Thursday, December 31, 2009

Sayoonara, 2009!

Less than 8 hours from now, 2009 will be nothing but memories. I honestly think this was probably the very best year of my life so far- so full of excitement and adventure! I'm so truly, deeply thankful for all the amazing opportunities we've been given and for all the astounding people in my life who have made this year unforgettable. I've always gotten a little too sentimental on New Year's Eve (my sister likes to tell the story of me as a kid, crying as I said goodbye to 1992 because I was going to miss it), but I just can't help it- closing a year full of amazing memories calls for a dose of sentiment in my opinion.

These are the top 10 things I will remember about 2009:

1. Moving to Japan (duh, right?)
2. Breaking my arm and the subsequent 3 months of physical therapy (this one wasn't so great)
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3. Settling into our new home4. Seeing the Japanese cherry blossoms in spring5. Scuba diving for the first time and camping in Tappi
6. Our friends Nate and Kara getting married (in addition to all the other nights of karaeoke and fun times with friends in Misawa)7. Climbing Mt. Fuji!!!8. Exploring Tokyo (on a couple different occasions)9. Seeing the beauty of fall in northern Japan10. Some family coming out to see us for Christmas
Looking forward...
Happy New Year!! Here's to 2010! I hope it's a great year for everyone!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Our first visitors!

For Christmas my mom, sister and her boyfriend came out to Japan to visit us. While we missed my dad a whole whole lot, we had a good week here and had a lot of fun!

Corey and I came down to Tokyo to meet our peeps, then we all spent three days there having some fun (since let's face it, there's a bit more to do and see in Tokyo than in Misawa, especially in the winter). Highlights include:

Visiting the Imperial Palace and seeing the Emperor of Japan speak...

Walking/taking the subway all over the city, visiting gardens, stores, arcades, shrines, coffee/tea shops, Tokyo Tower, and more...

And then there was the food. Oh holy goodness, the food. We ate a lot- mostly copious amounts of ramen and pastries (if you're ever in Tokyo, you MUST go to the bakery right outside the Hanzomon line's 5th station exit to get the most delicious chocolate croissant you will ever taste- it will change your life, I promise). Chris's favorite thing in the entire world is ramen, so he had fun trying a bunch of different places (one of which we spent like 2 hours trying to find and waited in line at least 20 minutes for that had the best noodles I've ever had)...
After all that Tokyo fun, we headed up to Misawa on Christmas Eve. There we had a nice, low-key time doing Christmas-y things like making gingerbread houses, cooking, watching movies, playing games, and basically just hanging out.
Thank you Mom, Kibby and Chris for all the fun! It's Dad's turn next time!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Why wait for New Year's?

I'm getting my diet and exercise back in check NOW. These past few weeks were pretty awful- no working out, lots and lots (and lots and lots) of terrible food (the 5 people at our house during Christmas ate 5 TUBS of cookies over 3 days- eek!). I feel pretty disgusting.

I started back with a 4.5 mile run today at the gym, and Corey and I are eating a 100% clean food diet for a week to get us started.

Wish us luck!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Trim Up the Tree With Christmas Stuff

It's a holiday winter wonderland up around these parts. I have for your viewing pleasure a bajillion pictures of Christmas-y Misawa...

First of all, some lights around town:
The display at American Park

A Christmas tree made up entirely of recycled plastic bottles

A couple houses on base all lit up

Then we have the Garson family decorations:
Our big ol' tree

Corey's candy pagoda and my little candy cabin (we had a gingerbread house-making party with some friends today)

The ornament wreath I made this year

Our small tree with the cute little snowmen I love dearly

A small sample of the dozens of cookies I've been baking this season

And finally, a couple random December pictures:
A quiet, calm snowy night-time walk

Us after an offical Air Force event (my first one ever!)

See, I told you- a bajillion pictures.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Squid Spaghetti

We went to Antonio's, an "italian"* restaurant here in Misawa, a few weeks ago and Corey ordered squid ink pasta. It was a bowl of black goop which smelled very... squid-y. He ate the whole thing. His mouth was stained black for the rest of the night.
*I use quotes as the Japanese take on Italian food tends to be rather weak. This restaurant was decent though. I liked it (but that may be because I miss Italian food so much and this is as close as it gets here).

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Mmm... salmon!

We went to the Oirase Salmon Festival this weekend with our awesome new friends Ed and Chessa and their two adorable daughters. Here's what happens at these festivals: the organizers fill several large ponds with live salmon, and you buy a ticket that allows you to wade into the ponds and attempt to catch a fish (which you then get to keep). If you are unable to catch a salmon (they're slippery little buggers), you're given a pre-caught one so that your ticket purchase isn't a complete waste. There are several group salmon catches throughout the day, spaced apart so the salmon have time to calm down between each catch. People get excited. It's general merriment for all (except the salmon, probably).

The boys were particularly excited about this activity. Here are Ed and Corey just after they caught their salmon:
video

I've got to say, either I got really lucky and happened to grab a particularly lethargic salmon before our side of the pond got too riled up, or I am the world's best fish-catcher. I caught my fish FAST. Like, I stepped in the pond, reached down, and picked up a fish as if it was the easiest thing in the world. See for yourself:
video

Afterwards we were cold, muddy and wet, so we enjoyed some hot festival ramen before heading home.
We ate some of our catch last night, and we now have about a year's worth of salmon fillets sitting in the freezer. Anyone want to come over for dinner??

Friday, November 13, 2009

Where I'd spend my tokens...

If you were a child (or a treat-loving adult), what kind of prize would entice you to play the arcade game below? A gumball, a chocolate candy, a tiny plastic toy of some sort?
Pssh, how cliché. Think bigger people- apparently you can put anything in these machines. Cheese and sausage sticks for the win!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Gorgeous day at the swan park

Today is unbelievably beautiful! It was snowing just a few short days ago, but on this November 7th, the sky is a clear bright blue and temperatures have almost hit the 70's! It's completely energizing, so we had to get out and enjoy it, seeing as we probably won't see another day like this for the next 4 or 5 months. We decided to have a picnic lunch at the nearby Swan Park in Oirase (so named because its lakes are home to hundreds of swans during the winter, or so I've heard- there were only 4 around today).

We ate on the grass surrounded by falling leaves, watching ducks swimming in the lake and listening to kids running around on the playground. Afterwards we walked around the park, just enjoying the weather. It was a perfect, relaxing, refreshing day!

Photographic evidence for your viewing pleasure: