Sunday, November 19, 2017

Feeling Chatty Daybook

I have missed blogging to the point I almost forgot blogging. So what’s the best way to get me to put something up here? A daybook.

What I’m watching... we just saw Murder on the Orient Express, after having read Agatha Christy’s story and rewatching the original movie. Craig and I loved it. There were similar components and some extras, I won’t spoil it. Johnny Depp is a very different character, kind of ordinary. Michelle Phiffer only gets more beautiful with age. Great cast on the new one. Great cast on the old. The cinematography is very beautiful. Watch them both!

Have you watched Stranger Things? Loved it! We are all hooked.

What I’m thinking... Basketball. In fact that’s all I think, go, plan, schedule... until March! Ceci is on a homeschool middle school league playing 12 and under or 7th grade(which are not 12 and under!) and Euly was bumped to Varsity. They are on different schedules for games and practises so Craig and I have to re work out schedules and I pull in Nick and Max whenever possible. Euly won her tournament yesterday against public schools in the tiny but very friendly town of Dime Box, Texas.

Ceci has been enjoying her games. Today she did the splits without stretching and pulled a hamstring muscle. She is in pain and probably will miss some Basketball this week. At least she has no gates scheduled this week.
I am looking forward to... Thanksgiving. We are spending it with family in Austin.

At the Marine Ball last weekend
Molly comes in from California, My parents and mother-in-law will joining us with my sisters and nieces and nephews. My sister’s house will be full of people! We are bringing Craig's twice baked potatoes, broccoli salad (with bacon), peanut butter blossoms, a drink called Good Karma and probably a few more items to snack on the day.

Euly won’t be with us, she will be going to the National 4-H Congress. She flies out Thanksgiving morning. I’m thrilled with all her leadership opportunities. She serves as an County Ambassador this year, club’s Vice President and president at the county.
Ceci took a position with our local 4-H club as Club Delegate and Parliamentarian with the county.

One Day 4-H
I haven’t posted since Masako left, and so much as happened. Hurricane Harvey, my dad turned 80, Molly visited, Nick visited her, Max moved to College for grad school... I’d like to go back and make posts for the sake of documenting life...
Part of my sister Teresa's family celebrating my dad's 80th
We do keep up with Masako. Today she won a table tennis tournament! So happy for her.

We send snapchats, instagrams, letters in mail and packages. We sent a box of Halloween candy and an explanation of Hallow’s Eve, All Saints and All Souls. They sent back explanation of how the Japanese honor passed souls.

I am planning out our schedules through March for Basketball, 4-H competitions, holidays, and school! We are doing our best to keep with school. We have catch up days due to tournaments, camps and clinics. Sigh. I love the opportunities and friendships they make, it all just makes time pass to quickly.

Around the farm...We had some dead trees that needed to come down. Craig and the kids have been cutting, chopping and splitting wood. Cool weather is here and we love a good wood burning fire to keep us cozy.

Animals on the farm... the 67 baby chicks we bought a month ago, 66 are doing well. We did lose one to an unknown cause, but we have saved even the wild ones who jump out of the brooder box when we feed them. They were a season end grab bag purchase and we have one beautiful breed we are still trying to figure out it’s breed.
We have not had any big projects around the house. We rearranged and deep cleaned Ceci’s room. Wow that always feels so good to do! We are still de- junking and cleaning out, trying to keep only items we want, like and need and recycling items we have kept for other reasons, like: I paid money for it, someone gave it to me, I should want it... bla! De- junking is wonderful.
I am praying for .. everyone in our lives, America, unemployed, some in legal troubles, and all kinds of special intentions.

I am dreaming about... taking a trip....somewhere, anywhere! We’ve been here, and within an hour and half of here, for quite some time. I would love to take a trip for Christmas instead of giving gifts. (De-junking part of my brain is battling my gift giving side). Craig and I promised a sweet little couple we would finally take a trip and celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. She wants photo proof. I’m not sure when, but I do think we will work a get away in sometime soon,hopefully when my boys have a break from school so they can watch the girls.

We are thinking about converting our property status to Wildlife over Ag,which means we would not have livestock, but make changes to our property to encourage wildlife. There are changes we’d need to make for our pond and Creek and add things to encourage all kinds of wildlife, especially birds. I’m really looking forward to this change. No cows. We’ll always have chickens. Fresh eggs are the best!
Way back when we first fell in love with this place.

Euly got her driving permit. Neither one of us were in a big hurry. She's doing great with all the miles we drive to get anywhere.

Praying for All Souls through this month of November. We try to visit many cemeteries around us to spend time in prayer.

These three have been social - different dances and parties. It is quite convenient for me to have them go in a group.

How is everything going with you?

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Japanese Cooking With Masako

Masako's first full day with us was spent with her showering us with gifts from Japan. She brought the girls these cute little sushi and sweets that fit perfectly with their little critter toys.

I asked her if I could keep her sushi rice instructions since they are so cute:

She made decorative sushi. Of course Japan's artistic talents are evident in anything they make with their hands. The sushi designs were pretty incredible. Some when cut open would be flower designed revealed. This pink mixture is sugar, to add to the coloring and taste.

She brought a powdered vinegar for sushi rice. We used it up and I bought Japanese vinegar at HEB and it work fine.

Masako loved showing the girls how she lived to make sushi. She added ingredients we have used before, but added egg (for yellow decoration for flowers) and it added a nice taste, consistency and protein.

Most were devoured before I could take photos.

This dish translated as Three Colors. It was very good. Ceci ground chicken in our never before use meat grinder, egg, snow peas over rice.

As you can see, my google translator was not good for recipes. 

Pork stir fry with udon noodles. We made this dish many times with different meats, most often finely chopped pork or beef.

Note - for my taste buds, I prefer the low sodium soy sauce or tamari. Masako did not like it at all. I also cut back the soy sauce to tone down the soy sauce flavor.

Her recipe was smudged, but this is best I remember it:

Masako's Udon Stir Fry
Serves 8 people
1 pound beef, pork or chikuwa ( Japanese fish food product sliced in small strips
4 packets of Udon noodles (international isle), soaked in water during preparation
1/2 white or yellow onion, cut in 1" strips
2 carrots, peeled, cut in 1" strips
1 bunch green onion, cut in 1 " strips
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced, optional
Mix together well: 1 cup soy sauce (she lied original only, no low sodium)
1 cup oyster sauce

For saute:
4 TBSP veg. oil

Saute meat with white onion
Once slightly browned, add carrots, mushrooms and green onions
Drain noodles, break up or apart if needed.
Add noodles to saute once carrots have cooked.
Add sauce mixture and stir well.
Add black pepper to you preference
and enjoy!

Who doesn't LOVE pan fried dumplings?

She had wanted a square pan to let this egg mixture cook up like a loaf, but instead we had it as omelettes. It was delicious.
Meat and potatos
We did have confusion with words, ingredients and translations which all worked out. She is so good tempered and patient with us when she asked for black pepper but Euly thought black paper, Masako started giggling for five minutes without stopping. It was a running joke from then on.

The big cup item below stands for tablespoon.
Her drawings are adorable; art is her favorite subject at school. Initially we communicated quite a bit through drawings. She won at Pictionary every time we played.

SHe used chjopsticks for cooking and gave us lessons on the correct way to hold them. 

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Last Weeks of Our Time With Masako

Masako is back home in Japan. We miss her already. What a fantastic experience and wow, how quickly time passes!
One month is not enough. A two week visit wouldn't give enough time to really get to know each other, everyone can stay on visiting manners for two weeks. But a month, you really do get to know one anther despite communication barriers. I am so happy to have had the additional time. We had some crazy experiences in the third and fourth weeks, hard experiences and but real life all the same. And real life experienced together grows bonds. When we said our long, tearful goodbyes, Masako asked us to not forget her. How could we? We now have a friend/ sister/daughter living in Japan!!
These deeper bond is evident to me in these photos of our last days. I am not sure it shows to others.

We showed Masako many things I am honored to have experienced with her. Imagine a night sky all lit up Tokyo, now imagine a star filled night sky deep in the heart of Texas (and yes, we did sing her all kinds of Texas songs). We had a trailer ride to the front pasture to see the stars. She was impressed and thrilled with the abundance of stars, the milky way, planes and satellites.

Her favorite food was the Whataburger honey butter chicken biscuit. She loved her steak dinner at Texas Roadhouse, she took my recipe for biscuits and enjoyed my chocolate pie. She made us many of her favorites, and left me her cookbook. I think I will share recipes in another post.

Nick taught her American archery, she was experienced in Japanese archery. We hung out, swam, and shopped, a lot. She loved Target most. And Reece's are her favorite American candy. Nick sent her home with a variety of Walmart selections and other goodies he bought after working. We stopped by Buc-es for other goodies to send home. Her suitcase was as full leaving as it was when she arrived, just over the travel limit.

We went on glow stick lit walks through the woods. We played with the puppies and one day Masako followed Sheila on a walk wherever Sheila led. Her shoes came back a little muddy from the recent rains, but her face was bright and smiling. She met many of my family and friends, went to both celebrations of Mass. We had some deep conversations and times of giggling.

She will be in our prayers as we cheer and watch her life from the other side of the globe.

Her favorite thing was to show us her favorite recipes.

We played all kinds of cards games

Looking over the photo album Masako made to show back home.

We shared names of books, movies and learned about a new to us social app popular in Asia called SNOW.

Tears the night before we had to say goodbye.
She wanted a picture with the cows. :) And finally captured one before we hopped in the car to Dallas.
The LEX and LABO international language programs hosted a departure event where each family told about our visits, the students had chances to tell impressions of their time with us. Heartfelt, lovely, tear-filled, and with most of us excited about enrolling again next year, although it would be bittersweet knowing Masako wasn't the one returning.
We had a fantastic time, a wonderful summer and now excited to keep up with Masako and her Japanese adventure from here. Yes, we do talk about getting us over there for a visit too, who knows!

Euly had her sign her chalkboard wall in Japanese characters and regular letters.