Thursday, July 7, 2011

coffee art

My first mocha flower
On father's day, I received a tool that stirs milk really fast and makes it light and fluffy, kind of like steamed milked. This was a great gift because I am sleeping less and drinking more coffee recently.

With this new tool I became curious about making pretty coffee. I looked online and found a video for latte art. The person in the video made it look so easy. I decided to try it.

What do you think?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Study English and help feed hungry people

I haven't had much time for playing on the internet lately, but I wanted to share one of my favorites sites.

On this website, you can study English vocabulary. For each word you get correct they will donate 10 grains of rice to help end hunger. It starts out pretty easy and then gets gradually more difficult.

I recommend it, if you have time.

You can even study English grammar, geography and lots of other subjects, too.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

My mother-in-law would be proud

I got a giant bouquet of flowers after doing my kabuki performance. I needed something big to put them in. But, they wouldn't stand up in a wide-mouthed container. I remembered a trick my mother-in-law uses when she arranges flowers for weddings.  I made a grid across the top of the container with tape. It kept the flowers from falling over.

My wife was away, so I left the flowers at work. My office still smells nice.

The tape keeps the flowers from falling over.

Kabuki Craig

I agreed to give a speech to help raise money for a recent Lion's Club charity event. I didn't really know what I was getting myself into. It turns out that I had to dress up in kabuki costume and give my speech in front of hundreds of people. I was pretty nervous to do it, especially in Japanese.

But, it all went well and I have some fun pictures to share with you. Plus, we raised enough to buy two really nice wheel chairs for a local community center and send a bunch of money north to help people in Tohoku, the area hit by the tsunami. I think we earned about 800,000 yen ($8000).


Wax on my eye brows. (This wasn't fun to remove.)
This is probably where 'yamanba' got started

Getting painted by my teacher. I think he was having fun.

My face is ready.

Now they are getting me ready for the hair.

Here is me in a bald cap. I won't look so bad in five years, right?

Ready to perform!

At least they didn't dress me up like a girl. I think they would have, but the kimono was probably too short.

All finished. Yeah!

No need to go to the store. I'll make it!

Living in the countryside is nice most of the time. However, when you run out of something in the kitchen, it can be inconvenient.

We were out of bread. Fortunately, we had everything to make a loaf. I'd almost forgotten how easy it is.

This loaf isn't so beautiful, but it is delicious. I think it will last us about a week.

Do you run out of things often? What do you do when you need something?

Yummy breakfast!

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. I especially like eggs with bacon and coffee on the weekend. This was one of the best breakfasts I've had in a long time. I can't wait to make it again soon.

What is your favorite meal?

Seedlings are in!

Do you recognize there plants? See if you can identify them all. When they start producing vegetables, I will let you know if you are right. :p

No. 1

No. 2

No. 3

No. 4

Fresh hot delivery!

Our friends have a cattle ranch. Sometimes I help feed the cows. Sometimes the cows help feed us. This cow manure will help our vegetables grow.


Kai wasn't really that impressed.

Making a long hole. This is where the roots will grow first.

Filling the hole with manure.

After it is mixed in.

We added a some egg shells and coffee grounds, too.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Preparing our own little garden

Preparing the garden is one of my favorite things to do during the year. I only spent a few hours working in our yard, but it looks completely different and will provide many vegetables for us until winter.

I hadn't touched the yard since last November, so it was almost like starting a brand new garden. Here is how I did it.
First, cut the grass.

Then, rake up all the cut grass.

Next, turn the soil using a "double dig" method. This makes nice fluffy soil that is easy for young roots to grow in.

Use a hoe to break up the big chunks of dirt. 

Use a gardening rake to pull out grass that is near the top.

Use a leaf rake to gather smaller plants that the bigger rake missed.

These are all the tools I used, not including the weed wacker.

Three hours later, it is ready for a little fertilizer and some seedlings!
I think gardening is one of the best ways to meet people in Shimane. Farmers and old grandpas like to tell us how to do it better or compliment us on something that is growing well. Gardening is a topic of conversation many people share in Shimane.

If you don't have a garden, I hope you find space to make your own garden. It really isn't that hard. Feel free to ask questions if you have any. Plus, if you have extra vegetables, you can give them away. It makes people happy.

What is your favorite spring/summer vegetable?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Getting ready to plant a lot of flowers

My good friend is starting his own wholesale flower business. He wants to grow a special blue flower that only grows in cold climates. Yasaka is a good place.

I helped him put plastic down, so the weeds won't grow. We covered two fields with plastic. It took all day, but it will last for five years before we have to change it.

Best use for the Yomiuri!

Tuesday nights, I have to eat quickly in between classes. This delicious dinner was only 500円!

I can't wait until next week.
Thank you Yuki H.!

Excited by the unknown.

 Delighted by the dinner.

Impatient as I took this photo. It looked so good. (It was so good!)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Apple pie

We have a big box of apples, so we made apple pie! It wasn't that hard and it was so good. We finished it really quickly.

We still have more apples.

Do you know any good recipes that use apple?

A great day to be outside

It was such a nice day, we went for a 7 kilometer walk. Amazingly, Kai stayed awake for most of it. There are so many interesting things to see in the countryside.

Where do you like to take walks?

Getting in shape

I put on my seldom-used running shoes and went for a 14 kilometer run over the small mountain in the middle of Yasaka. It was a perfect day for a run, not too cold and not too hot.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Southern Indian food

When I go out to an Indian restaurant, there are certain foods I expect: samosas, dal masala.... Having never been to India, I sometimes forget how big the country is and how many culinary traditions it has. 

Recently, I was happily reminded of India's culinary diversity when I went to Radha Vilas, in Hiroshima. They specialize in southern Indian food. It is very simple and healthy food. It isn't too spicy, either. 

If you are in the mood for some delicious food, the lunch menu is very affordable and the dinner menu is diverse. I recommend both!

The owner is super friendly and speaks English. He seems to enjoy speaking with customers a lot. I hope you have the opportunity to try this restaurant someday.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Online communities

During the fall semester, I enjoyed entering an online blogging community. Previously, I never realized how real these communities could be. The communication is authentic. I am able to share with others and learn from them (especially if they continue posting).

Following the recent earthquake and tsunami, my appreciation for online communities has increased again. Online communities, like facebook, are being used to connect people and organize efforts to help. I have always been hesitant to join a social network, but I appreciate their value. Maybe I should try it one of these days.

Do you recommend joining a social network? Why or why not?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

New favorite fantasy author

I like adventure stories, especially if they involve a little magic. My mom gave me this book by Patrick Rothfuss. This is his first book and I really enjoyed it. If you like a good fantasy story, I recommend this one.

His next book will be published in March, 2011. I can't wait.

Cup holder for Steve

My colleague Steve has become a really good friend. I wanted to make something for him using my new tools. He often serves me coffee in his office, so I made him a holder for his cups.

Do you think he will like it?