flowers and trees

Things I’m Loving – June 2015

I have been relaxing so much this summer that it’s just slipping by me so quickly! I’ve really been in that mode where I forget what day of the week it is and when I actually go to schedule a meeting with someone, I realize it’s already half way through July and wasn’t it just June?? Yeah…time to post that list of things I was especially enjoying in June! (more…)

Things I’m Loving – April 2015

As I was reviewing my Things I’m Loving list for May, I discovered I never posted my April list! I guess it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise because April felt like a string of deadlines held together with days of increasing stress, moments of thinking I was about to have a lull in my schedule to relax, and realization that there was yet another extra project/reading/paper thrown at us. April was definitely not my best month but I was able to pick out a few things that made it a little less stressful.

1. Spring flowers!

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April was full of both spring showers and spring flowers. Walking between classes, it was always nice to just breathe in the fragrance and take a moment to concentrate on something outside the stress of school work. And it brought back memories of relaxing walks through Showa Kinen Park to view the Flower Festival there last year. It makes me want to go back right now!

2. Study groups

When studying up for finals, I’ve found that study groups can be a huge help. If there was a concept I was trying to figure out, sometimes hearing someone else’s perspective would help things click. And I found that explaining concepts to others was helpful not just to them but also to me as it helped me solidify my understanding since I had to be very clear in my explanation. A win for everyone!

3. TheBus

Yes, that is the name of the public transportation system here in Honolulu. 😉 You might be thinking this is a strange thing to include on my list, especially if you’re familiar with public transit in the US. When people think of public transit here I’m guessing the first thing that comes to mind for most are the hassles of buses not showing on time (or at all), standing out in the rain waiting, etc. Usually I walk to campus and work just for the exercise but during April when my schedule was so tight, that extra time for sleep was much appreciated. And really I never encountered any problems with the system here. I would simply check on my phone to see when the next bus would arrive and head out to the nearest stop. Of course traffic can always make the timing a little off but the buses I rode were all carrying a tracker so I could simply check my phone for an updated ETA at any time. Convenient!

4. The Blacklist


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Granted, I didn’t have a lot of time for watching TV as finals approached, but I did try to keep up with some of my favorites, including The Blacklist. This series starts out with one of the FBI’s most wanted criminals, Raymond Reddington (played by James Spader), turning himself in. He offers to share with them information on other criminals they don’t even know about but will only talk to Elizabeth Keen (played by Megan Boone), an FBI profiler brand new to the job. The show is in it’s 3rd season now and the mysteries surrounding Reddington and Keen are still being slowly untangled. It’s a fantastic series and I think Spader steals the show. I would definitely recommend this!

5. Pepperidge Farm Double Chocolate Nantucket cookies


These made a regular appearance on my shopping list, so much so that if my husband was stopping at the store and asked if I wanted anything, he’d say, “I know, cookies. Anything else?” And no, cookies weren’t making up my entire diet. I simply trusted him to come up with the rest of the meal plan and I focused on the dessert. 😉 Each cookie is packed with dark chocolate chunks and you know how I feel about dark chocolate. With or without milk, these are just so good!

So that’s my list for April. It was a very hectic month and I think I allowed myself to get much more stressed than I would like to admit. But these items helped make the month a bit more pleasant and May has been quite different as you’ll soon see with my May list. Stay tuned!

Showa Kinen Park in Autumn

It’s hard to believe that it’s already the end of November! Living in Hawaii, seasons just kind of blend together and sometimes it doesn’t really feel like time is passing. (Then I check to see how long it’s been since my last blog post and I’m shocked!) I’ve been hearing about the beautiful autumn leaves (and now snow) from family and friends in Virginia so I’ve been feeling like I’m missing out on Fall. My solution: looking through my Fall photos from Japan! Last year we enjoyed a lot of time in Showa Kinen Park and the autumn leaves were simply gorgeous.

Lots of people visit the park during the peak season for the autumn colors. It’s a bit similar to the viewing of cherry blossoms in Spring except it doesn’t quite draw the same crowds (the cherry blossoms only last a few days so everyone is viewing them at one time) and you don’t have the picnics beneath the trees.


Still, we tried to go on weekdays when there were fewer people. There was an exhibit the park presented with images created from flower petals and twigs from trees. These must have taken a lot of time! The first image is from an anime named Gatchaman Crowds while the second is a scene with fireworks and autumn leaves.

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The entire park was filled with beautiful autumn leaves so we just enjoyed walking down the various paths and enjoying the beauty while enjoying a hot chocolate from a vending machine.

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We even found some flowers blooming!


The Japanese garden section had some of the most beautiful autumn scenery so we spent quite a bit of time there. There were some turtles enjoying the scenery and fading light as well!

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With that trip down memory lane, I’m feeling more in the spirit of the season! 🙂

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!

Exploring Ishigaki Island’s Kabira Bay


I know it’s been a while since the last post about my travels in Okinawa but I’ve just been super busy playing tour guide for our visitor. But I have not forgotten! I’m still working through all the photos but here are some from our first day at Ishigaki. We went to Kabira Bay, which is perhaps the most popular observation point for the island and understandably so. With its white sands and turquoise waters, it’s a beautiful spot for photography and just kicking back to enjoy the scenery.  (more…)

Showa Kinen Park (Almost) All To Myself


Yesterday I took a look outside at the clouds threatening rain and decided to take a chance (along with an umbrella) on a walk at Showa Kinen Park. The weather held and, probably because of the weather, I almost had the park to myself. That meant plenty of peace and quiet to enjoy all the May flowers!  (more…)

Things I’m Loving – April 2014


Here I am once again at the end of another month, looking back and thinking of all the things that I’ve enjoyed the past few weeks. It’s definitely been a beautiful month full of springtime flowers and sunny days. I’ve enjoyed the sakura season and a flower festival celebrating spring, as well as tasty holiday treats. Here are some of the other things that have made April a wonderful month. (more…)

Flower Festival at Showa Kinen Park


It really feels like spring here in Tokyo now with some days being sunny and warm and others being cool and rainy. After a long winter, it is such a relief to spend as many of those nice days outside as possible. Best of all, so many flowers and trees are blooming!

Picnic during a surprise festival 

My husband and I planned to go picnic at Showa Kinen Park last weekend simply to enjoy the nice weather. Little did we know, the flower festival had begun AND the entrance fee was waived for the day so it was just us and a few hundred of our closest friends. ^_~


Perhaps it is a few degrees cooler out here in the suburbs or perhaps the trees here are a slightly different variety but whatever the reason, the sakura peaked a little later here in Tachikawa and a few are still blooming! We managed to claim a spot for our little picnic tarp under one of the trees. Of course, as soon as we’d walked into the park the clouds rolled in (it’s April after all), but it was still fairly warm and we had food to eat!


We’d stopped at a convenience store on the way to the park and picked up prepared food. I’d gotten a reliable BLT sandwich for my lunch and then an umeshu (plum liqueur) soda drink to go along with it. I also picked up a “full course sandwich” pack for us to try. The appetizer sandwich was basically lettuce, shredded carrot, and mayo so kind of like a salad sandwich. The entree sandwich was roast beef, potato, and tomato. It tasted just fine but that’s a lot of carbs together! The dessert sandwich was actually my favorite and consisted of blueberry jam and cream cheese. What’s not to like?  Btw, I took this photo after I’d finished half my BLT sandwich and by then my husband had finished his entire bento which consisted of rice, sausage, potato, and maybe some hamburger with gravy. I am definitely a slow eater. He did still have some Sapporo beer left though. And in case you are wondering, yes, it is perfectly legal and normal to drink alcohol in public here in Japan.


And to finish up the meal we got some sakura ice cream which really tasted like pistachio to me. I have always hated the taste of the cone section but I did appreciate how this one was shaped like petals. Once we were done eating and relaxing, we decided it was just too crowded and getting a little too chilly to stay later so we decided to come back another day to see the flowers.

Flower festival at Showa Kinen Park

So glad we went back! We found a couple plum trees with multi-colored blossoms, which I’d never seen before this year. The large field at the center of the park now has a huge section of orange and yellow flowers blooming. And the best by far had to be the section of tulips. It is just so beautiful! There are so many different colors and shapes. I had no idea so many tulip varieties even existed. Here are some of my favorite shots:

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These were taken just a couple days ago but today is cold and rainy so it’s been refreshing going back through the photos. I can just pretend I’m back outside in the sun smelling the flowers. ^_^ I hope you enjoy them as well!