Monday, August 30, 2010


I feel a bit odd posting about my pressies, like I'm skiting or something, so this is mostly for my own records, as I know I will forget if not who gave them to me, then at least when and why!

Except for the iphone of course, I will not forget that, and for the record, I am officially skiting:

It's so cool! Unfortunately the kids think so too, and the unintended consequence of this gift is that the kids have become what I call DSified, that is, inclined to spending long periods of time sitting absolutely still save for rapidly moving fingers, dead to all the world but that shining screen. Okay, and me too, sometimes...

From Lena, a gold locket.

From Amy, a green flower pendant.

And they even helped Erica 'buy' me a present - an eraser pen, for my puzzling.

From work, a pretty bunch of flowers, and another one from K, as the iphone didn't arrive in time - two scented candles, which together with the flowers made a nice centrepiece for the table.

From me to me: I bought several pairs of shoes! These two very pretty sandals, plus a more utilitarian pair of men's sandals that K will probably inherit next year. On the right, from Japan, for work, so I wouldn't be wearing jandals to work. On the left, the very popular fitflops, which supposedly exercise your thighs and butt. If you could find my thighs and butt under all the, um, insulation... I got sparkly ones so I would have something to wear out at night and not feel like I was going out wearing jandals.

A gorgeous bag from Raoul and Ana.

Decorations for my party, by Amy. Chocolate ice cream (she knows what I love), a cracker and alternating girl and boy pumpkin heads. Not sure where the inspiration for that came from!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Day After

My birthday luckily fell on a Saturday this year, so I got to indulge the whole weekend! While we had the main party on Saturday night, I decided to spend some time with the girls doing some fun things on Sunday. We went out for lunch at the new Turkish restaurant, then the plan was to go up Mt Hachimen and paddle in the river (it's significantly cooler up there on a hot summer day), but it rained so we nixed that idea and went home for a bit. Later in the afternoon, the sun came out for just long enough for us to play at the park next to Kanairo Onsen (hot spring) followed of course by a dip in the bath. We ended the day, the whole spoilt weekend, with ice cream parfaits at Joyfull.

Waiting for our order. Amy and Lena have learned how to amuse themselves waiting! Now they would just fight over my iphone, sigh, well I will give that to Erica, and pack a deck of cards for the big girls!

YUM! It's only been about ten years since I ate Turkish food!!

Left: Erica, queen of the castle. She was amusing the lady standing there watching her own child, but constantly called her 'mama' and posing for photos. Right: with Sara, a friend's daughter.
Amy and Lena on the big climbing frame, the main attraction at this park.

Plus one more kid, Sara's Dad Kevin, who couldn't resist this one (my broken toe kept me on the ground), complaining that all the playgrounds back in the States have all gone 'safe' ie, no fun.

A very rare onsen pic! Usually the abundance of naked persons milling around means that photos are off-limits, but I managed to sneak one!

Joyfull, taken by Amy. We went for the ice cream, but of course ordered dinner too. I had a pizza, the pizzas aren't too bad. I'm not fond of the Joyfull menu, but it's just so easy to feed the kids there - and I LOVE the chocolate parfait - pic below.

Arty 'watercolor' option on my new phone. Left: Georgia, who taught Amy and Lena at Kieo and is now back in Canada. Right: Hannah, another Keio staff member.

Mari, local JET and Kiwi girl, and me on the right, being arty.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Birthday Cards

Birthday Dinner

Although we went out for dinner the night before, I still wanted my home-cooked roast! Of course, I had to make it myself, but that's just fine, I can make the way I like that way. Or rather, would be the way I like if I was better at it, my main fault being an inability to get everything to the table piping hot enough to stay warm.

Of course, champagne was involved, just a half bottle of Moet. In front is deep-fried camembert, still a favorite of mine.


The Dinner: roast lamb with gravy, roast potatoes, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin, peas and cabbage.

Dessert: It was supposed to be lava cakes, but I left them in just a little too long, and they became chocolate muffins. Served warm with vanilla ice cream and raspberries, they were delicious anyway.

Nightcap: Baileys on the rocks.

Birthday Treats

Ice coffee and a raspberry cake at Fadie's. We'd just popped in to do some shopping, but decided it was a good day to stop for some of their delicious-looking cakes!


I know you're all laughing at me, such a hue and cry over a mere pie, but believe me - when you never ever get to eat one, no matter how much you are craving one, unless you a) make your own or b) order them for about $7 and wait a week for it to arrive, they kind of take on a special aura, worth the gold-trimmed plates!

A simple feast.

Me and my girls.

Afternoon tea was the birthday cake - this year, I'm a witch!!

Choccie Brekkie

Friday, August 27, 2010


The evening before my birthday, we dumped all the kids with their grandparents and went out for a nice dinner. We chose Shuka, a few blocks from our house, run by a friend of ours, who also owns the Japanese umbrella factory next to our house. She was also my drinking buddy way back in pre-kid days, but that's another story, another lifetime!

For having pre-booked only the day before, we were very lucky to get this very special upstairs room. We were told it was the old study by the waitress, who must be a local because she seemed to know everyone and everything and managed to extract all our vital details out of us before we left to, to enlighten the next bunch of guests I suppose

Kampai! This is draft beer in this fancy cup!

The gorgeous platter of starters, with a tiny soy sauce bowl for the two tiny pieces of sushi, and the obligatory complimentary towel.

Left: the sashimi platter. The dinnerware in this restaurant was gorgeous, each piece a conversation in itself, not to mention the exquisite food so artfully arranged on top. the cuisine was Japanese/French fusion.
Right: an umbrella lamp. Fitting the establishment's other purpose as a paper umbrella shop, umbreallas in various stages of manufacture were used as decor. This is the bare bamboo ribs used as a lamp.

Left: the soup, the only thing I wasn't all that impressed with, as it was cold corn soup. Nice bowl, but!
Right: the salad. Average.

Divinity in a glass. A perfect glass of wine, and there's nothing better really is there, when you are relaxing in a fine restaurant with someone you love, than sipping a nice, crisp wine.

Left: The fish course, a very elaborate eel pie. I love this plate!
Right: The meat course - very lightly braised steak, almost sashimi!

Left: No Japanese dinner is complete without bowl of warm, fluffy rice and some miso soup.
Right: Dessert and coffee. The dessert was a mango pudding, in the cup, 'youkan', a kind of jellied sugar-bean paste (I love it!) and 'mochi', rice pounded into a sticky cake, here flavored with green tea, and brown sugar.

A meal is also not complete in Japan without a final cup of tea, after which we stumbled off in the moonlight to visit the Irish bar and drink Guiness!