Saturday, July 30, 2011

Playing to Help

So I have a degree in music.  You would think that I might actually try to perform once in a while. 

But I don’t.  In fact, I avoid it. 

I am talking about solo piano performing here.  While in college, I never played an actual recital.  I did a lecture recital, which was great fun.  But I have never really loved performing solo.

So you might imagine my thrilled self when last month my Board of Education asked me to play for a charity concert.  It was for the earthquake victims and was the mayors idea.

How could I say no?

Fortunately I had plenty of practice time.  I also didn’t perform from memory.  That cut down on the nerves as well.

The performance was Saturday the 16th.  It went very well.  I was nervous, but I kept reminding myself that I was doing this to help people.  Which helped me.

It was a small concert, about 150-200 people came.  Including many of my students.  When I was done playing, one of my little tiny first grade boys walked up to me with a bouquet of flowers for me.  He was so cute!  Some of my adult English students also came with flowers for me.  

I was so surprised! And delighted.  I love flowers. 

I don’t know how much money was raised for the victims of the earthquake, but I certainly hope it was a success.  It felt really nice doing something to help.
Pin It!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Eating. It's what we do best.

Yes, we went bowling on our one-year wedding anniversary. But that’s not all we did.

We ate. A lot.

For breakfast, I made this.  A new take on huevos rancheros.  I’m actually drooling a little bit right now just thinking about them.

 I didn’t follow the recipe completely.   For the topping, I simply threw together a fresh salsa and fried some chorizo.

We drank mimosas too.  Because that is what you drink when you celebrate in the morning.


For dinner, it was homemade pizza.  Karl’s parents sent us a package of pepperoni so, clearly, we had to make pizza. 

I made the crust from scratch.  We used a tomato basil sauce.  Then piled on the cheese and pepperoni.

Really healthy.  Just kidding.  At least the crust was made with whole wheat flour.

It was delicious.
Pin It!


We could have gone to Tokyo.
We could have eaten out at a fancy restaurant.
We could have done any number of things.

But we went bowling.  Why? 

Because we went bowling on our wedding day.

 On our wedding day, after the ceremony, eating, drinking, dancing and celebrating, we had an after party.  At a bowling alley.  

 It was a blast.

The local bowling alley in Ogawa Machi is a mere ten-minute walk from our apartment. 

I am not good at bowling.  Karl is pretty good.  He had lots of strikes and scored higher than 120.  Which won him a box of cookies.  Yay!

Bowling in Japan is fun.  You fill out a little piece of paper with your information.  The worker assigns you a lane and then enters your information on the monitor.  Easy.  If you want to play multiple games, you simply press the appropriate button on the screen to continue.

When you are finished, press another button and go to the counter to pay for the number of games you played.  You are also given a sheet of paper showing the exact details of your game.  Which pins you missed, etc.

There was a little old Japanese couple bowling in the lane next to us.  They were adorable.  And they were kicking our butts.  They took this picture for us. 

This first year of marriage has flown by.  We are looking forward to the years ahead.  Hopefully they will all be as wonderful as this first year.

Sans a gigantic earthquake.
Pin It!


I miss baking. 

It’s just too hot now.  We are trying to subsist on salad and sandwiches and anything that doesn’t require cooking or baking.

But in order to make sandwiches, you need to have bread.  Sure.  We could buy bread.  But finding delicious whole wheat or whole wheat bread here is next to impossible. 

And we like whole wheat bread.

So sometimes, I turn that AC on and bake.  In the name of bread.

Pin It!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Sometimes I wish it were winter year round.  Why? 

I love soup.  I love hot, hearty delicious soup.

But let’s be real people: who actually wants to eat, let alone cook, hot soup in HOT weather.

Not me.

Thankfully, I was able to make this soup just before the oppressive heat settled down for the summer. 

Carrot.  Ginger.  Apple.

 Delightful.  And healthy to boot!
Pin It!

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Straw Hat Cafe

There was such an amazing feeling of welcoming and warmth at the Straw Hat Café.  It’s no wonder there was a wait.  Fortunately, we only had to wait a few minutes.  But this is the kind of place where it doesn’t matter if you have to wait for an hour or more.

It is so worth it.

The Straw Hat Café is the charming little restaurant that is a part of the Studio Ghibli Museum.  It reflects everything the museum is about.  It is-hands down-in my top five favorite restaurants.  Of all-time.

Let me explain why:

1)    It’s simple.  There are not many choices on the menu, but the choices that are there vary.  There is no stressing about what to order.  (They have menus in English.)

2)    They use organic and local goods.  Win.

3)    The prices are very reasonable.  Win again.

4)    Everything is homemade-even the ginger ale. 

5)    They serve drinks with straws made out of straw.  Awesome.

6)    The food was in-credibly delicious.

7)    The dessert wasn’t too sweet to finish.

8)    Everything was perfectly fresh.

9)    They serve food on Totoro and soot sprite plates.

10)  The service was the best I have ever had. Ever.

So there you go. If you are ever in Japan, pre-buy your tickets to the Studio Ghibli museum.  Explore an incredible place full of imagination.  Then eat at one of the most amazing restaurants in the world.

You will not be disappointed.

I promise.

Organic brown rice topped with a fried egg, curry, and fresh organic spring greens. YUM.
De-licious breaded pork sandwich.
Tasty. And a super cute plate.
The ah-mazing homemade organic ginger ale.
Best Strawberry Shortcake I have ever had.
Incredible chocolate sundae/parfait.

Pin It!

Dear Miyazaki

Dear Hayao Miyazaki,

Before going to your museum last Saturday, I read your vision for it.  You explain what you want your museum to be in such a caring way.  I am glad I took the time to read what you had to say before visiting.

As I entered the museum, I was welcomed by a sense of warmth.  Gentle light streamed through the stained glass windows, casting vibrant colors everywhere.  The murals climbed exquisitely up the walls to the ceiling.  I wanted to grab a hold and climb into the land of imagination.

It was like entering a home…not a museum.

Soot sprites were sprinkled everywhere, accompanying images of Totoro, who led the way down the staircase to one of the most amazing buildings in which I have been.  You have created a labyrinth of a museum.  Spiraling staircases, bridges, tiny doorways, uneven levels.  It is place to get lost and let your imagination run wild.  Your creativity and genius shine like a wise star through the entire building. 

What a delightful, welcoming and generous place you have created.

The interactivity of the exhibits made me feel like a child.  I twisted knobs, opened tiny doors and stared in wonder. 

Most inspiring was seeing the beginning of an idea in drawings and paintings I recognize from beloved films.  Set amidst a replica of your study…Books piled everywhere.  Models, gadgets and gizmos provoked curiosity.  Vivid colors spilled from tubes of paint to the countless paintings that cover the entire wall.  

Everywhere you looked, something was there to draw you in and release your imagination.

Miyazaki San, your creativity is a gift of inspiration. 

Thank you

Viewing the museum from outside.  It is almost entirely covered in greenery.
A creature form Castle in the Sky.  (Karl is 6' 2'' for scale.)
Pin It!