One story, three ways

So I had my second-to-last Spanish lesson yesterday, and though I’ve been struggling with the language since Japanese always pops into my head (and I haven’t been studying very much), I was able to write a short “story,” on the spot in class, without any notes! That was kind of encouraging. I may not be fluent, but I can understand more than I could before! So, without further ado, here is my story in Spanish, Japanese, and then English. (Note: My Spanish is far from perfect, and my Japanese is very much out of practice! Also, I promise this is not going to become a cat blog, even though it might look like it’s headed in that direction! 🙂 )


Yo vivo en mi casa con mi esposo y dos gatos. Mi gato corren y comen todos las dias. Uno gato llamo es Comet. Uno gato llamo es Curry. Curry es naranja, y Comet es negro y gris.


I live in my house with my husband and two cats. Every day, my cats run and eat. One cat is named Comet, and the other cat is named Curry. Curry is orange, and Comet is black and grey.

So there it is! Next week is my final Spanish lesson, so we’ll see what happens from there. I’m not sure if I will continue or not as the Intermediate class starting in February might be held in a different city that’s a bigger commute. In any event, I’m happy that I got some Spanish basics! Hasta pronto! またね! See you soon!


Learning · Projects


If there is one thing I’ve learned about while living in Japan, it’s about how to adapt. I’ve mentioned before that our kitchen is tiny. Our refrigerator is even tinier, which means we have to be really creative about buying and storing food at times. We also occasionally have to get creative about what ingredients we use, as they are often either a) not available in Japan, or b) ridiculously priced. I experienced this yesterday when I made this amazing Thai Chicken Soup recipe from Reservation for Two.

I tried this recipe before and thought it was fabulous–really reminiscent of food we had in Thailand–but this time, as you might notice when comparing the recipe to the picture, some changes needed to be made. The recipe calls for green beans, but for about ten green beans at my local supermarket yesterday, it cost a crazy 198 yen! Yikes! I decided to substitute shelled edamame instead, and it was a pretty decent swap. The second swap was a yellow pepper for a red, as Chad accidentally used up our red pepper the other day in a smorgasbord lunch he made us. The swap wasn’t too bad, but I prefer red bell pepper. (Did you know that red bell pepper is an incredibly nutrient-dense veggie?) Thirdly, I had to cook the chicken from scratch as there is no readily available rotisserie chicken here. Lucky for me, the soup turned out delicious overall. Can’t wait to make it when we move back home–it will be sooooo much easier and cheaper!

Have you ever had to adapt a recipe?

UPDATE (4/15/2016): Not only did my picture disappear, but–even more of a bummer!–“Reservation for Two” also no longer exists! However, I found this recipe that I’ve already made several times and is even better!!


Maps, maps, maps!

For a very long time now, I’ve been drawn to all sorts of maps. I love maps of the world and of different countries, but I also love maps of the body. Maps are so intriguing–so inviting. I feel like they can teach us so much, and yet, inspire so much imagination. I loved the book The Island of Lost Maps: A True Story of Cartographic Crime because it followed a map thief, but also because it talked about adventures and myth connected to both ancient and modern-day maps.


Amazon link to the book

I’ve been looking at some other books about maps I’d like to read, and added the ones below (among a couple others) to my reading list:


Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as Cartographer


You Are Here: Personal Geographies and Other Maps of the Imagination


Cartographies of Time: A History of the Timeline

I read The Island of Lost Maps years ago, and was inspired to add the others above to my reading list after reading The Birth of our Modern Obsession with Maps and Creative Cartography: 7 Must-Read Books on Maps.

My love of maps often extends past just reading about them and looking at them. I love using maps in my art journaling, and have always wanted to make other things with maps as well. For example, this cute ornament:



Or this amazing map pin craft:



*Note: I wanted to show both pictures of the map pin craft at the same time, so I took a picture with my phone. Hence the Softbank banner across the top…

I think it would also be fun to make coasters or tiles, and I might try to do that with some maps of Kobe before we go. I love the way maps can create a sense of adventure or nostalgia–maps of places I’ve never been make me want to travel, and maps of places I’ve been…well, they bring back memories, and they make me want to travel, too!

How do you feel about maps?


Everything’s becoming so final!

Today I signed my final contract and ohmygosh I’m freakingout. Generally, I’ve been able to distract myself from that fact that in about 3 months, we’ll be leaving. But there’s no way to avoid thinking about it when you’re signing your name and talking about the future! Of course, we have plenty to look forward to, and that’s what I need to focus on.

Not-so-fun things we’re researching:

-Shipping prices from different companies

Fun things we’re researching:

-Bakeries and “marketing research” (which involves eating, of course!)

I’ve really been enjoying looking at pictures of bakeries on pinterest. I’m sure that counts as research and learning! Here are a few I like:

(vía Mela e Cannella: PARIS la ville plus belle du monde #1)

cute bakery

Lovely Italian Bakery

I really like clean, natural, simple, old-fashioned looks. If we ever open a bakery I want to have wooden floors and tables, distressed white walls, steel or copper fixtures… Time to start dreaming and designing! Anyway, I don’t have that many pins on my board yet, but if you’d like to check it out (and find the sources for the photos above), click here.

If you have any tips on the things we’re learning about, please let me know! What are you researching/dreaming about?



Lists, Language and Love

I’m sick. That means I’ve been doing a lot of feeling miserable and sorry for myself when I’m not sleeping. But, I’m trying to be positive, and I’ve still managed to check a few things off my never-ending to do list.

I love that–the satisfaction of putting a little check mark next to something I’ve completed. I also love writing lists–not just To Do Lists, but Wish Lists, Bucket Lists, Reading Lists, Research Lists, Cleaning Lists, Lists of Things I Like, Grocery Lists…the list of lists I like could go on and on! 😉 The organization, the goal-setting, the memory-keeping, the things to look forward to, and the feeling of accomplishment that can accompany list-making is so satisfying to me!

Today amidst my suffering, I’ve been reading about/looking at lists:

A Brief History of the To-Do List and the Psychology of Its Success

Thomas Edison’s To-Do List, 1888

Wendy McNaughton’s To Do List

10 Common Misconceptions about Sherlock Holmes

I’m sure you can understand my interest in that last link there, considering my open love for the show Elementary. I’m interested in the BBC Sherlock as well, especially after hearing a Chattering Class Segment on Dinner Party Download in which the guest said the BBC version really does the books justice, but one Sherlock at a time. (Which one do you love, if you watch them?)

Speaking of love, I also watched this interesting short video on The Odds of Finding Life and Love.

Separately, I wanted to mention this TED talk I watched on language development and social interaction called, “The birth of a word.”

And, lastly, I wanted to share a song that makes me feel better when I’m having a rough day. Or when I’m sick, like today.

Hope you’re feeling healthy today, and that if you’re having a tough day this song cheers you up. If not, maybe try making a list of things that do cheer you up? Or a list of things you love? I’ll be off to bed early–sweet dreams! ~~~☆彡

Learning · Seen/Heard/Tried

Wednesday Learning

This week I am learning/have learned about two things: the Lewis and Clark expedition, and chocolate. Of course I knew a bit about both to begin with (well, we could argue I knew a lot about the latter topic), but I wanted to learn more and I’ll tell you why.

Firstly, the topic of Lewis and Clark. This May we’re planning on visiting some states in the west, including Oregon. I am so excited about visiting the food stalls, Voodoo Donuts, various museums and breweries, and also…walking on the same trails as Lewis and Clark did! We’re starting to plan our trip, and I’ve been really big into the research involving Oregon. I’ve felt the calling to reread Stephen Ambrose’s Undaunted Courage, to watch random youtube videos about the expedition (see below), and to spend too much time on sites with interactive maps.


Secondly comes the topic of chocolate (*drools*). It came to my attention recently that a Japanese native named Susumu Koyama was awarded the title of Top Foreign Chocolatier by France’s Le Club des Croqueurs de Chocolat two years in a row. Koyama has a confectionary shop in Sanda, which is in Hyogo  Prefecture (we live in Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture), and one of my friends who lives near the shop says there are always massive queues of cars outside. Putting these bits of information together, I concluded that I must try some of Koyama’s chocolates before I left Japan!

Fortune struck with Valentine’s Day on the horizon. Department stores in big cities around Japan are stocked with various chocolates from the very best chocolatiers for the season, so once shops started their “chocolate events,” I was on a mission. I first went to one of the events in Osaka, only to find that the chocolates famous for winning the award were sold out! Luckily I was still able to soak in the artistry of all of the chocolates on display in the brightly-lit glass cases, to dream about the textures of the delights, and to sample a few as I walked around. Oh the joy!

Finally, I was able to procure the chocolates I’d been searching for in a department store in Sannomiya:



So now, the verdict.


We weren’t that impressed. Numbers one through three were nice enough–they had a harder shell with creamier chocolate inside. Number five, the Ninja Chocolate, had a taste like you might experience after breathing in campfire smoke too closely–like you’re chewing on a piece of soft bark, almost. They sure were pretty, though. And expensive *cough, cough* over 1500 yen *cough, cough*

Despite my disappointment, I feel like I might have to give Koyama another chance with some of their other chocolate selections. After all, they’ve kept the title for two years now, right? In the meantime, I think I’ll just stick with a good old Meiji bar.

What do you think? Do you know any cool facts about the Lewis & Clark Expedition, Oregon, or chocolate? Leave me a comment and let me know!