Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thanksgiving Dinner

Our Thanksgiving dinner!
My wife and I made a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner. We had mashed potatoes, stuffing, and turkey with gravy (one of very few meat dishes in our house). We also had sparkling apple cider to drink. For desert we had pumpkin pie.

The turkey in the crock pot.
Pumpkin pie loves you, too.

Usually, cooking a dinner like this takes all day. However, this year, we tried something new. We put a turkey breast in the crock pot with a little water and some seasoning. It cooked for 7 hours while we were away. It turned out really moist and delicious. We probably spent about an hour in the kitchen total. It was pretty easy.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A safe environment

I was walking on campus when I saw this cute cat. It was curled up in the sun, under a window, eating a dead bird.  I thought it was very smart to wait under the window for birds to kill or injure themselves on the invisible glass. I felt sad for the bird.

My friend, Leah, suggested that we put up UV film so birds could see the windows and stop flying into them. It took a long time to get approval, but UV stickers are finally being put on the windows!

These nice men are putting up the UV stickers.
What do you see? Nothing? The stickers are designed so people don't notice them, but birds do. These are the first stickers to be put up on campus. The administration ordered a lot of stickers, so there will be more soon.

If you live or work in a building that is dangerous for birds, please visit http://www.windowalert.com/ to buy the UV stickers. They aren't expensive and people don't notice them.

What do you think about this idea?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Adopted for a week

I think, one of the best things about our university is the seminar system. A group of students can study with the same teacher for three years. They get to know each other really well and often do really cool stuff together, like compete in basketball tournaments. I don't have a seminar class, so I usually don't get to participate in these events.

This year, however, Sato sensei's seminar class was too small to make a full basketball team. They wanted to play, so they invited me to join their team.

I think it was a good learning experience for me. I usually don't like basketball that much, but I really had a lot of fun this time.

Also, I wasn't sure how hard to try. Since I am so much taller than everyone else, it didn't seem fair to get so many rebounds. Then, I realized that a lot of the students were faster and better shooters than I was. More importantly, they were all trying their best, no matter who they were competing against! The students were good examples for me. I tried my best, too.

In the end, we lost to the champions during the semi finals and ended up in 4th place. They were really good.

Have you ever been in a situation where you felt uncomfortable doing your best? What did you do?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Weekend in the garden

The sweet potatoes are on the left, under the weeds. The black beans are on the right.

The weather was beautiful this weekend. I spent both afternoons working outside in our bigger garden. It had been months since I did anything to it. You can see all the healthy weeds.

First, I harvested the black beans. They are very important for us because we don't eat meat or fish at home. I cut the plants and left the roots in the ground. (The nitrogen attached to the roots of the beans will help the next crop grow.) I will hang these beans on our fence to dry. They will last us a year and we can plant the extra to grow more.

Forget the sports car, I just wish my legs would fit into a k-truck. 

The first one!
Next, I harvested the sweet potatoes. There was a little over 25 kg total. These will probably last us until April or May. Sweet potatoes are my favorite vegetable. I can't wait to eat them.

Onions still waiting to be eaten from last year's harvest.
On Sunday afternoon, I went back. After digging up sweet potatoes, the dirt was soft and weed-free. I put down a sheet of plastic, poked some holes with a stick and planted onions. I put in about 200 yellow onions and 50 red onions. The red onions don't keep very long, but the yellow onions will feed us for a year.

It felt really nice to be outside. I saw a lot of really cool bugs in the dirt, too. There is a lot of life beneath our feet.

What should I make with all these vegetables?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

30 to 30: Best birthday present ever

My wife surprised me a month ago with an early birthday card. I thought, "Wait! I am still 29 for another month." She explained that her family does something special for big birthdays, so I would be receiving one card for every year I can claim with the 30th card on my 30th birthday.

She had asked 30 of my friends and family to write me a thoughtful letter, including special memories we made together. 

It was so much fun to read great letters everyday from people who love me. Many people also sent photos.

It was also interesting to notice themes about what people remember. Most of the letters included stories about learning, creating, or exercising, such as climbing mountains or building something. It was an amazing gift and another reminder of how important it is to have silly adventures.

What was the best birthday present you ever received?

Big time art!

I've been reading Mr. Henneberry's blog. He posted some great photos of an art display. You can see them here.

Photo by Emi
Anyway, I thought it would be fun to try being really tall, like in the book Gulliver's Travels. It was for a while. However, if you try being big, I wouldn't recommend touching the sun. It is very hot. I had to pinch a cold wet cloud to cool my fingers off. Then, it started raining and I got my jacket wet.

Now, if I could only figure out how to get small again.

Do you have any suggestions?

What kind of plants are good to grow?

I wasn't sure how to post a photo in a response, so I made a new post to respond to Takako's question. What kind of plants are good to grow?

Personally, I like plants I can eat. One of my good friends suggests planting the roots from green onions. Most people throw them away, but sometimes they will grow again.

Avocado seeds are also really fun to start from. I think it is difficult to grow actual avocados. However, the seed grows into a really cute little tree. If you need a house plant, try an avocado.

My wife and I started gardening in Japan by trying to grow our own pizza toppings. We enjoyed it, so we planted more each season. Now, we don't need to buy so many vegetables. I will try to post more about this soon.

What kind of vegetables do you eat often?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Zombie plant

My friend gave me a small plant three years ago. I put it in my office and it got really big. It grew taller than me! But, it can get in the way and I sometimes bump it accidentally. I tried to move it once and a branch fell off. I felt kind of sad.

I didn't want to throw the branch in the trash, so I put it in a bucket of water. It grew roots! I was so happy. I took it home and put it in some new dirt. Now, I have two plants.

A few weeks ago, another branch fell off. This time, I wasn't so sad. I put it in water and it is growing nice roots, too. I will put it in dirt soon and give it to a friend.

This plant is amazing. It is hard to kill, kind of like a zombie. It just keeps making new plants.

Have you ever tried this with one of your plants? (perhaps with some flowers you kept in a vase?)