Tuesday, December 30, 2008


That 3rd Knitting Resolution for 2008 has been completed!
Color Work...check!
I don't think I did it exactly right. Of course, I had to choose a project "in the round" that didn't have color going all the way 'round. From what I read about working with color, that would have been a little bit easier. Anyway, last night I got to this point:

Today I finished it:

And gave it to my favorite Giants fan:

(Since David has a few days off, he's been experimenting with decorative facial hair. I like him better regular.)
Oh, this hat...Well, the hat that I took apart to make this one was a bit too small, so I hoped that this one would turn out bigger. It's too big! So frustrating! I asked David why his head is so weird. Next time I will need to make sure I do more than the recommended amount of ribbing so that it can be folded over better if it is too big. David folded the ribbing up, but I think it looks kind of weird because the front can't be turned up as much because it will hide the Giants logo. And that would be bad because it took me forever to figure out how to do it! I didn't make the chart myself...someone on Ravelry did... I don't think I'm ready for that sort of thing yet!

In other knitting news, today was the debut performance of one of my Christmas presents:

A yarn swift & ball-winder. I LOVE it! It does in 6 minutes or less what I was spending hours on...winding hanks of yarn into center-pull balls. They aren't even balls...they are squarey balls and they are not lopsided like the ones I do by hand. Also, if you crank the ball-winder fast enough, the umbrella swift makes a nice breeze which could be handy on a hot day. Maybe I will wind a skein of yarn after all of my runs to cool-down.
As I was reading the directions for the ball-winder, the wording seemed strangely familiar. Phrases like:
"Thrust [the yarn guide] in over a boss positioned at the reverse side of the base until clicking."
"Fit bobbin in bobbin holder in a right position."
"Keeping bobbin holder by hand, turn bobbin to left by another hand as far as it goes"
I glanced down at the ball-winder and sure enough, there plain as day it said "Made in Japan". I knew it! I would recognize the translation of those directions anywhere. Last night I did some Japanese shopping and on the back of one pack of cute food picks it says, "There is an error drinking danger. Please do not give to the infant no matter what."

Monday, December 29, 2008

Last Weekend of 2008

We spent the last weekend of the year a lot like we spend most weekends...doing a whole lot of nothing! It's what I do best.
It's been a looooooong weekend, and will continue to be, as David hasn't had to go to work since the 24th and won't go back until the 5th. And although he had to be at his office on the 24th, apparently he spent the day playing ping pong and watching football (?...the football may have been the 23rd...and 22nd.)
On Friday we "recovered" from Christmas. I wore my new pajamas (Wii jammies from my mom) and watched the last of the Fa La La La Lifetime movies (since that channel comes a day late). I also worked on training my dog, Henry. He's a golden retriever. He's not a REAL dog. He's a NintenDog and I love him. So far I have trained him to "have a seat", "shake", get ready for "nap time" (lay on his side) and "dig". He also responds to his name and can catch a Frisbee. I think that David might find him more annoying than a real dog.
I went out for a run in the morning...or was it afternoon?... I don't remember, but it was light outside. David went to the golf course to check and see if there were any sales but there weren't. Then we tried to go see the 1800 showing of Marley & Me. But...the movie didn't actually begin until 1900 and it was barely 1730, so we decided not to stay. David suggested checking the BX but I really hated that idea. I hate going to the BX because it seems like even if you go for one thing, you end up spending $80. And it's even worse if you don't go for anything in particular. So I said we should check the shop at the tennis center, where they have a small selection of running clothes. David wasn't very enthusiastic, but I insisted that it was only fair since he got to go to the golf pro shop. His attitude gave me the idea that perhaps I should be expecting running clothes for my birthday. Or late Christmas... I know he's waiting on another package to come in. Of course, I can't tell David my thoughts because he hates when I guess my gifts but he makes it SO easy! I don't remember what we did after that...now that I'm not working, the days all kind of run together.

Saturday morning I went to running group. I had to run an extra mile since I have no car and couldn't get there on my step tansu. I picked a really beautiful route to run...one of my favorites, part of it right on the water and the water was really pretty that morning! Came home and put those jammies back on! David was out golfing. Surprise, surprise.

Sunday was just yesterday and I only have a vague recollection of what I did. I know I spent a considerable amount of time trying to figure out how to make David's Giants hat. It was terribly frustrating for a while there! I'm glad I got it worked out because 1-I took apart David's other hat to make this one and it would not have been good if I gave up and then he had no hats and 2-I met my final 2008 knitting resolution--raising my grade from 66% to 100&! That's more like it!
We went to see Marley & Me. I loved it...I could say much more, but I don't want to spoil it for anyone else who still wants to see it. When we came home, I just wanted to spend time with my dog Henry. Because after you see Marley & Me, you can't help but want to hug an animal. I know he's not a REAL dog, but he barks and poops when he goes out for a walk and everything. We dogsat for our neighbor once and let me tell you, scooping NintenDog poop is SO much less disgusting than picking up real dog poop.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Revisiting Last Year's Resolutions

Last year, I made the following "Knit Year's Resolutions":
socks using the Magic Loop method (I think this will be a good antidote to my symptoms of Single Sock Syndrome). I've already made a pair of socks using Magic Loop, but I didn't use sock yarn, and it was just a basic sock. So I want to branch out and make some cuter socks.

color work. That's brave isn't it?


And before I list my new ones, I thought I should take a minute to think about how I did with these. I have completed 2 out of 3. Which is only 66% and therefore barely passing!
Magic Loop Socks: check!

And check again! The purple were 2-at-a-time and the teal just one-at-a-time.

Felting: check!

Made this felted bag one day. Or maybe 2 days. Very quick project...although I still haven't gotten a lining sewn in.
Color work: Not quite check...but I've got 3 days and a plan (and hopefully enough yarn to get through the whole project!) I'm making a NY Giants hat for David! Hope it works...and fast!

Instead of wasting time now thinking and listing my knitting goals for next year, I'm going to actually go work on that hat!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Christmas day is coming to an end on this side of the world.
If you didn't get one in the mail:

We had a pretty nice Christmas. I spent all day on the 24th baking, cooking, and dipping things in chocolate. Then we had appetizers (tomato-basil-goat cheese dip without the goat cheese because the commissary didn't have any, veggie pizza, cheese & crackers and mixed nuts), dinner (Christmas Pasta and salad) and dessert (more on the treat plate tomorrow). The guests played Rock Band and I snuck out for a night run around 9:30. While I was running, I realized that even though I've been so looking forward to leaving this island, I'm going to miss feeling warm enough and safe enough to go out running by myself at 10pm! I ran 6 miles looking at Christmas lights and listening to people having their Christmas parties in their backyards. When I came home, the guests were gone and David was cleaning up. I helped, prepared a breakfast casserole and took a shower. Then we opened presents. (Well, the ones that we hadn't already opened...we get kind of antsy!) While we were sleeping, Santa came and this morning we got to see what he brought for us. We had a late breakfast (blueberry stuffed french toast and sausage hashbrown casserole) and then went to our neighbors house for dinner. I had forgotten about the frozen tamales & pierogi I had picked up for Christmas Day dinner, so we'll have to have those tomorrow instead. The most ridiculous thing at dinner was when this lady took a bite of the veggie pizza leftovers I had taken over there and acted like she was dying because she ate a pepper. She was coughing and going nuts like it was spicy and I informed her that it was a SWEET PEPPER. Lame. We stayed there for a few hours more and then came home to relax!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Out with the old, pt. 2...and in with the NEW

We're moving (although we have no proof, but I'm hoping the rumor is true!) so it's time to do lots of movey stuff, like gather all of my personal items from my classroom (check!), sell things at a garage sale (check!), roll up all of our Yen coins and deposit them at the bank (partly-check!), and sell our cars (half-check!).

For some reason, my car was the first to go. A new guy coming into David's office needed a car (mostly because he was driving the poor guy who was driving him around absolutely crazy), so I suppose it was easier to sell to him than to go through all the hassle of putting it on the lemon lot, getting phone calls about it, going out to the lot to let people drive it, etc. Unfortunately, had we gone through that hassle, we might have gotten a couple-hundred more dollars. Thank you, blabbermouth in David's office for sharing the "lowest price we'll accept" with the person who is interested in buying the car.

I was really very sad to see my car go. David moved his car into my parking space before the engine was even cold and I certainly didn't appreciate that. But, a few hours later, David brought me home something new that made me very happy. It wasn't a puppy. I don't have to walk it or feed it or put gas in it or do anything really, except maybe dust it once in a while.

It's a step tansu and I {heart} it! We went out a few weeks ago looking for one at a furniture store and a bazaar and couldn't find one. After the garage sale, I went to the Korean furniture store and they didn't have one. The lady called her other location and told me that in fact, they did have one, but someone else had looked at it and wants to buy it but needs to bring her husband back to look at it and so if I want it, I should go RIGHT NOW and buy it and make sure you go to Event Room # 1, because Event Room #2 is their competitor.
I almost felt like I was being coerced into buying a piece of furniture, so I didn't go "right now", I waited for over 48 hours. David and I went out to the other location (at the Marine base) and while David was in the PX, I went to scope it out. There weren't any step tansus in Event Room #2, so the lady didn't have to worry about me patronizing her competitor after all. There were 2 in Event Room #1, but one had already been sold. That's okay, because I didn't really like that one anyway. I liked the other one though! It was perfect for me... it's a style that is popular here and will remind me of our time here, but it's still "rustic". I'm not really into the ornate "Asian influence" style. Lots of the other furniture there had gold accents etc. but this one is just right. Fairly plain, but incredibly wonderful. I was afraid to walk away from it, because I kept imagining the girl coming back with her husband to show him. I stood right in front of it until David came back from the PX.
As I stood there, I began to wonder if there really was another girl who wanted to buy this, or if I had almost been tricked. The tansu was marked down over $200 from the original price--the price the lady in the Kadena store had quoted me. So I wonder if she was hoping I would buy it before it went on sale. Either way, I wanted it, and it was a good deal...and $50 knocked off the price if we paid cash.

And, as luck would have it, we had plans to sell my car for cash the very next day! We put down a deposit, the furniture man set to work making sure all the doors & drawers worked properly, and we went out to dinner to celebrate our 2nd grown-up non-particle-board furniture purchase. Or maybe we just went out to dinner because we were hungry and had been planning to go out to dinner anyway.

Today David went to pick up my tansu after work. I mean OUR tansu. We decided that this is our anniversary present "to each other". I had to BEG him to bring it home instead of taking it to his office, where they have some storage space. I had to make a space for it where the fan & dehumidifier used to be. And let me just say, it fits perfectly!

Here's the tansu with some Christmas decorations on it:

It's actually bigger than it seems in the picture, but our chairs are in front of it and it would be a pain to move them to get a picture. David only moved one chair to get it back there and I was out running at the time, so I didn't get a pic. Anyway, imagine it even bigger...there are 3 more "steps" going down and the tallest part is maybe 5.5 feet tall. And the coolest thing is that it's 3 pieces and all of the drawers/doors are accessible from both sides (so it can be against a wall or used as a room divider). So it can be a giant step, like it is now, or it can be set up so it's flat on the top with the steps on either side. Or so the steps are together and the flat section is separate. All 3 pieces can be used separately, or the steps can be turned upside-down and nestled together to make one tall chest or one wide chest.

I haven't put anything inside it yet (and don't know if I will before we leave, since I'll just have to take it out anyway!) but there are 9 drawers of various sizes and 3 sets of sliding doors and I'm thinking of what I will want to store in there! I love it, love it, love it! I think I will go look at it for a few minutes before I go to bed.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Cookies on the Brain

I've got sweets on the brain, in my belly, on the kitchen counter, so I figured now would be a good time to post this meme!

1) Copy this list into your site, including the instructions!
2) Bold all of the sweets you've eaten--or make them a different type color.
3) Cross out any of them that you'd never ever eat.
4) Consider anything that is not bold or crossed out your "To Do" List.
5) Optional: Post a comment here linking to your results--or just post a comment letting us know how many you've tried, or what you're going to try next!

I got this list (and the instructions) here. She has links up to lots of these, so I checked out the ones I wasn't sure about and some recipes for those that I do want to try!

1. Red Velvet Cake
2. Princess Torte
3. Whoopie Pie
4. Apple Pie either topped or baked with sharp cheddar
5. Beignet
6. Baklava
7. Black and white cookie
8. Seven Layer Bar (also known as the Magic Bar or Hello Dolly bars) Yep, my grandma used to make these.
9. Fried Fruit pie (sometimes called hand pies)
10. Kringle Of course! I spent 5 years in Kenosha/Racine WI!
11. Just-fried (still hot) doughnut Like at Krispy Kreme?
12. Scone with clotted cream mmm-hmmm, when I was in England, and then again on the airplane on the way back.
13. Betty, Grunt, Slump, Buckle or Pandowdy I love the blueberry buckle I make, but I LOVE the blueberry buckle Marcy Leslie makes!
14. Halvah
15. Macarons
16. Banana pudding with nilla wafers
17. Bubble tea (with tapioca "pearls")
18. Dixie Cup This is a staple at my grandma's house!
19. Rice Krispie treats Of course!
20. Alfajores
21. Blondies Yum!
22. Croquembouche
23. Girl Scout cookies No freezer is complete without a box of Thin Mints!
24. Moon cake
25. Candy Apple Like caramel apple? If so, then yes.
26. Baked Alaska Really, really want this...mostly because the cooks make this for Daddy Warbucks in Annie!
27. Brooklyn Egg Cream
28. Nanaimo bar
29. Baba au rhum
30. King Cake This is the one with the baby in it, right? My mom brought some from New Orleans once.
31. Sachertorte
32. Pavlova Had this in Australia's Blue Mountains this summer!
33. Tres Leches Cake Yum, yum, yum!
34. Trifle Anyone who's been to Christmas dinner at my grandma's house has had this!
35. Shoofly Pie
36. Key Lime Pie (made with real key lime) Can't be certain about the "real key lime", but it's possible.
37. Panna Cotta
38. New York Cheesecake
39. Napoleon / mille-fueille
40. Russian Tea Cake / Mexican Wedding Cake
41. Anzac biscuits
42. Pizzelle
43. Kolache Aunt Margie makes them best!
44. Buckeyes My friend Julie (from OH) gave me a container of these for Christmas last year. I inhaled them.
45. Malasadas
46. Moon Pie
47. Dutch baby Didn't think I'd had this, but then I looked it up. At my house, we call them Puff Pancakes. Mom, I'd like to place my order for a Puff Pancake in January.
48. Boston Cream Pie
49. Homemade chocolate chip cookies Is there anyone who hasn't had homemade chocolate chip cookies?
50. Pralines
51. Gooey butter cake
52. Rusks Didn't know I had this either, but I have.
53. Daifuku Another one I ate and didn't know it. I know them better as "those nasty dessert things I got at that festival" There's not much on this list that I've tried and didn't like, but these...blech!
54. Green tea cake or cookies Surely I can find some of that around here. I have had green tea ice cream, and green tea chewy candy and green tea hard candy. And green tea tea.
55. Cupcakes from a cupcake shop
56. Crème brûlée
57. Some sort of deep fried fair food (twinkie, candy bar, cupcake) Twinkie, and Snickers bar. But I didn't eat all of it.
58. Yellow cake with chocolate frosting
59. Jelly Roll Yes, I think I made one in middle school foods class.
60. Pop Tarts
61. Charlotte Russe
62. An "upside down" dessert (Pineapple upside down cake or Tarte Tatin)
63. Hummingbird Cake
64. Jell-O from a mold
65. Black forest cake
66. Mock Apple Pie (Ritz Cracker Pie)
67. Kulfi
68. Linzer torte
69. Churro At Comiskey Park!
70. Stollen
71. Angel Food Cake
72. Mincemeat pie
73. Concha
74. Opera Cake
75. Sfogliatelle / Lobster tail
76. Pain au chocolat In Paris! Most people make a list of things they want to see. When I went to Paris, I took a list of all the things I wanted to eat (I'd been hearing about them in French class since I was 5!)
77. A piece of Gingerbread House
78. Cassata
79. Cannoli
80. Rainbow cookies
81. Religieuse
82. Petits fours At American Girl Place, I think!
83. Chocolate Souffle
84. Bienenstich (Bee Sting Cake)
85. Rugelach I'm pretty sure I've had this.
86. Hamenstashen
87. Homemade marshmallows
88. Rigo Janci
89. Pie or cake made with candy bar flavors (Snickers pie, Reeses pie, etc)
90. Divinity
91. Coke or Cola cake
92. Gateau Basque
93. S'mores Oh yes.
94. Figgy Pudding
95. Bananas foster or other flaming dessert
96. Joe Froggers
97. Sables
98. Millionaire's Shortbread
99. Animal crackers in my soup. Not really, but I couldn't resist a chance at a Shirley Temple reference.
100. Basbousa

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Dear People Who Go to the Movies,

The people sitting in front of you would greatly appreciate it if you didn't talk the whole time. If you feel the need to discuss the movie with your friend, please wait until it comes out on video.

Allowing your child to put his feet up on the seats in front of him is quite annoying to the people sitting in those seats. I believe the Red Cross has a list of qualified babysitters. Call one next time you want to go to the movies.

Please explain to your teenage daughter that running down the aisle and loudly announcing that "dad wants to know such-and-such" really irritates the people sitting directly in front of you. You know, the ones who paid $8.25 to enjoy the movie. Also, why did you opt not to follow the example set by millions of parents who accompany their teens to the movies and sit behind them? I would have preferred that, because then you wouldn't be sitting behind me.

I don't mean to single you out, rude ladies and annoying little boy who sat behind us. You weren't the only ones who practically ruined the movie-going experience. Note to the people in the back of the theater (the ones with the wailing baby): Polite people exit the theater when they can't calm their child.

Perhaps I would be more tolerant of obnoxious people at the theater if I could placate myself with good movie candy such as gummy bears or Reese's Pieces. However, since our movie theater has no good candy to offer, I have no choice but to request that next time a movie I want to see is playing, you stay home.

If I Wanted Audio Commentary, I Would Have Waited for the DVD Version

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Out with the old

Since we don't have garages, we can't have garage sales. (We do have yards, but we can't have yard sales either.) But apparently Okinawans love a good junk sale, so to make it happen, Outdoor Rec sells parking spaces for $15 ($10 if you're moving like us...$0 if you know the guy working the register like us!) every other weekend. They give an hour and a half to set up and then open the gates to the public.

I was a little bit concerned that we wouldn't get much business today, since it is so close to Christmas and I guess since maybe people aren't really in the garage-sale state of mind when it's not spring or summer. Boy was I wrong. I'd heard that when they open the sale to the public, it's a madhouse, but I thought it was an exaggeration. Nope. There were shoppers coming in to park at the same time we were driving in to set up. And I almost thought I just hadn't heard the starting gun go off or something because it seriously was like a race to the flea market! People were RUNNING. Hundreds of Japanese people RUNNING to buy my garbage!

Oh, but wait... I forgot one thing. IMMEDIATELY upon opening the back of the car, the other vendors were hanging out in our spot, looking in our car, peering in with flashlights to check out our goods. I had heard that the "regulars" buy your stuff during the set-up/pre-sale time and then mark it up and sell it at their own booth. We hadn't been there 4 minutes (or gotten half of our things set out) before we made our first $11! David sold a golf bag pull-cart for $10 and I sold a clear plastic case for $1. I'm glad I listened to my inner voice saying "take it all" because I almost left that at home because I didn't figure anyone would want it. By the way, later I did a little espionage and went to the guy with the pull-cart and asked how much he wanted for it...$30. Obviously he doesn't really follow the "10%" rule of thumb because that thing brand new only cost $40.

We priced our junk (I mean merchandise) to sell. I figured if we made $15, we'd be coming home with more than we would if we dropped it at the thrift store/Airman's Attic (which is what we will do with the leftovers). All of my clothes were 100 Yen. (The exchange rate is currently a nauseating 88Yen to the dollar) OH my goodness. I just decided to check and make sure that I was right about thinking that was terrible and it turns out...happy surprise!...it's actually good. I made more money than I thought I did. Yippee!! So, the exchange rate is actually only nauseating when you are buying things, not when you are selling! Duh...don't know why that hadn't crossed my mind already.

So...the running people come and it's like a crazy mob. People holding stuff up and you say 100. Then they either take it or leave it or haggle with you. Someone didn't want to pay $3 for a pair of my old running shoes. I am very attached to my old running shoes (I did convince myself to put out 3 pairs...and still have 6. Plus the ones I am currently running in). I was telling people, "Listen, I wore these for 3 months. Look how clean and nice they are. They are very comfortable. They were $120!" I wanted to tell them, "How many other small-footed people selling gently worn high-quality athletic shoes do you think you're going to find around here?" Eventually I managed to get the $3. One lady tried them on and it was soooooo strange to see MY running shoe on someone else's foot. I didn't like it. I almost bumped the price to $4.
Meanwhile, David's 6-year old pair of Air Jordans with the soles falling off sold for $2...no haggling necessary. The people here looooooove name brands. LOVE Nike. Too bad my running shoes are all Saucony or else they probably would've sold for double the price! But we were surprised that some of what we consider "big brands" got passed right over. Lots of our clothes were great condition Abercrombie, American Eagle, Banana Republic, Express and people would pick it up, look at the tag and toss it aside. But a pretty worn out armpit-stained shirt with a Nike Swoosh would get a "real Nike?" and an enthusiastic hundred Yen. Even a purple-and-green pair of Umbro soccer shorts (which I've had since at least 1996) sold for a buck because they were "Ooombro!"

Half-used Yankee Candles went for 100-200 Yen, but I couldn't get 300 for a brand new in-the-box Calvin Klein perfume/shower gel set.

Lots of girls liked my clothes but a few of them chose a whole bunch and then I'd count it up and say, "Okay...13 things are 1300 Yen, but 1000 is okay" and then they'd hold out their hand with 9 and dig in their pockets like they didn't have any more money, so I sold it. Then 30 minutes later, they were back buying more...miraculously, they had gotten more money. But some other people didn't think twice about paying 100 Yen, and even were thinking they got a great deal. I liked those people. I especially liked the lady who came and offered me 300 Yen for a pair of old Nine West shoes that I wore the heck out of and was ecstatic that I accepted her offer. I almost felt like I was taking advantage of her because I was trying to sell them to the lady before her for only 50 Yen and I was giving them 3 more minutes before putting them in the "FREE STUFF" box. I thought the "FREE STUFF" box should have been a "FREE WITH PURCHASE" box, but David had already labeled the box.

We ended up making about $225. (Plus the $3 I found in the pocket of a pair of old torn up soccer shorts I put in the "free stuff" box!) I'm sure we could've made much more (Uhh...people were not really willing to buy 20 sheets of 12x12 scrapbook paper for a dollar. They don't know a good deal when they see one!) but my objective was to get rid of as much as possible, not to make as much as possible. I think you have to choose one or the other. I have plenty of scrapbook paper at home and I was going to give it away anyway, so I ended up selling each bursting-at-the-seams bag for 300-500 Yen. It was actually surprisingly fun to gather up my stuff when I thought I could get some money for it. And of course, it was super-fun to count up all that money!! If I were going to be here longer, I'd probably want to attempt the flea market again!

Now...what to do with the money is a bit of a debate. I thought we should each get what we sold. But that would've been impossible to track because it was such a madhouse. 50-50 or "all in the bank account and spend as you wish" didn't seem fair either, because I got rid of a lot more stuff than David and a lot of the clothes I finally decided I could part with had been a part of my life for years. Like since high school. And my 10 year reunion was this year. Then one of the ScrapVillage girls gave me the idea that maybe we could put the money toward a furniture purchase or something like that. That way one of us is not clearly benefiting more than the other (but still, I'm sort of benefiting most because I want the piece of furniture, and I like the idea of that). But...I went out to look today and can't find the piece of furniture. So we'll see if one turns up or if we'll have to come up with another plan for our profits.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

An Okinawan Favorite & a make-up list

The thing I'll miss most about Okinawa is my favorite restaurant here...NOT Chili's. We eat Chili's almost every Friday (usually with Survivor), but that's due to lack of options rather than actually enjoying Chili's immensely.

My favorite restaurant here is a sort-of fast-food place, Cocoichibanya, or Coco's for short. Oh my goodness I looooooooooooooove it! It's a curry house, and I love any kind of curry, Thai curry, Indian curry, Japanese curry... so when I first laid eyes on Coco's (it's a chain restaurant, too), I started begging to go there. David refused for at least 6 months because he "hates curry". Then he tried it. Now he requests it at least once a week. I usually get a half-order of chicken cutlet curry (with cheese if we're eating there, without cheese for take-out) or the vegetable curry (regular spice). When we eat at the restaurant I get this drink called Mango Milk Lassie, first just because I liked the name, but it's so delicious. It's a mango flavored milk drink, as the name suggests, and it's cold and tasty. We can't get that with take-out, so they send me with a teeny-tiny juice box of apple juice. Japanese apple juice tastes so much better than American apple juice for some reason.If it's dinner time I'll get a corn salad (which is just a lettuce salad with corn on it). And we always get naan bread. Oh that's the very best! It's funny to listen to David place our to-go order...at first they never understood him saying salad, so he decided to make things easier by saying it in Japanese: "salad-ah".

We've been thinking a lot about restaurants, because we are going to the states next month and have to make sure we eat at all the places we've been missing. Yesterday was supposed to be list-day (but I was too busy baking cookies and eating Coco's), so here's a list of my favorite restaurants (in no particular order):

Coco's-Okinawa, Japan (David says they have a few of these on Mainland, but not as good)
Charcoal Grill- Kenosha, WI (My goal during college was to eat everything on the menu!)
Monical's Pizza- I don't even know where this place is...I went with my friend Jill and her dad and they had the very best Canadian bacon thin crust pizza ever. If I knew where it was, I would totally go back!
MaGiRiBa- Sacile, FVG, Italy. This place was so delicious. Stands for the names of the family-Maria, Giorgio, Irina & Barbara. Maria made lasagna only on Fridays and it was the best lasagna ever. Melt-in-your-mouth good! Also I loved the serpente (a big bread-stick sort of wrapped around some ham & cheese I think) and the scroppino (a lemony after-dinner drink)
BeFeds- Aviano, FVG, Italy. David likes another chicken place better, but I {heart} BeFeds! It's a peanuts-on-the floor place where you get a roasted chicken and delicious french-fries. Yum.
Ed Debevic's- Chicago IL. I love the atmosphere. You may or may not know that I'm convinced that I was actually meant to be a teenager during the 50s/60s. Every time we went there, I begged and begged for a pair of cat-eye glasses!
Schoop's- Munster IN, Crown Point IN. I used to walk from Aunt Cookie's house to the Munster one all the time. Now I go to the CP one. LOVE the burgers. Best burgers ever! LOVE Green River! LOVE the fried egg sandwiches too!
The Oyster Bar- Palace Station Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas. Yum! My cousin Krista took me here and it is so tasty! There aren't many spots to sit though and there is always a line!
Bronko's Pizza- Crown Point, IN. LOVE Bronko's! Best pizza. But sometimes if you don't want pizza you can have a delicious roast beef, ham & cheese or stromboli sandwich instead.
Stir Crazy- Oakbrook(?), IL. I have to get the homemade ginger ale. So good! And even though their other menu items look good, "building your own" is so much fun I can't resist. Be sure to top it off with the fried Banana Wontons. Then roll yourself to the parking lot.
Zel's Roast Beef- I think there are a few of these throughout NW IN. Yum. Love the hot dogs there too.
Crown Kitchen- Crown Point, IN. I love this place for breakfast. I usually get the Eggs Benedict! Yummy! I love it because there are always lots of old people who know each other. And that's just sweet.
??? Souvlaki Stand- The Plaka, Athens, Greece. I don't know what this place is called, but we ate there just about every night that we were in Athens, sometimes after we had already eaten dinner! Whenever David tells me we can go to any restaurant I want, I always pick this one...but we don't get to go.
Does Coldstone Creamery count as a restaurant? I love it. A lot.

Well, I'm sure I've forgotten some. And I'm sure if I sat here long enough I could think of more, but I'm getting hungry!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


I really thought that today I'd be posting about the cookies I made this afternoon. Instead I'm going to post about the cookies I might make this evening.

Dumb ol' iTunes really threw a wrench in my plan for cookies. How could I possibly bake Christmas cookies without Christmas music in the background?? So I plugged in my iPod and got ready to delete some music & put on Christmas music. Mind you, this process worked THIS MORNING! Now it doesn't. I tried restarting my iPod, iTunes and my computer. I also made sure that I had the latest iTunes version downloaded. And of course, nothing works. So of course, I can't make cookies until I figure it out. Looks like I will have to wipe out my iPod, which is a problem because there are several songs that I loaded at home (as opposed to home-is-where-the-Air-Force-sends-us) therefore, I cannot get them back. Grr. There are a few that I purchased on iTunes while I was home the summer before last, so in theory those should transfer to iTunes here. However, my iPod/iTunes (I blame iTunes, because I actually like my iPod) isn't actually behaving as it theoretically should, so who knows.

Aaack! Now not only has iTunes prevented me from making cookies, it's also preventing me from blogging about them. I have to take back control...iTunes is not the boss of me.

I have lots of cookie-making ingredients in my kitchen. My friends think I do a lot of cookie-making and other treat-making, so when they move (3 of them this past May/June), they like to give me the things they can't take with them...flour, sugar, eggs, cookie mix, lemon juice (anyone have any ideas of what I can do with 3 large bottles?), even a ham! and etc. This is something you don't really get to experience much in stateside moves, I imagine, but because 1st of all there are regulations about what the movers will pack (spices are out...in theory, but I've heard a few ways around this) and 2nd of all our stuff is in transit/storage for maybe 3 months or more and 3rd of all remember that weight allowance I talked about? so people are always giving away food stuff. David thinks they think we are poor, but I tell him no...they think I'm a good cook of course!

So anyway, there are a couple kinds of cookies I think I will be able to make without a trip to the commissary. That's my favorite cookie characteristic! I do not enjoy going to the commissary. At all. First, I was almost certain I could make Nut Cups with the things I have on hand. I pulled out my recipe and read:
"Nut Cups
350-15 to 20 minutes
flour the mini-tart shaper every time
-dough to the top of the cup, because the filling will expand"

And that is how you make Nut Cups. Hmm...should be easy because there are NO INGREDIENTS! So needless to say, I could not make Nut Cups this afternoon, even if iTunes had been cooperative. I sent a cry-for-help e-mail to Aunt Margie for the rest of the recipe! Hope she wakes up soon!

I'm pretty sure I could make Snickerdoodles with what I have on hand, so I might make those. Those are pretty easy though, so I might want to save them for last and get some of the more labor-intensive cookies out of the way first.

The only labor-intensive cookies I'm actually making are candy cane cookies. My grandma makes these. Well, she would if she didn't keep saying she was too old for baking. I'm going to sprinkle some of mine with crushed candy canes (if they still crush properly after sitting in my cabinet for an entire year) and maybe drizzle some with melted chocolate. Mmm...yeah, definitely drizzling some with melted chocolate!

After a trip to the commissary I plan on making chocolate covered pretzels & "Thin Mints"...Ritz crackers dipped in mint chocolate. They are seriously delicious! Also "Buster Bars" which are another chocolatey-cracker concoction.

I could probably make fudge with the groceries currently in my cabinets. I want to wait until next week to make that though, because when there is fudge in my fridge I can't really resist eating it and I won't leave any for Santa or my Christmas Eve dinner guests. Or my Christmas Day breakfast guests, who will probably just be some of the same guests, but there are a few single guys coming who don't have families/wives/girlfriends and I hate to think of them being alone on Christmas. It makes me so sad that I will make stuffed french toast to make myself happy and if I could make pancakes, I would make brown sugar banana pancakes too. I might make Cinnabon Clones or one of those sausagey-eggy casseroles too. Or we could just eat cookies. And that would be fine with me...if I ever get to make them.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tee-quilt Pre-view

I've been working steadily (sort of) on my t-shirt quilt. Well, at least the cutting of the shirts. I'm saving the interfacing & piecing for later!
I believe I've now cut 38 shirts. I still have at least 20 to go...and that's just the shirts that are here! Here, laid out on the full-sized bed, are just TWENTY-FOUR of the shirts!
I'm making my quilt double-sided so I can do double the # of shirts, but I'm planning for this to be more like a curl on the couch quilt than a bedspread, because really...I'm an adult and a t-shirt quilt bedspread just kind of screams "DORM ROOM" to me. But I still refuse to toss the shirts. So what does that mean...multiple t-shirt quilts, of course! I'll have a better idea once I collect the rest of my t-shirts from my parents, but I'm thinking that I could either do "themed" quilts or just a hodge-podge. I know I have plenty of shirts from various road races to do a whole quilt of them. Other themes could include: baseball, colleges/college sports (although that quilt might have to wait since quite a few of those t-shirts are well-fitting and still in good condition), my high school/college (these would actually have to be combined on one because I have way more shirts from other colleges than my own alma mater...can't decide if that's sad or not), and I would still probably need a miscellany one!
I'd love to know your opinion!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Globetrotters "Game"

The Harlem Globetrotters came here this weekend. We got the last 2 tickets the squadron had to offer and best of all...they were free!
We got there 30 minutes before it opened and the line was already wrapped around the gym. Once they opened the doors and got the non-ticket-holders out of the line, it moved very quickly and we were able to find good enough seats inside.
The warm-ups were my favorite part... the game itself was okay, but I liked the tricks like the ball spinning that went on during warm-ups. The game consisted of lots of dunks by "Hi-Rise" and lots of trash talk by the captain, #34 "Big Easy". We left at the beginning of the 4th quarter because we wanted to get out of the parking lot without much trouble and because we had a pretty good feeling that the Globetrotters would win, even though the coach of the Washington Generals had just tampered with the score, putting them in the lead.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Saturday Survey

Since it's already nearly 9pm and I haven't blogged today, how about a quick Christmassy survey? (And nevermind that I just woke up from a 5 hour nap and would probably be up long enough to write a "real" blog entry anyway)

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping Paper, although I should consider gift bags. I don't wrap well. And gift bags would be the "greener" choice.

2. Real tree or Artificial? Despite many warm, happy (sarcasm) memories of choosing and cutting real trees in my childhood, we go the artificial route. No, really, real tree hunting wasn't so bad, and I sure am glad I got to have that experience, it was just freezing and sometimes took too long. But they had delicious apple cider at the end, and delicious apple cider makes anything worthwhile!

3. When do you put up the tree? Usually the day after Thanksgiving, but this year we were a little slow.

4. When do you take the tree down? Jan. 6 (Epiphany)--but I complain the whole time that my grandma leaves her tree up until my birthday. This year we may be taking it down a little early, if they ever let us leave. Or should I say, if the island ever lets us leave. I'm a LOST character now, remember?

5. Do you like eggnog? I wait all year for egg nog. I've already single-handedly finished my first carton. It's probably the only reason I've remembered to take my vitamins almost every day this month.

6. Favourite gift received as a child? (This survey came from an American in England's blog. I wonder if I, too, will add the extra "o" in words like colour and neighbourhood...(again, if the island ever lets me go) or maybe she got this from an English person and left it. At any rate, I will leave it because I like the fancy look of it. And now I will answer the question.) It's very hard to pick a favorite. I will pick 2--and maybe I did not know they were my favorite at the time. My doll, Lauren. I didn't go many places without her and (don't tell anybody) but I still like to hug and kiss her when I go home and see her on my bed. I truly believe she is The Best Loved Doll. My other one is also from loooong ago. My toy kitchen! I got a lot of play time out of that thing! I was kind of sad when my mom gave it to her friend who watches kids (even though I was probably in college and didn't play with it anymore) and even more sad when I heard that it had "baked" its last imaginary cupcake.

7. Do you have a nativity scene? Not yet. I always loved rearranging (or maybe playing with) the one at my Grandma A.'s house.

8. Hardest person to buy for? My dad. And David, but for different reasons. David has very little impulse control and tends to buy himself the things he wants.

9. Easiest person to buy for? Myself. ;) I like to make sure I have plenty of unwrapping to do. And I rarely buy myself something during this time of the year without wrapping it up and putting it under the tree.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? I mail Christmas cards--a "flat" photo greeting and an "update" letter, which was mostly started as a small rebellion against Christmas update letters, but which I have come to really enjoy writing. I think that in the (near) future, in an attempt to "go green" and "save green", I will move a portion of my card recipients to an e-mail only list.

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Oh my goodness, I cried and cried when I got a purple bike for Christmas. Purple was my favorite color, but the bike was too big. I came to love that too, though.

12. Favourite Christmas Movie? Every Christmas movie is my favorite. I already mentioned that I LOVE Fa-la-la-la Lifetime and ABC Family's 25 Days of Christmas. I'm still waiting for Snowglobe to come on! OF COURSE I love A Christmas Story. I miss TBS and their 24 hour marathon. It's a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street (old or new), a Muppet Christmas Carol, Alvin & the Chipmunks Christmas and the Charlie Brown Christmas movie, even though now that I'm a grown-up and have a concept of time, I realize that those might not actually count as "movies". They always seemed so much longer...

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Whenever I see something that I want to get someone. Often (as is the case this year) Christmas presents are really "just because" presents that I picked up much earlier in the year and just never made it to the post office.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? When I was student teaching (i.e. working 40+ hours a week for no pay) I recycled many of the gifts my little students gave me. I don't recycle gifts very often, because I am too sentimental. Please stop giving me pretty or fancy or homemade soap. I can't bring myself to use it because I think "Oh, so-and-so gave me that and if I use it, it will get used up". The logic that the person's feelings won't be hurt because they gave me a gift that was meant to be used up completely fails me.

15. Favourite thing to eat at Christmas? (There's that fancy spelling again!) My favorite thing is to eat at Christmas. Tamales...there is a restaurant here that makes them on Fridays, maybe I will pick some up and save for Christmas! Cookies of all shapes, sizes and flavors...my mom's cranberry white chocolate shortbread, Aunt Margie's nut cups, Grandma's recipe for candy cane cookies. Christmas Pasta, which has become our tradition...I'll talk more about it later. My grandma's banana candles, which people make fun of but I think are delicious...so the rule is if you make fun, I get to eat yours too. Pierogi... I used to help my friend Ami & her grandma make these and eat all the potato filling before it got into the pierogi (they say they mention that every year). Now I get a box of frozen ones.

16. Clear lights or coloured on the tree? I love the way a tree with colored lights looks like it's covered with gumdrops. But our tree is pre-lit and has clear lights, and I like that too.

17. Favourite Christmas song? I LOVE Christmas songs! My favorites are: O Holy Night, Little Drummer Boy, Breath of Heaven, O Come All Ye Faithful, White Christmas, I'll Be Home for Christmas, and basically all the rest. Also, on the more "commercial" side, I love: Santa Baby, All I Want for Christmas is You, Run Run Rudolph, Please Come Home for Christmas, and all the rest of those too.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Christmas has always been a traveling day for me--going from house to house, but all within the same county. But since we've been here we stay in one place. This year, I'm staying here...but next year, wherever I'm coming from, I'll be home for Christmas!

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Most certainly! Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen. And of course, Rudolph.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Neither. We have a Santa hat on our tree. I like angels and stars though. And the big ribbons. We need more trees!

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? We open on Christmas Eve (this is a carryover from my childhood traditions). We used to open on Christmas Eve because we started running around on Christmas Eve and didn't come back home until late on Christmas Day and that would probably just be mean to make a kid wait until 9pm to open any presents! David was a little unsure at first, but now he's always more anxious to open presents on Christmas Eve than I am. Christmas morning is still excited, because we have to check and see what Santa has brought!

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? Crowds at the BX. Things slowing down at the post office.

23. Favourite ornament theme or colour? I love seeing trees all decorated in red, white & silver. And I've almost got enough moose ornaments to do a mini-moose tree. But I do love looking at our little-bit-of-everything tree!

24. Favourite for Christmas dinner? Christmas Pasta, Tamales. We don't do a "traditional" Christmas dinner, and we always forewarn our guests not to expect "Thanksgiving" for Christmas.

25. What do you want for Christmas this year? Orders! And to know that my deployed neighbor (whose daughter will turn 2 on Christmas day) is staying safe. And some of the items on my Christmas list from a few posts back...

26. Who is most likely to respond to this? I don't know. Someone who's got a lot of Christmas spirit!

I swear, Santa...it's the economy that's been naughty!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday's Favorite: 2 kinds of reading

Remember last week, I said that Friday would be a day to share some of my favorite things? Well this week my life got...easier? more entertaining? more efficient?...thanks to Google Reader.

Oh my goodness do I love Google Reader! Maybe you can click on the picture to read more about it, or maybe you can just google Google Reader. I've now said Google so many times in the past few that it sounds weird. Which makes me think of how just a few years ago saying google just once would've sounded kind of weird.
Anyway, here's why I love Google Reader:
Sometimes on the weekends (when I was working and my main free time was on weekends) I would get the idea to check out the blogs in my bookmarks. Well, sometimes people had posted so many times since the last time I checked that I had a bunch to catch up on. Sometimes people hadn't posted at all. Both scenarios were equally irritating. I would try to remember which people updated often and which people didn't. Sometimes I would hear about a contest on someone's blog and totally miss it because that particular blog was maybe lost under a billion other bookmarks. So last weekend I started loading the blogs I visit in Google Reader. And life is good. Now I just go in my e-mail, click "Reader" and see all the new things people have posted since the night (or two hours) before. If somebody didn't post anything, it doesn't bother me, because I didn't click on that link and wait forever for my crummy internet to open the page up for nothing. Looooove it!

In more traditional reading, I've joined the rest of the world and read the Twilight Saga. I'm actually finishing up the 4th book still. I've enjoyed the books, but I haven't devoured them the way I've heard/read about some people doing!
When I was reading the first book, I was really worried that there was something wrong with me, because I just didn't love it the way other people made it seem that I should. I ended up deciding that that was because I already knew too much about the storyline to be too excited about turning each page. Once I got to page 250 or so though, I couldn't put it down. I finished the first book on a Saturday and put my shoes on and grabbed my keys to go to the BX for the 2nd. Of course, the BX didn't have the 2nd! We went to the PX at Camp Foster on Sunday evening, and I finished the 2nd book by Tuesday evening...and went to work on Monday and Tuesday! The 2nd book was my favorite I think. Had to borrow the 3rd book from the school nurse (because neither the BX nor the PX had that one!). The 3rd book was my least favorite... I was frankly just getting quite sick of Bella by this time. First of all, I was irritated by the whole Bella/Edward/Jacob thing by this point, and second of all, I think maybe I was just spending too much time "with" Bella. I can only spend so much time with anyone before I start to get antsy. I kept myself from starting the 4th book right away, because I had a lot of work to do to move out of my classroom, prepare for Thanksgiving, and make 19 days worth of lesson plans. So I just started that last week. I think I don't want to finish it, because I don't want it to be over!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A list!

I said last Thursday that Thursday would be my list-sharing day. Thursday will also be the day we leave Okinawa...we just don't know which Thursday yet. I'm beginning to wonder if we'll ever leave. Maybe this is like the island on LOST. I've also compared this move (and we haven't even gotten anywhere yet!) to a National Lampoon's movie. National Lampoon's PCS...starring me. Directed by the USAF.

Here's a list of all the cities I've lived in, some (like this particular one) a little longer than expected.

East Chicago, IN
Merrillville, IN (It took me a long time to memorize how to spell this. Thank goodness for cheerleaders. Even now when I spell it, this is what goes through my head: "M-E-double-R-I-double-L-V-I-double-L-E-Pirates!"
Kenosha, WI
Waukegan, IL
Racine, WI
Aviano, Friuli-Venezia-Giulia, Italy
Dardago, FVG, Italy
Crown Point, IN
Kadena Air Base (Or I guess our city would be considered Chatan?), Okinawa, Japan

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Good Eats

On Saturday night, when our plans to go to the basketball game didn't work out, I suggested we go to a new-to-us restaurant so the whole evening wouldn't be a bust.

We went to Ghengis Khan, a Mongolian BBQ place just about 5 minutes away from our house. We tried to go there one other time for lunch, but it doesn't open until 6.

The first thing I noticed was of course the Christmas tree! Then I looked around and saw all of the other things on the walls, shelves & windowsills. It was like eating in an antiques shop! The waitress put David and I at a corner table that was up against a trellis and a windowsill. There was a fake planter on the windowsill and little fairy figurines. On the trellis a clothesline of little baby socks and some doll dresses were hanging up! I'm not exactly sure WHY the place was decorated like that, but it was amusing.

The waitress instructed us to go to the barbecue room where we each filled a bowl with meat & veggies. I chose beef, pork and chicken, then added sprouts, cabbage, tomatoes, green pepper, pineapple and some other green veggie. And a whole lot of garlic. I poured soy sauce & lemon water on mine and we waited in line for one of the 4 barbecue guys. David asked a guy in line behind us if he had been there before. He said "Oh yeah! I usually come here at least once a week." We asked how it worked/how they charge. David (who likes to eat) and I (who is cheap...who am cheap? not sure the grammar on that one) were both pleasantly surprised to hear that it is 1400 Yen (about 14 bucks...more than that now that the exchange rate is so terrible...90 yen to the dollar!) and all-you-can-eat! We both had a 2nd bowl and David had a 2nd serving of rice. I thought it was much better than another style all-you-can-eat place that David likes to go to, "Yaki niku", because there they give you a time-limit. And you have to cook your own food. I wouldn't mind going back to Genghis Khan again before we leave the island.

Last night, the other 2nd grade teachers took me out to dinner at a restaurant called Transit Cafe. It's a mile and a half from my house (I ran there on Monday to make sure I could find it), right on the seawall. We sat outside on the balcony and it was really peaceful & pretty! The waves were coming in and out and the weather was just right...cool enough to sit outside without being cold, but not warm enough to be uncomfortable at all. They also have mojitos there! I didn't have one, but told David that we'd have to go back there for dinner so I could have a DD! Almost everyone in our party of 8 got the Grilled Beef Plate, which was excellent. Five of us topped it off with a brownie sundae, complete with strawberries and cornflakes. The atmosphere there was really nice, a little fancy, but small & cozy too. Of course after almost 3.5 years when I'm so tired of all our normal haunts, just when it's time to leave I'm introduced to these new yummy restaurants!

Today I went to the commissary for the first time since before Thanksgiving. We're having creamy chicken noodle soup tonight and tilapia with spanish rice & beans sometime in the next few days. Also on the menu (or at least in the grocery bag): hamburger helper, some Yakisoba (heat & eat), tuna helper, and sandwiches.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

How to lose weight before a PCS

When we came here, we were allowed to bring 2000 pounds with us. We're (thankfully!) allowed a whole lot more on the way out, but I'm still trying to do my part to cut down on the amount we're shipping. (Especially because most of the stuff that's putting us way over 2000 pounds is mine!)

Here's my method for cutting weight:
1. Go through your 5 dresser drawers. The ones that are full of nothing but t-shirts.
2. Don't worry about the t-shirts that are in the overflowing laundry basket right now.
3. Find 56 t-shirts that are too big, too stained, too ugly, too old, or too special to wear.
4. Get on the scale. Make mental note of your weight.
5. Pick up the shirts and get on the scale again.
6. Do math.
7. Get ready to cut your t-shirts. Spend 20 minutes looking for your fabric scissors.
8. Find fabric scissors in the 2nd place you looked. To do this, you must look a little more carefully than the first time.
9. Realize that you'd be better off using your rotary cutter for this project anyway.
10. Cut the designs off of 20 t-shirts.
11. Remember knitting project that you want to finish by tomorrow at 6pm.
12. Decide to put off t-shirt cutting for another day.

I figure if I can get the t-shirts cut, I'll be in pretty good shape! Then I can worry about the interfacing & piecing later. This part is half the battle I think. Pictures later.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Weekend Wrap-Up

Well, now that I finally managed to get the photos in my Christmas decorating post to work, I can do today's blog entry!

This was a pretty busy weekend, which is very unusual around here.
Friday nights are always reserved for Chili's take-out and Survivor. I'm really mad at AFN lately because they keep showing 2 hours of Deal or No Deal, and then Survivor doesn't come on until 9. Why not show Survivor at 7 and then Deal or No Deal from 8-10? Who wants to watch 2 hours of Deal or No Deal?? Not me. It's hard to stay up until 10, so we ended up watching Survivor on the re-broadcast later in the weekend.

Saturday morning, I went to running group. It was freeeeeezing! Maybe I shouldn't leave Okinawa. I've been here too long... temps in the 50s seem freezing! I was hoping that nobody else would show up so I could go run on the treadmill, but 2 girls came. Once we got moving, the cold wasn't so bad. We ran 6 miles and then I came home to putz around a while.
But, at about 9:00, a guy from David's office called. They're leaving on Thursday, they didn't get their orders (same thing we're waiting for!) until this past Tuesday, and had one week to get their stuff packed & shipped and house ready for housing inspection. So, they needed some time on Saturday to paint and clean the house. And they have a 3 year old. So they called and asked if "we" would babysit for a while and I couldn't bring myself to say no. Bobby is a sweet boy, but is full of energy! I asked when they wanted to bring him and the answer was "As soon as possible." I told him I needed some time to get showered etc. and he got here about 10. Bobby brought a soccer ball. He stayed until a little after 1. We kicked the soccer ball inside, played outside on Phoebe's trampoline & "park", read books, baked cookies, did puzzles, and when my bag of tricks was just about empty, started watching a movie. Here are some funny things that happened while Bobby was here:

(as his dad was getting ready to leave)
Bobby: "Daddy, I don't want to go. I want to stay here with Miss Uhbecca."
Bobby's dad: "Really, you want to stay here? Well, I don't know..."
Miss Uhbecca: "That sounds like fun. Can Bobby please stay here and play for a while?"

Miss Uhbecca: "Boy oh boy, it would be nice if Mr. Slone would come home soon, wouldn't it, Bobby?"
Bobby: "Yeah, I want to play with Mr. Slone."
Miss Uhbecca: "He's out golfin'"
Bobby: "Yeah, he went to see the dolphin."

(while baking cookies)
Miss Uhbecca: "We need one egg. How many eggs are in the box?"
Bobby: (counts eggs)
Miss Uhbecca: "Good counting, Bobby! You stir and I'll put the egg in the bowl."
Bobby: (picks up egg, taps it on the side of the bowl and uses his hands to crack it)
Miss Uhbecca: "Hmm...okay. Don't stir for a minute. I'm going to take the egg shells out of the bowl first."

(after eating several cookies)
Miss Uhbecca: "Well, how about we take a break from the cookies for a while? We'll have Mr. Slone bring us lunch when he gets home."
Bobby: "BUUURRRP!"

(when Bobby got picked up to go home)
Miss Uhbecca: "We got him a Happy Meal, but he wasn't really interested in anything but the fruit punch...and the cookies we made."
Bobby's dad: "We're really trying to cut back on the amount of sugar he has."
Miss Uhbecca: "Well, I let him scoop the cookies, so they were pretty small."

Saturday evening, David and I decided to go to a basketball game. There's a team here, the Ryukyu Kings...4 Okinawans and 5 Americans I think. We drove down to Naha to find the game, went too far, got stuck in traffic, found the game, drove around looking for a parking place, and decided to try again another day. David was getting cranky. We ended up being in the car for about an hour and a half. I suggested that we try a new-to-us restaurant so the whole evening wouldn't be considered a bust. The restaurant is about 5 minutes away from the house.

On Sunday we went to a baby shower. That means I spent most of Sunday morning finishing the gift I was knitting for the shower. It was a "Jack & Jill" shower because the girl worked at David's office so most of the people she knows at work are guys. David's co-worker's girlfriend was the hostess and had the room decorated really cute, all blue-and-brown. As could be expected, David was really into the baby shower games. He got to make a baby out of play-doh and was disappointed when he couldn't compete in the tie-your-shoes-with-a-balloon-in-your-shirt race because he was wearing Crocs. Oh man! I JUST remembered that I think I left my little treat bag on the table. And there was a mini pack of Turtles in there! Darn it! Anyway, David started off losing the "don't say baby" game with the clothespins. Then he started to play dirty, trying to trick people, by saying, "What does that say?" etc. We both played dirty in Baby Shower Bingo by listing all of the gifts that we bought the baby in a row. I won a $25 Visa gift card! Great prize! David won the clothespin game and the prize was the Clue board game. I love games, so we were happy about it! I bought a little present for the big sister too and "we" were the only ones who thought to do that. We were also the only ones who gave a handmade card and a handmade gift, but they didn't make a big deal about them! I hate that! I spent a lot of time thinking of a theme for my baby gift...originally it was going to just be "feeding time": a knit bib, little baby plates, sippy cups, baby spoons, and a little booster seat thing, but then I saw the cutest little dinosaur pjs and got those instead of the booster seat and used a bib pattern that had a dinosaur on it. But this mom-to-be didn't make a big deal about the presents, we couldn't even really hear her saying who the gifts were from and no little stories or anything. I think I should be a baby shower coach. I was very entertaining at my bridal shower.

Anyway, we were so stuffed when we got home from the shower and tired even though it was only 5. David was snoozing on the couch close to 8, and I spent the evening reading. We can't handle so much activity in one weekend!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

We FINALLY put our tree up today!
I love decorating for Christmas. David was not in the spirit this year, since we should be moving soon and we're not sure when the movers will come to pack us up. We agreed to do "low key", but I was under the impression that "low key" decorating still included a Christmas tree. We usually have four! Finally when I put a pile of wrapped presents where our tree usually goes, David caved in and agreed to get out the big tree.
There was just no way I could NOT put up decorations. Decorations have always been a big part of Christmas for me. My mom always puts out tons of decorations, and they really do get you in the Christmas spirit! I have fond memories of playing with the little Christmas candles and vintage houses at my grandma's house and she always leaves her tree up for my birthday...she promised to leave it up until I get home to see it, even if it's past my birthday this year! So, you see, the need to decorate for Christmas runs in my blood...I got started before Thanksgiving by putting up some little decorations around the house: (I figured that if we would have to take them all down early, I should get to put them up a little early too!)

This picture is actually from last year, we haven't gotten any Christmas cards yet. But I arranged these green & gold decorations just about the same way.

I went to a PartyLite party at my friend's house and didn't feel like I really needed any candles. I did, however, need this sweet Kissing Clauses candle holder! Kissing Clauses and kissing angels have always been a part of my Christmas memories at my mom's house and I didn't have any of my own. But now I do!

My BX nutcrackers. I always gawk over the nutcrackers they get in from Germany at the gift shop here, but since they are usually $125 or more, I'm sticking with the cheapo BX variety. Maybe I'll buy a German nutcracker in Germany sometime. I think it would be easier to justify the $$.

This adorable little Santa is my newest Christmas decor purchase. I love him, don't you? This is Japanese or Okinawan style and I bought it at the gift shop here when I was looking for a present for someone else. I just couldn't help myself. He's so cute! The candle holder was a gift from a student last year.

Actually, these little star tea light holders were purchased at another gift shop where I stopped on my way home from the gift shop where I bought that little Santa. The Thanksgiving cards in the background are from my mom, Aunt Margie & Cyndi They're cute, and I have a huge bag of tea light candles to use up.

We crank up the Christmas music before we begin. (David had to mute the Alabama-Florida game during this time today). While David gets the tree out of the box and puts it all together, I lay out all of the ornaments on the table. Traditions are very important to me, so we must do this the same way every year. All ornaments get laid out and then I take a picture. It's fun to see how our collection has grown. We didn't do this our 1st Christmas here and that makes me sad, because that year we started out with 3 ornaments and 1 of them (a special glass wedding cake one from Aunt Margie) broke. Luckily I have a fairly photographic memory so I'll always remember it anyway. Anyway, we have three ornaments that must go up first, second and third. First on the tree is always the wedding bears from Stacy, Terry & Selena. And I insist that we think of them as we put the ornament up. Next is the Moby & Morgan ornament from my cousin Lisa. And we think of Moby, Morgan AND Lisa. Then the "Our First Christmas" from my old teacher-neighbor Ms. Jones. Then we put up the rest of the ornaments in any order. I always think about who gave the ornament to me or why it is special. I don't think David actually does this, but every once in a while I quiz him and say, "Do you know who gave us this ornament?" Sometimes he does know! So, when all the ornaments are up, the tree looks like this:

Our tree is skinny, and still not full of ornaments, but I love it. I think skinny suits it. Plus it was seven dollars, which I love to brag about. Even though I really do love my tree once all the ornaments are on, I love it the most when it's all lit up and beautiful!

Friday, December 05, 2008

15 minutes of fame

When I checked my e-mail yesterday morning, I had one from my cousin Lisa saying that she saw us on TV! Apparently our "hometown holiday greeting" aired. Last year, it only showed once in the Chicagoland area, but several times in Eastern Kentucky. Keep your eye out and maybe you'll see us too! It was on channel 7 last year. Filming the greeting this year was pretty excruciating. Last year it was more private, there was a little waiting room and then one family at a time went out onto the porch where they filmed your message. They are also very particular about what you say in your message... name, location, who/where your message is going. And you have to look at the camera for 5 seconds before you start your message and 5 seconds after. That's the hardest part for David. The military member has to be in uniform.
This year, the greetings were filmed in the middle of the Tee House restaurant. So everyone who was waiting to do the greeting and everyone who was there eating watched. The family ahead of us took about 16 takes. The woman (in uniform) was sweating profusely under all of the lights. The man kept messing up, forgetting something he was going to say or talking to fast or too softly or not waiting long enough afterward before saying "Was it okay that time?" So then the woman decided to give it a try. But holding the baby was making her too hot so they had to switch places. And she messed up just as much as he did. They had a huge message they were trying to send, like "Little Susie, I hope Santa brings you the puppy you've been wanting" and "Uncle Joe, we'll be wishing we were eating some of your fried turkey", etc. And they were sending the message to families living in 2 different places, so they went through all of this twice! David and I decided to keep it very simple. I'm not actually sure I spoke at all, I might have chosen to just stand there looking beautiful.

Anyway, that's only about 15 seconds of fame. But don't worry, there's more!
Yesterday David called me and said, "Have you been blogging about me playing Rock Band 2?" and I said, "I have so many more important things to blog about than that. But I suppose it's possible that I mentioned it. Why do you ask?" And he said that he got an e-mail from his cousin Craig (also in the AF) saying something along the lines of , "Why are you playing Rock Band 2? Shouldn't you be studying for MSgt?" I just told David that he made a pretty good point. And that was the end of that conversation. At least that's the point at which I stopped listening.
So David came home and said that someone else mentioned Rock Band 2 to him, and that struck him as odd so eventually somehow he managed to figure out what in the world was linking him to Rock Band 2 today...

That was in the December 8 issue of the Air Force Times. On page 31. I can't believe it! 1. I can't believe that David is a published author. 2. I can't believe he would submit such a dweeby looking photo (can you tell that he's giving a thumbs-up?) for publication.
I'm not sure if you can see it in the photo here, but in case you actually care what he had to say about the game, here goes:
Tech. Sgt. Charles Slone, Air Force (That's David's alias. Or, now that he's an author, his pen name!)
Kadena Air Base, Japan
What I'm playing: Rock Band 2
The second installment of what will be a long-running series has added multiple features to attract every type of gamer. While the game stayed true to its predecessor with graphics and game play, they have added a ton of features and a wider variety of music to attract everyone from your kids to your grandfather...I would recommend this game to anyone who enjoys music.

He was disappointed that they didn't publish the one he did for another game (Gear of War, maybe?) because he thought that he had written a better review for that one. Anyway... (because you know I can't stand David getting all the glory) I was in the paper once too. I was maybe 4 or 5 or 6 and I had to tell the news reporter how to make a hot dog. You put it in a bun and put ketchup on it and eat it. Of course! That must've been before I was introduced to the Chicago Style dog.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Friday, already?

What is it about not working that makes the week go by so much faster?
I'm copy-catting another idea for Friday's blog... "Friday Favorites" or "Favorite Things".

Today, my favorite thing is Christmas music! I love all Christmas music! I've got my iTunes library loaded up with Christmas songs. It's hard to choose a favorite song, but there is definitely one voice that I must hear every Christmas.

Nat King Cole was one of my grandpa's favorites, so he has a special place in my heart. I think his voice is just beautiful...Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without it.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

In honor of my paid vacation/pending resignation

In an effort to blog each day, I'm borrowing a couple of ideas from other bloggers (is it stealing if you don't mention it first? Whatever). The first is from my virtual pal Krista. Krista usually posts a list of some sort on Wednesdays. So I'm going to do it on Thursdays...so I'll know what to post a list about. I've got a few lists saved up, which is a good thing, because Wednesday isn't over yet at Krista's house and she hasn't posted her list.

List of all the jobs I've had-

Teacher- 2nd grade, 1st grade, multi-age 1st/2nd grade @ Kadena Elementary School. Working at KES has been so fantastic! I love my administrators, and school is so laid back. After teaching at Edison and the AmerAsian School (a non-profit organization), seeing the supplies that are available to me was like Christmas morning. Sure we have a limited amount of copies that we're allowed to make each month, but I don't have to buy my own paper clips! And to make the experience truly Okinawan, at Edison I had a few mice in my classroom...at KES I have geckos!
Camp Counselor- CYO Camp Lawrence, Valpo IN- My favorite job of all time. 1999, 2000, 2001, 2006. How could you not have a blast at a job where you wear shorts, play kickball, drink Kool-Aid and take naps?
Camp Counselor- Culver Summer Camps, Culver IN. I returned to Culver to give the cabins a try. Still didn't like it much.
Teacher- 1st grade- AmerAsian School of Okinawa, Ginowan City Okinawa. This was my good-deed job. I worked full time for about $800 a month, depending on the Yen rate. It was a sweet school and...I only had 10 students!
Teacher- 3rd grade- Edison Elementary School, Hammond IN. Aaahhh, my first full year of teaching. It was absolutely crazy. If I can do that, I can do anything. Crazy wild kids. But I loved my grade-level partners!
Senior Counselor- Camp Waziyatah, Somewhere in Maine. Lame job. I ended up quitting...I'd worked at 3 camps by that point and knew what camp should be like. But I did meet some new BFFs there!
Nanny- Aviano, Italy. This was one of those jobs where you love what you do but don't love your boss. Well, I loved one of my bosses. Then she went to Iraq and left me with the one I didn't have so much love for.
Long Term Substitute- 1st grade- The Prairie School, Racine WI. How lucky was I that I did my student teaching with a pregnant teacher and I got to take over the job when she went on maternity leave. For those that don't know, when you student teach you are paying (or your parents are, depending on your tuition arrangements) to work 40+ hours a week. Going from that to $100+ a day as a long-term sub was totally like striking the jackpot! And Prairie is a wonderful school! Great place to work!
Middle School After-School Program- The Prairie School, Racine WI. Remember how I said student teachers make no money? I just stayed at school a little longer than I normally would have each night to make a few extra bucks. Middle Schoolers are awesome!
Division Director- Culver Summer Camps, Culver IN. Didn't really love this job.
After School Babysitter- Kenosha WI. One of the best jobs ever... it came with a Wisconsin family of my very own!
Education Department Office Assistant- Carthage College, Kenosha WI. The perfect job for a teacher's pet.
"Fun-Raiser"-Six Flags Great America, Gurnee IL (I didn't get paid...the cross country team worked a couple of days each season and the money we would have earned went to the team)
Sales girl- Limited Too, Merrillville IN. If you've ever seen my bedroom, you might be surprised to learn that I was the one they wanted to work late on the nights before the District Manager came because I was so darn good at hanging and folding! I also won a Coach wallet for selling the most during the "TooBucks" special promotion.
Babysitter- random families, Northwest IN. I fondly remember the days I used to get paid to babysit... now my confused friends think I'm doing it out of the kindness of my heart.
Piano teacher- my house, Merrillville IN. I had 2 students. I think they can both play Mary Had a Little Lamb and "Mississippi Hot Dog" now.
Office Helper- my dad's office, Hammond IN. Aside from working for no money at Six Flags, this may be the worst job I've ever had. One of my tasks was to sort paper-clips. Bo-ring! And I probably didn't make that much more than I did at Six Flags. And they didn't even let me raid the office supply cabinet like I used to.
Lemonade Stand- grandma's house, Hammond, IN. Free lemonade for the mailman!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Last of the Leftovers

In honor of the last of our Thanksgiving leftovers, which will be finished today, I thought I would share this year's Thanksgiving menu:
Turkey- Steve (the turkey) was really stubborn about getting his temperature taken. You know in the sitcoms when a kid wants to stay home from school so his mom gets the thermometer and he holds it up to a lightbulb or something? Well I think Steve must've had an ice pack with him because he was in the oven for over 4 hours and still wasn't hot enough. We ended up eating it anyway and nobody is ill, so I think that proves my turkey-thermometer-tampering theory.
Fried Turkey (made in our back yard by one of our guests) It was so salty that one bite raised your blood pressure at least 3 notches. But still delicious.
Mashed Potatoes- I finally got a potato masher so they were a little bit better than in years past. I used 8 potatoes and 15 cloves of garlic and about half a bottle of Mrs. Dash and they were still pretty bland. I guess that's the nature of a potato, but I wonder why other people's mashed potatoes taste so much better than mine.
Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Caramelized Apples- Made these last year too and they are good! People are happily surprised to taste the apple-y sweet potatoes, even if they are accustomed to the gooey marshmallow goodness.
Sausage Stuffing- This is easy. You brown some sausage and add it to Stovetop. You can still tell it's Stovetop but it tastes so much better. I think anything tastes better with Italian sausage though.
Corn Souffle'- I love it, and everybody who tries it loves it. How could you not love something that contains a whole stick of butter and a half-pint of sour cream?
Green Bean Casserole- One of the guests was just delighted to see that the good ol' green bean casserole was topped with the little crispy onions rather than...Cheez-Its??? Interesting. I'm still in search of THE Green Bean Casserole recipe. This year, I cut down on the Velveeta my recipe called for (because I sent David to the commissary with the grocery list and he didn't know what Velveeta was. It's Pasteurized Processed Cheese Product, for Pete's sake! I will concede that it is difficult to find in the commissary, so it might have thrown him off if he was expecting to see it near the cheese. Whoever designed the commissary decided that cheese and cheese product should not mix.) Anyway, so I had to use the itty-bitty bit of Velveeta I had in the fridge (and cut off the hard crusty part) so I used probably 1/8th of what the recipe called for and you know what? It almost tasted like real GB Casserole! Apparently it was good, because there were no leftovers! And that is one of my favorite leftovers to eat!
Cranberries- I like to do cranberries with mandarin oranges & pecans in them. Thanksgiving wouldn't be complete without the jellied kind with the can ridges, so we had those too.
David was in charge of the ham. I do not do ham because I think it looks like the inside of your knee when you take a bad fall off a bike. It makes me gag and I refuse to make it. David was going to make it but Steve was taking so long that he decided not to (or at least that was his excuse).
David was also in charge of the rolls. David is pretty smart. Why didn't I decide to be in charge of something that I could just rip open the bag and set on the counter? Oh yeah, if I were in charge of the rolls, I would have heated them up before serving. And I probably would've put out some butter too. But I wasn't in charge of rolls. That gives me a pretty good idea why I put myself in charge of all other aspects of the meal.
One of our guests brought homemade mac & cheese. I don't remember mac & cheese ever being a part of our Thanksgiving traditions, but this mac & cheese was so good I think I might have to make it one. It was creamy & delicious.
Pumpkin Cake- This is the food that made me like pumpkin. I've been eating it since 7th grade at the home of one of my best friends. Everyone who tastes it loves it, which is really a shame since I absolutely will not share the recipe. We can't have everyone running around making Pumpkin Cake or mine won't be special.
Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream-broke out the ice cream maker again (and David said we'd never use it!) This was very good, and of course everyone was surprised & impressed that we had homemade ice cream! I didn't tell them that aside from the turkey, this was the easiest thing to make. Mix some stuff in a bowl, pour it in the ice cream maker and turn the dial to "on" for 25 minutes.
The Ultimate Caramel Apple Pie -or shall I say The Ultimate Caramel Apple Pie Disaster? Oh. My. Ga. (Watch Will & Grace?) Um...not real sure what I did wrong here. I think I shall blame the Okinawa weather. (What will I do when I can no longer blame the Okinawa weather for kitchen failures?) My pie is basically sliced apples floating in red wine that has turned not-quite-clear and covered with crust. That's not what the picture looked like. I had to put it in the pasta drainer before throwing it away. Sad, sad, sad. Especially because we bought 16 apples for the pie. It called for 8, but David put the first batch in the freezer to preserve them. Bwahahahahaha. Another reminder of why I should happily delegate all Thanksgiving responsibilities to myself. If it were up to David, we'd have chicken wings and french fries in the fry-daddy. Gotta love him.

All we still have as leftovers are mashed potatoes (which I considered making potato pancakes with, but it's so much easier just to toss them in the microwave for a quick heat n' eat) and mac & cheese. I know what I'm having for lunch today!
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