Seen · Seen/Heard/Tried · Tried

A busy Saturday & changes in October

Over the weekend I had a very full Saturday! The day started with waking up around 6 and heading with Chad to Grandville for the Race for the Cure. There were over 5,000 people walking or running to promote breast cancer awareness!


With such a large crowd, I would never want to run this 5K for speed, but to be honest, I didn’t care about speed that day anyway. What I did care about was doing something that means a great deal to me, as Breast Cancer runs in my family (my mother is a survivor). For the past couple of years I did a 10K Pink Ribbon walk in Kobe, and while I wish I could be there this year, too, I was happy that I was able to raise over $200.00 through the Race for the Cure last weekend with generous donations from friends and family.


Panera Bread gave out delicious ribbon shaped raisin bread after the run!


Chad and I after the run.


My numbers.

After the race, we went to my Grandma’s and had lunch with her before heading to the Oktoberfest in Grand Rapids in the late afternoon to meet my brother and sister-in-law.

This video shows Chad doing the Keg Toss at the event:

And here’s my brother, who was clearly waiting for some kind of signal to start and then finally just went for it:

And here’s both of them doing a one-handed keg roll. They would’ve won if it hadn’t been for two beef cakes who entered the very last minute, but the important thing, as my brother mentioned, was that “no one was really as in sync as [Justin] and Chad.”

After keg-rolling glory was taken right out of the hands of my husband and brother, we headed downtown for Art Prize. It was pretty crowded, but it was fun to look around. I kept hoping for the exhibits to be like the tents in The Night Circus, but unfortunately that dream was not fulfilled.


My favorite exhibit out of what we saw that day was this work of Buddha. 


It was a gorgeous day for walking around downtown.


I got a Jones Soda while we were walking around downtown, and the bottle cap said, “The coming month shall bring winds of change in your life.” I can’t give anything away just yet because I don’t want to jinx anything, but I have a feeling the prediction was on to something! Do you foresee any big changes in your life this month?

***My busy Saturday was really fun, and allowed me to cross three things off my fall bucket list in one day!

Monday Matters · Projects

Keeping track on cute calendars

I have two cute Rilakkuma calendars, and have been using one of them to track my fitness each month. I get a star sticker for every run, a bigger sticker (in this month’s case, monkey stickers) for other workouts, and just the satisfaction of jotting down walks and morning yoga/lighter workouts. It makes me feel really good to see a lot of stickers at the end of the month, silly as that may seem!


I was thinking of using my other calendar to plan bucket list activities to make sure I remember to get them all in, but I haven’t decided just yet! Do you like to use calendars to track progress? What kinds of things are you looking forward to in October?

Monday Matters


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.



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:



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?






Nothing like suspense to get you running!

So nearly a year ago I became more serious about running and bought a new pair of shoes. I was back in the states for a little over a week, so I was able to get what I thought was my size in what I thought was a good shoe. I think the shoes (Asics) were probably pretty good, though the salesmen clearly had no idea what he was talking about. Unfortunately for me, though, when I got back to Japan, the shoes felt too small! I know now that the fit can depend on the time of the day you try them on, and that there should actually be room between your toe and the front of the shoe and so on, but I was kind of out of luck because it is nearly impossible to find my size in Japan. I ended up running my first 10K in October for the RUN10FEED10 race in those shoes, and then continued running in them until my knees started hurting (my last run was on New Year’s Day). After going to the clinic last week, I was told I could still run as long as I had supportive shoes and stopped if my knees hurt while running. Then, coincidentally, yesterday I actually found my size running shoe! I promised Chad that if I could buy new shoes, I would start running again, four times a week, with a minimum of 2 miles each time.


These are my new, beautiful Nike Lunar Glides.

I wanted to be smarter this time than the last time I bought shoes, so I looked up lists of top running shoes and watched a video review of these on I also spoke extensively–at least, as extensively as my poor Japanese would allow–to the salesperson and she helped me a lot. (She, unlike the guy I had spoken to in the states, seemed to know what she was talking about!) Today was a moment of truth as I headed out the door for my first run in them. And…it was great!


I usually run about a ten minute mile comfortably, so I was happy with my time today after having taken a break from running for a couple of months. The shoes felt amazing–very light, yet supportive. Also amazing was revisiting an Old Time Radio Show I used to listen to called Suspense!.


Although I sometimes listen to music while running, I usually prefer to listen to podcasts. Last weekend I was listening to The Story on NPR and they were talking about Old Time Radio shows, so I decided to start listening to them again. I chose a particularly eery episode of Suspense! called “Zero Hour” (you can download it for free on iTunes, if you’d like!) to run to today. Nothing to distract you from any running discomfort like an episode of Suspense!, I’ll tell you that much! I barely noticed I was running, and if I did I usually still felt happy because there were so many Cherry Blossom trees blooming everywhere.

Do you like running? If so, what do you like to listen to while you run?


I saw this inspiring quote on Facebook the other day…

Have a happy Thursday! The weekend is almost here.

Food & Cooking · Learning · Projects · Tried

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 🙂