Thursday, December 31, 2009


Ahhh it's New Year's Eve. Time flies.

This year Salt Lake City planned a 3-day celebration event called "EVE." David gave John and I tickets to go to the events, but we're still deciding whether we'll head downtown tonight. It's going to be really cold and super crowded!

We'll probably just chill with the dogs and cats and welcome 2010's arrival at home.

We don't do much on the holidays, but I really enjoy this time of the year: happy people, smiles, festive tunes, snow, food, different aromas, love.

Happy New Year everyone!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

a-gui and torsion

After staying with us for about 6 months, Torsion is now home with his mom!

Almost two months ago we brought a-gui home. He was a tiny little guy, and quickly became friends with Torsion. I have been "documenting" how fast a-gui grows, and I have a few pictures of him and Torsion together to show how rapidly(!) a-gui is growing.

a-gui and torsion
This was taken about a week after a-gui came to our home.

a-gui was about 3 months old, and not much "longer" than Torsion, but slightly taller.

a-gui and torsion
This was taken about a month after a-gui came to our home.

a-gui was about 4 months old, and starting to show his long(er) legs.

torsion and a-gui
This was taken about 10 days ago, where a-gui had been with us about a month and a half.

See how big a-gui has gotton?!

He officially doubled in size (weighted around Christmas) in less than two months!

I love puppies, and I love a-gui, even if he's going to grow into a giant, giant dog.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

christmas dinner

We had a quiet and happy Christmas dinner (on Christmas Eve actually.)

christmas dinner

John baked a 7 lbs. ham with maple glaze. Yummer. I made mashed sweet potatoes and corn with Japanese spices, and we also had roasted garlic cloves and tomatoes, as well as buttery rolls with the dinner. Delish.

We also had some tiramisu for dessert, but it was not as good as I expected...

Most of the gifts John and I "requested" this year were for our dogs. We didn't have to get too many things for our friends and families, but we did manage to get our loved ones something they love!

EC showed us how happy she was when she opened one of her gifts:

I can't tell you what we got her for Christmas, but it made her really happy!

And of course we spend a lot of time with the dogs this weekend. I love it. Hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

california strawberries

I was surprised and happy to still find strawberries this time of year! They are not super sweet, but they are still strawberries.

strawberries & cream
Stawberries and Mexican condensed milk.

And you know it, I've been having strawberry desserts.

Thank goodness for California!

Oh, and I found these strawberries at Smith's.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

a-gui and the christmas tree

caffe d'bolla's Annual Angel Tree for Homeless Pets is up!

When a-gui came to the store with us this morning I tried to take a few pictures of him with the tree.

This was the only pic where a-gui sat (almost) still in front of the tree.

Most of the time he just wanted to push the ornaments with his nose, or bite them.

John tried to "guide" him to look at the camera with treats, but all I could take were fuzzy pictures.

I'll try again in a couple of days.

It's been about a month since we got a-gui, and yes, he has been growing quite a bit.

Monday, December 14, 2009

mini pumpkin pies/tarts

I made four little pumpkin pies/tarts with the leftover pumpkin cake ingredients, and shortened the baking time (on convection) from 35 minutes to 30 minutes. They turned out pretty good!

mini pumpkin pies/tarts

These are so tasty and cute, and are a good way to "portion-control." hehehe.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

mystery present from Arizona

I got a mystery box from Arizona the other day. I saw the senders names and address that seemed familiar, but I just couldn't think of who exactly they were.

I thought and thought, and finally figured out: the box was from Joyce's siter and brother-in-law! It was a box filled with treats and toys for our dogs and cats! There was also a lovel box of chocolate for John and I.

christmas presents for the dogs and cats

That was so nice of them.

Since a-gui was at the caffe with us, we had him pose with one of the toys:

a-gui with toys
a-gui with Moosey (the Christmas toy) and his old buddy Doughy the dough boy.

Thanks Irene and Michael!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

pressure cook it!

I made some fatty pork (pork belly) in the electric pressure cooker. The meat turned out amazing!

Fatty pork and quail eggs on rice.

I seared the sides of the fatty pork first, place the slices in the pressure cooker, and added soy sauce, sake, water, dry chives, garlic, red hot peppers, and sugar. The pork was cooked on high pressure for 75 minutes, and then I added some (a can) of boiled quail eggs and cook for another 10 minutes.

Mmmmm. This was probably one of the best fatty pork stew I've tasted! Next time I'll probably shorten the cooking time to 65... just so the meat doesn't fall apart as soon as I pick it up with my chopsticks!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

record shop dog

Chase at the record shop next door has a lovely doggie that comes to work with him sometimes.

record shop dog

I brought her one of a-gui's biscuit and she was happy. I hope she's here next time I bring a-gui. Maybe they can be friends and "shop dog buddies."

Monday, December 07, 2009

[Tokyo Fall 2009] sadness at sensou-ji

Even though the weather started to change after we had sushi at Tsukiji, I wanted to stick with my plan and headed off to Asakusa.

There were many little shops selling souvenirs around the train station, but we didn't go into any because we knew we wanted to see Kaminarimon and Sensou-ji first.

There we were! The lantern was huge!

We walked through the gate, and there were lots of things to see.

We saw the Nakamise-dori first. It was a street (with many other side streets) leading to the temples that had many fun little shops.


Some of the most famous snacks here were the little cakes that are similar to taiyaki, but with different shapes.

There were many shops that sold these little cakes, and it probably didn't really matter who we got the cakes from.

little cake shop
Then I saw this old gentleman sorting the cakes. He was so careful and concentrated I must purchase from him.

little cakes
3 for 100 yen.

We picked three different designs: a little bird, the Kaminarimon lantern, and the 5-tiered temple.

cute bird "taiyaki"
My favorite was the bird one. He was cute and really yummy.

door art
There were some shops that were closed, but then we got to see pretty scroll-door art this way.

And then you ask, what's the deal with the title of this post: "sadness at sensou-ji"?

While we were walking through the sections that was opposite to the shops, I pulled out my videio camera and filmed the pretty things for a while. All of a sudden, on the screen I saw a lady from one of the shops waving a sign (at me). I was not sure what was on the sign, so I zoomed in to look. The sign said, "No camera!"

I was a bit confused, so I looked at the camera again (to make sure) while John said, "she said NO CAMERA!" It sounded mean (at the time.)

All of a sudden I was mad. I shut off my camera and walked away without saying a word. John chased up to me and talked, but I ignored him. He tried harder and I didn't even want to talk.

I know it was stupid, but at that moment I guess I was a bit embarrassed, and a bit sad. The area was filled with people, and there were plenty of shops that sold the exact same thing the lady was selling... I didn't know why she wouldn't want anyone to take a picture or film. I was not even aiming at her shop. I was simply filming the street from my left to right.

I guess I was a bit tired at the time, too, so when John said (loudly) "She said NO CAMERA" to me while I was already going to do so anyhow, I got mad, and then sad.

So for the rest of our visit to Sensou-ji I almost didn't talk at all. I took lots of still pictures with my video camera. Almost all the pictures I took at the time looked sad... or I should say, when I see all the pictures I took then, I felt sad.

We saw lots and lots of lanterns. They were offered/donated to the temples by indivisuals, cities and towns, and businesses.

big sandal
Big sandal.

big sandal
It was a gift from a city.

A 5-tiered temple.

The sandal and the temple in the photos were so beautiful, but somehow they also both looked sad to me...

I then saw an old couple who walked to the big sandal, holding hands. The husband said something to the wife, and they both smiled at each other and nodded. I couldn't hear what they said, but they looked so happy.

I felt bad for being mean to John. I really didn't mean it. Seriously, the "NO CAMERA!" thing was nothing. I really didn't have to get mad at anyone, or John, or myself. I apologized to John. We hugged, kissed, and held hands and continued walking through the area.

That was the only time during the whole trip that I was uncomfortable, and there really wasn't any reason for me to feel so. I know sometimes I get mad when things don't go exactly the way I want them to go, but I should be better at controlling my emotions and attitudes.

Now I think back I feel silly, but this "sadness at sensou-ji" is a reminder to me not to let small little things bother me, where I then will hurt important people around me.

(Almost) every visitor took a picture with the big Kaminarimon lantern.

I'd never forget that night.

We walked out of the sensou-ji area and saw this:

Ahh! What was that golden-green-ish thing-y?

I know what it looked like, but I believe this was supposed to represent the froth of Asahi beer; an Asahi beer museum/store was underneath the Golden-green-ish froth.

Oh, and here in Asakusa was where I got some cute little charms from the vending machines.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

nuki wearing my scarf


I put a scarf on Nuki.

He looks quite handsome with it if you ask me.

I also tried to put the scarf on Yama, but he shaked it off before I could reach out for my camera; I couldn't even get it on a-gui... he wanted to chew on it the whole time.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

give me some pressure

John got me a Cusinart Electric Pressure Cooker this past weekend!

He tested it out by making a Guiness beef stew.

cuisinart pressure cooker
Very simple and easy to use.

guiness stew
It only took about 20 minutes of cooking time for the stew.

guiness stew over rice

Very impressive and convenient cooker! I think I'll be pressure cooking a lot.

Monday, November 30, 2009

thanksgiving dinner at jimmy and joanne's

Jimmy and Joanne just moved into their new house early October, and they invited us and a few other friends over for Thanksgiving dinner!

thanksgiving dinner
Yummy food!

I was in charge of the sweet potatoes, which I kept simple: sweet potatoes, butter, brown sugar, and marshmallows. I also made a pumpkin cake and brought some Ceylon to go with it.

dinner table
The dinnger table. Very Thanksgiving-y!

jimmy carving the turkey
Host Jimmy carved the turkey.

thanksgiving dinner 09
It was a wonderful dinner.

We also had a lot of wine. Nothing beats good friends and wine!

We played games and talked, and made room for my pumpkin cake and Ceylon.

It was a lovely Thanksgiving dinner. Thanks to Jimmy and Joanne for inviting us!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

i did some baking

Last night I did some baking.

pumpkin cake
Pumpkin cake.

We all know it, pumpkin cake is John's favorite. I'm going to make one to bring to Joanne's Thanksgiving dinner, so I figured I'd practice making one. I used regular milk instead of evaporated milk this time. It was delish. Yay!

creamy chicken and biscuits
Creamy chicken and biscuits.

This was for dinner. I was already in the baking mode so I started making this before John got home last night. I liked the milk biscuits.

Ooooo I think I'm going to do a lot of baking this Thanksgiving weekend!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

[Tokyo Fall 2008] tsukiji before the storm

We left Macchinesti and realized the weather was changing. We still wanted to go to Tsukiji even though it was a bit later in the day (and most of the actions are in the early mornings.)

We got on the subway and arrived at the Tsukiji Station.

wall art
We were greeted by beautiful wall art.

And as soon as we stepped into the station, we could smell the ocean and the sea(food)!

wall art
"Very Japanese-y" I say.

We passed the parking area... thousands of cars would have been here that morning!

We knew we wouldn't be able to go to the inner market, but the outer one would have to do.

tsukiji outer market
"Tsukiji outer market."

I dind't take many photos here... because a lot of the shops were almost closing, and I was really hungry and was searching for a good sushi place for us. But among the open shops, there were fresh seafood stores, dried seafoods, seaweed specialty stores, spices, and such. I am totally going to Tsukiji early in the day (I mean EARLY) next time.

We walked around for a while, and decided to check out a few of the sushi shops in the area. These shops usually offer sushi sets at different prices. You can't really go wrong with the freshness of the fish and seafood... because all of the seafood is brought in to the shop by the sea THAT day.

big fish head
And then I saw this HUGE maguro(?) head.

We decided to go into the shop the maguro head was going in.

our chef
We were warmly greeted by the staff, and our chef "Nakano."

On the chef's name tag it also read, "Hobby: 2 cats!" I wonder if he brings scrap fish home for his kitties.

having sushi
Happy people getting sushi.

We were served miso soup, edemame, and pasta salad(!) before our sushi set arrived.

Sushi! Mmmmm. The fish: good. The chef's techniques: good. The flavors, the hospitality of the people and all: gooooood.

I was happy.

Friday, November 20, 2009

tofu with soy sauce and chives

I saw the tofu in the fridge and figured I should use it up soon.

tofu with soy sauce and chives

I first cut each piece of firm tofu in a box into halves (so it's thinner,) and then cut each of the halves diagonally so you get triangles.

Heat some oil in the pan, and fry the tofu pieces. It's hard to get these pieces "brown," but as long as you heat them well it's good.

After the tofu pieces are heated, pour in a couple tablespoons of soy sauce, and a tablespoon of sugar. Make sure each tofu piece is well coated with the sauce. Try to turn the pieces a couple times if you can.

As the soysauce-sugar mixture is reduced (watch out! soy sauce+sugar will burn easy), pour in a couple tablespoons of rice wine, and then sprinkle dry (or fresh) chopped chives and allow it to reduce. Voila!

I was not in the mood for spicy food (!) but if you are, adding some chili pepper flakes or a teaspoon hot chili sauce/oil would be great, too.