Sunday, January 30, 2011

Simple Pleasures

After getting my hair done and meeting MG, like I talked about in my last post, I was having such a nice day I decided to just keep it going. I went to the commissary to get my favorite brown rice veggie (non) sushi roll for lunch and saw something that I haven't seen in a long time. Raspberries. While I was waiting for my roll to be made up I stood over the berries and picked them up one by one, studying them and trying to figure out if they would be worth the $5 for a tiny carton. At first I put them down and said "oh if Brad were home I would." But, then I thought, why not, I'm going to splurge. I bought those $5 berries. I haven't had a fresh raspberry since we've come here... so, for like a year. In the states I would have only bought organic, but at this point I didn't even care. I ate every. Last. One. of those glorious berries one by one. In one sitting.

After buying my sushi and berries I made a stop on the way home at the flower shop. I hadn't bought flowers in a while, and since I was treating myself to a nice day I decided to buy myself flowers. Oh how my heart sings inside this tiny flower shop. I gaze moon eyed at the buckets overflowing with fresh, colorful flowers. The flowers are always very well priced, but yesterday I got an extra special deal: Y30 for a gerber daisy. Only. I bought 8 of them, all different colors. Brad gave them to me when we got engaged and now that's what they remind me of. I also bought my usual 3 sunflowers and some pretty yellow and pink astros that always seem to last forever. All for about $12. Oh, happy day.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


This weekend Montgomery Gentry came to Okinawa and the USO put on two free concerts at Kadena and Foster as well as did Meet and Greets and gave out free autographs. I'm not a huge country fan, but my friends were going and it's unusual for a big name group to come to Okinawa, so I decided to brave the rain and join the cowboy boot, camo hat wearing Southern rednecks and hillbillies (kidding - kind of) that have been transplanted to Okinawa and go to the concert. They had the concert in a hangar on Kadena, so at least we were able to get in out of the rain. I was very surprised at how many songs I knew or recognized! They put on a fantastic show for us. The air was thick with the smell of rain and alcohol permeating from extremely intoxicated flannel and huge belt buckle wearing concert goers, but we had a blast. Watching the joyous faces of the Marines and Airmen around me sing along to the songs and bop to the music made me so happy. Montgomery Gentry thanked the service members in a very special way by performing and providing this USO tour.

Today I got my hair done and ran over to the Exchange to pick up a few things. It turned out they were doing a Meet and Greet there and I ran into my friend who was there to meet them. I waited in line with her and then (even though I still had wet hair from getting my hair done and was totally not prepared to meet them or have my photo taken) I got to take my picture with them and got their autographs. Not something I ever thought I'd do, but when the opportunity arises, why not. And also, last night at dinner after the show a guitarist and a member of the sound crew were there and we thanked them for the concert. They were super nice guys!

Can't Get Enough

Last night I gave Gojou a mealworm treat for the first time. Hedgies love mealworms, so I knew he'd be really excited. Since he's never had one before he wasn't interested right away, but once he figured out what it was he loved them. I gave them to him again tonight and he was really excited! As a side note, mealworms are super disgusting and it shows how much I adore my hedgie since I allow these things into my house. Bleh.

Here are some new pictures of my hedgie lovey. He is 3+ months old now. One of my favorite things he does, other than roll up into a ball, is yawn! His yawns are adorable (bottom right picture). I need to get a good one on video sometime. Obsessed.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Big Red

“Do you give the horse his strength or clothe his neck with a flowing mane? Do you make him leap like a locust, striking terror with his proud snorting? He paws fiercely, rejoicing in his strength, and charges into the fray. He laughs at fear, afraid of nothing; he does not shy away from the sword. The quiver rattles against his side, along with the the flashing spear and lance. In frenzied excitement he eats up the ground; he cannot stand still when the trumpet sounds.” – book of Job, quote at the beginning of Secretariat

Tonight it was so cold out while I was teaching lessons I decided to treat myself to a takeout bowl of soba. And on the way home I ran into the Shopette for something real quick and happened to see that Secretariat was out on blueray! Yessssss. Love. I loved this movie in the theatre and have been waiting for it to come out. This movie gives me goose bumps. My night just improved dramatically! Takeout, Secretariat and snuggling my lil hedgie lovey. Life is good. Life is amazing with horses. So lucky!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Everyday Favorites

Do you all have those special products you just couldn't or wouldn't want to get through the day without? I sure do. These are a few of my favorite, love to use and use often products.

As you probably know, or can tell, I have long, bleach blonde hair and with that comes all kinds of unwanted problems. I have high maintenance hair. It needs to be colored every 6 or 7 weeks and that process can leave my long locks totally fried, and it can also cause weak strands to break off. Not so pretty. I have found this conditioner to be my best friend to get my hair full of moisture again. It isn't fancy or expensive, but I love it and leave it on for a good long time in the shower before I rinse it out and it usually does the trick. Sometimes I use a normal conditioner, let that sit, rinse, then glob this on for a long time and rinse. Like I said, high maintenance. Try this conditioner if you have dry, chemically treated hair dying for moisture like mine.

I'm getting older, I can feel it and I sure can tell that my skin isn't what it used to be. I combat this with the Olay line. I love these products and have a shameful lot of them. I started using Olay because it's what my mom uses. And mommy knows best. And she's beautiful. I love the "fights 7 signs of aging" face washes, body washes, face wipes and moisturizers. I use the moisturizer with sunscreen every day. The Regenerist line is wonderful. I am a huge fan. I have the night cream, lip treatment, and eye cream. Love.

Something else my mommy gave me awhile ago was this Burt's Bees body butter. *Sigh* I love this stuff. I love the way it smells. I love that it only has good, healthy for my skin things in it and it leaves my skin so soft. I have a ton of Burt's Bees products. I have their shampoos and conditioners, foot and hand creams, I love the Radiance Body Lotion because it has sparkles in it, I am addicted to their lip balms and chap sticks, and I even have their sunscreen. Maybe I should buy stock in Burt's Bees, I sure buy a lot of it!

What are some of your favorites?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Oranges and Cherry Blossoms

This past weekend a girlfriend and I set off for an adventure up North on the island. We were on a search for a place to go orange picking and were hoping to spy some early blooming cherry blossoms too.

We got to 85, the road that promised orange picking, but we couldn't find the right place. We stopped at 3 orange stands to ask directions (pointing to oranges, miming picking out of a tree) and finally drove down far enough on the road to find the correct orange stand.
The correct stand:

With some more miming and some more pointing and joys of the language barrier (oh how I miss my husbands language skills at times like these!) we understood that we were to drive in our car and follow the farmer up to his land where we could pick the oranges. He took us back, winding up the country side, and down picturesque roads until we arrived at a secluded orange grove. The farmer asked for Y250 to use his land, handed us a bag and let us pick whatever we wanted. We paid a few hundred yen per kilo at the end for however much we wanted to take home.

It was so quiet up there and the air was sweet with the smell of the oranges. It was so much fun and I really enjoyed wandering down the lanes in the orange grove, carefully picking the oranges I wanted, soaking up the sunshine and breathing in the fresh air. And there was even a cherry blossom tree blooming in the orange grove.

We finished with the oranges and decided to find Nakijin-jo (Nakijin Castle Remains) because it is a fabulous place to see the cherry blossoms. We drove along streets lined in cherry trees that were covered in buds and just ready to burst any moment, but we were a bit early to see most of the trees blooming. But there were some! We got to the castle and it was packed with people who had the same idea as us.

Next weekend is the Cherry Blossom Festival and the castle grounds were being prepared for the event. The all the cherry trees had lights under them for night illumination and little pink lights lined the walkways. This was my favorite castle site I've been to. The castle has a fabulous view of the ocean and cherry trees galore.

It was a wonderful, perfect day... that is until our drive home. Before getting on the expressway to come home I noticed a light on the dashboard of my friends car had come on. We stopped to look under the hood to see if anything was amiss, but we didn't see anything. We kept driving, but slowly more and more lights started to come on and it was clear we were not going to make it home. My poor friends car completely broke down on the expressway! While we waited for the tow truck her good friend came to rescue us (both of our husbands are away), took one look under the hood and he saw the problem. The belt was completely shredded, in strips and no longer attached to the car. Just another Okinawa adventure!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Cello Rock

I must share with you one of my favorite things. A year ago while on the way up from NC to my parents house in VA for Christmas Brad popped a CD into the player saying "I don't think you will like this." He explained that this band did a song with Three Days Grace which is why he bought the CD. I listened, I fell in love. Yes, Brad was right, it's not something I would usually like. It was Apocalyptica, a rock cello band. This band from Finland is classically trained on the cello. At first hearing them I had no idea it was only 3 or 4 cellos and drums in most songs. It sounded like violins, guitars... way more than 3 cellos. Most of the songs are instrumental, but so full of singing cellos I don't miss the words at all. They have done songs with guest singers such as the singers from Bush, Bullet for my Valentine, and Flyleaf to name a few. They started out making Metallica covers, but now have 7 Apocalyptica studio CDs, go on world tours and continue to make amazing music. Their most recent CD came out Aug 2010 and is called 7th Symphony. I'm a big fan of their music. I would love to see these guys play live.

Sometimes their songs are rather heavy on the metal side, but more often than not they are sweet, complex, quick paced and interesting. The songs are always original, unique and different. Perfect. I don't know how these guys write this music, it is so complex.

This is one of my favorites from the new album, I only wish it was longer.

I really have so many favorite songs, too many to put on here. I secretly really want to do a dressage freestyle (dancing with the horse to music) to one of their instrumentals sometime.

Monday, January 17, 2011

You have to start somewhere

These videos were taken yesterday while I was schooling Makoto. Sticking true to my goals this year we're already working hard! I shed 3 layers - my jacket, sweater and vest from warm up until the end of our ride. I think he shows a lot of promise, but also needs a lot of consistent and patient work. And I see from the video I do as well. Videos are the best mirrors sometimes! So here is our progress at the beginning of this year. I think it will be fun to see the progression every so often throughout the year.

I think Makoto is such a pretty horse, even if his head IS really small. I think there must be Arab in there somewhere. I have no idea what his breed or mix is. I do know that he was once a race horse in mainland Japan.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

2011 Goals

We may be half way through January already, but I've been taking my time thinking about goals for the upcoming year. I'm not big on resolutions usually, but this year will pose some new challenges and I feel like it will be good to go into it with new things to work towards and look forward to.

So here they are:

Throw out less food - I am constantly throwing out leftovers and food I buy that we don't end up eating. Most recipes are made for at least 4 people and make a huge amount. I'm lazy and usually don't want to have to figure out what half of all the measurements are. But, this year I'm going to make a much bigger effort to make sure we eat the food we pay for.
Travel to at least 1 new country - last year I got to travel a bunch around Japan, to Korea twice and Australia. This year I hopehopehope we can get over to China.

Visit family - We're almost at our 1 year mark of living in Japan and I haven't been back home yet. This year I plan on getting home at least once, maybe even twice if I'm lucky.

Ride Makoto at a solid 2nd level in dressage - I feel like this is a very attainable goal for how he's been schooling lately, on his good days. I am super excited to see how he progresses. Progress will be slower since he's a school horse and I'm often having to go back and re-train, but I think we can do it. At least it gives me something to work hard at and push for.

And just since I know I should I'm going to add:

Make a better effort to learn Japanese - There is really no excuse.

And, become more involved with the finances. I seriously have zero interest. Brad does a fantastic job of managing the money and even checking the accounts every day. But, I know it's important and I need to at least have a small clue how to deposit a check online ... or even sign in online that is. I didn't even know the pin number for my ATM card for the entire first year of our marriage. Yeah, I hardly ever needed cash, but come on, that's really bad. This year we will be starting a new retirement fund and getting better prepared for the future and I know I need to be involved and informed about options and at least know what's going on.

Sure, I'm still going to make sure I exercises and eat right, but since that's always been ongoing I'm going to leave it off the list. I hope that the list is short enough that I'll actually do the things on it!

I'm off to the barn this morning for lessons and what I hope will be a productive ride even though it is crazy windy out there. Stay tuned for winter riding pictures soon!

Friday, January 14, 2011

It's just water. Or is it?

Something my husband always gets on me about is my taste for expensive water. In my first job I dealt with polluted/contaminated aquifers and ground water, and was totally put off from drinking from the tap. Lots of people claim that bottled water is the same thing as what's in the tap... really I have no idea if it is or isn't. But, it tastes better. And I like drinking it more. So, to me it's better. And when I'm not splurging on "fancy" water we have a pitcher to filter the tap water.

Here are my current big time favorite water indulgences:

Smartwater - Doesn't this picture just make you want to work out? I lovelovelove this water. It has electrolytes in it too.

My other (non workout water) favorite is Lime Perrier. I love bubbles, I love that it's calorie free and I love this lime flavor. And I like drinking it out of a big wine glass.

It may be silly, but I don't drink soda and I hardly ever splurge on a store bought latte, so why shouldn't I have this? Everyone is always saying how good it is to drink lots of water, so I'm helping my health, staying hydrated and enjoying every sip.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Hedgie Love

Its come to a time once again when my husband is away and once I'm home from work in the evenings I allow myself my guilty pleasures of eating cereal for dinner, reading in bed with the light on until the early hours of the morning and spending a huge amount of time with Gojou. Gojou will be 3 months next week. I just read online last night that hedgehogs are lactose intolerant... so why did the pet store people give me milk to feed him? Well, I guess since he was a baby, but he has been having digestive issues and has been rather grumpy, so this would explain why. He loves the milk and I know he'll miss it, but no more milk for hedgie.

He has grown so much. I miss him being a teeny tiny lil baby, but it's also fun to watch him grow.

The cutest thing I think he does is when he yawns (haven't gotten a picture of it yet) and when he lets me put him on his back (which usually doesn't last long). I love his soft little belly!

And just in case you want to see him in action:

He really is my little Joy!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Sydney Beaches

While in Sydney we got pretty darn lucky with some awesome weather. Nice enough to enjoy soaking up the sun and relaxing at the beach. We went to Manly Beach, Bronte Beach and the famous Bondi Beach.

Manly Beach:

We spent Christmas Day on Bronte and Bondi Beach with the masses who flock to the beach on Christmas Day wearing Santa suits, reindeer antlers and even bring their Christmas trees down to the sand with them. We even braved the cold water and crazy waves and went for a swim... I mean we were in Australia we HAD to! Or so I was telling Brad. When it came time to go all the way in I was chickening out so Brad literally picked me up and threw me in. Caught me by complete surprise. So we had a very nontraditional Christmas Day, but loved every minute of it.


We had planned to easily hop on a bus directly out to Bondi Beach, but we did not expect all of Sydney to also have this idea. We stood at the bus stop for over an hour as bus after bus went by us, not even stopping because the bus was already full of Bondi beach bound Christmas-ers. I was loosing patience fast and we were about to take a very expensive cab ride out there when a nice Australian man told us another way to get there via Bronte Beach. This ended up being awesome advice. We hopped on the bus we thought (and hoped) would take us to Bronte and it eventually did. This beach was beautiful! We needed some down time before trying to continue on to Bondi, so we picked out a spot on the sand and stayed awhile.

We asked the nice Australian at the lunch cart how to get to Bondi and she told us to follow the cliffs and we'd get there in about a half an hour. We joined the rest of the walkers up on the beautiful path on the side of the cliffs and had the most amazingly beautiful walk ever. We every turn we had a view more beautiful than the last and another little beautiful beach came into view.
Eventually we came to Bondi and there was no mistaking it. This beach was very big compared to the others ... and it was packed! Really something to see. The surfers were out, the sand was packed with people in their crazy Christmas outfits and the grass behind the beach was full of families and friends having picnics and bar-b-q's. Such a fun and strange combination of Christmas celebration and college beach week. Again, we found a spot on the sand (a bit harder this time) and then went for a long stroll down the beach to just take it all in. It was totally sensory overload and lots of fun people watching. Even with all the Santa hats I still kept having to tell myself "It's Christmas. This is Christmas." It totally did not feel like Christmas Day! But, it was a total blast and an amazing new experience.

Needless to say Sydney's beaches were unlike any beach I've been to before and I feel so very lucky that we had this opportunity. Someday I still hope to get to do the Great Barrier Reef. Someday I hope to go back. Australia, you've totally impressed me and I do quite think I'm in love. I liked Australia HEAPS! Heaps, meaning a lot or a great deal, is my favorite Australian term, and they have quite a few fun ones.

I think I'll make this my last Sydney post. I could easily do many more posts on the food we ate (Brad ate and liked Kangaroo), all the flowers that were blooming, and the countless other cool things we did and saw - we saw Tron in 3D on the "worlds largest IMAX" and spied on the city below from the Sydney Tower AND had a lot of fun passing through Korea on the way there and back. But, I hope you enjoyed getting to see and hear a little bit about our amazing trip. We did a great deal more than I've posted on here and in prior posts, so if you have any questions or need suggestions let me know. I hope you all get to experience Australia some day, it is worth the trip!