Thursday, October 30, 2008

Target, How I Have Missed You!

Amber and I arrived safely in Seattle and I have been successful in driving us around, and even got on the freeway twice without incident. I'm so proud of me :) We landed at 10 a.m. yesterday and then tried very hard to stay awake all day, so we rented a car and started some shopping at Target and Michael' parents both laughed really hard when I told them that those were the first two places we hit. Hey, we lucked out, there's a shopping area near where we're staying that has a ton of stuff in it that we wanted to see. Through sheer force of will I managed to stay awake until 8:00 last night despite the massive time difference and only sleeping for about an hour on the flight.

So today we didn't wake up till 10:30 so we both slept a good fourteen or fifteen hours...guess you have to do that after living Tuesday twice in one week. Amber had her pre-op appointments for most of the afternoon and then we hit Panera Bread for's been a long time since I had some good French onion soup, yum!! Then we hit Barnes & Noble...even if I don't buy anything, I like to just walk around a good bookstore and look. We'll probably be going back to both Panera and BN before we leave :)

Good thing we hit the bookstore today since Amber's surgery is tomorrow and I'll be sitting in the hospital waiting while that's going on. That's ok though, I've got a few books to keep myself occupied so I'm good. Hope it all goes smoothly for her though...

Monday, October 27, 2008

Happy HOWL-oween!

Lee says that this is why dogs bite people, but Sadie and Vader only have to put up with costumes for about a half an hour a year so I think they'll get over it. This year Mom sent me the costumes, a bee and a ladybug...they're for 35-pound dogs so I couldn't get their legs into the sleeves so they had to wear them like capes. Lee refuses to have anything to do with actually putting the costumes on so he was our photographer :)

I dressed Vader up first because he's a lot more easy going about it than Sadie is. As long as you're giving him attention, he doesn't care much if you're making him wear a silly outfit. Isn't he a cute ladybug? He's Francis from A Bug's Life! "So, being a ladybug automatically makes me a girl, is that it?!"

And here's me wrestling Sadie into her bee outfit. So why did I play the mean mama and dress Vader up as a ladybug? Because Sadie's nickname has always been Sadie Bee or Miss Bee. She *had* to be the bee!

Got 'em both dressed now, but it's hard to get a picture of all three of us because Sadie keeps trying to escape. And if you'll notice, I'm wearing a shirt that says "Be kind to animals." Bwahahaaa!

Their little hats kept slipping back because the fur on their noggins is so slick.

How d'you like that expression on Miss Bee's face? Yeah, she's thinking about biting me if it'll get her out of the costume faster...

See now Vader is fine with it as long as he gets some attention out of the deal. Isn't he an adorable ladybug?

Couldn't get them to both look at the camera at the same time...

I only made them wear the costumes long enough to take these pictures, and then I had mercy and took them off. But Sadie gave me the evil eye through the whole process!

Don't you just love the little antennae? They were both just so cute!! I'm going to give the costumes to Missy now since her dog Baylor is about 35 pounds, so the costumes will actually *fit* her properly.

Oh yeah, I dyed my hair reddish brown. It's not a huge difference from my natural color but I don't think I'll do this again in a hurry...I got hair dye all over the place (it looks like something tiny was murdered on our bath mat) and it's still turning my towels pink after I wash my hair. But it was fun to try once.

So for the big news...I'm going to Seattle tomorrow with Amber for a couple of weeks so she can have surgery on her ankle. But really we're going back to go shopping, bwahahaaa! It's going to be *so* much fun to just wander around a Target for a while (and I hope to get some dog costumes for next Halloween when they're on clearance!) This is going to be like a two-week slumber party, 'cept for that whole surgery part ;) Hopefully we'll have Internet access while we're there, I'm packing our not-so-great point-and-shoot camera so I'll be taking pictures when we go out to explore. I've only spent one night in Seattle before on our way to Okinawa, so I didn't see much the last time. Hopefully Amber will be feeling up to a little exploration after her surgery. I will admit though I am quite nervous about driving there, especially on the freeway. Send good thoughts our way, please!! Amber needs good thoughts for the surgery and I need them for my driving abilities, snort!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Rainbows and Flowers and Little Black Doggies

The other day, I think it was yesterday, yeah yesterday, I took the kiddos out for a walk and we got sprinkled on...the weather is cooling down so it's raining more often. Anyway, we turned a corner at the top of the hill and what do I see but this big gorgeous rainbow and from where we were it looked like it ended on top of our house. Then it started pouring down rain and we all got pretty drenched. I got home with the dogs as soon as I could, dried them off, and then took off in the car to the spot where I'd seen the rainbow, but it was already almost gone (and it wasn't raining anymore). So this is the only picture I got, if you squint real hard and tilt your head to the left maybe you can see it.

Since it looked like the rainbow ended at our house, I looked around to see if I could find any stray pots of gold laying around, but no such luck.

Anyway, on Saturday night Lee and I went to Mike's Tex Mex for dinner...Lee said he was kind of surprised I picked it but it's been a while since we went there and I know Mexican is his favorite so it sounded really good. After that he took me to the Make Man store and told me to pick out some more orchids for a little anniversary present :) He wasn't *supposed* to get me anything since our trip to Tokyo (which we still haven't planned) is supposed to be our anniversary present to each other, but he wanted me to have a little something around the house to commemorate the occasion. So I picked out two plants for a whopping 398 yen apiece (like, four bucks) and we got some orchid food and some pots to plant them in. Lookie:

Ok, I tried really hard to get them standing up straight but they still look like a couple of drunks, don't they? Maybe I should stick some of those metal rods in the pots and tie the plants to them, that's how all my larger orchids were done when I got them. These ones are pretty tiny, the flowers are probably only about a third the size of the older orchids I have.

I like this picture, it looks like the flower on the left is whispering to the flower on the right. :) Some day I'd like to get a real macro lens though, this was as close as I could zoom in on the flowers. Lee looked through the pictures when he loaded them on the computer for me and he said he liked how the background was real fuzzy. I said, "Yeah, I turned the F-stop down low so just the flowers would be in focus." He was so proud that I used a feature on the camera and actually knew what it did...he's tried to teach me some of the finer points on the camera but I'm a little learning disabled when it comes to technology. So go me! I know what the F-stop is AND I know how to change it on the camera. Woohoo!

I just took a few pictures of them off the back porch this afternoon after I repotted them. Today was a gorgeous day, still rather warm and sunny with big fluffy cotton candy clouds.

Lee discovered a website, Beautiful Orchids, that has some great basic info on how to take care of the plants and it turns out we've been doing quite a few things wrong which might be why none of the older plants are blooming anymore. The white one looks like it's in kind of bad shape, but the yellow one is putting out new leaves like crazy, it actually looks pretty good but no flowers. The large purple one is somewhere in the middle--doesn't look like it's dying but not sure it's growing much either. So we're going to try to take care of these new little ones the right way (and Lee says if I kill them then he'll get me some more because they were only four bucks). I'd better enjoy the orchids while we're here though because if the prices on that website are any indication, I won't be able to afford them in the States. Dude!!

K, enough about flowers, how about some pictures of the kids! Here's Miss Girl:

She is *terrified* of the lawn mower so she wouldn't even come out on the porch while the door to the storage area was open since that's where the lawn mower lives. Little Man came out to see what I was doing though, he even stopped to smell the flowers (literally).

Isn't he cute? He's such a sweetie, but he always wants to know what I'm doing. It's kind of hard to make cards or scrapbook pages because he wants to lay under the desk so I can't pull my chair up properly, and he doesn't believe I should ever have to go to the bathroom solo :p

This week has been pretty busy for me and it's just getting busier. My list of things to do has grown to ridiculous proportions, but at least now I can mark off "repot orchids". Promise some pictures of the kids in costumes next week! And some more stuff this weekend if I can manage it...I've also reconnected with a bunch of people I knew in high school and college since I joined Facebook on a whim, which has been highly entertaining. Most everyone seems to be doing really well and a lot of them have kids now, which is a little mind-boggling to me, thinking of people I knew in middle school that are now parents! Weird...

Saturday, October 18, 2008

I Wonder If This Is What She Meant?

Mom was telling me the other day that after looking through the pictures from their trip out here, she thought she had some pictures that "really captured my personality" and that she already had ideas to scrapbook them. I wonder if this is what she meant?

But hey, she's just as goober-tastic as I am, check this out!

In my defense, I didn't know she was going to take my picture this time when I was goofing off on the big honkin' rocks they have around the lighthouse.

Maybe this is what she meant, us at the tea ceremony...

Or possibly this one, posing with a shisa in a hotel lobby. In the other picture though the angle is kind of funny so it looks like I'm sticking my peace-sign finger up his nose.

Maybe it's this shot, the one where I said, "Can't you remember what I look like by now? I'm sure you have enough pictures already!"

Ok, so here's a few more shots from the photo studio like I promised. This is me getting all gussied up and ready for my closeup, Mr. DeMille.

Some pictures of the backs of the kimonos, aren't they gorgeous from every angle? Of course, there's so much fabric that one could be entirely flat-chested or six months pregnant and you'd never be able to tell it. (I am neither, thank you very much.)

Mom's kimono...not a real great spot to take pictures in, but the employees told us we could take all the candids we wanted but not in the studio itself so this is kinda what we had available.

So five years ago yesterday, this is what we were doing!

That's us at the rehearsal dinner for our wedding. Like my cheap plastic tiara? I got that when I was salutatorian at my high school, my friend Stacey who was valedictorian had a gold tiara, but mine had pink rhinestones in it too so I liked mine better anyway :)

This is my cousin Eleni, who was maid of honor, and my aunt Joni with me at my wedding. That's my heart-sister Beth in the background :) (We had the same maiden name but so far as we know, we're not actually related. We were college roommates for a while.) We actually have very few pictures from our wedding saved on our computer; we've never scanned in the professional photographs and those are all being stored at my parents' house because I'd just be sick if something happened to them either coming to or leaving Japan.

Here's one more shot, proof that I've been this goofy for at least five years, ha!

So today is our fifth wedding anniversary, and when we got married we said we'd start discussing the possibility of having kids when we hit five years. Well, we've discussed, and we're going to put it off another two years till we go back to the States :p This weekend we're going to try to plan our trip to Tokyo, this is our anniversary present to ourselves. It probably won't happen till sometime next month or maybe even December depending on what we can schedule, we just can't do it sooner because of a big project Lee has at work. But imagine how many pictures we'll take in Tokyo whenever we go!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Halloween Cards, Birthday Cards, Anniversary Cards...

Yep, I've been making a lot of cards lately, and I challenged myself to only use Stampin' Up stuff on them since I'm a demo for them and all :) I splurged on the House of Haunts stamp set and Haunting wheel so I figured I'd better get some use out of them this year. I stamped out four haunted houses and four spooky trees, then embossed them so they're really black and shiny, and I used sponge daubers to color them in different colors. Then I got out my trusty binder o' sketches and set to work to make 8 different cards.

That tree one on the right seems to be the reigning favorite Halloween card in my Splitcoast gallery. I like the stars on the top, I think they just added a lot to the card. Unfortunately I didn't clean the wheel off for a couple days after I made these so it's really, really stained...well hey, it looks like I used it now! I didn't really like Kiwi Kiss (the green color) so I challenged myself to use it on all these Halloween cards for the ground, and now I DO like it. That's happened with every color I started out not liking, except River Rock which I still don't like much, I more tolerate it but now it's retired so yay.

It's all overcast and rainy today so the pictures didn't come out as well as they might have and my dogs are giving me the stink eye for not taking them for a walk. Anyway, the biggest star on the left card is sparkly because I embossed the red outline part with Iridescent Ice embossing powder. Very cool-looking in real life. I just got those star punches so it was nice to play with them :) I like the little jack-o-lanterns on the right hand card.

Maybe this bright blue color (Pacific Point) isn't what you'd typically think of for Halloween, but I liked it a lot with the Kiwi Kiss and Summer Sun. And since it's Halloween I did some little black flowers :) I didn't originally plan to do two cards so similar to each other but that's just how they turned out.

The last two of the batch. Whatcha think?

Not only have I been making Halloween cards, I've been working on birthday cards too. I know a ridiculous number of people with October birthdays :) I think it might be because Libras get along well with Aquarians and Aquarius is my sign. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

This card and Care Bears stationery got sent out to my friend Melissa earlier this week. Mel and I have been friends since middle school so for like over fifteen, that's crazy. Anyway, Mel is a big Care Bears fan and we used to watch the Care Bears movie a lot in high school ("Nuracknu! Aaahhh!" Ok, only Mel would get that) so when I found this stationery at a local gift shop I had to get it for her. Cute, isn't it? The same place had some great Tinker Bell stuff and loads of other cartoon characters, I'll have to go back sometime and get myself some fun cartoony merchandise. I decided to stick with the pink theme on her card, got to use some of my new stamps for it :) Of course I won't be able to get any more stamps until probably November, but I've got plenty to play with in the meantime.

This card is for a little someone who's turning 3 this month! (Liz, don't look if you want to be surprised when this arrives for Autumn!) I combined this week's sketch and color challenges on Splitcoast for it, I thought it made a nice girly birthday card. There's some glitter on the flower centers because what girl doesn't like things that are pretty and sparkly?

Lee's and my fifth wedding anniversary is tomorrow, the 18th, so I made this for him. I have class most of the day tomorrow (my second class is a weekend one, but it only meets three weekends) so I'm going to leave this somewhere for Lee to find when I leave for class and hopefully he won't see this blog post till after that :) Lee *doesn't* like a lot of glitz and sparkle and fussy layout stuff so I kept this one really simple. I liked that sentiment for an anniversary card.

I've also started a new cross stitch project but I can't post it here because it'll be a Christmas present for someone and I don't want the recipient to see it in case he or she figures out who it's for :) I did a Harry Potter movie retrospective over the last week or two and Lee and I decided we shouldn't watch those movies right before bedtime. After Goblet of Fire, Lee had a dream we were all being attacked by Voldemort and the only one who could defend us was Sadie. I had a dream we were being attacked by vampires and I was trying to come up with a plan to slay them Buffy-style. I had another real strange dream that same night but I don't remember what it was about now.

Here's a funny tidbit for you...our bedroom door occasionally sticks, but usually you can get it open again if you lean hard on the door handle and push. Well, I was vacuuming last week and shut the bedroom door so I could vacuum behind it (the dog hair likes to hang out behind the doors) and the thing got REALLY stuck. Vader and I were locked in the bedroom and Sadie was out in the hall because she's a total chicken lips when it comes to the vacuum cleaner. It took me a good solid five minutes of heaving at that door to get it open again! I was starting to think we'd be locked in there until Lee came home, and we don't have a phone in there so I couldn't call him to let me out either. I told Lee about it later and he asked me why I didn't just lean down on the door handle...yeah, I tried that!! What's weird is it doesn't stick all the time, just occasionally so you never know when it's going to happen. Snort!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Little Early Halloween Treat!

I've been waiting for a while to do this post :) While my parents were here, we got to channel our inner child and play dress-up in kimonos at a local photo studio, and we just picked up the pictures yesterday. So lookie!

The ladies who worked at the studio (it's White River photo studio if you're ever in Okinawa and want to try it) did hair and makeup for Mom and me, and they gave us a couple of photo albums to flip through so we could pick our kimonos. It took me all of 20 seconds to decide on that jade-colored one, isn't it totally gorgeous?! Mom took longer to pick hers out, but then again she had her glasses off so they could do the hairspray and makeup stuff, so she couldn't exactly see the photos too well. Love the design on the bottom of hers though.

The guys got dressed while we were getting all primped and polished, and when I say they "got dressed" I mean that the employees had them stand like life-size dolls with their arms sticking out and dressed them. Mom and I did the same thing once we were all super-pretty--for the girls, they gave us a special kimono bra and slip to put on, and then they started layering on everything else. Once the kimono was on, they asked us which sash (obi) we wanted, giving us a choice of 2 for what would harmonize with everything else. Dude, THIS is the way to play dress-up!

When we went to the studio part, they gave us more photo books so we could choose some poses. The photographer was a real kick in the pants, he was so funny--he kept telling my dad to fix his hair ;) Anyway, we did a few pictures with all four of us and some with just Lee and me and a few with just my parents. We got props too, the guys (of course) just had to have swords.

They took our pictures with two different parasols too, the other one was red with a white swirl running through it, but for some reason I thought the purple looked better with my outfit. How d'you like Lee's little Tribble hanging on his belt? (Oh yeah, I'm a geek...that was a total Star Trek reference, I'm sure Lee will tease me like crazy but he knows what a Tribble is too!)

Dad just HAD to have a picture or two taken with the samurai helmet but afterwords he said that thing was incredibly heavy. He doesn't look too happy to have it on in this picture, does he?

I just scanned in the 5x7 and 8x10 pictures that we got, we also got some smaller pictures of a few of the other poses (some are smiling, some are not, some we're looking at each other, etc.) We have a few candid shots that were taken with Mom's camera, I need to go find those since I just got the CDs that she burned for me with those on them...just what I need, MORE pictures to sort through!! I'll look for those later this week though.

After we were all done having the pictures taken, they took us back to the dressing room and helped us out of all the layers and layers. They were about halfway through when I said, "Dangit! I was going to count how many layers there are and I forgot!" and the lady helping me just laughed and said she never counts. Seriously, over the kimono bra and slip they gave us to start with, there are several layers of plain white linen, two different pieces of colored fabric that just show a little bit at the neckline, then the kimono itself, and then the sash is about four or five layers as well. It kind of felt corset-like once I had it all on, and these kimonos are the extra-nice heavy brocade fabric, not like the thin cotton ones we've seen people wearing at the summer festivals.

We did this on a Thursday afternoon so I had to book it from the photo studio straight to class, so I walked in to class with my hair in an updo and full battle, makeup. Oh, when they did my hair, they added a "fall", which is like a partial wig or a girl's toupee I guess, so if you look in the pictures the curly bits you see on top of my head are fake hair. They didn't add any to Mom's though, they just curled hers. The lady who did my hair and makeup took off the fall and got the flowers out of my hair and then quickly did up my real hair so it still looked pretty cool when I showed up to class. Wish I knew what kind of lipstick and lip gloss they used on us, that stuff looked really good...

I'm going to have some smaller copies made of the picture of Lee and me with the purple parasol and those are going in my Christmas cards, so my cards are going to be TEAL this year (Mom, I don't want to hear how that's not Christmasy enough for you!!) I'll probably do teal, red, and gold; we'll see what I come up with to coordinate with the picture. This was a lot more fun than I thought it would be, and I would highly recommend doing it at least once while on island. Not cheap, but definitely worth it!

P.S. Lee says I got the order wrong on the tea ceremony steps; you go and bow to the flowers and scroll first, and then go bow to the tea set, then go sit down in your place. Now I've figured out why he reads my blog, he's looking for errors!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Price of Tea in Japan...

So today's post is all about the Japanese tea ceremony and it features LEE because I don't think he gets enough face time on here :) Plus a lot of the pictures were from behind and I don't particularly want to share a bunch of shots of MY behind, bwahahahaaa!

Ok, to start with, we had to wash our hands and purify ourselves before we entered the room for the tea ceremony; this is something Lee and I have seen before at the Shinto shrine. You take the dipper in your right hand and pour water over your left, then switch and do the other hand, and then you run water back over the handle of the dipper so that it's clean for the next person (there's no soap involved in all of this so I'm not sure how clean it actually gets, but I guess it's more symbolic than anything).

Apparently this Japanese lady took a real shine to Lee; all the rest of us got through this without any extra instruction but she kept stopping him and telling him different things. Of course, she doesn't speak English and we don't speak Japanese so I think Lee ended up more confused than anything, but Mom and I sure thought it was funny :)

So then we went into the room for the tea ceremony. This one is larger than usual since this place is a school where they teach people how to perform the ceremony. You have to take your shoes off because the floor is covered with tatami mats, and you're expected to sit on your knees with your feet under you. Maybe that's okay if you've grown up doing it but MAN, my knees were killing me by the time we left!! Anyway, there are a lot of different parts to the ceremony. You start out in the back right corner of the room where you sit, you bow, and then you get up and walk towards the front of the room. When you walk from one tatami mat to another, you're supposed to always go right foot first as it's some kind of good luck thing (the Japanese are highly superstitious).

Then you sit and bow to the tea (???) Oh, they also give you a fan that you carry with you while you do all this, so you take it over here and then place the fan on the floor, unopened, to your left and you bow. Then you pick it up and get up and walk over...

To the floral arrangement and scroll in the front right corner of the room. The host or hostess of the tea ceremony will make the floral arrangement according to what season it is and so forth, and s/he also does the scroll, about which you are expected to converse once the tea drinking has commenced. After you bow to this, you go sit down along the far right wall; the seat closest to the scroll and floral arrangement is reserved for the most honored guest, akin to being at the head of the table I suppose.

There's a whole series of steps to how to prepare the tea as well, and how to serve it. This is one of the ladies who was hosting us whisking the tea leaves into the hot water.

Lee got to make the tea too! Actually he got volunTOLD to do it, hehehe. Two or three people from our group were allowed to make the tea and serve it to someone else, and since two women had already done it they asked for a guy to volunteer. I volunteered Lee, I'm so evil...

And he got to serve the tea to my dad! There's a certain way you're supposed to present the tea and you have to bow to the person you're serving to, I forget what exactly Lee had to do.

And this is the thanks I get for roping him into that :)

With the tea, they also serve a small pastry (I think this is to kind of kill the taste of the tea, that stuff was totally bitter). The cakes we got were kind of cute, and once again, the type of pastry you get depends on the season because they want everything to harmonize in color.

They started a tray with the cakes on it at the seat of honor and you took one and passed the tray down. When you got the tray, you had to turn to the person on your left and say something in Japanese that equates to "I apologize that I am going ahead of you" and take your cake, then pass the tray. Usually people wear traditional kimonos during the tea ceremony so in general you'd have your own little piece of paper that doubles as a plate stuffed in the front of the kimono. When you finish with it, you put the paper in the sleeve of your kimono and dispose of it discreetly when you leave the tea ceremony.

These are the ladies who taught us about the tea ceremony. Aren't their kimonos beautiful? And see how they're all sitting...we were supposed to sit like that the whole time we were there, about two hours. I couldn't do it, my knees just couldn't take it, but these ladies were all sitting as if this were the most natural thing in the world. Then again, I suppose it might be in Japanese culture, the way that American kids sit Indian-style.

Here's the whole tour group that we went with. That chick in the green and white striped shirt didn't crack a smile ONCE the whole time we were there, I think her dad must have forced her to go...

So there you have it, the Japanese tea ceremony. Oh, I forgot to mention, they serve green tea. It's not just called green tea, it's actually GREEN. Like, really green. :) Originally the tea ceremony was for men only, and they would discuss battle plans and the like during the tea ceremony because it is so private. Interesting, huh?