I realized as I began to make my list for March that I never posted my list for February. The past few weeks have been incredibly busy…I think I say this all the time but it’s been busy in an entirely different way than usual: baby time! Our little bundle of joy arrived and while it’s been just as exhausting as I was warned, it’s also been more incredible than I could have ever imagined! ❤ We’re all doing well and I can’t believe how quickly the time is flying by. So, let’s get to the list before it gets any later! (more…)
February was quite a busy month. So busy that when I went to write this post, I discovered I hadn’t ever finished my January Things I’m Loving post! I knew I’d worked on it but I forgot that I still needed to add photos and hit Publish. >_< Oh well. It’s done now. The one good thing about it I suppose is that it further supports my decision to cut back on my commitments. I’ve just had too much going on and was beginning to feel rather run down. I did reduce my hours on one project so hopefully I’ll feel like I have a little breathing room for a change. Considering this post isn’t a month late, maybe it’s already working! ^_~ (more…)
Another month has flown by in 2014 and that means it’s time once again to think back and reflect on my experiences over the past month. I had an absolute blast on my short visit to Hokkaido, which was probably pretty obvious from the numerous Sapporo Snow Festival photos and day-by-day posts over the trip (Day 1, Day 2, Day 3). I also enjoyed celebrating the Japanese Setsubun holiday by casting demons out with soybeans (seriously, best excuse to throw food!) and celebrating Valentine’s Day in true Japanese style with homemade chocolates for my husband. Here are a few of the other things I’ve been loving in February.
1. Lunar New Year decorations
It’s the Year of the Horse! Yay! I’ve been horse crazy since…well, for as long as I can remember. This has given me the perfect excuse to collect a couple more horse-related decorations. The tenugui (towel) reads 馬九行く (uma ku iku), which means “9 horses going,” but is also a pun for umaku iku, or “go well.”
At the end of January, we’d had no snow and I was really feeling a bit let down by winter. If it’s going to be cold, there should be snow! That was one big reason for our trip to the Sapporo Snow Festival. The funny thing was that the day after we got back to Tokyo, a snowstorm hit that gave us plenty of snow and shut down the airport (whew, just made it!) and some trains. I think 27 centimeters was recorded, the most snow Tokyo had gotten in the last 45 years. Then we got another 26 centimeters the following week. I certainly got my snow! And yes, I am one of those people who gleefully wades and hops through the snow like a little kid. I dragged my husband out after every snowstorm and found that some of the local kids were having their own little snow festival with snowmen in all shapes and sizes, Hello Kitty versions, too!
3. Hot vending machine drinks
With all the time I’ve spent out walking in the cold this month, I’ve come to appreciate the hot drinks from vending machines so much! You can find vending machines just about everywhere in Japan so anytime I was out and feeling chilled, I grabbed a hot drink and—voilà—instant hand warmer! My favorites are the hot chocolate (of course) and the milk tea. The only negative is that hot chocolate usually comes in a metal can and since it’s hot, well, you’re holding a hot piece of metal! I don’t think they are so hot they could burn you but they are sometimes uncomfortable to hold if you’re not wearing gloves. So remember the gloves!
4. Uchi Cafe chocolate cake with whipped cream
These small chocolate cakes are available at the Lawson convenience store right by my apartment. They come with a little pastry bag filled with whipped cream so you can add as much or as little as you like. These are filled with chocolate deliciousness and I cannot get enough of them! But in the interest of health and weight maintenance, I do limit myself. Luckily for me, they’re so small that I can get away with the roughly 200 calorie indulgence every now and then. It’s certainly incentive to go exercise every day! (I couldn’t seem to get a picture before devouring the entire thing so all cake photos are from this source.)
5. Signs of spring
Yes, I know that snow was earlier on my list but I think I’m finally to the point where I’ve had enough cold weather and I’m ready for spring. Even though there is still snow on the ground, the plum tree blossoms seem to promise warmer weather to come. I love how beautiful and fragrant the blossoms are!
6. Coursera course: Moralities of Everyday Life
Moralities of Everyday Life is a MOOC (massively open online course) offered through Coursera and taught by Paul Bloom from Yale University. For the past few weeks I’ve been watching the lectures and reading the suggested articles all simply because I found the subject interesting. I still have a few video lectures to watch before I’m done with the course but I have found it absolutely fascinating. The course seeks to explore morality from a modern science perspective, focusing on many questions on moral belief and moral action. It also covers research conducted in lab settings looking at how children view moral problems and at what age various aspects of morality are developed. I found the differences in perspective that vary between and within cultures to be especially interesting. If you find the differences of opinion on morality and perspective fascinating, and if the course is offered again, I would highly recommend it.
I guess it’s time to say goodbye to February and hello to March. Hopefully I’ll have plenty of wonderful things to share over the next month!