Thursday, August 14, 2014

Cat Thursday (31)

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! Enjoy! Hosted by Michelle of The True Book Addict.

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Lauren Bacall died this week. She was a great actress, you know, one of the old Hollywood greats. So I dug this up, Bacall with two cats. It's adorable.

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The rest of these are just funny cat pics I found this week!

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Friday, August 1, 2014

More Mini Book Reviews

It's been a pretty crazy few months with moving to Japan and all. While I have read a few books along the way, I haven't really had time to get my reviews up. So I'll do a quick review of them instead and will just have to call that good :)

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1. A Geek in Japan: Discovering the Land of Manga, Anime, Zen, and the Tea Ceremony by Hector Garcia.

This was recommended by my culture class teacher. She said it would help to give me a little bit of insight into the country I was going to be occupying for two years.

Garcia had a fun and informal tone. He provided some interesting history and cultural tidbits. It helped to open my eyes to the beauty and diversity of Japan.



2. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman.
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I read this for my book club back in the States. They even FaceTimed me in for some of it, though it was hard to hear everyone or pipe in with anything I wanted to say but it was fun nonetheless.

Gaiman has a way of writing about the sad. The story was a fable of what is, how are lives so often go. The title character (he never receives a name) meets three powerful women who live down the lane from him. One seems a little older than him and yet she seems like a full-grown adult. He can't make sense of the daughter, mother, and granddaughter. One day he is thrown into their world of magic. And it changes his life forever.

Beautifully written, difficult to fully grasp, though, for me and just left me with a sad feeling. Not my favorite but still a worthwhile read.

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3. Secrets and Wives: The Hidden World of Mormon Polygamy by Sanjiv Bhattacharya.

I normally don't read books about polygamy. It hits to close to home as a former Mormon and usually any tales to read are filled with abuse and brainwashing. So  I was pleasantly surprised to read this one. He takes the stance of one finding out why polygamists practice. Are there groups that are open and tolerant of the outside world? He found both and some in between. It opened a whole new world of polygamy for me, good and bad. He's a fantastic writer and I enjoyed going on the journey with him.



4. Horrorstor: A Novel by Grady Hendrix.
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What do you get when you combine a knock-off store of Ikea with an old creepy penitentiary full of creepy prisoners and a warden? You get a horror store! This was really creepy. I read it over three nights and got scared a couple of times. The pacing was a bit weird at times and the characters were a little 2-dimensional but I overlook that due to its awesome story and scariness! I'm looking forward to the sequel!

*Received an e-book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.



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5. Killing Ruby Rose by Jessie Humphries.

An ass-kicking teenage girl who solves crimes! I had to read it! It was good overall but it had some really slow parts at the beginning. This is Humphries first book and she's also an attorney for her day job. I'm wondering if the kinks will get worked out as she becomes more experienced. And I wondered if she should have toned it down a bit to be a more believable young adult book or if she should have amped it up for a more worthwhile adult crime series....I have hopes Humphries will come through in her second book. Interesting characters and an interesting mystery made it a worthwhile book.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Cat Thursday (30)

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! Enjoy! Hosted by Michelle of The True Book Addict.

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I saw this posted on someone else's blog last week! Pretty hilarious cuz it's so true :)


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Cat Thursday (29)

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! Enjoy! Hosted by Michelle of The True Book Addict.

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I thought I'd add a few of my cats to Cat Thursday. My friend Stacie and my family send me a few pictures from time to time of my kitties. I thought they would be nice to share this time around!

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Shadow is mine and Sugar is her new buddy ;)


Well, I can't find the photos for my other two cats so I'll just leave it with Shadow and find Wolfy and Frodo's for next week :)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Cat Thursday (28)

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! Enjoy! Hosted by Michelle of The True Book Addict.

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It's been awhile since I've done Cat Thursday...I've been trying to adjust to Japan life and I've been pretty distracted. Plus I really miss my cats so it's kind of bittersweet at times to look at cat photos and share. But here we go!

I recently learned of cat cafes in Japan. While I haven't found any near me in Hiroshima, I know there are a lot in Tokyo. So it's on the list when we make it up there. Here's a great video of two. They are adorable and it would be a great way to help alleviate my pain of not having cats with me. I hear there is one in Denver trying to get started. Enjoy!




Tuesday, July 8, 2014

These Are the Days....

I'm trying to post more often but I forgot how long it takes to actually get pictures and words onto here!

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Hiroshima Castle

I still need to take time to take some sunny day shots of our apartment. It doesn't get a ton of great natural light but I'll do my best when it gets sunnier. Hopefully this weekend and when the place is a bit cleaner ;) I really like it, though. It'll do for us over the next 2 years!

I am enjoying having so many things really close. Lots of shopping district, restaurants, and the grocery stores are all within walking distance or a short bike ride or hop on the train station, which is literally right outside our apartment door. We have McDonald's across the street too ;) A family pool is two train stops away and it's pretty nice. The Hiroshima Castle and Temple is within walking distance and if I ever decide I want to run, they even have a jogging trail! The YMCA is also very close and it offers lots of stuff for Gabe to do like swimming lessons, dance, sports, etc. I can even sign up for the gym if I desire.... And a really nice liquor store is literally next door! They have a children's museum close by which is free except for the planetarium. The library is right next door to that. And any street car or other train lines are all within another train ride away. Oh, I can't forget the Costco! Lifesaver! It doesn't have everything I'm used to but it still has plenty.

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Everyone is also so nice and helpful. Lots of restaurants have English menus and most of the menus come with bright colorful pictures so even if they don't have an English one I can just point and say please! No tipping is expected. I feel bad not doing it but it's how they roll here so I'm enjoying it.

Also everything is small and adorable. I found a little cocktail shaker that holds 4 oz maybe. It's just adorable.

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The hard stuff so far. Driving! It's on the left side. All the signs are in Kanji with a bit of English or hiragana/katakana. The roads are smaller. The signal and the windshield wipers on the opposite side. Plus there are people and bicyclists everywhere! We all share the road to some degree and it's quite scary. I fear I'll maim some poor elderly woman or some punk kid on a bike going to fast! Yikes.

Bicycling is also scary. I got one of their big bikes with a basket and a seat for Gabe on the back. They are big and heavy and durable. I've never been much of a biker in the States so trying to figure this out is pretty daunting. They are very very talented bicyclists here. Weaving in and out of traffic and pedestrians is what they do.

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Also everything is in kanji. It's frustrating to not be able to read things. My brain hurts after five minutes at the grocery store. It'll take time but it's daunting in the beginning.

I find I'm missing bread. They do have bread here but it's only white bread and it comes in blocks which they slice into 3, 4, 5, or six slices. And they are pretty big slices. I found one that had ten once but I haven't found it again. So we head to the store pretty often to pick up bread. They do have bakeries but they are usually filled with pastries which are good but something I shouldn't have everyday! So flour, sugar, etc are all high-priced commodities. Specialty bake shops carry the things I need but I haven't been to one yet. Also our "ovens" are really microwaves with ovens too. I miss my large oven. But I love their gas stoves and pans! I can't forget the rice cooker! So amazing. We will be bringing one home with us for sure :)

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Green Tea Cake! Yum!

So it's harder to figure out what to cook for the family. I usually to crock pots and breads and pasta and all that American stuff...here it's doable but a lot more expensive. I have no idea how to cook Japanese style and it looks like lots of prep. So we do what we can. But curry is everywhere and it's good and quick and easy so we've had that a few nights.

I really want to learn how to make okonomiyaki! I've written about it before but it's heavenly. It's fairly simple ingredients but looks like it'll take some practice before it'll come out all right!

Shabu shabu is also delcious! You boil your meats and veggies in special sauces right at your table. Gabe loves the meats so it's a good one to go to. Ramen is amazing here. Katsu. Curry. I still need to find a good sushi place. I want to eat out every night but we can't afford that but we do make it out at least once on the weekends and try new things.

Fun day with friends :) beautiful gardens here.
Shukkein Garden! Beautiful place.

There's more to write but I'll end here....I'm a little lonely missing my kitties and my friends and family and English...ha ha! It's culture shock. I'm in it but trying to deal with it and know it'll last for a bit longer and may even get worse before it gets better. I keep my chin up and know it'll get better as I meet more people and get new friends, figure out how to drive and bike my way around, and get a bit better at Japanese, which all takes time :)

Monday, June 16, 2014

Hiroshima Peace Memorial and Other Fun Times

The weekend came and went too fast, but we did manage to visit the Atomic Dome/Hiroshima Peace Memorial. I wanted to stay there a lot longer but when you have a 5-year-old with no attention span who's still adjusting to life on the other side of the world...well, you know.

The dome before the bomb circa 1930
2014-06-14 14.10.39.editIt's one of the few buildings still standing from the atomic bomb. It took a few years for Japan to decide they wanted to turn it into a memorial. So many wanted the reminder gone.

It's a jarring sight. One you can't soon forget. To stand there and contemplate that only a few decades ago the destructive force of the atomic bomb ripped this city apart and the people within. Horrifying but one that's stands as a reminder for peace.

I'll definitely find times to come here by myself to truly contemplate what this means.



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What the sign said about the dome.
We headed around the rest of the park and found other statues and memorials for peace.





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We then found the bell for peace. We each rang it. And Gabe did so very loudly!

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Then we found the Jizo statue that still has the atomic shadow created from the blast.

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Japan loves origami and they create some pretty amazing art out of it. All of these pictures are of tiny origami cranes made into beautiful works of art, all for peace.

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2014-06-14 13.13.42.editThis is just a taste of their amazing vending machines that you can find on every corner! You need water! Boom. Coffee? hot or cold? juice, soda...some even have beer.

Gabe got pretty bored and tired after an hour or so but he was a trooper and kept at it!








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The rest of the day we spent at the Aeon Mall. It has a really nice dollar store, Toys R Us, a big grocery store with other department store type things on other floors, and good food. We ventured on the trains. Archie knows a lot of Japanese and is getting better as time goes on. So he can ask for train tickets and order our food. I'm not there yet, but look forward to the day when I can.

Sunday was a relaxing day of bill paying and paper work and puzzles, TV watching, okonomiyaki! and just chilling.

We should be getting into our apartment on Friday. And hopefully our resident visas will come through within the next couple of weeks so we can get cell phones and other things.

The next big daring adventure will be to learn to drive on the left side of the road. Archie tried it from work with his boss who's been driving here for awhile and with Gabe and me from his boss's house to our hotel. It was pretty nerve-racking!

We are all looking forward to our own space and routine again! We've been going a bit crazy living out of suitcases and in hotels.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Cat Thursday (27)

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! Enjoy! Hosted by Michelle of The True Book Addict.

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It's been too long since I've posted. It's been a crazy, sad, and exciting time for me. My kitties have been handed over for 2 years to loving family and friends. So Cat Thursdays are a little sad now. I miss them so much. Without further adieu here are some cat pics I've seen over the last week :)



 The world's oldest living cat died this week :(

Poppy was 24 years old or about 114 in human years.
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And for my last one....happy birthday to me :) I'm spending it cooped up in a hotel room in Hiroshima. But am looking forward to celebrating it soon officially when we get into our apartment and settled next week or the week after! Then partay in Japan!





Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Under the Never Sky series by Veronica Rossi

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This is definitely one of the better young adult series I've read in a long time. There is a plethora of young adult dystopia right now and a story can get lost amongst the competition. But this one deserves its status.

I read all three in the trilogy: Under the Never Sky, Through the Ever Night, and Into the Still Blue. It is young adult but I still felt like the characters were in their world and not too teen-like nor too adult-like.

Earth has been ravished by electromagnetic fields. 300 years ago the rest of civilization dispersed into the world or into 'pods', aka with technology. The magnetic fields caused enhanced mutations for the outsiders while the dwellers became addicted to technology.

Aria is a dweller who comes into contact with Perry, and outsider when they meet during a fire in her pod.

The two set out together to find the people they love, her mom and his nephew.

It's a nice love story. They really hate each other for along time and we see their relationship blossom and grow over time. There are no love-triangles, thank goodness. I hate those. Just some jealousies and misunderstandings.

All three novels focus on their relationship and the relationships they form with those around them. The ultimate goal is to make it to paradise or "The Still Blue", a spot where the magnetic fields have created a bubble with blue skies and drinkable water.

It's a great story on love, loyalty, friendship, and loss. I would recommend it for anyone.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Bon Voyage, Utah and Home-finding Trip

I'm pretty sure we're leaving this Saturday, June 7th but we still don't have visas in-hand yet so you never know....but our tickets have been bought!

May 12-15th I headed down to Vegas with two of my besties and we hit the town hard...well, not too hard. I'm getting old ;)

This pic encapsulates our awesome adventure. This one was taken at Coyote Ugly where Brittney got up onstage and danced her patootie off!

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After all that fun it was time for Archie and me to head off to Japan for our home-finding trip. It was fast and furious and stressful and fun.

Hiroshima is really an amazing city and I only saw a little bit of it. Jet lag was pretty tough. I woke up at 4 am almost every morning. So it made for some long days. 

Japan is 15 hours ahead of Utah so that made for some interestingly timed phone conversations with my mom, who was watching Gabe for that week! The flight was really long and it never was night. We kept up with the sun the whole time. That was so fascinating. The International Dateline is in the Pacific Ocean and it heads east. So Japan is a lot further ahead than say England even though the flight time is comparable! Just crazy. And we lost a day. So we left Sunday in Utah and arrived Monday night in Japan.

Tuesday was our home-finding trip with Paul, a Japanese-Canadian! He was fantastic work with. He told us everything he could think of on Japanese culture and getting around Hiroshima! We ate Japanese ramen and it was the most delicious ramen ever. I should have taken a pic but I was too jet-lagged to think straight and I know I'll have more opportunities in the future. It also rained all day, so Paul even bought us each an umbrella so we could stay dry.

Wednesday was a trip to Gabe's school to meet the principal and take a tour of the school. We're excited! I think Gabe will really enjoy it. Then it was off to pick our apartment after we had narrowed our search to 2 apartments. We chose the one with two stories. It was the biggest apartment Paul had shown and it's close to Archie's boss and his family that are also from Utah working for Micron out in Japan like us. The subway is two seconds away as well. So it just worked out nicely for us.

Here are a few photos of our new place! We have some lighter furniture to help brighten the darker floors and cabinets. It should be nice. A little cozy but comfy.

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Here are a couple of photos of Gabe's school.

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The wheel has a bunch of different areas where the kids talk about how they fit in or didn't fit in each day or week. Some are risk-taker, caring, reflective. The older kids help out the younger ones with planting and gardening!

This post is getting a bit long so I'll add another post on the rest of our home-finding trip soon.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Fast and Furious!

My posting has been pretty sporadic this last month and it will continue to be so until we all get settled in Japan. But I will try to post what I can with some updates and hopefully some bookish things too.

I'm heading to Vegas this next weekend with my friends for one last hurrah! I'm so excited. My devoted H is taking the week off and getting stuff moved and watching Gabe. He is so sweet to let me have this last little vacay with my friends.

Then the week after that it's off to Japan for a week to find a home. The agency working with us has picked out various apartments within our family range and most look pretty neat. They are small--so we will be heading back to apartment status for two years but they look nice and we're all excited.

As for my kitties. My oldest, grumpiest, and most needy cat Frodo will either be staying with my mom or my friend for the first 6 months and then my mother-in-law will take him the rest of the time once she moves back to Oregon. So I'm feeling a lot better about that. I'll miss my cats to so much. My friends and my cats, those are the hardest things about this move. But I'm trying to be positive and am looking forward to our new adventure!

We even sold our Toyota Camry this week for a good price and am now driving around in a rental VW Jetta :) We're signing our rental agency this next week to get our place rented out and taken care of while we're gone. There is still a ton of packing to do but we are getting it done slowly but surely.

I've been putting together a little airplane kit for Gabe. My friend sent me an article from Parenting.com on 50 Ways to Entertain a Kid on an Airplane. A lot of the suggestions are for toddlers, but there were plenty of ideas that still fit Gabe's age.


And when I get anything in Japan, the top of the list will be this adorable Totoro bed ;) And if you don't know what I'm talking about you need to watch My Neighbor Totoro pronto :)

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Easter!

I know it's a little late but better late than never!

Due to our chaos of moving to Japan next month...Easter wasn't quite as festive as I usually like to make it. So I didn't get my Spring flowers planted or my fun decorations up.

But we did manage to color eggs, homemade even! We delivered the basket with time to spare.

Our beautiful Easter eggs!
Vinegar, food coloring and water! ta da!


The Great Bunny came! ;)
Gabe got a special box from his Aunt Jean with pirate eggs galore!


Every year I make crepes for Easter. I invited my family over for crepes on Saturday and then made them again Easter morning at our friends' house. Shortly after we hid the kids (or the dads did) and let the kids go on an Easter egg hunt.

I would have to say despite not getting it all done the way I would have liked, it turned out to be the best Easter yet!

And as for my kitties...I have found foster homes for 2 of my kitties but am still searching for my old and grumpy kitty Frodo...le sigh. One of the many stresses involved. But we're hopeful :)

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