December 30, 2007

I Heart Jesse

Happy Birthday Jesse!
My bestest friend in the whole wide world.
The dad who takes us exploring.
M likes when he takes her surfing.
I love hiking, swimming, kayaking, hot springing, and just being with J.
Have a great day and welcome to your thirties.

Ginger Castle and Men

Last year the kids and I spent an early morning making the Palmer Gingerbread Castle. And for the first time ever, the entire castle was eaten because it actually tasted good!
E was really into patterns. And G was really into eating those patterns (even though it was 8am).
This year, alack, I have no pictures, but we made gingerbread men at our friend's house in Takao. I used buttercream frosting instead of royal. When powdered sugar is so hard to come by, it's best to use it wisely. The recipe came through again, even though I forgot the ginger and had to use a mixture of nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon. I might just make it again since I love ginger cookies.
5 1/4 c all purpose flour
1 T ginger
2 t baking soda
1 1/2 t allspice
1 t salt
2 cups packed dark brown sugar
1 c butter, softened
3/4 c dark corn syrup
2 eggs

1-combine flour, ginger, baking soda, allspice, and salt in med bowl

2-beat brown sugar and butter in large bowl at med speed of electric mixer until fluffy. beat in corn syrup and eggs. gradually add flour mixture. beat at low speed until well blended. cover; refrigerate about 2 hours or until firm. bake 375 degree oven 10-12 min or until done.


When Amy was here she mentioned that she LOVED leek soup. I've never bought leeks, though I may have inadvertently tasted them at some point. I bought some last Co-op order and stuck them on the back porch since there was no room in the fridge.

I went to my trusty cookbook...I mean website, and found this recipe for Curried Leek Soup. I doubled the recipe and had it for lunch and dinner today. YUM! Even Jesse liked it. (He doesn't usually like soup.)

I made turkey noodle soup with homemade egg noodles the other day. The kids we were watching liked them, miraculous!

When I was on my mission, our mission president's wife taught us how to make homemade noodles. I had just gotten back from Cabo Verde and was so excited to have lunch with Sister Brinkerhoff and all the other sister missionaries. She usually made quiche or lasagna or meat. And then dessert was always chocolatey yumminess. We got to the house and she gave us the noodles tutorial and then served us turkey noodle soup with a fruit cup for dessert. Sister Bagley and I felt completely robbed.

Turned out that all the sisters in Portugal had been snacking on the bolos de belem, a creme doughnut. They'd gotten what we call fofinha (fluffy). Meanwhile, Sister Bagley and I had been in Cabo Verde with intestinal worms. I'd lost about 15 pounds (this was when I didn't have 15 pounds to lose, unlike today) and was constantly hungry and Bagley was in the same boat.

I'm pretty sure we stopped at McD's on the way home. But I did learn how to make noodles.

1 Cup flour
1 egg
1/2 eggshell milk

Make indentation in flour. Fill with egg and milk. Stir until combined. Roll out on floured surface as thin as possible. Cut with sharp knife or pizza cutter. Drop into boiling broth a little at a time, making sure to stir so noodles don't stick. Cook for 20 minutes.

December 29, 2007

Christmas Morning

With the cousins. So much fun, so many new toys. No guilt, since our kiddies have close to nothing to play with. Jesse made them a castle out of a cardboard box. Of course it's their favorite present.

And this is what I wanted, but he's already taken. Maybe next year.

December 22, 2007

I Found It

Handel's Messiah by the Philadelphia Orchestra on NPR. Learn a little about the history and enjoy two hours celebrating our Savior in song.

December 19, 2007

I Do.

Have you seen Adam's new wedding photo gallery? Makes me want to get married again (same guy, just new pictures.)

Don't you wish you had such cool in-laws?

December 18, 2007


For me, Christmas is about the music. It's the Messiah sing-a-longs, the "Last Christmas I Gave You My Heart" in the stores (even here), and the Mo-Tab. Last time we were abroad, I found myself hungering for the music of the season and not quite willing to buy ALL of it. But I found it for FREE on NPR. Bless Public Radio and its dedication to beautiful music. NPR even has its own media player that pops up and then disappears when you're done. Much nicer than the glitches with Realplayer and Windows Media.

This year I found their Christmas Around the Country concert and The 2007 Carol Contest winners.

I'm going to try A Holiday Mix from All Songs Considered if not today, tomorrow.

I can't wait to find more! I really want to find the Messiah. So if you find it, send me a link.


At the ward Christmas party, we had a LARGE flock of sheep. The primary president's main direction to them "Remember to be SILENT sheep!" There was the array of histrionics, attention seekers, wandering babies (bottom right corner). This was the best shot with my 3 favorite sheep: G, M, and neighbor Miya. G, who isn't officially a member of primary until next year, proved to be a perfect sheep. I have a feeling she is going to LOVE primary. The best part about the primary party is that the kids were already in their jammies!

December 15, 2007

Orange You Glad Part 2

Nihon Minka-en

When we were here 5 years ago and M was a wee tot, we visited the Nihon Minka-en. We've been looking for an excuse to visit it again, and Amy was IT! It was better than ever since the kids enjoyed it as much as we did. This is THE BEST museum for kids because it's a huge park. 23 old farmhouses were taken from their original sites and brought here. In some of the houses, docents hang out by the fire pit waiting to talk to visitors. Perfect on a drizzly day. So beautiful.J loves the curved and crooked crossbeams in the houses.

The white window above the door (hard to see) is also the winter door when the snow is 10 feet deep. Um...COLDIE.

The straw around the house is to keep the snow off the house during the winter.

Mochi Party

After dragging M to school today, and then realizing I had pretty much forgotten EVERYTHING I was supposed to bring (cups, chopsticks, empty bento boxes, etc), I went home, cried my frustration out, then trooped back with a desperate note to Jesse to save me ASAP. He, Amy, and Ez went to watch am sumo practice. He did come. In time to pound some mochi, hold G, make small talk, and pretty much save me. We all had mochi for lunch. Salty with nori, sweet with peanut powder, and sweet with azuki beans. And pickled vegetables. I think that winter would be VERY LONG for me back in the day. The mochi was good, but it just sits like a sticky stone in your gut.

Jesse saved me again in the afternoon, letting me nap away my exhaustion. And of course he cleaned while I slept. LOVE HIM!

December 11, 2007

Seeing Red

At the Ghibli, Inokashira Park,and Shibuya with Ez ("He's fun to play with" says G) and Amy. No shots of Enoch, though. But we did see him.

December 9, 2007

Paper Dolls

The girls don't have very many toys here, but they do have paper and crayons. I'm so proud of M and her creativity. Don't you love the anime inspired eyes? The girls tape the head, arms, and legs to the dresses. I designed the two dresses on the right, but M's is on the left. I'm sad that when they get toys for Christmas, they might lose interest in some of these more creative outlets.

December 7, 2007


For me, they mean Christmas, birthday, birthday and birthday. And don't forget New Year's/birthday. But this year, since I'm a little low on responsibilities/expectations/social engagements, I've done a lot of shopping and seem to be almost done with the gift buying portion of Christmas. And since I can't show you after Christmas, here it is now!The kids are getting Tokyo, Paris, and NY in a bag from Muji.

G is getting Popo chan from me and my mom. She picked out another doll, but I really like Popo chan and she has some classic outfits that just can't be duplicated in the states. And M is getting a backpack for school next year. It's not this leather one, but a bit like it. It's also from Muji and the cheapest on around at 9900 yen. You can calculate that into dollars if you want to. I prefer just not thinking too much about it. She will be using this backpack for the rest of her life.

Of course there's more, but must save some for later!

December 6, 2007

Meiji Shrine and Yoyogi Park

J & M at the shrine Heart detail on a door Lots of sake for thirsty gods

self portrait w/ bicycle seat The fam

I think I got some decent photos, but I still can't figure out how to rotate them on image capture in a way that Blogger can tell they're rotated. The autumn leaves are so delightful. I really can't get enough, even though they are littering our genkan and I find bags stashed throughout the house. I also love wearing TWO wool sweaters at the same time.

Be Our Guest

We are thrilled and delighted that we will have HOUSE GUESTS!!! Jesse is taking this opportunity to organize the kitchen (bless him). I'm using our upcoming guests as an excuse to throw out art projects and various cardboard boxes that have accumulated in the kids' room. We're so excited to be tour guides. I'm so excited we live in such a cool place. I can't wait to explore with Amy. And I can't wait to ask Yuki every question that I've been to embarrassed to ask anyone else. For instance there are complete aisles in the grocery store where I have no idea what anything is. How do I get a point card at Tokyu store? Is there any possible way I can earn the Miffy water bottle at Lawson's through their point system? Exactly how lame do I appear to the moms at youchien? Do you know how excited I am to have an adult to talk to for hours for 3 consecutive days (that's not my husband)?

Bento IV

It's December and at M's Youchien that means we've switched to the two tiered obento box. The teachers heat up the rice for the kids. Of course I got it at the 100 yen store. They're about 1000 at Akachan Honpo for the cute Miffy double bento box. I love Miffy, but not that much. Today's obento looks good, but as I suspected, M didn't eat the cherry tomato or the dumpling. For some reason she doesn't like them, though they add variety and color in my opinion. Theh quail eggs are a recent addition that Uta's mom told me about. She only ate half of the rice, but she says it's because she prefers her rice cold. Umm, how do I explain that to her teachers? Do I even bother? G insisted we take a picture of her lunch today. She usually eats it around 10 because she doesn't eat enough of a breakfast. The picture of her obento is fuzzy, so I'm not going to post it.

December 4, 2007

If I Could...

I'd post pictures of beautiful autumn leaves and our last few outings. But...Someone who will be named-Jesse- messed with my iphoto program and is now inoperable. And I'm not really, how do you say, competent in any other program. Oh right, and aforementioned Jesse also turned on Raw feature on camera, so pictures are in too large format for lay folks such as myself.

But as I love him and have committed myself to our partnership, I've forgiven him. Though he is to never do anything on my computer again. I just wanted my huge readership to know why I've not posted in a bit.

The Yerba Mate Diet

Though I don't have my own gourd, I bought some mate teabags at the store. It's so dang cold, and I love my hot beverages. And Paulie says it's good for you. And I swear its an appetite suppressant. It's really wild. I'm super squishy (not exercising), but thinner. Go figure. Go Mate!

November 27, 2007

Sacramento's Festival of Trees and Lights

If any of the family in Sac are even thinking about going, GO! My friend is the festival director! I thought she was doing a school carnival or something like that. This is HUGE! She's amazingly creative, the mom of 3 small kids, her husband is in his second year of residency, and she's doing this amazing feat. I'm floored. GO JULIA!

Designmom giveaways

Ok, since I love you all and know that there's only about ten of you, go to Designmom this week and sign up for her awesome giveaways. She's giving away 4 things each day. Today was a necklace, $150 gift certificate to Zutano, and a whole lot of cool stuff. And if you win, you can maybe share it with me?

November 25, 2007

Give Thanks

Of course I forgot my camera, but the Americans in our ward managed a stuff your face Thanksgiving as good as home. Or better, since there was no football on tv. We got to hang out with the Otsujis, Porters, and Hutchings. The only people we haven't found a connection to is the Mylroies, so if I write their name, I suppose one of you will tell me how we know them. The food was awesome. I'm thoroughly enjoying the leftovers. I have to get Miss M's recipe for gingered pumpkin pie. Delish! The guys played video games (even our little J). The kids played for hours unsupervised. The moms watched a chick flik. How much more perfect can you get?

November 19, 2007


Only one and half hours from our place by train is this little mountain with the gorgeous scenery. It's amazing how renewing it is to get out of the city. Jesse took this shot of the girls and I. It was quite cold, especially when the wind blew. M hiked all 11 kilometers. Jesse says it's too bad she says she doesn't like hiking because she's exceptionally good at it. G spent 10.8 km on Jesse's shoulders. Ouch. The one thing we wish we had brought, gloves.

November 18, 2007

2 moments last week

Where G did her first load of dishes. In true Bekah form, she's also sounding out words. She has yet to make herself her own pb & j sandwich, but she does have a whole year before she's 4.

And M dressed her self in this fabulous ensemble. She's been dressing herself for awhile, but this outfit has got to win some kind of award. G's was probably worse, but she refused to get her picture taken. Smart girl.

November 16, 2007

Bento III

I'm getting faster and more proficient at making Obento. I'm out of carrots, so the orange color is missing. The fried concoction is cheese filled chicken nuggets that I get from Co-op. They're frozen and you just have to fry them in the morning. It's an incredibly unhealthy shortcut, but I no longer wake up at 6 to make chicken katsu. My cucumber flowers are getting nicer. I also got some precut nori from Co-op. They're shaped like animals, flowers, cars, etc. I put one on each side for the girls. My friend Kara gave me the triangle shaped onigiri press. It's so tech. The inside is textured so that the finished onigiri doesn't stick to the press. Stay tuned...

November 15, 2007

10 Good Things on a Not So Good Day

Good Things

1. Sweetened condensed milk flavored popsicles. Yum. A definite score from Co-op (said ko-poo)
2. Autumn leaves, crispy air, blue skies, 60 degree weather. Perfect.
3. Cooler temperatures mean my fingers have lost the summer sausage look so I can wear my Wedding Ring!
4. Found the cutest Christmas dresses for the girls thanks to Designmom and Leila & Ben. Ordered them, and thank goodness they ship internationally for a reasonable rate!
5. Am getting my hair cut tomorrow. Last time was right before Sienna's wedding. Just in time for their 5 month anniversary. Yikes, been awhile.
6. Fab dinner tonight. Rosemary chicken, mashed potatoes, spinach, and chicken gravy.
7. USB phone WORKS!!!!!! So now you can Skype me! (Just remember the time difference, por favor)
8. Saw Jared's L's new twins from the webcam. I'm jealous. They are delicious.
9. Looked at Nohea's Etsy Store. I found these earrings which I think I adore. Is there a cousin discount? (these are on her store)
10. It's almost bedtime!

November 9, 2007

Everything's happening at the zoo

The Ueno zoo was pretty crowded for a Wednesday. M got out of school early, so the kids and I made a short jaunt on the train to Ueno park. We finally got our Suica passes, so I don't have to figure out how much the tickets cost between stations. I just have A LOT of $$ on my pass, pass it over the turnstile and am on my way. I'm getting very good at knowing which stations have elevators and where they are.

Anyway...We saw half of the zoo. We'll check out the other half next time and go on the kiddie rides just outside the entrance (curse them). It was fun, though hectic. We left at 4 since it gets dark early and we wanted to beat the rush. It's the joy and bane of living in the heart of the city.

The panda volunteers gave a cute little speech about how much they grow and how their poop shows if they are healthy or not. They even had a fresh sample of Ling-Ling's poo for us to smell. I pretended to and got an enthusiastic response from the volunteers. We also got some postcards, so I guess it was worth it.

The Asian elephants. The zoo has 4 of them in a very tiny enclosure. I felt claustrophobic for them.

My monkeys pose by their gorillas

The monkeys climb the giant stuffed panda. (do you love the knee socks?)
I don't know if this trip makes me FUN mom. At least we got out of the house and out of our neighborhood.

November 8, 2007

In response to Brooke's walks

In response to Brooke's walks:

Started jumping rope since I can't seem to get myself out of bed without knowing people are waiting for me. I keep tripping over the dang thing and can't really get a sweat going since I get tied up every 10th jump. It's giving me shin splints, too. Kind of pathetic, huh?

good news: lost all the weight I gained over the sedentary summer.

bad news: no longer fit fat jeans or skinny jeans so I'm either showing a ton of crack or can barely breathe.

More bad news: No way I'm finding jeans here in skinnyville. I'm a freaking Amazon. They sell clothes for full grown women that almost fit M. She's 5.

Better news: Found a cute pair of shoes that fit if I suck in my feet. J says that means they don't fit. I think it means there's hope.

November 7, 2007


I went to the temple tonight and was grateful for all the hard things that people did for me to make my time there pleasant. It was especially sweet since sometimes I feel like just being here in Japan is hard. It was uncomfortable for them to speak English, but they did it. Kind.

G's been calling me Mommy-chan or Mommy-yo. She claims to speak Japanese if you ever ask her about it. She does speak some sort of jibberish with Japanese intonations though. Very odd.

I'm Jesse's new dissertation buddy. We miss RJohn.

We went to the zoo today. Will post pics tomorrow. I'm trying to be FUN in TOKYO. Instead of BLOGGER MOM, get off the COMPUTER! M wanted to go to the museum there. 2 tired kids in an art museum. 1 adult. NOT FUN.

November 1, 2007

Mission Complete

On the way home from dropping of Agent M to school, Agents B and G located above pictured dark blue Poang chair cover. Agent J had been trying to talk Agent B into sewing a new cover (though she doesn't have a sewing machine, thread, cloth, etc). Agent B quickly ascertained that said chair cover, though on top of its broken frame, was in excellent condition. However, the cushion was in a conspicuous area, heavily traveled by high school students, elementary school students, and Agent M's classmates and their mothers. Agent B ran home, but Agent J had already left. What if someone else took it? When did the trash men come? Time was of the essence. Agent B and Agent G would do it alone...

In the land of packaging, Agent B quickly found a bag large enough to hold the cushion. Bike would be the best mode of travel. She rode past the spot. The cushion was still there, but ahead was a mom from school. Agent B smiled, waved and rode past the spot, looking down the street for more moms. They were gone. Agent B turned around, parked the bike, leaving Agent G as a lookout. Agent B folded said cushion into thirds and jammed it into the bag. It took a bit longer than expected, and several witnesses passed. At the crosswalk, Agent B met up with the mom again, but the evidence was in the bag. Agents B and G arrived home safely. Will report to Agent J when he arrives home. Expect Agents B and G will receive commendation. Mission Accomplished.

October 31, 2007

Happy Haroween

Yeah, I thought I'd be able to get out of it, too. Until I found out about the stake party and got invited by the Youchien moms to go trick or treating tonight.

So, what can I get at the hyaku-en store? Cat ears, eyeliner...Perfect. Two black cats. One was supposed to be a witch, but the hyaku-en shop sold out. Can you believe it?

The streets were packed with kids lining up for FREE CANDY!! Who cares if you can't really say "Trick or Treat"! It's all about the free candy.
Growling Kitties at home. I like these kind. No allergies.

Some of the kids from school.

Oh. And remember how our neighborhood is so posh and always getting filmed? One of the houses we trick or treated at was a famous comedian/tv star's. Jesse mentioned to some of the moms how we thought it was funny and we were probably passing celebrities all the time and having no clue. They laughed and said "yeah. one of the moms at school is a famous actress. s's mom. She just did a coffee commercial." Right. OK, I'm not even sure who S is. I'm assuming his mom is one of the ones who always looks good. I could be wrong, though. Maybe Yuki can come with me to pick up M some day and let me know.

On a completely other note...I have a case of coffee flavored soy milk that I need to pawn off on someone. Any suggestions? Illiteracy can cost you. Thought it was just soy milk. I also have a package of miso I don't think I ordered with my last grocery delivery, but was in my groceries. Jesse noted that they could be seriously fleecing me. Yup.

October 30, 2007

Undo Kai

I didn't post any pictures from Undo Kai (sports day festival) which was about two weeks ago. So now that we've finally set up my computer, thanks to our bishop's cast off keyboard and mouse, I'm getting back into my blog. M had fun on her big day. It's the youchien's biggest activity. The kids have been practicing their dances since school started back up this fall.

I woke up early that Saturday and started my rice cooker and got my oil frying for homemade chicken katsu. I made a huge bento for our family, only to see that most of the parents bought bentos or had pretty simple ones. Liana Otsuji said that at her Youchien, the bentos are a big deal and the women start on them a week ahead of undo kai. Kind of crazy.

The program consisted of lots of dancing and group games for the kids. I hear the undo kais in grade school get pretty competitive, but our stayed tame. Except for one dad who knocked his kid over with a mat accidentally while trying to win one of the games. It was pretty hilarious.

Another of the games had the parents playing jun ken po (paper rock scissors). If you lost, you had to go behind the person who won. We were a growing caterpillar. But get this. I kept winning. I was trying to lose, because I had no idea when to start and I had to introduce myself. I finally the overall winner.

I'll try and get a video together of the festivities. If you're ever in Japan on the second Saturday of October, I'd strongly suggest finding an undo kai. Very entertaining.The Caterpillar family. I love G's hand on my shoulder.

G's Penguin Club danced to the "Penguin Samba." I wasn't sure if she would wear the costume at the actual festival, so I snapped this. She surprised me and did come dance with me.

M and Uta, one of her English speaking friends. Her other cohorts are Shakira and Takuma. Uta's dad is American. Shakira's mom works in an English immersion school, and Takuma is only 1/4 Japanese, but has lived in Japan his whole life.
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