Tuesday, December 20, 2011

On missing Christmas in Texas

This will be our 5th Christmas in Japan, and I'm feeling really, really homesick.  I would like nothing more than to be in Texas, celebrating this wonderful time of year with family and friends--to exchange presents, to spend time chatting, to eat amazing Tex-Mex foods together, to go to church together, to be thankful together.  Instead, I'm here in Japan trying my best to do all of these things on my own.  I'm trying to give my kid the best Christmas I can, but it's hard to do when there are no outside signs that it is Christmas time.  Remember, most Japanese people are not Christian; therefore, Christmas isn't really celebrated here.  It's a day like any other.

So to all my peeps back in Texas, enjoy the great tasting food and the wonderful friends and family members you get to hold tight and the wonderful Christmas lights and the fanciful decorations and the love you feel as you celebrate Christmas, because right now I would give anything for that!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Letter to Santa

Jude:  "Hey mom, I'm going to write a letter to Santa and tell him exactly what I want for Christmas."

Weenie:  "Great idea.  And what exactly do you want for Christmas?"

Jude:  "Well, I want a Death Star Planetarium and a mummy...a Chinchorro Mummy to be exact."

Weenie:  "Sweetheart, Santa and his elves make toys, and if you are a good boy you'll get your Death Star Planetarium.  But Santa does not go around killing people and mummifying them so he can deliver them to you under your Christmas tree.  Mummies are dead people, and Santa will not bring you your very own mummy, no matter how many times you ask for one.  And Santa will not go and take a Chinchorro mummy from a museum and give it to you for Christmas."

Jude:  "But I've been a really good boy!"

Weenie:  "I know, you've been an excellent boy.  But Santa makes toys not mummies!"

Jude:  "That sucks!  I guess when I grow up I'll have to be a curator of a mummy museum."

Weenie:  "Now that sounds like a good idea."

Thursday, December 15, 2011

On love and marriage

Love is a complicated thing.  That's for sure!  And it seems that this year has been a very tumultuous year for love and marriage.

This year we (Husband and I) have witnessed the end of 8 different marriages.  Husbands have cheated, wives have cheated, ex-wives have been assaulted, best friends have stolen husbands, wives got tired of their useless husbands sitting around doing nothing, etc.  In total, since Husband and I have been married (almost 9 years now), we have watched as 15 couples have gotten divorced (some are still in the process).    Crazy, huh?!

Some of our friends and co-workers are currently working on their 3rd husband/wife.  And I'm not sure if this is a cross-section of what's going on in America or if we just have a bunch a friends who have been unlucky in love.  But, either way, I'm shocked that so many people we know have had failed marriages.

What happened to for better or for worse?  What happened to to love and cherish from this day forward  until death do us part?  What happened to all of that?!

Look, I'm a hopeless romantic.  My mom and dad have been married for over 40 years.  Same goes for Husband's parents.  Both Husband and I grew up in houses where those vows were taken seriously and still are.

I know not every day of married life will be filled with rainbows and pink ponies and rose petals and kisses and hot hotel sex.  I know that!  And I hope I never fall out of love.  But if I do, I hope Husband looks past that and loves me enough for the both of us.  I hope he will love me in my worst moments, and I hope I will always cherish him and respect him and honor him...no matter what.

Look, I understand some people shouldn't be together.  I get that.  I understand that some people are abusive and hateful and mean and ugly.  I get that, too.  And those people shouldn't be married, ever!

So, if you are considering marriage, please don't go into it lightly with high expectations of a fairy tale life where everything is peachy and wonderful all that time.  I assure you, that don't exist.  And don't get married if you have a bad feeling about it, or if you don't agree on the basics like money, how to raise your future kids, religion, etc.  And don't get married if you don't have respect for one another.

Marriage doesn't equal happiness, and it seems lately that marriage brings out the worst in people.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

November books

These are the books I read this month.  

Since I was a nanny in a former life, I found this book to be entertaining, fun and heartfelt.  It was an easy read, and I highly recommend it. This was an enjoyable guilty pleasure.  In fact, I'm going to read the sequel this month, and I can't wait.  If you haven't read this book, you should.  (Don't bother watching the movie!  The book is WAY better!)

This book was WAY better than the movie.  In fact, the book was touching, realistic, convincing, but depressing at times.  I found myself crying on the plane to Thailand as I read this book.  It's a great love story, but a little weepy at times.  I don't recommend reading this book in public!  You'll be a hot mess, if you do!

I usually really, really enjoy books written by Jodi Picoult.  However, this book was boring, hard to get through and seemed too cheesy.  This book is set in Arizona and lots of Native American folklore is incorporated into the novel, making it seem hokey, with a lot mystical mumbo-jumbo crap.  I tried to get through it, but I gave up.  I don't recommend this one.  At all!

What are you reading?

Dinner at my place

Okay, so I live in Japan.  Duh!  So, you probably think I eat raw fish everyday along with miso soup and rice.  Well, you'd be wrong.  Even though I live in Japan, I still eat typical American food most days.  I try to give my kid all the comforts of home by creating delicious American staples.

Last night for dinner I made fresh artisan (no knead) bread and beef stew.

I started the bread around 1:30 PM.  I mixed the flours (2 cups unbleached white and 1 cup whole wheat), 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons rosemary infused olive oil,  1 1/2 cups warm water and 1 1/2 teaspoons of quick rising yeast, and I let everything rise.

This is what it looks like after you mix all the ingredients together.   It's a sticky, gooey mess!
After you mix up all the yummy goodness, you let it sit for about 2 hours.  After that, you remove it from the bowl and flour it, folding it on itself about 5 times.  Then, you let it rise another 2 hours.

This is what it will look like sitting on your counter rising.  

After is rises, prepare your cooking vessel.  I use my Pampered Chef Deep Covered Baker (DCB) for this particular recipe.  I coat the DCB with olive oil and place it in a 425 degree oven for 20 minutes.  Then, when the DCB is really hot, I dump in the dough.  I bake the dough for 30 minutes covered and then 10 minutes uncovered.

This is the final product.
When the bread is baking in the oven, your house will smell amazing!  It's like the bread is teasing you the entire time it's in the oven.  So once the bread is out, we usually devour the whole thing.  I usually pair the bread with a dipping oil, but last night I made beef stew.

Sorry the picture isn't that great, but I was too hungry to screw with the camera.  And please excuse the bowl.  I don't normally eat out of my kid's dishes, but I didn't want to eat too much beef stew, knowing I was about to eat half a loaf of bread. 

Here's a picture of my kid chowing down on his yummy, home cooked, American style dinner.  I tried to get him to smile at the camera, but he was too busy eating.  

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Some things never change

Even though I'm a married woman with a 7 year old son, who travels the world and has new amazing adventures often, sometimes I still feel like that same insecure 14 year old girl I used to be.  You know, the one without boobs who used to sit in her bedroom wondering what the hell is going on.  Always wondering why everything was so dark and gray even when the Texas sky was shining so blue and bright. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Only in Japan

I just think that with the rising cost of health care, employers should encourage employees to eat healthy and maintain a healthy weight in order to remain healthy.  This makes sense to me, and seems like a good idea.

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The bomb went boom without a boom

I'm happy to report that the bomb was detonated and everything is back to normal.  However, I didn't hear a thing when it went boom.  I was waiting for a shake, rattle, boom, ka-boom, anything, but I got nothing.  Nada!  I'm glad everyone is safe and the situation was handled quickly with no injuries, but I'm disappointed I didn't get to hear a thing.

And just so you know, today (December 7) is the day Pearl Harbor was attacked back in 1941.  Kind of ironic, huh?!

A bomb!

No kidding!  Some construction workers found an old bomb buried in the soil near my apartment-- a couple of blocks away to be exact.  I know, what are the chances, right?!  Well, actually, it's quite common for construction workers to find old, un-exploded, WWII bombs here in Japan, especially in Tokyo prefecture.  Remember, the U.S. bombed the crap out of this area back during WWII, and, well, not all of the bombs went boom!  So here we are dealing with them now.  Like, right now!  

Some special folks have been brought in to deal with the bomb, and they intend to blow it up in place around 1 PM today.  My building shouldn't be evacuated but a lot of other buildings nearby will be.  And my local grocery store and post office will also be closed today as we wait for the thing to go boom.

The old bomb was discovered yesterday when construction workers were digging in the ground.  As soon as it was discovered, streets were blocked off and traffic came to a halt.  I had no idea what was going on for about an hour.  At that time, I was trying to pick up Jude from school.  My normal drive to Jude's school is about 7 minutes.  However, yesterday it took about 45 minutes!  I was pissed at first because I had NO IDEA what the hell was going on.  When I later discovered the cause for the road closures, I didn't mind being delayed.  After all, I'd hate to be the one to go boom!

So, today should be a fun filled day as I listen around 1 PM for the bomb to go off.

I just hope all those trying to keep us safe will stay safe, too!  

I know, earthquakes, tsunamis, nuclear disasters and now a freaking bomb!  I can't wait to live a boring life again in America!

I can't make this shit up!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

We're back from Thailand and Singapore

Sorry I haven't posted in such a long time, but we were busy traveling.  We were gone 10 days, and it has taken several days to recover and get things back in order.

We had an amazing trip!  No, seriously, AMAZING!  If you have the money, YOU SHOULD GO TO THAILAND!  Like, NOW!  REALLY!  GO!  You WON'T be disappointed!  I promise!

Since I took over 1,500 pictures on our trip, it's hard for me to pick my favorites, but we'll start with these.
Similan Island Tour
Similan Island Tour

Similan Island Tour

James Bond Island Tour with Running Babe
Khao Sok National Forest Tour

The beach at sunset.

Jude buried in the sand.

Our beach during the day.

China Town in Singapore

Husband and Jude in China Town in Singapore.