Thursday, May 31, 2012

Deployment Disasters

I had the best of intentions of getting up this morning and telling you all about visiting the Kamakura, but alas, this deployment has already gotten the best of me.  It has been non-stop SOMETHING since that man of mine left.  

First, his friend Bag-O didn't make it to the boat on Sunday when he was supposed to so he needed somewhere to do his laundry and crash.  That turned into having a few beverages and being unproductive.

Then, I booked my ticket to the port call I'm going on only to find out less than 24 hours later that the dates had changed.  Luckily, we were able to call and cancel the tickets, but it caused high blood pressure for the rest of the day.

I came home to find that my air conditioning unit was pouring water down the wall and all over my favorite chair.  And, of course, it was a holiday.  So I had to call the emergency line and the guy who came out to fix it treated me like I was a five year old idiot.  He also told me that I was overworking my air conditioner and should be running it at 25-27 C.  Ummm, seriously?  That is 74.5-80 F.  I don't keep my house that hot in the winter, let alone at the start of summer.

Then, Mrs. K13's baby had a seizure and we had to go to Yokosuka because our base doesn't have a hospital.  You don't really think it's a big deal, until you NEED one.  (It was determined that the seizure was due to a high fever and he appears to be just fine, but it was scary nonetheless).

Oh and did I mention that the email on the USS George Washington has been down since Sunday night?  So, no communication with the boys.

I'll leave you with this picture of a Growler and Mt. Fuji

I hope your week started out more calmly!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

AOSA Spring Luncheon

One of the best things about living overseas is the opportunity to learn about another culture.  The different organizations on our base do a great job of organizing events so we can meet the Japanese women that live in our community and spend time communicating and sharing our cultures.  The first of these events that I attended was the AOSA Spring Luncheon.  They hosted the event for AOSA members and members of the Japanese American Friendship Committee.  The Japanese don't celebrate Easter, so it was our way of sharing our Easter traditions with them. 

Our table

After a few opening remarks, we headed to the back of the room to do some spring crafts.  First, we made flower pens.  I've seen these so many times over the past couple of years, but never knew how easy they were to make.  You need a fake flower, a ball point pen and some green floral tape.  You put the flower against the pen and wrap the two together with the floral tape.  It was so easy.  And the organizers had provided us with little pots full of dried beans to keep the flowers in.  They also provided ribbon to tie around the flower pot if you wanted.

My finished product!

 We also dyed Easter eggs.  Most of the Japanese women that attended the luncheon had never dyed eggs before.  It had been a while since I dyed eggs myself, so it was a lot of fun.  We dipped the eggs in different colors and put little stickers on the eggs to make patterns (you can kind of see it in the teal egg with white polka dots in the background of the bottom picture).

Our finished eggs!

I didn't take anymore pictures because I didn't want to be rude, but we had a lovely lunch.  They arranged the seating so that every table had half AOSA members and half Japanese women.  It was great to meet new people!  I am looking forward to the next event.

Group photo

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Online Shopping + Hello Kitty

One of the downsides to living overseas is the lack of shopping options.  I'm a big and tall in Japan (for real) and things just don't look right on me, so I don't shop out in town.  This has been great for curbing my impulse shopping purchases, but it has been terrible for my online shopping habit :)  I have noticed that most of my favorite stores do ship to APO/FPO boxes which is awesome and we don't pay tax over here!  I am loving that - I look at it as an automatic 10% savings!  

Anyways, I did a lot some online shopping last week and I wanted to share my finds.

This is hands down, my favorite purchase:

What could be better?  School pride + Japan pride for a mere $10.00.  I cannot wait until she shows up in my mailbox :)  I also ordered a couple new bathing suits and a $4.00 tank top.  You just can't go wrong with Old Navy sale prices.

From the Gap, I ordered this super cute sweater + tank combo:

And two pairs of shorts:

purchased in black + white

And these shoes from Nordstrom:

I *really* want these shoes in the coral color, but the only place I can find them is on and they're $20.00 more.  I just can't justify it.  Fingers crossed they go on sale soon!

Have you found any great shopping deals lately?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Weekend Recap

Happy Memorial Day!

I'd love to report that we had a lovely holiday weekend, but alas we live in Japan where there are (a) no lakes that I know of, (b) no runnings of the Indianapolis 500 and (c) J. left on his latest deployment which made it hard to do much.  

I've known for months now (like since before we moved here) that J. would be deploying again in May, but it somehow has a way of sneaking up on you.  I mean, how is it May already?  Didn't he just return home from deployment?  Geez.  Anyways, we were lucky because the deployment was delayed by about a week which we found out about in March or April and then it was delayed again just last week by a few days.  But alas, the time has come and not only is the boat gone, but the jets have all flown out to meet it as well.  And I only find it *slightly* ironic, that my sailor is going out to sea on Memorial Day Weekend.

Good-bye J.

Anyways, we made the most of our last few days together!  On Friday night, J. surprised me with an early birthday celebration because he won't be here to celebrate with me on my actual birthday.  I was *very* impressed that he thought this out so far in advance :)

My early birthday present and the cupcakes J. made

Close up ... they were as good as they looked!

And ... J. surprised me with the new iPad!  I've been coveting an iPad since they came out in 2010 ... so apparently good things DO come to those who wait!  Haha.  I haven't done much with it yet, but I did discover that I downloaded three books on my Kindle that I completely forgot about!  Whoops.  Looking forward to reading those and taking my iPad with me next time I travel :)

Saturday night, we went out to dinner at Yakitori Cocco with our neighbors.  It was such a fun experience!  It was all you can eat, all you can drink for 4,000 yen/person, which is a really great deal (at least around these parts).  We were there for around three hours and Omasu prepared a feast for us.  We sat at the bar, so we were able to watch him manning the grill.


Meatballs served with an egg yolk

We ate well.  I can't remember everything we had, and I didn't take many pictures because I left my phone at home, but we did not go home hungry!  I am happy to report that I tried everything that Osamu served and I think I liked everything.  I can't wait to go back and introduce my 141 ladies to Osamu and Yakitori Cocco!

**A note for those in Japan - Yakitori Cocco was located about a block away from the north exit of the Yamato train station.  I have Osamu's card and can give you directions if you're interested in going.  Osamu spoke very good English and we were able to make reservations.  The restaurant is small, so reservations are recommended.**

Sunday was spent saying good-bye and tackling my very long to-do list.  Sundays are my day to clean, do laundry and get organized for the coming week!

I hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend!

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Pioneer Woman's Cornmeal Pancakes with Blackberry Syrup

To. Die. For. 

I was a bit skeptical about making pancakes with cornmeal, but I do love cornbread and I do love pancakes so I figured I would love combining them.  Good logic, right?

I followed Ree's recipes and I am happy to report that I did love the end result.  I do think my pancake batter seemed to be a little bit thinner than hers, but after the first batch, my pancakes turned out perfectly.  I used PAM instead of butter in the cast iron skillet, adding a fresh coat after each batch, and had no problems with sticking pancakes.  I also used frozen blackberries instead of fresh - it would be really easy to change the blackberry syrup to another type of fruit if you would prefer something else.

Beautifully golden brown.


These would be perfect for breakfast this weekend!  

Thank you, Ree, for another delicious recipe!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

USS George Washington Tour

When we were stationed at NAS Whidbey, J. and his squadron, VAQ-141, were part of Carrier Air Wing 8, based out of Oceana, Virginia and attached to the USS George Bush.  So when he deployed last year, he was on the USS George Buch.  Now that we are at NAF Atsugi, they are part of Carrier Air Wing 5 which is attached to the USS George Washington.  This air wing is unique because all of the squadrons in the air wing are based here at NAF Atsugi.  

J. joined VAQ-141 while they were already deployed last year, so he was flown out to meet the boat midway through the deployment.  So this our first deployment where we have been around to see what goes into preparing for deployment and also my first chance to take a tour of the boat.

The boat was actually pretty gross, so I took a lot of photos to share with you!  I know that I knew absolutely nothing about the Navy or aircraft carriers before I met J., so I thought I would share some pictures with you guys!  This is mostly for my non-Navy friends :)

J. takes his stuff to the boat in seabags (the green bags in the picture below).  He also has a dark blue squadron bag and a suitcase.  He had to pack the usual things like all of his uniforms, work out clothes, civilian clothes for when they pull into port, toiletries, etc.  But he also has to pack things like a mattress pad for his bed, sheets, sleeping bag, towels, pillows, a fan, a reading light, his work computer, office supplies, cleaning supplies, hangers, his flying gear and MY TELEVISION (which better come home, unbroken).  He will be sharing his room with three of his friends, and they are bringing an Xbox and Apple TV for entertainment.

Blah, I don't like seeing these all packed and ready to go ...

USS George Washington

Looking into J.'s room on the boat

It was kind of a weird shape, you go in the door and turn left immediately and this is your view

The beds.  J. will be sharing his room with 3 of his friends.

Their sink and one of the "closets"

This is what Mr. S.'s bed looked like when we showed up.  Those are USED linens.  Not quite cruise ship quality here.

Their door with their squadron poster

One of the hallways on the boat ... again not quite cruise ship quality.

Looking the other way down the hall.  All of the doors are like the one pictured above, you have to pick up your feet to walk through them or you will trip.  Apparently, they sometimes have to do drills on the boat where they run down the hallways.  I'd probably fall.

The smallest door I saw on the boat, leading up to the flight deck.

J. in the small door.  It was seriously hard to crawl through.

Looking out over the bay from the flight deck.

The island (tower) and a crane.

The island and the flight deck.  It would have been cool if there were some jets up there, but they all fly onto the carrier once it gets underway.

One of the kitchens on the boat - they are called Ward Rooms.

They have Coke products!

Tables in the Ward Room.

J.'s squadron is replacing VAQ-136, which flys the Prowler.  They took over their spaces on the boat and this sign is leftover from when 136 was on the boat.  If you look closely, you can see that someone put masking tap over the "P" to change it to "G" and over "36" to change it to "41."  I love it.

Tower from the ground level.

All lit up at night.

So this is where J. will be spending a lot of time over the next few months.  Certainly does not make me wish I was along for the ride :)

I am certainly not an expert on aircraft carriers, deployments, or the Navy but if you have any questions feel free to ask and I will try to get the answer for you!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

AOSA Cooking Club

One of the best things about living in a foreign country, is the opportunity to learn about a new culture.  The Atsugi Officers' Spouses Association (AOSA) hosts a cooking club the third Thursday of every month.  It is a great opportunity to meet some of the Japanese women from the community around the base and also to learn how to make traditional Japanese food.  One month, the Japanese women teach the American women how to cook traditional Japanese dishes (and give us recipes!) and the next month the American women teach the Japanese women how to make some of our favorite recipes.  

I attended my first cooking club in April.  The American women were teaching the Japanese ladies how to make traditional Italian food.  We made meatballs, marinara sauce, garlic bread, bruschetta, panzanella salad, a fruit platter with fruit dip and lemon ricotta cookies.  It was quite the feast.  

Getting the table ready for lunch

My food ... YUM.

The lemon ricotta cookies were to die for, I've linked to the recipe that we used so you can make them at home!  Just looking at those pictures makes my mouth water.  I need to re-create some of these recipes at home.  

This month, the Japanese ladies taught us how to make gyoza, fried rice, Thai salad and tapioca.  I took more pictures this month!

Mrs. Tofu Fox kneading the dough for the gyoza wrappers.  Side note:  Mrs. Tofu Fox writes a great blog about life in Japan, check it out here.  She has lived here for several years and is my inspiration to start having daily adventures.

The filling for the gyoza

One of the ladies fixing our gyoza :)  We couldn't make ours quite as pretty as they could.

Setting the table for lunch

Fried rice, gyoza, pickled cucumbers, more gyoza

Thai salad

 We usually attend cooking club at the Zama Community Center, but next month, we are hosting a BBQ for the Japanese ladies on base.  It should be lots of fun!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Suri's Burn Book

Last weekend, J. was in Iwo Jima on a training mission and I was laying in bed having a little pity party for myself.

And then, I stumbled upon Suri's Burn Book thanks to one of my lovely Facebook friends.  

If you need to have a good laugh, visit this site.  I was literally laughing out loud I loved it so much.  I especially love the posts where she makes fun of Tom and Katie, the Smith family and the Affleck family.  I don't know who is behind the site, but they brightened my Saturday morning.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Weekend Recap!

Happy Monday Friends!

I hope that you all had a great weekend.  J. was in Iwo Jima last weekend and is getting ready to head off on another deployment (yes, again) so we tried to pack as much as we could into the end of last week and this past weekend!

Wednesday night we tried a French restaurant in Zama that had good reviews - La Brasserie chez-Ichisugi.  It was expensive, but definitely lived up to the hype.  J. and I shared a tomato and avocado salad, the pizza of the day and the gorgonzola pasta.  It was amazing and I can't wait to go back.

Afterwards, we had our first Mr. Donut experience.

Chocolate bear and chocolate donut.

So cute.

And then J.'s friends introduced us to a whiskey bar around the corner.  I don't drink whiskey, so I had a sparking wine:

I loved the atmosphere of this little bar.

And then we introduced them to Kamikaze's, home of the best white russian ever:

Thursday night we had a big group dinner at one of our favorite sushi restaurants, Takezushi.  Our neighbors introduced us to this hidden gem and we love it.  The owner & sushi chef lived in America for a few years when he was younger, so he speaks pretty good English and is easy to communicate with.  His wife does not speak much English, but she likes to hang around and listen to the English conversations.  They are both so nice and we love going over there!  

Our group eating yummy sushi!

Friday, J. did a lot of packing, organizing and buying last minute items for the deployment.  Friday night, we tried Mike's Tex Mex.  It is run by a retired Navy CPO, but we didn't see him there.  They had really good margaritas, so we tried a few flavors and indulged in some fried Mexican goodness.  We finished out the night at the O Club.

Saturday, J. finished packing and we headed down to Yokosuka to load his stuff onto the boat.  J. will be flying a jet on instead of walking onto the boat - meaning I get a few extra days with him :).  There isn't much room in the jet to bring stuff with you, so we had to take his stuff down and load it ourselves.  I was actually REALLY excited to go to Yokosuka, because it's a bigger base, it has a better Navy Exchange and there is a Chili's on the base.  We spent a few hours on the boat (I took lots of pictures but that's going to be a post of its own!) and then headed over to the Exchange.  I am SO jealous of the people who live in Yokosuka!  They have so many more American food options on their base (like Sbarro and a REAL STARBUCKS!), their Exchange was SO nice and they have the Chili's.  Not to mention that the entire base has a water view.  It was gorgeous.

The Exchange was having a 20% customer appreciation sale, so J. and I stocked up while we were down there.  That is the most shopping I've done since I arrived here and it felt good!  Haha.  I got some new running shoes, workout tops, Rainbow flip flops and Smashbox make-up.  I'd also like to point out that the Yokosuka Exchange had a Victoria's Secret in it, carried designer jeans, had an entire room devoted to shoes and a separate building with sporting goods equipment and workout apparel.  I foresee frequent trips to Yokosuka in my future :)

We had dinner at Chili's (of course) before heading back to Atsugi.

I finally got my cheeseburger :)

Sunday, I got up early so I could break in my new running shoes :) That afternoon, we headed over to Yokohama to catch the Yokohama Dena Baystars v. Chiba Lotte Marines baseball game!  This also is deserving of its own post, but I'll leave you with a picture:

I hope you enjoyed your weekends!