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Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

My favorite and most loving sister tops the charts, obviously.

Where did this year go? I can’t believe my 3rd favorite holiday has already gone and passed. I love Thanksgiving.

I am thankful for my mom’s Whipped Maple Pecan Sweet Potato recipe, as well as the rest of our feastful:

I’m especially thankful for my family.

I’m also thankful for my friends…especially the ones with a new baby!

What a cutie patootie!

I’m also thankful for CHOCOLATE…thanks to the people at Adora! They gave me the chance to taste, review and let you all know what I think about this sinful, healthy, nutrient-full supplement.

Milk or Dark Chocolate. Yum.

As they say, rich, creamy, and indulgent. Adora holds true to its word. Providing 50% of your daily value of calcium per 30 calorie disk, as well vitamin D3 and magnesium for optimal absorption, this is seriously the best thing since sliced bread. With chocolate tasting this good, I won’t EVER forget to take my calcium supplement again, and that’s a promise. Is there such a thing as overdosing? I hope not. Thanks Adora for letting me try your fabulous product.

YOU can be thankful for Adora’s retail availability at CVS/pharmacy stores and Whole Foods nationwide. Go get some NOW!

I’m going to continue giving thanks and my body will thank me for the post-Thanksgiving workout I’m about to endure.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

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In the meantime

My day started at 4:10a.m.

More like my night ended at 2:30a.m. and I took a cat-nap until 4 when I heard Tomo come nearly crashing down our death stairs carrying her suitcase that most definitely weighs as much, if not more than her.

Today, Tomo left.

Mom, Dad and I drove her to the airport at 4:30a.m. I will say that, since I fell asleep in my clothes on the couch and didn’t even bother to remove my pants or put on p.j.s that I was looking pretty good for that early in the a.m. ๐Ÿ˜‰

In addition, I have lots of updates on our 8 day adventure around the Twin Cities, but while I whip that up, as well as some Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cookies, here is a dorky survey that I actually enjoyed doing, to tide you over.

I was tagged on Anne’s Blog @ Food Loving Polar Bear in her little survey/questionnaire. So here goes my answers to those questions.

1. If you could have any superpower, what would you have? Why?

I would want to fly or be invisible so I could walk through walls. Sounds like it’d be cool. Oh wait, I wanna breathe underwater too! Free SCUBA diving!

2. Who is your style icon?

Hahaha, if you know me at all, um I clearly don’t have an icon by the way I dress, but I do like simple and cute with some accessories and heels. Who’s that?

3. What is your favorite quote?

Wow, I love quotes, but I currently have this one on my email signature:

Progress involves risk. You can’t steal second base while keeping your foot on first. -Anonymous

Seems relevant to my life right now.

4. What is the best compliment youโ€™ve ever received?

Tomo’s family told me that I am the nicest foreigner they’ve ever met and I’m really respectful and understanding of other cultures. ๐Ÿ˜€

5. What playlist/cd is in your CD player/iPod right now?

I’m a little behind on the times since I just got home, but I’m still obsessed with Love the Way you Lie by Rihanna/Eminem, and I really like the country tune: If I Die Young.

6. Are you a night owl or a morning person?

I used to be a morning person, but evidently my social priorities have me staying up really late. That will all change again when I’m working 40+ hours a week!

7. Do you prefer dogs or cats?

Don’t hate me: NEITHER. I don’t mind them, but since I didn’t grow up with any, I could live without ever having one. Some people have really cool dogs though.

8. What is the meaning behind your blog name?

I am from Minnesota, and this is my life. (Travels, Friends, Family, my Faith, and the fun things I do…all while trying to find a healthy balance). Here is my About Page!

Tag some people:

Jamie @ Tearaveler

Julie @ Peanut Butter Fingers

Molly @ Something.Beautiful

Janetha @ Meals and Moves

Have fun with the questions! :)

~~~

Enjoy and I’ll be back SOON!

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Hello all! Ok, so since I’ve gotten home a little less than a month ago, I’ve neglected this little blog. Let’s just say I’m spending some quality time with family and friends, sans internet and technology (excluding my cell phone, let’s be serious, going a year without texting…I obviously have some catching up to do ๐Ÿ˜‰ ). But I do believe I have some India travels to share with you all. So here it goes!

~~~

You wanna know something funny!? Being a Midwest girl, it’s pretty likely you’ll run across a family of ducks, a turkey in the road, or sometimes a deer (if you’re *not lucky), but in India, it was a-whole-nother story. Well-put by our driver ‘Veej’, the cows are the ‘King of the Road’.

He wasn’t kidding either.

Before heading out of Delhi on our 3rd day, Mr. Singh promised to bring us to Gandhi’s Memorial Site. I have never been so moved, inspired, and changed in a span of 2 hours. I wish everyone could see just a fraction of the things Gandhi did for his country and the world.

Ton and I were able to walk the same path Gandhi took to his daily prayer, before being shot and assassinated at his home.

Below is the exact point where Gandhi was assassinated on January 30, 1948 (according to the U.S., but my journal says 1947, which is when India celebrates, I believe).

~~~

On a lighter note, we took off with Vijay and made our way to Jaipur. A few things he said, which made us laugh:

When you travel, laughter is good for health. Laughter means happy brain.

Do you know Ramayama? You can search in the Googles.

We call people Gadha, means: he is so stupid.

Obviously we probably found his antics a lot more humorous than you would reading those, but at the time, this guy just brightened our day and made us laugh, a lot. Healthy brains, right?!

We arrived at the Radoli House (Hotel) and pretty much called it a night (after 9 hours of driving!)

Next up, our tour of Jaipur and a night none of us (3) would forget!

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Day Three in (New) Delhi

We woke up refreshed and had breakfast at the hotel again (complimentary) and we were lucky to have our favorite workers on duty! They were so funny!

At 10:30am we met up with Mr. Singh for the tour.

First up, Laxmi Narayan Hindu Temple:

The temple is built in honour of Laxmi (Hindu goddess of wealth), and her consort Narayana

  • The famous temple is accredited to have been inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi in 1939.

While driving we also saw the Parliament Building, the Ministry of Defenses, and the Ministry of Parliament.

And onto meet the President (I wish!)

The President only has control of the Armed Forces and then the Prime Minister of India controls the rest.

India Gate

  • India’s Gate is a War Memorial arch that was built in honor of 90,000 Indian soldiers who lost their lives during WWI
  • Below, it burns the Amar Jawan Jyoti, the eternal flame in tribute to all martyred soldiers of India

Next on the list, Humayun’s Tomb:

  • Humayun’s tomb is a complex of buildings built as the Mughal Emperor Humayun’s tomb, commissioned by Humayun’s wife Hamida Banu Begum in 1562 CE, and designed by Mirak Mirza Ghiyath, a Persian architect.
  • It was also the first structure to use red sandstone at such a scale.
  • The complex was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993, and since then has undergone extensive restoration work, which is still underway.

After an entire day of not eating (except breakfast), it was now nearing 4pm and we had one more stop to go. Luckily the heat staves off all ques of hunger, but pretty soon, I would be blacking out!

The Qutub Minar:

  • The Qutub Minar tower is at 72.5 meters (237.8ย ft) the world’s tallest brick minaret
  • The Qutb Minar is notable for being one of the earliest and most prominent examples of Indo-Islamic architecture

It was a glorious, but HOT day out, but luckily we had our AC car to take us from site to site. And if not that, Mr. Singh kept us entertained with his wit, humor, and adorable smile!

Day Four, we’re heading from Delhi to Jaipur. Before leaving though, we get to see Gandhi!!! Stay tuned. I’ll be back!

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FINALLY, recaps!

July 24th: India Day 1 (in transit) and July 25th, Day 2, our first day out in the city!

I took the 8-hour overnight bus down from Aomori to Tokyo, staying briefly in the Narita airport before taking flight to Malasia and onto India. Only 12 hours of flights for day 1. :-/

I made it to Malaysia and after chilling in their AMAZING airport, I was bumped up to 1st class when the plane had been over-booked. Not to shabby.

Dinner was seriously fabulous. I can’t believe I’m saying that about an airplane meal. But beef and lamb skewers with a curry peanut sauce. I was in heaven. And after the second 6-hour flight of the day and a few cat naps later, I landed in Delhi. It took about 2 seconds after opening the cabin door to the outside to realize–this place is hot, hot, HOT. It was 9:30pm and 32 degrees Celsius. (That’s about 90 degrees folks)

Tonya joined me at the airport a few hours later. Fun was about to ensue. We were ready for the adventures of India!

Welcome to the Grand Central Hotel, Delhi. The staff here was amazing. Not as sweet as our driver for the next 8 days, but they were entertaining nonetheless.

Day 2- (Old) Delhi

Ton and I woke up at around 8am and attempted to get ready in our slightly sketchy hotel. Before Vijay (Mr. Singh), our driver picked us up, we walked the streets of Delhi, near our hotel.

Not two steps out and beggars, homeless children, and shop keepers were in our face. Trash litters the streets, smog, dust, broken roads, and poverty everywhere.

At noon, our tour began.

  • There are 15 million people in Delhi.
  • It was colonized by the British. They left in 1947 (Aug. 15: Independence Day)
  • Many city names have changed since then (Dilli–>Delhi, Bombay–> Mumbai)

First up, JAMA MAJID

It was 2p.m. (prayer) so we had to come back later.

Second stop, RED FORT

The Red Fort served as the capital of the Mughals until 1857, when Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar was exiled by the British Indian government. The British used it as a military camp until India was made independent in 1947.

Also called “Lalย  Qila”, it is made of Red Sandstone and one of the most magnificent in Delhi. It was built by Emperor Shah Jahan in 1638.

Back to the Jama Majid once again:

After our grand tour by an 8 year old, we were forced to pay for the tour we didn’t really know we were on. Hmm, we’re learning a little slowly, but at least we have our bartering down pat. Next time, no getting taken advantage of.

Next stop, and last for the day: Raj Ghat- Gandhi Memorial

  • This is where the cremation of Mahatma Gandhi lies, the father of the Indian nation.
  • An eternity flame is lit there and it is a sacred pilgrimage for all Indians.

Ton and I returned at about 6pm and hadn’t had food since 9am. Can you imagine how hungry we were?! We ate, passed out and woke up 13 hours later!!!

Next stop, day 3, in (New) Delhi!

Stay tuned (and thanks for waiting for an eternity for me to post something!)

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Over a week ago I had my last day at the Junior High. As I walked out the door, several teachers followed me, as I was sobbing (no lie), out of the office, down the stairs and waved to me as I said my final sayonara.

After the tears had dried, I made my way to Tomo’s house where her family had put together a goodbye barbecue for me. Now, what do you think of when you think BBQ? Hamburgs, dogs, chips, pasta salad, baked beans, the loot? Well, things go a little differently here in Japan, but oh so scrumptious. I love me some cultural foods, yum yum. First up, sushi. I even learned how to roll my own!

It was an epic failure, so luckily I was only allowed to do one!

Not only was there mouth-watering sushi, but lots of other grillable goodies as well.

The Grill Master at work (Tomo’s dad):

Miss Tomo enjoying the summer evening weather.

And Tomo’s mom even bought chicken especially for me ๐Ÿ™‚

Tomo’s dad had met Rach at one of her visit schools and wanted her to join in on the festivities, too.

When it was time to catch the train back to Hirosaki I couldn’t help but shed a few tears of sadness. Tomo’s mom was crying too. Her family was so good to me this past spring! I’m really looking forward to Tomo’s visit at the beginning of September! I better get some planning going! Minnesota festivities, here.we.come.

But first, a full recap of India to come!

I’m about to take-off, Goodbye Tokyo, hello Minnesota!

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So I suck at goodbyes.

In fact, I try not to think about them until the day of, then I realize this.is.it. However, in these past few weeks, I’ve had a lot of time to think and many goodbyes to be had. This week, I had to say goodbye to the 1st graders AND 2nd grade classes. I thought I still taught them next week. Nope.

After walking into the first grade class on Tuesday, I realized that this was the end. Hmmph. Not happy ’bout that. I tried to fight back the tears, but they were inevitable and that lump in my throat grew bigger. I’ll add–I’m kind of an emotional person as it is. We played games for our last class and we had a blast. Probably one of the most fun days all year. This is supposed to be me:

After fun, laughter, and tears, we gathered for a pic and the students presented me with this board:

Names were signed, messages written (some in kanji, dang it), and I thought back on all the fun things we’ve done this year. If I can come away with one thing to share with all of you, it would be to go abroad, specifically Japan, but anywhere is okay. I have learned so much in this past year and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. The good, bad, happy, or sad times. It all has shaped me into who I am, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

So, enough sap, I spent an hour after school practicing English speeches with the kids for the speech contest, and then headed back to Hirosaki with Ms. ichi-nensei. However, it doesn’t end there! She said she had a small gift for me and I was more than surprised. We swung by her house and she returned with a huge bag. I opened it and instantly cried (again) when I saw a kimono inside!!!

Look at this beautiful pattern and those colors! Yes, there are rabbits on it, and if you only saw the whole thing, sooooo pretty!

What a way to end the year! I’ll be bustin’ out this baby at the Hirosaki Nebuta on my last day in Japan: August 2nd. Pictures coming soon!

Happy Friday Southeast-asianers! Hello weekend!

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