15 December 2010

Nakedness and Doctors..

Why is it that every time I have been to the Doctors over here... I've had to get naked?! o_O?? Why are Japanese so comfortable with revealing their goodies? Is it an asian thing? Is it because they're skinnier than the western world that they don't have body issues? Or is it because they were raised with the hot springs where they get naked anyway...

Whatever the reason, the Doctors now scare me. What used to be a pleasant experience with free lollies is now lollie-less appointment with me in my birthday suit and with at least two other people gawking at me. Every time I go in I never know what they might ask me to take off or what they want to examine! It's sooo embarrassingggggg >_< and they always tell me to relax and just get used to it, but I can't help thinking that if this were in New Zealand, I wouldn't have to strip down at all. And it's not even like I have any extreme kind of condition! It's like if they wanna check your pulse, you have to take your top off! Whyyyyyyyyyy!?

I guess Japanese just want to be really... thorough. 

01 December 2010

My New Ipu Heke!

It's here!!!

and my tiny Christmas tree ^_^

I have been organizing myself to buy an ipu heke for a couple of months now, and yesterday it finally came! All the way from California! I worked with a really nice lady from the thegourdconnection.com
and she was very helpful. She went down to Mexico to get a new batch of gourds and mine was one of them!

I wish I knew how to tie the rope like that


I got the 21.5 inch size which is perfect for me, and she also threw in a free braided rope.

It was a bit expensive, but so worth it. I love everything about it! The shape, it's character, the sound... 
The gourd itself was $170 USD which sounded good to me compared to other websites I had visited.

Anyway, I can't wait to use it and do some kahiko! 

25 November 2010

Hula Happyokai!

I know it's been a while... We've had no internet for a week now and only just managed to get it back up and running last night!

A few friends and I have been getting together every now and then to practice some hula! On Tuesday, we performed for some friends and family and had a really good time mixing and mingling afterwards. 

Following us were all the primary kids that did a Disney dance! So cute! They were all dressed up as Ariel and Tinkerbell ^_^

Anyways, here are some pics!









Fun!

15 November 2010

Numb Thumb??

Hey! Can anyone help me with this?

About 2 weeks ago, I went to school as usual. Nothing new, nothing old. When I was there, my nose got itchy and so I rubbed it with the side of my thumb. It was only then that I realized that my thumb felt funny. Kind of like steel covered in stocking material. Cold and smooth. It felt like it wasn't a part of my body anymore, like a prosthetic limb acting as my thumb.

After much pinching and prodding, I concluded that from the knuckle down, the thumb on my right hand was numb. Why? I have no idea! I just woke up that day and it was like that.

Oddly enough, when I looked online, there were a lot of other people that complained about the exact same thing! Numbness in the right thumb from the knuckle down. As if it wasn't weird enough already!

I thought it would have gone away by now but it looks like “Numb Thumb“ is here to stay.

Has anyone had this before? Can anyone tell me what this is?!

Save my thumb!! >___< lol

11 November 2010

Apple Sponge!

I was craving some real dessert the other night so I opted to make the classic Apple Sponge ^___^ I was kinda getting bored of the “Here's an ice-block for dessert“ thing.

For dessert in Japan, what I have found is that they usually eat light things, like fruit. I always thought it was strange when a single peach would be brought out of the fridge, with everyone crowding around watching it being peeled and sliced, and then divided amongst everyone, using toothpicks as the choice of utensil.
At first I thought, OK... maybe they didn't have time to make some real dessert or forgot about it or something.... But it wasn't until one time I was given about 10 grapes as dessert that I started to question what was really happening here. I was even more mortified when everyone started to peel their grapes and then eat them. Who does that?? No one I know in NZ does that. 

In New Zealand, when we say dessert we mean pudding and trifle and pavlova and ICE CREAM and custard and cream! The works! None of this healthy business! You can imagine my disappointment every time that peach comes out of the fridge when I'm visiting with friends.

Back to the sponge, this is exactly what I needed. I finished it off with some warm custard (Edmonds of course) and just about licked the bowl!




So quick and easy. Jun liked it. I liked it. Beats a slither of peach and peeled grapes any day.



Here's the recipe (taken from allrecipes.com.au):

Ingredients:
1 apple, peeled, cored and sliced in thin sections
90g butter
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 egg
1 cup (125g) self-raising flour
3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon sugar

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease a pie dish.
2. Heat the apples in the microwave until softened. Heat butter in microwave until softened.
3. Put butter and caster sugar in food processor and mix until light and fluffy. Add egg, flour and milk alternatively.
4. Place hot apples into pie dish and sprinkle 1 tablespoon of sugar over them, pour cake mixture over and bake on middle shelf in the oven for 30 - 40 minutes in pre-heated oven.
5. Serve with vanilla ice cream or custard.

09 November 2010

Morning Madness!!

O h . . .  M y . . .  G o s h h h h . . .
The rush hour in Japan is soooo crazy!! If you think the rush hour in New Zealand is bad.. wait until you catch the Chuo trains in Tokyo -_-

This morning started off the same. I woke up, got dressed, and rode my bike to the station. As the train pulled up and the doors opened, a sea of faces stared back at me. A thousand beady eyes plastered on sleep deprived faces. What is usually a partially filled train at 7:30am was now a jam packed train, all filled with Japanese, and then me. It was like the deal with the clowns and the car, except on a much larger scale. All of the population of Niue was on that train. Well, maybe half. The train that is.


I stared at the wall of people in front of me and then glanced behind me to assess the damage, and possible pain, that I was about to inflict on myself. It was obvious that there wasn't enough room for the large group of people waiting behind me. Yet everyone stood unfazed, all baring arms and waiting to battle their way through that, apparently penetrable, wall. The concept of personal space does not apply to Japanese.

The air was hot inside and clung to my body as I squeezed and squirmed my way onto the train. I twisted and turned trying to find a pocket of space for me to move. I managed to secure a small spot right by the door. If you've been in Japan long enough, you know that this spot is like the blind spot to the crushing sea of people that board the train at every stop. If you stand here, the people seem to glance off you without you having to budge an inch. So I secure my position and arm myself with a bottle of lavender oil to sniff to calm my motion sickness and mild claustrophobia. Not a good day to have these ailments.

Stop after stop, more and more people cram onto the train without hesitation whether they're young, old, male, or female. And more and more, my little bubble of sanctuary keeps being invaded by elbows and knees. Speaking of knees, I stopped feeling mine about 5 minutes ago. I literally could not breathe being so cramped up like that. I don't know how Japanese can do this every day! My bag was wedged between one mans back and another mans chest, my legs were tangled around other legs, my right arm was stuck above my head while my left arm was squashed against the wall behind me. If you froze this moment and took all the people away to look at the position I was in, it would have looked something like this:
Johnny Bravo is the man
The windows were dripping with condensation, the people around me were all sweating, I was sweating, it was sooo gross! At one point as the doors opened again, I saw a few people literally fall out and land on their hands and knees! That is how insanely packed it was!

Of course, the trains aren't always like this. Something went wrong with the traffic lights which caused a build up of people and delayed the trains. This meant more people on less trains.To cut a long story short, what should have taken 40 minutes, took an hour and 20 minutes to get to work.

If commuting to work everyday means riding the train from hell with Hades as the driver... than I quit! Either that, or it's time to learn how to drive ^_^

Check this out: Japanese Rush Hour




05 November 2010

The BIG 24!! O_O

My birthday crept up on me again this year. 
Before I even had a chance to fully accept that I was crossing the border line from YOUNG to have-some-babies-already!!-OLD (sorry to all my elders out there ^^), I dragged my feet over to the dark side. To me, 23 is the cut off age for claiming youth. From there on up you only gain more weight and loose more hair. Having said that, I turned 24 on November 3rd.   
Jun's craftsmanship
The week started off with receiving packages from my parents back in New Zealand! From my Pup, I got 2 pairs of shoes (which I desperately needed, as Japan has no Polynesian sizes apparently... but thats a whole other blog), and some NZ chocolate! I loved the shoes and dug into the choco stash straight away.
From Mum I got a a "Sweet As" art panel which I LOVE and a Pandora's Box bracelet charm! THANK YOU!! ^_^
Mum... why did you write Daniel? lol




On the actual day of my birthday, I woke up to a confused husband, fumbling around in the kitchen, apparently trying to bake me a cake. After a lot of effort, but not much success, we decided to got to Harajuku for some butter chicken and shopping instead! 

Soooo packed!!


After that, we went to Shinjuku to look for my present from Jun which was a brand spanking new MACBOOK PRO!! OMG!! It's so pretty! I love it ^___^


For dinner, we met up with Chieko, Tomo, and Shun at a fancy Japanese restaurant. The place was really nice but was way too expensive for the portions they gave us. I think it's safe to say that we all walked out starving.




Then we went to Karaoke! I hadn't been in so long so it was a very much anticipated trip. I sung my usual fav's along with some newies. Tomo and Chieko did a duet which was fun, Shun sung the types of songs Shun always sings (I missed his singing so much!), and Jun stuck to his B'z! I kept on telling Jun and Shun that it didn't feel the same singing News and Utada without Ric -_-.


video 


After karaoke, we went to grab some ramen coz we were still hungry!


This whole week has just been awesome. People from work and church, and heaps of others, have practically been stuffing presents and cards into my arms!

I guess being 24 isn't so bad after all ^_^

31 October 2010

Halloween and Finger Cookies

Last night we had our ward Halloween party! Every year, I am always amazed at how confident full grown men can be while wearing spandex and speedos...

Ghosts, ghouls, and gremlins all came floating into the hall waiting for the party to start. The walls and the roof were all decorated with floating pumpkins and black bats. Eyeball muffins, bubbling cauldrons of drink, and, surprisingly, hayashi rice were arranged neatly on the tables.

Eyeball Muffins
Waiting to eat!
Bubbling cauldrons

I was asked to make the finger cookies. I had never made these before but was saved when I found an awesome recipe online for witches fingers with almonds for nails. What started off as long, bony witch fingers, soon turned into fat ogre toes!! They looked more like slugs with beaks. The baking powder made them rise twice their original size. They looked absolutely disgusting, which I think was the whole point. The good news is that they tasted really good!
Witchy fingers!
FAT OGRE TOES!!
They were a hit! Well, at least with the adults. I got a lot of "Uuuuuwaaaaa O_O" comments and "They look so real o_O!" comments. I don't even think the kids knew what they were looking at!

Jun and I
Super Mario!
The missionaries getting into the spirit!
Abandoned baby!! Jk, just sleeping ^^
After everyone had eaten and had played the games, we gathered back in the main room to hit some piñatas! Everyone had a turn at whacking and thrashing poor old Jack O' Lantern and Mr. Skull head. It took us quite a while to crack them open. About 30 minutes! I quietly thought to myself that in New Zealand, it would had taken about 5 ^_^.


Hope that you all had a happy Halloween!

29 October 2010

The Japanese Song Fest Experience!

Instead of going to school today to learn our ABC's, we took a trip down to the Shinjuku Culture Center and had the school's annual song fest! Or in their own words, Gassho Konkuuru!

It's a shame I couldn't take any pictures or tape any of it because it was so fun to see the kids all excited and motivated (for once!).

For four hours, the concert hall was filled with the sound of adolescent voices and the slight chatter of a few restless students. During each performance, I couldn't help but notice that each conductor had their own unique style of conducting. Which is to say that they all basically did the arm flail in different ways. Rocking back and forth from side to side with arms wildly stretched out and across them in furious and rhythmic motions. Shoulders jutting up and down, arms flying around as if trying to evade a swarm of bees. Either that, or trying to actually fly themselves. It was quite a spectacle. 


The inner musician/critic in me couldn't help but wince every now and then when some groups would belt out drones of notes, all out of tune. Sometimes they would hold these notes so long as if to challenge the pianist to change the key and follow their lead! But of course this doesn't happen and the rest of the song becomes a musical tug of war between the choir and the piano, while the conductor continues on with his version of the arm flail. 

This isn't my school btw. Just giving an idea!

On my right, half of the 3rd year students were sleeping, while the rest of them were either whispering to each other or trying to get my attention. Earlier, one of the boys came up to the teachers beside me, pointed at me and exclaimed "Ore no Gyarufurendo!!" which can only be translated as "My girlfriend!!" Then he winked at me and said "Come on, baby;)" LOL! I'd love to know which of his former English teachers taught him that.

Don't get me wrong. The whole event was lovely and the kids singing for the most part was impressive ^_^.

When the winners were announced the whole house came down and everyone started crying as Japanese do. Some tears of joy and some of disappointment. 

Overall, it was a really good experience. Quite different to how we do it back home, but very enjoyable. ^^

Okonomiyaki

I made okonomiyaki the other night and was quite suprized with the result! Every time I attempt to make this dish I always screw it up. You would think after the 5th time I would have gotten it by now, considering how simple it is. But alas, it was on the 6th time that my brain started to function again.

The trick to making it is getting the right consistency. You need to add just the right amount of flour and water (or special okonomiyaki powder and dashi stock) to get the right consistency. If you don't get that right it's either gonna be too runny and won't set right in the pan, or too solid and hard to eat. The beauty about this dish is that you can basically add what ever you like to the batter. I love it with beef and extra eggs to make it soft and fluffy ^_^



If you wanna learn how to make it, here's a good tutorial and recipe:
http://www.youtube.com/user/cookingwithdog?blend=1&ob=4#p/search/2/PeUHy0A1GF0

You don't have to add all those things mentioned in the link, the main ingredients are flour, water, cabbage, egg, and some thinly sliced meat.

Once you get the batter down, the next obstacle is flipping the thing!! That might take some practice, or two spatulas in either hand.

Anyways, if you feel like some easy Japanese cooking, try okonomiyakiiiiii! Top with mayo and bbq sauce (if you don't have okonomiyaki sauce).

Bubye ^_^

28 October 2010

Ohhh, the Things You Learn at School...

For those of you that don't know, I teach English in Japan at a middle school. Today was the school's 10th anniversary and to celebrate, we all froze our neenee's off together as we sat in the refrigerated gym. Whoever came up with that idea deserves a plate of whipped cream to the face.

So we sat there formally and bowed at the appropriate times when guests names were mentioned, which in this case was about 200 times. Some kids were so rigorous when bowing that they became perfectly parallel with the floor each time. Rigid right angles, as if the dust swirling beneath them became the most fascinating form of atoms on the planet. Then we heard from a bunch of people, all in Japanese by the way which I don't understand. This did not help with my concentration. 

All of that was fine and dandy, despite the tiny icicles forming under my nose, chin, and elbows. But once the certificates were given out and all the songs were sung (and after sitting in the meat locker for two hours), a lady spoke to us about whales and dolphins, of all topics. If it wasn't for the big slideshow behind her, I wouldn't have had a clue as to what she was going on about.

Now, I'm sure that there was some logical reason for speaking about water mammals, some kind of motivational "You can achieve!!"-type message... but as I was watching the video presentation of a dolphin giving birth while doing somersaults and pirouette's in the water with all the grace of an aquatic ballerina, and while baby dolphin oozed out of her womanly dolphin... parts, all that was going through my mind was "What... the... ffffffeotus??" I mean, who plays home videos of animals in the wild giving birth at a middle school's 10 year anniversary assembly??? Seriously???



The lady must have seen the bewildered look on my face because she rewound the tape and played it back to us again. Geez. 

27 October 2010

Asian Tim Tam's???

I found a new flavour of Tim Tams today, "Choco Strawberry," which I have never seen or heard of anywhere before. So naturally I bought them to try them out. At 298円 it was pretty reasonable compared to other places that sell them for 600円 a pack!


At first glance, both the packet and the flavour neither looked or sounded appealing. But who knows? I might end up being suprized. I open the packet, expecting the usual goodness, and instead find a disappointing row of partially melted Tim Tams coated in a sad layer of dark chocolate. So far, not impressed.


I pick one up and bite into...


...a crusty and very dry excuse for a Tim Tam.

I check the back of the packet to see where it was made... and I'm sorry to report, that yes, all my Indonesian friends (and family), Indonesia is the culprit! I take a closer at the packet and learn that it was developed especially for the South East Asia market. Maybe the humidity in that part of the world makes the Tim Tam's swell with moisture, in turn making them delicious? But in Tokyo, this is just not the case.  I wipe my fingers on a napkin, and stick the rest of the packet in the fridge.

South East Asian Tim Tam's anyone?