Saturday, January 7, 2012

January

January 6, 2012

I went for a 10.6 mile bike ride today. The day was absolutely gorgeous - blue sky, puffy white clouds, green pine trees. It was even a short-sleeved kind of a day for biking. For me, it was a new route, so Mom went along in the car. It was funny to think about Hokkaido being buried in snow as I was cruising along in my short sleeves. Especially since my area has been having unusually heavy snow this year.

For breakfast and lunch, I visited the same restaurant, just with 2 different people - a dear friend and a dear mother. Everything was tasty, and the restaurant seemed to have a shift change, so that was beneficial for me.

Looking forward to the weekend! Tomorrow's high looks like it will be 71. :-)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Today’s Happy Picture

January 5, 2012

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While biking today, I came across a fire hydrant set back in the woods. It made me smile, and so I am sharing it with you.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Hansen’s Strawberry Lemonade Review

January 4, 2012

Today, I decided to foray into the world of product reviews (actually, I just couldn’t think of anything else I wanted to write about).

On my trek through Wal-Mart yesterday, I located an interesting strawberry lemonade drink mix. I cannot tell a lie…I love sweet and fruity things to drink like lemonade, but I don’t love the calories. There are several Crystal Light drinks I like, but they have aspartame in them – and aspartame is my least favorite sweetener. CIMG5098

Well, sometime in 2011, several drinks mixes sweetened with Stevia hit the market. My brother sent me some in Japan, and they were really delicious. Yesterday, I bought the Hansen’s one, which I hadn’t tried before.

Tonight, I tried it, and I liked it! I’d have to give it a B for flavor, but it gets bonus points for not being sweetened with aspartame.

OK, that’s all! Good night!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Yum!

January 3, 2012

Recently, I downloaded a book of really natural recipes – most of them are grain free, many are dairy free. Today, I was surprised to discover that at least two of the recipes are in no way flavor-free!

I braved the wilds of Wal-Mart today. My goal was to stock up on US items I like to take back to Japan with me, and to do some shopping for the family. After trudging past acres and acres of shelves, diligently searching for my targets, I finally completed my list as much as I could.

By the time I got home, I was hungry for lunch. It was 2:30 in the afternoon (guess that’s why). So, I decided to try a recipe from my book. CIMG5085The original recipe was called Coconut Soup with Curried Shrimp (or something to that effect). But I substituted chicken instead, because we had it in the house. And no curry, because we didn’t have that. The recipe called for half a cup of spinach, which turned the soup a brilliant green.

In family lore, my mother is famous for her Cream of Green soup. When I was a toddler, our family was given a large amount of home-grown green beans. Mom used to freeze all kinds of things to use for soup, and so the green beans made their way into a soup. Apparently, it was mostly green beans, and was dubbed Cream of Green. Although I was too little to remember it, I heard of Cream of Green many times as I was growing up. So, to look in my pot and see a bright green soup for me was like reliving history!

But let me tell you, that stuff was good! And so simple – it came together in just a few minutes.

Tonight, we had another recipe from the book – Breakfast Burritos. I was slightly worried about how it was going to turn out. This is because the wrap part was made solely from egg. I had never tried making an egg crepe before, so I really had no idea what was going to happen. Well, this happened:

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They actually tasted and looked pretty good. I was pleasantly surprised. The family all seemed to enjoy them. Inside, we had chicken, peppers, onions, olives, avocado, and some of us had sour cream and salsa (not in the original recipe).

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Overall, I’d like to make both of these recipes again. The egg crepes made me a little nervous, but as long as they got some TLC and didn’t get forgotten, they came out just fine.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Shrimp

January 2, 2012

One reason I’m glad it is 2012? All last year, I typed and wrote 2001. Sigh.

Today, we went to Red Lobster. Although I can pretty much get whatever seafood I want in Japan, I have definitely missed Red Lobster’s cheddar biscuits and shrimp scampi. I make my own shrimp scampi sometimes, but it definitely has a different flavor. And one time I tried a healthified recipe for cheddar biscuits made with coconut flour. I do not recommend that. I really do not recommend that.

Here’s a difference between the majority of Japanese sit down restaurants I have visited and American sit down restaurants: In Japan, you usually press a button when you need a server. Sometimes, you have to call for them. I’m not a big fan of calling, because that would be pretty impolite in American restaurants. Sometimes, I use my laser stare at the back of their heads, and when they turn around, I deliver my best “help me” look. Works pretty well. But I do love the button system.

But, we had a wonderful server today, and I thoroughly enjoyed free refills of raspberry lemonade. Yum!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year!

January 1, 2012 (my blog time is still set for Japan)

I have so much to be thankful this year. Oh, wait, wrong holiday…this is the resolution holiday. Well, never mind that, I still have a lot to be thankful for now! First, I am typing this on my very own computer, purchased today! I’m super thankful to have a brother who likes computers and works in IT.CIMG5065

Here it is, in its very own box of joy! It was so much fun to open and start up. I am having a great time getting to know my new electronic buddy.

I’m especially thankful to be enjoying time with my family back in the homeland. It’s so wonderful to be able to spend face to face time with my loved ones. It’s also fun to be able to talk to any random stranger! But I noticed one really weird and totally unrelated thing when I was at the grocery store. The produce shrank! The fruit is so much tinier than it is in Japan. That was pretty weird. It’s both odd and fun to experience the changes that have been happening while I’ve been away. This, for example:CIMG5060

Probably everyone in the United States has seen this except for me, but I was really surprised. Bread in the shape of Goldfish crackers! I find this hilarious. I also took a picture of the good old grape flavored apples to show my students. Even I think that grape flavored apples are a little odd. Well, a LOT odd.

But, of course, Japan has its own set of odd grocery store goodies. I’m thankful for grocery store goodies! Whether or not they are actually bought, they make shopping fun!

I’m also thankful for church! I considered taking a picture during the service, but decided against it.It was so nice to be surrounded by a huge group of fellow believers in church this morning, lift our voices in worship, and hear a wonderful message about new beginnings in Christ. What a great way to bring in the new year.

Speaking of new beginnings, I’m also thankful for a new year! I love the freshness of a new year. Even though January 1 is just another day, I absolutely delight in the feeling that anything is possible in the new year.

Well, it’s just about time for me to join my parents in a game of Boggle. Heeheehee. I’m hoping that the fresh start of the new year will result in my winning a few games (I don’t usually win).

Happy 2012, everyone!!!