Sunday, November 27, 2011

2nd Annual Oki-Family Thanksgiving Party!

I hosted Thanksgiving at my aparment again this year, but waited until the weekend so it was a bit belated.

Since I'd already gone through the process last year, it was much easier this time around. I also had my
amazing friend Sarra at my apartment helping me with all the prep, and she really knows how to get it done.  Thank you again, Sarra!

Here are a few photos of prep and one or two from the party itself: 
Sarra and I made this apple pie together.

And I made a mini pie from the leftover ingredients (and painted my nails to look like a turkey).

I rearranged the furniture and set up this long table again.
This detail makes Thanksgiving so much more special and family-like, I think. 
Table detail. :D
My bedroom became a Christmasy seating area.

The centerpiece.

Some of my favorite little friends came, and made it much more family-like. So cute.

And Baby Dion was the clencher. Such a little angel.
Don't you just love his face?
I didn't take as many photos on my camera, because I kept grabbing Sarra's instead (they are very similar ;)) but hopefully I will be able to share more soon.

All in all, it was a wonderful evening. Especially when everyone got up and pitched in for clean-up. Amazing. Wonderful. Miraculous. 24 hours later and it's almost like nothing happened. Success!

I owe a huge thanks to Sarra, of course, and also to Kazuno who helped me all throughout the planning process and who single-handedly prepared the delicious turkey, while taking care of her 3 month old baby! I don't know how you do it, lady, but you are a supermom. :)

Happy Belated Thanksgiving, everyone!

Monday, November 21, 2011

I've been gone a long time. I've meant to blog plenty of times, it's just... I'm obsessed.

I'm a little embarassed to tell you what I'm obsessed with, because it's one of the most vain, trivial obsessions that I can imagine, but there's no sense lying to you, or myself. I have to come to terms with this addiction if I am ever going to beat it.

I love nailpolish.

Now, before you write me off as a completely shallow human being, hear me out. For me, nailpolish is more than a vapid accessory, it's an artform. Think about it! Your fingernails are like tiny little canvases, and there are millions of colors and designs and techniques that you can use to make them absolutely, stunningly beautiful. When you are done, you don't just hang them on a wall or stick them in an album, you carry them with you everywhere you go! You see them everytime you wash your hands or point to the chalkboard or type on the keyboard (I type while staring at my prettily painted nails), and they have the power to completely change your mood.

Convinced? Maybe some pictures would help.

True Blood Nails
Sesame Street Toes

Sushi Nails

Newspaper Nails
Wicked Nails

See? It's not all pink polish and daisies in the nail art world. The only limit is your imagination and your nail polish supply (and mine is getting pretty limitless).

Anyhow, the real point of this post is to tell you about my (long gone) Halloween Nail Party! Since my little hobby has become known here, a few people asked me to do their holiday nails, and I decided to make a party of it!


After seven hours, I'd painted only five sets of nails, but made five ladies very happy!

You can see all my nail designs (and some other things) on my Tumblr blog here.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Quick Hi

It's been awhile, I know, and I am working on a blog, but in the meantime I just had to share this lilttle gem with you. :) My students' status update after our class today. 
Today's Halloween party was so awesome!;)
I had really good time ;)
Our ALT made a pumpkin cookie!!
The taste was Sooooo great!!
I hate pumpkin though :)
But actually I really want to eat!!
 I really love my job.  

Also, hi! :) Thanks for reading.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Getting Old & A Baby Shower

I'm getting old, now. 
I know, because I just had a birthday. It's not the number of candles that brought this fact home (24 is not such an impressive number) but the way I felt about it.  Every year I celebrate with gusto at least two or three times and make sure everyone knows about it. This year, however, it didn't seem that important. Sure, I had dinner with friends and a joint party on the weekend, and I had a lot of fun and felt very happy, but I just didn't feel like the "my" next to "birthday" was all that meaningful. Does that make sense?

The most important thing is always cake.  Especially when it's a blueberry cheesecake made by Kazuno!!
Like I said, I had a fantastic time, and I am so thankful that I have such awesome friends to celebrate with, it was just different. Better, in a way. Older. 
Or maybe just sleepier. 

I also know I am getting older because of facebook. I'd just started getting used to see wedding after friends' wedding on my newsfeed, when all of a sudden it's babies

Now, I LOVE babies. If you don't know that about me... well, you probably don't know me. So, this new online development gives me hours of oooooing and aaahing happiness, but it also makes me a little sad. My friends are having babies while I am on the other side of the world! Shouldn't they wait until I am there to hold their newborns?? 
Stephen and Corissa--I'm talking to you! I wanna meet your little girl!  :) 

Not all the babies are thousands of miles away, though! Luckily, my friend Kazuno and her husband Dameon just had a little one of their own! 
Meet Dion. 
Talk about CUTE!! 

When I found out that baby showers aren't very common in Japan, I decided that I would plan one for them! Unfortunately, I decided that a little late, and the shower had to be rescheduled when little Dion came early. :) I happily made a trip to the hospital to meet the little guy in lieu of having a party that weekend, and we rescheduled for this past weekend instead. 

Baby shower time! 

Since Kazuno is a cool surfer chick, and since it's summer in Okinawa (still), I went with a beach/ocean theme. 
Naturally, I had to have cupcakes to match.

 See the surfer?
 I even made a special "manly" cupcake for the new dad, Dameon. 

What's a baby shower without a little blood and gore?
 There was other food, too, of course. :) I had a lot of fun cooking for this party. I made baked mac & cheese, fancy crackers, grilled pepper quesedillas, and an apple vinagerette salad with roasted walnuts and bacon garnish.


 I learned an important lesson, though. Breast-feeding mommies shouldn't eat a lot of sweets or junk food. Oops! Kazuno was happy for an excuse to eat all the food that she'd been resisting, but I felt bad. Next baby, I will make sure to cook only healthy dishes, I promise!

Here are the new parents. No wonder they had such a darling baby. :)

My gift: a diaper cake. 

During the shower, we played three games. The first was a baby shower staple: "Don't Say Baby."
 I made enough origami diapers for each of the guests and attached some safety pins. If anyone said "baby" during the shower, someone else could take their pins. The person with the most pins won a prize. 
Winner in the middle. 
My awesome friends Sarra was a natural and she caught EVERYONE saying it (especially me). She also won the second game, which was to guess how many gold fish were in a jar. Two prizes, Sarra??  :) 

At least she didn't win the third game: The Baby (oops! lost a pin) Belly Game

The object of the game was to stuff the most balloons in your shirt. :) 
 Max won this one. He'd make an awful busty and lumpy pregnant woman, don't you think? 

Overall, I think the party was a success but the main attraction, of course, was baby Dion. :) 

 I am so glad the shower was delayed a few weeks. I think having the little guy there was the best part. :) 

Thursday, September 1, 2011


Infatuated, addicted, bewitched, engrossed, Android.

True love.

It's happened. When I borrowed Julie's iPhone in Taiwan, I knew it was only a matter of time before I would seek my teeth into my own delicious smartphone. My cell contract expired last month, and my opportunity finally arrived. Sold.

Javier is addicted, too.

I decided to stay with my current cell company (AU) and use the re-contracting bonus to lower the price of the phone, and they only stock Androids, not iPhones. But I love it. I will never, ever look back. This little chunk of technology has changed my life.

Let me count the ways:

1. Radio. The app TuneIn Radio let's me listen to just about any station I could desire. I've been tuning into Seattle's STAR 101.5, plugging the android into my car stereo, and pretending that I never left. It makes me happy. And a little sad.

2. Reading. The Kindle app is brilliant. No need to pan out an extra hundred bucks for a kindle when I can read all the books I want right on my phone! I just devoured the free ebook "Treasure Island" and then bought a Murakami book I hadn't read yet (Sputnik Sweetheart) and am more than halfway done already. I still love to hold a book in my hand, store it on my bookshelf... but you can't beat the convenience of an ebook.

3. Sleeping. I'm using the free trial of "Sleep as an Droid" and love it so far. It tracks my movement when I am sleeping to determine when I am in deep and light sleep, then wakes me without a certain time window when I seem to be moving the most and wake me from light sleep instead of deep sleep. I don't know if it really works or is just mental, but I wake up earlier and immediately feel more alert.  *It also records my sleep talking, which is just plain entertaining.*

4. Lists! I do love my lists, and between the OI Shopping and Taskos Apps, I can plan away to my heart's content. I love crossing things off lists, even digitally! And this way I always have my lists with me; no more forgetting them on the fridge!

Thanks for letting me get that out. This is just a very short list of all the apps I love, but I hate to bore you more than I already have.  :)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Obon Weekend

The Obon holidays were this last weekend, and, as usual, I had a fantastic time (if you don't know what the heck I'm talking about, you can read my blogs about it here).

I am fairly certain these are the BEST days out of the whole Okinawa year, and while many people take advantage of the three-day-weekend to travel, there's nowhere else I'd rather be.

This is what Obon looked like for me this year:

Friday: Asato Matsuri
The festivities started on friday so I donned my new yukata (summer kimono), and walked up the road the the next neighborhood to enjoy their festival.

Javier came, too! 
Eisa dancing. Isn't he cuuute??
Here you can see my yukata. 
They even had a tiny fireworks show at the end. :D
Saturday: Hanashiro Matsuri 
For me, Saturday is the main event. I love, love, love my neighborhood's festival. It's one of my first and best memories of Okinawa, and the local grandmas always feel like a part of the community. It's just so much fun!

Posing with my self-proclaimed "Okinawan Parents," 

and the little neighbor girl. :) 

Dancing with my grannies. :)
Javier danced, too!! 

I tried to get a good picture of my Obi (the yellow bow/belt) because I tied it by myself for the first time.
This was QUITE the accomplishment. :) 

One last dance to end the night. 

Sunday: Family Dinner
For the locals, however, Sunday is the most important day of Obon. On this day, Okinawan people gather together at their family homes to share a dinner together and bid their ancestors (whose ghosts have been visiting for the weekend) farewell. I did get to experience this dinner my first year with a teacher's family, but didn't have the opportunity this year.

Monday: Shishimai 
After the ancestors have returned to their homes in the sea, some communities have one last Obon event: the Shishimai. I wrote about it more in-depth last year, and you can read that blog here.

Shishimai means "lion dance," and while the lion (or shisa) certainly does dance, I think of it as more of a parade, because it also marches all around the neighborhood as people follow behind. The main purpose of this tradition is to usher out any negative spirits that may have remained after the ancestors' departure.

One thing I love is the way the shisa is able to express so much character and emotion because of how the people inside move around and open or close the mouth.

If you look in the shisa's mouth, you can see that the man inside is having a pretty good time, too
(probably because I nearly fell over when he came charging at me). 

Of course, I love how the shisa chows down on little kids and babies to bring them good luck...

but I also love how the shisa seems to respect the elderly members of the community and dances with all the grandmas.

On that note, I love how the grandmas here really love dancing. At the end of the parade, they have yet another dance party, and they once again force me to join in. :) Not that I'm complaining.
They even form a rockin'-grandma dance circle! 
And get the little guys to dance along, too. 
My favorite interaction of the day was between this toddler and the shisa. He seemed pretty fearless standing up to the big lion, until the lion came at him with his mouth wide open:
gif animator
Then he was like, "Time to GTFO!"
Also, please note the anpanman on his hiney. Ha!
(If the embedding doesn't work, you can see it here)

As you can see, I had a really amazing weekend. I hope this isn't my last year in Japan, because I'd love to do it all over again next year.