Saturday, May 31, 2008

Nakijin Castle Ruins

Ok, my four loyal blog readers, as promised I have pictures from the "Tour of the North" that Lee and I went on yesterday. I have a bunch of pictures so I'm going to string this out over several days so you'll just have to keep checking back :)

First off, we visited the Nakijin Castle ruins. Okinawa was once divided into three small kingdoms, Hokuzan (northern), Chuzan (central), and Nanzan (southern). Nakijin was the capital of the Hokuzan kingdom, which was the largest of the three but also the most sparsely populated. Chuzan's capital was Shuri and if you go back in my posts you'll see pictures from there, too. Chuzan, the most prosperous of the three, eventually conquered Hokuzan and Nanzan, thus uniting all of Okinawa.

Enough history, now on with the pictures! This first one is a neat-looking pillar at the entrance to the castle ruins. Not a clue what it says on there :) Yesterday was my turn to play with the big fancy camera but I've figured out I have a long way to go before I can take some really stellar shots. Well, I suppose some of these are serviceable but I digress!


Next up is the entrance to the ruins. This is called the Heirojo Gate and was restored in 1962. It has alcoves to either side of it that have tiny windows in the thick walls; that was for guards to shoot arrows at you if they didn't like you. Yeah, I took this one kind of off-center because I was trying to be artsy. Maybe I should give up the artsy.


Once you enter the gate, you'll go up a long stone path with quite a bit of plant life to either side. Lee and I thought these 4-foot-tall palm trees looked kind of funny, I told him they're bonsai palms.


Here's the pathway. The stones are kinda-sorta flat on top, but not really. There were steep stairways to either side of the entrance gate that you could go up and get a good view of the surrounding countryside. Lee remarked that the stairs were awfully tall for such relatively small people...we practically needed mountain-climbing equipment to get up there.


I took this picture in a kind of courtyard area...I can't tell you exactly what the area was for as the guide materials are a little sketchy. Anyway, they have a lot of these trees with the roots that snake along the ground rather than under it. You really have to watch your step here.


This picture was taken from the top of the hill, and if I'm reading the map right, it's the Shijimajokaku Ward area, where the king's most important subjects lived. It's either that or the field where they trained the war horses :) We had great weather yesterday as far as temperature goes, it was cooler and not nearly as humid as when we hiked to Hiji Falls. The down side is it kept sprinkling on us so we didn't get as many pictures as we might have liked.


This one's for you, Liz--orange flowers! These were up near the Nakijin museum where they display the artifacts unearthed from the castle ruins.


By the time we got to the museum we were running out of time so we didn't take any pictures in there. They've recovered quite a bit of Chinese-style pottery and coins (Okinawa paid tribute to China and had a close trade relationship with them for centuries). According to the pamphlet we were given, Nakijin Castle was burned to the ground in the early 1600s, but it doesn't say if they rebuilt it after that and it subsequently fell into ruin or what.

So there's Part 1 of the tour of the north. Check back later for Part 2...either tonight or tomorrow morning. I've got lots more pictures to share including a lot from the glass factory that are really pretty!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Okuma

After we finished hiking up to Hiji Falls, the tour bus took us over to Okuma Resort for lunch. We finished at the restaurant with about an hour and a half left before the tour bus was set to leave, so we thought we'd walk around and try to find the pools we saw on the way in. Either we were both hallucinating the same thing, or else the pools were on the Japanese side of the resort because we never found them! By then we were too short on time to bother changing into swimsuits for a dip in the ocean. I'm not much of an ocean swimmer anyway, 'specially with all the commercials on the radio warning you about box jellyfish. We'll have to come back sometime and rent some jet skis though, that looked like fun. Lee didn't take a whole lot of pictures there, but here's one for your viewing pleasure:


Next weekend we're going to do the "Tour of the North" which goes to the pineapple wine factory and the Ryukyu glass factory. Hopefully we'll have some awesome pictures from that to show you then, and this time I'll have the opportunity to do some shopping! ;)

3 km Through the Jungle

Ok, here's another shot of the waterfall but horizontal this time. Lee really did take some good pictures, didn't he? Sorry Liz, you won't get to see any of me on this post! I was in far too much need of a good long shower to want to plaster pictures of myself on here!


This next one is what I call the Crouching Tiger picture, doesn't this look like some of the scenery from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon? Just beautiful! But mostly no air conditioning....I had just said something to Lee about that on our way back out, and we came to the top of a stairway and got this wonderful breeze right there. We had to stand there for a few minutes and just enjoy it, and as soon as we walked down three steps it was gone!


We passed this tree when we were almost back to the entrance. Look at the bigger picture, this tree almost has giraffe spots :)


And here's a little babbling brook because brooks always babble. This was back towards the first little entrance area from the first picture I posted in the "Uphill BOTH Ways!" post.


We saw TONS of butterflies at this area. Actually I don't know if they were butterflies or moths, but they were almost as big as my hand and mostly black. Some had a white stripe marking, some had turquoise markings, and I think one or two had some red spots, but for the most part they were black. Lee was determined to get some pictures of them, I think he did fairly well here:


We passed quite a few Japanese people on our hike, and almost every single one of them would say "konichiwa" (hi/good afternoon) as they passed. Very polite. Seems like most Americans will kind of scooch over to give you room to pass but they rarely say something to you. Just an observation.

When we got back to the tour bus, we found out that some of the other hikers had seen a snake out there although we didn't. They have signs all over with pictures of two types of snakes on them, but since they were printed in Japanese I'll just have to guess that they say "Don't play with snakes!" The man who ran the entrance booth said that the two types seen most often were nonpoisonous, but you still have to watch out for habu snakes, which are poisonous. They actually make a type of sake with habu snake venom, I've seen it for sale--the glass bottle has the actual snake in the bottom of it. Shudder! And you have to pay about $200 for it...I think I'll pass.

Uphill BOTH Ways!

As promised, here are some pictures from our trip to Hiji Falls, which is up at the north end of the island. Right after you pay your admission, you walk up a little sidewalk and come up to this:


Really pretty, huh? The one thing it needs less of, though is spiders...


We saw a lot of them on our hike. It's about 1.5 km out to the falls, and then you have to turn around and walk all the way back. I told my parental units this is one tourist spot they'll probably want to skip while they're here in September. It's a lot of up and down hiking and steep steps--the whole path is lined and a lot of it is planked over with wood, and they've made regular staircases for you to climb. But good grief, CLIMB you do! My legs are so sore today! But here's what you see when you get towards the end of the hike.


This is just the smaller waterfall before you get to the big one. And although this waterfall isn't exactly super tall like Angel Falls in Venezuela (the world's tallest waterfall), it's still beautiful. Lee took all the pictures yesterday, so he played around some with shutter speed and got a few where the water droplets were frozen in midair, and then some where it's much softer (and actually looks closer to real life).


They have warnings all over at the beginning of the park I guess you'd call it, you're not allowed to go swimming here because so many people have drowned. There are large rocks everywhere and I could easily imagine someone slipping on one...well, I wasn't the least bit inclined to take a dip anyway, although it might have been a nice way to cool off. We were lucky, it was in the low 80s and overcast yesterday, but the humidity was terrible. It would have been twelve times worse if the sun had been beating down on the island, though. If you believe that old line about horse sweat and glowing ladies, then I could have lit up an entire pro sports arena by myself. Ick!


This last shot is the one Lee liked the best; he just had to go have it printed off yesterday to see what it would look like. They have some odd picture sizes though, he got a 10x14 and I thought for sure 11x14 was standard? Whether or not I'm right, the picture looks a bit oddly proportioned the way they printed it, so I think I'll order another one online in the right size. I shrunk these pictures down a little bit so they'd load easier on the webpage, but if you click on them you'll see the larger version. More in a minute.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Okinawa Skies

Lee and I went to dinner tonight at Jack's Place, and the sun was just starting to set when we left to go back home. Lee ran in the house just long enough to grab the new fancy-schmancy camera and we drove up the hill to a field. Well, we call it a field, it's just a big open area that I pass on my walks with the dogs and it has a pretty good view towards the west. We passed the camera back and forth and just fiddled with it, just experimenting to see what would be a good shot. So here's four of the best, starting with one I took of Lee just because he's so darned cute :)


Aren't these clouds beautiful? The fenced-in area is just a bit of land that has never been cleared off and still has all the native vegetation on it. Some of these areas aren't fenced in and that's where I took the pictures of the morning glories; I try not to get too close to these places since we hear so many warnings about the habu snakes.


Here's one Lee took over the rooftops out towards the East China Sea.


You can see our little dark green car in this one :) I just loved the blue of the sky here!


We took about thirty shots in 15 minutes, and these were the best of the group. Not too bad for a couple of amateurs, huh?

Freckled Flowers & Puppy Dogs

So I finally started playing with our new camera today. The pictures in this post are just the raw images that I took today, I haven't edited them or anything, just messing with the camera a bit. I got these cool yellow orchids (I think they're orchids?) at a dinner that Lee and I went to last week, they were part of the centerpiece and I got to take them home. I had to sumo wrestle three other people but I WON the orchids...ok, just kidding about the sumo wrestling bit, I just grabbed 'em and ran :)


I love that these flowers have freckles. I've never seen yellow orchids before...this plant is much smaller than the purple orchids Lee gave me a while back, it has just the six blooms on it. The orchid stems are taped to a support to help shape them; I saw some at the Make Man store that were just straight up and down but usually they're trained into a big arch. We went to the Make Man store yesterday and got some pots to replant these, I wish I'd taken the camera with me then. They have the purple orchids and some lighter purple ones, some peach ones with raspberry-colored veining on the leaves, cream-colored ones, and a few huge pots of the most beautiful WHITE orchids. Those ones probably had at least a dozen blooms going down each arch, I'd love to have one of those. Maybe one of these days if I manage not to kill the two plants I have now...but the white ones were about $80 apiece and they had one that was closer to $200. That plant was truly magnificent.


Here's a little close-up of one of the flowers on the left side of the plant. Lee says these pictures are a tad over-exposed, but it was full sunlight outside when I was taking pictures. I'll try it again when it's a more overcast and see how that affects the color of the pictures. I just took the plant out to our front yard so I'd have a green background behind the flowers.

After I came inside, I started taking a few pictures of the kiddos...well, they're the only independently mobile subjects I have a great deal of the time, so don't be surprised if I take a lot of dog pictures n'k? Here's my little Vader Man.


He's a better subject than Sadie, usually I can get Vader to be still long enough for me to take his picture. I think Sadie's just a punk and she somehow *knows* what she shouldn't do when you're trying to take her picture, so of course then she does it. I think that girl dogs are just more independent and punkier than boy dogs...Chewie was every bit as sweet as Vader, while Sadie's kind of sassy. No, she's really sassy. Don't let the big puppy dog eyes fool you.


This is Sadie saying "Ok, FINE, take my picture then." Yes, she's adorably cute, but she has an Attitude. :p I took both of these pictures in the entry way to our little typhoon shelter here. Don't look too closely at the dog hair on the floor...I vacuum twice a week but they keep shedding at a phenomenal rate. If I could figure out how to weave dog hair sweaters I could make a fortune on the Internet selling them to chichi boutiques, what do you think? Sadie's hair is definitely softer than wool, it's more like cat hair than dog hair. We call her Fluffy Butt, lol!

Tomorrow we're going to Okuma and Hiji Falls, so I'll have *lots* more pictures to share then. Probably those pics will be more interesting to you than pictures of my two dogs, hehe. I'll try to put those pictures up as soon as we get back tomorrow; we're supposed to be gone from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. so it will be a full day.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Bella, Bella!

So here's what I was working on today. This week's color challenge is Soft Sky, Blue Bayou, and Certainly Celery, and I just love this little flower pot stamp from Stamping Bella so it was time to use it on something.


I love the "merci buckets" sentiment, although in my French classes we always said "murky buckets" instead. I took French for probably 7 or 8 years, from middle school to college, so I was fairly decent at it by the time I finished school. I could have had a minor in it but I was too lazy to take advanced French grammar :) My favorite language-related story is when I was in high school, my friend Chris tried to say "holy cow" in French and ended up with "sacre vache" and my French teacher almost had a heart attack. No matter what the cartoons tell you, "sacrebleu" is exceedingly impolite, and "vache" (cow) is like the French equivalent for what we call female dogs. Still, it was funny to see the teacher's face go all purple.


And here's my Bella card for this week, since I've been quite diligent about going to the gym regularly since I got my own set of wheels. I have not a clue who I'd send this card to but just in case I need a workout encouragement card (?) I have one! You can find this and lots of other cute Bella stamps at Stamping Bella.


And here's the cancan dancer now. I've finished the section I was working on so it's time to scooch over to a new section. As Lee says, "So, you've finished her butt." Big fat WHATEVER, dude!

We went to see Iron Man tonight. Halfway through the movie, Lee leans over and says, "I am *so* buying this on DVD!" so you know it was good. It actually made him laugh out loud more than once and rare is the movie that can do that. We like superhero movies in our house. I just wish the third X-Men movie had been as good as this one was...speaking of superheroes, I pre-ordered the TV series Birds of Prey on DVD. It was a short-lived series about the daughter of Batman and Catwoman, I *loved* that show so I'm so excited that it's coming out on DVD later this summer. I also bought The Lion in Winter (does it get any better than Katharine Hepburn? Well, ok, so Audrey Hepburn is actually my favorite, but the Great Kate is pretty darned fabulous too), Ever After (the one with Drew Barrymore) and Jewel of the Nile. When Lee finds out (hi honey!) I'll just have to remind him "But honey, they were only $7.50 apiece!"

Monday, May 19, 2008

Big Dogs, Little Dogs...

Some as big as mountains! :)

Both of my dogs are about 60 to 65 pounds, I don't really think they're particularly *large* dogs. Of course, compared to the Yorkies that live next door to us, they are. We have a gap between the fence post and the building that's about four inches wide, and both of the Yorkies from next door have discovered they can squeeze through it and come check out what my kids are up to. On Saturday, I had opened up the back door for Sadie and Vader since it was so nice out, and just left it open so they could go in and out as they chose. A while later I felt something small and furry scamper over my foot and it was Yuri, the little girl Yorkie. She'd come through the gap in the fence and right on into the house! I don't mind them visiting us, I think both of the teeny-weeny dogs are kind of sweet. My kids just seem kind of astonished that a dog could be that SMALL.

On the other side of the spectrum you have Newfoundlands. Lee and I went to dinner at his soon-to-be former boss's house on Sunday (they're moving back to the States soon) and we got to meet the two biggest dogs I have *ever* seen. If you crossed Sadie and Vader with the Incredible Hulk and gave them some sedatives so they didn't act all nutso whenever someone new came to the house, you'd have these two. I was told these dogs weighed about 130 pounds EACH...I wish I'd gotten a picture of them. Enormous black dogs with tons of hair, I don't know how they survived the swelteringly humid summers here. They were so well-behaved too, there were at least a dozen new people in the house and they just stayed in a little room off to the side and didn't bother anyone.

Not to go all Goldilocks, but I'm happy with the size that my kids are. Big enough that you can roughhouse with them a bit, small enough that if you have to do something like wrestle them into a kennel to go on a really long plane ride, it's not too bad a hassle. They're just right... ;)

It's been really quiet over here lately, I know. Lee's been studying a lot for an online course he's taking for his job, so we haven't gotten out to do much lately. I need to start studying the manual for our brand spankin' new DSLR camera that got here last Thursday so when we go to Hiji Falls and the glass factory and all that later this month I can post some screamingly awesome pics on here. Lee knows a lot more about it than I do right now, he kind of goes overboard with researching everything he can find on electronics once he decides he's going to make a major purchase. At least he's a well-informed buyer then, so I suppose that's ok. Usually I leave the big purchases up to him and I buy the little stuff, like tons of DVDs, hehe. I can't help it, they're having a DVD sale on Amazon!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Hi, I'm Bravely!

I'm so excited! I got this too-cute-for-words card in the mail today as a RAK (Random Act of Kindness) from DawnL on Splitcoast:


Is that not the cutest thing EVER?! Yes, it totally is! I had commented on the card when Dawn posted it on Splitcoast for last week's sketch challenge so she sent it to me. Lucky me!!! There's a story to go with this card...when I was little, like, under the age of seven little, I had a stuffed lion that talked when you squeezed him. (When I was really little, I used to stomp on him to make him talk!) He said "Hi, I'm Bravely!" and "It's a jungle out there!" and he did this adorable growl and then said "Did I scare you?" That was my absolute favorite toy in the whole wide world, I carried him with me everywhere. You know when kids are little and the parents are supposed to teach them a secret code word so if a stranger tries to pick them up, the kid asks for the code word? Well, our family's code word was Bravely (I'm pretty sure the statute of limitations has run out on that one by now considering I'm 28 and living on the other side of the world from my parents!) I loved that lion so much, I rubbed half the hair off him and you never saw a sadder kid than I was when Mom had to wash him and I had to wait for a couple of hours for him to get cleaned up. I also wore out the voice box so he kind of slurred and said things funny, or as my dad says, he "started speaking Russian".

Then tragedy struck!!! (Overly dramatic, moi? Nah!) We moved from California to Texas when I was seven, and somehow Bravely got lost along the way. Can't you just imagine this devastated lion-less seven-year-old crying her eyes out? Yeah, that was me. My parents think maybe he accidentally got left at a gas station or something when we stopped on the cross-country drive. So if you ever found a really beat-up looking stuffed lion in a gas station, email me, I want him back! I consoled myself by thinking that, like the Velveteen Rabbit, I had *surely* loved Bravely enough for him to become Real. And you know the MGM thing they put at the beginning of movies with the lion roaring? THAT's Bravely in his new job. No, really, it IS.

So anyway, I am just tickled beyond measure to have this card, even if, as Dawn wrote on the inside of the card, he's a tiger instead of a lion. The sentiment is there! So I'm going to mail Dawn this card I made today:


It's prettier in real life, the colors are off in this picture. This was for Sunday's Featured Stamper challenge, I pretty much copied this card except I changed the sentiment and color combination. So this will be going in the mail to Dawn as soon as I get my hands on some 42-cent stamps. I wonder what the post office would do if I used a 41-cent stamp and taped a penny to the envelope?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Just One More Row....

I used to say that a lot around bedtime. "Just one more row, I'm almost done." So here's my latest stitching project, it's coming along pretty fast.


And here's what it will look like when I'm done with it:


I'd say I have a pretty good start on it, considering I made the first stitch on Tuesday. But now you know why I haven't been doing quite as much stamping lately, I'm having new project rhapsodies. I'm always excited about new projects :) I usually stitch while I'm watching--or, more accurately, listening to--movies. Lee and I are still working our way through all our animated Disney movies, we've got about a dozen more to go. I had to watch Cinderella and Dumbo without him, he's not a fan of either. Wonder if he'll watch Sleeping Beauty with me?

Not much else going on here lately, hence the lack of posts in blogland. We've just had a relaxing low-key weekend at the old homestead :) There was a slight possibility we'd get our first typhoon next week, but I think the storm has veered off out in the middle of the Pacific so we won't get hit with one after all. For some odd reason, both Lee and I are excited about the prospect of our first typhoon, are we crazy? Perhaps. I think we just want to be able to say we've been through one. I'm sure we'll get our chance sooner or later...

Ok, so one kind of exciting thing has happened--we've bought a new camera. We're just waiting for it to get shipped to us so we can start taking instantly fabulous pictures with it :) We got a Nikon D80 and a bunch of accessories, including a really nice lens. Don't know *which* lens since Lee did all the research about that; I'm more interested in learning how to take great pictures than I am researching all the different types of cameras on the market. Once the camera gets here, we're going to drive up to the north end of the island and slowly work our way back down the East China Sea coast, taking pictures wherever it seems like a good idea to do so. Hopefully we'll get some great shots of the turquoise water here. We're also going to do a few more tours at the end of the month, to Hiji Falls and the Battle of Okinawa museum, so hopefully we'll have enough time to figure out how to work the camera before we do that.

Happy Mother's Day to all the mamas out there!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Naked Morning Glories

I won the little protest on Splitcoast and Lovely Lilac has now been featured in its very own color challenge. Took me a while to make a card for it, but here's my inspiration:


When I take my dogs for walks, we pass quite a few areas where the vegetation has never been cleared off and there are a lot of morning glories. At least they look like morning glories to me, but they seem to bloom all day long. So with that flower in mind, here's what I made for the color challenge:


All supplies by Stampin' Up! Purple is my favorite color and I can't for the life of me figure out why Lovely Lilac was left out of the color challenges for so long. The main image is just a piece of a slightly larger stamped image, but I kind of like cutting out pieces of some of the gigantic flower stamps. I watercolored it with squished ink pad lids, took a while but I'm happy with how it came out.

So by now you may be wondering where the "Naked" part of my post title comes in. Well, here it is:


Click on the picture to see a bigger version, and then check out the model name--the Daihatsu NAKED!! They have some really goofy car names here, and they're all written on the back of the cars in English which is nice for me, I get a good laugh out of some of them. There's the Honda Life (when we were shopping for cars, Lee and I kept telling each other to "Get a Life!" because we're easily amused...they're expensive tiny little box cars), a That's (yes that's the name of it, also a tiny little box car), the Emina which is a minivan...well hey, even the FunCargo is kind of an odd name. But the Naked takes the cake!!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Because I Can Can Can!

Last night I decided I was bored with my current stitching project and I wanted to start something new. I brought this great Moulin Rouge stitchery kit with me to Okinawa (click on the link to see a picture of it) so that's what I decided on. Unfortunately the kit comes with 14-count ecru fabric and I much prefer 16-count antique white; the ecru is too yellow and you get better color coverage with 16-count in my opinion, and I have been doing this for twenty years which still boggles my mind. I have enough practice to be picky about what I want to do, heh.

Anyway, I looked through my fabric and the only antique white piece I had that was big enough was one where I had started a different project and then abandoned it. I don't usually do that, but it was this Thomas Kinkade piece and I don't particularly care for his work anyway, but it was going to be for someone else who DOES like his work. THAT dumb pattern didn't match its color key and I couldn't get a response when I tried to call or email the company to ask about it, so I decided to burn the stupid pattern and find something else to do. So anyway, I spent four HOURS last night picking out stitches so I could use this piece of fabric. This morning, I got up, looked in one bag, and found a brand new large piece of antique white fabric...so I spent that four hours picking out stitching for nothing!!! Arrrrgh!!!!!!!!!!!!! On the plus side, I did finally get to start my cancan dancer tonight while Lee and I watched The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I'm always excited to have new projects.

My side project for today was fomenting a little mini Lovely Lilac rebellion on Splitcoast--Lovely Lilac is the only SU color to have never been featured on the weekly color challenge. So I've kind of been agitating that thread a little bit on and off today because what can I say? I'm an instigator. And I like to champion the colors no one else seems to like--Glorious Green, Orchid Opulence, whatever. Anyway, all my hard work has paid off, as this week's color challenge is Lovely Lilac, Pretty in Pink and Certainly Celery. Too bad it is now 11:00 at night here so I'll have to do this challenge tomorrow after I go abuse myself at the gym doing kickboxing.

I think it's hilarious the comments I get about my Princess Bride quotes--I have that same R.O.U.S. quote from the previous post as my signature line on Splitcoast. I practically know that movie verbatim so my mom won't watch it with me because I can't help but mouth along to all the lines and according to her that's a supremely annoying habit. :) Anyway, when we got on the plane from DFW to go to Seattle and then to Okinawa, the last thing my dad said to us in person was "Have fun storming the castle!"

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Rodents of Unusual Size

"But Westley, what about the R.O.U.S.es?"
"Rodents of Unusual Size? I don't think they exist."

Yes, The Princess Brides is one of the best and most quotable movies ever. I just love it, and the book is great fun too. And speaking of R.O.U.S.es, I had a weird dream the other night...I dreamed that I saw a big fat R.O.U.S. eating grain or something with a pair of chopsticks. I tried to walk by him and for some reason he got mad at me so he THREW the chopsticks at me like daggers, pointy ends first. Then I tried to run away from him and he ran after me, picked up his chopsticks, and threw them at me again! I woke up right after that. Talk about a weird dream, man! I remembered it well enough I even told Lee about it when he got up to go to work. I bet he thought I was certifiably insane at that point...I think it's hilarious that even the animals in my dreams use chopsticks.

Last night I dreamed that I was in an episode of Bones (love that show) and that one of my fraternity brothers (one I don't like) was trying to shoot me. Good thing I know that she's not on the island...I don't know what is up with my overactive nighttime imagination.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Maternity Island

My mother was right, this place is Maternity Island. So far today, I've been up to the gym for a 1-hour step aerobics class, and this afternoon I ran to the post office for just a minute. Just during those two trips, I saw three pregnant women, and one of those was the step instructor. Really, we see them everywhere we go! Much more so here than in the States, you'd think there was nothing else to do here ;) And this is just counting the obviously pregnant bellies we see, not the ones who aren't even showing yet. Crazy. Lee and I have taken to pretending like we're hosting an Animal Planet show and we're doing a commentary while watching the pregnant women in their natural habitat. Mostly it seems to be American women but I have seen a few Japanese ladies with these cute tiny pregnant bellies. (How can they be that thin and pregnant at the same time? It seems a contradiction of the laws of physics.)

Just in case it's in the water, I'm going to boil all the tap water before it comes in contact with any food I'm going to eat. I already drink bottled water and it says it's bottled in North America, so hopefully that's safe. Got to be careful in case it's a communicable disease...

Thursday, May 1, 2008

There's Always Room for Jell-O

So I haven't exactly been taking the island by storm since I achieved vehicular emancipation (yes, I like to play with words). I wasn't feeling very well for about three days so I haven't done much of anything...well, I have gone to the gym a few times (yay for me!) and to the post office once, but that's just about it. Oh, I had lunch with Lee and we looked at antique Chinese furniture too. That was pretty cool, they had some really neat pieces. Of course, I have a talent for picking out the ones that would absolutely clash with everything we own...they had a lot of furniture that was brightly painted with floral patterns and such, and that appeals to me but Lee hates it. Maybe I'll be able to get a leetle piece to have in my craft room, I like bright cheerful things in there. Too bad I can't fit anymore furniture in that room...

Anyway, to get to the title of my post, I stayed up late tonight just to make orange Jell-O so we could have it at dinner tomorrow. Doesn't sound real special, does it? Well, take a look at this recipe that I got from my mom (hi Mom!):

Orange Jell-O

Ingredients:
6-ounce box of orange Jell-O (the larger box)
2 1/2 cups water, divided
2 cups (1 pint) orange sherbet
15-ounce can mandarin oranges, drained
1 bag miniature marshmallows

Bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil and dissolve the orange Jell-O in it; remove from heat. Stir in 1 cup cold water and allow to cool for a few minutes.

Mix in the orange sherbet one tablespoon at a time, using a fork (don't use an electric mixer or it will foam. Not sure why that's bad, but the original recipe made it sound like it was, so let's just go with foam=bad). Pour into a serving bowl.

Add mandarin oranges (they kind of float so it doesn't do much good to stir them in). Pour miniature marshmallows over the top. You'll have extra marshmallows left over; you can make the marshmallow layer as thick or thin as you like. I like my marshmallows so I use a lot, and I squish 'em into the orange Jell-O just a little bit so that they all stick together once it's set. Refrigerate overnight.

My mom usually serves this as a side dish, especially with lasagna. My whole family *loves* this recipe, and really it's not that bad for you. You can get sugar-free Jell-O, the marshmallows are naturally fat-free if you believe the packaging, and I think you can find sugar- and/or fat-free orange sherbet pretty easily too. And the oranges are good for you, get your vitamin C. So see, it's a yummy recipe that's not too unhealthy and it's sweet enough even for me, the sugar-holic. Lee likes this in lieu of dessert, so it works for that too. So if you try this one, let me know how you like it! But if you don't like it, then keep that to yourself :)


See, isn't it pretty? Ok, so it would be prettier if I'd made this in a nice serving bowl instead of a plain old mixing bowl, but that's what I had on hand. And if you use a wide flat bowl, you can get even more marshmallows on top. Hmm...