Sunday, May 31, 2009

Ueno & Akihabara

Today we did a mixture of park, museums and Anime. Nice combo!  Ueno park is a large park quite like central park in that is large with ponds and a zoo.  Also enclosed in the park are several shrines and temples.  Surrounding the park are many museums.  After visiting the Tokyo National Museum, we headed over to the Edo Tokyo Museum (not in Ueno by the way).  The two museums were very different.  The Tokyo National Museums houses many pieces of Japanese art and antiques while the Edo Tokyo Museum contains scale models as well as life size artifacts of life in the Edo period.  The Edo Museum was very hands on and interactive. After we tired of museum wandering, we took the metro over to the electronics and Anime area of Akihabara.  One shop called Animate had over 7 floors w/ 2 rooms per floor with everything Anime.  David was in heaven (too bad none of the DVDs would work in the US), I just shuffled along with the crowd.  After the Anime overloaded we sat down to a delicious sushi dinner.  I really wonder if I will ever look at sushi in the States the same again....

17th Century Toshogu Shrine located in Ueno Park.

Part of the shrine, I believe these are offering/prayer requests.

Statues of deities inside the Tokyo National Museum. (sorry I can't be more specific, but it's not Italian Renaissance art).

Samurai armor also from inside the Tokyo National Museum.

I can ride in style inside my palanquin (part of the hands on experience in the Edo Tokyo Museum). (um..what's up with my cheesy smile there? David doesn't warn me of when he's actually going to take the photo!).

Or I can keep up with the hard working peasants (this was not easy folks, those things were heavy!).

Stopped for a treat of Mochi Icecream.  It's ice cream incased in a chewy exterior made from pulverized sticky rice.  David got green tea flavor (hence the green color) and I had chocolate. Quite tasty.

How can you describe the best sushi ever?  I mean there's no fishiness to it.  It literally melts in your mouth.  

The upper two pieces are fatty tuna, this stuff is heaven.

And they guys were literally taking fish out of the tank and filleting them on the spot.  Talk about fresh!

Saturday, May 30, 2009


What a long day!  We walked through the lovely laid back neighborhood of Yanaka for the majority of the day.  Yanaka offers many shrines and temples along with quaint shops and restaurants.   We had a great day and purchased some lovely handmade bamboo products and high quality Japanese green tea.  And can I just say for the being such a ginormous city, Tokyo is extremely clean.  I mean, I know in the US we trash our cities but it's even better than the large cities in Italy.  I'm tired tonight, so you'll just have to get by with the captions of my photos instead of a lengthy description of our day.

This a the bronze Buddha statue from the Tennoji Temple that dates from the 1690s.

Stumbling through ordering in this local restaurant paid off with my awesome tempura soba lunch. (still perfecting my slurp :-P).

Orange torii walkways at the Nezu Shrine. Unfortunately the main shrine is under restoration.

On our way back to our hotel area we stopped at an art supply store and the Shinjuku Gyoen (garden) Who would guess that this 143 acre park is right outside one of the busiest sections of Tokyo? The parks in Tokyo totally put NYC to shame!

The Shinjuku Gyoen contains two traditional Japanese Teahouses where you are served traditional Japanese green tea (froth and all) with a sweet.  (And yes the hostesses wear kimonos).

Friday, May 29, 2009


Well it was another rainy day here in Tokyo.  But we still made the best of it.  We set out for the Harajuku neighborhood this morning.  Harajuku is known for two things, the Meiji Jingu Shrine and shopping.  Lot's of shopping!  From second hand American clothing to high end stores.  After a delicious lunch of the best gyoza I've ever had. (I mean it's all this place makes besides a couple of simple sides).  After lunch we explored around the "Times Square" area some more.  Then we had a huge dinner of Shabu-Shabu (essentially Japanese style fondue) and David is now passed out for the evening. :-D

This is the courtyard to the shrine.  Out of respect you cannot stand in the middle and take photos. 

Located in the courtyard, you can pay to have prayers and blessings offered.

This a view of the pedestrian street Takeshita Dori that's lined with shops of all sorts.  Super crowded and umbrellas made it complicated. 

Watch those elevator doors!!  We saw this in the La Foret department store.

OMG! Best dumplings ever! Nothing else to say. There are 2 kinds: original pork and pork w/ chives & garlic. Then the option for steamed or pan fried.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


Greetings from Tokyo!

Today was our first full day here in this huge city.  It was kind of rainy but that didn't dampen our spirits.  We set off very early this morning to the Tsukiji Fish Market.  This place is the size of an airplane hanger full of every kind of ocean dweller.  Adjoining the market are sushi restaurants that are a fresh as it comes!  After touring around and a bite of breakfast we re-grouped and headed out to the Imperial Palace.  You can't really go into the palace but you can tour the lovely East Garden.  After that it was off to lunch and then a quick rest before some shopping!  What a long but enjoyable day!

We had just missed the Tuna auction. But these guys were all over the place! Tunas is by far the most popular fish around here.

Sushi for breakfast? Sure why not! That's what the locals do.  Little sushi joints surrounding the market were crammed full of people at 7 o'clock in the morning.  Here's David with some high quality and delicious ohtoro (fatty tuna).

This is is about as close as you can get to the Imperial Palace.  

The Higashi Gyoen (East Garden) was quite lush with beautiful irises growing in ponds.

Mmm! Pork Cutlet, Shrimp and Potato Croquette.  Served with tea, rice, miso soup, veggies and pickles.  Sooo good!!!

Monday, May 25, 2009

On the road again...

Well technically in the air over land and sea; and then on the road again. :-)

Tomorrow we have to wake up before the crack of dawn to go to the airport. Oh it's going to be a long day!  The flight to Tokyo is 13 hrs 45 min.  Then there's the joy of going thru customs and the 2 hour shuttle into the city.  So that by the time we actually get to our hotel we will  have been up and traveling for almost 24 hours.  Yay!  It will all be worth it for the experience of Japan!

If all goes according to plan, we will have the laptop and internet access in our hotel rooms.  So I should be able to post a few things over the next couple of weeks. But just in case, I'll leave you with some entertainment.

I can't tell how many babies there are in the box because they are still pretty small. But one is a trouble maker and likes to escape and squawk. 

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Dinner Tonight 5/23/09

Fish Tacos

I'm not usually a huge fan of cooked fish. I love sushi but cooked fish has to be done just right for me to eat it.  Fish Tacos are a great way to sneak fish into a meal.  We started by baking the fish with blackening seasoning.  Cook the fillet whole, you can break it up into bite size pieces once it's done. Then we just added our favorite taco toppings. Guacamole is really tasty with the blackened fish.  And we chose to use organic blue corn tacos, very tasty!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Living Room Refresh

I found this girl, pillowhappy on Etsy , who makes adorable decorative pillow covers.  I had her custom make the two coral pillows (now she offers them as a regular listing). And the blades of grass pillow is a regular listing on her site.  They add a little bit of color and style to our simple furniture.

These two go on the couch.

And this is the armchair.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

New Web Cam

So this one isn't as exciting as the Eagles...yet.  It's a hummingbird's nest.  There's one baby and an egg which I'm afraid isn't going to hatch.  The baby is still quite young and ugly.  But the mother is active going to and from the nest with food.  So give this one a try and see the guy little grow before your eyes!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Japanese 101

It really helps if you say these aloud.

Check-out Time: chekku auto taimu
Hot Chocolate:  hotto-kokoa
Cookie: kukki
Elevator: erebeta
Fruit Salad: furutsu-sarada
Ham: hamu
Hole in One: horu-in-wan
Hot Dog: hotto-dogu
Knife: naifu
Lemonade: remonedo
Orange Juice: orenji-jusu

See! Now you speak Japanese.

For a useful lesson, here are some numbers.

1 - ichi
2 - ni
3 - san
4 - shi
5 - go
6 - roku
7 - shichi
8 - hachi 
9 - ku
10 - ju

Monday, May 18, 2009

Pet Giraffe

So I can't have a dog until we have a house, instead I got a giraffe.  David said that I'm like a walking menagerie.  So meet Lester, my pet giraffe.  He was a present for a job well done this semester.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

And so it begins...

So the countdown is on!  We leave for Japan on the 26th.  Our flight is super early so technically we have to packed and ready Monday night.  Now begins the insanity...

Not really.... Buuut for those of you who know me well, I start getting slightly OCD before trips.  Today I made David clean out the fridge for weird leftovers. Cuz if we haven't eaten them by now...who knows what they used to be.  And I made him promise not to keep anything unless he's really gonna eat it. The boy will save like two spoons of rice for pete's sake. And then never eat it.

Yesterday we went to the Greensboro Historical Museum (yes they have one). Didn't really go thru the museum but skipped ahead to the gift shop.  In my Frommer's Japan book it says you need little gifts for people who help you out.  And that they should be relevant to where you're from or that they like candy. So why did we end up at the Museum? #1 half of the stuff we found elsewhere was probably made in Japan or China so that was a no go. #2 does a Japanese person even know where North Carolina is, nevermind Greensboro?  Honestly, every time someone overseas asks me where I'm from it doesn't really matter unless you say NY or CA. But still a "historical" place seemed the most likely to have NC stuff.  I told David we should just lie and buy NYC stuff at the Newark Airport.  But instead we got some really lame Greensboro postcards (so sad really, I should send them out to my FL friends) and some pins.  David and I imagine that tour guides and hotel staff have a room solely dedicated to cheap Americana collectables.

And then I have sectioned off a part of my closet for shirts I intend to pack. Um..yeah maybe I do have a shopping problem.  Sheesh!  I count at least 20 shirts I want to bring.  Luckily they aren't large or bulky so I will make them fit.  Now for the next week I'll wear the stuff in my closet that hasn't seen the light of day in who knows how long.  And I know what you're thinking, that I can just do laundry next weekend. No, b/c my lovely husband will procrastinate until then and will want to do large loads of laundry.  I will just sneak a few things in with his.  Oh, and I have counted my socks.  Sounds lame but when you need enough for 2 weeks, you had better make sure.

Now it's time to make the ultimate packing list...

Saturday, May 16, 2009


We are attending a dinner party tomorrow night and I volunteered to make Baba Ghannuj (Baba Ghanoush).  It's a very tasty Middle Eastern eggplant dip.  You serve it with pita triangles.  It's best to make this a day ahead of time to let the ingredients sit and marinate.  The raw garlic will be stronger the next day so be mindful of that when adjusting to your tastes.

You'll Need:

1 large eggplant
1 clove garlic
salt to taste
4 Tbsp. Tahini (sesame paste)
1/4 cp. water
1/4 cp. lemon juice
parsley garnish (if you want to)

So first off you roast the eggplant. I find it best for this dip that you will puree, to roast the eggplant whole.  Take a fork and poke lots of holes around the eggplant.  Place on a baking sheet covered w/ foil.  Roast at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.  Then turn it over and roast for another 20 minutes.  The eggplant should be squishy after the 40 minutes.  But you can adjust the time to the size of the eggplant.  Once it's all squishy, let it cool.  Then slice the eggplant in half and use a large spoon to scoop out the flesh.  You don't want the skin for this dip.

In a food processor, puree the garlic with some salt.  Then add the tahini.  Then a bit at a time, add the water and lemon juice.  Once this is all smooth, add the eggplant.  You can pulse it or puree it, depending on how smooth you'd like your dip.  Give it a taste for salt and tartness.  Adjust as needed.  **I add a little bit of Cumin for a smoky flavor**

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Bunch of Degenerates

And the last thing heard that night was the cry, "Zigzaaag!!"

What a night! So um...not really sure how much I can explain these but for those you who were there, flashbacks might ensue.

What's that boy...wanna go for a walk?

And they're off....

Opossum sighting, off he goes...down she goes....

Despite many Blair Witch flashbacks (on my part, did I ever mention I hate the woods at night?) we made it to Moccasin Slough.  Those glowing lights, alligators.

Aaand she's down again.


Favorite Things

So this maybe the first of many posts discussing my favorite things.  I like to try new products, foods, etc.

Here is my favorite new summer lotion.  It's light weight, so perfect for a warm climate.

It smells really nice on.  It's very light yet it works well.  I used it the whole time while down in hot & humid Florida. Never once did I feel slimy or sticky. So that's a good thing in a summer lotion.  And the best bit, it's 99.41% natural.  

Check it out!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Grades are in....

Drum roll please.....

Atlantic Slave Trade:   A-
Atlantic World and Beyond:  A

*doin' happy dance*

Hm...I need a reward for this...but what should I get?

Oh and for those of you interested, I got an A on each final paper. Yay!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Mother's Day

We had a really nice time in Florida.  I got to see all my family and friends.  It was boiling hot but it was still a good visit.  

Took my mom to church. I bought her a corsage. Ever since I can remember, she wore one on Mother's Day and I just continued the tradition when I got older. I guess it's a southern thing?

Every Mother's Day since I've moved away, my family and I take a Mother's Day picture.

Later on Sunday my brother and I went looking for alligators w/ David. Then hung out at the dock on Doctor's Lake.

And someone just took a nap...

Home Again

So we're back...greeted by 55 degree weather. So nice!  I've got a million things to do today but I thought I'd post a little something to cheer up your week.  I'll get to Mother's Day pictures tomorrow.


Look at this little guy. New little sloth born at the Sloth Sanctuary in Costa Rica.

Friday, May 8, 2009

On the road again...

Well all the papers are in. Had some celebratory Mexican w/ my pal Erin.  Now it's off to Florida.

Mother's Day weekend..wahoo  Getting pumped. Do I sound excited? Just kidding. I love my family. It's just the stress of it.  Two families in the same town makes me want to scream sometimes.  But I love them! Cuz I haave to. Just kidding again. Love you guys.

So I've totally procrastinated the day away. I got hooked on this British show Green Wing.  Man it's amazing how much time you can waste when you actually have time on your hands.

Anyways! Have a lovely Mother's Day everyone. Happy first Mum's Day to Natalie.

I'll be back on Monday w/ hopefully some pictures to share of the frenzy (oops) I mean good times! to share.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

What do you call baby Eagles?

Besides ugly? Not sure...
But this is a cool web cam.  When I logged on the mamma was feeding them.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Bright Side

Busy day!  Worked on my paper, bunny trauma, worked out, made dinner, worked on the paper some more...BUT
Now I am done with the essentials of my paper. (and there was much rejoicing) Yay! I just have my introduction and conclusion left to do but it is already 12 pages. Hooray! Oh and PS-Don't ever do a large paper with illustrations. Including all the images really sucks. Just an FYI.

Now that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, I decided to post more spring pictures.  These were taken this past weekend. Time to make of you jealous of the beautiful flowers that grow up here but you only dream of in FL.

Peonies...they smell so nice.

This Iris reminded of the bossy lady flower in Disney's Alice in Wonderland.

The yellow ones were quite nice too.

Awe..look at the baby. So cute...but he's a lonely guy I imagine.

I don't what kind of tree this is but it's super cool.