Sunday, December 25, 2005

Simply having a wonderful Christmastime...

Merry Christmas, everyone!! It`s that wonderful time of year again... packed shopping malls, crappy Christmas songs on the radio, department store Santas and all the rest. This year, I thought I`d be leaving this all behind in the States, but guess what?! Yes, it seems all those annoying things about Christmas have made it to Osaka as well. The Japanese have adopted the Christmas holiday pretty much intact, complete with light displays, like the Luminaria in Kobe (Jen, Kevin, Jamie, Marisa, Jeff and I braved the cold for this one [Marisa`s taking the picture]). However, it`s more of a time to be with friends and sweethearts than family. And also, no one knows who Jesus is. It was nice to feel Christmas spirit in the air, though. Jeff and I decorated the veranda, and decked the apartment with poinsettias, candles and a mini Christmas tree that Mrs. Bender sent us. (Thanks so much, by the way!! :) I baked chocolate chip cookies (in the microwave, which turns out is a conventional oven too! do the wonders never cease?) and gave them to our neighbors and my coworkers. Our landlady was very pleased with our decorations and took the time to write us a sweet note. In case you can`t read it, it says "What a fine light! I and my mother and other people are very very glad. Thank you! Merry Christmas! from Sawa" It felt good to spread some Christmas cheer :)
We even had a little snow, which is almost unheard of in Osaka. It was quite beautiful, but melted almost as soon as it fell (though not soon enough that I didn`t almost break my neck on my bike :) As for actual celebrations, on Christmas Eve (and like most Japanese folks) Jeff and I went to a foreigner bar with some of his Nova buddies (who are also working over the Christmas holidays, bummer!). We ate some TV-dinner style turkey and mashed potatoes and had some eggnog while listening to a Japanese acoustic guitar player singing Bob Marley. Lots of girls were dressed up for the holiday in Santa hats and I think I even saw a sexy reindeer outfit. Tonight, it`s stuffing cooking time again, wish me luck! Happy Holidays to everyone and I miss you lots! With love, Erin

Monday, December 05, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Hello all! I hope everyone is well and happy remembering their fantastic Thanksgiving dinners that I couldn`t eat! Seriously, it was pretty tough to see this day come and go without so much as a whiff of turkey. I did, however, have a lovely Thanksgiving celebration with my American friends (and one Canadian, but we don`t hold it against him ;) Those of you who know me know that Thanksgiving is a big deal in my family, so to honor this hallowed tradition, this year I decided to take up the task of making homemade stuffing Lawrence/Waterkotte style. And what a task it was! You should have seen me, guys. I layed out the bread to stale during the afternoon so I could guard it from the mice who live in our ceiling. I buttered and spiced it all by myself! I ran to the store to buy more butter all by myself! (and prayed the mice wouldn`t come snacking in the meantime) And I cut it all up myself with a dull bread knife. Then over to Jen`s apartment with a shopping bag full of precious ingredients (one hour on the train!). Jen and Marisa watched the sauteing of the onion and celery and the thickening of the chicken broth, and of course the mixing! They were duly impressed by this labor-intensive process, but it wasn`t over yet! I baked small portions at a time in the toaster oven using a tinfoil dish of my own construction. The top burned, the bottom didn`t really cook through, but damned if that stuffing didn`t turn out delcious! I was so proud :) Of course, by Waterkotte standards it was sub-par (you guys would have definately been disappointed with the wetness factor) but under the circumstances, I think I did a good job. And my friends agreed. Leftovers for everyone! I forgot to take pictures at dinner, so instead here are some random funny things. Enjoy!
Mmmm.. hamburgers... You want the one with the eggs or the one with tarter sauce all over it? And guys, please...

Love, Erin ;)