Sunday, November 28, 2010

Christmas wish list

Now that things are starting to look like fall around here

and the long weekend is over

and the turkey is all gone (or will be after I make turkey pot pies for dinner tonight)

it's time to move on to Christmas =)

we bought a Christmas tree that was almost longer than our car and received many strange looks from the locals (some children even pointed and laughed and grown adults almost got ran over/feel off their bikes because they were distracted by our strange American year, I'm taking a video of all the gawkers!)

put out the few decorations we do have (the beautiful flowers were a hostess gift for Thanksgiving.  thanks Melissa!)

and purchased and wrapped all of our gifts to send back to the states =)

As for me, a few things I wouldn't mind seeing under my Christmas tree this year:

3. a flash for my camera

4. this FABULOUS necklace (with the diamond moved to the lower left corner)

5. since my computer is on it's last leg, a MacBook

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving Prep part 2

After driving all over creation this base and the near by Naval base looking for Vermouth (who knew it was a wine?!?!  definitely not me) for my husband the Martini drinker I finished up my prep work for Thanksgiving =)

I made the pies (my 1st time making pies from scratch.  I'm pretty proud of them but man they were a lot of work!  I doubt I'll be making many pies in my lifetime)

laid out all the bread so it get's "stale" for the "stuffing" (that's how grandma did it, so that's how I do it)

***edited to note we returned from dinner to find this:
the dog managed to eat about 10-12 slices of bread off the table...I was so not a happy mommy!  This means I have to go to the store and fight the crowd tomorrow...all that prep work to avoid this exact scenario and the dumb dog managed to ruin it all, ugh!***

 chopped all the veggies to stuff in the turkey, make appetizers, make the "stuffing" and make green bean casserole

and roasted garlic and made pita chips for the spinach artichoke dip

now I will have more time to enjoy with our guests on Thursday!  Only 2 more days until my favorite holiday!

And if you are the type of person that is OK starting the Christmas season a little early, I suggest you check out this ridiculously talented A capella group from Indiana.  I don't normally enjoy Christmas music except on Christmas and Christmas Eve, but I cannot turn these guys off!

Straight No Chaser

holiday bazaar

As I said yesterday, I can't show you most of what I picked up at the bazaar because they're gifts for people who read this blog, but I can show you what I got my brother (he'd never take time away from his games to read what his silly big sister has to say) and what I picked up for myself =)

My brother is a gamer.  Computer games, card games, board games, baseball games.  He loves them all, so he is getting this cool box to hold cards.

 and for me...I had the hardest time picking these out, but now I'm in love with the ones I chose!
 napkin rings for the girl who loves to host!
 with origami cranes!?!?!  YES PLEASE!
 I wanted every color that they had!!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

busy weekend....LOTS of photos and randomness

I started out the weekend by making this yummy chex mix that I'll serve on Thanksgiving.  It's a friend's mom's recipe and I always request she make when I'm in town because for some reason hers always tastes better!

This is a copy of the recipe I used for a cookbook some girls and I made at FLW

 It's so simple to make.  First, preheat the oven to 250 degrees.  Then, you start with a box each of rice, wheat and corn chex cereal, a bag of pretzels and anything else you'd like (peanuts or rye chips are good.  this time I added bagel chips and I LOVE THEM) in a roasting pan.  Like the one you cook your turkey in,  it needs to be that big or it will not all fit!

Then you mix the butter, oil, Tabasco (more or less based on how spicy you like it), garlic salt and Worcestershire sauce in a separate bowl and pour it over the dry ingredients and mix it all together and put it in the oven.

Every 20 minutes, remove it from the oven, stir and add a little more Worcestershire sauce and garlic salt then return it to the oven.  Repeat for 2 hours and you end up with 3 gallon size bags of yumminess =)
It's a million times better than the stuff you buy from the store.

Then I ran out the door to head to Tokyo.  Some friends and I (the husband was being a punk and didn't want to go) attended a Japanese Military band concert.  There were a lot of marching bands, including the Camp Zama band
 but then....the real fun started

I wish you could hear their amazingness, but I was so excited that I didn't even think to take a video! ( I love the emotion on these guys faces)
Such a cool experience!

Saturday I taught English lessons to 2 of my students.  I was dreading it because I was so tired and just wanted to sleep in, but my students are awesome and they make it worth dragging my butt out of bed!  After my lessons, we went to the Navy base near by to check out the bazaar they had going on.  We ALMOST finished all of our Christmas shopping there (I'll post photos after Christmas).  We just have to pick up a few bottles of sake and find something for my sister and we'll be finished =)

Saturday night we went out for Mexican food for a friends birthday and then headed to the bar on post for some karaoke.  I was DD and man o man was it an entertaining night!   My husband, our friend Melissa who I've mentioned a time or two on here, and the birthday boy finished off the only bottle of Jose Quervo that they had at the bar then moved on to Patron.  They opened a brand new bottle for them, which they finished and then moved onto a 2nd was an interesting night!

Everyone at dinner (it was fitting that the birthday boy's name is Mike)  (funny story, turns out the chick on the far right and I went to the same college at the same time and have quite a few mutual friends but never met each other in Michigan and now both of our husbands are stationed at the same base in really is a small world.  That makes 2 people I went to college with that are stationed over here...CrAzY!)

I love that the karaoke system has a smiley face that cries when you aren't doing well

and they had songs in all different languages

I love this crazy guy

before the 3 of them finished the bottle of Jose

these girls and I are going to get in so much trouble here, I can just tell

the 5 of us that closed down the bar: Me, Jen, Melissa, Jason and Mike, the birthday boy =)

Today I convinced my husband to go see the new Harry Potter movie with me.  There is a theater a few train stops from us that plays movies in English with Japanese subtitles so we headed over to check it out.  When you buy your ticket here, you choose your seat which I think is really nice.  I thought it was going to be annoying to watch a movie with subtitles but I completely forgot they were there after a few minutes.  I did snap a picture on my iPhone so I could show you all
I hope they don't bust me for copyright infringement for this!

I loved the movie but it was kind of strange that no one left when it was over.  Everyone sat and watched EVERY SINGLE credit!   I have never done that in my life haha.  It wouldn't have been so bad but, unlike every theater I've ever been to in the states, this one was super hot inside!  I would definitely see another movie at that theater.  It was really nice by American standards and like I said, the subtitles didn't bother me one bit!

Tomorrow is last minute shopping and pie making day in preparation for Thanksgiving...I'm so super excited!  I cannot wait to eat this food I've been working on for weeks now!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

mail call

Going to the mail room is like Christmas morning for me!  I miss walking across the street to the mailbox with Buster, but this is a whole new adventure for me!  If your mail is too large to fit in the tiny box, they give you a slip of paper which you have to hand to the volunteer who then brings you your package.  I am such a dork and love to try to guess what it will be or who it will be from!  Well today was an exciting mail room day for me.

1st, I finally received my postcard from Ashley as part of the postcard swap that Jessica hosted =)
 I found out it took a little while to get to me because it had to travel all the way from CANANDA to JAPAN!  I didn't know where it was coming from, so I literally squealed (and got several crazy looks from strangers in the mail room) when I saw I had a postcard from CANANDA!  I BIG PINK PUFFY HEART CANANDA!  Jessica, you couldn't have picked a better person to send me a post card and Ashely, I can't wait to read all about your adventures  from Canada =)  Thanks for the gorgeous postcard!

Then the nice man behind the counter handing me a box from Shutterfly and I knew what was in there...
 YAY!!!!  I love them (so much so that I was too excited to show you to take the time to get out the nice camera or put it on the scanner)!  I'm going to spend the rest of this dreary, rainy fall day writing them out so they'll be ready to go in the mail the day BEFORE Thanksgiving (gotta make sure they get to the States in time!) and PS, if you get one in the mail, at least ACT surprised!

I also got my mom's Christmas present in the mail today but since she reads this, I won't be posting a photo (sorry mom, you have to wait till Christmas!)

and on a completely random side note, if you have never tried a Fuji apple, drop what you're doing and run to the nearest grocery store and buy one(the more red the better)!  They are one of my favorite fruits and I love that I can get them SUPER FRESH here!
they're so good they give you crazy eyes!

Thanksgiving Prep

I am a list maker.  It brings me great joy to make a list and cross everything off of it (I think that's part of the reason I love grocery shopping so much).  And even as much a I enjoy my technology, I would rather sit down with a pen and paper and make a list than create a note on my iPhone.  I like to use fun paper and different colored pens.  No matter what the subject matter, I like lists.  I decided to share my Thanksgiving planning lists with you =)

I start with a menu
(actually I start with a guest list, but there are only a few of us this year so I'm starting with a menu)
(Recipes:  Turkey, Gravy, Pumpkin Pie, Green Bean Casserole)

which turns into 4 pages of detailed ingredients

that is put on my super awesome grocery list

that then gets broken down into 2 lists, one list of things I can buy ahead of time and one list of things that need to be purchased a few days before (not pictured)
 this year I was super specific on these 2 list because there is no 24 hour Walmart if I forget something!  Our commissary is closed on Wednesdays (no last minute shopping for me!) and the Tuesday before Thanksgiving is a Japanese holiday so if I want any produce on the economy (overseas military speak for off base), I have to purchase it Monday or wait until the day before Thanksgiving which I do NOT want to do!

I thought I was doing good, shopping 10 days before the big day, but there were already quite a few things missing on the shelves of our commissary...luckily there are 3 commissaries within a 25 minute drive of us and between the 3, I was able to find everything on my buy early list except canned artichoke for the spinach artichoke dip.  Now I have to decide if I want to try a brand new from scratch recipe using fresh artichokes (which I have NEVER cooked before), buy the frozen Friday's kind or scrap it all together.  UGH!  This was the appetizer I was so looking forward to!

Anyways, a week or so before, I make a detailed time line, including things I can do the week or days before, like make the pies and the rolls and freeze them (not pictured).  This one usually takes a few tries (even this list has been edited since the photo was taken this morning) and thanks to a tip from one of my favorite bloggers, Annie, I've found it's easiest to start at the end of the day instead of the beginning (ps, I was so relieved when she made a post similar to this one.  I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who finds these lists helpful, which is why I decided to share my craziness with you)

This one isn't so much a list, but I also like to get out all of my serving dishes and pots and pans and label everything so that the day of I'm not tearing my kitchen apart for a pot that is already being used!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

New job title


I haven't wanted to be a teacher since I was about 10 and used to force my siblings and friends to play school with me (I really just like to write on the chalkboard and mark their papers with a red pen). I did a 2 year stint as an after school teacher at an inner city school in Cincinnati for a while in college and if I wasn't sure before, I was definitely sure after, teaching is not for me!   Well, as I mentioned the other day, I'm giving this teaching thing a try again.  This time it's completely different though.  Instead of children that are spending time at school after hours mainly because their parent forces them to in order to ensure they receive a 3rd meal each day (that's another post for another day), the students I'm teaching now are adults with a desire to learn.  

So far I have had 3 students and after spending 30-45 minutes with me, each of them has decided to come back for more =)  I was pretty nervous before my 1st student as I had no real idea of what to expect.  It took a little while but I got the hang of it and we had a good time working out of the text I have and chatting.  I was much more confident and things went really well with my 2nd student a couple days later.  Both of those girls are younger (20&21) and I think they're going to be fun to work with.  I had my 3rd student for the 1st time yesterday and I thought I had blown it because I was expecting her to be at about the same level as the other 2 girls I had met but she is not.  She is an elementary school teacher and her students get an English lesson each day that she sits in on, so she hears the "Where is Joe?  He is in the kitchen" routine I had been using with the other 2 girls on a daily basis.  I almost panicked for a minute when I realized what had taking me 25 minutes with the other girls only took me about 10 with her, but we were able to spend the remaining time sharing stories about our travel experiences.  I'm going to have to be prepared with lots of conversation topics each time I meet with her, but we're the same age and I hope we won't run out of things to talk about.   It is going to take me some time to get used to correcting them when they say something incorrectly.  For the past 2 months I've just been so happy to be able to understand what Japanese people are saying to me that I let all the horrible grammar go.  I can't do that with my students!

I'm going to stick with these 3 ladies until after the new year to see how it goes.  If it's worth the money I'm making I am enjoying myself and I still have time to spend with Jason, then I may chose to pick up a few more students.  For now, it's just nice to be working again =)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A few things about Japan

In no particular order....

They have seats for you to put your small child in in most bathroom stalls (or your camera bag if you don't have a child).  super convenient for moms!

they sell chocolate by the name of "crunky ball nude", or crunky nude balls as we like to call them, that taste like Nestle crunch bars with more crunch!

when you order at a food court, they give you a pager to let you know when your food is ready (it's made fresh!)

I think there are more parking areas for bicycles than for cars

contrary to what I've been told, they do celebrate Christmas (just maybe not in the the religious way we do as Christians in America)

they give you these "face shields" to wear when you try on clothes so your makeup doesn't rub off on everything you try on...genius!  (sorry about the crappy photo)

they think it's O.K. to sell hot dogs (or herb dogs) at subway

it's a little scary to try new produce when you can't read the signs to know what you're purchasing! (yes, I know that is broccoli in this particular photo)

this is the awesome market where I buy my's called suicide market because if you don't pay attention, it's easy to get hit by a car that is driving by (after I snapped this photo, the car drove around the man standing in the street)
 you can buy hot soup from vending machines (sort of like Campbell's soup in a can).  notice that the tag below each soup is red, that means it's hot.  at the very top of the photo you can just barely see a couple of blue tags which indicate cold products.  They sell hot coffee and tea and soups along with a few cold beverages in the winter months and mostly cold drinks in the warmer months.  this is so neat to me!