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Gifts from My Students

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Last Saturday was the last day of my Japanese language school for the 2014/15 school year.  It has been 8 years since I started teaching Japanese to children.  Every year the students in my class are different and each class is unique.  Over the year I get to know my class by communicating, studying together, playing games, and doing activities, and by the end we have formed a bond. On the last day I had mixed feelings, because I was happy to finish another year and to send the students off to the next level class but I was sad to say good bye and not see them in my class anymore.  But I know that the next year holds new students and a different teaching adventure.

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Each year students have given me very special gifts; handmade thank you cards, paper cranes, animals made with origami paper, drawings, handmade stuffed animals, etc.  I love to see their short, handwritten  messages in the Japanese I taught.  I love to see pretty drawings with their names in Japanese characters.  Those are very special gifts from my students that I keep in a box.  But most of all, I love to hear how much they enjoyed my class and that they look forward to coming back to school next year.  I am fortunate to be able to receive these priceless gifts from my students.

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2 Years with Haru

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It has been almost 2 years since Haru(Koharu) came into our lives and became the youngest member of our family. She is a miniature dachshund with shaded cream long hair.  Unlike Cocoa, our first dog, she has a very strong personality.  She is very carefree and doesn’t usually pay attention to what we say. I have probably spoiled her too much because she is my baby.

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Every morning and late afternoon, Haru sits on top of the couch which is placed against a big window, and she watches people and dogs walking on the street.  She often barks when she sees people and other dogs, as if she is reporting somebody suspicious.  Even in the early morning when it is dark outside, she sticks her face out to watch between two curtain panels.

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One time, Haru injured her paw on the escalator.  One of her toe nails got stuck and she got a bloody paw.  Her vet treated her paw with a truck patterned blue bandage.  I wished that she could have gotten a pink bandage.

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Flying Haru.                                                                                                               Cool down by swiming

It has been a joy to spend time with Haru walking, playing, and sleeping together.  We love her as much as we do Cocoa, and I love when Cocoa and Haru come to me excitedly every day after I come home.  We look forward to having more adventures with them in the years to come.

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We can see how much Haru has grown by the stuffed bear.

 

 

 

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A Very Special Dinner

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Grilled chicken with a red wine sauce and salad

My teenage daughter made a special dinner for me and my husband’s anniversary.  My husband who has a passion for food always watches the food network on TV with my daughter.  Recently, she has been very interested in cooking herself.  She picks a recipe from the internet and cooks meals or bakes desserts.  Instead of eating out at a restaurant, this year she offered to cook for our anniversary dinner.  She made three dishes: an appetizer, a main dish, and a dessert.  Each of them were not only delicious, but were also presented beautifully.  It was a very special and memorable anniversary dinner.

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Tuna and pesto Panini with cheese and tomato skewers and deviled eggs

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Apple cinnamon cupcake with donut holes

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Happy Summer!

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Summer is just around the corner!  Recently we have had warm sunny days in Seattle, and we are enjoying the rare sunshine. I channeled my excitement for the summer into these cards that I made with patterned paper of yellow and orange hues.

These cards embody my desire for a fun and relaxing summer and I hope to share some of my adventures on this blog as well!

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Plaid Patterned Lunch Bags

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These are insulated lunch bags that I made which are perfect to hold containers, snacks, and fruits.  I made a similar one for my daughter that she brings to schools everyday.  There is a strap over the top of the bag so that the contents don’t fall out.

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Spring Tote Bag – Part 2

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This is another tote bag I made, which is similar to the bag I posted in Spring Tote Bag.  This time, I used a fabric with a plant pattern and purple fabric. This bag has also two small pockets and a magnet clasp inside.

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Picnic with Cocoa and Haru

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It was a perfect sunny day.  I took out the picnic containers I bought in Japan and started preparing a picnic lunch.  These containers were showed in the “Pretty Zakka”post.  I made fried chicken, potato salad, tamagoyaki (Japanese style omelette), green beans wrapped in bacon, and rice balls.  I added some strawberries and grapes as well.  When I was packing the lunch I tried to color coordinate the foods to the color of the lunch boxes.

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My husband and I took Cocoa and Haru to the park for a picnic.  On the way to the park, we dropped by our favorite bakery (Bakery Nouveau) to grab a few pastries and coffee.

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I wish Cocoa and Haru would go and play while we enjoyed our lunch but they kept staying by us on the mat , hoping they would get some food.

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Lots of sunshine, good food, and playing with Cocoa and Haru made for a fun and relaxing day!

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Home Again Vol. 4 Odaiba de Sushi

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On our final day in Japan we stayed in Odaiba in Tokyo.  Odaiba is a popular spot for shopping and entertainment on a manmade island in Tokyo Bay.  There are many tourists and they can enjoy shopping, walking by the ocean, and many other seasonal events.  Although Odaiba is in Tokyo, we were able to relax and enjoyed staying there, compared to the much more crowded Harajuku, Shibuya, and Shinjuku.  At night we could see the rainbow bridge and Tokyo tower lit up from the hotel we stayed at.  It was a gorgeous view!  There was even a small Statue of Liberty by the ocean.

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In Odaiba, we had sushi and sashimi.    This is a bowl of rice and different kinds of sashimi on top of the rice.  It is called “kaisen don” in Japanese. Tuna, shrimp, and yellow tail!

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We also enjoyed eating sushi.  Salmon, Unagi (eel), Amaebi (shrimp), California roll, and Otoro (the fattiest portion of tuna).  Otoro just melted in my mouth and was very delicious.

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Home Again – Vol. 3 Pretty Zakka

 

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While I stayed in Japan, I visited many stores that sell “zakka”.  “Zakka” are small household and interior design items in categories such as  the kitchen, bathroom, stationary,  crafts, fashion, etc.  They are all so pretty, of good quality and design, and very functional.  Just looking at them makes me happy and always inspires my own crafts.

The pictures above and below are a lunch box from  a store called Afternoon Tea in Nagoya, Japan.  Each container has small partitions , and the three boxes can be stacked and tied with a belt.  I can’t wait to go on a picnic with Cocoa and Haru with this lunch box full of food in the summer.

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I found another pretty shop called “On and Off” at Odawara in Japan.  I bought two pairs of chopsticks.

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These are cup cake holders with pink and blue polka dots.  Another one has a Paris themed design. I bought them to use for my needle felt crafts.

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This schedule notebook with a buffalo check cover was a gift from my friend.  There are all kinds of cover designs and are very popular in Japan.

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Finally, this small pouch with a metal frame and a strap was found in a small shop in Kyoto, close to the Kiyomizu temple. There were many pretty items in the store but I picked this pouch.  I think it is very simple, but colorful and elegant at the same time.

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Home Again – Vol. 1 Organic Food Buffet & Bakery Paradise

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Hello all!  It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted and I’m so sorry.   I’ve been busy with work, and I also took a family trip back to my home country of Japan! I took many pictures on my trip and I’m excited to share my experiences with you.

While me and my family stayed in my hometown, one of our friends took us to an organic restaurant.  It was a buffet style and the vegetables were locally grown and organic.  There were various vegetable, meat, fish, bread, rice, pasta, soup, drink, and dessert dishes.  We helped ourselves to food on a wooden tray that was separated into small sections.  I picked two kinds of salad, eggplant tempura, shiraae (tofu paste with vegetable),  roots vegetables, sausage with beans, miso soup, and fish.  For my drink, I had the apple juice with ginger.  The flavors of each individual dish were unique and flavorful and delicious.

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For dessert, I had pudding with caramel sauce which was extremely rich and luxurious. I also enjoyed green tea gelato.  The hint of bitterness of the matcha and sweetness of cream were perfectly blended.  I finished the meal off with a cup of café au lait. This restaurant was one of my favorite that I visited on my trip, as I was able to try many different foods that were all delectable.

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Another thing I absolutely love in Japan is the bakeries.  They seem to be on every single street corner and are all better than the last.

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This is a typical breakfast in a café called “morning set” which includes toast with butter and jam, salad, a hard boiled egg, and coffee.

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These were just some of the foods I enjoyed in Japan. Make sure to check back in for future posts about Japan!