepared to swoop when he returned some days later to have the stitches remove…

Dinosaurs in NZ?

My kids at school always get confused when I say I am from New Zealand. `Disneyland??` they scream excitedly... I suppose they do sound a little similar - across a 24 year and 2 language gap.

However I just stumbled across some news on the New Zealand yahoo.com homepage which does make New Zealand sound something like Disneyland - well Jurassic Park at least.

Check this out -->

Dinosaur footprints have been discovered by scientists in Nelson.The 70 million-year-old footprints were the first dinosaur footprints recognised in New Zealand and the first evidence of dinosaurs in the South Island.




* The video is sooo boring I know, but couldn`t find any pics yet... will try to update more later.

Ginkgo Nuts

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My sister (in New Zealand) calls them `poo berries` because they smell so bad when they are squashed all over the pavement.



In Japan they are called ginnan 銀杏 (ギンナン), they are an autumnal delicacy and I just adore them...



Last night they were a big part of our yummy dinner at an Izakaya we went to in Umeda. Harvest season is undoubtedly the best time in Japan to eat out. So fresh, so delicious!

Bunka no hi

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So tomorrow is Bunka no hi (文化の日 = Culture day),, and maybe more importantly for some, it is yet another day off in the Japanese work year ~!

Until I started working at the kindergarten, all these national holidays just meant more students coming into the Eikaiwa (English conversation school). Now, I get lots of random days off!

Culture day (celebrated on November 3rd every year) is a holiday to promote culture, the arts, and academic endeavor. Apparently, typical festivities include award ceremonies for great artists and scholars, art exhibitions and parades!


Every year on this day the Japanese government gives out Bunka Kunsho (the highest rank of Culture Award) to a few people who devoted their lives to promoting Japanese culture or higher achievements in academic fields. Photos featuring the recipients and their spouses taken in the Imperial Palace grounds will be found on the front pages of Japanese newspapers on this day.


Another interesting fact is that Culture day is a popular da…

10 things that make me smile Sunday

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image from Pronounced You

* new babies - and their new baby smell!
* Halloween
* November 1st (and the weather still feels like September)
* 12 days till Yoshi and my 4-year anniversary!
* 14 days till my best friend T`s 29th birthday!
* blueberry muffins
* Japanese nodo-ame (cough lozenges) in every flavor and color known to man - and then some!
* finding my wallet (3 days after I thought I had lost it) in Yoshi`s car
* lying in bed and listening to the rain
* non-verbal communication (have lost my voice and haven`t been able to speak for 3 days... have to get quite creative to explain some of the things I really want to)

Sou くん

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Introducing Sou ♥ (the Japanese kanji for his name means `blue`)...



This is Yoshi`s newest nephew. He is now 6 weeks old and the cutest (I may be biased) baby ever. I got lots of cuddles last night and fell in love. Too precious!

Kindergarten Halloween

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~ HAPPY HALLOWEEN ~

Well I don`t look anywhere as cute as Suzanne did wearing the costume (and my wig was doing strange things all day), but it was very fun.. and look at my cute students...



2 Spidermans (spidermen?)
a princess
a Cinderella
a Snow White
a Batman...

so adorable ♥

(I am a little paranoid cos I had to sign a document at work saying that I would never post pics of the students on blogs or facebook or anything like that. I am 100% positive that no one from my work even knows I blog, let alone reads this one... but better safe than fired I suppose... hence the white faces. Sorry.)

I wanna kiss

hehe...

This is the translated name of a VERY famous japanese song called Kiss Shite Hoshii (キスしてほしい),. This song was written by a japanese group called the Blue Hearts way back when I was just 6 years old (in 1987).



Anytime I go to karaoke (which admitedly is not very often these days) my bf`s older brother and his friends ALWAYS sing this song. It is a good choice for a karaoke song in my opinion (being of the vocally-challenged and tone-deaf type myself) because you can shout and sing along quite easily ... especially after a few drinks.

See?



Even the TV commercial for one of the most famous karaoke chains in Japan (Big Echo) agrees.

The reason

My bf is just like every other 30 year old boy I suppose. And he is Japanese, so all factors included, he is not really a sensitive, romantic guy.

... but ...

a few days ago he said the nicest, sweetest thing. We were listening to his ipod and when this song (The Reason - Hoobastank) came on, he said the lyrics were just the way that he felt about me.



So sweet ♥

Show and Tell - in a Japanese kindergarten

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Last Friday (as we do every Friday) we had show and tell at school. There are 9 kids in my class, all aged 4 or 5 years old.Here is some of the cool stuff that they brought to school.

1 A very heavy hard-covered book about insects (all written in Japanese).

2 Tomica Hyper Rescue Hyper Blue Police Sonic Runner - トミカ ハイパーレスキュー ハイパーブルーポリス ソニックランナー (complete with flashing lights and sirens).3 A toy doctor's bag made by Klein toys.


4 A kids magazine called Machigai Sagashi Family - full of games like 'spot the difference'.


5 A kind of pink electronic flute with flashing lights (it kind of looked like a girly light saber) which is featured on the anime-of-the-moment for young Japanese girls - Fresh Pretty Cure (フレッシュプリキュア).




6 A blank journal with lots of stickers and coloring pages featuring the characters from Fresh Pretty Cure.



7A huge praying mantis (かまきり) and her egg sac in a clear plastic cage - kind of disgusting, but at least it was real, and meant that this student left his ho…