Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Mad Dash

We are officially on our way to our Japan Adventure!

We arrived at the Reno airport two hours early, got our baggage checked in and made it up to the gate. That's when the adventure began, due to bad weather our flight to LA was 3 hours late causing us to make a mad dash across LAX from the United terminal at one end to the International terminal at the other.

I felt like I was about to collapse by the time we got there, and we still had to go through security again. And of course we got behind the slowest lady possible. With 9 minutes left to find our gate we raced through the terminal and arrived just as they were about to close the doors. By some miracle of God we made it on our flight just in the nick of time.

Our baggage is not so lucky... It is supposed be sent over on another flight. Hopefully it will make it to Fukuoka at some point, we are just praying that it doesn't disappear.

After takeoff we were offered headphones, slippers, a pillow and blanket, and a hot washcloth for our face and hands. Then we were given a dinner menu with a choice of either a Korean or Western style meal.

I got the Korean meal which was a dish called Bi-Bim-Bap (Asian veggies and rice) kimchi, some kind if dish that consisted of tiny silver fishes, dried pollack soup and some fruit. It was surprisingly good and I even liked the fishes, although I don't care much for kimchi.

Brian's meal was beef tenderloin with mashed potatoes and veggies, a shrimp and penne pasta and chocolate cake. It was really yummy.

The was a loooong flight during which I slept most uncomfortably. But there were screens in the chair backs so we could watch movies or listen to music.

Now we are at the Korean airport which is really nice and there is hardly anyone in our terminal. I never thought I would be glad for a 4 hour layover but after such a long flight it is heaven to stretch my legs for a while.

YouTube Video

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Keep in touch

We've been trying to figure out the best way to keep in touch with everyone. My husband and I both have iPhones that we love, but the prospect of crazy roaming charges is not appealing. Honestly though, I would have a really hard time without my phone. There are quite a few offline things I use it for like music, audio books, flashcards and my Japanese dictionary so I would have brought it anyway.

But thanks to my father-in-law who gave us a Magic Jack, I'm pretty sure our problem is solved. We are able to keep our phones on airplane mode (basically turns off all the phone and media functions on the phone network) and activate just the wifi function. We might not always be on wifi, but I know we will have access to it at least some of the time.

With the Magic Jack App and wifi we are able to call and receive calls just as if we were using a local Nevada (or wherever you register it to) phone. Also we are able to set our phones to forward all our calls to the new number so people can still use our cell numbers without us getting charged or having to give out a new number.

We have yet to test the quality of the connection, but I have high hopes since it sounds better than our cell service when we are at home.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Today is my last day of work until I get back from my trip. I have plenty of time to finish my last minute cleaning and packing over the weekend, since everything is mostly taken care of. I am going to try not to fret this weekend and just take everything in stride. I'd like to go to church one more time, I think that will help with my nerves.

I don't think the reality of what I'm doing has really sunk in yet. I've always daydreamed about traveling and such but never experienced it first hand. I can read about and talk to people about the experience all day long, but until I do it myself I don't think I will really understand what it is like. I don't think it will be real until I get off the plane. People keep asking me if I'm excited, and the answer is yes. Or people will ask me if I am nervous and that answer is also yes. But, no matter what I am determined to have a positive attitude because this is really fantastic.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Dreaming of blossoms

One of my deepest desires in life is to see the cherry blossoms bloom (sakura in Japanese) in Japan. I'm not sure when I developed such a love for the pretty pink blossoms but I experience a great deal of joy whenever I see them blooming.

I am buzzing with excitement at the prospect of 花見 (hanami) flower viewing when I will be surrounded by thousands of sakura in bloom. The sakura season is in about a week or two which corresponds with my arrival in Japan. I really hope that the timing works out and that I will be able to schedule a viewing with my new friends.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Money Money Money

We got some Japanese currency to carry with us to Japan. Since they rarely use credit or debit cards we decided to carry a decent amount of cash. Our homestay and program fees are already paid but we still have to pay for transportation from the airport and our hotel the first night, then bus fare from Fukuoka to Nagasaki, not to mention any food or extras we need.

So we ordered some Japanese Yen through the bank, about $600 worth all together. I was really excited when we got it because Japanese money is so pretty. We got large bills and small bills, so it is almost like having 100s, 50s, 20s and 10s only they have a lot more zeroes.

I know I'm going to have trouble getting the hang of using new currency. I'm hoping my husband will pick it up quickly, he's much better at math then I am.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Rearin' to go

With 10 days to go before I depart for Nagasaki, all that is left are the small last minute preparations. Cleaning the house, canceling subscriptions to services we won't be using, and deciding what we can't live without for 4 months.

I've updated my appearance, after working so hard to loose weight (10lbs and 2 inches from my middle) and with a chance to renew myself I'm sporting a new haircut and glasses as well as a new style of makeup.

I've had my clothes packed for a while now, but I pulled them all out went through them again and repacked them. I've decided this was a good opportunity to revamp my wardrobe as well. I packed only things that I can layer or mix and match so I'll have quite a few combinations to choose from. I invested in several retro style summer dresses (A-line or wrap style) that are pretty and flattering. These can be layered with the leggings, cardigans and neutral T-shirts I've also included. I added a couple skirts, jeans and camisoles and now I'm ready for any weather. I'll be wearing my jean jacket on the plane, it's comfy and goes with everything. As for shoes I've got some cute Mary-Jane style walking shoes, a cute pair of flats, a pair of sandals and a pair of heels for going out. I think I've covered all my bases.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Homemade Sushi

I was invited over to a friend's house for Asian food night so I broke out the sushi press and mat and went to town.

I started with California rolls which are simple crab, avocado and cucumber. They are a standby and everyone seems to like them.

For my second rolls I made a Japanese style omelette (made with egg, sugar and sake) and shiitake mushrooms. Both are cut in long thin slices and rolled up in the rice and nori.

Lastly I made nigiri "boat" style sushi with a small rectangle of rice surrounded by nori and topped with a shrimp and mayo mixture on some and flaked salmon with soy sauce on the others.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Maiden Knight

Every once in a while when I just really need to escape into a great series of books, I pull out my Tamora Pierce sets. This past weekend I've been really sick and bedridden so I needed something to do whenever I wasn't sleeping. Being too uncoordinated for knitting or video games I pulled out my old standby book Alanna The First Adventure.

Being a young adult series this is a fairly quick read and really great for immersing yourself. The series consists of three quartets, Song of the Lioness, The Immortals, and The Protector of the Small. There are also a few books that follow or precede these quartets, but these three are the original ones I read. All the quartets follow strong (but not without weakness) female characters trying to be true to themselves in a fantastic world full of challenges.

I generally go back to Alanna and read all the way through the twelve main books. I always forget just how much I love them, and rereading them is like visiting old friends. They are filled with magic, adventure and romance, but also everyday struggles that women deal with when deciding the path their lives should take. These are fantasy books set in the medieval world of Tortall.

This series is young adult, however, and does deal with some subjects like fighting and killing, female menstruation and other women's issues, and a small amount of sex. This is not a graphic series though and all these subjects are mentioned very tastefully and in keeping with the storyline. I think it is a fantastic series for a preteen or teen to read because it is really relatable for someone who is dealing with growing up.

Tamora Pierce Books

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Harvest Moon

Harvest moon has to be one of my favorite game series of all time. It is a deceptively simple, repetitive casual game, but I really can't get enough of it. This is one of those games that I can spend many enjoyable hours playing. All the Harvest Moon games are cute and charming, and amazingly addictive. Much like The Sims or many facebook games, you can find yourself spending hours of time doing the most mundane things and still want to come back for more.

Harvest Moon is an older game series from Japan and there are quite a few different versions, but the premise of each game is the same. Your character somehow acquires a farm and it is your job to make it successful. You can grow crops, raise animals and grow fruit trees in order to accomplish this task. The games also feature social interaction between you and the people who live around your farm. You can make friends by giving things to people and you can even woo a potential love interest, get married and in some games have a child.

My favorite game in the series is Harvest Moon: Back to Nature which was first released on the Playstation (even though most of the series is on Nintendo consoles) and you can now download it onto the PSP. But the most recent version I'm playing is Harvest Moon: Sunshine Islands for the Nintendo DS.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Shining Hills Art Quilt

This is a project I did for my Fiber Arts class, I had a really great time coming up with the concept. It started when my mom lent me her new embroidery machine, just about the time I was getting interested in Victorian crazy quilting.

This art quilt is a combination of different fabric scraps arranged so that there is a little atmospheric perspective to give the illusion of rolling hills. The mottled blue fabric in the sky is a scrap of my snow dying experiment. The edges of each scrap is a different embroidery stitch which gives the quilt an interesting texture.

After I got the quilt together I used these really pretty fasceted gold beads to create the sun rays. I love them because they give it a real sparkle. With this project I actually did a halfway decent job on the edge binding which I am still learning how to do. The backing is the same as the edge fabric and has a fabric loop to stick a dowel through and hang, but I don't have a dowel so I just tacked it to the wall.

Thursday, March 1, 2012


Ok, so it is now the beginning of March and the official countdown until takeoff has begun. In exactly 27 days I board a plane from Reno to LA, have a several hour layover then experience my first international flight to Seoul Korea, another several hour layover and then a hop over to Fukuoka Japan. Thankfully I will have a full day in a hotel to recuperate before orientation and a bus ride to Nagasaki City the next day. I still think it is crazy that I will leave on the 27th and not be arriving until 29th.