31 October 2010

Halloween and Finger Cookies

Last night we had our ward Halloween party! Every year, I am always amazed at how confident full grown men can be while wearing spandex and speedos...

Ghosts, ghouls, and gremlins all came floating into the hall waiting for the party to start. The walls and the roof were all decorated with floating pumpkins and black bats. Eyeball muffins, bubbling cauldrons of drink, and, surprisingly, hayashi rice were arranged neatly on the tables.

Eyeball Muffins
Waiting to eat!
Bubbling cauldrons

I was asked to make the finger cookies. I had never made these before but was saved when I found an awesome recipe online for witches fingers with almonds for nails. What started off as long, bony witch fingers, soon turned into fat ogre toes!! They looked more like slugs with beaks. The baking powder made them rise twice their original size. They looked absolutely disgusting, which I think was the whole point. The good news is that they tasted really good!
Witchy fingers!
FAT OGRE TOES!!
They were a hit! Well, at least with the adults. I got a lot of "Uuuuuwaaaaa O_O" comments and "They look so real o_O!" comments. I don't even think the kids knew what they were looking at!

Jun and I
Super Mario!
The missionaries getting into the spirit!
Abandoned baby!! Jk, just sleeping ^^
After everyone had eaten and had played the games, we gathered back in the main room to hit some piñatas! Everyone had a turn at whacking and thrashing poor old Jack O' Lantern and Mr. Skull head. It took us quite a while to crack them open. About 30 minutes! I quietly thought to myself that in New Zealand, it would had taken about 5 ^_^.


Hope that you all had a happy Halloween!

29 October 2010

The Japanese Song Fest Experience!

Instead of going to school today to learn our ABC's, we took a trip down to the Shinjuku Culture Center and had the school's annual song fest! Or in their own words, Gassho Konkuuru!

It's a shame I couldn't take any pictures or tape any of it because it was so fun to see the kids all excited and motivated (for once!).

For four hours, the concert hall was filled with the sound of adolescent voices and the slight chatter of a few restless students. During each performance, I couldn't help but notice that each conductor had their own unique style of conducting. Which is to say that they all basically did the arm flail in different ways. Rocking back and forth from side to side with arms wildly stretched out and across them in furious and rhythmic motions. Shoulders jutting up and down, arms flying around as if trying to evade a swarm of bees. Either that, or trying to actually fly themselves. It was quite a spectacle. 


The inner musician/critic in me couldn't help but wince every now and then when some groups would belt out drones of notes, all out of tune. Sometimes they would hold these notes so long as if to challenge the pianist to change the key and follow their lead! But of course this doesn't happen and the rest of the song becomes a musical tug of war between the choir and the piano, while the conductor continues on with his version of the arm flail. 

This isn't my school btw. Just giving an idea!

On my right, half of the 3rd year students were sleeping, while the rest of them were either whispering to each other or trying to get my attention. Earlier, one of the boys came up to the teachers beside me, pointed at me and exclaimed "Ore no Gyarufurendo!!" which can only be translated as "My girlfriend!!" Then he winked at me and said "Come on, baby;)" LOL! I'd love to know which of his former English teachers taught him that.

Don't get me wrong. The whole event was lovely and the kids singing for the most part was impressive ^_^.

When the winners were announced the whole house came down and everyone started crying as Japanese do. Some tears of joy and some of disappointment. 

Overall, it was a really good experience. Quite different to how we do it back home, but very enjoyable. ^^

Okonomiyaki

I made okonomiyaki the other night and was quite suprized with the result! Every time I attempt to make this dish I always screw it up. You would think after the 5th time I would have gotten it by now, considering how simple it is. But alas, it was on the 6th time that my brain started to function again.

The trick to making it is getting the right consistency. You need to add just the right amount of flour and water (or special okonomiyaki powder and dashi stock) to get the right consistency. If you don't get that right it's either gonna be too runny and won't set right in the pan, or too solid and hard to eat. The beauty about this dish is that you can basically add what ever you like to the batter. I love it with beef and extra eggs to make it soft and fluffy ^_^



If you wanna learn how to make it, here's a good tutorial and recipe:
http://www.youtube.com/user/cookingwithdog?blend=1&ob=4#p/search/2/PeUHy0A1GF0

You don't have to add all those things mentioned in the link, the main ingredients are flour, water, cabbage, egg, and some thinly sliced meat.

Once you get the batter down, the next obstacle is flipping the thing!! That might take some practice, or two spatulas in either hand.

Anyways, if you feel like some easy Japanese cooking, try okonomiyakiiiiii! Top with mayo and bbq sauce (if you don't have okonomiyaki sauce).

Bubye ^_^

28 October 2010

Ohhh, the Things You Learn at School...

For those of you that don't know, I teach English in Japan at a middle school. Today was the school's 10th anniversary and to celebrate, we all froze our neenee's off together as we sat in the refrigerated gym. Whoever came up with that idea deserves a plate of whipped cream to the face.

So we sat there formally and bowed at the appropriate times when guests names were mentioned, which in this case was about 200 times. Some kids were so rigorous when bowing that they became perfectly parallel with the floor each time. Rigid right angles, as if the dust swirling beneath them became the most fascinating form of atoms on the planet. Then we heard from a bunch of people, all in Japanese by the way which I don't understand. This did not help with my concentration. 

All of that was fine and dandy, despite the tiny icicles forming under my nose, chin, and elbows. But once the certificates were given out and all the songs were sung (and after sitting in the meat locker for two hours), a lady spoke to us about whales and dolphins, of all topics. If it wasn't for the big slideshow behind her, I wouldn't have had a clue as to what she was going on about.

Now, I'm sure that there was some logical reason for speaking about water mammals, some kind of motivational "You can achieve!!"-type message... but as I was watching the video presentation of a dolphin giving birth while doing somersaults and pirouette's in the water with all the grace of an aquatic ballerina, and while baby dolphin oozed out of her womanly dolphin... parts, all that was going through my mind was "What... the... ffffffeotus??" I mean, who plays home videos of animals in the wild giving birth at a middle school's 10 year anniversary assembly??? Seriously???



The lady must have seen the bewildered look on my face because she rewound the tape and played it back to us again. Geez. 

27 October 2010

Asian Tim Tam's???

I found a new flavour of Tim Tams today, "Choco Strawberry," which I have never seen or heard of anywhere before. So naturally I bought them to try them out. At 298円 it was pretty reasonable compared to other places that sell them for 600円 a pack!


At first glance, both the packet and the flavour neither looked or sounded appealing. But who knows? I might end up being suprized. I open the packet, expecting the usual goodness, and instead find a disappointing row of partially melted Tim Tams coated in a sad layer of dark chocolate. So far, not impressed.


I pick one up and bite into...


...a crusty and very dry excuse for a Tim Tam.

I check the back of the packet to see where it was made... and I'm sorry to report, that yes, all my Indonesian friends (and family), Indonesia is the culprit! I take a closer at the packet and learn that it was developed especially for the South East Asia market. Maybe the humidity in that part of the world makes the Tim Tam's swell with moisture, in turn making them delicious? But in Tokyo, this is just not the case.  I wipe my fingers on a napkin, and stick the rest of the packet in the fridge.

South East Asian Tim Tam's anyone?

16 October 2010

First Blog!!

Welcome to our blog! :) 

Jun and I got married on Dec 26th in Tokyo Japan and have now been married for almost a year now. Some people say that the first year is the hardest, but to us, it was probably the most fun out of the four years we have been together. We moved to Tokyo in May 2010 and have been here since. It hasn't been a long time but we've settled down and love this place!

We met in 2006 in Hawaii at the Polynesian Cultural center on Oahu. I was a hula dancer and Jun was a tour guide at the center. One day our eyes met... and the rest is history!

I am an English teacher, graduated with a degree in TESOL. Jun is working in finance and graduated in Accounting, emphasis in Finance.

We are pretty much the complete opposite of each other. I like to dance, Jun hates dancing. I like basketball, he likes soccer. I'm from New Zealand and he's from Japan. The list goes on forever. But it is through our  differences that we came to love each other and help each other grow and experience new things outside our usual routine.

We'll keep you all posted on the happenings on this side of the world!

Much love,

The Makise's