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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

 

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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!

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Exploring Ishigaki Island’s Kabira Bay

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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…)

Things I’m Loving – May 2014

 

What?! It’s already the end of May?! Maybe that explains why I’ve been thinking the days are starting to get a little bit hot over here. It also means it’s time to take a moment to reflect on the past few weeks. The weather in May has been beautiful overall. I love the warm days with gentle, cool breezes that are perfect for picnics, walks through the park and taking a boat out on the lake. And I’ve really enjoyed matsuri festivities of parades, dances and food. Here are some of the other things I’ve been loving in May.

1. Blue skies and sunshine

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Longer days means more sunshine! Sometimes it really feels like the sun is giving me an extra boost of energy on beautiful, sunny days. I feel energetic and motivated to tackle just about anything. But don’t get me wrong, it’s not all ambitiously attacking the day. One of the best things for me is just lying in the shade and admiring the blue, blue sky.

2. Geeked Out Fitness T-shirt

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The friend who visited me last month also brought me some awesome gifts, including this t-shirt from Geeked Out Fitness. The first time I wore it for a run, I loved it! It’s so incredibly comfortable and if I start to feel tired before a workout is finished, the Make It So line inspires me to keep working to create the body I want. To quote their website, the modern fit geek’s mission is “to boldly take her fitness levels where they have never gone before.” What’s not to love about that?!

3. Orphan Black

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This has definitely been my TV addiction of the month. Tatiana Maslany does an excellent job playing several identical women who have completely different personalities. It’s not just the clothing and hairstyles that allow you to tell them apart but the mannerisms, accents and attitude she gives each one. I love when I find a great science fiction series like this one!

4. 2048 game

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Okay, I’ve shared my latest TV addiction so I’ll also share that my latest game addiction is 2048. It’s a single-player game that involves sliding numbered tiles on a 4×4 grid to combine them with the goal of creating a 2048 tile. The first time I played this I was hooked. Now I only play if I know I have time to kill because it really sucks me in!

5. Country Ma’am chocolate cookies

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You knew there had to be chocolate somewhere in here, right? These Fujiya Country Ma’am chocolate chip cookies are my latest go-to treat. They are small enough that I can have one or two a day to fulfill my chocolate craving without breaking the calorie bank. And each cookie is individually wrapped so they stay fresh until you’re ready to indulge in some chocolatey deliciousness. So good!

May has been another great month and I’m really just enjoying my time here in Japan. My husband and I will be moving back to the US this summer so I really want to soak up every moment I can. I have lots of plans for June so stay tuned! ^_^

Showa Kinen Park (Almost) All To Myself

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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…)

Flower Festival at Showa Kinen Park

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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. ^_~

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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!

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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.

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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!