Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas in Japan 2010

We opened presents sent to us from family in the states

got really excited that mom found an ornament combining my 2 loves, coke & hockey!  She's the best!

dressed up in my favorite "Japan" outfit

went to Shinjuku to see their Christmas light display (it was like a MINI MINI festival of lights, without the animlas!)

Jason got this hat for Christmas and refuses to take it off!


stopped at Krispy Kreme to warm up with a snowflake donut and HOT cocoa

took pictures with strangers

 and each other

Jason decided he's a comedian!

 spent time with some of the best friends we could ever ask for

 and best of all, spent time together!

We missed spending time with our friends and families back in the States, but we had a great time with our friends here and we're really grateful to just be together when so many of our military friends are spending the holidays apart.  I hope everyone had a great Christmas!

PS. Buster even got a great present....the bone from our Christmas dinner ham, which he managed to devour in just a few minutes!  He's such a great dog and we're so happy to have him!

Friday, December 24, 2010

MERRY CHRISTMAS

Merry Christmas from Japan!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

best birthday cake ever

I spent the last 2 days (literally, I ran out of icing and had to wait until the next day to go buy more to finish) making this beauty
 I originally saw this cake here and have been looking for an excuse to make it ever since.  I finally decided it was time!  It took a lot of time but it was totally worth it.  Next time I will probably just use box white cake and tubs of icing.  The cake in this recipe was ok, but I'm all about anything to simplify the process and the icing I made from her recipe sucked, so I ended up using tubs of icing for this anyways (6 of them!)

it's a horrible photo, but you can see the reaction on the birthday girls face as I cut into it =)
 
 her adorable son loved it!

 seriously, this is the coolest cake I've ever seen and I'm so incredibly proud that I made it!


If you're looking for a "wow" desert, this is definitely it!  You could even change the colors and make it for almost any occasion.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

mess

my kitchen currently looks like this
I got the great idea to give my English students a small Christmas gift and thought, "what say Christmas and American better than homemade cookies?!?".

So I turned to the fabulous Bridget over at Bake@350 for inspiration and found these beauties




I'd made royal icing cookies one other time using Bake@350 for inspiration so I knew they'd be delicious

 Too bad I forgot how long the process is!  I spent a lot of time making cookies, but they turned out fabulous and when I gave the 1st box to a student today she was absolutely thrilled so in the end, it was all worth it!



Mine look nothing like Briget's but I'm really proud of them, especially the ornament cookies!



If you've never checked out Bridget's blog, you should really do so.  She's the queen of icing cookies as far as I'm concerned!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

and the winner is...

BIG BIG thank yous to all who entered!  You girls rock my world!  18 of you left comments on the giveaway entry and I let random.org choose for me.
The 3rd comment was from Jordan at Southern Hospitality

Congratulations Ms. Jordan (check your email)!!

If you don't already follow her blog, I highly recommend you check it out!  She's pretty fabulous!

Again, thank you to each and every one of you for reading!


Since I don't like posting without a photo, I leave you with a photo of us from before Jason's work Christmas party last Friday


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Flavor of the Week {Roasted Red Pepper and Crab Bisque}

WOW!  YUM!  This was DELICIOUS!   I have had this recipe open on my computer for about a week now.  I bought all the ingredients and then I just kept putting it off.  I'm so glad I finally made this today, it was the perfect Sunday afternoon lunch!

Roasted Red Pepper & Crab Bisque
Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 leeks, white and light green parts only, chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup flour
4 cups chicken stock
1 16-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped (or about 5-6 fresh red peppers roasted, pealed and chopped) (for about $2 a pepper here vs. $3.25 for the jar, I went for the jar this time!)
1 6 oz can tomato paste
12 oz fresh lump crabmeat (I used canned because our commissary doesn't carry fresh and I don't speak/read enough Japanese to find it at the local market yet.  I ended up needing 4 of the 6oz cans.  After you drain them, you end up with a 3 oz of meat per can)
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons salt

Directions:
Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat and sauté leeks for 5 to 7 minutes or until tender. Add garlic and sauté 1 additional minute.

Meanwhile, melt butter over medium high heat in a large stockpot. Whisk in flour until smooth and cook one minute or until mixture starts to brown. Add chicken stock, red peppers, tomato paste, 10 ounces crabmeat, basil, and sautéed leeks to the stockpot and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until thickened. Use an immersion blender to puree soup until mostly smooth (I like mine a little chunky).

Add heavy cream, balsamic vinegar, and salt to the stockpot and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes to incorporate all the flavors. Scoop into serving bowls (this was excellent in a bread bowl) and garnish with remaining 2 ounces crabmeat.

Makes 4-6 servings.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

100 FOLLOWERS = GIVEAWAY!

I didn't say anything sooner because I don't want people following my blog just so they could win something (and I didn't want to jinx it), but since there are now officially 100 of you that think my life is interesting enough to read about on a regular basis, I am excited to announce I'm going to share a part of Japan with one lucky reader.  I picked up some super cute small gifts (just in case) at the bazaar held on base recently that I think you will love.  It's nothing major, but who doesn't like getting a surprise in the mail?!?!  The rules are simple, be a follower and leave a comment ON THIS POST.  You have until Sunday enter (no entries after midnight EST December 12th) and then I'll select one winner at random and make an announcement Monday morning, December 13th.  (make sure you have your reply-to email set up or include an e-mail address in your comment so I can contact you)

THANKS FOR BEING SO AWESOME!!

GOOD LUCK!

Monday, December 6, 2010

let's talk about PARKING in Japan

It only took me about 2.5 months to figure this one out...

1st, you find an empty spot

and back in (if you don't know how to back into a parking spot, you will learn real fast once you get here...luckily I almost always backed in to spots in the States, and now that we have a little match box car, it's a breeze for me!)

 next this little bar pops up (it is delayed about 10 minutes...that took me a while to figure out!) to keep you from driving away

when you're ready to leave, you push the button that matches your spot number

and then the screen tells you how much you owe (it's hard to tell, but today I paid 100 Yen, or about $1.25 to park) and you put your coins into the slot (some take bills but this one does not)

and the bar drops down

 and you drive away, happy that you've conquered another new challenge while living in a foreign country!



I still cannot believe we are so blessed to be living here.  Every day is a new challenge adventure that I am eternally grateful for!  Many of my military followers have expressed to me that they are jealous of this opportunity (it is a VERY rare opportunity for someone in the Army, most of the military here are Air Force, Navy and Marines) and I thought I'd let everyone know that we did not get this assignment because my husband is an officer or by luck.  In 2007 my husband VOLUNTEERED to go to war so that when he returned and finished some required training, he could choose his our next duty station.  He had always dreamed that it would be Japan, but we honestly thought it would be partially his choice and partially the Army's choice (he was "guaranteed" one of his top 3 choices), but the Army held up their end of the deal.  When Jason went in to meet with his branch manager after he finished school, he told the guy he wanted Japan and the guy's response was, "you volunteered for a deployment to be able to choose your duty station.  we'll make it happen" and they did!  That's how we ended up here.  I'm so lucky to have such an amazingly brave husband!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Gyoza House

At the recommendation of a fellow milspouse blogger here in Japan, FancyPants, Jason and I took some friends to a restaurant called the Gyoza House last night.  Gyoza are Japanese dumplings that I started making as soon as we found out we were moving to Japan (I posted a photo of them here when I made them last year for the SuperBowl.  I used this recipe).  Since we've been here I haven't found any that are as good as the homemade ones.  So when I saw FancyPants' post about Gyoza House, I knew I had to try it out and I was NOT disappointed!

you can't really tell from this photo, but the place was PACKED and we had to wait quite a while to eat (you can always tell a good restaurant by the line of locals waiting to eat there)

while we were waiting (how's that for some alliteration?), we noticed this sign for "Drinking Bar FLAP CHOP" and we really wanted to stop in and have a drink just out of curiosity, but we were a bit strapped for time...next time though, we will make sure we have time to stop in!

once we got seated, these were the 3 signs hanging on the wall and that menu is the WHOLE menu

 I had the steamed shrimp gyoza

my mouth is seriously watering just looking at these photos....they were out of this world delicious!

 I also had the egg soup which was really yummy!

 the boys each ordered 10 gyoza

 and this is the whole spread, including the best beverage in the world, Coke in a bottle! =)

Everything was incredibly yummy and this is going up there right under the Yakitori place as one of my favorite restaurants in Japan.  I never would have found this place on my own, and I'm extremely grateful to FancyPants for blogging about this!  

If you come to visit us here, this is on the list of places we will take you around town!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

2 posts in 1 day...

Depending on where you live, this may be post number 2 for you today, or it could be 2 separate days, but I'm excited and at this moment, I don't care if I'm double posting!

1st, I finally, after 3 months of being here, went and got my hair cut.  It needed it so badly but for the last 10 years only 2 people have cut my hair and they're both great friends of mine so I was really nervous to let someone else cut it!  There is a guy that works on base here and I've heard great things about him, but he's not Carissa or Evie, so I was still nervous.  I took in 2 photos:



and although I didn't come out looking like Lauren Conrad or Heidi Klum, I did leave the salon feeling great about my haircut and completely relieved! (I'm wearing my sunglasses to cover up my flaming red eyebrows after getting waxed!)
Turns out this guy, Ichiro, who is Japanese, got tired of cutting the same hair on the same faces (his words, not mine) so he moved to London and went to hair school there to learn to work with different face shapes and eyes and hair colors/textures then moved to NYC and Australia to work.  He was great and I'm actually looking forward to my next hair cut now!

After I got my hair cut, I stopped by Jason's office to drop off something he had been waiting for and he informed me that he would be TDY for our anniversary.  I was super bummed until he told me where he was going and that we would buy me a ticket so I could go with him.  I'm so excited that we'll get to be together for our anniversary and I'll get to fill my free time during the day with a lovely blogger friend, Sarah!  Oh, you're not familiar with where Sarah lives, let me help you out...



still not sure?!?!?

HAWAII!!!!!!!!

It'll be my 1st time in Hawaii and I cannot wait!