30 December 2007
Knowing that this is only available in Japan and Hong Kong at the moment (so I almost went for Moleskine instead...also an awesome product), I was worried about buying replacements, but I've decided that if worse comes to worse, I can always make my own inserts.
If you want to see inside, I made a short video while having a coffee http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgBwCbywHZo .
Thank you to Mr. P for a brilliant Christmas pressie!
We spent the 28th with Shino in Niigata City having a look round all the little shops in the older part of town. Furumachi still has mostly old narrow shophouse style buildings which don't always look much from the outside, but they are really cool inside and full of character.
First, we had lunch at Marilou Cafe. It's a macrobiotic cafe run by only one woman. Shino had rung the day before and reserved. There was only us three, a pair of women at another table, and couple more women each at their own table. Everything was ready together and nothing is microwaved. Of course, Japanese food is not all served hot, so everything was prepared in just the right way for serving. There is only one choice and it is a set. It was really good food with lots of different flavours even though there was no oil, dairy, and I can't remember what else. Of course when we walked in Mr. P goes, "This looks like a New Zealand Cafe!". He loves that style of cafe with a hodgepodge of old furniture and tables and mostly associates it with NZ beach cafes.
There was a really cool wallhanging behind one of the tables and I was just about to take a photo when two women walked in a sat there. This is when I realised that I'd carefully charged my camera and emptied the memory card to be ready for the day, only to leave the memory card in my computer. So, I had to use my keitai which has crap quality. Anyway, I did take a pic of Shino who decided to lean way over so I could get the wallhanging in sneakily. (Later they left, so I got my pic in the end).
After lunch, we wandered in and out of secondhand kimono shops, postcard shops (where, I bought up, of course!), a chopstick shop and a couple of antique shops. Lots of fun.
Finally, we ended up in a teashop with only one table...very cozy! Later we found out that there were two more tables upstairs so we climbed up the tiny starcase to have a look. It really reminded us of Vietnam and how the houses and shops are all so narrow. Mr. P was telling Shino about how they are taxed by what's in front and so that's why Vietnamese houses are stacked up rather than sprawling. She said it was the same here and that they sometimes refer to them as "eel houses". I love it!
I'm going to miss Shino so much. We worked in Thailand doing Habitat for Humanity together and had such a laugh in the evenings. We both have a passion for Thai food and, in particular, Khao niao ma muang, sticky rice with mango which we ate PLENTY of! Unfortunately, we hardly ever see each other at work since we have different class times and Shino is involved in all sorts of committees, etc.
Shino, don't forget to come to New Zealand and visit!!
28 December 2007
23 December 2007
I seem to be like a deer caught in the headlights. I can see all the stuff that needs to be done, but I just can't do anything yet. So far, I've managed to update my Flickr page and my blog, e-mail some people who can't even remember who I am since it's been so long, watched a couple of DVDs with Mr. P, and moved some stuff from one room to the other and back again. I think I'm overwhelmed!
My production level was actually higher while I was teaching because I kept fitting in little jobs in between classes. But now that I don't have to fit things in, I appear to be burnt out.
This can't happen. I've got to get moving. So far, it's only halfway through the second day of holiday but I know how these things progress. Progress isn't the right word...maybe grind to a halt. OK, one room at a time, keep calm...here it goes...
18 December 2007
07 December 2007
I recently came across this person's blog and her post about doing a tea and literature swap. How cool I thought!
Of course there is no way this is going to come to fruition in the near future as I am knee-deep in boxes, but when I get settled back in NZ I definitely want to organise one of these. Anyone up for it?
29 November 2007
He's so random. I mean, how do people think of something like this? And where does he find the time to do it?
OK, so here's my "original" idea, even though I know it's not original, I just can't remember what gave me the idea. I was standing at my hundreth train station for the day in Tokyo (where I've been for the last two weekends) and suddenly realised that there were some cool looking numbers around. Now, I am not normally a "numbers" person as I tend to class myself as being more of a "letters" person. But standing in a train station will do that to ya. I mean, you're surrounded by times and tracks. So, slowly I plan to collect the numbers 1 to 100 and put them on my Flickr stream. I say "slowly" because I'm doing about a thousand other things at the moment so I haven't set any kind of deadline for myself. Deadlines for creativity...ha! I laugh in the face of deadlines when I am being creative! Actually, I laugh at deadlines in whatever mode I'm in, but that's beside the point. I'm getting off track (No. 1) here. Anybody want to join in? Just create a set on your stream and start adding the numbers...race you! (Not!)
22 November 2007
21 November 2007
It started snowing at the beginning of this week. Now it's gone to yucky rain, but it's definitely filling up the higher areas as they are all covered in a dusting of snow, and the ski run we can see from our front window is white like two veins pumping down the side of the mountain. The mountains look so much more majestic when there is snow on them. The white against the black really defines them. Here is the view from our flat in which Mr. P is heading off to work on his dissertation someplace warmer than ours!
10 November 2007
So, it's pots of tea and hot water bottles all round!
09 November 2007
08 November 2007
31 October 2007
I've been noticing that the pumpkins in the US are now huge. I was only hoping to find a minikin to carve since Japanese pumpkins, kabocha, are too hard. But, as Mr. P says, "Everything's bigger in America.". http://www.bigpumpkins.com/viewarticle.asp?id=115&gid=32
BTW, although it is cooling off, we are still waiting for snow so we can go skiing.
29 October 2007
13 October 2007
And now for something a little different...
I came across this while perusing the net, as you do, by a Mr. Fraser Lewry. I don't know him from Jack, but I spent a bit of time looking at his blog, and I hope he doesn't mind me linking to this page. This bloke is awesome for just thinking up a stunt like this. He's made a giant Scotch egg from an ostrich egg. Check it out. http://www.blogjam.com/2005/05/15/scotch-ostrich-egg/
I once got recruited as omelette chef at an ostrich egg party, and didn't sit down to eat my own portion of the meal until I had cooked up no less than 12 omelettes! "Sure, I'll cook."...stupid me! The egg cracker actually used a drill to get in. It was pretty fun, though.
10 October 2007
I love cups of tea at any time of year, but this is surely the beginning of deep mug o' tea season. I've been scheming to buy just the right flask to take to work with me, even though we have a kettle there I can use. I just like tea and all it's accoutrements, what can I say!
02 October 2007
17 September 2007
We went shopping in "Kitchen town" in Tokyo where restauranteers shop for bits and bobs and it was lots of fun. We've bought a whole set of (8) blue Japanese pottery plates to take back home and also some gorgeous ramen bowls and a few other things. In the 15 years we've been together we've only ever had $2 shop types things so it's lots of fun to get a few nice things that we'll actually want to keep. before it was always, "Oh just get something that looks OK but we can bear to part with when we move on". Hopefully in a couple of years we can buy a house to put this stuff in so that we can keep it all when we go off travelling or working abroad. I guess living in this tiny space has left me craving "stuff" and "places to put stuff".
It often feels like we are camping here. We roll out our futons and bedding every night and pack them away in the morning, we use a little two burner camping type cooker (Thankfully we don't have to pump it like the old camping cookers!), the lack of insulation so the gales blow freezing wind through in winter and it's oven-like in summer, we have to chop one ingredient at a time for lack of cooking space, and we actually have a real foldable camping table set up in the kitchen in an attempt to make more surface area, lastly, we mostly sit on the floor. It's really fun for a while, but three years is a bit much and we're ready to have a real, full-sized sofa, chairs, and a bed. Oh, and I'd love to do sun salutations without having to work around the ceiling lamp!
21 August 2007
If you'd like to join in, please send me a Flickrmail or email with your full name and address. You are welcome to ask me anything about it and please check out my photos on Flickr (link on the right hand side of this page) from the last project and also the rules as previously stated in the July project http://shantiwallah.blogspot.com/2007/05/invitation.html. It was cool!
Here are the dates:
Deadline for joining the project - Friday 7 September 2007
Deadline for sending out your postcards- Friday 21 September 2007
The day after the joining deadline I will collate all names and send out to mailing list to each participant so you should get a good two weeks to work on the postcards.
16 August 2007
15 August 2007
Other than that, nothing much is going on here. It's Obon this week. It's something like Christmas for us in that there is holiday from work and families get together. In our town that means they hang out at the mall which is exactly what we've been doing in order to give our little aircon unit a break. But at night people go to the temples to pay respects to the deceased. http://www.flickr.com/photos/89183164@N00/472335406/in/set-72157600217483730/
I'm also gearing up for the next postcard project. I've almost decided the theme and will post soon.
08 August 2007
Another reason I put off doing my marking is that I was scared shitless (Wow, two of that word in one post!) because my flat kept shaking. Yes, that earthquake that you all heard of off in distant lands was actually quite close to here and this place was a bit like a ride at a funfair, only not fun, for a couple of days. Happily, it seems to have settled down for now (touch wood). I just hope they get that nuclear power plant leak stuff sorted out. I hate eating glowing veggies and seafood as much as the next guy.
Speaking of food, I'm feeling distantly amused by the whole "Chinese food scare". Most of us in Australasia are already well aware of the dangers of Chinese food and it's lack of regulation regarding pesticides, etc. The thing is that all of our food is so Frankensteinised (ie. GE/ GM crops) and pesticised and hormoneisised, yes that IS a word, these days that it's hard to know exactly where you want to gamble. But I've been eating Chinese foodstuffs as well as Japanese and New Zealand, and anywhere else's it's imported from for a long time. I feel OK so far even though I'm not that happy about the lack of control of it. But without a superbudget that allows me to buy organic, local food as well as get a variety, what's a "foodie" like me to do? Of course I dream of the day when I can plant a garden again and be content in the fact that a lot of my food growing has been overseen by yours truly, but until then, I have to eat what I can afford. It sucks but that's life! I can only try to eat the best I can and no get too paranoid, right?
And then, speaking of imported items, I'm now enjoying a bottle of icy cold Babich Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand. It was 36C today, so that's one import I'm not going to complain about!
23 July 2007
I liked this idea, even if it's not very green. But if you are in a hurry, making everything in one tidy packet is much quicker than trying to keep your hands wet so the rice doesn't stick to them. You also don't have to mess around with the onigiri form.
1) Mix the flavourings that you want into hot rice and turn it over a few times to cool it a bit.
2) Line a teacup or rice bowl with plastic wrap and fill with a handful of the rice mixture.
3) Push a little well into the centre and add your filling. I've used umeboshi (Japanese style pickled plums).
4) Twist the ends of the wrap together and form a ball with the rice working it together a little bit.
5) Using your first two fingers, form the three corners of the triangle.
6) Then you can untwist the plastic wrap and wrap it around the onigiri nicely so that it can be packed for lunch.
16 July 2007
This one is obviously hand-cut, and has been pressed with unknown (by me anyway) and intriguing language. It's an olive oil soap from Syria that was given to me last week by another teacher I work with who has spent time teaching in Oman. Thanks スー!
15 July 2007
14 July 2007
06 July 2007
03 July 2007
01 July 2007
30 June 2007
And, in case you've been living under a rock and have no idea who this incredible man is, have a look at this tribute.
28 June 2007
My beautiful Laken bottle, of which I have a few in various sizes and colours. I take it to every class with me when, after many weeks of wonder, a student will finally muster up the courage to ask me, "What's in that bottle?". As I sip it throughout each class, I would've thought it obvious that it was not anything sinister. However, if I'm feeling particularly sarcastic on that day (and I think the student can handle it), I sometimes reply, "Vodka...Polish.". To which I often get an underwhelmed, "Oh." before said student returns calmly to his seat to wait for class to begin.
25 June 2007
24 June 2007
22 June 2007
Seeing two of my interests in one headline in the NZ Herald I had to read more. It seems that people are slowly cultivating (get it?) a small wine industry in the Nandi Hills of south India. It all makes sense when you think about the growing middle class in India who are likely to drink the stuff. I thought the best part of the article was when the writer quantified the annual consumption per capita of wine as teaspoon each. I wonder what our annual per capita consumption is in NZ?
Do you drink red or white with a saag paneer?
17 June 2007
10 June 2007
07 June 2007
Team New Zealand are definitely in the lead to qualify now as they have won about two thirds of the Louis Vuitton races. If we get the cup back we get to host the next race which is really great for New Zealand. Last time there was such a good atmosphere and all sorts of events going on. There were parties and full bars and restaurants every day in Auckland. You could really feel the excitement. Go Team New Zealand!!
01 June 2007
However, this does mess with the "Friday feeling" that I used to enjoy so much because I have a full on day today that I have to get through. And so can't really get excited about the weekend yet. But, my classes are planned so I'll try to pace myself through the day to get my Monday planning finished before nightfall. Yes, teaching is a neverending, vicious circle of "plan and deliver"!
24 May 2007
This is not my brilliant idea as it's going on all over blogland. I love the idea that it is where new technological correspondence and olde worldy correspondence meet. So, I'm organising this through the net so that we can get down to using some of that old fashioned stuff known as...(gasp!) paper! Yes, you read it correctly. You have to go out and find some real paper and make some postcards.
I think these things usually have a theme, but since I can't really come up with one that I like at the moment (and if I think too long, I might bail on the project altogether!) I've decided that the theme will just be a friendly "hello" and an introduction of yourself if you don't know the person you are writing to.
Here's da rules:
1. If you want to participate, send your street address to my e-mail address with the subject, "Postcards!" by the 7th of June 2007.
2. No premade postcards!! You must make the postcards yourself by buying blank ones or cutting up card and decorating one side in your own lovely little way, and writing the address of the recipient on the other (duh!).
3. You can design the cards in any way you like as long as it is a postcard and nothing more (ie. nothing in an envelope). Go crazy and let your creative juices flow. This is a chance to get away from the humdrum of the daily grind and let yourself go. Nobody will judge your art. Use markers, stamps, stickers, paint, crayons, you name it. Make it plain or outrageous, serious or goofy. Just enjoy the process.
Once I have received all the addresses, I will send out the list of participants to all so that we can send postcards by the 14th of June (I just like numbers divisible by seven). If we get more than 10 people, I will divide us into groups so nobody has to send more than 10 cards. After you've been to the postoffice to send off your little beauties you can just sit back and wait for the fun to arrive from all over the world.
If you think you know of someone who would like to join in the fun, you may forward this message and my e-mail address (But obviously, please don't give my e-mail address to anyone who might be a potential ax murderer. That's just in case you know any of those.).
I'm checking my inbox now...ready...GO!
04 May 2007
Yesterday we ate lunch in a lovely Italian place down by the lake and then went to looking for an onsen (hotbaths) for an afternoon scrub and soak.
This area is really interesting. It's a somewhat communal community that was started as holiday cabins in the early 20's by missionaries. These days it's a mix of foreign families and mixed foreign-Japanese families, missionaries, academics, etc. etc.. The people are very interesting. They all belong to an association and have to volunteer for something from time to time. It's quite cheap to buy a cabin up here, but you have to rent for a while first to make sure that you are aligned with the ethos of the community. Any changing of cabins or flora or fauna has to go through the committee first, which has generally been successful in preserving the natural beauty and "wildness" of the area. It's a real "get away from it all" place from hectic life in Japan.
22 April 2007
20 April 2007
You can visit the site by clicking on the banner I've put on the right here or the title of this entry. It would be great if you could give a donation, or join a walk. Nearly a hundred countries participate so check out the interactive map on the site and see if there is one near you.
10 April 2007
07 April 2007
Today I came across this awesome blog. http://www.nandyala.org/mahanandi/
This is a woman after my own heart as she not only talks about Indian food, but also posts the full recipes as well as good photos. This could rival my all time favourite (although another genre altogether) blog by Clotilde Dusoulier called Chocolate and Zucchini http://chocolateandzucchini.com/. The beauty of her site is that it has a lot of writing to go with the food and food porn (In case you didn't know, that's the photos that make you want to eat alll this lovely food.) as well as a forum. I love the message boards. I was on one of my favourites earlier and suddenly felt a craving for marmalade. Since it's now 10.30 pm, I'm trying to control myself but these things are definitely dangerous! I've really got to get to bed now so I can get up and have marmalade on toast for breakfast...if only we could get good bread here!!
03 April 2007
It seems like all the busyness I left behind is rapping at my door. I've been hiding in the flat so I don't get sucked into the vortex of never-ending work. But I'm still getting e-mails, phonecalls, txt messages, and visitors. Plus, I was so inspired by my trip to get on with things in my field that I don't know if I'm coming or going. I haven't even started classes yet. Who's got time for that!?