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Thai Time

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Dear Friends and Family,

How are you? I hope everyone is well and enjoying the last bits of summer.  I woke up this morning and it was downright chilly at a nippy seventy-five degrees! I sound crazy right? But I’m not! We have officially acclimated and I don’t understand how ya’ll deal with real full blown winters.  But enough about the weather.  Ronnie and I just had a little adventure this month and I’ve already promised at least two top notch relatives that I would put pictures up ASAP!

The short and skinny is that Ronnie and I went to Thailand to relax and have some real quality time.  The extended story is that we have been trying to go to Thailand for the past year or so and never could find the time.  Now that we’ve gone, we are so glad we held onto that dream because it was a great new experience that we couldn’t get enough of.

So everything started in Bangkok…which we quickly decided was not our favorite city since It smelled kind of “interesting” everywhere and we couldn’t seem to get properly oriented.  We tried our best to leave ASAP, but with fresh backpacks and a underused travel guide, we decided to fly by the seat of our pants.  Naturally, that meant hiccups were inevitable.  Those hiccups included:

The wrong train at the wrong time, headed to the right destination

The right van headed to the wrong destination.

The wrong city on the second night

Hideous motion sickness

And an amazing vacation!!!!!

Flat out, Ronnie and I had a blast on this trip!  When we had no chance of making it onto the train we wanted so very badly with air-conditioning and overnight sleepers, Ronnie said, “It won’t be that bad.” I took a good 10 minutes to mope and then we embraced it.  We ended up having time to hang out at this great cafe right outside the train station in Bangkok called the 511 Cafe.  I think they are referencing the tourist police hotline but I digress.  Afterwards we hopped on our train and found out it was bright yellow! Very fun and even though they were upright seats without air-conditioning , they reclined back pretty far and the train had rotating fans with all the windows down so you just got to enjoy the breeze until you fell asleep.  It made for an amazing view when we woke up to the sunrise over the Thai country/jungle/small towns (they all wizzed by so fast).  We bought some longang fruit from a lady who jumped on the train at one of the stops and ate that while I desperately tried to take pictures.

Train ride: check.

Getting ready for the 13 hour train ride

Getting ready for the 13 hour train ride

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Sunrise from the train

Sunrise from the train


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As for our broken up bus ride up to Mae Hong Son.  We thought we just couldn’t get a break when we missed the van headed straight up. But, when we stopped in Pai, we realized we did catch a break because that road was ridiculously windy, 762 curves to Pai to be exact.  We ended up in a that little hippie town and got a chance to shower and stay the night a little Baan (house) with bungalows and mosquito nets.   We hopped around town and ate some great Pad Thai and Street food.  We did a little shopping and the next day, we were off to Mae Hong Son.  We actually were planning on stopping in Pai on the way back to Bangkok the next week so we just got to visit the town sooner.  The next day, we arrived in Mae Hong Son nice and fresh and only a little motion sick from the other 1,102 curves north. See that wasn’t so bad.

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Pai!

Pai!

I wont keep y’all too long with more crazy details but once we finally made it as far north as Mae Hong Son, close to the Burmese Border, we understood why it was so worth it to travel such a long way.  We had reservations at the Fern Resort, a well run establishment almost in the middle of the jungle that makes you feel like you are apart of their everyday happenings.  Many of the people who work at the Fern are from the surrounding hill tribes and as such, the Fern is benefitting the community. They have four or five dogs that trot around the resort keeping you company while you enjoy your afternoon drinks, walk you to your room, guide you on jungle paths, or just come to say hi while you eat breakfast.   Our room was A-MAZ-ING! We stayed in room 39 which is a bungalow off to side with a full view of their very own rice fields and the mountains just down the way.  Ronnie said it was the most beautiful place he had ever seen.  Of course, none of my pictures come close to doing it justice.  You have to enjoy all of the live action with birds singing, crickets chirping, tropical plants lining your window, and the rice fields swaying with the breeze and almost ready to harvest.  We had a chance to ride around the surrounding areas on a tour that we took and those views were just as spectacular.  Not to mention we got to ride an elephant! It was a sort of paradise and I think Ronnie didn’t realize places like that were accessible.  I was so glad to go on a beautiful trip with him and enjoy all of the amazing things and people God placed in Thailand.

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Mae Hong Son. Our favorite place so far.

Mae Hong Son. Our favorite place so far.

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See you later Mae Hong Son.

See you later Mae Hong Son.

We had the best time and Ronnie needed a good relaxing trip after that whirlwind of trip in Taiwan…sorry sweety.  He put his foot down and said we weren’t doing anything that could kill us (in remembrance of our legendary rain hike in Taiwan).  I said we might as well not get on the plane or ride in the car but I knew what he meant.  In respect of futile tradition, we did in fact take a jungle hike where we encountered banana spiders and bugs that in my opinion could have killed us.  Still, Ronnie is a chill kind of guy and I think Mae Hong Son, Thailand suited him just fine.  Its been almost two years since we left the USA to be stationed in Okinawa, Japan and we are starting to feel the homesickness.  Ronnie misses his family since he didn’t get to visit the States when I did.  We hope y’all are enjoying all the pictures and tales from our travels but know that we are in desperate need of some good old fashioned family time with all of you.  We love ya’ll and hope you are well.

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Miss ya’ll! More photos are in the gallery.🙂

Love,

Ronnie and Zipporah

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Taipei for Two

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Hi Friends and Family,

I hope everyone is well and enjoyed their Memorial Day weekend. Ronnie and I are about half way done with our stay in Okinawa. Time is running away from us and we are trying to enjoy our experience here while we can. So, for our holiday weekend (plus part of the next week) we took a vacation to Taiwan! This was our first trip outside of Japan together and we had a really nice time. I’ll give you a quick list of the highlights at the end of this post if you really truly want to know what we did but I’ll give you the skinny on our favorites up top.

First of all, it is completely possible to go to Taiwan with the main goal of eating different and delicious food. That’s what we did! We ate so much food that we know extra spin classes and less rice will be in our future for the next two weeks. Ronnie said he could feel how fat his face was one day. I loved every minute of every bite…except the fried chicken butt. I didn’t know it was fried chicken butt until quite some time later. Greasy stuff. We ate at night markets, cafés, and a few notable places like Din Tai Fung (a famous/delicious dumpling joint) and Yang Kong Beef Noodle. It was pretty amazing how many new flavors we tried. One of our favorites was a little stand on Yangkong Street that sold Chinese onion pancakes with egg, basil, and hot sauce inside. Ummm….ridiculous. We had those three times y’all. So tasty.

Ronnie's favorite! Chinese onion pancakes filled with basil, egg, and hot sauce.

Ronnie’s favorite! Chinese onion pancakes filled with basil, egg, and hot sauce.

Yum.

Yum.

Asian BBQ on a stick

Asian BBQ on a stick

The best garlic bread I've ever had!

The best garlic bread I’ve ever had!

Rice sausage stuffed with veggies and another sausage...YES.

Rice sausage stuffed with veggies and another sausage…YES.

Chicken butt...

Chicken butt…

Stinky tofu.  His breath was shot after that.

Stinky tofu. His breath was shot after that.

Din Tai Fung and the tasty dumplings

Din Tai Fung and the tasty dumplings

Let’s talk about our favorite activities. We saw a whole heap of things but a few stand out to us. Something that made it high on Ronnie’s list was the hog intestine appetizer at Yong Kang Beef Noodle – also known as Taiwanese chitterlings. This is for sure in the food category but it was an activity for him. He didn’t know what to do with himself. He said they were better than the chit’lins’ his dad makes but don’t tell Mr. Ellsworth that.😉

Two of my favorites were the changing of the guard at Chang Kai Shek Memorial Hall and the reflexology foot massages we had on our last night there. Starting with the changing of the guard, the C.K.S. Memorial Hall by itself is huge and impressive but the changing of the guard is sharp! These guys were on point AND at one moment, one of them was slow marching straight at me and I didn’t know what to do. Make eye contact? Don’t make eye contact? Stand behind Ronnie so he can handle the eye contact? Is he even looking at us? Run away? Salute him? Clap hysterically because he is so good at marching so slow and staring so hard?! Pure panic. Moving on to the reflexology massage. Simply put, it’s probably one of the most painful relaxation moments I’ve ever had trumped only by a 20 soles ($7) full body massage I paid for in Cuzco, Peru. The difference – I didn’t leave this massage with an actual injury. My feet loosened up, the lady rubbing Ronnie’s feet got used to his hairier American legs, and we left with baby soft lower extremities. Who could ask for more.

The Chang Kai Shek Memorial Hall

The Chang Kai Shek Memorial Hall

The were so good!

The were so good!

The pain chart

The pain chart

I’ll tell you about one more favorite moment. Truth, Ronnie believes that we could have died during this activity but I thought everything was just fine…kinda. Looking at our original plan that I worked on all by myself, we had a lot of changes and detours. There was a waterfall hike on the list that I was determined to do and we did it. It started out pretty great. We arrived at the railway stop, found some apple cider-ish jello (true substance and flavor is still unconfirmed), and got to climbing. It was super relaxed and only had a few muddy points. Then, we really got into the woods and it was beautiful. Not to mention the three waterfalls that we saw. Fabulous hike and sites. The problem occurred when we were on our way to the third waterfall. We came to a rope/wood/stone ladder that we had to climb. Ronnie had a feeling about this one but I felt like Katniss Everdeen and was ready to adventure on. This feeling he had greatly worsened when we got about half way up, the ladder was slippery, we were on a vertical climb and he realized that if I fell, he couldn’t save me. Anyway, I was still pretty darn excited. Inklings of danger were fluttering around me but I thought everything was all right. About forty meters up, we made it to the top. Then, it started to rain. It wasn’t just rain. It was a tropical downpour and we had to get back down. That’s when Ronnie started telling me things like, “Two hands on the rope at all times.” “Don’t hold that little rope! It won’t save you! Hold the big one please.” And my personal favorite. “No, you cannot have the camera right now to take a picture. We could die.” The whole hike back was him talking about how we are never doing that again but if you ask him what was his favorite thing he did, this is second to the chitterlings.🙂

Start of the Sandiolang Waterfall hike

Start of the Sandiolang Waterfall hike

Sandioling Town

Sandioling Town

Nice hike.

Nice hike.

Ronnie goofing off on the rope ladder

Ronnie goofing off on the rope ladder

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Sandiolang Waterfall Hike

Sandiolang Waterfall Hike

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That’s a few highlights in a nutshell. Enjoy the photos. I hope you liked reading about our travels. Ronnie and I learned that traveling isn’t about making your trip look like anyone else’s but rather enjoying the unique way that you make your vacation fun. Not every moment was perfect because the two of us know how to get into an argument but we also know how to go find food so I can stop being a hunger dragon, take a nap, and say we are sorry. Ronnie learned what traveling means to me – be on the go to see new things at breakneck speeds – and I learned what traveling means to him – go see one thing, take a nap, go find a restaurant, take a nap, ect.

We miss y’all and wish you could have tasted all the new foods and seen all of the beautiful sites with us. We had a blast and I hope we get to go somewhere new real soon.

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Night Market Foods We Tried
Pork sausage inside of a cut rice sausage with garlic and other veggies
Black sesame seed flavored tapioca pearl milk tea
Sugar cane juice
Candied strawberrries and one cherry tomato on a stick, drizzled with condensed milk and wrapped in rice paper
Dumplings with spicy sauce
Asian BBQ’ed corn on a cob on a stick
Orange juice with lemon
Grape juice
Vegetarian dumplings with really spicy sauce
Stinky tofu – smells like poop.
Fried chicken butt
Mango sherbet
Meat on a stick in various flavors
Fish balls on a stick
Taiwanese burrito

Candied Strawberries on a stick!

Candied Strawberries on a stick!

A Few Restaurants and Cafés
Cafe Miel – really cool mango au lati
Syros Cafe – overpriced but much needed breakfast
Din Tai Fung – top dumpling restaurant in Taipei
Yong Kang Beef Noodle – renown beef noodle shop
Bread shop on the corner – garlic bread that will make you yell it’s so good.
King mango – shaved milk ice cream shop
Addiction Aquatic Development – the most romantic fish market you’ll ever go too. I loved it

Part of our dinner

Part of our dinner

Sites We Saw
Chang Kai Shek Memorial Hall
National Palace Museum – one of the world top five museums
Shilin Night Market
Roahe Night Market – has the best food
Hauxi Night Market
Longshan Night Market
Xiangshan Temple
Dihua Street Sundry Market – we should have gone on a weekend for more action
Taipei 101 – one of the world tallest buildings.
Pingxi Railway Line tour
Shandioling Waterfall hike
Yongkang Street
Yongkang Open Air Day Market
Xian Shan hike – great view of the city and Taipei 101 from up high

Favorite Picture: Lots of fancy cameras all around and Ronnie steps right in with his phone camera and takes the picture he wants. :)

Favorite Picture: Lots of fancy cameras all around and Ronnie steps right in with his phone camera and takes the picture he wants.🙂

Taipei

Taipei

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All Over the Place

IMG_1948 Long time no post but goodness have we been busy. So much has happened in the last few months that I probably can’t even get it all into one blog post without utterly boring you or creating some sort of mini novel. So, I’ll stick to the highlights! Let’s get straight into things, I’ve been traveling y’all. When I say traveling, I mean that I have seen Ronnie just a short eight days in about a month and a half’s time. I’ve been flying half way across the world, all the way back, and then flew off to see other parts of the Asian Pacific. I’ve slept in two different airports, been stuck in two different cities, slept in airplanes otherwise used for military cargo, and made friends all along the way. What a journey!

Sun rise view from the cargo plane.
I would pick a cargo plane that I can stretch out in any day over a commercial plane.
I would pick a cargo plane that I can stretch out in any day over a commercial plane.
I was stuck in Hawaii twice but it wasn't the worst place to be grounded. The weather was so nice!
I was stuck in Hawaii twice but it wasn’t the worst place to be grounded. The weather was so nice!

Let me start by saying that all of my traveling was approved by Ronald Ellsworth Jr as he was going on an exercise to mainland Japan. He said…and I quote…, “Get out of here baby! Go see your family. Have a nice time.” So I did. Ronnie and I were both getting homesick over the holidays even though we spent some really nice time with friends for Christmas breakfast and had some guys over for dinner whose families are back in the states. Ronnie knew he wouldn’t get the opportunity to go home but I had plenty of time to catch a Space A flight back to the states and go see my family. I dropped Ronnie off at work so he could fly out for his exercise and I left that same day a few hours later on my way to Charleston, SC. With a close to 24 hour lay over in Hawaii and a next day flight out to Norfolk, VA, it took me 3 days to get home. That’s a very respectable and worthwhile timeline…The trip back was absolutely one of the most nerve racking and lengthy experiences I have ever experienced, but let’s talk about the good times!

Ronnie enjoying some good food on mainland Japan. He got to travel too.
Ronnie enjoying some good food on mainland Japan. He got to travel too.
Ronnie's view everyday for almost a month.
Ronnie’s view everyday for almost a month.

When I got home, the whole Space A experience was totally worth it. I was able to spend almost an entire month with my family. There is nothing like family. I crocheted with my mom, did home improvements with my dad, danced with my grandma, watched the Super Bowl with my in-laws, dropped in to say hi to Ronnie’s grandparents, shopped with my sister, and surprised my aunt with my unexpected visit home. Honestly Aunt Zip, I enjoyed watching you scream when I walked through the door.🙂 Of course, none of the trip would have been complete without constant cooking. Ronnie says that when he comes to my parents house, my mom, Rebekah, and myself will sit around until its late, look at each other around midnight and say, “What should we do?” Then we come up with the the brilliant idea to cook something into the wee hours of the night as long as there is a Law and Order: SVU marathon going on. It’s a flawless system that we embrace gracefully. My dad doesn’t mind our system either since he gets all the tasty products of our cooking escapades.

First night home daddy-daughter-date. :)
First night home daddy-daughter-date.🙂
Red Lipstick Day.  Its a McCann ladies tradition.
Red Lipstick Day. Its a McCann ladies tradition.
Super Bowl with my in-laws and grand in-laws. Lots 'o fun!
Super Bowl with my in-laws and grand in-laws. Lots ‘o fun!
My mom mad dad being silly in Sam's Club.
My mom mad dad being silly in Sam’s Club.
I had a nice visit with Grandma and Grandpa Jones.
I had a nice visit with Grandma and Grandpa Jones.

To make the whole trip even more fantastic, Rebekah was unemployed!!!! The term unemployed usually has negative thoughts tagging along with it but for my time home it was perfect. Becky got to spend almost the entire time with me in VA and while I was home, she had a fabulous interview with a very hip travel agency called Academic Travel Abroad that sets up gigs with smooth operators like National Geographic, Time Magazine, and the Smithsonian. She landed the job while I was home, so we got to hoot and holler over her success together. I’m extremely proud of her and even more excited about her steady 9-5 job. I mean the girl is perfect for this work. GO BECKY!

We are so happy for you Becky Boo!
We are so happy for you Becky Boo!

I know I said I went home to see my family but I also had ulterior motives. I’ve been studying my face off in Okinawa to become a certified personal trainer. I needed to take the test in the states to be accredited in the US. For the record…drum roll please…I passed! Since then, I’ve started training a few lovely ladies and I’m really enjoying it.

!!Exercise!!
!!Exercise!!

My trip came to an end and I had to say goodbye and make the long flight home. For all of the friends and family that I didn’t get to see, whether in Lexington or in VA Beach, I’m sorry I missed seeing you all. I was snowed in half of the time and to be honest, for the other half, I was pretty stingy with my family time. I’m sure people can understand but I would have enjoyed getting together with everyone. Back to the bleak, dark abyss of my trip home. I flew out of Norfolk on a Tuesday. Happy. Optimistic. Full of life. Then my Space A flight out of California was cancelled and I had to wait for a flight out to Hawaii which I continued to get stuck at again for 2 days. Then I flew into Yokota Japan where a snow storm had stopped most transportation. Dismay. Exhaustion. Frustration. Thankfully, I have used the Tokyo metro system before and wasn’t afraid to get out to the Narita airport on my own. It took me almost all day but I made it. By the time I got to Narita Airport it was time to whip out my yoga mat and get some shut eye. There were so many people sleeping in that airport that I felt like I was in a hostel. I think they were all snowed in from the previous day’s storm. I gladly joined the party, flew out of Tokyo at 6 AM the next morning and arrived in Okinawa with not a smidgen if real food in my body and an extreme need for a bath. A few hours later, Ronnie flew in. Perfect timing. He had a successful exercise on mainland and it was like I was never gone! Total, it took me from Tuesday east coast time until Monday Okinawan time to get home. Factor in the time difference and I travelled with great uncertainty and adventure for about 5 and a half days to get home. Ronnie was pretty darn proud of me.

The goodbye picture at the airport. I hadn't started crying...yet.
The goodbye picture at the airport. I hadn’t started crying…yet.

After getting home, Ronnie and I had about 5 or six days together, three of which I had the flu, and then I was on a plane headed to Metro Manila in the Philippines on a mission trip with some people from our church. We went to a children’s home called Gentle Hands where many of the children there have been rescued from abuse, abandonment, or disaster. It is amazing what they do there. I probably should have focused this blog post more on my adventure there but I’m still processing everything that I experienced. I’ll tell you this. There is an amazing culture surrounding the children at Gentle Hands that allows them to grow and find shelter. I also met some very sweet children but one really stuck with me. She is 16 years old. Her past is very broken but her growth and healing are astounding. Ronnie and I are too young to adopt her and we wouldn’t be the right match for her, but she is such a sweet young women and getting to know her was one of the highlights of my trip. I can learn so much from her attitude and perseverance. My time there was just as hard as I expected but all of my expectations were invalid since the Philippines, especially the part that we experienced, is vastly different from any culture I’ve ever been in. I’m grateful that I was able to go on the trip but when it was time to go home, I was ready. I’d been on the go just a little too long, and been sick just a few too many times. When I saw Ronnie, he said he was glad I got to go but he didn’t like being all alone in Okinawa. I told him we will just have to do mission trips together from now on.😉

The sweet girl I got to know at Gentle Hands
The sweet girl I got to know at Gentle Hands

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Day at the beach with some of the kids.
Day at the beach with some of the kids.

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The Jipnee. A.K.A. the bus. I thought it looked like a supped up soda can with an engine.
We exercised with the kids one day.
We exercised with the kids one day.

IMG_2263 IMG_2259 IMG_2249 IMG_2247 IMG_2246 IMG_2206 IMG_2233   IMG_2170 IMG_2220 So that was my big beginning of the year adventure. I really wish it had more of Ronnie in it. I missed him so much while we were apart. He takes good care of me and I try to take good care of him. I’ll be home for now but I’ve got some trip planning to do for the rest of the year. Hopefully we get to take a few little trips to the surrounding parts of Asia. Maybe Ronnie will get to go on a mission trip with me. Who knows. Quick note on Ronnie. He is really enjoying his work and I think that is a huge blessing. He told me today that he was reading in Ecclesiastes 9:9-10 which says,

Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.

What a great blessing to enjoy marriage and good old fashioned hard work. IMG_2373 If you made it all the way to the end of this post, thanks for reading and hanging in there with my long stories. I know I said I would just do the highlights but I couldn’t resist. I hope all of our friends and family are well. I enjoy hearing from y’all in the comments.  I’ll load some extra photos in the galleries.  Be blessed!

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Settled In

IMG_1728[1] Hello Friends and Family.  Its been awhile since I last posted.  It was the middle of summer the last time I tried to send out a little something to let ya’ll know how Ronnie and I are getting along in the Asian Pacific.  Thank you for patiently waiting.  We haven’t forgotten about everyone back home and we miss all of you terribly.  I hear its getting cool back in the States so everyone back home is my particular subject of jealousy.  Just think about it.  You guys get to wear scarves and cute pea coats with boots while sipping whatever delicious drink is hot at the local coffee shop, all while perusing your latest read at an english bookstores!  Do you know how hard it is to knit out here in this humidity??!!! I’m just kidding.  Its cooling off over here but its still in the 70’s and 80’s.  That means we wear long sleeves at every potentially “chilly” opportunity just to change it up a bit.  The humidity has let up and now I can open the windows, let the beautiful breeze in and start saving on our AC bills.

    Let’s talk about why I took so long to send out a post.  Honestly, I didn’t want to fill anyone’s time or inboxes with posts about snails and the weather.  (I still managed to put an entire intro paragraph about the weather in this post. Ha!)  I was waiting for something exciting. That’s when it hit me.  Hey Zipporah, you’re settled! Being settled is this amazing feeling of not having to call anyone’s office inquiring about your moving status coming up in a few months.  Its being able to unpack ALL of your boxes and put everything to use instead of trying to get ahead of the packing game.  Its being able to use the Weber grill that you purchased as your husband’s wedding gift and have other people over for cookouts.  Its being able to buy large furniture items (good quality but bargain prices of course).  Its going to your church and actually being able to get involved because you’ll be around for a while.  I LOVE BEING SETTLED!

     During our first year of being married, we moved into three different places.   I felt like a nomad…a gypsy… or maybe an Israelite in the wilderness.  Now we have a real house.  We get to stay and its a great blessing.  We’ve had the opportunity to open up our home to some friends and get to know them.  We’ve been able to volunteer together around Okinawa.  Ronnie has made some great connections with people at work and I’m so proud of him.  Sometimes I think, “What’s next?  Where’s our next adventure?”  Right now the adventure is being able to have a solid community and make friends that become family in Okinawa.  What a blessing.

     Just for your reading entertainment, I’ll tell you about a fun thing we did in mid October.  Its funny to put a post about this because my friends Mckenzie posted about the same event last year when she arrived to Okinawa while I was waiting to get flown over.  Many of you probably don’t know this but Okinawa is home of the world’s largest tug-of-war competition.  This is the biggest rope you will ever see people.  They put it on the major road running through Naha and thousands of people show up to be apart of the big tug.  Let’s talk about my husband.  A day that presents the opportunity to eat street food, see a cultural/architectural phenomena, and have the opportunity to display his strength while pulling a rope has his name written all over it.  He was so happy.  He was pulling that rope with his friends next to hundreds of Japanese people and he loved every minute of it.  He left with a drenched sweaty shirt and blistered hands.  One of my favorite parts was at the end when everyone is trying to get parts of the rope to take home.  He brought his own knife and said, “I’m going to get our piece of the rope and I’m not helping anybody else.”  Ronnie is a good guy though so when I looked over to see if he was done cutting our rope, he was hacking away at that rope handing pieces of it to everyone around him.  What a fella.  He was glad to help.IMG_1689[1]IMG_1692[1]

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I’ll leave everyone with the lyrics from a song that I learned when I was little.  It’s from a Hymn by Johnson Oatman.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!

Ronnie and I try to do that all the time.  I encourage everyone to count their blessings.  Good health. A sunny day.  Maybe being settled in a good home with good people around you.  Thank you to everyone who keeps up with Ronnie and I and reads my little posts.  You all are blessings to us and a great support.  Talk to you soon.

Aside

Ronnie and Me Working on Year Number Three

IMG_1200As of yesterday, its been two years ya’ll! Woo Hoo! Ronnie and I have officially been married for 712 days.  The same as 17,088 hours or maybe you would rather here 1,025,280 minutes.  Either way you say it, we wouldn’t trade one second of our time together.  We love being married…even when its hard and I’m pouting or Ronnie is in a mood.  Honestly its not hard being married to a big hunk of dark chocolate.😉

We have spent the last three days celebrating our two year anniversary.  We’ve never been the type to only dedicate one day to marital occasions.  In fact, when we got married, we told all the guests that the wedding would be on August 27th and decided that it would be better to tell Hurricane Irene to drop on by and push our wedding up a day.  We like keeping our guests on their toes.  Just kidding.  But because of how crazy our hurricane induced wedding went, Ronnie and I like to add a day or two to make up for the festivities since nothing happened at the planned time anyway.

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We kept it pretty simple this year and went to the beach, dinner, and exchanged gifts on Saturday.  On Sunday, we stayed up watching Prison Break and said happy anniversary at midnight. Then on Monday, I made a fancy candle lit dinner at home.  Nice, right?  :)

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We had dinner at a place called Pizza in the Sky. Its literally in the sky.

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Ronnie and I are so blessed to be married to each other and sometimes we like to think about all the people that taught us the good lessons about being married.  We are always thankful for parents on both sides that taught us how to love one another no matter what, to take care of each other, and to respect one another.  We are thankful for all the friends and family we met at VMI that let us date at their houses, sharing meals with us, watching movies with us (and letting us snuggle close…supervised of course), and giving us advice about how to love one another.  I’m thankful for all the military wives I have met that read marriage books with me or were open enough to talk about our lives as christian, military wives. We appreciate all of you that helped us figure this marriage thing out for the last two years.  Some of you have been married for 20, 30, 40, or 50 years and that’s always in the back of our heads.  We want to be like ya’ll.  That’s one of our goals God willing.

We love all of you! Thanks again.

Happy Anniversary Ronnie.  I love you the most.  You’re always positive and always my hero.  You wake up everyday smiling no matter what happened the day before.  You are so forgiving and kind.  Really really kind.  You’re a total catch and you knock my socks off.  I can’t wait to see what year number three looks like.

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The Ellsworths on Mount Fuji

My goodness its been a while.  Ronnie and I have been running around and enjoying being married in a foreign country.  I simply haven’t taken a good sit down with this computer to communicate with everyone back at home.  Sorry for my delay but I’ve got fun stuff to tell ya’ll about.  Ronnie and I have been doing all kinds of things.  We’ve seen new beautiful beaches, Okinawan bullfights, and climbed Japan’s most famous mountain, Mount Fuji! I know.  Shock and awe.  Its ok to gasp.  We made it to the top in one piece and got pictures to prove it.

IMG_1022I won’t take to much time with the lesser items like beaches and bullfights but I’ll give you a quick rundown.  It’s hot, hot, hot over here and I’ve given up my bike for a month or two now.  I just can’t hack it.  So, Ronnie and I try to take the time to drive and see new things on the island when he’s off.  One weekend he decided to take me to Ikei Island and a fish market. We jumped in the car with swimsuits and towels and drove to a nice little beach with crystal clear waters, perfect temperature, and plenty of locals with full wet suits on to watch.  After a few hours on the sand we drove to the fish market for lunch…Oh man, what a lunch.  It was great! I ordered the garlic and lemon fried fish with its eyes still on it and everything, and Ronnie ordered a raw tuna on hot rice bowl with sea grapes for garnish.  I was very proud of him for being so bold with his lunch choice.  He doesn’t really let cultural food differences stop him these days.  He eats anything.

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Another fun weekend included the Okinawan bullfights.  They are much different than the bullfights originating in Spain.  These type are bull vs. bull instead of man vs. bull.  No bull is destined to die but if a horn goes a little to deep, it could happen.  Basically, two strapping healthy bulls within in the same weight class square off and lock horns.  They push and grunt until one bull turns  tail and runs away. The whole ordeal reminded me of Ronnie’s wrestling matches in college.  It was a great time but my favorite part was the bull handlers that stayed inside the ring with the bulls (dangerous indeed) and would yell right next to their massive animals, stomping their feet to get the bulls to fight hard.  It was wild.  These guys didn’t care about anything.  They would step through bull poo with no shoes on and act like it was a day at the beach.  Too much.IMG_1048

Enough with all of that. Its Fuji time!

Ronnie and I have been on the island for about six months now. Just a few weeks ago, Ronnie and I decided we needed to take a trip together to have some quality time.  I was thinking of going to a near by island and enjoying a different beach.  Ronnie went straight for the kill and said, “Let’s go climb Mount Fuji.” I love that enthusiasm.  Of course I jumped on board and before you knew it, I had hiking boots and we were on a plane headed for Tokyo, Japan! This was our first time off the island and it was so neat to see a different type of Japan that we hadn’t had the chance to experience yet.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see too much of Tokyo because our whole purpose for going was to climb the mountain but we still got to see some of it.  Our Tokyo time mainly went around eating and visiting the Meiji Shrine.

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This huge torii behind us is the entrance to the park holding the shrine.

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I’m so glad we got out to go see the Meiji Shrine and get a good taste of Tokyo.  We saw some history and culture while people prayed at the shrine.  The more modern Japan showed itself when we found Takeshita Street: a street filled with shops and all of the crazy Tokyo things that you see on the Travel Channel.  Tokyo obviously is the land of drop crotch pants and high heels.  Anything goes as far as style and you can’t help but stare.

Takeshita Street entrance and the wild things within.

Takeshita Street entrance and the wild things within.

Yup. Multicolored drop crotch pantalones.

Yup. Multicolored drop crotch pantalones.

I have no idea.

I have no idea.

Japan in known for its wildly dressed youth.  Ronnie found some nice dresses...

Japan in known for its wildly dressed youth. Ronnie found some nice dresses…

Here we are happy and getting ready to start the hike.

Here we are happy and getting ready to start the hike.

On our second day in Tokyo it was time to take a bus to the mountain and start hiking.  We decided to take the night hike because number one its cooler.  Number two, we didn’t want to stay in a mountain hut to rest.  Number three, we could go see the sunrise if we hiked through the night.  I will make this disclaimer: We did not start at the first station (a.k.a. the bottom of the mountain).  We started at the very popular fifth station which I believe is about 2,000 meters above sea level. Almost everyone goes from that point but if we had started at the bottom, Ronnie could have worn some ceremonial white robes to the summit.  Back to the story.  It all started out to be very romantic.  We were hiking the Yoshida Trail, holding hands and talking.  The moon was shining and any other hikers we saw looked like angler fish with their little head lamps in the distance.  We walked like this for probably an hour or two chit chatting and saying how great it was that we were able to do this.  Then we got to the 8th station and the altitude started to claim journey’s left and right.  Ronnie and I did OK but the altitude was no joke.  I blame our previous homes which have always been at sea level where oxygen prospers.  We had to slow down drastically and stop every twenty meters or so.  By the time we hit the upper 8th stations – there’s more than one – it was all Ronnie encouraging me and me huffing and puffing for air.  But guess what, WE MADE IT!

IMG_1323  We hiked all the way to the top – almost 3776 meters above sea level – crossed the 9th station torii and found a spot to wait for the sun to peak through the clouds.  We made it by the skin of our teeth with only five minutes until we saw the sun.  Truthfully we were still hiking up and the sky was getting brighter but I’m still claiming seeing the sunrise from the top of the mountain.  It was beautiful.  The colors were gorgeous and even though it was cloudy, the sun would peak threw and little old Japanese women would clap and everyone had smiles on their faces.  It was great.  After the sun made its grand entrance, we walked over and paid to have our walking sticks stamped for reaching the top of the mountain.  We took the time to go see the crater at the top as well.  Some people don’t realize that Mount Fuji is an active volcano with a huge crater to show for it but no worries.  The volcano hasn’t erupted since the early 1700’s.

The crater.  If it looks funny to you, don't worry. You would probably recognize it if it were covered in snow.

The crater. If it looks funny to you, don’t worry. You would probably recognize it if it were covered in snow.

After seeing the summit and taking some beautiful pictures, we split.  We wanted to get back down to altitudes with appropriate levels of oxygen.  The descent was actually much more difficult than we expected.  It was almost all volcanic gravel and dust was flying everywhere.  By the time we got to the bottom, we hurt all over and were covered in brown-ish red dust.

This is me covered in dust, getting a little sunburned, and starting a lovely set of dreads on the top of my head from having that hat on.

This is me covered in dust, getting a little sunburned, and starting a lovely set of dreads on the top of my head from having that hat on.

We laughed when we saw newcomers arriving at the 5th station with clean faces and smiles that said, “I’m going to climb Mt. Fuji today.”  We shook our heads and thought, “You have no idea.”  It was really hard to get to the top and we took the whole seven hours to get to the summit for the sunrise, but I’m really glad we did it.  We climbed one of the most famous mountain is the world.  I climbed a mountain with my best friend.  Ronnie encouraged me the whole time and told me he was proud of me for doing something so hard.  He’s a great husband and made the hard parts fun and the easy parts even better.

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The bus ride back to Tokyo was nothing but sleeping and funky smelling people but we didn’t care.  When we got back to the hotel and planned on going out to see the great Shibuya Crossing, but after good long showers, we couldn’t move.  I’m not exaggerating.  We literally couldn’t move for a few hours.  Even when we woke up from napping to get dinner, we could barely walk and decided to have dinner and a few drinks in the hotel.  Then, we passed  out sleeping soundly until the next day for check-out.  My calves still hurt but what a great trip.  This was our first vacation by ourselves and I loved every bit of it.

Mount Fuji…check.

Aside

It’s Raining Snails

Ohiyo Gozaimas Friends and Family,

I hope everyone is healthy, happy, and enjoying the spring.

A Quick but very important shout out: To my Dad who is traveling with my Mom and Becky, Happy Birthday! Your are a great father and a great friend.  Thank you for teaching me how to live a great life.  I hope Eastern Europe is treating you right on your birthday. I LOVE YOU!!!!

IMG_0896What a great day it is here in the tropical Northeastern Hemisphere.  Rain, rain, rain, and more rain! For some people all of this rain would be a devastating problem, but I love rain.  It smells great and everyone has to slow down.  This means I can’t be a non-stop, on the go, get-it-done social butterfly.  Since Ronnie is back in town, I don’t have the car quite as much and I get to spend quality time with my cat reading books, cooking, sewing, varnishing fresh woodwork…doing general house things.  I love it.

But there is one thing I do not love. Snails.

Usually, they are just little creepy crawlies that like to slime up and down on the outside walls of our concrete house.  We carefully step over them when we walk outside to get to the car just so we don’t crunch any of them (poor little boogers and their rather defenseless exoskeletons).  In fact, I’ve generally thought that the little ones are cute.  They all come out and party when the rain is falling and we just let them be. IMG_0331 Lately, things have changed.  First, the sheer number of snails on the house has increased to unpleasant numbers.  Second, there is a new kind of snail in town.  These snails are huge with big hard snail shells.  I suspect they are the Giant African Land Snails.  Ronnie was checking out the news on his phone and told me to come over and pressed play on a news report.  Its was about our snails, but they are in Florida!  Since the Florida Department of Agriculture is concerned, I’m wondering if Ronnie and I should be de-snailing our place too.  These fellas have zero predators except us, of course.  I mean, come on.  What other animal wants to eat a snail. Nasty!

I present what I suspect is the Giant African Land Snail.  Trust me, he is way bigger than he looks in this picture.

I present what I suspect is the Giant African Land Snail. Trust me, he is way bigger than he looks in this picture.

I think I have a dilemma here.  Although I’m reveling in the ability to sit in my bedroom and listen to the rain come down while its still not too humid in Okinawa, its always in the back of my mind that I’ve got these giant snails in my driveway holding a town meeting with all of the baby snails out there too.  It doesn’t look good guys.  It doesn’t look good at all.

Zumba Makes Me Feel Latina

I’ve got a new hobby…ZUMBA! Its way too much fun and you get your workout in without feeling like you’ve been working out for a full hour.  Of course when the instructor picks the hardest song to dance and you realize you are panting above the volume of the blaring music, then you realize you are working out and need some water.  They have classes on base here and its a great service to have at your disposal.  Since I haven’t been in many dance classes these day its, I’ve been enjoying the opportunity to shake it.  We salsa, meringue, and drop it low and all at break neck speeds that make you want to throw up after class but with a smile.

Meet Janice.

Meet Janice.

I’m going to get right into things. My instructor is crazy! Not crazy in the bad way but crazy in the way that says, “This lady need not drink coffee in the morning.”  Her name is Janice and she maintains the peppiness of a high school cheerleader mixed with the energy of a Labrador Retriever puppy.  Nevertheless, she is one of the coolest people to dance behind on the planet.  She is always singing the lyrics as loud as she can in Spanish while she salsa’s us out of the room.  She loves to scream “ESO!” which I believe means something like go this way, follow me, and GET IT! all in one phrase.  This woman does not need a hairband in class.  The rest of us hang dearly onto our concept of the pony tail while she whips her hair around looking muy sexy and makes you realize, “I’ve got to work on that move.” Every time we leave her class, we are thinking how is she sweating so hard and still looking that…cool.  Swag people.  She’s got swag.

IMG_0689In the recent past, Torri Beach hosted a two hour Zumba-thon in honor of Sexual Harassment and Assault Awareness Month.  We all sported little teal and purple ribbons on our zumba outfits and bracelets to support the effort.  It was a great way to get people involved.  Anyway, we spent two hours workin’ it in a grass field on the beach.  Janice was a Latin ball of fire on the stage.  There was another instructor there that I haven’t taken a class with but she was gettin’ it done too.  Work ladies! What a blast to dance alongside a few hundred people on a sunny, breezy day in Okinawa.

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Can I Make That?

As many of my friends already know, Ronnie is quite occupied with being a military man for the past month. That’s totally ok with me because I get a little of extra time for some necessary crafting. Let me begin by saying my mind is generally consumed with the phrase, “how can I make that?” Its hard for me to go to the store and not instantly open my phone, load up Pinterest and look for a tutorial on how to… Ronnie is now in the habit of asking, “what are you making this week?” and “what did you find on Pinterest last night?” He understands me. He knows that the way to my heart is a trip to the hardware store, craft shop, fabric store, or yarn shop while helping me choose some gorgeous string things to work with. Yes, I love him!

Might I briefly add, Ronnie knows that my crafting has saved us a penny or two. I do dislike paying full price if there is an option for making something. Thank you Mom for teaching me the ways of The Crafting Thrifter. It’s also very empowering to wake up and look at your living room or closet and say I made that and it looks darn good!!!

So, I’m not posting tutorials or anything but I want to share a few photos of what I’ve worked on. I’m very proud of my time well spent with a hot glue gun or my kenmore sewing machine.

(For a musical selection, I have chosen Trey Songz – Here We Go Again. Turn this on while you check out the pics to get the atmosphere I go for on a sunny morning in Okinawa!)

I couldn't find boots online that I wanted in the right size and the Japanese have small feet so I bought men's boots at the hardware store and painted them with paint pens.  Love these.

I couldn’t find boots online that I wanted in the right size and the Japanese have small feet so I bought men’s boots at the hardware store and painted them with paint pens. Love these.

I don't have an oven but I've got a crock pot! Yes. You can make some pretty good bread in the crock pot.

I don’t have an oven but I’ve got a crock pot! Yes. You can make some pretty good bread in the crock pot. I crocheted those little coaster/doilies on the left too.

These used to be a pair of Ronnie old jeans with a rip int the knee.  I grabbed them before he threw them out, took them in, cut and rolled the legs, and added a belt. Hello!

These used to be a pair of Ronnie old jeans with a rip int the knee. I grabbed them before he threw them out, took them in, cut and rolled the legs, and added a belt. Hello!

This is my pride and joy.  I made this coffee table with my own hands at the Camp Courtney Wood Shop.

This is my pride and joy. I made this coffee table with my own hands at the Camp Courtney Wood Shop. Its got wheels people!

This is my latest project.  An ottoman made out of tires and garden rope.  Its coming along nicely.

This is my latest project. An ottoman made out of tires and garden rope. Its coming along nicely.

This is my remade kitchen table.  Its been sanded and stained to make a nice Early American color.  Its like brand new.

This is my remade kitchen table. Its been sanded and stained to make a nice Early American color. Its like its brand new.

My new only-three-lines-of-stitching Maxi dress.  Costs all of $13.00 and its fabulous!

My new Maxi dress. Costs all of $13.00!

Zeb.  He's a work in progress.  Sabrina, this ones for you! I promise I'll finish him and he will be on his way to Florida. :)

Zeb. He’s a work in progress. Sabrina, this ones for you! I promise I’ll finish him and he will be on his way to Florida.🙂

When the Cat’s Away…

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The mice will eat pasta on the roof!  Hello friends and Family.  Just dropping a line to say hello and konichiwa and tell you about my new profession as a Sherpa headed towards the top of our house.  When Ronnie and I moved here we realized that our roof happens to be very flat.  I’m sure it has something to do with the major typhoons that they get here, but to us, this house was constructed in this manner purely so that we could have people over and eat good food on the roof.  Duh.

IMG_0091 - CopyWe tested sitting on the roof once together and it worked out nicely so I decided to have a picnic on the roof with McKenzie since Ronnie was pretty busy with work.  McKenzie and I had a lovely time.  It didn’t rain on us and our food was wonderful.  We had raw tomato pasta (thank you Becky for my quality Silver Spoon cookbook), some wine and a classy Japanese cabbage salad.  Scrum-dil-i-umptious!  Not to mention the addition of a swingin’ jazzy beat by Melody Gardot was perfect.  After we carefully made our way down from the roof – mind you we did manage to finish the wine while we were up there- we lounged in the living room watching The Princess Diaries and eating lemon meringue pie. That’s a fun time right there!

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Cookbooks and Farmer’s Markets

Hey There,

Its a beautiful day in Okinawa and I’m feeling the need to update everyone on how things are going.  I haven’t written in awhile because Ronnie and I have just been living life without too many adventures BUT the latest news is that our household goods shipment is here!  I was excited to have our bedroom set and china and extra pots and pans and then I realized…I sent some junk!  If there is one thing that being in the moving process from the month of December all the way into March has taught me is that there are a lot of things we can live without and be just fine.  I was actually frustrated when I saw all of the things laying around on the floor that I didn’t even need anymore or knew that I would never really use.  Of course my Kenmore sewing machines and Bernina serger are more than welcome in our little Ishikawa house but empty jars with no lids and terrible hangers (broken) were setting me into a desperate mood that eventually erupts into d-r-a-m-a.image  We can’t have that! So, I started a to purge my things and boy did it feel good! Ronnie was praising Jesus for the transformation from got-to-keep-it to don’t-want-to-see-it.  Now the task is getting odd ends and bits that we DO need put away and finding furniture that makes our place functional and comfy cozy.  That ultimately means getting rid of the government table and couch for upgraded newbies…on an approved budget of course.  This is where my dear Okinawa friends come in (McKenzie especially!) because some of these woman have a knack for picking colors and textures and all of those sorts of things.  VMI didn’t quite prepare me for that.

The next thing I want to tell you is about some Japanese food.  That’s right, we love, love, love to eat in Okinawa.  Soba, ramen, gyoza, yakiniku, farmer’s markets, garlic, soy sauce, and rice.  LOTS OF RICE! Ronnie and I get to go out to restaurants every now and again but who doesn’t love a home cooked meal! To help us be just a little more Japanese, Ronnie bought a cook book for me called Japanese Farm Food by Nancy Singleton Hachisu.  Its great because I’m learning about some Japanese fruits, veggies, spices, and other ingredients that I’ve otherwise been oblivious to until now.

Japanese Farm Food.  The latest and greatest addition.

Japanese Farm Food. The latest and greatest addition.

Also, its a great book because the author is an American woman and does a great job explaining substitutions and how to get ahold of these mysterious ingredients.  I’ve only cooked out of it once so far but I plan to do some more since my friend Sarah and I just found the farmer’s market near our house.

I bought three massive carrots for 100 yen. Can you believe it! Sarah managed to get a stalk of celery that appeared to be on roids for 100 yen too.  It was utterly amazing.  Even better…Ronnie wanted to go to the farmer’s market and fell absolutely in love with it.  Go figure.  You should have seen him in the cabbage aisle.

Next order of business: I promised my mother-in-law that I would share some Japanese recipes.  I’m no chef or Japanese food specialist so I’ll share one thing that I’ve figured out how to make pretty well and one thing that I want to try.  Here goes Mrs. Sybil!🙂

Soy Sauce Eggs – Ronnie loves these things because he gets his boiled egg with salt already seasoning it.  Very handy and very tasty.  Of course you use soy sauce in just about everything here so it makes sense to season your boiled eggs with soy sauce.  Here is the recipe and instructions.

Eggs (Use however many you want but I usually do about 7 or 8 because I’ve heard they don’t keep for more than a day or two.)

1 Tbsp light or dark soy sauce for each boiled egg (If you use 8 eggs then you will need 8 Tbsp of soy sauce. I prefer dark soy sauce.)

Put the eggs in cold water and bring to a boil. Roll the eggs gently to make sure the yolk solidifies in the middle of the egg and not on the edge. Once you get a nice rolling boil, turn off the flame, cover the pot, and let stand for 10 minutes.  Pour out hot water and run cold water over eggs to cool.  Peel your boiled beauties and try not to nick the eggs as you peel.

Once all of the eggs are peeled, put your soy sauce in a pan that the eggs can move around in and bring the soy sauce to a boil/foam (only takes a second). put your eggs in and roll them around until they soak up most of the soy sauce.  They will be light brown and super tasty.  I keep mine in fridge over night and Ronnie eats them during breakfast or lunch.  Enjoy!

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The other way to do it (and I think this makes a much softer egg) is to boil the eggs the same way, peel and then put them in a ziploc bag with the soy sauce.  Push out the air.  Roll up the bag so all eggs are touching soy sauce and let them sit over night in the fridge.  I think this is more of a pickling than a cooking so you won’t have that snappy outside that I love but if you like your eggs softer then this is the way to go probably. You might need a little extra soy sauce.

Now time for the recipe that I need to try:

Ramen at Home.  Ramen is one of the first things you should have in my opinion if you ever get to come to Japan.  They love noodles with broth.  Ramen or Soba (an Okinawa version of noodles and broth) have that and so much more! For this recipe, I’m going to attach this link.  Cookbook Review Japanese Farm Food | Katie at the Kitchen Door. I enjoy following this blog when I get the chance.  She does a great job reviewing cook books and she is how I found out about my newest cookbook.  Thanks Katie! I know you don’t know me but I’m a fan.  Anywho.  When you finish this recipe, I have some instruction on how to eat it.  Make sue you eat it in a big bowl with chop sticks and do lots of slurping.  In Japan, its very polite to slurp and a lot more fun than trying to figure out another way to get delicious noodles in you mouth.

That’s all I’ve got for now.  I hope some of you get a chance to make one or both of these recipes.  Maybe you can get a little taste of what I get to eat all the way over here in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  Also, I put up some extra pictures of things we have been cooking and bike adventures/outings in the other pages of this blog.  I miss all of you and I hope everyone is enjoying the last bits of winter.  Until next time!

Irene is always ready to try some Oki taste goods.

Irene is always ready to try some Oki taste goods.

A Late Start on Valentine’s Day

Happy St. Valentine’s Day!  That’s how they say it here.  They always advertise this holiday with Saint at the beginning.  Either way, they still like to decorate with little hearts and since I believe the Japanese have a sweet tooth in general, they love them some chocolate! Ronnie and I had an interesting St. Valentine’s Day.  Sometime around 12:30 am, I woke Ronnie up almost in tears and told him I wasn’t ready for Valentine’s Day and that I didn’t have anything prepared to make the day special.  Half asleep and smiling, he looked me in the eyes and said, “Me either.” Between the two of us, neither had anything special planned! So, we carried on like it was a regular old day with no extra spunk in it from a holiday about love.  I spent some time with friends and decorated sugar cookies hoping that my sloppy icing job communicated the message I LOVE YOU effectively.  Either way, neither of us was feeling very Valentific by dinner time and our evening was going down the tubes.  Thankfully, my husband is a very nice man who knows how to turn lemons into salted pomegranate margaritas! He decided earlier that day that once we got home we would go and get some much-needed bikes.  You see, Ronnie usually has the car while he is at work and I’ve been relying on friends and occasionally running to base for a ridiculously high energy zumba class.  Either way, Ronnie knew I really needed a bike and that if he got one too, then that’s just one more way for us to spend time together on a lazy weekend.  We went to the Sport Depo, chose bikes, helmets and bike locks and made our way out of the store.  Of course in order to get the bikes into the car, Ronnie and the man working the bike department had to disassemble both of the bikes and barely fit them in with the back wheels hanging out of the passenger side window.  Bike Drama! I was still being a moody gal on our way home (sorry Ronnie) but my husband is generally a high-spirited person. That’s one of the great reasons I married him.  When some people see a silver lining, Ronnie see’s platinum.😀  We got the bikes out of the car and reassembled them.  We hoped on, hung a left off of our driveway and all of a sudden, it was Valentine’s Day for us.  It had nothing to do with the bikes and had everything to do with spending a really fun time with the person I love.  Thanks Ronnie for a great Valentine’s day.  I love you. XOXOX

Don't you just love his helmet.

Don’t you just love his helmet.

Home Sweet Home

A great reminder in our house to be thankful and to enjoy the day God made!  I found a place for your gift Mrs. Patricia.  It fit so well, it was meant to be there.  :)

A great reminder in our house to be thankful and to enjoy the day God made! I found a place for your gift Mrs. Patricia. It fit so well, it was meant to be there.🙂

Konichiwa Friends and Family!  The past month has passed by so fast and I want to let everyone know how Ronnie and I are doing living in a new house, in a new neighborhood, in a new country.  Besides, I do believe Ronnie and I have promised my mother and my mother-in-law pictures of our new place on multiple occasions within the last week.  And pictures I will give them!  (Hint: check the gallery Mom and M.I.L.)  :)

So, for three weeks Ronnie and I started our lovely Okinawa tour in a military hotel.  Praise the Lord for affordable and convenient lodging but let’s be real…It got a little frustrating to come “home” and completely understand that your time was running out as far as the military paying for your room and we still hadn’t picked a house yet.  But, Glory be! We found one! It’s a great little house near the water and still less than ten minutes from Ronnie’s job.  It’s not too big or too small.  The kitchen is right next to the living room so I can still talk to Ronnie while I cook.  One thing is super different in this home.  All of the appliances are in Japanese!  Washing and drying clothes has become a rather interesting process of speaking to the washer while you push buttons, hoping that it can hear you and somehow do what you want.  The microwave is really a three-in-one marvel that I haven’t figured out yet.  We have been pushing the one minute button, but then it jumps up to two minutes and fifty seconds.  We are still ironing out our relationship with that one.

The little fish broil drawer/oven just slides out in the front.

The little fish broil drawer/oven just slides out in the front.

One fun appliance in the house is the Japanese stove.  It’s different from American gas stoves because not only does it have at least three different safety features to stop me from burning down Okinawa Island but it has a different oven.  Their ovens here are little drawers that broil a few pieces of fish.  There is no potential for baking cookies or a turkey in there but lets be honest here. I can’t bake anyways and I say that with no shame!  As far as a turkey goes, I have been told that I can buy a fully cooked one around the Thanksgiving season, allowing me to have a super American holiday at my own Japanese style home.

Little Miss Charlotte was coming for my waffles.

Little Miss Charlotte was coming for my waffles.

We did bring our toaster oven which worked great yesterday on some store bought cookie dough. Plus, get this: I made some chili for Ronnie and our great friends the Harding’s.  We obviously needed corn bread to go along with our meal SO…what do you do without an American oven? You make Corn Bread Waffles! Praise the Lord who loves us for letting my parents know that’s what I needed as a wedding gift.  My Waring Pro Waffle Press.  Oh, how I love it!  It also came in great handy when I wanted to have some ladies over and we had a waffle day.  Perfection.

Enough about cooking, let’s talk about the neighborhood and how Ronnie and I fit into the Okinawa community.  We have done just a little exploring around our house and found a really cute little beach with a park and pier just up the road.  It’s great for a nice Saturday morning walk or even a jog if I’m willing to do the cardiovascular work.  Ronnie and I really enjoy being able to see another view of the ocean.  It’s just beautiful.  I can’t wait to see how that place gets hoppin’ in the summer months. Ronnie and I have also found some places to go shopping around here.  The Japanese have these great malls called Aeon.  They are massive with all kinds of clothing, shoe, and hat stores.  There is always a grocery market with eateries and home goods departments.  There is enough entertainment just by looking through the mall and trying to figure out what everything is since we can’t read the kanji signs.  Yes, we are illiterate at the mall.  That didn’t stop us from finding two dresses on sale that came home with me this evening!

Moving on to more substantial things.  Ronnie and I have made some quality friends on the Island.  Some we already knew (Harding’s, Malina’s, Farraez’ shout out!). Some people we got to know a little more as we got settled in, like the Castro’s, and some we just met like the Marshall’s, Patterson’s, and Yon’s.  I probably can’t even remember all of the nice people we have met but I’m so thankful for them.  It is a real blessing to have friends when you are so far from family that are willing to say, “Come on over and have dinner” or just nice enough to care and ask you how you are settling in.  Ronnie and I have also found a church to attend and be a part of and we are already getting involved and finding ways to learn more about the Lord and why He sent us to beautiful Okinawa.  All in all, we are really excited to be here.  We can’t wait to explore some more of the island and get better acquainted with our community.  I think the one thing that would make all of this even better would be if my poor little kitty cat could be in our house.  For now she is living it up with our dear friends the Ferraez’ (a million thank you’s to both of you for keeping her).  In May, she’s all mine! I can’t wait to have my little buddy back around tagging along.  Until then, I’ll just have to enjoy living with my handsome husband in our little house.  <3  Until next time.

The beach near our house.

The beach near our house.

Construction Neighborhood

photo copy

Well, I have put off writing a new post for quite a little while. But do you know what? Construction is about to start just outside my front door and basically in my driveway. In fact, there is construction out my front window too with a very large yellow crane swinging in the breeze on many a sunny day. There is another construction worksite just to the other corner of my house but they put up this nice metal wall to stop some of the noise. If you think I’m complaining…I might be a little but I promise I’ll try to make my point in just a second. I am realizing that although Ronnie and I are enjoying the most lovely perfect house for us, we have moved into a construction neighborhood with our own pack of stray dogs guarding the creepy driveway beyond our house. Occasionally, I hear them roughing each other up with their own little doggy fight club outside my door at the stroke of midnight. It’s the best. One day, I decided I was upset about that one yellow crane I mentioned earlier. Then I started to think about it. This is life! Good old fashioned, the going is ugly but hopefully we make it one day to what we want to be! Do you know what I mean? I get a little preachy about this subject so bear with me. Ronnie built me a soap box and everything. Probably one of the biggest lesson I’ve had the pleasure of learning on this island is that I have not arrived. I did not magically step into the land of the perfected character the minute I graduated, or got married, or bought my first couch. I am weak, frail, temporary, moody, and generally imperfect. What does the crane have to do with it?? I’m getting there. As I looked at the bright yellow crane sitting smack dab in the middle of my beautiful water and mountain view, I realized God might just be telling me that who we want to be and what we want to do takes so much hard work. Lots of misguided times, I think I’m the fantastic background that waits outside my window but so many times, God has some sort of big yellow crane picking up the rough pieces and putting them to the side. He picks up the stuff I need to learn and plops it right on the work bench. So bring on the construction boys!! I’m sure I’ll figure out another metaphor to help me cope with the situations I can’t control (a.k.a. construction noise, construction trucks, and construction men).

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me

Philippians 4:11-13

I know it sounds petty to get so worked up about something silly like being surrounded by construction but from one control freak to another – I’m working on it!