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Yesterday was a pretty stellar day.

Who could ask for more when you get to spend 3 hours with your Grandma out to lunch at Good Earth, help her fill up her gas tank and chat for another hour back at her apartment afterward? I love this lady. She bring good luck too. True statement.

And isn’t she just precious. How couldn’t you love hanging out with her?!

In addition to hanging out with Gma McG, Tuesday also marked the release of my first published blog article “Finding My Healthy” at www.SheTaxi.com! This site is a private, subscription-only online vehicle for women to relate to different topics, be it Motherhood, being Solo, Daughterhood, Wellness, Sheness, etc. I definitely think it’s a great tool, but of course, I am a little biased. However, you should still check it out. Membership is free dura beta. 😉

This would make me a writer, would it not? 🙂

Now, I’m pretty sure good things happen in groups of three, too. Because, while out with Gma, I got a call from an Unknown number but refrained from answering at the restaurant.

That’s when I figured it was was a call regarding an interview last week. I told, maybe, 3 people about this interview, just in case it didn’t work out and especially because it was so intense, I was nervous about the outcome. Luckily, I had my lucky Grandma with me in this time of doubt. 😉

While back at her apartment she said,

Well, I really hope you get the job Molly, because if you do, that means my apartment is lucky. You wanna know why? Both of your aunts received calls about selling their houses while they were here. So it must be lucky.

Don’t get me wrong, I was a little skeptical, but Grandma delivered!

I was offered the JOB!!!!!!!!!

I am now employed, and my Grandma is for sure a lucky charm, so if you have something in your life that needs a good vibe, just hang out with her. Or just stop by, because she’s pretty good company!

Coming up on A Minnesota Life…a product review, stop back soon, you won’t be disappointed!

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Happy November, Happy Election Day (yesterday), Happy Fall, Happy Hump Day,

Well for those of you who follow my blog, or did, I was an avid writer while in Japan. I had the time, the energy, the inspiration of being in a foreign country with endless topics, ideas, and events going on in my life that I could share with people. I was especially good as sharing my feelings and hardships about the language barrier, cultural differences, and lifestyle of an American girl living in rural Japan.

Things are different now, I will admit. It seems like I write every two weeks, or sadly, go even longer without posting. I wanted to maintain this blog as a healthy living site for what goes on in my life and what I’ve been up to on a day-to-day basis. I’d love to say my life is exhilarating, and full of excitement. I will say, I have been doing a LOT, however, when I want to blog about something or post my new recipes, etc., I find myself holding back and getting “sidetracked” because what I really should be doing is job hunting. Granted, I don’t job hunt 24/7, but I feel guilty even picking up a novel and having ‘me time’ when I know I should be pounding the pavement with this job search.

It’s a tough market people. I’m sure you’re all aware of that. Part of me wants to just get my foot in the door with a great company like Target, General Mills, or Health Partners, and not care about the position. The other part of me wants to find that perfect position and not care what the company or pay is, but just do what I love. What exactly do I love? Well, health is definitely at the forefront of my interests, as well as writing…so that leads to PR, I like promoting health, wellness, fitness…so there’s job potential there. I also like the idea of working with a company with healthy foods (hello Target, yes I will be a buyer for your Organic foods)…a girl can dream right? I just don’t know where to start. It’s overwhelming and slightly depressing sometimes, but I’ll keep at it and get my dream job one way or another!

In the meantime my other priorities include my internship at SheTaxi (the more practice and experience, the better), running, family, friends, and of course a little cooking, TV, and People magazine.

These past few weeks, since Grandma’s 90th, we’ve spent time with the family from out of state, going to the cabin,

Quality sister time,

And of course last weekend, getting all gussied up for the festivities, that is, my 2nd favorite holiday of the year: HALLOWEEN.

Hello Shakira and our lil Firefighter

Nerd & a TopGun girl (that would be my dad’s real Vietnam uniform there!)

Antone Dodson, and Jake the Bachelor

A Hot dog, taco and condiments

I will say though, that when planning a Halloween costume, being from Minnesota, taking the weather into consideration is a good idea. I did not, and paid the price. It was freezing!

So while I’m not gonna worry about where my priorities lie, I’m just gonna let the good times roll. Life too short to not to enjoy the small stuff.

I hope everyone got out and voted yesterday for somebody. Have a great rest of the week. Let’s set a personal goal (me) of writing again before weeks end.

 

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Good afternoon 🙂

Before moving Cady back to St. Mary’s University in Winona, MN on Saturday, we hit up my dad’s neighborhood block party from when he was growing up. Let me say, coolest idea ever. As we walked up, all these grown men and old ladies were like: “Oh Billy…so good to see you, is this your family…” My dad just turned 60 in May, and some of these people he hadn’t seen since high school. Pretty cool. Mom, sissy, and I tagged along for the ride & reunion.

I just love that sequence. Yes, my parents are that goofy. 🙂

It was really fun to meet all the kids adults my dad grew up with. Sadly we could only stay a little while before trekking down to school to drop off the sister.

So in other news, I’m being a major slacker on the whole India recaps, but life is still flying by the seat of my own pants, so I have to keep you all updated on that, even if it means updates from the comfort of my own home, where I religiously watch Ellen, go for morning runs with my dad, and of course job hunting for the perfect Health Communication job. 🙂

In the meantime, I’ve also been preparing for a pretty sweet arrival of a pretty sweet person. Ms. Tomoyo from my little nook in Japan is COMING TO MINNESOTA! TOMORROW! Eeeek. This also means MAJOR cleaning to ensue. Not really my orders, but more of my dear mother wanting a presentable home. I completely understand. And being that it’s my friend and sissy is officially brought off to college as of last Saturday, that leaves me, the non-working daughter to fend for myself and get to work! I promise I did deliver, too.

Not only did I clean my rank room (note* = I moved home on Aug. 3 and purposefully avoided that hell hole, excuse my language, for a good 3.5 weeks. The piles got deeper, and I got less and less motivated.) I was not kidding either:

Embarrassing. But now, I can sleep in my own bed and find everything I own, neatly in its place. 🙂

Ahhh, finally. But my domestic duties did.not.end.there. After my morning run in the sun, I found myself in the cleaning mood too, so I proceeded to dust, vacuum, and wash the kitchen floors. Oooh, my momma’s gonna looooooove me 🙂

Done and done.

~~~

And since I was feeling extra crafty and had a butternut squash to deal with (please don’t judge the fact that I had forgotten what I even bought and had to Google: tan squash, in order to find out its name and more so, a recipe to prepare with it). Embarrassing, again. But like I said, foodie-in-training.

Adapted from this recipe

Whipped Butternuttin’ Better Squash

Ingredients

  • 1 butternut squash (about 2-1/2 pounds), peeled, seeded and cubed
  • 3 cups water
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, optional, divided
  • 2 tablespoons butter (I used 1)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (didn’t have any, so I sub’d Cinnamon)
  • I added a dollop of plain yogurt
  • I also added a small driz of honey…not sure why, but it was a good choice.

Directions

  • In a saucepan over medium heat, bring squash, water and 1/2 teaspoon of salt if desired to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until the squash is tender. (It was about 25 minutes that I did).


  • Drain; transfer to a bowl. Add butter, brown sugar, nutmeg Cinnamon, yog, honey and remaining salt if desired; beat until smooth. Yield: 6 servings.

I will say: This was so good and sinful. Mom backed me up on that. 😀 I cut up an apple and it made the perfect dipper!

So I may have only spent an hour job hunting, but lil’ Rachel Ray here was making magic happen in the kitchen. I think the sacrifice was well worth it.

Now off to grocery shop for some of Tomo’s meals while she’s here. Look forward to full recaps on our adventures together in the next week, starting with the celebration of MOM’S –th BIRTHDAY TOMORROW! It’s a big one!

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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 🙂

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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Well, the weekend was eventful to say the least. It was full of drinks, dancing, good food, great friends, and unforgettable times.

Backing up to Friday, I finished up work at about 1:15p.m. and headed over to Tomo’s so we could pick up a few last things from my old house and head into Hirosaki where I would meet up with Rach and Alesha for the JET going away party. The humidity was nast, and nearly unbearable. After racing up to the station to catch the 3:14p.m. train to Aomori, I was a puddle. I don’t do the whole graceful, lady-like glistening of the forehead, no, I was a puddle, there were beads of sweat on my shins!!! Who sweats there?! I was in my dress by this point and all attempts to look somewhat decent were quickly shot right out the window. Thank the high heavens for air-conditioned trains.

We made it to the city in about an hour’s time, and met up with other chums to head over to the hotel for ‘rehearsal’ which was a practice line-up of walking through the doors and bowing when our name was called.

Besides that foolishness of prepping for the event, it was really good to see some of the people who live across the ken and were unfortunately much less accessible throughout the year. After the farewell speech was given, some nibbles on the buffet (omg pumpkin rounds with salsa, to.die.for.), pictures taken, and mistaken board-writing identities, we were off to the next shindig.

After our two hours of drinking/eating/socializing, we were off to the nijikai (2nd party), hosted at Bar Atom. There we hit up the dance floor and endless rounds of beer pong and vodka tonics with lime. Yes, an little over-indulgent and reminiscent of my college days only one short year ago. It’s surreal to me to say goodbye to these amazing people.

Until the actual departure I don’t think I can fully grasp what is actually going on. I know this was just the first of many lasts. Soon it will be my last class, my last walk through Owani, my last train ride, my last supper with Alesha and Rach, my last drive to Aomori, the last time to see my supervisor, friends, the countryside, and this beautiful island…At least until I come back. But never again will I relive this chapter in my life, never again will I be with these people at this time, doing these things. This was an amazing year. And I’m not done reflecting yet, but that’s what I’ve got so far.

Saturday was a recovery day…to say the least. We woke to cats and dogs falling out of the sky it was pouring so hard. That makes for some major lack of motivation in the get-your-life-together process. It may have happened around 11a.m. We trekked back to Hirosaki via Kasey’s P.O.S. cloth-seat car (totally kidding if you’re reading this)…his car is nice, in fact, perfect for dozing off in the back seat. Upon returning, we may or may not have napped for a good 4 hours and once 8p.m. hit, we realized we should probably make a much harder effort to get those lives back on track. We had some clubbing to do out on the town and made it out by 10p.m….and back by sunrise…at 4a.m. WHO AM I?!?! I don’t even think I could stay up that late in college!!! The only thing I have to show for it is our morning after photo shoot:

I can’t believe the year is over. I can’t believe how fast it went, and how bad I want to stay now…at least for a few more months! Thanks to everyone who I met and who changed my life FOREVER!!!

These next few weeks may have sporadic posts as I try to get my ducks in order, but fear not, you WILL hear from me 😀

I hope everyone is enjoying their summer, where ever you are!

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Hello, I’m alive, still walking, have knee caps in tact, and ready for the half-Mary on Sunday, in celebration of America’s Independence! (Despite the fact that I’m running in Japan :mrgreen: ).

First off, do any of you know about Ms. Special K? Well, besides the fact that her blog is awesome, she owns a Macbook, and her Special K Treatment is spot-on, she’s also living abroad and doing this awesome thing called GIMME YOUR STUFF. What exactly do I mean? Well, look what arrived in my mailbox the other day!

Look at those earrings! LOVE THEM! They’re from Metz, France, and the cute owl card from Durham, England.

And the best for last, Praline Chocolate with Cinnamon Cookie. Um, did I just die and go to heaven and eat it all in one sitting. Yes. It was marvelous. The cinnamon, key ingredient. If only I lived in Brussels, Belgium, I could get some more 😉

Thanks again Krystal! If any of you want to do an exchange with her, head on over to her blog. She’d be more than happy to Give you her stuff, and get some from around the globe, too.

~~~

Just across the pond is also my ‘new home’ for the week. Dearest Alesha (aka Crumpet) is off across yet another pond, a much bigger pondHONG KONG, but while she’s away, I graciously accepted her request to house-sit get a break from granny + ’round the clock internet access. Ya don’t have to ask me twice. 😉 Even though I knew it would probably be more work (i.e. riding over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s Alesha’s house we go), I knew it’d be nice to have the peace and quiet for a few nights without checking in with granny and worrying about leaving the windows open for rain to flood in (yep, did that). Even though after staring at Muscles and Spandex (a new eye candy. He likes spandex. I do too 😉 ) getting a brief workout in, I biked to granny’s to gather my overnight bag, proceeded on down to Alesha’s neck of the woods, and parked myself on the couch to fall asleep to the soothing sound of Entourage and The Bachelorette (just kidding, her voice is annoying, not soothing). At any rate, I managed to somehow stay up for not one, but BOTH shows, and even started The Proposal. I was definitely out 2 minutes into that. Barely got a glimpse of my love (Ryan Reynolds).

Up at 5:30am to be out the door by 6, to be on the train by 7. The distance across the pond IS definitely worth the hassle.

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