Friday, December 16, 2011


I was chatting with my friend Brooke this evening and we were talking about poetry this evening. I told her that I think part of my problem with poetry is that my brain is still in elementary, everything must rhyme mode and high school everything must have a deep meaning mode and my brain just kind of falls apart. 

So she wrote this for me:
"As weather gets colder
And I get older
It becomes more apparent
That I’m not a ferret"
By Brooke (She's got a really cool website right now, check it out).

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Help donate meals to kids in need

Like Kidfresh on facebook to help them donate to kids in need through City Harvest! For each like they’ll donate 30 meals.

They are nearly at the end of their time to donate 300,000 meals to kids in need, so if you’re reading this today. Click the link and like kidfresh.

Their foods sound like they’re full of veggies! I like the sound of that.

I found this on All Day I Dream About Food's site. She has even more information than I'm posting. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Coming home

It's been a little while since I updated my blog. Updates about the past couple of weeks to come soon, but first . . .

I'm coming home for Christmas next week!!!

Or for an exact time until my plane in Sapporo takes off:

It's going to be fun to see my family. My mom told me this evening that my littlest sis had said that one of the reasons Christmas is her favorite is because she gets to see me. I can't wait to see her and give her a hug!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Another Awesome Oregon Video

I found this video on Google+ thanks to Ben Canales. I think it's one of the most beautiful videos of Oregon I've ever seen. Though I really love travel Portland's Love Letter to Portland video as well.

This video is best viewed full screen. (Dad - if you click the arrow button in the bottom right, it will become full screen).

Finding Oregon from Uncage the Soul Productions on Vimeo.

Makes me so excited to be home and see Oregon in all it's beauty while I'm there! 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

30 days of blogging: Complete!

Today marks the end of NaBloWriMo (In trying to find some sort of image, I found out it’s a real thing)

Image found here.

It’s been fun, but after this I’ll be slowing back down to a more normal blog pace of 2-3 times per month. I hope you enjoyed it despite the illnesses and other randomness that slowed me down a couple of days.

With this, tomorrow starts the first day of December, so home in less than a month! Woo hoo!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Almost 30 days of blogging

Tomorrow is my last blog of NaNoBlogMo.

Is there anything you want to see photos of? Anything you'd like to hear about? Add questions, comments and ideas in the comments!

Fushimi Inari

(Sorry I don't have more to say today, this bug has taken away all energy and creative thinking). 

Monday, November 28, 2011

A doctor's visit

I'm supposed to be blogging everyday in support of my NaNoWriMo friends. But I'm sick. So today you're getting a blog about my visit to the doctor here in Small Town, Hokkaido.

After a weekend of not feeling so great and then going home sick today after lunch because I had no energy, my supervisor suggested that I visit the "hospital" in town. It's more like a clinic, and I've only ever seen the same doctor, so I assume there's only one.

The visit always starts with me handing the receptionist my blue Japanese insurance card. Then we wait. We, being myself and my JTE who was sent along to help with translation. This time, because the flu/colds and other winter illnesses are happening all around, we saw 4 of my students and the guy under the superintendent of the school district while we were waiting.

When they called my name, we missed it the first time because we were chatting with someone we knew. We go in and he points to a chair for me to sit on. My JTE sits on the bed for patients. The doctor sits on his chair, next to his computer. He wears a flu mask covering his mouth, but he's moved it down, off of his nose.

He asks me the normal questions about what's wrong, mostly in Japanese with very random bits of English mixed in. Asks me whether or not I have a fever. When asked this, I admit I haven't taken my temperature today, but I haven't had one all weekend. After this, he doesn't bother to take it (at home the doctor ALWAYS takes my temperature regardless of whether or not I've taken it and regardless of what I've come in for).

So, I'm diagnosed as sick. Probably with the assumption I have whatever bug is going around. After being diagnosed, I pay the 1040 yen that is due to the doctor for the visit (less than $10) and head over to the pharmacy to pick up the drugs he's prescribed me.

At the pharmacy, we hand in the papers and wait. Since it's such a small town, it doesn't take long for them to finish and call my name. The doctor has prescribed me with 3 kinds of medicine: cold/flu medicine, cough medicine and phlegm medicine.

The pharmacist explains the drugs to me in Japanese, me understanding only a small amount and recognizing some of them as drugs I've been prescribed before and have at home from when I quit feeling bad after previous doctor's visits (don't worry, none of them were antibiotics).

When he's finished his explanation, I pay for the medicine. It costs less than 500 yen (around $4). And head home.

I've been given the ok to take a couple of days for rest if I need them. Hopefully the energy that usually fills my body will come back and I will have the energy to be back teaching soon.

Christmas Tree

Less than a month till Christmas! I'm so excited to come home and see my family and good friends! 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Advent Conspiracy 2011

Just watched this video:

Though I didn't know the numbers, I had no idea how much more Americans spend on Christmas than is needed to provide clean water for everyone on earth.

If we gave even part of what we spend on our loved ones and ourselves this Christmas toward that cause or any other cause, we could make a huge difference in so many people's lives.

The crazy thing is, it quite closely follows what God and I have been wrestling with lately: How much do I need? How much can I give to those who are in need? 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving celebration

Japan doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving like we do. Though they do always have November 23rd off. This year I got to celebrate my first Thanksgiving in Hokkaido. All the years previous to this, I’ve been here, but haven’t celebrated.

Our beautiful host, A. A lives in Sapporo and loves hosting parties with friends, so she decided to use Thanksgiving as an opportunity to get a bunch of us together – from school, church and other things.

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The dinner spread. The red plates were to keep things warm – unfortunately I forgot to get a shot afterwards. We had: red and green peppers spread with cream cheese and topped with walnuts, salad with avocado and tomatoes, green beans, green beans wrapped in ham, an absolutely delicious butternut squash combination, German potatoes, beer bread and cranberries. (And something else under the back red plate, but I’m blanking on what it was).

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A and the boys.

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One of A’s friends, S, beautifully backlit. Though I wish I had been able to reflect some of that sun back to her face to light it up.

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My table! We had a lot of fun chatting about all kinds of things. We were surprised to find that E had been to Virginia, the same state our host is from.

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The other table full of beautiful people. We had people from all over at this celebration – USA, England, Australia, Japan, New Zealand. It was loads of fun.

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At one point we started talking about all the crazy different words that are used between all of our English speaking countries. D told us that in New Zealand they say ‘rellies’ (I may be spelling that wrong) to mean ‘relatives.’ We were all very surprised and A and I decided we wanted to start using that word.

We also had a great discussion about the map and how it differs in our various countries. The US and English people use the same map, but apparently Australia’s map is upside down and Japan’s map places Japan near the center. During this conversation A exclaimed if it’s not set up like the US version ‘you can’t see that it all looks like one big puzzle!’ Then she found her US map puzzle.

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For dessert, we had apple pie and roll cake (Yum!)

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Pictures of a few more guests. I tried to grab some individual shots of everyone, but as I’m posting this, I realized I missed a lot of people. But the warm light after dinner gave those I caught a nice warm glow.

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It was a fun first Thanksgiving celebration.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Decorating for Christmas

Last Sunday, my church started decorating for Christmas. We started by taking the tree out and starting to try to piece it together.

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It slowly got put together, each piece needing to go in a specific place, like a puzzle.

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Streamers were hung from the wood panels above the windows.

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Hanging garlands and making funny faces over a window.

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Putting the star on top of the tree, it was always my favorite part as a child.

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Another silly-faced pose . . . no wonder I get along with this church so well.

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L hanging streamers.

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More garland hanging, along the wood trim.

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A cute smile, rather than a funny face.

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Another cute smile. This is one of the little girls I claim as my church little sisters. She’s about the same age as my actual little sister.

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Another one of said church sisters.

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And another funny pose. Christmas-bell-boy?

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Then of course, I had to get decorated here’s one of our hair.

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And one of our faces.

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A photo as shot by the one in the blue turtleneck.

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The three of us with L sneaking in.

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After all the Christmas decorations were taken out of my hair, I was given a very Japanese style hair-do.

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It was loads of fun working with everyone to decorate our church for Christmas. Unfortunately with all the hair antics, I missed out on getting a shot of the outcome. I’ll try to get one next time.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy thanksgiving to all of you in the USA! Thanksgiving just ended here (18 minutes ago), and it's a semi blog-less day. I'm still awake, but I should have blogged before midnight :)

Though I celebrated yesterday (more on that soon), I spent my Thanksgiving with my elementary students. With one school we learned about animals and had lunch. After lunch I headed to school 2 and got to teach all of the 5th grade in my whole school district, for a total of 27 students. They're going to be an awesome bunch when they get to junior high, they are so excited about English.

After school, I came home and packed for my fun trip tomorrow to the NaNoWriMo write in. I won't be working on a novel, but I'll be aiming to get some pre-blogging done and learn how to use my photo editor (GIMP). Looking forward to finding lessons online and learning.

After packing, I started on a dessert to take with me this weekend and dinner. A friend who I hung out with last week came over for dinner and a movie. She had rented 500 Days of Summer and it was due back tomorrow, so we decided to have a movie night.

I made pumpkin soup, she brought bread and we sampled tomorrow's dessert. It was great fun.

But now it's off to bed for me, because I have a fun and driving filled day tomorrow!

Photo walk

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

One of my favorite places in town

One of my favorite places in town is the bagel shop. I love how warm and inviting it is and I love the bagels! I claim they're the best in Hokkaido.

This is the seating area and one of the first things you see when you enter the shop.

Bagel seating area

This bulletin board shows the specials for the day and the shelves behind hold the bagels. Unfortunately, on this particular day at 11 am he was already out of most of the bagels! That just shows how good they are.

Bagel shelves

This is the area where the cash register is. He also has bagel themed postcards, which I’ll have to buy some of for my collection before I come home.

Bagel counter

The left side of the photo above, the bar-seating area. This area is fun because you get to look out the window. Nothing super exciting, but I love being able to look out the window. The other bonus for sitting here is you get to chat with the bagel guy. He always seems really kind.

Bar-style seating

This little scene sits above the shelves that hold the bagels. It’s kind of fun random things gracing the top of the shelf.


Since he was out of bagels on this particular day, I decided to get the quiche (pumpkin-bacon) and the curry soup. A perfect brunch for a day with a cold hovering over my head.


I’ll be coming back again soon!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Getting ready for tomorrow!

Tomorrow a friend in Sapporo is hosting Thanksgiving, so I’ll drive out and then drive home in the same day. It’s going to be a bit epic, but it should be loads of fun.

She asked for help making things so I volunteered for bread. I made beer bread.


That’s my moven (aka microwave-oven). It does a great job cooking small things, but big things (like this) tend to over cook a tad on the outside.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2011


If you’re actively coming to my blog, you can now see weather updates in the sidebar*. I stole the idea from E’s blog.

Unfortunately it doesn’t show you what’s coming up in Hokkaido weather:


and this:


But you can rest assured, that the weather forecast will look similar to that until about March (though it will get significantly colder before it warms back up) and that when I get back from Christmas, it will be snowboarding season!

Are you expecting snow in your part of the world anytime soon?

*Dad, click here, to get to my blog. Then look at the bar to the right of this post, you'll be able to see all the fun things there, including the weather. :) 

Sunday, November 20, 2011


I came home this evening with a headache and the last thing I wanted to do was to make dinner. So, I had a freezer meal.

These aren’t the freezer meals that you’d find in America. Those don’t exist in Japan and these taste way better. Basically, when I cook a meal I usually cook the whole 4-6 serving recipe, then I eat most of the servings over a few meals and put one or two in the freezer.

This means when I come home and have no interest in cooking, I can eat one. It also means I don’t have to sacrifice taste or nutrition for quickness by buying convenience store food.

Tonight’s dinner? Thai red curry (plus a couple of basil leaves off my plant to add color and taste).

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What do you like to eat when you don’t feel like cooking?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The small town rumor mill

I live in a tiny town in Hokkaido. It’s one of the smallest ones that I’ve heard of an ALT being placed in. My town has around 2,700 people. It’s pretty tiny and shrinking.

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The fun about living in a small town is that everybody knows everything that is happening in your life (or think they do).

The other day I was having dinner with some friends in town and I was informed that I had a boyfriend. This was news to me. What happened that had suggested this to people in town???

I asked her why she thought this. Apparently I was seen walking with a guy in town, a foreign “young” guy. I pushed her for more information, she said it had been a few weeks ago and near the station.

That was a few weeks after I had bought my new car. I realized that my “new boyfriend” was the guy I had bought my car from and that he is probably 10 years my senior.

Well, we cleared that up among ourselves, but it makes me wonder what other random, crazy rumors are floating around my town based off of small things that have no basis in reality.

What’s the craziest rumor you’ve had flying around about you?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Four Years Ago, Today

Four years ago, a drunk driver took you away, my friend since kindergarten. Since that day you've missed so much.

You were supposed to graduate with me, just a few weeks later, start school and finish it together.
Your niece that you had just heard about and were so excited for is getting so big and by the sounds of it, more and more like you every day.

C, your little sis, got married. You’d have been so proud, she was such a beautiful bride. You should have been there celebrating the day with us.

You have a nephew too, who I’m sure you’d love. I haven’t met him yet either, but all the pics C posts of him are adorable.

K joined the Navy. You would have been so proud of him, too. Had you been in the car with us, you would have had a great time with A, M and I in the car on the way back from C’s wedding when we got a flat in insane Arizona heat with him in his “whites,” unable to do anything for fear of staining them.

My sister got married without telling anyone (ok, well except maybe the judge). You would have loved getting to hear about the craziness of it just before your sister got married and how my parents reacted.
I wish you could be here to see all of the things that have happened in both of our families and with our friends. To share in the joys, laugh at the insane things and just be here.

We miss you Cara.
Cara and I before our first week at summer camp

Thursday, November 17, 2011

365 projet

I’ve had several friends on flickr start 365 projects. The idea is simple: take and post a photo everyday. It doesn’t have to be on flickr, but somewhere.

This last year, I had a friend who decided to do it, but posted her photos once a week on her blog. One of my favorite photographers on both Flickr and Google+, Takahiro Yamamoto, wrote about his experience doing a 356 project, here.

I’ve contemplated doing this several times, but each time decided that I probably wouldn’t be able to post everyday and then tried to start other things with friends (like photo of the week).

After some success with the photo of the week challenge, I’m going to do a 366 challenge in 2012. Why 366? It’s a leap year! It means I get to take one more photo next year.

The tip of the flower
Practicing for the 366 project
I’m not completely sure whether I will have internet access everyday or if I will even be in the same place for the whole year, yet, but I’m going to try to do it and see what happens. I may end up being a big failure, or I might discover some new places or angles for photography that I like.

The results will be posted to Google+ and flickr and possibly here, too.

What is something creative that you’ve been contemplating doing but procrastinating on?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

First Real Snow

On Monday I woke up and it had begun to snow. It wasn’t very much and it was mostly on the tops of the mountains.

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By the end of the day it had warmed up and it was about the same as that. Thankfully, since I wasn’t prepared for snow. I wore my Converse-knock offs and my fleece that day.

Yesterday, I woke up to white out conditions. I was surprised at how dark it was. I took a really terrible photo of it with my phone, but early morning it looked like this.

First Snow

Today it warmed up and melted, and snowed and warmed up and melted. This morning though, there was a beautiful combination of season all in one scene.

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Today, I was also caught off guard, though I shouldn't have been, when I went to leave school and realized I didn't have the window scraper in the car. I drove home with a mostly clear windshield and immediately put it in the car.