Things I’m Loving – March 2015

It’s just now the beginning of April but the temperatures have risen here in Honolulu and it’s already making me think of summer. Even though it was just a year ago that I was in Japan and enjoying the beginning of sakura (cherry blossom) season, it feels like that was years ago and a world away. My days are still filled mostly with school-related activities, whether that be class, studying, or working on any of the several projects I’m involved with at the university. But I think when it’s so busy, that’s probably one of the most important times to take a few minutes and reflect so here are some of the things I was loving in March! (more…)

Things I’m Loving – January 2015

When I went to prepare my February Things I’m Loving post, I discovered I never published this January edition! >_< I knew I’d worked on it but I forgot that I still needed to add photos before I could publish and with so much on my plate this semester, it slipped my mind entirely. So here is that January post…only a month behind. Better late than never I hope!

January felt a bit like December in reverse. It started out with lots of relaxation but once I got back to Hawaii, I jumped back into work and then the Spring semester began. I actually have more commitments than last semester and I feel like I’ve been scrambling to keep up with it all. As hectic as the last few weeks have been, there are always things to enjoy and here are some of the things I’m loving this month. (more…)

Things I’m Loving – November 2014

I completely missed the change over from November to December and my regular posting of the things I’ve been loving! I blame it entirely on Thanksgiving break. This month has been even busier than the last (I added volunteering to my schedule) so when Thanksgiving rolled around, I took relaxing seriously. I did absolutely no studying/work for a couple days and while it was so wonderful to have that break, I feel like I’m having a hard time picking up speed again. >_< To get back on track, here are some of the things that I enjoyed in November!

1. Pancakes

Ah, pancakes. When I was a kid they were a weekly treat that I loved. Now I tend to avoid anything so sweet early in the morning but then I saw this chocolate macadamia nut pancake mix and I had an instant pancake craving. I reasoned they would be fine to eat if I just didn’t have them first thing in the morning, so one weekend we had a pancake brunch with the macadamia nut pancakes and lilikoi syrup. It really hit the spot! The syrup was super sweet so just a little will do but the combination really satisfied my craving.

2 & 3. Dinner and a movie!

Remember how I set a goal to integrate some self-care into my schedule? Taking a study break to go see Interstellar with my husband was part of that! We both enjoy movies but rarely get to the theater because of our busy schedules and the expense. Add a bite to eat before the movie and you have a date! We shared a burger with cheddar and avocado along with some shoestring fries from Kua ‘Aina. I added a little Thousand Island dressing to my half. Since we were sharing, we got the 1/2 lb burger and I was completely satisfied with just half. Afterward we headed to the theater for the movie portion of our date. I love science fiction, especially the kind that is really thought-provoking, and Interstellar is definitely that. It’s a bit long so I imagine if you’re not into that genre then it could be a bit much but for us, it just inspired an hour of conversation once the movie was over. 🙂

4. Turkey


A lot of you have probably been eating Thanksgiving leftovers the past few days and maybe you’re sick of turkey but I’m still going strong. Turkey was really hard to find in Japan and most apartments there don’t have ovens (just as ours didn’t) so even if we could have found a turkey, we couldn’t have prepared it. During our time there we did manage to find a place we could get a precooked turkey breast for Thanksgiving but it wasn’t cheap and it wasn’t as good as cooking a turkey ourselves. That’s why I was so happy that we had an oven this year to cook our own turkey! I enjoyed it for Thanksgiving dinner but what I really enjoy are the leftovers for turkey sandwiches. Sourdough bread, cheddar cheese, and turkey…yum! (And btw, our oven is a bit on the small side so that turkey isn’t quite as big as it looks…we didn’t go too crazy!)

5. Leftover Halloween candy


I had really expected a lot of trick-or-treating to happen in our neighborhood but apparently there are specific neighborhoods known for the best Halloween candy hauls so people drive to those instead of staying in their own neighborhoods. (At least, that’s what I was told the day after Halloween when I was wondering what to do with all the candy still sitting at home.) Since no one wanted the free candy, I decided that just meant I had lots of Halloween candy to last me the month of November. I like to have something sweet around the house so this definitely qualified and besides, I’d made sure we got candy that we liked in case any was left over. 😉

Now that I’m looking back at November, I’m thinking I just need to go live in the gym! The jeans are definitely feeling a little tighter than they did in October and there are several holiday parties in the next few weeks so gym time is going to be very important. Plus a little time on the treadmill will help me burn off some of that nervous energy that comes with finals. Final presentations for semester-long projects have already begun in some of my classes and exams are just a couple weeks away…time to get back to studying! Wish me luck!

Things I’m Loving – September 2014

It’s that time again! It’s time to look back and reflect on September. I’d say it was definitely a month of settling into my new role as a student. If it’s been a while since you’ve been a full-time student (and it had been for me!), then it takes some time to really get back into that mindset. But after a month of classes, spending lots of time at the library studying, and completing two midterms already, I’m definitely feeling like a legitimate student. ^_~ Here are a few of the things this student has been loving in September!

1. The Hamilton Library


The Hamilton Library at the University of Hawaii has become like a second home for me. Just about every day I find a study carrel in a quiet corner and spend a few hours studying there. And really, what better place to spend your time studying than surrounded by books, right? I was spending so much time in the library that I even applied for and received a graduate student locker! That is quite useful since it means I don’t have to lug every book back and forth between campus and home every day. Now if I can just remember to take a warm jacket to store there since they keep it so cold!

2. The Warrior Recreation Center

The brand new fitness center on campus is fantastic! The machines are all shiny and new and so much more high-tech than machines I’ve used in other fitness centers. And since it’s conveniently located right in the middle of campus, I can get a quick workout every day before heading home. If I’m not taking one of the free fitness classes they offer, I usually hop on one of the high-tech treadmills. Each has it’s own touch screen so you can watch TV or select a coaching program to guide you through your workout. It’s so nice that it just keeps me coming back!

3. Bento lunch breaks

Since my husband and I both spend a lot of time on campus, we try to meet each day between classes and studying to grab lunch together. As grad students, packing lunch is definitely the economical option and I’ve had a lot of fun making bentos this past month for us to enjoy (like a salmon and rice bento and a chicken and veggie bento). It gives us a nice break to relax during our busy days and enjoy each other’s company. ^_^

4. Sunny Beadz bracelet

This bracelet has carved wooden beads interspersed with beads that change color when they encounter ultraviolet light. You can see that inside the beads are all white (between the brown wooden beads), but then as soon as you step into the sun they start changing color to alert you that UV rays are reaching you. I’ve noticed that under a shade tree, you can barely see a little color but out in direct sunlight, they can get very bright.

5. Dark chocolate covered pomegranate candies


I know you were waiting for the dessert portion of this list and I won’t let you down! ^_~ I’d seen these dark chocolate covered pomegranate candies in the grocery store but they were really expensive for just a small bag. So when I saw a huge bag in Sam’s Club for the same price as a small bag in the grocery store, I had to buy them. It was a bit of a gamble since I wasn’t sure I’d like them, but I love them so it paid off! I’ve been keeping the bag in the fridge since it’s been so hot here and I love how it makes the fruit center chewy. Add dark chocolate and you have a winner! They’re so flavorful that just a few satisfy my dessert craving so I feel like it’s a low-guilt treat (especially since I’m hitting the gym regularly!) and that is always a plus.

That sums up a few of my favorite items from September. What will October bring? I can’t wait to find out! ^_^

Things I’m Loving – August 2014

This past month has been so very busy. At the end of July we’d pretty much just arrived in Hawaii and were staying with a friend while we looked for an apartment. Now that it’s the end of August, I’m happy to say we are settled into our very own apartment and starting to get into our new routines. The past few weeks have been packed full of buying furniture, moving things out of storage, and then of course the dreaded unpacking. I cannot believe it but I still have one box to unpack! >_< There were also two hurricanes that threatened the islands and threw us into “secure everything” mode and really delayed our settling into the new apartment. Thankfully the hurricanes turned and didn’t affect our area though they did do damage on the Big Island to the east of us. Now that things seem to be settling down, it’s time to share some of the things I’ve been loving this past month!

1. Friends



Okay, so this could really be on the list every month but it has just been so great to see our Hawaii friends again. We had a lot of fun with friends in Japan of course and I do miss them but we’ve been having a lot of fun catching up with friends we haven’t seen for so long. (And I am trying to convince friends in Japan to come visit us in Hawaii. ^_~) Our change in time zones has also meant it’s been easier to find convenient times to talk to friends and family elsewhere in the US. That’s definitely a plus! And remember how I mentioned we stayed with a friend until we found an apartment? This was the view from our temporary home! (In case you are wondering…no, our own apartment has no such view.)

2. Wind maps


One of my friends showed me a website where you can see current (within a few hours I think) wind patterns for the entire world. You can get a wide view of the earth or zoom in for a closer look at your own location. The photo is a screenshot of the wind patterns here in Hawaii after hurricane Iselle had already passed and we were waiting to see which way hurricane Julio turned. See those little dots to the left of the hurricane at the center of the picture? Yep, that’s Hawaii. I found this absolutely mesmerizing to watch!

3. Hiking


You might have noticed from the many posts I’ve done on visits to parks that I really enjoy surrounding myself with nature. One of the things I’ve really been enjoying this past month is that I have only a short drive to so many great hikes. And unlike the manicured parks I mostly visited in Japan, these are hikes through wild rainforest. There is just something about being surrounded by nature and getting away from the sound of civilization that is so relaxing and energizing to me. I love it!

4. University of Hawaii campus


That’s right. I’m a student once again! Classes have just begun but I spent some time on campus even before classes started just to take care of some admin items and reacquaint myself with where everything is. The campus is really beautiful with many tropical plants and a Japanese garden, too. They even have a map of various spots with botanical points of interest so you can take your own walking tour. I have a feeling I’m going to get to know the campus really well by the end of the semester.

5. Dark chocolate covered macadamia nuts


I have such a weakness for these! As soon as we went grocery shopping, I was hunting these out to add to our shopping basket. They come in several different varieties but the dark chocolate is my favorite by far. It’s dark chocolate and macadamia nuts. What’s not to love about that?! The only danger is that once I’ve opened the bag, I don’t want to stop. It’s a serious exercise in will power.

So that is my update for now. I’m going to seriously carve out chunks of blog time in my calendar so I don’t come back at the end of September only to discover I’ve barely posted anything. I still have a lot of things from Japan I want to share and I’m already thinking of lots of good stuff from my adventures here in Hawaii that I’ll be sharing, too. Look out September, here I come!

Orange Peel Flavored Kit Kat

Orange Peel Flavored Kit Kat

Orange Peel Flavored Kit Kat

Do you ever have those nights when you just cannot end the day without some dessert? I do on occasion and usually chocolate is the only thing that will satisfy the craving and allow me to go to sleep feeling the day has been complete. On one such night as I was scrounging around in the kitchen and about to give up on finding anything, I found something I’d bought a few weeks ago with a friend and then completely forgotten about: orange peel flavored Kit Kats! (more…)

Kyoto Souvenir Sweets: Yatsuhashi




Bringing back omiyage (おみやげ, “souvenirs”) from a trip or special event to share with coworkers is not just a fun idea but a social obligation here in Japan. So before we headed back from our Kyoto and Nara trip, we shopped around Kyoto Station for some treats to bring back. Perhaps because space is so limited here in Japan, omiyage tends to be something edible so it can be enjoyed but doesn’t stick around taking up space. There were plenty of prettily wrapped boxes of treats to choose from but I knew exactly what I wanted: yatsuhashi. (more…)