Thursday, January 31, 2008

Throwback Thursday #23




It's time for yet another Pinks & Blues inspired Throwback Thursday. Now that I've figured out how to use my new scanner, I shouldn't have any excuses reasons to not keep up with my Throwback posts.

This first set of photos is actually for Curiosity Killer. She recently asked me where some good cherry blossom viewing spots are in Japan. Ohanami is an annual event in Japan that lasts from April through May. It's means 'cherry blossom viewing'. Companies, families, and friends get together and have picnics underneath the cherry blossom trees. Everyone just enjoys themselves and admires the spectacular blooms. Celebrations go from morning until late at night (early in the morning, depending on how you look at things). Everyone pretty much drinks until they are inebriated.

These first three photos were taken in Hiroshima-prefecture. I can't remember which park we went to. I went to about a dozen ohanami parties that week! The photos do not do the blossoms justice. They were so pretty.These next two photos are in Yuki, which is not too far from where I was teaching. I think it was about an hour from Fukuyama, but I can't remember. My student wanted to thank me for teaching her and she organized a huge BBQ party at her place. Little did I know, she lived at a temple! Her husband was a monk and they lived at a temple with their two young boys. I didn't know monks could get married! As you can see from the photos, their place was stunning!

These last photos are of my co-teachers and our manager after a long day at work. We used to wait for each other after work, change out of our uniforms/business suits and grab a bite to eat together. Those were the good 'ol days. The four of us worked really well together and we were all great friends outside of work.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Humour me...If you will


I remember his sandy blond hair. His blue eyes sparkled all the time. He was so sweet, tender, and thoughtful. He was artsy, creative, intelligent and passionate beyond compare. He was an animal rights activist, an enviro-freak, and the most devout vegan I had ever met.

Together, *River and I would sit along the Lake Shore in between classes and have picnic lunches of a baguette with hummus or Veggie Pâté and copious amounts of fruit. His name wasn't really River, but I called him that because he bore a striking resemblance to the late River Phoenix.
Photo of the late River Phoenix from Google Images

All the girls loved him and wanted to hang out with him. He was just so cool and so dreamy! He was quiet and soft spoken. He was full of a million and one interesting things to talk about. He was a thinker, a philosopher, an artist, a poet, and the most beautiful thing on earth.

We'd peruse thrift shops together and find cool vintage clothing. We'd spend hours upon hours rifling through old treasures in second-hand bookshops. He'd write me poetry and sketch my portrait as we sat on the soft, fragrant grass. Everything seemed so alive and there was a certain excitement just knowing we were going to visit the art gallery or check out a new indie band. Life was grand.

He smelled of sandalwood...and sometimes lavender when he had headaches. Everyone knows that lavender has healing powers, right? He was so perfect. I don't know why I never saw it coming. How did I not know that I had fallen for a gay guy?

Truth be told, River wouldn't be the last gay guy I'd fall for. I was in a program in college that was predominantly female. There was a handful of males in my courses. Everyone in the program seemed artsy and profound. When I went on to university, the program I was in also had more female students than male. Many of my friends were gay. I didn't know that my world would be filled with friends of all sexual orientations, beliefs, religions, creeds, and nationalities. Some of my best friends were gay men, because everyone knows a gay guy is a girl's best friend. Likewise, some of my closest friends would be lesbian.

"I can't believe you didn't know I was..." began River, one night when we were leafing through old records and watching "The X-Files" and reruns of "V". I kind of shook my head, not wanting him to go further. All of a sudden, River burst out in laughter. "Actually, I can believe you didn't know. After all, you were madly in love with Freddie Mercury!" Go figure. I didn't even realize Freddie Mercury was interested in men! I thought he was the hottest member of Queen! There was just something about him that was oh, so intriguing! Then we laughed and simultaneously began singing Bohemian Rhapsody while playing the air guitar. We had the best of times.

I don't know what ever happened to River. I moved out of Montreal in my early 20's and we lost touch when I moved from Toronto to Japan and back. I just heard Bohemian Rhapsody on the radio yesterday and thought of him.

Snowed In



It's complete whiteout where we live right now. This is the view of one of our fields to the back of our house. It doesn't look that bad from the photo, but you can't really see anything with all the wind blowing the snow everywhere.

My parents said that they've got reduced visibility where they are, but we can't see a single thing out here. The buses are canceled and some of the highways are closed. I loved school when I was a kid, but I loved hearing that ever anticipated radio announcement for school closures even more! Sure, it was too horrible out to venture to school, but it wasn't too miserable to play outside in all that snow! It's amazing what we can endure when we're young!

On the radio, it was announced that the winds were blowing as fast as 120 km/hr in some areas and in others, around 80 km/hr. I seriously thought the roof was going to be lifted off our house. Unfortunately, that was the case for poor 'ol Chance's house. My Dad built him an amazing doggy condo that is insulated, has two rooms and a roof that can lift open so you can clean the inside of the dog house. This morning, the roof was nowhere to be found.

Anyway, this wind and snow just totally threw off our plans. We were going to take my Dad out for his birthday this evening. I suppose I could take this opportunity to do paperwork for income tax season. Oh, what joy.

Of course, nothing beats a hot bowl of soup on a cold winter's day. I love homemade soups.
I made a very quick cream of broccoli and cauliflower soup. Please be advised that I don't really ever measure things...except when I'm baking, of course. With soups and other dishes, I pretty much fly by the seat of my pants and improvise, experiment...and just wing it.

To make this soup, you will need:
-4 cups broccoli, 4 cups cauliflower (cut into small pieces)
-1/2 cup chopped onion
-2 cups chopped spinach
-1 cup celery, chopped
-a couple of tablespoons of butter
-1 cup of cheddar cheese (cut up)
-2 cups milk
-2 tablespoons garlic (or garlic powder if you so desire)
-2 tablespoons cornstarch, dissolved into 1/2 cup hot water)
-some chicken or vegetable stock (you can use 2 chicken bouillon cubes if you wish)
-salt & black pepper to taste

Put all the ingredients into a pot and let cook until veggies are tender. Be careful not to scorch. You can let the soup cook slowly for 2 hours, but if you're impatient like I am, it can be ready in 30 minutes. Yes, half an hour, people!

This soup is sooooo good! It's probably not the most figure friendly soup out there, but it is certainly easy to make and very delicious! Teamed with a toasted open-faced tomato-garlic-black pepper sandwich, this is a great meal on a cold winter day!
Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Some favourites




Japanese Okonomiyaki

Veggie lasagna






The Accolade by Edward Blair Leighton


The Famished Road by Ben Okri

What are some of your favourites?
Friday, January 25, 2008

NOT BRUSSEL SPROUTS!!!!!


I just wanted to share with you a funny interaction that took place at dinner.

Scene: a cozy, warm dining room
Enter Wifey. Wifey smiles as she places a dinner plate in front of Hubby. Hubby looks at the spinach and corn soup, roasted sweet potato fries and...brussel sprouts.

Hubby:
Not brussel sprouts!?!?!
Wifey:
(chuckles) Eat them! They're good for you!
Hubby:
But, I don't like brussel sprouts!
Wifey:
Seriously, they taste really good! They're good for you!
Hubby:
Hmph! Three or four would be somewhat okay, but NINE???

My dear Hubby makes me laugh :) He is so funny. For a second, I could envision sitting across the table from a three or four year old, refusing to eat his brussel sprouts!

The conversation didn't stop there!
Wifey: (laughs a hearty laugh) I guess some butter would make it taste more flavourful.
Hubby:
No. It would need more than butter to make it taste good. Can't you at least put cheese on it???

I wasn't expecting that reaction from him. He really made me laugh so hard! I won't even go into talking about how he has been saying that his ribs are poking out and how he has lost 5 lbs in the past 4 days! LOL! It's true though. Not about the ribs part, but he has dropped 5 lbs in 4 days...which was not my intention at all. I just wanted us to cleanse our systems and decrease the level of toxins in our bloodstreams.

Anyway, poor brussel sprouts! They are so often misunderstood! Chock-full of nutrients, brussel sprouts are still pretty low on everyone's list of preferred veggies. Why, oh why do people hate the lonely 'ol brussel sprout? Brussel sprouts contain lots of vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, folate, beta carotene and fibre. Okay, I did read that according to Canada's Food Guide to Healthy Eating, the recommended serving of brussel sprouts is 4. (Sorry, Hubby! My bad!)

I've received quite a number of e-mail messages from readers in the past few days, asking about what we've been eating while on detox. I've found this week to be not so difficult, but Hubby's been dreaming of chocolate cake! He's also been dreaming of cheese...and lots of it! He wants cheese and MEAT! Actually, he said "cheese and meat TOGETHER"! (Lasagna, a bacon cheeseburger, tacos, etc) Two more days of detox left...I know he can do it!



The above photos are of supper and dessert a few nights ago. Don't be fooled by Hubby's comments! :) It hasn't been that hard! We had a wonderful vegetarian chili one night (thank goodness for slowcookers!) and baked salmon with braised veggies another night. Tomorrow there will be grilled chicken and an avocado salad.

If any of you reading this have any meetings with Hubby this weekend, please don't feel sorry for him. Ignore the puppy dog eyes as he looks longingly at your pizza and dessert plate. He is not deprived :)

*NOTE* I just discovered that it's not "brussel sprouts". It's "Brussels sprouts"! The small cabbage-like vegetable is named after the capital of Belgium--Brussels! The English teacher in me wants to say "Brussel sprouts" since it's a countable noun. However, since it's named after the proper noun, "Brussels", it should be "Brussels sprouts". Oh well! Whatever!
Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Throwback Thursday #22...and an Award!!!




It's been a while since I've posted a Throwback Thursday post. First off, I do realize that it's Wednesday today and not Thursday. I'm a day early, but don't know if I'll have time to post tomorrow. I've got a few reasons excuses for not keeping up with this wonderful Pinks & Blues tradition. A) I haven't had time to look for old photos I've sort of been lazy about getting photos together, and B) Our scanner wasn't in operation for a while and Hubby just bought me a nifty 5-in-1 scanner/photocopier/fax thingy. Very cool!

I've only just figured out how to program and install everything. Duh...How come no one told me I had to insert the CD that came with the unit so I can install everything? Anyway, I figured it out all by myself and voila! I just went scanning crazy!

These photos are of my time in Japan. There will be more Japan pics to come, as I had many wonderful memories teaching there.

The first two sets are of me with some of my English teacher friends at Oshogatsu (Japanese New Year). We're wearing kimono and eating osechi (traditional Japanese New Year food). If you click on the photos, the images will be enlarged.



Let me tell you, I thought I was going to pass out wearing that kimono! They wrap you up and tie you up so tightly! It's not the most comfortable thing to wear, but kimonos sure are beautiful.


The last set of photos is from when my Mom and BabyBro (then 14 years old) came to visit me in Japan for three weeks. My Japanese friends took us to Miyajima, which is a famous island in Hiroshima Prefecture. It is known for its beautiful shrine and wooden gate. Deer and monkeys can be seen on the island. It's such a beautiful, magical, spiritual place. This said, it's also a major tourist attraction! If you get the chance to visit Japan, do make a stop in Miyajima.

Now for a new award! I was surprised to see a message from the lovely Mrinz saying that she's given me an award! Thank you ever so much :)

There are so many blogs that I visit on a regular basis. I have so many favourites! I can't choose just a few, so to those of you whose blogs I leave comments on daily, consider this your notification that you have received an award! :) You guys are great!


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Detoxing


That's right. We need help. We've hit an all time low (or high...depending on how you look at things). After a week of eating lots and lots of yummy food, we're starting to feel the effects of all those huge dinner parties! I don't know about you, but after the holidays or after a vacation with all the eating and celebrating, I always feel so...blah!

We go back to our regular routine and cut back on intake, but I still feel that something more needs to be done. This time my solution is... A 7-Day Liver Detox Program!
Image from Google Images

As Hubby grumbles and groans in the background, I am making a menu plan that will help us cleanse and detoxify our systems. Don't get me wrong. I love it when my family comes to visit! They cook the most delicious food. The only thing is that when it's just the two of us at home, Hubby and I don't eat that much. We don't need to eat that much! Hubby gets spoiled when my family is up to visit us. Every night, it's tons and tons of amazing food. There are loads of desserts to choose from, and lots of rich food.

At home it's just lots of veggies, properly portioned meals, and dessert usually comes in the form of fruit. I'm not a fan of refined sugars, additives, lots of sodium, and preservatives to begin with. I know it's hard to avoid them all together, but I'd rather not have them in our food.

I had never really thought about how much our liver does for us. The liver detoxifies many substances (caffeine, pesticides, alcohol, drugs, food preservatives and additives, environmental toxins like tobacco smoke, gasoline fumes, etc).

I've been doing lots of research on liver detoxing (in books and online). I have been thinking of doing a liver detox since the holidays, but wanted to do more research first. I wouldn't do something without reading about it because being the worry wart that I am, I get nervous about these things.

Many of the books Hubby and I have read have stated that a liver detox program is a good idea if you want to boost your liver health and function. It is said that it gives your liver some well-deserved rest. By not eating food that make your liver work hard, your liver gets to rest.

Hubby and I completed our first day of detox yesterday. Hubby survived, though he complained only a little bit :) The things he does for his wife!!

I've already received a few e-mail messages from friends asking about our liver detox program, so I'll just post it on here. Basically, we're following the program from one of Zita West's books. She's a nutritionist, acupuncturist, and midwife who has a clinic in London.

For 7 days, Hubby and I will be avoiding food that are:
non-organic, alcohol, caffeinated & decaffeinated alternatives, orange juice, sugar and sugar ladened food, refined carbohydrates (white bread, pasta, rice), red meats, dairy products, wheat, food containing additives and preservatives, packaged and processed food, and salt.

We're on Day 2 and Hubby's still alive. He's not complaining too loudly yet :) He's worried about one of his upcoming meetings though. "Everyone will be eating pizza and I have to eat bean soup???" LOL! For the record, it wasn't bean soup!!! It was a vegetable, bean and legume soup! It was chock full of yummy veggies, beans, lentils, and other good stuff!

There are a lot of delicious meals we can eat. I'm not finding it too difficult to avoid food that stresses the immune system or is pro-inflammatory...but I know that I will be happy when the next 6 days are up! I love dairy and cheese too much to ever give them up for good!

This may not be something for everyone to do, but in our case, I feel like it's the best thing Hubby and I can do for ourselves right now.
Monday, January 21, 2008

Psssssst!!!


I'm over here today.
Saturday, January 19, 2008

Winter on the Island


Many people often ask me, "What is there to do on the Island in the winter?" or "Don't you get bored up there with nothing to do all the time?"

One thing is for sure. There is never a dull moment up here and if there is, you're doing something wrong! :) We're never at a shortage of things to do. With life on the farm and when we have students, we are super busy all the time. Even when we don't have students, there are always things to do.

This week, we made sure to fit some time in for some fun. It can't be all work and no play all the time!
video

I can honestly say that we are all addicted to Karaoke Revolution Party and Dance Dance Revolution! It isn't easy to sing and dance at the same time! Even my aunt was hooked! Let me tell ya, it's a really good workout! Check out Hubby and his fancy dance moves! What a cutie!My cousin, Wonder Boy was up for a one week visit from Montreal. The week was spent winter camping, snowmobiling, and ATV-ing (after all the farm chores were done, of course)!We also had a surprise birthday party for my gal pal, Super Girl! We had to introduce her palette to Filipino cuisine.The first photo is of lumpia, which is also known as a type of Spring Roll. The filling is bean sprouts, carrots, green beans, potato (or sweet potato) and shredded chicken. It's wrapped in a special lumpia wrapper, and then deep fried. It's soooo good!

The second photo is of pancit. It's a noodle dish with lots of vegetables and a bit of meat. There are different ways to make this dish, but they all require a lot of chopping and cutting of vegetables! My family says that we should always serve noodles on people's birthdays. You know, noodles for long life.

The third photo is of my mom's fried rice and the fourth is a dish called caldareta. It's a filipino beef stew. It's a family favourite in our house. My grandfather's caldareta was the best ever. My aunt pretty much has his recipe down. Whenever she comes up from Montreal, my dad always puts in a request for her to make it.

Super Girl got two birthday cakes! TWO!!!Just a cute photo of Hubby. I LOVE HIM!!! :)

All in all, it was a great week (with the exception of Monday's accident). I am truly lucky to be blessed with wonderful family and friends...and a beautiful place to call home.
Thursday, January 17, 2008

My New Best Friend


Those of you who have been reading the blog this week know that I was in an accident three days ago. Since the accident, I've been having some neck and back pains. I have found a great way to ease the pain. No, it doesn't come in a bottle. It doesn't consist of painkillers or Jack Daniels.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to my new best friend.
The Magic Bag is a thermotherapeutic pack that provides relief for aches and pains. It's all-natural and you can use it hot or cold.

Hubby is so sweet. He has been warming my Magic Bag up in the microwave and putting it on my neck. The Magic Bag radiates heat for quite some time and it really does make my neck and back feel a lot better.

Now for something funny






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About the Blog Author


City girl moves to the country, falls in love, and marries a farmer. She tries to incorporate her city ways with her new country lifestyle and blogs to keep in touch with friends, family & students who live far, far away :) Can this city girl go country? Watch as she learns all sorts of exciting things about life on the farm and in a small rural community. *UPDATE* We are now parents! Our baby girl was born on Nov. 11, 2008 (at 28 weeks gestation- 12 weeks premature, but she's quite the trooper)!!!
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Life on Manitoulin: Just a bunch of ramblings from a city girl gone country!

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