Sunday, November 29, 2009

the first 3

The first three months have come and gone.

In celebration of this fine moment-that was actually a week ago-here is a list of all the things we have come to love since moving to Japan:
  1. our ramen shop
  2. sleeping on a futon mat
  3. eating everything with chopsticks
  4. the children's school uniforms-especially the hats
  5. curry stew cooked inside donuts
  6. packaging
  7. train rides
  8. brandon's acquired rice addiction
  9. little Japanese men dressing to the 9's to walk around town
  10. tiny plants
  11. Dutch theme parks
  12. taxi's
  13. shochu
  14. learning how to write about our adventures
  15. peanut butter, nutella, and honey
  16. big umbrellas
  17. gin
  18. toilets that make rain forest sounds
  19. getting mail
  20. stairs

Just for kicks, here are some things we don't really like:

  1. stairs
  2. our A/C unit runs on a 3 hour timer
  3. we can't figure out how to use the dryer
  4. we can stand in our bathroom and kitchen at the same time
  5. the weak US dollar
  6. the mean guy at Hotto Motto
  7. laundry
  8. being 6,559 miles from our friends and family

a picture from our first day in Sasebo-and our first meal.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

crock pot thanksgiving

The only thing that wasn't a success about our Thanksgiving was that our family was 6,559 miles away, asleep. We made the most of it though, as promised. The managers came over, with gifts of fruit-I love that in Japan strawberries and fruit tart covered lady finger cakes are hostess gifts. I also love that people actually bring hostest gifts.

We started the day early, searing off the pot roast and drinking eggnog. Two things that should always go hand in hand-hot pans and drinking. Then we watched classic movies like the Royal Tenenbaums while we diced up vegetables on our coffee table and cleaned our 20 sq. feet of our apartment. The smell in the apartment was insane by mid day and Brandon just had to keep "testing" the roast. I got my culinary genius on and thawed out a pecan pie...and let me tell you, it was awesome. Brandon, the guy with actual skills, wins the prize. He pulled together this dish at the last minute, I mean more last minute then these plans already were. The acorn squash I bought on base - first wrong move - was moldy on the inside, not doubt my karma for ignoring the amazing produce at both the street market and our neighborhood grocery store. So, there is this new food that we discovered. It looks like a tomato, but it's orange, it tastes sweet, but has the texture of a pumpkin...and it has the coolest name ever: Kaki. We bought 6 of them, then Brandon peeled and chopped them and finished them by tossing them in a frying pan with butter, salt, and pepper. So, I thought we needed squash for Thanksgiving, but I was wrong. Now, we will be on an endless quest for Kaki for the rest of our lives.

kaki & squash

In the end, things worked out fine, and we were just as full as any other stuff your-self-tired Thanksgiving we've ever had. Just as drunk, and just as happy. Just a different kind of happy because nothing replaces being with our families. Awe, I sappy can this get right?

our little table-and chair- of food.

the plate

our company with Brandon


Oh, and in case you were wondering. The second wrong move - was getting up at 3:45 to go wait in line at the base exchange for "black Friday". Three hours in the cold and I didn't even get anything for free...not even coffee. Pretty lame, I say.

threw this in just for a laugh. yes, the only place for our crock pot was on top of the washer.
and then there are dishes, which take over the sink all in every part of the world.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

tomorrow is...

The grey clouds are looming. But not the weather kind...tomorrow is thanksgiving!

We are starting to think that the holidays will be like the slap in the face we knew some people wanted to give us when we told them we were packing up and leaving our perfectly great life for two years. Just kidding, but in all honesty, while excited to be all married and making new memories of our own and stuff, I will be a little more humbled by that fact that I can't devour crescent rolls and my grandma's via mom asparagus casserole-or more importantly who will sneak as many Better Cheddars out of the box as she can with out mom noticing? Brandon will in turn be humbled by the fact that he can't devour his mom's cakes and riced mash potatoes and his dad's shitake mushroom gravy. What will it be like without our family? For goodness sake, what will it be like without a turkey! We have never known a Thanksgiving with out them-the family or the turkey.

But, you will be happy to know we are attempting our first Thanksgiving alone in Japan. It will be accomplished in a crock pot on a two burner stove, with no oven. See the video below if you don't believe it. We bought a chuck roast, and plenty of savory veggies, some rice and there will be mash potatoes and sauteed garlic spinach. Oh, and of course I bought a squash-because it's Thanksgiving and I simply must have a squash. There is also a ready to eat (booooooo) Pecan Pie but, it will do because we got Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. The other reason why all of this will do is because we have stock piled massive amounts of gin and red wine. So, in the end, crock pot Thanksgiving is probably the best idea considering the foreseen alcohol consumption.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!!

Friday, November 20, 2009


Things are getting physical around here. Here is something funny-today when I was crossing the street to walk home, I came face to face with a Japanese girl. Now, this happens quite often. They have been known to try so hard to avoid eye contact with anyone, that while they are giving every bit of effort to avoid you, they walk right into you. Even though you were yourself, trying to avoid the collision, knowing full well, if this nice person would just pick their head up they would see you. Who cares about your eyes, they would at least see you! So, in trying to avoid yet another awkward collision, I could see the process was going to be repeated, just another notch on the collision post. Well, she stops. Looks up at me. Goes "uheeeeeeeh!?"-think Tim Allen from Home Improvement. She abruptly turns around and starts to run her high heel boots and dress-with black tights (I'm serious when I say it's all the rage). Now, I keep walking because I am trying not to draw attention to the fact that I possibly scared some innocent 20something so badly that she had to run away from me. But then, she hops into the passenger seat of a car parked on the side of the road. So here in lies the part that is funny to me. Did she forget something? Well if that was true, she wouldn't have stayed in the car, right? She would have just opened the door and got what she needed and walked back to cross the intersection. Was she in a fight and quickly regretted getting out of the car? Nope, not tears. So, I am shamefully left to believe that she was going to part from her friend and cross the street, but something about running into me scared her so much, that she had to run as fast as she could a block and a half in heeled boots back to the car which she had just left. I used to think us Texans were lame with all of our waving and conversations with strangers about things you should never tell strangers, but at the current moment I miss that. However, I wouldn't be laughing my ass off right it's a toss up I suppose.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Taipei: The Views

I took so many shots of Taipei 101, I loved it. I am a sucker for big buildings. We also had the pleasure of witnessing some great views, thanks to our hosts. So, to conclude these Taipei posts, here are a few last photos. Hope you have enjoyed viewing our trip as much as we enjoyed taking it!

Taipei: The Food

First things first, everything we read about Taipei referred to Stinky Tofu. While we respectfully tried it, and even kinda liked it, there was so much more food that we also fell in love with. Everything was spicy, and we have not had the pleasure of too much food that makes you want to rip your tongue off in quite awhile. Treasure alone was the look on Brandon's face every time a new pork dish was delivered to him. Talk about someones heaven, Brandon's would involve pork, pork, and well, some kind of spicy pork. We both agree though, the most amazing thing that touched our lips were the dumplings. These dumplings were perfect, with a-brace yourself-pork soup center. Here are some of our most memorable dishes, be prepared for your mouth to water.

every part of the duck imaginable-Street Food at the Night Market

Stinky Tofu-Street Food at the Night Market

Brandon's debut as a Travel Food Host...whoomp, whoomp.

Then there were these other amazing things:

Sweet Tofu Pudding with Peanuts, Ginger, & Lotus Seed

Chicken with Red Peppers, Green Onion, & Cashews

Bubble Tea!!

Braised Pork, with Turnip Greens on the inside

Beef with Green Onion & Chinese Eggplant

Did we mention that we went to a German Brewery?!
And, the best dumplings. ever.

Pork Soup Dumpling, Shot over Chicken Soup

We ate 3 Dim Sum Baskets Full!

And that concludes the Taipei Food Section!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Taipei: The Sites

Around Taipei

Jao Ho Street Night Market

The National Palace Museum

Thursday, November 12, 2009

to taipei

Our first trip outside Japan! How amazing was it that we had to come to Taipei, the Capitol of Taiwan?! There is an elegance to this city that I have never experienced in an Aisan city. There is green everywhere and rows of palm tree's on every street. The buildings and skyscrapers-including Taipei 101, the world's tallest building until the Burj Dubai opens- show testament that the people decided they wanted to beautify their city. It's fairly clean but has the smells of side cart food booths, you still have to watch where you walk and be aware of drivers, but everyone looks you in the eye, not to mention there are shrines and temples all along the steets making a casual walk around the city colorful and spritual. While we are here for a business trip, we are getting to take in the city with wide eyes and excited hearts. We can't wait to share our experience with you, via a little place when we return!

Sunday, November 8, 2009


This post is dedicated to Libba Heptner. . .

Saturday, November 7, 2009

nice packaging

The packaging in Japan is out of control. Everything, even the cookies you buy at the market are presented with honor. It's quite amazing to see, and when you watch the salesperson wrap up your purchase with such care, like it was their own child, it makes you feel really great about buying things.

Here is a collection of photos to show you what we are talking about.

current happenings

The vodka, better known as shochu, comes in milk cartons. You've got to love that!

Our carton of "bottom shelf" shochu. Good stuff, but more importantly, lot's of stuff for Y980.