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Updates and Foodspiration

Today was a beautiful, warm and sunny day, so I tried to spend as much of it as I could outdoors. However, now that the sun has set I thought I’d update you on some of the things I had said I was looking forward to in March. First of all, I wrote about a planned trip to Tokyo, which is definitely still going to happen before we leave Japan, but might not happen in March anymore. We’ve found catching up with dental care, work and other random errands has been taking up a lot of time, and we kind of just want to hang out and save money. But we’ll see if we go stir-crazy next week and change our minds.

Next, I mentioned a trip to Mie, which you might have seen a few pictures of here. You also might have read about the third thing on my list, a trip to the Glico factory to see how pocky is made, here. And then I wrote about anticipating cherry blossom season and picnicking. Cherry blossoms are already starting to bloom in some parts of Japan–a bit early in the season, actually. There aren’t too many blooming around here yet, but that didn’t stop us from taking advantage of the gorgeous day–we had a picnic this afternoon (followed by lazing around in the sun for about an hour).

And then there was this last cluster of things on my list:

Coursera Classes– Still enjoying the Know Thyself course, though the wording on the quizzes often makes them difficult to answer correctly.

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain– I’ve been practicing the exercises and reading through on and off for the last two weeks. Today’s task was to do an upside down drawing, and I about lost my mind. It was so tough for me that I actually started growling out loud to myself! Luckily I was home alone so no one could judge me and my impatience and frustration. I guess such feelings are a normal part of shutting off the more verbal part of your brain and just seeing things, but it sure is a difficult process! I am determined not to give up, so I’m not going to push myself too much at a time.

Fitness & Relaxing– Last week I started doing the 30 Day Shred again. Since sickness and stress had led to nearly two months off, I decided to take it easy and start up again with Level 1, though I was pleased today to already be doing Level 2 without too much difficulty. (Okay, I’ll be honest. I about died doing the plank jacks!). I’ve also been walking 30 minutes to an hour every day, incorporating a little yoga into my days, and occasionally doing fitness online. I found this website today that has 100 Zumba workouts online for free! I think I’ll be trying that later. Having fitness as part of my daily routine has naturally led me to feeling more relaxed, but so has having more time for taking coursera classes, doing art journaling, trying to learn new skills (like drawing), reading, writing and just hanging out with my awesome husband.

When we were lying in the sun after our lunch this afternoon, I thought about how much I love eating outside, and how much I loved all the outdoor seating at restaurants in Europe. When we were in Amsterdam, we fell in love with a restaurant called Bagels and Beans, and ate there every day of our visit in their outdoor seating!


Chad at Bagels and Beans in Amsterdam last March


The view from the outdoor seating of Bagels and Beans


Mmm, cappuccinos!

I loved all of the bagel options so much that I actually took a picture of their menu while I was there so I could try and recreate them in the future. Imagine my disappointment when I looked for the pictures for this post, and they were missing! On the bright side, I do have pictures of some of the bagels we tried, and –luckily for both of us– they have an English menu online!


Warm: Toasted Ham, Mild Jersey Cheese and Tomatoes


Smoked Chicken, Avocado, Basil Dressing, Pine Nuts & Lettuce


Warm: Goat Cheese, Bacon and Pine Nuts


Warm: Goat Cheese, Walnuts, Honey and Thyme

Is your mouth watering yet? We’ve made the last two combinations pictured quite a few times over the last year, though unless you have a connection to someone with a Costco membership it’s often difficult to get bagels in Japan (two more months until I can buy all the bagels I desire! muah ha ha!). To make up for our occassional lack of bagels, we sometimes get creative (I’ve mentioned the need to adapt recipes before!).

Here I just used yummy looking bread from the bakery instead of a bagel, Camembert cheese instead of goat cheese, and sunflower seeds instead of pine nuts. (I split the cheese between two sandwiches.) In case you are wondering, it was FANTASTIC. I’m drooling just looking at the picture and remembering.

Do you like eating outside, and if so, do you have a favorite restaurant with outdoor seating? Have you been inspired by any menus recently? I hope you’ve found a few things you’d like to try from this post 🙂

3 thoughts on “Updates and Foodspiration

  1. i can’t wait to start working out again. last week i was so busy with work that i didn’t have the time and this week i’ve been dealing with the flu. i’m hoping to start working out again next week. i feel so much better when i exercise. not just physically but mentally too. good luck with 30 day shred and have fun with your art endeavors. i have to start doing more art journaling. i’ve been such a lazy bum about that.

    1. Oh no–I heard that you weren’t feeling well. I know how you feel! I am so glad to have time to relax and exercise more–a huge relief when I felt like I was about ready to burst! I tend to go in spurts with art journaling because I have a lot of interests, so I don’t think you’re a bum! 😉

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