I've washed dishes, posted on Travelpod, and prepared tomorrow's lunch, so let's productivity up some more! Here are two recipes, as requested by Becca and Emily.

Apple Crisp

(My mother's recipe. Not sure where she got it.)

Ingredients:

Filling:
7 medium apples
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tbs lemon juice

Topping:
3/4 cup flour
1 cup oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup butter or margarine

Directions:

Peel, core, and cut apples (either slices or cubes) and mix with lemon juice and brown sugar. Put in greased oven-proof baking dish.

In a bowl, mix the dry ingredients. Cream butter and add to the mixture. Spread topping over the apples.

Bake for about 30 minutes at 375F/190C.


Mapo Tofu

(The original recipe is from rasamalaysia.com, though I modified it a bit.)

Ingredients:

1 block tofu (recipe says silken, I prefer firmer)
200g ground pork
1 tbs cooking oil
2 tbs chili oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbs Sichuan spicy bean paste (豆板酱, doubanjiang)
1 1/2 tbs chili powder
1 tbs light soy sauce
1 heaping tbs spicy fermented black bean sauce (豆豉酱, douchijiang)
1/2 cup water
2 stalks green onion, chopped into 1-2cm lengths
1 tbs Sichuan peppercorns, crushed (I do it with a pestle)

Directions:

Drain tofu, cut into cubes, set aside.

Heat wok on medium to high heat, pour in oil and chili oil.

Add garlic, pork, bean paste. Stir-fry until pork is half-done.

Add chili powder, soy sauce, black bean sauce. Stir-fry for a minute, until all is well blended with the meat.

Add tofu and water. Stir gently to blend, taking care not to break tofu.

Lower heat and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes.

Add Sichuan peppercorns and green onions. Stir gently to blend.

Serve hot over white rice. It's even tastier after the tofu's had a bit of time to soak up the flavours! I can usually get five or six meals out of this.

NB:

Since cooking with a wok on high heat means you don't have time to mess around, I prepare the ingredients together in little bowls beforehand: one for the garlic and bean paste; one for the chili powder, soy sauce and black bean sauce; one for the Sichuan peppercorns and green onion.

The original recipe calls for 1/4lb (~110g) of pork, but I like more of it. You could use another ground meat or omit it altogether. Eggplant works, but needs longer to cook to absorb the liquids.

Ground pork in Japan is anything but lean, so I reduced the amount of oil (original said 2 tbs of cooking oil). Adjust as you see fit, i.e. more or less oil and the proportion of chili oil vs. regular.

The original recipe calls for 1 tsp of fermented black beans, rinsed and pounded, but that's too much work for me, so I use the sauce. XD Some sort of black beans are necessary, as they add a rich, salty note that brings depth to the dish. I do have black beans in my cupboard, so I'll have to try them someday.

For the bean sauces, Lee Kum Kee brand does both, and is probably the easiest to find.

The original calls for salt to taste, but I find the soy sauce and black bean sauce are plenty salty.

* * *

If any of you try these recipes, I want to know how they turn out! ^_^
Belated merry Christmas, everyone! I hope that you had a great day, whether or not you celebrated the holiday.

Things I learned this Christmas:

1 - Much like a car, my sewing machine needs time to warm up on cold winter mornings;

2 - I totally fail at making roll cakes;

3 - Spending the whole day baking is fun, but it's even more fun with a friend there to help wash dishes, measure out ingredients, chop things, etc;

4 - Having Hannah around is the secret ingredient to having the most delicious turkey ever to grace a Christmas dinner;

5 - Having one's hand-made gifts appreciated is totally worth the time and effort that went into making them;

6 - Tabitha will gladly abandon me for someone with a higher core temperature than mine. ;___;
My priorities, I has them straight. Which is why I'm typing this when I should really be getting to bed. Why have I been so exhausted this past week? I'll tell you next time...

But seriously, food. Why is it so amazing? I think I'm going through one of my hormone-sponsored "OMG food is so wonderful and all these magical tastes are awesome!" kicks. I'm not complaining, it makes eating even more fun! It also motivates me to cook, which is a good thing.

Also: I found poppy seeds! Even better, they were in a store in Kichijouji that specialises in baking supplies! Yay! It's called Cuoca and they've got other branches as well as an online shop. Reasonable prices, too! Well, for that sort of thing in Japan, anyway. -__-;

I meant to take a picture, but maybe tomorrow: my latest stir-fry is tasty indeed! Because, as Eda and I agreed at one point, cardamom is a very sexy spice. Here, have a recipe. Sesame and Cardamom Stir-Fry )

Let me know if you try it out. Kira? ^_^

If you're wondering why on earth I thought to include cardamom, it's because I've become a spice fiend and troll supermarkets looking for more spices. The other day I scored some discounted cardamom powder and whole cloves, which brings my spice count up to I Need a Real Spice Rack territory. Santa? :D
... getting things that have been sitting on my to-do list for a long time, done, here are some very brief reviews of movies that I saw ages ago. Don't expect anything too deep, as none of these movies were either.

Twilight: New Moon )

Men Who Stare at Goats )

Kizumomo )

Good, I've knocked a few of them off my list!

On the money front, I may just survive. Tonight I experimented with hanpen, which I didn't even know existed! Well, I've certainly eaten it before, I just didn't know what it was. It's a kind of fish cake and it's fluffy and light and soaks up butter like a dream. I chopped it into small pieces, sautéed it in butter and fresh garlic, then added an egglant, blanched broccoli, basil, oregano, and a dash of salt and pepper. Delicious!

I think my laundry's almost done, so I'll take care of that and go to bed. 'Night, folks!

Quotes!

Sep. 6th, 2011 12:08 am
Yay! So far this month, I'm at under Y2000 on groceries! I know it's only the 5th, but I made curry tonight, which settles the question of this week's lunches, and I've got spaghetti sauce in the freezer for at least two more meals, and then there are things enough in the fridge and kitchen to last me until next week. So yeah, that means I've been cooking! As I was making the curry, I had a sudden urge to ditch the curry package and freestyle some sort of stir-fry, but then I remembered that I love curry! And full of potatoes, it makes a very easy lunch. I did use yogurt instead of my usual coconut milk, though, and it turned out nice and almost tart.

Sadly, I ate my last box of Kraft Dinner last week. TToTT

At the moment, I've got one of those freaky-looking sheet masks on my face. The package says "Herb Essence Collagen Mask" and it smells like... it smells like... isn't it maddening when you can't pin a name to a smell? Am I the only one that frequently happens to? Anyway, it's not quite mint, not quite anise, not quite flowery, but I KNOW I know this scent. It puts me in mind of being a kid and taking a bath, so I must at some point have had bubble bath that smelled like this, or more likely, bath beads. It smells round. XD;;; According to the ingredient list, it's got lavender, rosemary, oregano and thyme, but it doesn't smell like any of those to me. Well, maybe a tiny bit like lavender, but lavender that's gotten all the spicy kick sucked out of it.

Sometimes, I write down quotes or transcribe amusing things I see, intending to share them with you all later. Seldom do I get around to it, but in the interest of winnowing down my paper pile some more (I'm trying to be good and just spent the last half hour sorting through stuff), here are a few of them.

* * *


A t-shirt I saw on the train at some point, an eclectic list if I ever saw one:

Tick one per line: [very good] [good] [fair] [poor]

Tokyo
love
yesterday
soybeans
beautiful clothes
music
you and me


* * *


From a children's book on animals I came across at work. Obviously written with someone whose English vocabulary was limited and whose knowledge of the animal kingdom was even more deplorable.

A fox is a kind of wild dog, with a bushy tail. Not a dog.

Horns are the hard, pointed bits on the heads of deer. Horns =/= antlers!

A lizard is an animal with short legs and a long tail. A very vague description indeed.

A reindeer is an animal with very large horns. We went over this...

A starfish is a star-shaped fish. @_@

A tooth is one of the hard white bones in our mouth. DX

[After something about domestic cats looking like big cats,] But leopard, tiger, etc. are just "large animals". *headdesk*

* * *


From Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure, a novel so powerful that though I stopped halfway through it and didn't pick it up again for over five years, I remembered the first half vividly and picked up the story as though I'd only put down the book the day before. Here's Sue Bridehead explaining why she doesn't want to marry Jude. Not something I expected to encounter in a 19th century novel, to be sure!

"Well, I don't know. The intention of the contract is good, and right for many, no doubt; but in our case it may defeat its own ends because we are the queer sort of people we are -- folk in whom domestic ties of a forced kind snuff out cordiality and spontaneousness."
Today's LOL: especially the 4th strip, though they're all great. XD

Thanks to not having a headache of doom and feeling like my sinuses were about to explode, I accomplished much more today than I did yesterday! Let's compare, shall we?

- I showered! Before noon, even! Yesterday, I took a bath... in the evening.

- I got dressed! Yesterday, I spent the day in my pyjamas, even though Kimberly came over to crochet and watch a movie. We don't stand on ceremony with each other, so it's all good. Like when I go over to her place, and we've been sitting around chatting for an hour, and she exclaims, "I'm sorry, I completely forgot to offer you something to drink!" "Don't worry, I poured myself a glass of water when I got here. :D"

- I translated a Travelpod post! Yesterday I didn't type a single word except for a couple of emails.

- I cleaned up my apartment! I vacuumed (at midday, so as not to do it at a time when most people are turning on their heaters and whatnot), tidied up, aired my futon, and reorganised my sewing notions. I even vacuumed Tabitha -- apparently, she'll tolerate the little brush nozzle; she looked rather confused about what was going on, but she didn't try to run away, and though her ears were slightly back, she was purring. Yesterday, I... I put my dishes in the sink, at least.

- I went outside! I actually took a rather long walk along the Senkawa, and took lots of pictures of the last few plum blossoms in the area, then spent a couple of hours studying Japanese and drinking Coco's out of their drink bar. What can I say, verbs, both transitive and intransitive, make me thirsty. Quite an outing, when you consider that yesterday I only opened the door of my apartment when Kimberly arrived and when she left.

- I ate a proper meal! One. My breakfast was a grilled cheese sandwich* and I didn't eat anything else until Coco's. I sort of forgot about lunch! Yesterday, I ate a bowl of Cheerios, 3/4 of the little pizza Kimberly brought over, two slices of toast with honey, and a small bowl of leftover ebi-chili. Hmm, I guess we can say this one's a draw, if we're talking total amount of food consumed. But I might have a snack later.

- I burned my finger while making the grilled cheese sandwich! Maybe scalded is a better word. You can't tell, but it's tender enough for me to feel it whenever I touch something. Yesterday, I didn't injure myself in any way.

- So far I haven't knitted today. Yesterday, I finished the second mitten of the pair I was working on. Tonight, I aim to start assembling the afghan for Baby Roo.

- I haven't watched or read anything yet today. Yesterday, I started The Girl Who Played With Fire while I was in the bath (with the bath bomb Hannah gave me for my birthday -- thanks, Hannah! ^_^), and I watched an episode of Ace wo nerae. I'll get some more sparkly pastel tennis in once I finish this.**

- Yesterday, I tried to do a little cleaning out of my bookmarks, and ended up revisiting some PoT fanfiction I'd bookmarked ages ago. And no matter how cliché many things have become in that fandom, some of them will never not be funny to me, like Tezuka hanging up on Inui, or Shishido expressing disgust over the Golden Pair being lovey-dovey/touchy-feely/really gay. XDDD

* The daughter of a friend of my mother's couldn't pronounced "grilled cheese" when she was little, and called them "grouchies".

** I really want to make a long review post with lots of screencaps for this series. It's really cute and fun. The main character, Hiromi, has huge crushes on both a female senpai and a male senpai, and she totally ships them together. <3
Yesterday I was in an inexplicable "clean ALL THE THINGS!" mood, so I ran with it. Ultimately, it only resulted in vacuuming my apartment, though I did an extremely thorough job of my computer desk, even taking everything off it and organising the stuff that was on it and on the surrounding floor. Now, the floory of my bedroom is mostly clear, as is the floor of the sewing room. I'm really trying to make more of an effort to be tidier. So far, my closet -- cleaned out two weeks ago -- remains in a state of organisation rarely if ever seen in my life before now.

In other news of things getting accomplished, this morning I managed to get up early enough to cook up a large batch of curry for my lunches this week. I calculated that by doing so, I can eat at work (lunch + 2 snacks/day) for under Y2,000 a week, or a little under Y400 a day. Not bad! Not only is it cheaper than buying lunches -- even if I buy cheap stuff like rice balls -- but that way, I don't have to waste time figuring out what I'm going to eat each day. This week's menu:

Morning snack: sliced up banana with a handful of strawberries (+ any snacks given to us by parents or brought my coworkers);
Lunch: hearty bowl of green Thai curry (made with onion, chicken, potatoes, eggplant and kabocha) + butter roll;
Afternoon snack: carrot sticks/orange bell pepper + yogurt dip, purin;
Drinks: tea (jasmine, peppermint, rooibos, darjeeling) and ice coffee.

I've also decided that in the interest of not spending too much money on food, I'm eating stuff I already have at home, like the hundreds of Chinese dumpings/shrimp balls in my freezer, or the copious amounts of pasta and instant curry I have on my kitchen shelves.

The kitchen, you see, will be one of my next targets. In the coming weeks, I'm going to try out this thing called "spring cleaning" (only the weather seems to be wanting a return to winter, what with the snow today, the hell?!) so there will be some scourging going on at Château Croquette:

- wash the windows, window sills and fix the mosquito netting that Tabitha's round furry self stretched out of shape last summer (and I do need to do this before it starts getting too warm);
- reorganise the kitchen (shelves, drawers, cupboards) and scrub the floor and beneath the gas range and inside the trash cans;
- clean the veranda;
- reorganise my sewing notions and fabric scraps (I did the fabric itself not too long ago) and also go through the overhead storage space.

Hopefully, this will put me in the proper frame of mind to create stuff and to do the things I want to do, especially when it comes to sewing. I have lots of nice summery fabrics, and I want to make myself a few loose shirts and tunic tops to cover up my shoulders and arms, and also some dresses. Oh, and I need to mend the purple and black dress I wore constantly last summer, and make myself another similar one but with pockets.
DISCLAIMER:

I'm tired from the week, and rather tipsy. You've been warned.

I'm getting to love Sayaka-sensei's classes more and more. Tonight I did pretty well, considering I'm pretty wiped out on Fridays, and my jumps felt effortless. *so happy* I had to prod myself to make it to the lesson, but as usual, once I was in the middle of it, it just felt so right and god, I love ballet. Even if I'm not very good at it, I don't care. It makes me feel beautiful and graceful for a little while, especially when I can ALMOST DO GLISSADES! AND ASSEMBLÉS!!! AFJKGJLFKDJ afjkl;fn!!! Victory was mine. *tears of accomplishment*

And then Sayaka-sensei, showing another woman how far she should be jumping, sent her flying across the studio with a well-timed assist in the middle of the jump. Let me tell you, the sight of a beautiful woman throwing another one around like that was pretty hot. *____* *fans self* Maybe she'll throw me around next time? :D~~~

Speaking of hot, one woman, who I'd never noticed in particular before, wore tight shorts over tights to class a couple of weeks ago. Normally, she wears yoga pants, and that's why I'd never noticed that her ass is amazing. Seriously, I couln't stop admiring it that class. I still can't stop, though she's since gone back to her regular attire. Damn, I feel like a pervert. XD;;;;;; *hides in shame*

In other ballet news, I still can't do the splits, but at least my flexibility is improving somewhat! I really need to be doing daily stretches, though. And figure out what the hell my other goals are re: my body. The trouble with developping the muscles in my legs is that the muscles highlight the areas that aren't muscle, so the jiggle looks worse than it did when my whole thighs jiggled. Also I don't think I should wear plaid tights anymore (not for ballet class, I mean regular tights) because the muscles make the lines look wonky. Oh, the tragedy that is my life! XD;;; Does anybody want a few pairs of plaid tights?

My groceries tonight: a carton of milk and a bottle of vodka. I are a classy broad. It's not my fault white Russians take twice as much vodka as crème de cacao! *drinking a very strong one right now, which is why I'm kind of giddy*

My appetite has been weird all week. My period is due... now, actually, so I hope my body will calm down within the next couple of days. Hear that, body? I've been giving you plenty of iron in the form of red meat. I've even started the iron pills early, and have been drinking no tea, just so you can absorb that wonderful Fe so you don't feel lethargic and listless and tired. *hinting like mad* Seriously, it's getting annoying. This week's excuse is hayfever, which I hope will pass. I hate feeling this fatigued, and if it isn't seasonal allergies, I don't know what it is. Bloh. Like I want to try getting more sleep to see if that will ameliorate the situation! :P

Before I jump on the bandwagon and start that 10-day, 10-thing meme, here are some questions from [livejournal.com profile] tayles. Five que-que-que-questions! )

That's enough, I'd better get to sleep before I'm tempted to make myself another drink. I need to be up at a decent hour tomorrow, after all.

Good night, everyone! ^_^
Because I'm just like the House of Commons, I am. XD

Before that, though, I want to know why weekends go by so quickly. It's unfair! Yesterday I got mah hair did, went to ballet class, then spent the rest of the day with Jill. We at sushi, we stitched, we bitched, and we drank lots of blueberry wine. It was great. Today, I met up with Jamie, Eda and Hannah to eat burritos. The burritos were very large. I also had yummy tortilla chips and guacamole. After lunch, Hannah and I went to Shinjuku. We spent some time in Kinokuniya -- I immediately went to the porn section, i.e. the travel section. I may have bought a guide to Singapore. ^.^ After that, we waited in line for ages to get a slice of tart (for me) and a glass of air freshener (for Hannah). For what was left of the afternoon, we shopped a bit, got lost, and Hannah imparted some wisdom of the make-up variety, because I know sadly little of such things, and it turns out I kind of care about the state of my face.

Someone needs to tell shop managers in Shinjuku to lay off the fragrances. In Studio Alta, I kept sneezing, it was so strong, and even in Lumine, I had several uncomfortable "ITCHY NOSE!" moments. And I don't even have that sensitive a nose! :P

Since I've gotten home, I've eaten, cleaned up cat vomit, and posted a Travelpod entry. Oh, and I did laundry. Why am I so exhausted?!

Here are some more questions, these ones courtesy of my favourite hobbit in the whole wide world (and that includes the imaginary ones), [livejournal.com profile] nekonezumi.

1) What flavor or scent do you associate most with winter?

To me, the scent of winter is cold night air that freezes its way up your nose. Or the smell of a cat's fur when it's just come in from outside, a scent that's vaguely reminiscent of smoke and steel. The scent of clementines and evergreens is specifically a Christmas smell to me, not of winter in general.

2) Would you rather give up hotpot or ice cream?? D:

Ice cream. There are other ways to cool down in the summer, and plenty of other desserts to enjoy when craving sweets. And really, one can't boast of having eaten the world's spiciest ice cream, eh? ^_^

3) What vintage fashions would you most like to see become the vogue in the near future?

You were the one who said once that the 1920s were my decade, right? I love the aesthetics of the era: the drop-waisted dresses, the long ropes of pearls, the short hair, the shoes, the elaborate beadwork. And beads are sparkly, and we all know how I feel about sparkly things! :D

4) What language would you choose to study after you've mastered Mandarin and Japanese, and why?

If that day ever comes... Hah. Probably German. I've got the family name to go with it, for one thing, and I like the sound of it. Plus, my youngest brother is learning it now and damn it, I'm the polyglot of the family!

5) What's your favorite way to eat a bagel? (what kind of bagel, toasted or untoasted, butter/jam/cream cheese/other??)

My standard order at Tim Horton's is a toasted blueberry bagel with cream cheese (cinnamon-raisin if they're out of blueberry, as the Ottawa Airport one often is, grr!), and for several years, my usual lunch was a sesame seed bagel with either cream cheese or peanut butter.

That said, the ultimate bagel experience is a fresh poppy seed bagel, toasted, with raspberry jam and either brie or camembert on it. (I know, I know, as if the raspberries weren't bad enough, SOFT CHEESE! XD)
Can I write a coherent post in fifteen minutes? Let's find out!

My resolution to rise early to exercise and/or stretch has been going well, except for Monday. I had a headache Sunday night, went to bed early, called in sick and slept until half noon. Over thirteen hours of sleep, people! I can't remember when that's ever happened, except for sleeping on and off when sick. I went in to teach my afternoon classes, and the worst of the headache was gone by evening. I still went to bed at ten, though. Tuesday I was right as rain again.

This evening I've been productive, sort of. At least I'm ready to hop on the night bus tomorrow night! I made a last-minute decision last weekend and am heading off to Aomori for three days, just to be alone. Christmas back home was kind of exhausting, and I've been busy since I got back. A good kind of busy, with lots of good times spent with friends, but busy nonetheless. I need to recharge. Hopefully, a few days walking around in a new city (and a haunted mountain? :D) on my own will do the trick. I've got a book, plenty of yarn, an ipod full of music and my camera, so I'm sure I'll find a way to occupy my time.

In other news, an old mystery has been resolved! Last year, I had a stamp card from the Berry Café that entitled me to a free slice of cake. Only problem was, when it came time to cash it in, as it were, the card was nowhere to be found. I searched high and low, finally concluding that I must have accidentally put it out with the recycling. It had bothered me ever since, because that was so out of character for me. Then, when I finally cracked open my JLPT books the other day (after not having looked at them since I took the test, over a year ago), what do you think I found? The card! T____T It's way beyond the expiry date, but at least I know that I had kept it safe. A little too safe!

Speaking of the Berry Café, Hannah and I spent a long time there last Sunday. And the weekend before that, I spent a long time with Marianne, Jamie and William at Miravile Impakt, eating lots of desserts. And the weekend before that, it was Sweets Paradise with Alexis! I'll post pictures when I get back. Maybe. And maybe I'll find a place to have sinfully delicious pastries in Aomori, hm? ^_^

These made me giggle: figure skating costume commentary! U.S. Nationals ladies and pairs, and men and ice dancers. I can't wait for them to cover the Worlds!

When are the Worlds? Eda, you want to make a date to watch some of them? :D

Time for bed now, I have to be up early to Get Stuff Done.

Have a nice weekend, everybody!

Fluff

Feb. 5th, 2011 11:41 pm
My nails are pretty and glittery. All is well with the world. ^_^

More or less. I have a stupid cold sore (after having had one a week ago, no less!), and my throat is kind of doing a teasing "I may be getting sorer, or I may be not, you'll find out tomorrow!" thing. I don't care, I'm still going out to eat. So there!

This morning I had a laser hair removal appointment. When I arrived, the girl said, "So it's lower legs and the backs of your hands today, right?" Uh, no. I was certain that I'd only booked for my legs, but I was going to ask if they could do my underarms as well, so it all worked out. This is the second time something like this has happened, actually. The first time I got my legs done, I think it was, for some reason they had me down for lower legs and forearms. Either the person I talked to when I made my reservation misunderstood me or made a mistake entering the appointment, or they were sneakily trying to sell me something and were too polite to say, "Girl, your arms are HAIRY!" Sorry, I'm not yet at the point where I'm going to worry about my arm hair. It's still blonde, and the rest of me is enough of a pain as it is.

I spent the afternoon at the dance studio. I took two classes today: Pilates (only 70 minutes) and a regular ballet class. Pilates was nice; I'd like to try to go more often. Ballet had its usual fail!moments and win!moments -- my glissades pretty awful, but I got some nice height on my travelling jumps, and my double pirouettes were not bad. I only wish Inui-sensei would be better at having us do the left side as much as the right. When we do stuff from the corner, we always start going right, and often he'll have us do it again, and then only once from the left. I'm actually naturally better at leading with the left foot, though you wouldn't really be able to tell now, since my right foot gets twice as much practice. Good for my right, not so good for my left.

Thanks to Hannah's suggestion (fashion guru that she is), I found a pair of jean short shorts. I won't wear them the way they're meant to be worn (i.e. cuffed) because that does my thighs no favours, but they're still cute. Since they're cut for a [bumless] Japanese figure, they have the fascinating effect of making me look like I nearly lack an ass myself (which is certainly not the case!), but that's by pushing most of the mass up. Hello, love handles! You haven't been this generous since I was many kilos heavier. It's all good, though; these are the lowest of low rises I've ever owned, so I need to wear long tops over them anyway. Besides, I'm expecting the shorts to stretch a bit, so I won't be assless for long. :3 Also, I doubt I'll wear them with the black over-the-knee socks they came with (see: I don't have pretty Japanese legs), but the socks will definitely be worn... with something else.

Gah, speaking of clothes, I need to find something to wear for my school's graduation ceremony. The only dressy thing I own is what I wore on last year's "congratulation day", as the kids keep calling it!

Last night I took myself out on a date and had lovely Italian food, accompanied by wine and the most amazing garlic bread in the world. I o-kawaried it. Almonds in the butter, omg amazing. *___* The walnuts not so much, but I only found one largish chunk of that, so it's okay. So yeah, I think their claim of "best garlic bread in Japan" is justified.
Tabitha just curled up on my lap. Finally, she's being useful! =^_^=

My body feels... not exactly achy, but restless. That, combined with the protein cravings I've been having these past two days, have left me feeling at once tired and overly energetic. Go figure. I would have had steak tonight, but since it's Setsubun, I had the requisite futomaki instead, bought from a Korean counter at the department store. A "kinpa" maki -- tasty! And then I had chocolate. I feel kind of bloated now, but I'm not going to do aaaaaaanything tonight, except watch a movie and crochet, and read. I've decided that I won't do anything tomorrow night either, since I can go to a ballet class on Saturday instead. Maybe I'll go out for Italian food tomorrow.

B1 has started working out the logistics of our family trip over Golden Week. U.K., here we come! I'll be spending roughly ten days travelling from London to Glasgow, most definitely not in a straight line. Those of you native to the U.K., or those of you who've been there, suggestions of things to do/see/avoid at all costs will be much appreciated.
Hey, everybody. It feels like it's been a while since I've written a post of substance... Will this be the day I buck that trend?!

This weekend I accomplished precisely nothing. Well, I did get my hair cut, ate sushi, walked around Kichijouji taking pictures, and took some more pictures in Shinjuku this evening after having supper with Alexis. We went to the gayer than gay Sweets Paradise, and I was already amused that we were most likely the only non-couple F/M pair there, but given our main topic of conversation over the food, it was kind of funny. Or ironic, I suppose.

Another thing I accomplished was finally finding an acceptable purse and buying it. It's pink! And not the dusty old rose that everything seems to be this season *yawn* but a nice bright one. I didn't have a pink purse yet. Another thing I bought is more nail polish, because I definitely needed more of that! But I can blame Hannah for eliminating any vestiges of shame I might have had left on this particular topic, as she rightly pointed out that, "Nail polish lasts forever."

It feels a bit late to write in detail about my time in Canada, but there are a couple of things that were really driven home while I was there.

The first is that goddamnit, I really miss speaking French regularly.

Those of you I met in Japan might not realise it, but before moving here, my life was mainly conducted in French. I've always spoken French with my mother; all my schooling, except for kindergarten, grade 1, and 2/3 of my university classes, was in French; I studied ballet in French; I taught French full time for three years; most of my closest friendships in Canada were conducted in French; and G and I always spoke French together. As for English, apart from being the language I speak with my father and brothers, it used to mainly be my language of cultural consumption rather than daily life: the television shows and movies and books that I choose have always been overwhelmingly in English (or subtitled in English, in the case of anime), but I never lived my day-to-day life in English until I came to Japan, where I work in English and conduct most of my social life in English.

Juste pour le fun... )

The second thing is that I'm starting to really notice the shift between... living in Japan and having been in Japan for a long time, I guess. Almost four and a half years! The inevitable question of, "When/Are you coming back?" was asked more than once -- not by people close to me, though -- and I found it a bit harder to answer than I used to. While I still don't intend to spend my life here (I'm not ruling it out, but that has never been my intention), it seems that after four years, "I have no reason to leave yet, and I really like it in Japan" is starting to shift toward, "I have good friends there, a good job, a cat, a good place to live, and I'm happy." And isn't that what we strive for when we build a life for ourselves?

All right, that's enough [badly expressed] self-reflection for now.
[Clearly I shouldn't be allowed to try to organise stuff when I'm super tired, because then I get the dates wrong. So! Here's the corrected version of the general invitation for dessert porn.]

It's that time again... the time when I get a hankering for delicious desserts. Well, actually, that time is pretty much all of the time, but this time I'm going to do something about it! So in two weeks, Hannah, Eda and I are going to indulge in hard core dessert porn at Miravile Impakt (take a gander here, though the menu might have changed by the time we get there). This is the place we went to that time and that time.

Who wants to join us on Sunday the 30th? Most likely we'll meet a bit before 6 at Yurakucho Station (it's just a block or two from there).

I'm going to go have the six course dessert menu. Third time and counting! I wish they had a stamp card, I would so be earning some free noms. :D If you think the prices seem a little steep, they are, compared to your average dessert place, but I assure you, for the quality, it's damn cheap. These are really, REALLY good.

* * *


I other news, tonight I went to my first ballet class since before the holidays. I'm seeing sore muscles in my near future! There were only thirteen of us there tonight, which surprised me, because it's usually closer to twenty, but it was nice having more space.

When I came in, Inui-sensei gave a little " うおッ!久しぶり!" but he was soon back to the usual: poking at my abs, trying to rearrange my rib cage, telling my to tighten my inner thighs and to relax my shoulders and arms. "リラックス。 リラックス! RELAX!" all the while holding my head up to where he thought it should be while I tried to do the exercise. I missed you too, Inui-sensei. XDDD

My legs were a bit shaky by the end of class, and I was very sad that I didn't get the height I usually can during one exercise, which included some of my very favourite jumps: a cabriole followed by a jeté croisé and then an entrelacé into an assemblé tour and two faillis-assemblés. I hope we do that one again next week and that I can do it better!
Let's have some numbers, shall we?

-12 is probably the coldest temperature I got in Canada, and that was only on my first day back. Most vexingly, it got warmer and warmer over my stay, culminating with ABOVE ZERO temperatures in Montreal! :P

1 is the number of weddings I attended. Though, since M-P and Pat have been together for 13 years, a wedding seems sort of beside the point, it was a lovely little ceremony.

2 is the number of times I ate pho at Pho 99, my favourite pho restaurant in Ottawa.

2.5 is the number of socks I knit during my trip.

4 is the number of clementines I ate at my parents house.

5 is the number of new bottles of nail polish I brought back with me.

6 is the number of times I napped between leaving my parents' house and reaching my apartment: twice on the plane from Ottawa to Toronto (I woke up for the snack XD), three times between Toronto and Tokyo (including during both takeoff and landing, as usual XD), and most of the bus ride from Narita.

7 is the number of pets and babies I was introduced to/took pictures of. Merlin and Beulah, the new family cats; Morty and Frida, ASK's bulldogs; Croquette, A-L's bird; Sam, Bashy Boy and Tango Chick's baby; Roo, Anna's baby (this was over the phone, though, and her real name is Keira).

10 is the number of hours of sleep I got last night -- in bed by nine, up around 7:30, with only one trip to the toilet during the night.

11 is the number of books I brought back with me.

13 is the number of movies I watched during my holiday (reviews forthcoming).

25 is the approximate number of glasses of wine I drank in Canada, not including glasses of port and also the copious amount of port my mum poured into the second trifle (seriously, the cake at the bottom was soaked through with it!) and I probably had a cocktail or two at some point.

45 is the number of episodes of Monster my brother and I managed to get through. Out of 74 episodes, that's not too bad, considering we only had one day where we could properly marathon it. Otherwise, we watched it in fits and starts, limited by other activities, me getting sleepy (in the evenings) and B1 not getting up early enough.

500 is the number of grammes less my huge suitcase weighed coming back than it did going. But I guess it doesn't really count, since I had an extra bag!

3475 is the number of different kinds of cookies, chocolates, cakes, trifles, cupcakes, muffins and pastries I ate.

2348907 is the number of jelly beans I consumed at A-L's place and that I still have to eat, because she gave me a huge bag of them.
It's already nearly midnight for my friends in Japan, so I'd better wish you all a happy new year now, before I forget or get too busy knitting/watching silly movies with A-L/eating jelly beans/making mapo tofu for my family.

I'm at A-L's place at the moment, and she told me I was free to wake her up after 8:30, which was five minutes ago. But I'll be generous and let her sleep a little longer. At least until I finish this. ^_^

I've been back a week, and have spent most of that time eating with family and friends. In other words, it's been great! I feel like a blob -- a warm, happy, well fed blob.

A-L and I spent the day together yesterday (we saw Black Swan, which I'll write about later) and went grocery shopping before coming back to her place. We bought... a lot of movie-watching supplies, including several flavours of chips, two different kinds of chocolate chip cookies, two different kinds of cream cheese, English muffins, Habitant vegetable soup, and cretons! I'd forgotten cretons even existed until a couple of days ago, but the recollection of them was enough to think that my trip wouldn't be complete without some.

... I just looked up cretons and it seems they're a Quebec thing, and I guess they sound really unappetizing if you've never had them. XD;;; They're good, I swear! It's like pâté without the snobbiness!

The only thing I haven't yet ticked off on my list of foods to eat is poutine. I had some at Harvey's when we went to pick up B2, but chain restaurant poutine doesn't really count. It's gotta be S&G Fries or Pataterie Hulloise!

All right, I'd better stop writing about food, because no one will ever want to eat out with me again for fear of offending my high-class palate. Anyway, it's almost nine, so it's time to wake up the hostess! :D

The one thing I must do today is post my pictures of Zurich to Travelpod, because that's the very last entry I must make if I want to get rid of my backlog. Now I need to figure out where the USB ports are on this computer so I can upload the pictures!
Hotpot has got to be one of the best foods in existence. For one thing, it's delicious. But even better than that, it lasts and lasts! Here I am having my sixth meal from the batch Eda and I had on Saturday -- though technically, it was two hotpots, since we had Sichuan and satay, so there was plenty of leftover broth, but I haven't yet had to add any water. Best of all, though, is that it's so easy. Get home, turn on the gas, wait for the pot to heat up, and add whatever I want to eat. So far I've had in it, at various times and in various combinations: tofu, mushrooms, Chinese cabbage, beef balls, fish balls, shrimp balls, pork, lamb, noodles, pea shoots, broccoli, Chinese broccoli, komatsu, and some other Chinese greens.

God, tofu is amazing. Whoever invented it deserves a medal.

I've determined that before the end of the year, I'll have "visited" more than 100 cities, according to Travelpod. At the moment, I'm at 94, but once I finish writing about B1's visit to Japan, that'll have added another three, and my trip to Provence will mean another five. Still only 16 countries, though! Technically, I've been in 24 different countries. However, Finland really doesn't count (two-hour layover), Belgium doesn't really either (I took a train through it, though I walked from one train station to another, which took half an hour, so at least I touched the ground?), and I was in the U.K. (London) for under 24 hours. Of the other countries, Switzerland will be included in not too long, I hope, and the others are from over seven years ago, so I may never get around to posting about them there. Although, I guess I could make another travelogue and just group them there. I can copy-paste from lj for my first trip to Europe and my trip to Vietnam, after all. *ponders*

Last night's ballet class was good but as usual, mostly getting the small jumps (which I normally suck at) meant that I totally failed at something I usually do okay on, in this case the bigger jumps. I'm sore today, but in a good way, like I can feel all my muscles. It's kind of disturbing that my reaction to this is, "Yes! Develop more muscles!" But I don't want to see them, I just want them to be there and allow me to do cool moves!

I put up my little Christmas tree last week, as well as Christmas lights in my window, and it makes me feel all warm and cozy. These days, I'm spending lots of time fantasizing about my trip back home, mostly about all the food I'm going to eat, and the snow. Snow... And cheese. I just had a brilliant idea, which is to take my family out to Meule et caquelon. They serve Swiss-style raclette, which is basically just heating up a huge block of cheese and drowning bread, potatoes, and whatever else you want in it. It's incredible. They also have regular cheese fondue, and other fondues, but who cares about those? It's all about the cheese.

It's not even nine and I feel like going to bed already. Bloh. *lame*
THE WEEK IS OVER!!!!!!!!!!! I DON'T HAVE TO GET UP EARLY TOMORROW OR THE DAY AFTER!!!!!!!!!

*dead*

This week has felt like three weeks rolled into one, so am I ever glad it's over! I'm not sure whether my sore throat is Kimberly's fault (she's been coughing for a week) or the karaoke's fault, but either way, I don't have to talk tomorrow, so who cares?

Eda and I had planned to meet up tonight. I wavered between wanting to go get quickly drunk on half-price happy hour drinks, or singing, but singing won out. I sang in Mandarin, she sang in Korean, and then we repaired to Coco's for food. Our original plan of getting dessert was postponed because we weren't hungry anymore, so we'll have to go out to a dessert porn place soon to get our fix. Mmm, delicious desserts...

Here are the daily memes. Incredibly, the month is almost over! How did that happen?!

Trains )

My fears )
Having these daily writing prompts really gets me to, you know, write! Amazing.

But before I start on those, I've just had this rather silly idea for Christmas gifts. I'll need to get started on them soon, so please comment if you would like a unique, hand-made-by-me little something for Christmas/New Year's/Solstice/whatever. You will also need to give me your mailing address at some point, if you don't live in Japan or I possibly won't see you before I leave for Canada. For now, simply tell me:

1) one or two colours that you like;
2) animal, vegetable, or mineral;
3) useful, or just cute?

^_^

Food )


My day )
I'm glad these two are short! Let's see if I can get them done in under ten minutes -- it's still technically the 4th! ^_^;;;

Favourite place )

Today's food )

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February 2012

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