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 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!