Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Moved in!

We officially moved into the yellow house yesterday! Yippee! So far we have a few ugly and uncomfortable pieces of furniture on loan, no internet, no TV, and no phone. It might not be the most exciting place to be during the next couple of weeks while we wait for our stuff and our installations, but it's ours and we're happy to finally have a home again!

Corey's favorite rooms in the house are the bathrooms. Not only do the toilets come equipped with heated seats and bidets, but each bathroom has its own shower ROOM. That's right, an entire waterproof room to wash yourself in (in addition to a bathtub). Corey (being the child he is at heart) had a grand old time last night jumping around the shower room, spraying everything he could. He's going to have a bit too much fun in the bathroom during the next 4 years...

I saw the doctor today and apparently my xrays look pretty much the same. So I guess the arm is healing slowly. The doctor was little worried that I'm not able to straighten my arm yet, so I have to spend time each day for the next week slowly trying to extend it as much as I can (which doesn't feel good, let me tell you...). He thinks I probably sprained some ligaments which is more of a problem than the actual fracture at this point because apparently it's a time-sensitive issue; if I don't get my full range of motion back soon, I will lose it altogether. I'll probably start physical therapy next week since he wanted me to spend one more week in the splint. Blah. Hopefully there will be improvement by then!

Since we're not staying on base anymore and don't have internet access at home yet, my updates might be a bit sporadic over the next couple of weeks. I'll do what I can though! We miss you all a lot!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Holy frustration!!

60 hours to download Lost on iTunes??!! Really????

Friday, January 23, 2009

Hachinohe day

Today we went on a tour of Hachinohe- the nearest big city to Misawa, about 40 minutes away. It was fun! Here’s a rundown of our activities:

Our first stop was the Hachinohe fish market.

This place is AWESOME! We walked around for an hour, looking at, sampling and buying all kinds of sea specimens. I’ve never seen so much fish in my life- row after row after row of gigantic fresh stuff, half of which I’ve never seen or heard of before today. Octopus tentacle, anyone?

We tasted various pickled items, different raw fish (fishes?), multiple types of fish eggs, fresh crab (YUM!), squid cakes, and a few things that I couldn’t distinguish for the life of me. Some of it was delicious, some was just OK, and one thing had me struggling not to make rude grossed-out faces and heave right there on the floor. I held a giant live crab for the first time. We became buddies.

After the fish market we went to the Hachinohe train station for an introduction to the bullet train system. I’m excited to ride the bullet train one day, but it’s fairly expensive. We’re discovering that all travel within Japan is actually really expensive. We’re just going to have to suck it up and make a big travel fund because there is way too much cool stuff here to miss! At the train station they had a giant float from a summer festival a few years back that took up an entire 2-story room (and apparently that’s a small one).

Our next stop was to a Shinto shrine. I’m not a particularly religious person, but I’m actually kind of into this particular one. It seems really interesting. The shrine was beautiful- I’ve seen several of them around now and I love how they’re all tucked away in the middle of trees. With the shapes and colors, there’s just something really appealing about them to me. This first picture is the entrance to the shrine and the one underneath is of Corey “purifying” himself before going into the Tori gate (the big red pillars).

Our last stop was to a mall in the city. Nothing too exciting, but it was lunchtime and I got a nice big bowl of ramen.

Now we’re back to base, Corey is out taking care of some paperwork for the car we bought, and I’m getting ready for a nap. My arm has sort of been flaring up a bit the last 2 days and I haven’t been sleeping very well. Hopefully that will improve!

By the way, it hasn’t snowed all week and most of the ice on the ground is melted. I like it this way much beter!!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Misawa City Tour

Today we went on a mandatory tour of our new home city (which we were supposed to take last week, but didn't get around to until this week). It was pretty cool, but nothing too crazy exciting. We visited a Buddhist temple, an old Samurai house, a couple of museums, and a shopping center. Here are a couple of pics from the tour:
A Buddhist Temple in Misawa

Personal altars the Japanese can buy for $7000 inside the temple. 

A snowy Japanese graveyard

A tatami mat room in the Samurai house (turned into a museum with fake people and food, but you get the idea)

After the tour we went and had sushi with some friends (yes, we're making friends already- yay!). Sushi here is delicious, but a word of warning- wasabi in Japan is on an entirely new level. That stuff is serious!!

Tomorrow is our tour of Hachinohe. That tour should be a little more exciting than today's (we're going to a giant well-known fish market, among other places), so hopefully I'll post tomorrow with some cool pictures!

We're going to get a cell phone today, so friends and family will finally have a way to contact us (other than email). House phones are really really expensive here (like some people install actual pay phones in their house because it's cheaper!), so we're only going to have a cell. But we'll get the number out to anyone that wants it as soon as we get it.

That's all I've got for now. I hope any Lost fans reading this enjoyed the premier. Tell me anything about it and die. :)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

TV in Misawa...

... is fairly annoying.

On base we watch the "Air Force Network." It's pretty horrific with awful "go-military!" commercials instead of regular ones and overall very lame programming. However, they do show a random sampling of 4 American TV shows including American Idol, 24, Battlestar Galactica and.... 
LOST!!!! Score! Except for the fact that they're showing this gem of a show on Sundays- 4 full days after its original premier. So here's my dilemma: Do I wait and watch Lost on TV on Sunday night, meaning I stay away from all internet sources that might leak any type of spoiler until then, or do I break down and download it on iTunes as soon as it's available and join in on the discussions?? Decisions, decisions... I think I'll only have to make it this one week because I don't think we'll get the luxury of the Air Force Network off-base, so I guess it doesn't matter too much. I'm still horrendously upset that I'm in Japan for the final 2 seasons of Lost. It really kills me! ARG!!! :) I guess I should be thankful that we love 3 of the 4 American shows that are available to us here at all(never seen 24).  

In other TV watching events... So this was totally my fault, but I had an annoying morning. I wanted to watch Obama's inauguration. I calculated the time difference and figured it would start at 4 am here. So I woke up at 3:30 this morning and went to turn it on, only to see PRESIDENT Obama sitting down for his luncheon. Totally missed the whole thing. I used the stinking west coast time difference instead of east coast. Grrr. Oh well. After watching news recaps all day, I've gotten the jist of it. 3 cheers for the end of Bush!!!

We have a house!

We shall call it "the yellow house." There were pretty slim pickings when it came to finding an off-base house, and we started to get nervous. Then we came upon this little guy, and we were happy. It's a brand new house, 3 bed/2bath, 2 car garage. We found that none of the Japanese houses are particularly asthetically pleasing from the outside, so this is about as good as it gets. It's in an area of all new houses that are still being built (we don't even have an actual road to our house yet). Our street is made up of 5 or 6 other houses identical to ours, I think with mostly other American families renting them (although there are a lot of Japanese on the surrounding streets, which is nice). 
We move in on Monday! Corey and I have been apartment dwellers up until this point, so this will be our first actual house together. We're realizing we're going to need A LOT more furniture (3 bedrooms is a lot for 2 little people- we don't have that much stuff)! It turns out our furniture and big stuff hasn't arrived yet afterall, but we'll be given loaner furniture to use until it does.

Tomorrow we're going on the official military-led Misawa city tour, and Friday on another tour to Hachinohe, the nearest big city about 40 minutes away. I think we've actually seen most of what they're going to show us (thanks to having a completely awesome sponsor who has taken us all over the place and helped us out soooooo much!), but it should be fun anyway! Then after the weekend we'll get moved in to our place, Corey will actually get introduced to work next Thursday (lest we forget he actually has to WORK here at some point!), my arm will possibly be almost healed, and I'll hopefully start looking into work/volunteer opportunities. So things here should be coming together!!  Yay!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Food food food!

So far this is my favorite restaurant we've gone to in Misawa:
It has an actual Japanese name (Ohima or something like that I think?), but Americans here refer to it simply as "Pizza Curry." They serve (appropriately enough) pizza and curry. A strange combination, but it works! The 2nd floor is the restaurant, and downstairs is a cute little bakery with fancy-looking french pastries. We didn't get a chance to try anything when we went, but we'll be back!

Last night we visited a really yummy ramen place. Corey had a super delicious big bowl of a tofu/curry/rice combination and it was only $3! We'll be going back there for sure! Mmmm mmm!

Bakeries here are crazy, I must say. They have all kinds of weird things! The other day we picked up a roll that was filled with cow tongue (not my favorite thing). We also tried a melon roll- bread filled with an orange melon-flavored cream (which Corey originally mistook for cheese) and covered in a hard, green, almost candy-like coating. It was... different. There's also some really great stuff- we tried a sweet cheese bread that was heavenly!

Ok, I'm hungry now... gotta go eat!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Getting Better

I saw the doctor again today for a check up on my arm and he said it's healing well so far. I'll probably get to stop wearing the cast/splint thing on the 27th when I go back, but he said I'll probably need some physical therapy at that point to get my full range of motion back. So we'll see. But at least it's healing and doesn't hurt nearly as much anymore!
Today we're hoping to get taken around to look into getting a car and maybe even a house. I cannot WAIT to get our house and get settled in. Supposedly our household goods got here 2 days ago, which is nuts, but awesome! That stuff wasn't supposed to arrive until the middle of february, but we'll take it now (or once we have some place to put it!)

Hopefully we'll see/do some cool things this weekend (we haven't gotten out much this week) and I'll have some fun pictures to post one of these days! For now, here's Corey in the snow:

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Ice-1, Patty-0

I’m off to a great start here in Misawa- on Sunday I slipped on some ice and broke my arm. Here is the story (typed with one hand):

On Saturday I saw my first ever snow storm. Watching from the warm comfy indoors, it was pretty awesome. When it was time to go out in it, I was less thrilled. We decided (stupidly, I might add) to walk to Corey’s friend’s house to hang out and have some fun that night since we were getting pretty sick and tired of sitting around in our hotel room. Unfortunately Corey’s friend lives like 2 miles from where we’re staying. Not a big deal if the weather is nice, whole different story in the snow…

So we start walking. It’s kind of cool- fluffy white snow you just sink into, throwing snowballs and all that jazz. With each step the snow comes up to mid-calf. My shoes and pants were completely NOT snow appropriate (I’ll pay anyone who can tell me what I was thinking when I shipped our boots with our household goods, arriving in February) and very soon my feet and lower legs were soaked and freezing cold. But we made it without too much trouble, and aside from the cold it was actually kind of fun to walk through town and see things. We stopped for a delicious bowl of hot ramen on the way, which was to die for. Overall, not too bad of a walk.

We got to Corey’s friend’s house and had some good times watching movies, hanging out and having a few drinks. We go to bed happy and warm.

The next day, we go outside to walk back to our place, and all that lovely snow had frozen into solid ice. We begin walking, and soon realize that we’re screwed. We’re slipping and sliding with each tentative step. Now a group of smart people might have thought, “Hmm, it would probably be prudent to take a taxi or go back to the house and call someone for a ride, because this is ridiculous.” We, unfortunately, are not those smart people. We decide we’re going to make it on foot, and after an hour and a half of the slowest “walking” (in quotes because it was really more scooting across the ice than it was walking) you’ve ever seen, we are about 50 yards from the front gate of base. We breathe a sigh of relief- the end is in sight, we’re almost there!!

Then I take another step and, like in the cartoons, fly up with all 4 limbs in the air and land with an elbow pound to the icy ground. *crack* Was that the ice or my arm? After lying on the ground for a while, I try to stand up, but every time I’m on my feet I begin seeing spots, getting really woozy, and generally feeling like I’m going to pass out. There was no way I could walk at that point, and no way Corey or his friend could carry me on that ice, so Corey’s friend went to go get help on base while we waited in the freezing cold for 45 freaking minutes. By the time the ambulance came, I could stand and walk again, but was so unbelievably cold I couldn’t stop shaking for the next 3 hours.

At the hospital they took x-rays of my arm, but because it was Sunday, the hospital was closed and there was no one there who could READ the x-rays, so they couldn’t tell me if it was broken (lame, but whatever). They put my arm in a sling, gave me Motrin and told me to come back tomorrow. I did, and it was determined that my arm was indeed broken (obviously- even I could see it with no trouble, so I’m not sure what the problem was the previous day). So I got splinted up, got some more Motrin, and was sent on my way.

So that’s my story. I’ll go back to have it looked at on Friday once the swelling goes down. I’m hoping the pain will decrease and I’ll be able to do all the things on the agenda this week. I’ll be thinking “quick-healing” thoughts!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Misawa, Aomori, Japan

This is our new home city: 
So obviously we're the blue dot on the northern tip of Honshu. It's a small, rural town (really rural- like there are rice paddies steps from people's houses who live off-base) of about 40,000 people. It's is the home to Misawa Air Base (where my husband is stationed) where they fly cool jets and stuff. This is what we know about it so far (which isn't much at all): the people here are extraordinarily friendly and nice, it's COLD, it's small, it's cute and quaint. I'll add to the list once we actually get out and about. :)

This is my first time spending an extended period of time on a military base, and it’s… interesting. Our temporary accommodations are OK- we have everything we need to be comfortable, it’s just a bit cramped. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of living on a military base for several reasons, but it definitely is convenient. It’s a little creepy though- you’d never know you were in Japan if you didn’t step off the base. You could spend years here and never HAVE to leave- there’s a hospital, post office, gas station, schools, libraries rec centers (a golf course, a beach, paintball, go-carts), gyms, restaurants, stores, food courts (with great American cuisine such as Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Subway, Burger King, etc.), and anything else you might need. Unfortunately it’s also quite drab and dreary, and weirdly artificial. Who wants to live in a more depressing version of the US when they’re in an awesome new country?? Not me. Our housing appointment is on Monday and we’ll be excited to start the process of finding a place off-base.
The view from our room- slightly prison-like, no?

The time difference is proving to be harder to get used to than I thought it would be. We’re 16 hours ahead of CA (I think?), and so far Corey and I absolutely cannot stay awake past 8pm no matter how hard we try. We had been waking up at 3am every morning, but today we stayed in bed until 6am- yay! I guess we’ll adjust little by little.

We haven’t gotten to do much exploring yet. Without a car (or a clue about where to go or what to do), we’re sort of confined to staying on base for the next few days. We’re scheduled to get our Japanese drivers licenses on Wednesday, so at some point after that we can look into getting a car. It should be easy and cheap- we’ve already had 2 people offer to sell us cars, and one lady called us at 8:30 this morning trying to sell us hers after pulling up to me on the street as I was walking around yesterday making the same offer. Desperate much? Anyway, having a car will make things a bit easier as far as getting out and about. Our luggage is supposed to arrive today- thank goodness! It’s about time. We’re pretty disgusting right about now.

We went to our first Japanese restaurant yesterday- a place with an actual name but that Americans call “Pizza Curry.” They serve (can you guess?) pizza and curry. Odd combination, but delicious!! I look forward to eating there many more times!

That’s about all I’ve got for right now. We have to spend today in our room to make sure we’re here for our luggage delivery, but hopefully tonight we’ll get to go and explore the town a little bit and have some fun with one of Corey’s friends who has been stationed here for a few months and can show us the ropes.

Hope everyone is doing well back home!

PS- I've spent the last hour trying to get more pics to load, but this internet connection just isn't having it. Maybe next time!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

We made it!

We're in Misawa! We got here this afternoon after a very crazy flight connection that involved sprinting across SFO at top speed, getting onto our flight to Tokyo literally about 30 seconds before it pulled away from the gate, staying overnight in Tokyo and flighing up to Misawa today. Unfortunately our bags didn't make it, so they're still in San Francisco. It'll be a few days before we get them, which wouldn't be so bad if we had brought coats with us in our carry on- there's A LOT of snow on the ground and it's freaking cold!! Oh well!

This place is going to be very interesting. I would write about my first impressions, but Corey and I are both feeling fairly overwhelmed and jetlagged at the moment, so I'll wait until next time. I have access to the internet (in a separate internet room) at our military hotel thingymabob, so I'll be checking in and updating occasionally. For now, I'm going to sleep because I am freaking exhausted!

Sorry if this is rambling and makes no sense, but that's just about where my brain is right now. :)

I miss you all!!!

Monday, January 5, 2009


Well this will be my final blog post from the U.S for quite a while! We won't have internet access at all tomorrow, so I figured I would write a quick note tonight while I still can. The past couple of weeks has been so wonderful- full of family and friends and so many good times I can't even count them all. I'm going to miss everyone SO MUCH- honestly I'm not thinking about it at all or saying an actual goodbye to anybody because I know I'll break down. Just the thought of trying to say any kind of parting words to anyone makes me tear up. Instead I'm focusing on the amazing adventure Corey and I are about to begin, and all the excitement that goes along with that. 

With a gut full of butterflies and a heart full of hope, I'll say goodbye for now. Next post will be from Japan!

Hats Off to Kib

She won the freeze-off. In my defense, it was QUITE a small margin (the closest one we've ever had), and I won the most votes for the overall favorite dish. But what are you gonna do... She was quite the competitor. And I will admit- she made some darn good frozen treats! Here is my "gracious loser" face after the results were announced:
Some highlights of the competition included Kib's "Mango Chilly":

My "32nd Flavor: Lemon Poppyseed Ice Cream":

Kib's "Buñuelo Cones" (no idea if I'm spelling that right):

And my "Dirty Snowballs":
We had a lot of fun- thanks to all 9 of the judges for eating so much frozen food and making Feeze-Off 2009 great! See you at the next Freeze-Off! Stay cool! (Get it...? Har har)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Freeze-Off: 2009

Yes, it's finally here. The third (highly anticipated) Garland sister Freeze-Off is Saturday, January 3rd at 2pm. The entries are planned. The ingredients are ready. The scoresheets are made. The freezer awaits. All judges are welcome. Join us if you dare.

Here's a rundown for those poor souls who aren't familiar with this grand event:

The point: To create the ultimate frozen treat.

The event: 2 contestants. 5 unique frozen dishes prepared by each. 3 judging criteria categories. 1 winner.

The rules: No recipes of any kind may be used. No practicing ahead of time. No more than $50 can be spent on ingredients/supplies. Absolutely no discussing ideas with any potential judge before the event.

The judges: Award points to each frozen entry based on taste, presentation, and originality. The highest ranked creation receives high honors. The lowest ranked creation receives endless mockery. The contestant who's 5 entries earn the most overall points is declared the winner.

The prize: Ultimate pride and glory.

Kib, you're going down.

P.S- Yes, we know it's winter and Freeze-Offs are better suited for the summer. We don't care. Also, we've done a lot of these now and it's getting really hard to find new things to freeze- this may be the most interesting one yet!


This morning I've been looking at pictures of Misawa (the city we're moving to in Japan) at this cool website. Being a native California girl who's only visited the snow once as a small child, I've been a bit leery about the idea of living in a place that gets A LOT of it. However, today I've decided that snow is beautiful and I'm going to embrace it and love it! I mean, come on, is this place gorgeous or what??