Here’s your sign.

Here are some of the photo worthy signs I’ve seen around Tokyo thus far. I imagine in the next two months, there will be a few more gems along the way.

On the Metro

Getting around Tokyo has been one of the easiest obstacles to overcome during my rotation thus far. The stations have also provided a multitude of entertainment thanks to advertisements posted throughout. The metro system has a campaign out about riding the subway including safety, courtesy, etc. They aren’t in English but thanks to the graphics, it’s pretty easy to tell what exactly it’s talking about. Here are just a few of my favorites:

“You’ve got to leave the cake behind.” If the doors are closing, evaluate the risks. Is it worth the injury to save an easily replaceable item you may have left? This one was made with people like me in mind because that looks like an awfully good piece of cake to just leave on the platform.

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We all know the sound of roosters is annoying, frustrating, and frankly rude. “Please mind your noise level while riding the metro.” The bunnies and the rest of us would appreciate it.

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At the Zoo

Did you know that the crows here are BEASTS? I’m talking, at least two times the size of the crows in the US. It’s creepy and I don’t like it one bit. Their caw is also much deeper and often sounds like a person making a weird noise. It’s creepy and I don’t like it one bit. That’s probably what necessitated these warning signs at the zoo.

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An exhibit was under construction and that poor little bear felt sorry about it. I’ll ‘excuse your mess during construction’ any day with a sad yet cute looking bear like that.

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Just Around

Smoking is extremely popular in Japan. There is even a ‘smoking room’ in my office! Naturally, the smoke cloud is a happy smiling girl with a thumbs up. It’s so cute, I almost want to start smoking but not while walking, of course…. just kidding.

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And the last one… it’s not really a sign. It’s an English translation except I don’t even know what it means or what it’s trying to mean. The Japanese language doesn’t have pronouns, or plurals, or articles so translation can be a little rough sometimes but also provides comic relief every once in a while.

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Have Monday very good!

xoxo

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All You Need is Love…. AND Nutella!

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day and I had the best-night-ever.

No, I didn’t get engaged or meet my soulmate, it’s much simpler than that….I left work at 6:45 and it’s mid-february. It an oxy-moron but it happened and I relished in it.

Love has been on my mind a lot lately. Not in the cheesy, I’m SO lonely sort of way. More in the way that I realized that I have so much love in my life and I am so lucky to be loved by so many people and sometimes I just don’t share it enough. It’s the concept of loving everyone and I mean EVERYONE. So much easier said then done.

My inspiration and motivation for this stems from a few Sunday sermons and a recent Bible study lesson on 1 Corinthians 13. It’s a passage often used in weddings but it goes FAR beyond 1 man and 1 woman.

1 Corinthians 13:3-8

“If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.”

Simply summarized: Love is everything and should be a part of everything or else we are nothing. It’s powerful stuff.

Now to the second most important part of Valentine’s day…. chocolate and in this case hazelnut and chocolate – Nutella Biscotti.

This batter…. it is also LOVE. Not the essential kind of love but love nonetheless. Make sure to save a tablespoon (or three) for yourself before you clean the bowl. We all do it so there’s no need to hide it. We’ll be better because of it.

And that batter, turns into this. It is so important when you make something with nuts that you can actually taste and see them. The consistency and the way it soaks up the coffee and softens is absolutely perfect.

Fittingly, World Nutella Day was February 5th. My new favorite holiday. I think we should get the day off so we can just stay home and bake Nutella goodies.

Nutella Biscotti

Adapted from Mignardise

2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsps. cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup Nutella
1 cup chopped hazelnuts (lightly toasted, I didn’t do this and it was still delish)
*The original recipe has 1/2 the hazelnuts and 1/2 a cup of chocolate chips but I just thought that might be too much for a morning treat.

Preheat oven to 350 F.
Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.
Beat eggs in a large bowl until frothy. Add sugar and continue beating on high for 2 minutes. Stir in Nutella. Add flour mixture to egg mixture and blend thoroughly. Stir in chips and hazelnuts.
Wet your hands, then divide dough into 2 or 3 portions on the baking sheet. Shape each portion into a rectangle about 1/2″ thick.
Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and turn down the heat to 300F.
Using a serrated knife, cut slices about 1/3 to 1/2″ wide from each rectangle. Arrange slices cut side down on baking sheet and return to oven.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, turn biscotti over (onto other cut side) and bake an additional 10-12 minutes, depending on the thickness of your slices. Remove to a wire to cool.

If you want to add that special touch (which you don’t really need but it sounds delicious), melt 1/2 cup chopped semisweet chocolate along with 1/4 cup Nutella in a microwave safe dish. When the cookies have cooled, spread a layer of the melted chocolate on their bottoms, using a small knife or off-set spatula. Sprinkle with toasted hazelnuts and allow to dry completely before storing in an airtight container. I think I kept mine for over a week and a half.

The Year That Was…..

Now that the year has come and gone, I wanted to take a few minutes to reflect on the year that was…. 2011, outside of the kitchen. Here’s my top eight (it’s my lucky number) in 2011 (in no particular order, I’m too indecisive for that).

1) Riding the bus. Probably don’t hear that often but it is the best place to read, as long as you don’t get sick. I was able to get through so many great books in a year just by reading a half hour or less each way on the bus.

Some of my recommendations: Her Mother’s Hope and Her Daughter’s Dream both by Francine Rivers. Atonement by Ian McEwan. The Paris Wife by Paula McClain. And so many more….

2) Okay, technically, this is my number 1. I mean seriously, cutest – cat – ever and he’s mine….

3) Every day after April 15th and before August 15th and the Holiday Season (Nov-Dec). Some of the best weather, well not April or May or June. Most importantly, it means I take lots of vacation and work more regular hours.

4)Hiking. Do it, lots of it, I did in 2011 and look forward to even more in ’12. This shot below is from Mt. Pilchuck in the Northern Cascades. I get goosebumps thinking about all the beauty and that it was all made by the One who made everything in the universe. Woah. Go explore it for yourself.

5) A good cry. My sister used to always tell me when I was in middle school and high school that I never showed emotion…. After dealing with various boys through college and taking on a new stressful and busy job (see 3 above)…. things have changed. I mean sometimes you just have to let it all out. Usually, my mom, dad, and sister have to take the brunt of it, God bless them. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…. cue Kelly Clarkson.

6) This photo. This is Hunter, my family’s nine year old chocolate lab. I’m not prejudice… I just have the best pets ever, no competition. My favorite picture taken so far with my new camera. 

7)Potlucks. I’m in a bible study and it’s given me my first real exposure to potlucks, and we have lots of them. I mean you get to try so much great food, get full, and only have to make one thing! It’s also a great time to try something new and super fatty, so you don’t have to eat it all. 🙂 Just make sure you can try it first… that’s a whole bunch of stress, waiting for the suspense of someone taking the first bite and it’s not you.

8) Travelling. Well, this will be on the list for eternity. You learn and experience what just can’t be done at home. This year was full of domestic travel including Colorado and Texas (twice). It is so great to have the best friends and family all over the country.


Here’s to a sweet, joyful, successful, love filled 2012.