Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Daddy's Home!

I have a lot of catching up to do from the spring and summer, never mind what we've been up to this fall. My Kit Kat collection has grown extensivly and not only from Japan, but other countries as well. Kit Kats from Australia, Kit Kats and Kic Kers from South Korea (thanks Heather!) and The Philippines. I "did inventory" shortly before Bob came home from sea and have over 110 flavors including Wasabi...and they're green! I'll start posting those soon, but for now I wanted to post one of my favorite moments from 2009.

This is from the USS George Washington's homecoming on September 3rd. They were in port for about a month before leaving again; they returned home the week of Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

ANNUALEX 2009 with the U.S. Navy & Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force

PACIFIC OCEAN (Nov. 17, 2009) U.S. Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ships transit in formation behind the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopter destroyer JS Hyuga (DDH 181) as aircraft from Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 fly overhead during Annual Exercise ANNUALEX (21 G). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class John M. Hageman/Released)

I believe the submarine in the picture is the USS Connecticut (SSN 22) because of another photo posted here.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Recognize this Duck?

Do you recognize the duck on this microphone? We were interviewed at the "New Moon" premiere last night and I would love to know which station or television show it belongs to! We didn't get a chance to ask and this microphone is the only lead.

If you or someone you know can help please leave a comment below. You don't need an account with Blogger, just select "Anonymous." Another option is to scroll down on the right and fill out the "Contact Katie" form.

For you email subscribers you'll need to click here to be brought to the blog's website, then follow the instructions above.

Arigato gozaimasu!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I Saw "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" Tonight!

It was an advanced screening in Japan...and I had a ticket from the fan meeting two weeks ago. Click here to see pictures and read about the fan meeting along with how I got a ticket. The ticket I bought for ¥10,000 included the fan meeting and the advanced screening of the movie at Shinjuku Piccadilly Theater in Tokyo tonight, the 17th at 7 pm JST.

It opens in the U.S. on Friday the 20th, in Japan on the 28th and comes to the base theater on the 28th too. I'm exhausted and am going to bed but wanted to post a few pictures first...details will come tomorrow. If you want to know more right now
you can click here to see Twilight Singapore's site. They have a little blurb about it and I emailed them from my cell phone while we were waiting to get in. It's long passed my bedtime, oyasuminasai!

How to Make Sydney's Bubble Bath Costume

I've gotten a lot of comments in the Happy Halloween from Tokyo blog entry, messages on Facebook & emails and nearly 25 people have written me via the "Contact Katie" form on the right side of the page asking how I made the girls' costumes...so tonight I'm going to post the step-by-step instructions on the bubble bath costume.

The girls took pictures of our progress, so I'll include those to help give you a better idea of what I'm talking about.

Soon I will post the instructions for the spaghetti and meatballs costume. Last year I wrote the instructions for Keanna's
bucket of popcorn costume and Sydney's movie ticket costume.

It's simple, I promise, just a little time consuming! Gambatte (try your best/good luck) if you make this next year!

Here are the supplies you'll need, and what they cost me.

  • clean styrofoam cooler from the fish market- $0
  • bag of pillow stuffing (300 grams) - $5
  • bag of 200 cotton balls - $2
  • shower cap - $1
  • back brush (or any accessory for that matter) - $4
  • rubber ducks - $0
  • rubber ducky sponge - $1
  • bath tub letters/numbers for outside of the tub - $0
  • slippers, slippahs or flip flops - $0
  • hot glue gun with a lot of glue - $3
  • white scrap material or a white pillow case - $0
  • for a grand total of $16
First step is to cut the bottom out of the cooler. I used an old steak knife and it worked fine. Next are the straps that'll hold the cooler up. I cut the pillow case on the lengthwise seams (so I had one large rectangle and made two 2" wide straps). Use the hot glue gun to glue the straps on the inside front, and criss-cross them and glue them on the back. Have your child hold the cooler around his/her waist so you know the right length. Glue cotton balls on the straps to hide them. I used 200 on the straps and shower cap. Well, 199 because I burned myself on one and got so ticked off that I threw it away!

I took the rest of the pillow case and hot glued it to cover the surface of the cooler. I glued about 1" below the top edge and went all the way around. The batting will rest on this. In retrospect I wish I glued the pillow case around the edges before putting the cotton balls on the straps. It wasn't a big deal, but probably would have been easier. Once the entire surface is covered cut a round hole for Peter to fit through. I made it big enough for her head, then cut slits on the four sides of the circle. I found that the best way to put the costume on is to hold it over her head and put iton like a shirt; it's easier than having her step into it.

I started putting hot glue down on the pillow case and piling the batting on top of it until it covered the whole surface. The batting will come loose, so I put glue in random areas to help keep it together. Let some "over flow" over the side and put hot glue down to keep it in place.

Find some bath toys, rubber ducks, etc. and hot glue them to the top. We have two bigger ones and one tiny one, so I put the smallest one on the cotton balls on the shoulder strap and the two larger ones in the batting. I found a rubber ducky sponge at the ¥100 store (like the dollar store in the U.S.), hot glued his feet and butt and stuck him in the back making it look like he was standing up. We have these animals with letters inside (a giraffe with a "G" inside) so I took the letters and used those and hot glued them to the outside of the tub. If you can't find letters or numbers for the bath, look for magnets, that's what I used when I made Keanna's a few years ago (see last paragraph).

In my opinion the accessories make the whole thing come together, so when I was buying the cotton balls I looked and found the shower cap and back brush. Anything you have will work, but the cost of both was so low that I bought them, and I have a brand new back brush now! My neighbor, Sarah, gave Sydney a small bottle of bubbles to blow, and you can see [in the first picture at the top] that she's holding them but forgot to open them up. Sarah thought having bubbles floating up around her would be cute and it hadn't occurred to me. Thanks Sarah!

the costume contest at the New Sanno in Tokyo on the 25th Sydney wore a pair of shorts, a bathing suit top and slippers, but on Halloween she wore jeans and a white sweater with sneakers.

I actually made this costume for Keanna in 2006 while we were in Hawaii, so she went out with the bathing suit on and slippahs (Hawaii's way of saying "flip flops"). I did a better job this time around and felt like it came together a lot easier.

Here's Keanna in the costume the first time I attempted it. I didn't do the pillow case lining then, but I got a piece of felt instead and attached it on the left and right sides letting it kind of drape around her. The way I did it with Sydney's was much better and certainly more sturdy, and it was actually easier with the larger cooler too.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Arigatou Gozaimasu

Thanks to all those who peak in once in a while, to my loyal readers who have been here since my first post and those who joined in along the way!

Pass the Chopsticks is getting more visits than ever before! There are 202 subscribers (email, feed fetcher, etc), 127 followers and I have a counter on the right margin and get the numbers emailed to me daily; here's what I got last night.


Total ............................ 31,110
Average per Day .............. 169
Average Visit Length .......... 2:17
This Week ...................... 1,181

Page Views
Total ............................ 51,259
Average per Day ............... 268
Average per Visit .............. 1.6

This Week ...................... 1,873

Sitemeter.com explains the difference between a page visit and page view.
When you are browsing a site, every time you follow a link to a new web page, it is treated as a single page view. Site Meter defines a visit as a series of page views by one person with no more than 30 minutes in between page views. If you click on a link to another site, and then come back to your site within 30 minutes, you are still on the same visit and Site Meter won't increment the counter. But Site Meter will increment the number of page views recorded for your current visit.

Friday, November 13, 2009

It's Buu Buu, Not Oink Oink!

In Japan pigs don't say "Oink," they say "Buu!" It sounds like "boo" and then "u" which rhymes with to. The Hiragana says "Buu" on each foot.

I emailed my friend Mayumi and asked her about it and here's what she had to say:
Those letters are Hiragana. 『ぶ』 ( Bu ) and 『う』 ( U ). 『ぶう』 is the "sound" we would say
if we wanted to put a word explaining about pigs. Your other three toes have a pig on each, so, I guess they put the word.

I bought these toe socks in the Shibuya Ward of Tokyo and they've become a big hit with the girls.
Every time I wear them they don't stop with the "This Little Piggy" nursery rhyme.

This little piggy went to the market,

This little piggy stayed home.

This little piggy had roast beef,
This little piggy had none.
And this little piggy cried "Wee! Wee! Wee!" all the way home.

My friend Laurel teaches English to Japanese kids at a school nearby. She said they play this out once a week and the kids get excited yelling "Buta!" Buta is the Japanese word for pig, and that's how they ask her to do it. Instead of a piggy buying roast beef, in her version it buys pizza. At the end she'll chase them around during the "Wee! Wee! Wee!" part and they climb under the tables trying to hide from her!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

In Honor of Veterans Day, Honor Our Veterans

It is the soldier, not the reporter,
who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the soldier, not the poet,
who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us the freedom to demonstrate.

It is the soldier, not the lawyer,
who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the soldier, who salutes the flag,
who serves under the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag,
who allows the protester to burn the flag.

- Father Dennis Edward O'Brien, USMC

Armistice Day Becomes Veterans Day
World War I officially ended on June 28, 1919, with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. The actual fighting between the Allies and Germany, however, had ended seven months earlier with the armistice, which went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918. Armistice Day, as November 11 became known, officially became a holiday in the United States in 1926, and a national holiday 12 years later. On June 1, 1954, the name was changed to Veterans Day to honor all U.S. veterans.

In 1968, new legislation changed the national commemoration of Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October. It soon became apparent, however, that November 11 was a date of historic significance to many Americans. Therefore, in 1978 Congress returned the observance to its traditional date.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Burger King Japan & Windows 7's Whopper of a Marketing Campaign

Windows 7 Whopper with 7 burger patties available for 7 days for a cost of ¥777.

ft celebrated the release of Windows 7 here in Japan with a Burger King promotion for the Windows 7 Whopper. It was supposed to be during the week of October 22-28th, but it was extended until Friday, November 6th.

Measuring 5.1" (13 cm) in diameter, the Amerikanbanzu ("American sized buns" in English) Windows 7 Whopper has seven ¼ lb (113 grams) beef patties totaling 1 ¾ pounds.

Keanna didn’t have school on Thursday but Sydney did, so she and I went for a walk off base to the newly opened Burger King in Yokosuka. There was no way I was going to pass this up after seeing it on their website. Yes it’s just a whopper, but it’s another unique thing that Japan has to offer.

Bob and I talked about it and I told him I wanted to at least get a picture of it, so after we got it [to go] Keanna wanted to send him a picture. I took a picture of her holding it with my cell phone and emailed it to him with the subject "Hungry?" He wrote back immediately (this surface ship thing is still amazing to me, if he were on a submarine I'd hear back from him in a month or two, and I wouldn't have been able to send him a picture in the first place) with the response, “Have friends to help eat it?”

We headed back to Sydney’s school, picked her up, headed home and dug in. Did we manage to eat it? Less than a third between the three of us.

In the spirit of it all this will post on the 7th at 0707 JST.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Part Two - I Was at the Fan Meeting with Robert Pattinson & Chris Weitz in Japan Last Night

To read part one of my recap click here and to see the 71 pictures I took click here. Five videos are posted below.

They had a translator for Rob and Chris and the audience too. I would say, from what I saw, at least 95% of the 550-600 member audience was Japanese. Understandably so, don’t get me wrong, but I was surpri
sed there weren’t that many foreigners there. Like I said in my last post, we tried to get tickets when they first went on sale, so when they became available again I don’t think the word got out.

Chris introduced himself and said hi and promised to keep it short. Rob asked, “Genki?” and that means “How are you?” A lot of girls in the audience responded with “Genki desu,” which means “I’m good.”

They immediately moved into the question & answer period but only had time for two questions. A little disappointing, but this was scheduled for an hour. The first question was about their favorite thing to film in “New Moon.” Rob’s answer was “Anything with the Volvo in it,” and Chris’ answer was “Anything with Rob in it.” –See video #2-

The second question, asked in English (very impressive!) was “Would you lie to protect someone you love?” Rob said he would and compared it to his character. He put more thought into this answer so that was refreshing. After that they said they ran out of time for questions and immediately moved on to the drawing for the Los Angeles premiere on November 16th.

Rob and Chris each selected three tickets which were seat numbers. -See video #3-

Rob and Chris were directed to the balcony portion of the stage…if you want to call it that, where each girl had 15 seconds to plead their case of why they deserved the trip. I took a lot of snapshots at this point and didn't get it on video. A few of them cried, a few laughed, and with all the emotions from the finalists the audience got just as emotional. The translator for the audience explained each girl’s answer and then Rob and Chris were told to choose the winner based on their reasons.

Chris said it isn’t fair and he couldn’t decide, so they pulled out “The Red String Machine.” This was totally planned as you’ll see in the video. The six girls had one end and Rob and Chris had one. They all had to pull to see who was holding their string. The one with Rob won the trip to Los Angeles (and could choose a guest) and a “Twilight” necklace that Rob put on her. The one with Chris’ string won a “special prize from the director.” Chris jokingly fessed up that the trip to L.A. would be much better. She won a Bella and Edward Barbie Doll along with a red robe that was worn on set. Once they brought the robe out it was obvious that it was from the scenes in Italy. –See video #4-

The other four girls didn't walk away empty handed. They each got a hug from Rob and Chris and one of the red robes that were worn in Volterra, Italy on St. Marcus Day. The girl hugging Rob in this picture is the one I refer to later on...she let me try it on!

They showed us three clips from the movie, but all were ones I had seen online before. Staff walked around making sure no one was recording anything. As soon as the clips started the room got quiet and we could hear everything. I remember watching something on TV where they showed a clip and the audience just kept screaming. Everyone sat in their seats too and didn't stand. We were asked to do that in the beginning, but I wasn't sure if everyone would actually follow the directions.

Rob and Chris said goodbye and thank you and Chris asked that we go see the film so he could get another job. That got a laugh from the crowd and after the translation and applause and waving they left the stage. -See video #5-

About a minute later they popped out of a balcony on the left side of the room, but I was sitting too close to it and couldn’t see them.

On our way out we were given a gift bag with four 5"x7” promotional pictures (nothing that hasn’t already been online or in magazines) and a “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” poster; we joked that it’s our swag. We went out into the lobby and chatted for a few minutes, took some pictures and I was pinching myself making sure I still wasn't dreaming. One of the girls that won a robe was letting people try it on, so I asked her, “Daijoubu desu ka?” “Is it okay?” She didn’t mind one bit, so I put it on and Mel snapped a picture. This was the neatest thing as far as I was concerned, and I emailed the picture to my husband, Bob, who asked if I dressed up as Little Red Riding Hood for Halloween. He knew darn well I didn't, don't worry.

We had a great time, met two women from Sydney, Australia who won a trip here from a radio contest and got to meet Azlina and Nurul from Twilighters Malaysia too. The day flew by for me…from when I left my house to when I got back was a difference of 12 ½ hours, but it was worth it. I’ve never done anything like this before and probably won’t ever again. Unless of course Bob gets stationed in Japan again and we’re here for “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn!”

To see all 71 pictures I took click here. You do not have to log in or create one, just hit "View Album" under the picture.

On November 17th at 7 pm (that’s Nov 17 at 5 am EST) I’ll be in the Shinjuku Piccadilly Theater in Tokyo watching “The Twilight Saga: New Moon.” The ticket we bought for ¥10,000 included the fan meeting AND the showing next Tuesday. So we’ll be second in the world to see it…only behind the Los Angeles premiere on the 16th which will be early morning on the 17th for us here in Japan. Be sure to check back for a recap of how it goes!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I Was at the Fan Meeting with Robert Pattinson & Chris Weitz in Japan Last Night

Part two can be found here.

For Christmas last year my friend, Shari in Virginia sent me Twilight. She talked about the series all the time, and she finally managed to suck me in. I read Twilight in a few days and was immediately on the hunt for the next three books. The NEX (Navy Exchange, the store on base) didn’t have them, so I ordered them from Amazon.com. The books couldn’t get here fast enough, so my friend, Melissa, let me borrow New Moon, E
clipse and Breaking Dawn. The day before finishing Breaking Dawn the three books arrived from Amazon.com. Within 11 days I had read the four books and then proceeded to Midnight Sun.

By this time “Twiligh
t” was out all over the United States, but it wasn’t opening in Japan until April 4th and the base didn’t end up showing it until January.

So Shari, thank you for sucking me in. I wouldn’t be writing this if it wasn’t for you!

After seeing the movie I got caught up in the madness. I wouldn’t say it was obsessive, but I’d look at fan sites every couple of days. One of my favorites was Twilight Singapore, and we got in touch with each other after I had found a “Twilight” magazine. I scanned the pages and emailed them to Shari and TS ended up posting them on their site. From that point on we emailed back and forth. They came up to Tokyo for the “Twilight” premiere in February, and the ironic thing is that Bob, Keanna, Sydney and I were on vacation in Singapore!

Skip ahead to mid October and I find out from Twilighter’s Square that “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” press tour was coming to Tokyo. I did the Google Translate thing to find out as much info as I could in English, and emailed my friend Mayumi to see if she would mind translating for me. PIA (the Japanese version of Ticketmaster) was selling them online, over the phone and at their store locations beginning at 10 am on the 18th. They had 400 tickets available, first come, first serve. I searched online and found a PIA location in Yokohama, about 35 mins north of where we live. Three days before they went on sale I went up to make sure I could find the place, try to ask questions and see exactly what I had to do. The woman looked on her computer for a few minutes then made a phone call. She told me “no information,” then something else in Japanese, and I understood enough to know that she was telling me to come back on Saturday to see if there was any more information. She gave me a number to call, but it was always busy. Not sure what I would have done anyway because it said “Japanese only” on the card.

Sunday morning came around, I hired a babysitter and my friend, Laurel, and I headed back up to Yokohama at 7 am. Our goal was to buy four tickets; two for ourselves and two other Navy wives/”Twilight” fan friends, Dacia and Mel. Doors opened at 10, so when I got there and saw no one in line at the door to the mall (PIA’s inside) we were very excited. Our hearts were pounding because the time was getting closer and not too many people lined up behind us. We thought we actually had a chance! Long story short, we run up the escalator, down the hall and manage to be one of the first ones in line. It’s our turn and as we’re walking up to the counter, not even three minutes after 10 am, the woman behind the counter says “Twilight-o? Gomen nasai,” and then she bowed. That was it, they were sold out that quickly because she said “I’m sorry.” The tickets for ¥10,000 (about $110 USD) are for the fan meeting on the 3rd and the "Twilight Saga: New Moon" premiere on November 17th here in Tokyo. It doesn't officially open until the 28th, and it will be the morning of the 17th in the U.S., so we will be seeing it first! Laurel and I were disappointed, but we knew our chances were slim because we couldn’t order them online or over the phone since both were Japanese only.

I posted on TS that I had a failed attempt at a ticket and was so disappointed! But last Friday Maria from TS emailed me saying they got a lead that more tickets were available. I checked out the website, called Mel and Laurel (Dacia was on vacation) and told them the news. My heart was racing and all I wanted to do was figure out how to buy a ticket! Sydney and I walked Keanna to school and my phone was ringing as we walked through the door. It was Laurel telling me she figured it out and had a confirmation number. I screamed so loud I'm surprised my neighbors weren't woken up! I ordered my ticket, Mel ordered hers and Laurel ordered one for Dacia. This was it, we were going! Now all we needed to do was find child care!

Everything worked out and we left our house at 9 am yesterday. We arrived at Shinagawa station at 9:50 and figured out where we had to go…Shinagawa Inner City Hall. We had tickets but not assigned seats, and we knew they were being assigned at 1 pm, first come, first serve. They had a line already started but we were put in a different line since we had what was considered “Foreigner Tickets.” Well lucky us because we were first in that line! After posting on TS about getting a ticket someone else had commented that they were also going…well it’s a small world because they were behind us in line! We ended up meeting Azlina and Nurul from Twilighters Malaysia. We all chatted and took pictures together. Laurel is from Washington State and went to visit there over the summer. She was able to make it to Forks, WA and was showing Azlina and Nurul pictures. We waited for a few hours and brought our iPods to help pass the time.

At 1 pm exactly we were called to the table to get our pass and seating assignment. The seats for foreigners had already been set aside, so we weren’t sure where they were going to be. We could see a map with sections A, B & C and 10 rows making up each section. So B9, my row, was the 19th row. None of the good seats were in our batch of passes and understandably so, the PIA tickets were purchased first and they had the right to the better seats. I was happy just to be there, believe me! None of us would be there if it weren’t for Twilight Singapore and for that we were, and still are very appreciative!!!

After we got our passes we wanted to grab a bite to eat. There’s an Outback Steakhouse right across from where we were, but FYI they’re not open for lunch. We ended up cutting through Shinagawa station and walking up a hill to another one…on the way we went by a TGI Fridays. We drank, ate, laughed, drank some more and talked for nearly three hours…we had plenty of time because the doors didn’t open until 6 pm. From there we walked back the way we came and stopped for coffee at a Starbucks inside Shinagawa Station.

Finally 5 pm came around and we headed back to Shinagawa Inner City Hall. People were lined up but there was no rush to get in…we just wanted to get inside to warm up! We met back up with Azlina and Nurul and chatted some more. While Laurel was in Forks this summer she bought some goodies and brought them with her yesterday. She ended up giving Azlina and Nurul a keychain from Forks and they were so appreciative! I promised Twilight Singapore that I’d email them from my phone and send pictures when I could, and they posted updates on their site; click here, here and here to see them.

As we walked through the doors we were handed a balloon, and straight ahead was the Volvo, the XC60. It wasn’t the same one from the movie because if you notice the steering wheel is on the right. We made our way into the hall, found our seats and waited about 20 minutes until Rob and Chris came out. Here's a video I took of their entrance.

I will post the second half tomorrow along with about 65 more pictures and four more videos!
*Update: part two can be seen here.

*I was just informed that RobsessedPattinson has my five videos posted from YouTube here.*

Robert Pattinson & Chris Weitz in Tokyo Promoting "Twilight Saga: New Moon"

And I got a ticket and was able to go! A recap, videos and lots of pictures will be posted later today, but in the mean time here are two pictures from last night. We had such a good time and I have Twilight Singapore to thank! I'll get into details later, but they gave me a second chance at a ticket and I truly appreciate it.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Happy Halloween from Tokyo

Happy Halloween a little early! Since Bob's still out to sea, the girls and I ventured up to The New Sanno Hotel yesterday in Tokyo for their annual costume contest. We went last year, click here to see pictures, and wanted to go again this year since it was so much fun. Keanna and Sydney both won prizes last year, so I was also anxious to see if we could again; I made their costumes last year and did again this year. Another bonus last year was that Jon Voight was standing in the lobby shaking hands with military members and their families. He picked up Sydney and was swinging her around...she loved him! I was hoping he'd be back since the Tokyo Film Festival was going on through the weekend, but alas, no such luck.

Anyway, getting back to it, I made their costumes again this year; Keanna's wearing a spaghetti and meatballs costume and Sydney's costume is a bubble bath. People asked me where I got the idea for Keanna's costume. It came from the Food Network television show, "Ace of Cakes," but it's known at our house as "The Cake Makin' Show." It airs on AFN (Armed Forces Network) and in one episode they made a cake for a family like likes to travel. I don't remember the exact details since it was from a while ago, but they made a cake of spaghetti & meatballs and placed it on top of the northern hemisphere of the globe. At that moment it clicked and ideas started popping into my head. Big time thanks to Charm City Cakes in Baltimore for the inspiration!

We enjoyed the Sunday brunch and kept our fingers crossed when it came time for the costume contest. When we were getting our ticket and walking in two of the women, at the exact same time said, "It's the popcorn girl!" Keanna proudly said, "I was popcorn last year, this year I'm spaghetti and meatballs with bread and cheese." It was flattering!

Last year they had about 55-60 kids compete and this year over 95 were dressed up! Keanna & Sydney's numbers were 48 and 49, right smack in the middle, so I had a couple of minutes to get them dressed and
ready before being called.

Each of the four judge chose two winners. The prizes included a children's digital camera, two tickets to Disneyland Tokyo, an iPod Shuffle and a Nintendo Wii. They didn't have first, second and third place winners, they just announced the judge, where he/she was from, and what prize they were giving for their choice. When the judge from FOX TV Japan was announced she said her prize was a Nintendo Wii. Keanna immediately perked and when she heard her name she jumped with excitement, headed to the stage and collected her prize. To FOX TV, on behalf of Keanna and myself, domo arigato gozaimasu for your generosity.

After the contest ended they had trick-or-treating in some areas of the hotel. We walked around the lobby and to the shops, salon and pool on the second floor. The girls were constantly stopped asking for pictures and they didn't think anything of it! Some people even asked me to take pictures of them with the girls using their cameras. A Japanese woman who's English was nearly perfect asked if she could take pictures of Sydney's costume. She took at least 10 pictures from all sides and angles and asked if I minded her attempting it next year.

Sydney didn't win, a
nd that's okay. On the drive up there we talked about how it wasn't important...which it isn't. Don't get me wrong, I'm competitive and was hopeful, but my parents raised me to believe that it doesn't matter whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game...right Dad?! Keanna, Sydney and I all worked together to make their costumes. They did everything but use the glue gun, and it was a huge help to me. We had fun, talked and sang while we worked on the floor in the living room for the four or five days it took.

Hope you have a
Spooktacular Halloween and leave a comment sharing what you, your children or loved one is dressing up as this year!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Azuki Pepsi - It's Red and We Love It!

We've had a few different flavors of Pepsi released since we've been here, and the most recent flavor, Azuki, came out on Tuesday. Click here to see my post about those; Blue Hawaii, White Yogurt and Shiso.

I got a bottle at 7-11
down the street from our house for ¥125 (about $1.40 with the exchange rate) but didn't try it until Wednesday morning. I liked it a lot and Sydney did too, so once Keanna was off to school she and I headed out into town to buy some more. I wanted to get a couple of bottles for Bob too, since it won't be available by the time he comes home. It's actually written in Kanji that it's limited edition.

It's sweet and yummy and I have another bottle chilling in the fridge right now. The after taste was mostly like regular Pepsi, but there was still a little sweetness to it. Azuki is a red bean, and I've always seen it in a paste form inside breads. But I've seen it in one other form, Kit Kats! Almost a year ago there was a Kit Kat flavor that involved azuki beans; click here to see my post about it. According to Wikipedia, In East Asian cuisine the azuki bean is commonly eaten sweetened. In particular, it is often boiled with sugar, resulting in red bean paste (an), a very common ingredient in all of these cuisines; it is also common to add flavoring to the bean paste, such as chestnut.

At 3F, the store Sydney and I went to on Wednesday, I asked the clerk (and in Japanese, go me!) if she liked it. She answered (in Japanese and I understood!) that she likes it better in bread and that it was so-so in the Pepsi. After we walked out and tried it we walked back in and Sydney said, "Oishii desu," (it's delicious) and I told her (in Japanese) that I preferred it in the Pepsi over the bread. She chuckled, commended Sydney on her Japanese and even clapped, I bought a couple more bottles, the three of us bowed and we were on our way.

Have I mentioned how much I love living in this country?!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

It's Kouyou Season

Japan’s most famous fall leaf is the Japanese Maple which turns brilliant red in the fall. Fall Foliage is called "kouyou" in Japanese, and the kanji, 紅葉, translates into "read leaf."

Each year, starting in late September, the "koyo front" slowly moves southwards from the northern island of Hokkaido until it reaches the lower elevations of central and southern Japan towards the end of November.

This website is really neat and you can click all over to see different pictures from different regions. I used the translate option through Google and some of it translates into English. Even though it's difficult to understand, I still enjoy looking at it and seeing the pictures. On a side note, we live on the Miura Peninsula, the small peninsula southest of Tokyo.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Super Typhoon Melor Will be Here Tomorrow Morning

School's been canceled and since we could very easily lose power I made a huge pot of chicken soup this afternoon and put it in my slow cooker. I'll keep it on low all night so in case we lose power tomorrow it'll at least stay warm. I bought some paint for the girls that way they'll be occupied and I'll be happy too! All of the candles and flashlights are on the kitchen counter and ready to go and batteries are charged for the radio. I've even got a book and magazines set aside for myself!

My Ombudsman sent an email out a little while ago, and I'll copy and paste some of the highlights below. Hopefully it sounds worse than it is. I think my mind would be more at ease if Bob were here, but I'm not the only one without a husband home to help, so at least I'm not alone! The ships are out there trying to avoid the storm and getting banged up against the pier. I've done what I can in preparation, so now we'll sit back and watch/listen for updates.
This website, if you're interested, explains the different TCCOR conditions. Right now (7:15 pm Wednesday) we're at TCCOR 2.

Expected TCCOR announcements:
- TCCOR 1 at 2200 Wednesday night
- TCCOR 1 Caution at 0300 Thursday morning
- TCCOR 1 Emergency at 1000 Thursday morning
- TCCOR Recovery at 1400 Thursday afternoon
- TCCOR All Clear at 1600
These times are approximates. Please keep an eye on Channel 15 and the CFAY website for updated information.

- As of 2200 Wednesday night, only official and emergency personal are allowed on the roads until the All Clear on Thursday.

- Please stay inside from 2200 Wednesday night until the All Clear on Thursday.. Although it looks like the storm has passed, Security has to access all CFAY locations for down power lines and other destruction.

- The largest amounts of rain should occur between 1000 and 1400 Thursday. Overall, rainfall is expected to be between 2-4 inches.

- As noted previously, schools will be closed on Thursday. The Meteorology Command expects the storm to have passed Yokosuka by late Thursday afternoon, so school should resume on Friday.

- All base facilities will be closed on Thursday... CDCs, the Commissary, the NEX (all locations), the Galley, MWR, FFSC, Purdy gym, etc. Business should resume as normal on Friday. The Emergency Room at USNH Yokosuka will be available for emergencies only.

- All bus services will be suspended on Thursday. There will be no Home to Work buses, shuttles to Narita Airport, or base buses.

- If you have any valuables, please move them away from windows. Typhoon rains have been known to blow side-wise and cause rain indoors. Please have towels ready for such an occurrence.

I'll see you online after the storm!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Weathering the Weather - Super Typhoon Melor

Super Typhoon Melor is on its way! If Bob's ship was in port it would going out to sea; all the ships capable of leaving have already left...at least they will have left by the time this entry posts. This is just another example of the Navy coming first, but I understand why. If the ships are moored at the pier they'll bang along side with the wind and rain, so it's safer for them to be out to sea.

We're in Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness (TCCOR) III right now. I'm sure you're wondering what that means:
Winds of 50 knots or greater are anticipated within 24 hours. Secure outside items, secure windows and alert your commands’ essential personnel. All hands should identify loose gear that could become missile hazards and make preparations for stowing and securing them. All hands should also ensure they have a three day supply of food and water on hand. Residents are advised to fill vehicles and grill gas tanks. Ensure emergency kits are ready. Move equipment away from windows and ensure sufficient money and important documents are easily accessible.

It's been raining since yesterday afternoon and there's no sign of it stopping any time soon. I put the girls' bikes in the little built attached to our front lanai and covered the water table and took the toys from the water table and threw them in the shed. It's raining now and will be for the rest of the week, so we'll just relax and try to stay dry...aside from
walking driving Keanna to/from school, or at least to the closest parking garage and walk the rest of the way. It's only a 15 minute walk, but will be no fun in the rain!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Funny Sign

Signs here are [obviously] written in Japanese and usually English too. It's these translated signs that are funny. More than 75% of the time, at least of the signs I've seen, they aren't correctly translated into English correctly. The translated signs are usually funny and are commonly known as "Engrish."

I went out with some friends a couple of weeks ago and this sign was posted beside a vending machine. It was funny to me at the time, so funny that I had one of them take my picture with it. Now that I look at it it's not nearly as entertaining as it was that night...after a few tanqueray and tonics!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

There Goes the Sun - Asia's Solar Eclipse

Well, the sun did go away for a little bit on Wednesday, July 22nd, but we couldn't see it because it was cloudy and completely overcast here in Zushi. We live in Kanagawa Prefecture, about an hour south of Tokyo by train. We don't live far south enough to see the total eclipse, and since watching from the front yard was pointless, I tuned in to some of our local Japanese television stations.

At the maximum spot the totality of the eclipse lasted 6 minutes and 39 seconds. The only area of Japan to see the total eclipse was the small islands between Kyushu and Okinawa. We lost 60% of the sunlight, and it did get noticeably darker outside, but it could have easily been mistaken for storm clouds rolling in.

Since we've known about the eclipse for a while I decided to show the girls pictures and try to explain what was going to happen. The night before we looked at pictures and diagrams, and even brought out the flashlight to make shadows with our hands. I realize Keanna's 5 and Sydney's 3 and didn't expect much from our conversation and shadow hand puppets. As we were looking at pictures of the umbra, penumbra and corona, I began having flashbacks from Mrs. Spiegel's earth science class from my freshman year of high school.

Anyway, getting back to watching it on t.v. I was scanning through the channels and figured we'd get local coverage along with live satellite feeds from the southern islands. The girls had an idea of what was going to happen, they knew the moon was going to come in front of the sun, and I wanted them to be able to see it. I always keep my little camera on hand to record video, and thankfully I turned to a certain station at the right time. Scanning through I saw this (see the video below), two men dressed up, one as the sun, the other as the moon. When we saw this it was a perfect way to show the girls what was happening...I laughed so hard I nearly snorted. We can't understand a word of it, so maybe that makes it funnier, maybe it doesn't, but take a couple of minutes to watch if you want a laugh. If you're an email subscriber you'll need to click here to watch the video.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Winning Haiku Submission

Thanks to all of you who submitted a haiku (or a few of them) for my contest! There were 27 submissions in all. I had my work cut out for me trying to choose a favorite. Jenni and Mandy_Reeves, you two are the winners. I couldn't decide between the two so I choose you both. Congratulations and thank you!

Jenni's: Kit Kats are yummy/Feels so good in my tummy/I'm eating some now

Mandy's: strange kit kats my fave!/their odd flavors I do crave!/make a ketchup flavor!

Jenni and Mandy, please complete the "Contact Katie" form with your mailing address. That'll come directly into my email and is only viewable by me.

I also promised a random drawing of my followers, and the person I pointed to on my monitor is....Kerri In CT. Kerri, please do the same as above with the "Contact Katie" form.

If I don't hear from you in three days I'll choose someone else in your place. If you don't hear from me within three days of contacting me please add a comment in this post!