Tuesday, March 31, 2015

April Fool's Day

Kick me hard. Appril Fool
No one knows for sure the origins of April Fool's Day, but it may coincide with the coming of spring and its light-heartedness as we come out of a long and dreary winter. The Hindus have their Holi Festival. Ancient Romans had Hilaria that celebrated the resurrection of Attis.

Before the Gregorian calendar was adopted in the 1500s, the new year was celebrated around April 1st. Even in Japan, the new fiscal year and school year begins the first of April. So some say that jokes were played on those who would not or didn't know about celebrating the new year on January 1st. Some say Chaucer wrote down March 32 or April 1 for the day.

As a kid I loved April Fool's Day. It was a chance for payback on my siblings. Being the youngest, I usually got the tail end of most of the harassment. My all-time favorite was Saran wrap on the toilet...

To me it's another reminder of glorious spring and seeing all the flowers and trees blossom is truly incredible.

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Sakura season in Japan!


May your day be filled with lightness of heart and loudest of laughter while enjoying the warm spring air!

*My information comes from Wikipedia on April Fool's day and Infoplease.com

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Cat Thursday (44)

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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Cats and their adorable offspring! These are really cute. All pics are from the site iizcat.com










Sunday, March 22, 2015

Living and Reading in Japan (7)

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This weekly meme has been inspired by Michelle at The True Book Addict and Lisa at Lit and Life--Life: It Goes On...but I wanted to tweak it a bit for myself since I am living in Japan for the next year (2014-2015).

We've been a lot healthier with the warmer weather! Spring is here. I haven't needed a jacket for two days now...

Reading:
  • The History of Hell by Alice K. Turner
  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  • The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen
Finished:
  • I Must Say: My Life As a Humble Comedy Genius by Martin Short (audiobook version)
Looking Forward To:

Okinawa in 3 weeks! We are heading south for a week and I'm looking forward to a warm beach and relaxing!

Making:

I've been trying to hone in my creative side recently and I've decided to do some art journaling. Sometimes I'm very consistent, other times not so much. But it's been fun exploring. I haven't done this since I was a kid.

Listening To:

Serial. I'm way behind since this ended last December but I finally caught up and was floored.

Watching:

Parks and Recreation and Unbreakable Kimmy. So funny.

Grateful For:

My legs. So silly but they've gotten me far here in Japan. As the weather has been warming up, I've been trying to get out and walk around the city. Everything is so close. It's been an adventure!

Things I Did This Week:

We went to a fun-themed restaurant called the Bandit or Sanzoko in Japanese. Foreigners like to call it the "chicken shack." They are famous for their chicken on a stick or yakitori. It's pretty darn good. Then we headed over to Kimawa Mu Valley that has an underground mystery treasure adventure. They put in statues and clues that remind me of Indian Jones. It's really fun. Gabe had a blast.

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Their rice balls are amazing! Salmon, seaweed, and a sweet plum inside and wrapped in more seaweed! Yum.

We only have 3 more months in Japan so we're trying to take it all in ;) We thought this was going to be 2 years but it got cut short so back home in July.

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Friday, March 6, 2015

Mini Book Reviews--Stiff, The Great Agnostic, The Goddess Chronicle, The Pale Blue Dot

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Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

This book was disgusting but in the most fascinating way. It made me look death right in the face. A book everyone should read.



The Great Agnostic: Robert Ingersoll and American Freethought by Susan Jacoby
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It was a great introduction to a fascinating man and how he brought secularism and freethought to the masses.






The Goddess Chronicle by Natsuo Kirino

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Disturbing yet gorgeously written story on the mythical gods of Japan that gave birth to their islands. It's also an insightful treatise on what women have faced and continue to face in a patriarchal world.






The Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space by Carl Sagan

Carl Sagan masterfully contemplates the future of us in space. He lays out where
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we've been and where he hopes we can go. The first chapters and last chapters are must-reads. He is greatly missed.


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Cat Thursday (43)

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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The best cat videos are over a century old!

A new exhibition is coming to New York. They put together the stills to make some small cat "videos." Super cute.



Sunday, February 22, 2015

Living and Reading in Japan (6)

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This weekly meme has been inspired by Michelle at The True Book Addict and Lisa at Lit and Life--Life: It Goes On...but I wanted to tweak it a bit for myself since I am living in Japan for the next year (2014-2015).

January was full of the influenza :( With an outbreak at Gabe's school, too. We both came down with it and then I developed bronchitis on top of that. His school closed down for 3 days to get the outbreak under control. It was a rough couple of weeks! Feeling better now. Woot!

Reading:
  • Persuasion by Jane Austen
  • The Pale Blue Dot by Carl Sagan
  • The Goddess Chronicle by Natsuo Kirino
  • Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
Finished:
  • The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
  • Georgiana Darcy's Diary by Anna Elliott
Looking Forward To:

Spring Break starts the week after next! DH will take some time off and who knows where we'll go but GO we will. I have a few fun St. Paddy's Day activities planned and some other art stuff. Hit McDonald's and Starbucks, you know, classy stuff to do while in Japan....

Making:

We made tacos the other night. Gabe wasn't a big fan of those back in the States but he agreed to try them again and loved them! Yay. He's getting all growed up and liking new things!

I made honey butter! So yummy. I also plan on making a pumpkin chicken chili next week.

Listening To:

I started Invisibilia, a new podcast from NPR. The pilot episode was a tear-jerker. I'm loving it.

Watching:

I am almost done with Gilmore Girls! I've been catching up on my comedies like The Mindy Project, New Girl, and Modern Family. I've added Agent Carter to my list and Empire. I took a chance on Death Comes to Permberley on Netflix the other week. 

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I also watched Virunga. Heart-breaking. Watch and then be inspired to do something.

Grateful For:

Vending machines with hot coffee in them here in Japan. Seriously. They have been a life-saver this week.

Things I Did This Week:

We went to the zoo last weekend. It was an adventure on the train and bus and a little bit of walking. I do not like zoos. I think they had their purpose. And I do think there are many humane zoos as well but overall I think they do not care for the animals, especially the large animals, very well.

The tiger and the black bears looked like they were going insane with pacing and anxious habits. They all had the tiniest of spaces. It was heart-breaking. I voiced my concerns with my son and told him about some of the pros and cons of zoos from my point of view.

They did have some native Japanese animals that I had never seen before like the red panda or the raccoon dog. And Gabe got to hold a guinea pig and pet some really soft rabbits.

And the zoo in Hiroshima is old and small and pretty rundown. I hope they can get some funding and get the place updated with bigger habitats for these beautiful and elegant and scary yet awesome animals. They need this. They broke my heart.

BUT, the week before that we went to Tokyo for some awesome fun of Disneyland, Legoland, and Studio Ghibili for Gabe's 6th birthday! I cannot believe how old he is getting. We had so much fun.

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Disneyland!
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Studio Ghibili Museum

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A really cool bridge we walked on
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Some classic depictions of 1940s Japan in a local mall

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Fun English translation signage!


On a good note, I went out to sushi with some friends. And I've been getting out and walking everyday hoping that will help me from getting sick so much and getting depressed. So yay to coffee and friends and sushi!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Cat Thursday (42)

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 to myself...cats sleep in weird places so let's see what the Google gods have in store for me today...



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So adorable! May your week be full of sleeping cats!



Monday, February 16, 2015

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

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It's been awhile since I've read some top-notch adult fiction. I loved Kidd's "Secret Life of Bees" and "The Dance of the Dissident Daughter." Her prose held me. I didn't even realize this was a story about actual two sisters who were abolitionist-feminists. It's an awesome writer who can pull together fact and fiction and do it justice.

I am so glad that Kidd intertwined the story of Handful, a slave in their home. Through her voice we got to see and hear and try to feel even a pinch of what life was like for slaves during this time. So often we hear of stories where white people help black people. Yes this is true. Whites have been the ones with the power. We know this. But I want to hear about their stories. The slaves. What they did to rebel, survive, live, etc and to save themselves. I love that Kidd thought about this and put stories like these into her narrative.

It was a bit disjointed. She jumped a lot from one point in history to another but I feel that was the best way to do a historical fiction biography like this. So even though it felt a bit uneven, I see why it was necessary.

Overall, it was a poignant, powerful, and inspiring book.

I loved these quotes:

"First time I saw it, my feet hopped in place and I lifted my hand over my head and danced. That's when I got true religion. I didn't know to call it religion back then, didn't know Amen from what-when, I just knew something came into me that made me feel the water belonged to me."

"Mauma didn't fall again, though, and I reckoned Gad had lent me an ear, but maybe that ear wasn't white, maybe the world had a colored God, too, or else it was mauma who kept her own self standing, who answered my prayer with the strength of her limbs and the grip of her heart."

"People say love gets fouled by a difference big as ours. I didn't know for sure whether Miss Sarah's feelings came from love or guilt. I didn't know whether mine came from love or a need to be safe. She loved me and pitied me. And I loved her and used her. It never was a simple thing. That day, our hearts were pure as they ever would get."

"There's no pain on earth that doesn't crave a benevolent witness."

"I saw then what I hadn't seen before, that I was very good at despising slavery in the abstract, in the removed and anonymous masses, but in the concrete, intimate flesh of the girl beside me, I'd lost the ability to be repulsed by it. I'd grown comfortable with the particulars of evil. There's a frightful muteness that dwells at the center of all unspeakable things, and I had found my way into it."

"History is not just facts and events. History is also a pain in the heart and we repeat history until we are able to make another's pain in the heart our own."

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Cat Thursday (41)

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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No major theme today. Just throwing in some random cute ones this week!

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Mini Book Reviews

I've had a hard time getting my reviews up whether for movies or books. I seem to do better with Cat Thursdays cuz cat pictures are just so cute and easy to put up....

Here we go...

1. Yes Please by Amy Poehler

She's hilarious and humble and real. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing. I need to get it on audio as well and listen.

2. American Afterlife: Encounters in the Customs of Mourning by Kate Sweeney

This was a fascinating look at how Americans have mourned and how we are changing our mourning customs to date. I got lots of ideas on how I may want to be buried. It helped me look at death a bit more. I still need to get my affairs in order...

3. As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride by Cary Elwes.

I love the movie and so this was so fabulous to read. I learned so many little tidbits about how the movie was made and how the actors got along or little stories that were hilarious. Cary Elwes had someone help him write this so it isn't the greatest writing in the world but its about the content. This is a must have and read for any fan.

4. The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

It was a bit slow but overall I loved the story of Alma. She's a woman during the early and mid 1800s who becomes an expert in mosses. She experiences life and discovers a theory on evolution around the same time as Charles Darwin. Gilbert expertly weaves what women scientists experiences during this and continue to in certain degrees to this day.

5. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien

I'm enjoying reading through this series again. I actually didn't finish The Return of the King the first time so I'm looking forward to finishing it this time around. Tolkien is amazing at high fantasy. Beautiful scenery, history, and characters. I enjoyed reading the differences between the movie and the book. Some things were great but some didn't sit as well with me. But overall the movie does a great job with the material.

*All book cover images were taken from Goodreads.com


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Living and Reading in Japan (5)

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This weekly meme has been inspired by Michelle at The True Book Addict and Lisa at Lit and Life--Life: It Goes On...but I wanted to tweak it a bit for myself since I am living in Japan for the next year (2014-2015).

We had a great holiday and have been trying to stay healthy and get back into life in January.

Books I'm Reading:
  1. The Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space by Carl Sagan.
  2. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente.
  3. The Goddess Chronicle by Natsuo Kirino.
  4. Stiff by Mary Roach
  5. The First 20 Minutes: Surprising Science Reveals How We Can: Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer by Gretchen Reynolds
Books Finished:
  1. Hollow City by Ransom Riggs
  2. American Afterlife: Encounters in the Customs of Mourning by Kate Sweeney
  3. As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride by Cary Elwes
  4. The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert
  5. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien
Looking Forward To:

Our trip to Tokyo. We're heading up there in a few weeks for Gabe's birthday. We are going to see Disneyland and Legoland and whatever else we can get in in just a few days!

Making:

I'll be making chocolate chip cookies this week. Last week I made a beef stew that turned out pretty good. I don't cook much, especially in Japan but every now and then I get something good made!

Watching:

Gilmore Girls I'm in its 6th season. It's good but this season is tough. The Fall is from the BBC with Gillian Anderson as the lead detective. The series focuses on all the grays that a serial killer is. It's just a fascinating series. Transparent is also on my list. So good.

Movies: Amelie. Such a cute and quirky and fun movie. Loved it! I'm sad I didn't watch it earlier.

Things I Did This Week in Japan:


We enjoyed New Year's in Japan. They do it a bit differently here. It's called Oshougatsu and it lasts 3 or 4 days. Everyone goes to their local shrine to donate money, say a prayer or wish and get a fortune. It's a ritual to help bring luck into your new year. We went on January 2 in the afternoon and stood in line while it snowed. We were surrounded by vendors on every side selling chocolate covered bananas and squids on sticks. I'm glad we got to experience this at least once. Then two weeks later they have a big bonfire where everyone tosses their Oshougatsu decor and arrows into the flames. That happened during the week so we weren't able to attend.

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Last weekend we hiked up to another famous shrine and the Peace Pagoda. The weather has been nice with temps in the 50s during the day. But now this weekend little Gabe has gotten sick and hubby started on nights for a few weeks so weekends are harder to get out when he's on the nights schedule.


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Grateful For:

Supportive family and friends.

I'm also grateful for e-readers and e-books. I've been able to get a lot of books that way which has been a lot cheaper than ordering physical books and having them sent to me here!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Cat Thursday (40)

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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Happy Cat Thursday, everyone! I thought I'd start off for my first post in January with exercise cats! Yay!

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I also visited my cats in Utah over the holidays! Two of my cats still loved me but my white cat Wolfy has found a new best friend in my brother. They are best friends now. While I was sad he didn't love me as much, I'm glad he's being well taken care of!

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Up top is Frodo, middle is Shadow, and Wolfy is the white kitty at the bottom. Plus my brother and I being silly :)

Friday, January 2, 2015

Book Vs. Movie, Which One's Better?: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (1)

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Book:

I really enjoyed the book. It's poignant and smart. I liked it because he switches it up a bit. Green likes to talk about death using teenagers as his mouthpiece. He waxes philosophical and sometimes it can get cheesy and a bit overly dramatic. But in the novel it works. This one is sweet. Usually the books involve straight-laced boy who falls in love with wild girl. He changes it up in this one. It really is a great book.

Movie:

It's seeing the book in 2 hours. It's gut wrenching and beautiful and the acting is great. It does go over to cheesy territory with some of those lines. But they both are fabulous and deserve to be seen.

Overall, I enjoyed both but feel the book was better.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Cat Thursday (39) Happy New Year 2015!

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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Hope you all have had and have a wonderful New Year's and an excellent 2015!


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