Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Japanese rice that they make mochi with

You can also buy the mochi already packaged and ready to roast

Roasting the mochi

Ruffy the dog---isn't he cute?!

It's ready to add to the soup

Ozouni---soup with mochi

Hello Kitty chocolate!


My boot kitties!

Hello! Is it cold where you are? It's super cold here! The Japanese word is "samui."

Yesterday I was at my friend Makiko's, and she taught me how to make a few dishes with mochi, a dense rice cake that you roast. I took a few pictures of the mochi roasting. We had a soup called "ozouni" with the mochi in it, and a dessert made of mochi, ground soy beans, and sugar that is called "abekawa mochi." Both were very tasty and Makiko sent me home with some of the supplies, so I'll have to try and make it on my own now. While we were cooking, their family dog Ruffy joined us. He is such a sweetheart and a big dog for Japan. He is a beautiful black flatcoat retriever.

And after a fun day with Makiko, I came home to find that my dear husband had bought me a surprise present---Hello Kitty chocolate! In case you're wondering, the chocolate is quite tasty.

My Thursday washi class is back in action after our instructor took a break over the Christmas and New Year holidays. We'll be working on making a box with a lid tomorrow. At home I've been working a kit that I bought at the Yokohama Quilt Show a few months ago. It involves pressing pieces of fabric into a styrofoam board with a sharp, pointed tool to make an image. When I'm done, I'll show you, but right now it still needs some work. It looked easier than I'm finding it to be, and I'm also trying to figure out the instructions by a) trial and error and b)looking at pictures rather than trying to read the Japanese characters!

While I was home in October, I bought myself a pair of black boots. (I haven't bought a single pair of shoes while I've been here because nothing fits me! Grrrr. ) Boots are very popular here and everyone wears them. The stores have these cool little stuffed things that you can put inside your boots to keep them standing upright. Some have cute little animals on top, and I finally bought myself a pair of boot kitties this past week. I snapped a photo so you can see what I'm talking about. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Group of 20-year-olds celebrating Coming of Age Day

Aren't their kimonos just gorgeous?

I didn't see many guys wearing kimonos. This was a fun photo.

These girls were really sweet. The one on the left had gold sparkles in her hair!

I felt like a really sloppy American standing next to these two.

Yukiko and Seiko

Our door wreath for the New Year holiday

Hello and welcome to my blog for 2009---a little late. I hope everyone had a good rest during the holidays. I am recovering from a rather yucky chest cold and feeling much better. Yesterday I got out and about with Seiko and her friend Yukiko. The second Monday in January is called "Seijin No Hi" in Japan, which means "Coming of Age Day." It is a national holiday to celebrate 20-year-olds and their new status as adults. The 20-year-olds dress up in kimonos and nice suits, and they visit temples, shrines, and city halls to celebrate. At the age of 20, they can vote, drink, smoke, and marry without their parents' permission. Seiko drove me to Zama City Hall, where a bunch of the 20-year-olds were just leaving the building. Seiko taught me how to ask "Can I please take your picture?" in Japanese. Every group I asked was so sweet and a little surprised that I wanted to take their picture. I was stunned at how gorgeous their kimonos are, and a couple of the girls let me stand next to them in one of the photos. I felt like a clunky and very sloppy American standing next to them.

After our trip to city hall, we met Seiko's friend Yukiko at Ebina for lunch. We went to this really yummy organic, all-you-can-eat buffet. I stayed close to Seiko to make sure I wasn't eating something too weird, but everything was really tasty. It was very nice to meet Yukiko. She is a busy lady with six (!!!) boys, the youngest of which is two years old!

So I have something rather funny to share. One of my photos for this post is of a little cow and a straw wreath. It's a traditional ornament that you hang on your door here to welcome in the new year. I saw it at the store and thought it was cute, so I bought it. I figured that the writing said something like "Happy New Year." But classic Ellen strikes again. When Seiko came to pick me up yesterday she told me that the sign on the wreath means "Drive safely." Drive safely?! What the heck? They must have had 20 different styles, and I managed to buy the one wreath that you are suppose to hang in your car! Seiko said that about five years ago or so it was really popular to decorate your car for the new year, but not so much now. I bet the cashier at the store thought I was crazy when I bought the thing, and come to think of it, there were a bunch of people picking out wreaths and no one was buying the version that I bought. So, here's my New Year message for all you---drive safely in 2009, okay?