Monday, August 31, 2009

you say it's your birthday

It's one of our parents birthday's!

We wish we could be there, yes we do. But, alas...we have reached the first special thing we must miss in the list of many. So, we made Mama Willett a cake of sorts. It's yellow butter cream with cream cheese filling, chocolate frosting, and blue shades of icing, of course. Please note the intricate detail on the took a really long time. Hope everyone enjoys their piece!

In all seriousness SueMom, we hope you have the greatest of days, all be it a little less great since we are not there...but a day filled with family, fun, games, delicious eats, maybe some cotton candy stashed in a garbage bag, some crazy hallmark singing cards, and of course...ridiculous jokes from Richard. We wish we could put a hug in the mail and send it to you, but instead we leave you with this little number.

Your special birthday song.

if you have 7 min and 41 seconds

Follow our friend's adventures as he works his ass off, maybe literally, to become the next best comic. If I have anything to say about it, he will totally make it. See, he is so freaking awesome as a person. Not afraid to be humbled, and funny as hell. The last time we hung out with him I burnt 1,000 calories just from laughing.

check our Sean's Blog or a quick clip on You Tube.

Good luck to him on his big move to the city of angels!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

adventures of jewell in japan

I (Jewell) know this is slowly becoming the adventures of Jewell in Japan, but poor Brandon has been working so hard getting the restaurant on the right path. Part of me feels guilty for getting to experience the city while he works, but he his doing such a good job and the restaurant really loves him, so maybe I don't feel too bad.

Today I spent 6 hours out of the apartment. While I don't need to dissect every part of the day there are some things worth notation.

After I walked Brandon to the taxi (we walk down to the Arcade and get a taxi so the cab fare is cut in half) I stopped in at Starbucks for a drink. Hello Green Tea Lemon Frappachino, you are awesome. Oh, and they serve everything here with a bendy straw. There is only a certain kind of person that knows to appreciate the bendy straw, and they are mostly my old roommates. As I sat outside, I found it hard to concentrate on my book, and if you've read Julie & Julia you know that's hard. My book reading session soon turned into people watching and eavesdropping. It is Sunday here, so the Arcade was rockin'. Many people, doing many kinds of things, going many kinds of places. Plus, I got to hear two Navy dudes try and sweet talk a pretty Japanese girl in the form of explaining how most American dudes act, and how they are totally different then those that only have sex on their mind. It was so priceless. I actually wrote notes...but then I left them on my tray at dinner, which is super embarrassing, except that I'm known by no one. Saving grace.

After about three hours, I moved on to wandering from store to store. I even went down a few alleys in which I discovered a hefty amount of vintage stores. Nice.

I will say that they love their wrapping paper and pretty little details here. I will fit in just fine after long as they don't know I wrote those notes. They even have a whole section of an isle way dedicated to decorative tapes! My gift wrapping ideas have now tripled, and I can not wait for Christmas.

I walked to base to catch a movie. Anyone seen Away We Go? It was so great. But what 3 dollar movie wouldn't be! The movie? Why did I bring it up? Well, because I had to stand and sing the national anthem before I got to watch it. Not that I have anything against singing the National anthem, but it seems more appropriate at the beginning of a baseball game with a hot dog in one hand and a 32oz. beer in the other...or at a air show.

After the abrupt display of national pride and an amazing movie I walked home. I haven't really ventured out at night yet and I am so glad I finally did. The lights and sounds are so much different then during the day! I stopped into a late night place and ordered a meal that was supposed to be beef but tasted like bacon and looked like some animals insides. But, I did try it, and it was good. Plus it came with Miso and Rice...great stand-by's.

I ended up foregoing the taxi and walking home. I am beginning to love these crazy steps. I will miss them at the new place. I stopped by the vending machine to grab some booze, and to my surprise...its a vodka tonic in a can!! I think...

Here are some shots from my day. Hope you enjoy.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

little things

The thing is, any little thing from the states is going to send us into a frenzy of happiness. Even if it's something we mailed to ourselves. So much has happened in the last two weeks that we don't even remember what is inside, making this a delightful adventure of unpacking not just a box, but a present to ourselves!

Well, I know it's not lets go find out.

Friday, August 28, 2009


Life is settling in fast here in Sasebo. Brandon's work schedule is in full swing, much to his demise we did not get to travel to Osaka the first week we were here. That amazing trip will have to wait, and we are waiting on pins and needles.

We found a permanent place to live. It's just as small, but the bills are all paid and it comes with the necessary furnishings, TV, Internet, table, fridge, microwave, and the oh so lovely two burner stove. Most importantly to Jewell, the bed is not up a ladder. The great thing is that it sits right on the edge of downtown making Brandon's walk to work 15 minutes and any necessary cab rides about 500Yen. Sure, we traded comfort for location, but we are here to experience the city and this way we are right inside. We will smell the fresh food market in the morning and see the flicker of flashing neon lights at night. A moments walk from multiple sushi houses, tiny bars, market shopping, and local grocery marts. Not to mention there is a frozen custard stand right outside our front door.

We felt a little cliche when we rented Lost in Translation before we left Texas, but if you can't stomach the idea of that movie, then you shouldn't move to a place where you don't speak the language. For so many years, I dealt with people who didn't know what I was saying...and they were only from Mexico. Now, it's my turn. Living in a country where I don't know basic conversation, I admit I was never great at language, but learning is taking longer then I would like. And by that, I mean I am taking longer then I thought to start learning.

Brandon is working diligently with Rosetta Stone, and I am flipping between that and the notion that I start Japanese class in about 3 weeks.

The food is amazing. We have eaten sushi fresh out of the water from the tank right next to our seat and every part of the chicken you can imagine, cooked in every way. We have become regulars at the Ramen Shop that sits at the bottom of our hill, both officially choosing a favorite and hoping they will eventually know to just make it. We have had crispy fish cakes, dumplings so moist and flavorful you wish you could ship them home in their pure form to prove their greatness, and cleared every single grain of rice from our bowls for fear that Erica's grandma would hit our hand. In fact, we are eating so much that our bank account is loosing weight, so we are going to be cutting back a bit for the sake of our security. But have no fear when we go back out there, we will be armed with our chopsticks and ready.

plastic food

Ever wonder why they make plastic food? It's because every resturant and bakery (and there are 500,000,000 just in our town) displays their prized plates with plastic replicas. We in the USA are just lucky to get the left overs. So, does it all look the same you might ask? No, it is suprisingly delicious looking and there are many, many veraities of plastic foods.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

any college kid would be jealous

It's time to talk about our Sasebo bathroom. Granted, this is our temporary apartment and the next place may be 10x better or worse. Considering we pick the next place, I doubt it will be the latter.

First off, we LOVE our toilet. We had this toilet in Hawaii on our honeymoon, and it was spectacular. When I was in school, Dr. Brandon did her best to describe a bidet, but they are just the type of thing you must experience. Being an American I quivered at the thought of water shooting up at me from down under...but at the risk of getting too graphic, I will just say, bidet's just prove that cleanliness is definitely next to godliness.

Thank goodness for symbols. Everything here is operated by a button, and it is very handy.

The only thing we can't figure out about or toilet, is the water spout at the it clean water? or is it recycled water? is that where we are supposed to wash out hands? who yo know?

The shower. The shower is something we can only call triple the awesomeness. At first step you are in the shower, which has the most powerful shower head with the softest feeling water. Next comes the sink which you can have running at the same time as the shower, by it's self, or you can rotate the faucet to fill up the bathtub as you shower. This all sounds very complicated, and it was, until we figured out that as long as you keep the control knob on faucet mode you won't accidentally turn on the shower when all you want to do is brush your teeth. Brandon is in heaven. He has dreamed of an efficient way to shave for as long as I've known him, and finally after all of those years of the suction cups on the "fog proof" mirror giving out mid shave...he has won!

Just for fun, here are some other shots of the apartment.


We don't really even acknowledge the kitchen. Luckily Brandon is spending so much time at work that he doesn't have time to get sad. We are currently using it to store things and hoping our next place has at least 4 burners...


This is our sleeping loft and futon mat. It would fit a full size mattress perfectly, but then we would only be a foot from the ceiling, and if I could describe how much it hurts to hit your head on the ceiling you would understand why we wont be doing that. We just keep saying to ourselves...nice and cozy.

It's so insane the things we have explored in this first year of marriage and we have so much to look back on and be proud of, but we do miss our bed though!
**I forgot to mention another great thing about the toilet. You know when you get up in the middle of the night and cringe at the thought of sitting on the toilet seat for fear it will freeze your rear end worries here! This amazing contraption has an automatic heated seat! Oh yes, I can feel the jealousy seeping out of your pores.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

it begins...

Brando started work today, and Jewell started to put the clothes away.

And for those of you wondering...yes that was all of our luggage. The odds were against us. But give Jewell a puzzle now, and she could solve it in record time.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

a seriously little place

So, here is the deal. When we named this blog, we had no idea. We just thought it was a cool name. But here's the deal, it's 8 1/2' x 12', and that makes it actually a little place in Japan.

This is the first night in our tiny nugget of an apartment. It's nestled back from the tiny winding street among modern and traditional Japanese homes and up some seriously old steep stairs covered in lush greenery.

Our apartment building on the left. Bottom right Door.

The only thing that is English is our 1/4 cook top, which sits in the hallway in between the door to the bathroom and our washing machine. We thought our San Antonio stove was bad, but this one consists of 2 burners only. There are no ovens in Japan, or most of Asia for that matter. Right now Brandon's knife kit actually covers the entire thing!

There is only one American channel on our super sweet TV, which is painful because we have free Internet cable. As excited as we were to find a channel playing 24 hours of CSI, Lost, Brothers & Sisters, Mad Men, 90210, and far every single one is translated to Japanese! So, alas...we must find other ways to entertain ourselves.

Our Bed is actually a cubby hole, in which we must travel up a ladder that is built to hold a 100lb Japanese 20-something, not a respectfully larger's pretty funny the fear we will now experience from crawling out of bed. Which I might add is a remarkably comfortable futon mat. Not too keen on the lame grandma flower pattern, but it works for now.

We can't even begin to talk about the bathroom, in which you can take a shower while you brush your teeth and fill up the bathtub with the same water spout.

While this might sound crazy, after the five minutes we wallowed in self pity, we picked ourselves up (actually we crawled down the ladder), and went out to discover our neighborhood. Turns out we are a 5 minute walk down some seriously steep steps, past modern and close to ancient homes, to downtown. The Arcade is a 4 block strecth of shops, restaurants, 100 yen stores, hair salons, and floral shops. It is surrounded by downtown Sasebo. It is everything you would want from a Japanese city. Vibrant, smelly, crowded, and loud. Although it may only stretch 6 or so blocks, it's no Tokyo, but we are so excited to explore every inch.

Our street

Two of the 3 sets of steps up to our apartment.

We are beginning to realize the reality of this choice, but have vowed to keep a positive outlook, other wise there is no point. Thank you for your constant contact with us, we can only hope it continues...we believe it will be a big factor in our success.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

the REAL first meal

We went to our first meal in Sasebo. We sat in a spacious booth that the waitress tried to tell us we wouldn't like because it didn't have air conditioning. Did she really think we were going to pass up the opportunity to sit on the floor next to the squid tank? I don't think so. We dealt with it. Plus, you couldn't even tell there was no AC! Considering the humidity melts your face off outside.

The food was great.

miso soup with crab & rice with steamed egg and tempura shrimp

sashimi, rice with a steamed egg and crab custard, & veggie tempura

first meal

Airplane Food, I don't even want to talk about it...

The cookie and the water were the best parts!

can anyone say jet lag?

Our trip to Tokyo took 13 hours, after which we sat in the airport for 5 hours to catch a plane to Fukuoka Airport, a 2 hour journey. There we were picked up by our host for the first week. He is from the family that owns the franchise, basically Brando's boss. Then we drove for a little more then an hour to Sasebo. So, after a total of 20ish hours, we ended up at a mcDonalds before we went to our temporary hotel. Very anti-climactic in a way. 20 hours for Mc Donald's.

Hello Humidity, I never knew you existed like this.

So, the airport was quite an experience. Just watching us drag all of our 8 pieces of luggage around was amusing, even though we weren't actually watching. Then I got knock off Starbucks out of a vending machine with a retractable straw which rocked. Brando got Bocari Sweat, which is clear with a misleading blue label. We thought it was water...but it was something like Gatorade. Not too bad. We watched a women make show cones dressed in a traditional kimono...I'm not too sure that's what her ancestors had in mind. But she was very pretty, just like a porcelain doll.

The base is totally unexpected. Just like a neighborhood, not as remote as the Internet makes you feel it is. Everyone seems to know everyone. One of the big boats come back today so they were pretty nervous at the Chili's, but Brandon wasn't asked to be there, I think they know we're exhausted and don't expect too much from him right now.

Sasebo City is amazing. I can't even begin to describe how the streets are almost carved into the mountains. Tiny, winding roads with houses that almost look like they are carved into the rock. Old homes right next to modern, so great. I can't wait to put up photos!

In all of the madness, I left my USB cord in the computer at Brandon's parents house so I need to go the NEX(Navy Exchange) tomorrow and grab a new one.

Until then...good morning, good night, whatever time it is....need sleep bad.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

well, we're off!

Today is the day, it if finally here! I can't begin to tell you about all of the emotions, and I am almost positive they won't all hit until we're somewhere over Russia and there is no turning back. Luckily at that point we will be traveling for over ten hours and if we are crying like babies no one will even notice.

It will be a few weeks before we are settled in to a place we can call home, but as soon as we are we will get the info up.

Think good thoughts, send us good vibes, say a little prayer.

love to all,

Sunday, August 9, 2009

moving notice

Today we are putting everything we own in storage!! We only kept the bare minimum of our things, so when we return it will interesting to see what happens. No car, no bed, no tables, no chairs, no TV...all gone.