Sunday, December 14, 2008

Quilting Mania



The secret's out. I can finally post pictures of the two quilts I have been working on. I had help piecing and sewing on binding from my friend Wendy. These quilts are for two of the Young Women in our ward that are graduating from High School early. I will miss these girls. They are so much fun.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thanksgiving ... Japanese Style

A little holiday cheer!

"Older kids" table

"Younger" kids and the moms ate at the adjacent table.

On Thanksgiving day Ryan had to work so the boys and I went with our friends, the Treharnes and had Teppanyaki for lunch. It was a lot of fun. We then spent the rest of the day with them watching movies, playing games and drinking hot chocolate. Fun for all!! We had our actual TURKEY dinner on Saturday with a few families that live near us. Turkeys are expensive here, but at $45 they are still cheaper than the ones I used to buy in Holland for $100 each. I didn't have to cook the turkey this year -- I got to make pies and stuffing. The bad part is we didn't have enough leftovers for the post Turkey day meal.

Fuchu Daichi

Nathan reading the closing statement. Another student translated it into Japanese

Nathan and his Buddy

The 4th graders at ASIJ recently had the opportunity to "host" a neighboring Japanese school. Each student got a "buddy" from the other school. Nate was a little nervous because of his inability to speak Japanese. I told him just make hand motions. haha I went in to watch the special program that they put on for the school. All of the ASIJ kids did a program about Thanksgiving. Then they made crafts in the classroom with their buddy and ate lunch together. All in all I think it was a fun day. Nathan's class will get to visit Fuchu Daichi in February.

Challah Bread

My new friend Daphna taught a group of us how to make Challah bread. She is from Israel. It was a lot of fun and interesting to hear about her life at "home." She also made us homemade soup and a salad. The bread was delicious. Daphna had in mind for all of us to take home a half loaf. We all laughed as it came out of the oven because it smelled so good. Needless to say each of us took about a roll size piece home!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Feeling Lucky!

I'm just a sucker for blog giveaways! I am sure that one day I will win. I can't really remember how I ever came across Camille Roskelley's blog but she designs the most darling quilts. I have seen them displayed at the Quilt Shop at Gardner Village. Anyway, she is having a give-a-way over at her blog so I am now entered to win. Heather you should go check it out! It would be almost as fun if you win!! wink wink

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Dirty Dish Store

I have been looking forward to this day since the first week we arrived. I heard about the Dirty Dish store and knew it was my kind of store. It is a big warehouse full of odds and ends. I was filthy by the time we left. Everything in the store is already pretty cheap but you get to subtract 40% of the total. I got some new plain every day dishes and then some odds and ends to serve with.

Don't look too closely there could be gifts in these photos! hmmm
The square ones above were less than $2 each. The small blue sushi plates were less than $1. The only bargains to be found in Tokyo.

I LOVE these dishes with the sakura (cherry blossoms.) I got some "dessert" plates and a couple of serving dishes.

The happy shoppers at Sizzler. Yes, that is me leaning back so my face isn't in the picture. What a great day!!

More funny things around town...

My friends and I really had a hard time obeying this sign!!

A special place for dogs to wait while you do your shopping. There was also a small drinking fountain for dogs only.

Nathan's Halloween Party at School

Nathan's Teacher, Mrs. Takeuchi and her son. The little giraffe. He was so cute!

A really "brave" boy or should I say Michael Phelps

Nathan, the non-costume loving boy!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Halloween -- Yoyogi style. . .

We went to a friend's house to celebrate Halloween. We heard that their street was the place to be. There were crowds like this for a good two and half hours. It was amazing. We saw dogs in costumes, thousands of kids and gave out tons of candy. Nathan and his friend tried to go trick-or-treating but the crowds were so dense that they gave up and handed out candy for the rest of the night.

Little girls like Princess costumes wherever you go. So cute.

There was a good old fashioned Halloween party at the school too. Not a Fall Festival or a Autumnal Equinox Gathering but an actual Halloween Party. All of the teachers dressed up. Most of them with themes through the grades. Games throughout the school that the kids could run wild through. Not a lot of structure and tons of candy. They had the traditional parade to start out the events. I don't think that Nathan had nearly as much fun as I did.

On a side note -- there is now another scratch on the rental van. Not of my doing!!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Stuff . . .

I haven't written anything for a while because it doesn't seem like I have much news. Since this is supposed to be a journal of sorts I probably should make note of the mundane as well as the exciting!!

There are a few COSTCOs in and around the Tokyo area. I decided on Friday to go to a different one (since the last one was an all day outing!) Full of confidence I looked up the address and phone number and input the number into my "Navi". Not being able to understand Japanese or read it I think it told me that the number wasn't available. No problem I thought as there is an option for the post code. I figured it would be pretty obvious to me because there should be a COSTCO sign. Keep in mind that I have still only driven a handful of times. I packed up the cooler and headed out with my list in hand. The "navi" said it was only about 30km away. Anywhere but Tokyo that wouldn't take too much time. Still feeling confident I continued on my way.

The trouble with these GPS systems is that they are so good that they tell you which lane to get into and everything. The trouble is I have a hard time concentrating on the road and looking at the screen at the same time! Most of the highways in Japan are toll roads. Good old "navi" tells me which is automatic (for people that have a special ETC card the gates just swing open and they don't even have to stop) for the rest of us we have to pull up to the right window and pay.

As I pull up I realize that I am in the wrong lane. There is NO attendant to take my money. I look in the rear view and the cars are lining up behind me. UGH. First bad omen. The nice little attendant came running over from the other booth to take my money. I do know how to say sorry in Japanese so I kept repeating it. . . Why me??
The toll was 700 yen which is about $7. That is just one way and not the only toll. Crazy!!

Slightly shaken up I kept driving. Smooth sailing from there. Met up with a little bit of traffic once I was finally in the vicinity of COSTCO but all in all not bad. I was anticipating that pepperoni pizza slice and an icy diet Coke. Unfortunately "navi" pointed me into the center of town. No COSTCO sign anywhere. . . Any one who knows me knows that my sense of direction is not that great. hehe

Anyway to make a really long story short -- after driving around for FOUR hours I finally called the COSTCO and they gave me a different phone number to plug in. Lo and behold the store was located on the opposite side of the highway that I had been driving around. Frustrated and slightly grumpy I finally made it. Let's just say that I added a cinnamon churro to that pizza order!!!

The bright side to the story is that when you are lost in a city and driving around one does get a lot of good driving experience. I chalk it up to another driver's ed day!!

I also must admit that I was the first to scratch the van. Backing in to our driveway I hit the wall. According to my neighbors it is nothing that a little duct tape won't fix!! Glad all this experience is in the RENTAL van. Maybe by the time we get our REAL van I will have all the kinks worked out. Not to mention that our new "Navi" will be in ENGLISH!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I did it!

I got behind the wheel of our van. Then I turned it on and actually drove out of the driveway. Followed my neighbor (because we were going to the church.) Picked up my friend Memri on the way and actually got there without causing any physical harm. Memri was my co-pilot, telling me when I was too close the the "wrong" side of the road, etc... Her dad taught driver's ed so that means "genetically speaking" that I had an official driving instructor. wink wink

Talk about nerve racking. I found myself leaning over to the left (those of you who have seen me play video games know I get into it.) It took a lot of concentration but whew -- the first time is over. Now if only Ryan would just hit a curb or a pole before I do.


A new favorite restaurant. Tongkatsu is a pork cutlet breaded and deep fried. What's not to like? The experience is half the fun though. This restaurant is a family business. Grandpa does the deep frying and his sons (who look to be in their 50's/60's and the Japanese age well so that could mean they are 80) keep the place running. You walk in and are seated around the main area. There is no number system. They just remember the order that you came in. We sat for about a half an hour watching the whole thing. You can order the pork cutlet with or without lots of fat. Without please. It is served with a pile of cabbage and maybe lettuce some "blow smoke out your ears" hot mustard and a sauce. On the side: rice bowl, cucumbers and miso. Amazingly everybody ate it. I was a little worried about Ben because you just have to mention the word fat and he shies away.

The place was hoppin'. Pretty reasonable for Tokyo too.
***** rating in the Young guide to fine dining.

Just made me laugh...

People are paying some big bucks for good old American JUNK!

Where every teenager wants to go . . .

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Our soccer player

I mentioned that Nathan was playing soccer two days a week. He stays after on Mondays and Wednesdays. He gets home around 5:30. He loves it! (Notice the excitement in his face! -- he really does love it.) Here he is in all his gear.

Fish on a stick . . .

These were some of the tasty morsels that were available at the Hachiman shrine. See Ryan's blog post for better pictures and a little more information.
The bananas on a stick actually didn't look too bad. They would have been much better had they been frozen. There were all kinds of stalls with interesting food, crafts for kids and crazy things. My favorite was this one. . .
Ignore the guy in the lower right corner. I saw a group of girls with these mylar things. They also had long straws. I thought it was some new fangled juice bags that were HUGE. I stood and watched them for a few minutes and pretty soon the girls all had their straws in. They all inhaled and started talking like Donald Duck. They were selling Helium. It was hilarious!!

Costco. . .

Since we now have our driver's licenses and a rental van we decided to head out to Costco. It is "supposed" to be about an hour away. Two hours later we arrived. Did I mention that we were also testing out our Japanese Navigation system. It's all in Japanese. Ryan had one lesson so he thought he could input the data. Luckily we don't have to input addresses. Just zip codes or phone numbers. Apparently it is high tech enough that it can find your destination from that info. It did work but I think it was in "cheapest" route mode. You can pick fastest route, cheapest, etc. The freeways all have tolls, thus the cheapest route option. We paid only about 7.00 because then we were instructed to take frontage roads. 

Our quick trip turned into a 6.5 hour adventure. Ryan claims he is never doing that again. Hope that navi remembers so it can get me there!! They did sell the exact same stuff at the food court though so that was fun. Sometimes you just can't beat pepperoni pizza from Costco. Sad, I know. 

I was a little bored during the ride so I took a picture from the "passenger" side. Notice the wheel on the right. I have yet to test out my abilities. Wish me luck!

Shabu Shabu

I'm sorry that this is another food post but you have to see some of it to appreciate the whole experience. We went out to dinner with some new friends. They introduced us to Shabu Shabu.
Essentially  you boil the meat and vegetables in a pot of boiling water and then dip it in a couple of different sauces. It was yummy. The meat is just thin enough with not much fat so I like it. Ben on the other hand was gagging after the first bite. I'm afraid I have passed on some of my bizarre meat issues. . . We also had to stop at Wendy's for Nathan. Spence loved it enough to make up for his brother's lack of taste. It was all you can eat and boy did he eat!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I have a valid Driver's License . . .

Ryan took the morning off so that we could go and get our licenses. We were hoping it would be fairly easy. Because we are the proud owners of Dutch driver's licenses we were able to just trade them for a Japanese version. Thank goodness. Apparently taking the written test is fairly easy but the driving test is a nightmare! Since I don't do so well under pressure in my own country taking the test I was not excited about the prospects. Some of you may even remember that I failed the first time at 16. . .

Anyway after studying our US passports and Dutch driver's licenses the man decided that we were okay to drive. chuckle. Little does he know that I have never driven on the left side of the road before. oh well.

The office was in the "burbs" of Tokyo. It took us a minute to figure out what trains to ride, etc. . always an adventure. We made it out of the train station and then Ryan had instructions that he had downloaded that seriously went something like this. Walk out of station. Turn Left. Go straight. Continue walking. Watch for Red Arrow. Cross street. We found it.
This is the IMPOSING building.

As we were walking this is one of the funny signs I saw. Pretty obvious what it means. There are signs all over the city explaining various "rules."

Three hours later I got my license. Not as hard earned as some of my friends but I will take it!
If you notice the birth date in the upper right hand corner it says 42/6/28. That is my Imperial birth year. I was born in Showa 42. I just like the ring of Imperial Birth year. Although I don't really like the fact that it appears I am in my 60s.

After our exhausting day Ryan and I went to lunch at an Indian Restaurant near his work. He had been talking about the Nan bread so I had to try it out.
You can see from the picture that the Nan is HUGE. We each got one. They are not to be shared. It was hot and so good. There was a sign in the window of this restaurant that was interesting. It said BYOB and went on to explain (in English and Japanese) that due to religious reasons the owners would be happy to have you bring your own alcoholic beverages in but you would be served a disposable plastic cup to drink it out of.

I made my way home alone and got a kick out of the sign in the station.

After that fun experience with Nathan in the train smashed up against all those men I am wishing I would have found this pink car. No men allowed during certain "rush" hours.

Here are some random pictures of the furniture in the living room. Although I really love that chair holding the DVD player we are trying to figure out a new solution.

This is a close-up of the love-seat that was delivered the day our stuff was being packed up and shipped to Tokyo. The picture above it is something I just love. There was a furniture store in Nuenen that was going out of business. I just happened to wander in. Big mistake. I always find something when I am not looking for it. It is a ceiling tile (hand painted) from a 1908 building in Antwerp, Belgium.

We have Spencer's Back to School Night this evening. He is strangely excited for us to meet his physics teacher. I think he wants some validation that the man is a "freak" as he puts it.

Ben continues to tolerate school. His least favorite class is Math which of course gives him the most amount of homework. We love Fridays!!

Nathan started "after school" soccer yesterday and rode the late bus home alone. He has his mobile phone now so his confidence level has increased. Not that I could help him if he were to get lost but he could at least hear my voice. He gets home at 5:30 on Mondays and Wednesdays. Makes for a long day since they leave at 7:30. He loved it though!! I'll try to get a picture because he loves being "decked" out in his "football" gear. All matching of course!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Whew . . .

Where does time go? I have been accused of being a bad blogger. Yowza. One thing after another. I have been taking a few pictures so I will post them all today.

Descriptions are underneath photo. I hate when I go to a blog and can't figure out which picture goes with what description . . . haha

This is a picture of my lunch! Yum. All the grocery stores have rows of things like this. Some I have no clue as to what they contain but this didn't seem to have any "mystery" ingredients. I thought the noodles would be like Korean Chop Chae. The noodles are the same but this was cold and very tangy. It was good. The sushi was delicious.

This is a picture of Nathan and Ella. Ella is our upstairs neighbor. She and her brother Anthon, who is in the picture below, came to hang out for a while. Nathan just LOVES being the "older" one. He is so cute with them and loves to play with them. There isn't a day that goes by that he doesn't ask if he can go upstairs to see them. I don't always say yes but he always asks!!

We are on the escalator leading out of the subway. On our way to finally get cell phones. We had to go through a number of different processes to get them. First we had to have an alien card. That takes a few weeks. Second a bank account and finally money in the bank account!! The boys have been asking since we landed in Tokyo when they could get their phones. Finally the big day. We met Ryan at the Softbank store in Omotesando after work. We had heard that we should plan on a few hours. They weren't kidding. Two hours later after we had finally picked out phones and handed over our alien cards, passports, bank acct. info, blood type (just kidding) the girl behind the counter inputting all the data gets a really funny face. She asks Mr. Ryan for all of the information again. I look sideways at the boys -- just be patient soon you will have your phone. Poor girl inputs all of the info again and pushes a button and poof. She swears. Funny how even in Japanese I could tell what she was saying. Immediately as if by the push of a magic button, two managers and the main English speaking helper surround us. They tell us that their computer system shuts down at 9pm and they will have to finish the processing in the morning. Ugh. Not what anybody wanted to hear. The boys were so bummed. Anyway, next day I went back and sat down and waited. Pretty soon I get the bag with 4 phones but then I also got gift certificates to spend at local stores and we also got a Wii. Now we are hoping these things were because of the inconvenience and not because we got some really fancy phones!! We'll repost after we get the first bill!!

This last picture is of the poor girl who has to stand out in front of the store and "sing" talk her little Softbank speil (sp??) No written script she just chants for about 20 minutes straight.

In other news I have a new calling. I am in YWs over the MiaMaids. I love that age. There are only two of them. The laurels have 4 girls and the Beehives have about 9. They are meeting at our house this week. They wanted milkshakes and to watch the Office. Still working on how that can fit into Personal Progress!

Ryan had yesterday off as it was "Respect for the Aged" day. Gotta love that. We thought we would explore the area a little more. We headed out for a walk and ended up going all over the place. It was fun. Only bummer was that all the shops were closed, as they were showing their respect! The boys didn't think it was fair that he got the day off and they didn't. They only get the U.S. holidays and none of the Japanese ones. Exact opposite of school in Holland. They keep asking me when they get a break from school. Because school in Holland was more like year round they would have had a holiday coming up. They were really bummed to hear that Christmas is the next one of any significance. Although they do get a long weekend for Thanksgiving.

That's enough for one post. chat soon.