Projects · Seen/Heard/Tried

Some things I’ve been enjoying lately…

1. Couscous! Especially in this Salmon over Couscous recipe–it was fabulous!

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2. Trader Joe’s Graham Crackers. These are soooo yummy. My mother-in-law suggested making S’mores out of them sometime, which is a very dangerously delicious idea…

20130713-215204.jpg(Please excuse the crappy photo–it’s hard to have patience for good picture-taking when a delicious graham cracker is in your mouth.)

3. …and an idea that reminds me of something else I’ve been enjoying lately: bonfires! Last weekend we made S’mores during our bonfire get-together, too (sans Trader Joe’s Grahams, though!).

20130713-215146.jpg(Making S’mores & having bonfires were both on my Summer Fun Bucket List!)

4. I have also been obsessed with “Just Give Me a Reason” by P!nk featuring Nate Ruess. I just love watching Ruess (though the video primarily consists of P!nk rolling around on a mattress or making out with some random guy). I also love duets and guys who can sing well, which led me into looking up Ruess (like a creeper). I love this quote from an interview he did:

“I’m not one to take lessons, so I decided that the only way I was going to learn how to sing, if what they were saying was true, was to go in my car and put on any sort of music from a vocalist that might be really hard to mimic, turn it on as loud as possible and try to hit all those notes.” (source)

I think Fun would be super awesome to see in concert, and “Just Give Me a Reason” was about the only song I wanted to hear on our way to Detroit to a Guster/Ben Folds Five/Bare Naked Ladies concert.

5. Which reminds me, have you ever heard the song, “Erase Me” by Ben Folds Five? That was really fun to see in concert. We went to see them for our 5 year wedding anniversary! More on that adventure later…

6. But one thing I do want to point out about our anniversary is that I made a scrapbook for Chad of the last five years we’ve been married and all of the adventures we’ve had together (like traveling to 10 different countries including the US and Japan!). I’ve really enjoyed getting back into the craft of scrapbooking, especially since I find it can be really close to art journaling, which I also love.

20130713-215221.jpg(Chad got me a delicious chocolate cookie from the bakery and I was eating part of it while making his scrapbook–who said all work and no cookies!?)

What are some things you’ve been enjoying lately?

Uncategorized

On the 4th…

We spent our 4th of July evening grilling, drinking good beer and watching fireworks:

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During the national anthem before the fireworks, we stood, and I put my hand over my heart. I was surprised to see most of the people surrounding me didn’t do the same. Of course there are good and bad things about every country, but when it comes down to it, I am incredibly grateful to be an American, and I’m grateful to be free. I was glad to celebrate the holiday in my own country, and to take a moment–hand over heart–to appreciate being home.

 

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By the way, aren’t Wish Lanterns beautiful? I think they’re so romantic!

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Learning

It’s been a good day…

Today I went out to lunch with my mom and grandma (we went to Olga’s–yum!), got groceries and hung out doing laundry at my mom’s (and ate some of the amazing chocolate chip cookies she made!), leafed through a Taste of Home magazine my mom is lending me with way too many delicious looking recipes to try, and bought a new bike!

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I am really excited to have a bike to get around town with, and already rode about ten miles on it today alone! I was especially happy about the color. Chad suggested I get a brighter, bolder color, but the maroon color of this bike was the same as the first bike I ever had when I was in Japan. I feel so lucky to live in an area in which I can bike to the grocery store, the library, and the beach–the latter two of which I biked to today with Chad!

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When we stopped by the library, I dropped off two books and got them marked off on my Book Bingo card. I primarily started the bingo because if I finish it I have a chance at winning a gift certificate to Grimaldi’s Chocolates in Grand Haven, and we all know how obsessed I am with chocolate! Additionally, the Book Bingo sort of goes in line with another of my Summer Bucket List points: join a book club. I know it’s a little different, but it’s a step in the right direction!

So far for the bingo I’ve read Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures, Seriously, I’m KiddingYoga Bitchand Other People We MarriedI really enjoyed Yoga Bitch. Do you have a suggestion for a good mystery? I usually don’t like mysteries very much, so I am totally up for suggestions. As for now, I’m starting one of the “groundbreaking” reads about archaeological adventures, and putting a close to a very nice day.

What are some good things that happened to you today?

 

P.S. I have been enjoying playing around with the BeautifulMess app, which I used to decorate my pretty bicycle picture above! Have you tried it out yet?

 

Learning · Projects

Summer Bucket List: Jam!

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A little over a month ago, I got myself pumped for summer (and distracted from leaving Japan!) by making a summer bucket list. I tried to put a lot of fun, doable things on it, and so I’ve already made a lot of progress while enjoying every bit of it! One fun thing that I got to cross off my list was making jam.

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I decided to make a Strawberry Rhubarb jam that I found (full recipe, here) as my first jam ever. Although I was nervous, it looked pretty simple as long as you can follow the instructions! I started by dicing up the rhubarb, mashing some strawberries, and adding lemon juice and fruit pectin. (My jars were already washed and starting to sterilize at that time.)

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Then I put the ingredients in a pot and started adding sugar one cup at a time as each cup dissolved. In the tutorial, the girl said 8 cups was more than enough even though the original recipe she used called for 10, and she was definitely right! My jam was quite sweet in the end.

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Once the jam had thickened, it was time to ladle it into a funnel and into the jars, to ensure the rims were clean before sealing the jars, to sterilize the jars one more time, and to put them out to set and seal fully.

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Found this foxy little lady on an ad to make my request: Please don’t touch!

Then it was just time to wait for the lids to seal. I only heard the ting of one lid, but I left home for a while and I think the others must have popped while I was gone because–they all sealed! Yippee! Success!!

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There was some extra jam that couldn’t fit in the jars, so I put it in a warmed glass cup to store in the fridge. But, not before trying a little out on a wheat English muffin! I was so pleased to have made a very delicious batch of jam. Now the key will be not getting too addicted to making jams! I’m thinking of trying out a pineapple mango one next.

What are your favorite jams?

Monday Matters

Home, Sweet Michigan

“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard

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After nearly five years of living abroad in Japan, we’re finally home to Michigan. It’s strange, at the moment–the feeling that we’re on vacation for a while and going back to Japan soon is starting to fade, and yet being here permanently hasn’t quite sunk in yet either. It is so good to see family so often now, and difficult to explain how at the same time I so dearly miss my friends and “family” in Japan. How do you describe a life abroad for that long, where you start calling a different location home, too?

20130701-101410.jpgAn ema, or prayer card, I filled out about a week before leaving Japan.

I’ve said before that whether in Japan or the US, we’ll always be homesick for one place or the other. I can’t lie and say I don’t miss Japan, but I also can’t say that I’m not incredibly happy to be home. Life in Michigan is so comfortable–I love being in America!

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We lived in Kobe the last half of our time in Japan.

I know that our time spent abroad was invaluable. It definitely wasn’t always easy, but Chad and I learned so much about each other, about cultures all around the world, and about life in general in our time away from Michigan. We had some hard lessons, some fascinating lessons, and many once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Now that we’re home, we’re onto the next journey in our lives–a new beginning, so to speak. We’re not sure what that means for us exactly, and I think that’s okay. Through it all we’ll be together, with our past experiences to look back on and remember.

Here are a few pictures from our last few weeks in Japan–though there are so many more and it’s hard to choose only these to share!

20130701-101420.jpgGreen tea soba, at a restaurant with my beautiful kimono-wearing friends, a pretty coaster, a matcha parfait

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Standing in our kimono in Kyoto (except my lovely pregnant friend, who is still just as cute!).

20130701-101454.jpgPirikura (Japanese photo booth)

20130701-101752.jpgOn our last day in Japan, we got this message on our drinks from Starbucks! I decided to try the matcha flavor frappuccino for the first time since I didn’t know if it would be offered in the US.

Thank you to everyone in both Japan and in Michigan for all of your support and love over the past four and a half years. We couldn’t have made it through our adventures without you, and will keep on needing you in the future! Here’s to new beginnings!