Around Town · Food & Cooking · Monday Matters · Tried

Crane’s in the City

On Friday, Chad and I went out for lunch and for a nice long ride in the sunshine. We decided to try a restaurant that was new to us: Crane’s in the City in Holland.

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The cute little restaurant is right downtown in Holland, and happened have outdoor seating available that day because there was a huge sidewalk sale going on over the weekend. We walked inside to order, and then sat outside to enjoy our meal.20130812-172651.jpgCrane’s in the City has a lot to offer its hungry customers, with apples playing a role in everything from desserts and drinks, to salads and sandwiches. It didn’t take us long to order despite all the appealing choices; we decided to split a Peach Fuzz drink and an Apple Cider donut, and then to each try a City Cristo sandwich set.

20130812-172707.jpgWe got our Peach Fuzz (a mix of peach juice, chai and apple cider) and donut straight away to nibble on while we waited for our sandwiches. I loved the wire chairs with heart-shaped backs, the wooden tables, and the mason jar-esk mug for our beverage.

20130812-172723.jpgThe restaurant had quite a few patrons coming in and out, but in only minutes we were brought our delicious meal. I had never heard of a Cristo sandwich before, but cannot tell you how glad I am to know what one is now! As the menu on their website describes it, a City Cristo at Crane’s in the City consists of “Turkey, provolone cheese, apple slices, and honey mustard dressing, grilled on Crane’s famous apple butter bread, sprinkled with powdered sugar.” I thought we’d be taking a little bit of a chance Crane’s in the City, especially with a sandwich featuring apples as much as the Cristo, but the gamble was well worth it. The apple slices were tender without being soggy, and the honey mustard dressing was sweet without being overwhelming. Each ingredient on the sandwich plays off of the others, creating a lovely balance of flavors. I was so impressed!

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Crane’s in the City also has a display full of all jams and apple butters to choose from, along with frozen baked goods available to purchase and bring home! Crane’s in the City is located on E 8th St  Holland, MI 49423. I highly recommend checking it out!

Food & Cooking · Monday Matters

Bachelorette Parties & Wrapping Paper

On Saturday one of my friends had a bachelorette party, and for dinner we tried an Asian cuisine restaurant called Fuji Yama. The restaurant had Thai food, Vietnamese food, and of course, Japanese food! I was really excited.

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I ordered a beer right away, hoping Asahi was on draft, but settling for Sapporo instead. Then I had the hard choice between eating Thai Prawn Green Curry or Tempura, ultimately going with the tempura.

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Some things I was surprised about:

1.) The waiter brought out the miso soup that came with my meal about 5-10 minutes before bringing out the rest of the meal. In Japan, the miso soup is enjoyed at the same time, creating a nice balance of alternating bites of the dish, rice, and a slurp of soup. I waited for the rest of my meal and felt a little sad as my soup got cold.

2.) The serving size was huge! I think there was probably three times as much tempura as you would get in a typical tempura set in Japan (not that I’m complaining). I couldn’t finish it, though it was delicious.

3.) There were some interesting veggie tempura choices that I never had in Japan–namely broccoli and carrot. I did like them, however, and was happy to try them! Does anyone know if that’s an Americanized version of the veggie tempura, or if you can have that in Japan, too?

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After dinner, we headed back to my friends house for some of the typical bachelorette party games. One of them required each of the ladies to buy the bride-to-be a pair of panties so that she could guess who they were from. Earlier in the day, I went to a department store to pick some up, and was surprised that there wasn’t any tissue paper at the register to wrap panties! (The cashier was clever enough to go pull some tissue out of a nearby folded shirt.) In Japan, pretty much no matter where you go, there is an option to have things gift wrapped. You can generally choose between a couple types of wrapping paper or bags, ribbons and/or seals. Everything is wrapped very precisely and beautifully, as presentation is very important in Japan.

I found this lovely tutorial (pictured below) on wrapping in the style of Japanese department stores, and am looking forward to trying it next time I need to wrap something!

I have enjoyed looking through the blog that posted the tutorial with the picture abovethe blogger lived in Japan for a while, too!

Do you have any interesting or fun ideas for wrapping gifts? I also really like this idea for using confetti, and this one for using newspaper!

Food & Cooking · Monday Matters

A Little Surprise for My Coworkers (and a check off my Summer Fun Bucket List!)

I’m not going to lie: training at Starbucks has often left me feeling like my mind was going to explode with all of the information necessary to remember right from the start. It has been hard for me to go from being a confident, competent leader, to starting something completely new. I’ve been feeling pretty vulnerable, which I guess is a good way to grow, but not my favorite way to feel for sure.

Anyway, for the most part my coworkers have been pretty understanding and patient with me as I’ve been learning (and forgetting, and relearning, and making tons of mistakes). So, I decided it might be nice to start the week off with these delicious Pineapple Upside-Down Minis as a sort of thank you to my coworkers.

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I was trying to think of what might be good to make when I remembered this recipe from A Beautiful Mess, and then–to top off the greatness of the idea–I remembered making these little lovelies was something on my Summer Fun Bucket List! That’s two birds with one stone 😉

I had a lot of the batter left over after making a double batch (after all, we had to test a few to make sure they were suitable for bringing to work!), so after making 24 cupcake-sized delights, I made a little more of the brown sugar, whiskey & butter topping, and drizzled it into a glass bread pan. I also sprinkled in a few extra chunks of pineapple and cherry halves before filling it with the remaining batter.

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Not necessarily the prettiest, but I’m sure it’s just as yummy as the cupcakes! (Also, that’s pineapple mango jam I made in the background! Jam Recipe here.)

And so, I now also have a Pineapple Upside-Down Loaf! Yum!!

Have a happy Monday! 🙂

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!

Monday Matters · Projects

My Day in Photos & My Summer Fun Bucket List

Yesterday we went to a Hanshin Tigers baseball game, followed by a judo farewell party for Chad (one of his teachers started the party by saying, “Ladies and judo-men, thank you for coming. Kanpai!). Both events were really fun, but drinking in the sunshine followed by drinking at a small izakaya led to two sleepy friends this morning. So, we slept in and then lazed around all morning. Chad played League of Legends online and I drank coffee on our balcony while reading blogs, twitter and the news.

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We finally got going in the early afternoon, walking from our apartment to Nunobiki waterfalls, down through Kitano (spotting a woman with a monkey!) and to Starbucks, to Sannomiya for a little shopping, and then all the way to HAT Kobe for some more shopping and sushi.

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We ate sushi at a kaiten sushi restaurant called Kurazushi, and while we were waiting for some of our specially ordered sushi to come zooming down the sushi train, Chad surprised me with a Rilakkuma stuffed animal! Yay! Just looking at it makes me so ridiculously happy. You can’t deny Rilakkuma is one of the cutest characters ever, not to mention the fact that our favorite things are the same in life: eating sweets and relaxing.

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I know. I look tired. Focus on my cute Rilakkuma & the striped bag I got for only 300 yen instead!

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We tried some new sushi today, as well as some yummy sweet potato sticks (top left corner, above). You can see sushi with grilled bacon and mayo on the bottom left, and lemon steak sushi on the bottom right. In the upper right corner is my handsome husband with his cheeks full of sushi, and in the middle you’ll see more normal types of sushi (crab salad, tuna salad, shrimp mayo and cucumber salad, shrimp, and tuna).

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Chad expertly making green tea with the powder and hot water.

All in all we had a really nice day. We’re both feeling sad about leaving Japan, despite our excitement about going home, so I made a summer fun bucket list to help cheer myself up! The warm weather was a welcome reminder that summer is on it’s way, so I thought I’d share my list (so far!) with you!

Caitlyn’s Summer Fun Bucket List

1. Drive-in Movie

2. Binder Park Zoo

3. Go fishing

4. Make S’Mores

5. Have a Star Party

6. Learn to play guitar again

7. Make a bird feeder

8. Make jam

9. Join a book club

10. Go mini golfing

11. Go bowling

12. Have a BBQ

13. Go on a picnic

14. Make banana splits

15. Make homemade ice cream

16. Tie Dye Shirts

17. Blow bubbles

18. Paint rocks with my niece

19. Cheese Fondue

20. Make Root Beer Floats

21. Board Game night

22. Milk Carton Boats

23. Go to a museum

24. Friendship Bracelets with my niece

25. Look at bugs/plants/nature under a microscope

26. Learn to make egg tarts

27. Get a cat!

28. Can tomatoes

29. Play badminton

30. Run at least one 5K

31. Have a fancy night dressed up around town (going to ordinary places)

32. Find a gym with yoga and zumba that’s reasonably priced

33. Volunteer

34. Pay it Forward by paying for someone behind me at a drive-through

35. Paint Balling

36. Wine and Cheese night

37. Make kimchi

38. Make homemade pickles

39. Make homemade Bloody Mary’s

40. Make pineapple upside-down cake cupcakes

41. Make sun tea

42. Dandelion Blowing

43. Make a sandcastle

44. Make/decorate pottery

45. Bon Fire

46. Celebrate 5th Wedding Anniversary at Guster concert!

47. Visit Green Dot Stables in Detroit

48. Go to our high school reunion

49. Traverse City & eating/drinking cherry-flavored things!

50. Shorts Brewery

51. Make waffles

52. Make homemade bread

53. Make cookies with my niece

54. Make trail mix and go for a walk with my niece & nephews

55. Make dreamsicle orange punch

56. Make strawberry mimosas

What fun have you been up to lately, and what fun things do you have planned for summer?

Monday Matters

Everest

Over the weekend I was a little down, so I decided to look up a bunch of inspiring, motivating quotes on Pinterest. I know that may sound like a giant waste of time, but as I jotted down many of the quotes that spoke to me, I started to feel better.

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Then I started to wonder if there were any motivating iPhone apps, so I did a search and came across Everest. I really like the app so far–it allows you to set as many goals/dreams as you want, focusing on three main goals/dreams while keeping all of them in view. After choosing some goals/dreams, you create steps you can take toward achieving them, whether they be ongoing or one-time goals (so for example, cutting out sugar long-term or visiting a foreign country). You can cross off steps when you complete them, even if they are steps you take daily, so there is always the satisfaction of doing at least something to get what you want. You can also set reminders for the steps.

Here are some of the goals I’ve started:

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So far I’ve been doing pretty well, though I only started yesterday. I went to bed a little after 10:30 (thus not fulfilling one of my steps toward waking up on time), but I didn’t snooze my alarm this morning! And I ran this morning to boot! I also drank my goal for daily water and wrote in my journal. I’m not focusing on guitar at the moment, but when I move home I’m hoping to get new strings for mine and start learning again.

Do you often set goals for yourself? What kinds of things or phrases keep you motivated?

 

 

 

 

Around Town · Food & Cooking · Monday Matters · Tried

The best katsukare restaurant ever

Yesterday I met one of my coworkers for lunch at a restaurant called Nanjaro?, which I think roughly translates to, “What is it?” Chad stumbled upon the cozy diner about a year or so ago, and we just keep coming back.

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Every time Chad and I go to Nanjaro?, we order the katsukare: pork cutlet fried in a layering of flour, egg & panko (Japanese bread crumbs) with a side of rice and Japanese curry. Often this type of dish feels way too heavy, but at Nanjaro? the katsu is very light and flaky without a lot of oil, the curry has a really lovely consistency with bits of tender beef throughout, and the rice is buttery without being overpowering.

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I recommended the katsukare to my coworker, and as you can see, she enjoyed it–she gave me about the cheesiest smile ever! 😉

The atmosphere in Nanjaro? is comfy–there is a checkered wall in the kitchen and wooden walls throughout the rest of the place. There is seating at a counter or at one of three big wooden barrels, without much space between the counter and the barrels. The staff always remembers Chad and I, which could be because foreigners probably don’t frequent the restaurant often since its outside the main part of the city, but I like to think it’s because they truly just remember and appreciate our business. And man, do we ever appreciate theirs!

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Nanjaro?, please come to Michigan?

Monday Matters

Monday Matters

Well, even though I worked over the holiday, today is the first official day back. It’s nice to see familiar old faces, and to see the bright, smiling, eager faces of new trainees. This job is a lot of work, but man will I ever miss it. I feel so sad to think about leaving my kids, leaving the teachers who have become such close friends, and leaving the school. But, not yet! Not yet.

Chad and I have been holding to our cherry blossom viewing plans–we went last night (with a mini feast of tacos, apples, mandarin oranges and soda/beer), and today with a Japanese style fast-food set (Yoshinoya for those of you who might know or be interested in knowing). We bought something to hold us over after the training at a 100 yen Convenience store, and the receipt was so cute! I’ll miss that about Japan.

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Okay, enough! I’m not leaving yet! 🙂 Enjoy your week–I hope you find a little something cute to brighten your day.

Monday Matters · Seen/Heard/Tried

Lately…

Today I spent a good portion of my day at work, which is kind of a bummer since I’m technically on holiday, but at the same time not too bad. Once I get started working it is so hard to stop, hence the reason I’m on my way home now, at around 8:00 on this super cold night. Anyway, I also had to work a bit on the weekend too, but on the side I watched two movies: Lincoln (slow, but interesting), and Argo (good, but super tense). I know it’s a very cliche thing to say, but with both movies I felt so saddened by what humans are capable of–saddened by killing and war.

I also started watching a new documentary “shorts” series with Chad called Crash Course World History. We’ve watched about 5 episodes so far and really like it. You can watch them for free, too, by going to Watch Documentary. (There is also a Crash Course series for biology, but it’s a bit over my head.)

We were able to meet some friends on Sunday for lunch, and one of them took this lovely photo of Kobe Tower with cherry blossoms:

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Later that day I saw this pretty cherry blossom wine I might have to try:

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And earlier that day I saw dancing dragons in the China Town:

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I indulged myself and bought a sparkly Rilakkuma pencil and these adorable socks:

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He’s like, “Look everybody! I’m super cute and I’m drinking coffee! Don’t you wish you had coffee?”

And saw these three confused station attendants:

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How was your weekend? Is your Monday off to a good start?

Monday Matters

I get by with a little help from my friends (and good Turkish food, cappucino’s, macarons and bentos)

We had a work Ladies Night Out on Saturday, and after waking up that morning feeling exhausted and having an earache, I started to consider canceling. While internally debating what I should do, I came upon this article on Brain Pickings that quoted Anais Nin:

“The secret of a full life is to live and relate to others as if they might not be there tomorrow, as if you might not be there tomorrow. It eliminates the vice of procrastination, the sin of postponement, failed communications, failed communions. This thought has made me more and more attentive to all encounters, meetings, introductions, which might contain the seed of depth that might be carelessly overlooked.”

There was my answer! I’ve been spending a good deal of time working, catching up on work, and going to the doctors, and I’m going to be leaving the country (and those lovely ladies!) behind quite soon. I needed to take advantage of the time I had with people who are important to me! I became determined to feel better, and went out with what turned out to be a very small party of fun women at a Turkish restaurant.

I had really wanted to take a group photo, but I only managed to take a few badly lit photos of dinner and this one below of dessert:

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Have you ever tried Turkish Delights? These were pretty good, but I’ve really been wanting to try this recipe, which makes Turkish Delights that are quite pretty! They would go perfectly on or next to some Turkish dishes or pottery, such as the ones below:

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You can find all of these pretty dishes and more by clicking here for the source.

The next day, Chad and I had a Starbucks date that cheered me up. We tried sakura (cherry blossom) flavored macarons. They were so nice!

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I had my usual tall cappucino.

And that brings us to tonight! Chad and I are both pooped from work, so it’s a bento night for us!

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Thank goodness for good friends, good food, and excellent coffee! What’s getting you through the week?