The Afternoon Walk on Saturday

Some days are too gorgeous not to be outside!
Saturday was one of those days. It was glorious outside and I started my walk from Harajuku and before I knew it, I was in Shinjuku. Of course I stopped here and there to take pictures along the way.
My old boss used to tell me that a true real estate businessman goes out and walks around the streets to get to know the area. He said that no amount of research can exceed the power of seeing through your eyes and interacting with local people. And although I did lift an eyebrow at the use of the word “businessman (Hello? I am a woman.),” I have to agree. Every time I walk down a new street I learn something new about that area.
Like this weekend, I never realized how close Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium was to Shinjuku Gyoen, my favorite park. I’ve started working out lately (kind of) so it was really interesting seeing the facilities there. They have a pool and gym that are open to the public when the gymnasium is not used for events…they even had a basketball hoop with a half court. Made me wish I could actually play basketball.
I also couldn’t resist stepping into Shinjuku Gyoen for a bit. I was just enjoying all the green sprouting everywhere in the park when I remembered Rurousha’s azalea post. So off I went looking for azaleas! (You can see what I found below in the pictures!) After the azaleas, it felt so good under the sun that I ended up taking a little nap in the field. Actually, it may have been a deep sleep. Not too sure but it felt great. And it was all worth having pieces of grass and bits of dirt all over my dress and hair. Ha.
Here are the pictures:

Azaleas decorating every other street.

Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium looks UFO-ish, don’t you think?

Shinjuku Gyoen was multiple shades of green…so gorgeous.

The azalea garden was a bright burst of color in this corner of Shinjuku Gyoen.

Quite the change from this view but I love this, too.

I am addicted to these homemade granola bars…this one is cranberry, raisin, and chocolate.

Never one to miss a chance to walk barefooted.
If this great weather keeps up, afternoon naps in the park may become a weekly thing!

The Sunny Weekend in Yamamoto

Spring had definitely come to Yamamoto the weekend we were there.
It felt really great working under the sun. Although inside the greenhouse is like a sauna. But again, a great way to naturally lose some pounds by sweating it out. Just need to remember not to forget sunscreen next time. It was that warm outside.
So it’s no wonder the flowers were starting to bloom. The fields, that were just a couple weeks ago just dirt and dead leaves, had started turning green here and there. Something very exciting about spring. Like seeing color just burst into the world. 
It’s really like Robin Williams says, “Spring is nature’s way of saying, Let’s party!”
The sweet dogs we play with during breaks, Sakura and Shibazakura.
The parent plants are growing steadily for this summer.
All the lovely green grwoing around the greenhouse and my new boots.
My awesome mugiwara hat I borrowed for the sunny day.
Lunch was delicious soba with tororo imo…so delicious!
My fascination for greenhouse farming grows with the plants.
Parent plants aren’t meant to grow strawberries so we pick the flowers.
Nothing beats taking a break and enjoying strawberries!
Done for the day…time to head to onsen!
Received the most delicious strawberries as a gift.
Pretty trees by the onsen entrance.

We could see the Zao mountains on our way back…so pretty!
Our second day was filled with shovels, sand/dirt, and these awesome wheely things.
Found a classical CD in its case while digging…still a lot of things in the ground.
The cherry blossom that was planted last year…hope it blooms every year! x

The Embroidery Art by Takashi Iwasaki

Can you believe that this is not a painting?
It’s all embroidered (is that a word?), if you can believe it. They are created by a Japanese artist, Takashi Iwasaki, who currently resides in Canada. I just love how colorful all of it is! And although I have no idea what the story behind each creation is, according to the interview he did, many of the abstract shapes and colors have meaning behind them.
He calls himself an “Art Enjoyer” and I think it fits him perfectly.

The Sakura in Yamamoto

Finally catching up on my posts from Yamamoto!
I have been sick this week like never before. Like barfing-all-night-with-a-high-fever kind of sick. And I have found that age does not make getting sick easier. What ever happened to the days of hopping out of bed the minute the fever goes down and go skipping outside? My fever didn’t go down for two days and even when it did, I felt like crap. I am seriously going to take better care of myself so that never happens again.
That being said, this week HAS helped me lose most of my winter weight all at once so I guess it’s not all that bad 😀
Anyways, so here are the lovely cherry blossoms in full bloom in Yamamoto. We were so lucky to be able to see them last weekend. And we even had blue skies to accent the pretty blossom!

The tree standing at the entrance of the volunteer center at the town hall.

We oohed and ahhhed over the cherry trees in bloom in various parts of the town while heading out to the greenhouse we were helping out for that day. They were in bloom everywhere!
After our day was done, we also stopped by the famous cherry blossom spot Hitome-senbon-zakura (一目千本桜) in the neighboring town. Over 1,000 cherry trees stand along an 8km stretch of Shiroishi River. We were only there for a little time but with lanterns along the trees and the thriving food stalls, the whole area was really festive!

Group picture under the cherry blossoms! 😀

The Homemade Tortilla Recipe


I always have a few tortillas is the house.
It’s so easy to make.

And tortillas make easy meals.
I usually make wrap salads.

But I found this healthy-ish recipe on Pinterest
(I say -ish because I use tons of cheese)
and thought I’d give it a try.

And it was GOOD!!!
Especially with all that CHEESE!!!

The more I made
the more cheesy it became.

So so gooooood!!!
(Recipe here.)

And if you want to make your own tortilla, you should.

Homemade Tortillas
2 cups  flour
1-2 tbs  olive oil
1/4 tsp  dry yeast
1/2 cup  water
1/4 tsp  salt
Mix everything together and divide into 6 portions.
On a floured surface, roll out into a circle.
In a nonstick pan or skillet
 cook over medium heat for 1-2min.
*If you want larger tortillas divide into four portions.
*You can also freeze them for another day.

The Crazy Wind

Just got word from Yamamoto
that the winds have been blowing something crazy.
Spring tends to do that.
But the sad thing is
it’s tearing up the greenhouses.
I don’t know if it’s because the greenhouses are
being built on land that was pretty much wiped out by the tsunami
so there aren’t very many trees or anything standing to block the wind.
Or maybe this is what happens every spring?
I’m not too sure since I’m still
a beginner when it comes to greenhouses.
The greenhouse we finished last weekend
has been damaged and the whole top part of the plastic
is apparently billowing in the wind right now.
So sad 😦
Spring is wonderful but maybe they can
tone down the wind a bit along the Tohoku shore?

The History of the Dogwood

As the cherry blossom season slowly comes to and end
the flowering dogwood starts to bloom.
I find this timing to be very fitting.
A lot of people know the history of how Japan
sent cherry trees to Washington DC in 1912.
A total of 3,020 trees, to be exact.
If we’re going to be even more specific
it was the city of Tokyo that sent the trees.
This was after learning that the First Lady Taft
was planning on planting cherry trees in Washington DC.
2,000 cherry trees were actually first sent in 1910
but they realized that the trees were infested
and they had to be burned.
So Japan sent another batch of cherry trees in 1912
which are the cherry trees that are currently growing in DC.
So we all know of this story and
how famous the cherry trees are in DC.
Did you know that the U.S. gave us back a tree?
(Am I the only one who didn’t know???)
That’s right.
They gave us the beautiful dogwood tree
as a token of thanks in 1915.
So the fact that the dogwood flowers start to bloom after
our cherry blossoms seems fitting some how.
And also coincidentally, dogwood means
“returning thanks” in flower language.
Or maybe it’s not a coincidence? 😀