Saturday, February 27, 2010

Sapporo, Part 4: More Chocolate

Yes, there was a big earthquake this morning in Okinawa, but we're all fine. It woke us up around 5:30 and seemed to last a lot longer than it probably did in reality...it was like 6.9 or 7.1 on the Richter scale, I keep hearing both numbers, so suffice it to say it was no tiny temblor. Kind of freaked Sadie out a little and I think it knocked down a can of shaving cream in the shower, but other than that, zero damage. Except for that part where I couldn't get back to sleep. Other than that, it was kind of fun!

I know I'm behind with posting pictures of Sapporo so let's get back to it. Missy gave us a CD of her pictures so all the ones I have to share today are from her. About halfway through our tour of the chocolate factory my camera started acting weird so I'm glad she shared pics with us :) We did actually get to see the "factory" part of the chocolate factory:

They're making these little sandwich cookies, milk chocolate sandwiched between two really thin cookies and they are SO good (they gave each of us one free with our ticket). They had some fun murals up on the wall:

There was also a place where you could make your own chocolate house, like a gingerbread house but made from chocolate, but that took two hours so we opted out since we had to meet back up with the intrepid skiers in the afternoon. They did have some displays of some truly amazing cakes:

I was in awe of the teeny, tiny piped trim on this. Especially all the parts where it hangs down off the cake layers. That had to take forever!

After the factory part, they had just a few kinda odd things to see that seemed like afterthoughts. Giant shoes, for example:

And at the end of a long curtained hallway reminiscent of The Wizard of Oz was the Bocca della Verita (no clue if I'm spelling that right since I took French, not Italian)...

Ever see Roman Holiday with Audrey Hepburn? (If not, you should.) She puts her hand in the Mouth of Truth which is supposed to eat it if you've lied recently. This one made noises when you stuck your hand in his mouth.

Then there was a room that had a strange assortment of vintage toys and this head-scratcher:

Yeah, I know it's the Beatles, but why are they in front of an American flag? And what are they doing in a Japanese chocolate factory? These are mysteries which may never be solved. And it just keeps getting freakier...

I find kewpie dolls kind of sinister in the first place, but that bright red one? And the black one with the red eyes and lime green mohawk? So glad they don't live at my house. I'm pretty sure it was toys like these that inspired all those movies of the toys coming to life and killing people.

Here we are back outside in the big courtyard...if you look in the upper right corner, you'll see some animatronic chefs who were singing. Not really a song per se, more of a tuneless lalalalala kind of thing. Very weird, but hilarious at the same time.

The last thing we did was go down this little hill with some inner tubes, which was way fun! Here's me:

And Missy getting ready to go (she had the smaller inner tube, I'm not teeny tiny compared to her although it kinda looks like it if you think the inner tubes are the same size)...

Then we left the chocolate factory to head back to our hotel, but you'll have to tune in next time for Sapporo, Part 5 to see what came next.

But first, I had to share two more of Missy's pictures. Just be warned, this next picture may not be suitable for small children:

And now you know why Lee deleted the pictures off our camera. Between the Scary Michael snow sculpture and the devilicious kewpie dolls, I may have to sleep with a nightlight tonight. Just so you know, I intentionally put this on the bottom of the post just so you wouldn't get freaked out by it if you happened to haplessly wander by my blog. I think he needs a warning label.

One last pic:

Yep, Missy caught a picture of me trying to eat snow. Not sure why it was taken from this angle but that's ok, I think it's funny :)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Some Prezzies

I'm a bit miffed that every time I actually get to watch part of the Olympics, the only thing on is curling. I mean, really? How is that a sport?! The geniuses in charge of American tv programming here put the Olympics on mid-morning while most of us are at work. Maybe I should have Sadie and Vader watch for me and then fill me in on what happened when I get home...nah, their attention span ain't that great.

No Sapporo pics today, I thought I'd share something different (looks like the only person interested in the chocolate factory pics was my mom, anyway!) so here's what Lee and I went out and bought ourselves on Valentine's Day/his birthday:

This is an apothecary cabinet (click on the picture to see it bigger). The kanji are for all the different types of herbs that an apothecary would store in each drawer...while I'm fairly certain I won't be putting any kind of herbs in it, I haven't figured out yet what I DO want to put in all those little drawers. I've been wanting one of these things ever since I first saw one not too long after we moved here so I'm pretty tickled that I now own one. We want to get a couple of pieces of furniture while we're here so we figured we'd better start now so we can spread out the cost a bit.

Earlier this week we got a couple of boxes in the mail from my parents for Lee's birthday. Check out what my mom did to one of them:

Girl at post office: "So, I guess someone's turning 30?"

Me: "Yeah, that would be my husband."

Girl at post office: "Who decorated the box?"

Me: "That would be my mother."

I'm kinda glad she didn't think to do that when she was sending MY birthday stuff, 'specially since I turned 29 again ;) Oh, check out what was on the OTHER side, next to where our address was written:

'Cause Lee is a Superman fan. Most of the stuff inside was Wii-related from my parents and my brother and sister-in-law, and wrapped in Superman wrapping paper. Then there was this:

And they were in a matching bag, too. So what's the first thing that Lee decides to do with these boxers? Well, duh!

Put 'em on Sadie, of course! Vader is too sweet-natured so if we did this to him, we'd feel guilty, but Sadie is a sassy punk nugget so we don't feel guilty. Bwahahahaaaa!

Oh yes, that is one happy dog in her "I'm too sexy for my shorts!" boxers, hehe!

That's Missy's foot in the right corner, she came over here to work on planning for our China trip and got to witness Sadie's humiliation. Much laughter ensued on the part of everyone except Sadie.

But then she got a treat so it's all good now. Vader got one too just because he's Vader.

We've had a Wii-riffic weekend. I played the Super Mario Brothers game on Friday evening for much longer than I want to admit, and then today we bought the Tiger Woods golf game for Lee (yawn...I'd rather watch curling) and the Ghostbusters Wii game for me, which was on clearance for ten bucks. Haven't gotten to try that one out yet since I worked on baby books today. I'm making three books this time; one baby is due on St. Patrick's Day (so not going to have her book done in time), the second mom is having a baby shower on March 13th (probably not going to get her book on time either), and the third baby shower is in April (if it's late April, I might have a shot at getting that one done on time!). I'm basically doing the same kind of thing I did last year but some of the colors/patterned papers are changing because I don't have enough of all the patterns to do so many books, and I'm customizing them a bit to fit the mothers' tastes. February and March are done except for cutting out the title letters for them; I want to wait until I'm done with all the pages to do that since the craft store charges for use of their die cut machine. Hmph. So I'm going to try to work on April before I go to bed tonight. TTFN!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sapporo, Part 3: Skiing & Chocolate

I only have about ten minutes of my lunch break left to write this blog post, so I'm typing fast :) First of all, I heard back from the doctor and I do, indeed, have hypothyroidism (and they all thought I was pregnant instead) :p So I've just started on my new prescription and my little brother emailed me a wealth of information about it since he's had it for two years. I will be learning a lot more about it over the next few weeks.

So on to the fun stuff, more Sapporo pics! Our first full day in Sapporo, Lee went skiing/snowboarding with Jamie and Dean:

Missy and I do NOT ski, so we did something much more fun in our opinion--we toured the Ishiya Chocolate Factory. (We were the smart ones, because after a half-day of skiing the other three kept complaining about how sore they were. Suckas!)

And the chocolate factory is guarded not by Oompa Loompas but...firemen snowmen?

Do those look like little fireman's hats to you? I think so...

The metal fence around the front of the chocolate factory had these cute little toppers on it:

Don't get the connection between cats and chocolate? Well, the Aztecs discovered chocolate when they weren't busy with the whole human sacrifice thing, and they also worshiped cats. So this place has a lot of cat-themed stuff. They also have this courtyard full of super cute little bitty houses!

Missy's new abode...I wanted something a little more "castle-y"...

But with the ginormous camera backpack I couldn't fit through the door. :p

Quite a bit of the courtyard was covered in snow, so I got a neat picture of one of the little statues, this is one of my "artsy" shots:

Speaking of artsy, check out the bathroom!

The whole place was much more reminiscent of Europe than Japan, in fact it kind of reminded me of the Banks family house in Mary Poppins. I think Missy got some good exterior shots but I'll have to look for them on the disc she gave me and I am already over my 10-minute time limit so maybe next time. But a few more pictures real fast like a rabbit that just heard a really good joke:

Wouldn't tell us what he was laughing at, though. Pretty much the first room we saw inside the chocolate factory had this beautiful fountain:

You can also see in the background that there's a diorama of Europeans landing in South America. Here's a view of the fountain from the balcony:

We then walked through a couple of rooms that had some neat china; one was all hot chocolate cups (how they're different from teacups, I'm not sure) and each room had a different pattern of tile on the floor. I think we should do this in our next house, you like it?

My favorite cup-and-saucer duo from the china collection...the saucer is shaped like a fan and the butterfly is the cup's handle. Isn't it beautiful?

Ok, so, I'll check Missy's pictures for more chocolate factory fabulousness, but for now I gotta scram back to work. TTFN, chocolate lovers!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Sapporo, Part 2: Odori Snow Festival

I'm back again with Part 2 of our Sapporo trip. The very first night when we arrived, we walked out to Odori (not sure if it's a neighborhood or a street, but I know it's a subway stop at least) to see the snow festival. Some of the snow sculptures are amazingly huge! What's kind of sad is that they bulldoze them all right after the festival ends; apparently it's a safety hazard if they leave the sculptures up to melt on their own. Anyway, Snoopy was the first one we saw:

Most of the sculptures are maybe about six feet tall, and then there are a few gargantuan ones thrown in the mix, like this one of the Zoos of the North (we actually went to one of the zoos, but you'll have to wait a bit for those pictures).

I hope you can get an idea of how enormous this snow sculpture is from the people's silhouettes on the bottom. Amazingly detailed, too--just check out that orangutan's fur and how adorable are the polar bears?!

I'm sure you'll recognize who's on this one:

The ship in the background is the S.S. Columbia, which is affiliated with Tokyo Disney Sea.

This next one I think is Iolani Palace, which is in Hawaii and is the U.S.'s only palace to have been used by a reigning monarch. Love the lights on this one.

So those two dudes with the guitars were up on the stage just in front of the snow sculpture, so that should give you an idea how big it is.

Here's another Disney character:

It's the cranky old man from Up! And next to him was this sign, which contains three words I do not believe should be used in conjunction with each other:

Milk seafood noodle? Yummy...in a not-at-all kind of way!! Next up is a replica of Wartburg Castle in Germany:

Well, part of it anyway. But I wanted to include a picture of me in here just for Liz :) because she doesn't think we get in enough of our pictures. Lee took this one so no pictures of him for this post. I did take some though so he'll be featured later in the Sapporo pics.

Here is Baekje Royal Palace from Korea:

There was also a super-creepy snow sculpture of Michael Jackson, but Lee deleted all of the pictures we had of it off the camera. I think Missy took pictures of it but I haven't loaded hers onto the computer yet so you'll just have to believe me on that one.

One last picture:

This wasn't actually *at* the snow festival but it's a snow sculpture so I'm including it here. This was about a block or two from our hotel, isn't he cute?

We're coming to the close of our three-day weekend :( Had a good time though; last night I made lasagna and cherry pie for Lee's birthday and one of his presents was a Wii. He's been playing that all day while Amber, Missy and I were stamping/scrapping in the dining room. The Wii is such a good man-sitter :D He's going to try to download some of the real old-skool Nintendo games for me since those are the ones I like.

Happy Valentine's Day/President's Day!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Sapporo, Part 1: Getting to the Snow Festival

We're back from our trip and we had a fabulous time! We got back on Wednesday night and had to work on Thursday and Friday, so it took us this long to get the pictures uploaded on the Mac and for me to sort through them to the Mac (yes, I am blogging from the Mac for the first time, this will take some getting used to!) We took upwards of 400 pictures on our trip and we should also get copies of photos from Missy and Jamie & Dean. I will *not* be sharing each and every photo on here ;) But here's a few to get us started, it's going to take several posts to catch the highlights. Here we are at the Naha airport, getting ready to go...

And here's the Pokemon plane that we saw. Sorry the picture is blurry, it's hard to take a photo with no flash through a window in low light. We didn't fly on the Pokemon plane, but it was kinda funny to see. Missy said she's flown on it before and it isn't all Pokemon-y on the inside. Bummer. Might be fun to have Pikachu serving peanuts.

We flew from Naha to Haneda in Tokyo, and from there to Chitose airport in Hokkaido. Then we had an hour-long bus ride to our hotel. Here's one of our patented self-portraits, with Jamie in the background :)

And here's Missy when she fell asleep on the bus after we'd been talking nonstop for, like, the whole day ;)

We got to our hotel around 3 or so on Sunday afternoon, so we all got dressed in our cold weather gear (I borrowed a ski jacket and snow boots, and my wonderful mom sent me thermals with zebra stripes on them no less! so I stayed pretty toasty) and headed out to Sapporo Station. As in Kyoto, it's a subway station that has a ginormous department store/shopping/restaurant complex attached. It was a couple of blocks away from our hotel and it was snowing on our way to the station.

I thought Lee took a picture of Missy and me walking along with our mouths wide open trying to catch snowflakes, but nope. :( Anyway, once inside the station we looked around for a restaurant that we thought might be good, and the girls got a picture with this dude just because he was fun:

We ended up eating at a Mexican restaurant, or at least the Japanese version of a Mexican restaurant. Missy ordered a burrito and it had shrimp in it (bleh!). Hokkaido is known for its seafood, skiing, and beer...too bad I'm not into any of those things, hehe. Their dairy products though, that I can get along with. They make good butter and...ice cream!

Yes, because it's not cold enough outside, we got ice cream. We also saw this cool little thing in the station:

Interesting, huh? The people are the shadow cast by the hoopy-doo that it looks like they're holding up. While we wandered around the station we went in the Disney store and also found a Snoopy store right next door. And here's a modern art kinda sculpture thing at the entrance to the station:

Right after this, we left to walk to the snow festival, so those pics will be coming up in the next day or two. Tomorrow is Lee's birthday (happy birfday Ree!) and he has requested that I make lasagna rather than us go out for dinner anywhere. So that's our plan. Guess I'll be grocery shopping tomorrow morning ;) Back soon with more pictures, promise. I've got a lot of Sapporo pics and today, Missy and I went to the orchid expo so I've got tons of pictures from that too. Yay, something fun to talk about for a while! My paper is DONE and turned in, so I'm freeeeee from class until about June. Yay!!