Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Winter Wonderland~

Posting an update from Belgium! It's soooo cold here, and since I haven't visited Belgium in the winter for years, it's a bit of a shocker. Here's the scene I woke up to that first morning... 

Snooowww! I was just thinking "雪だ!ひさしぶり〜" So pretty~ These are all shots of my grandparents backyard. We really were able to enjoy a white Christmas this year :)


You can really see the sheer amount of snow - apparently they haven't had this much snow during Christmas in Belgium for yeeeaaars. There are several good inches there. Pretty to look at, but driving was super inconvenient. There was mostly ice at first, so you couldn't do much with it either. But once it fell back down again, it became a bit more malleable.

My sister loves playing in the snow (I'm a wimp and hate the cold) so she made a snowman! かわいいでしょう〜?This really made me smile.

As for the holidays themselves, they went really great. Like I said, driving around was rough, but the actual get-togethers went awesome and being able to see family was the best. And the food!
Christmas eve was a home-cooked meal. My aunt and grandmother did a lot of the cooking, with some of the stuff being bought. That's one of the great things about a lot of grocery stores over here - they make some really high-quality ready-made meals.

This is a tray of amuse-bouches. My favorite thing is something that I can't find a photo of, unfortunately - smoked salmon and a avocado and cream cheese mousse wrapped in rolls made of crepes. Definitely would like to try making them myself sometime.

And for the aperitif, champagne with edible hibiscus flowers in them for decoration. I had orange juice, so you couldn't really see the flowers, but they add a nice sweetness to the drink. I actually ate my flower. Odd texture, but it was yummy~

This entrée is foie gras with a salad. I could eat this as a meal, it was so perfect. And my aunt made it sooo pretty!

Main course: Christmas turkey! With "farce," stuffed pears, and croquettes (my favorite *_*). This is when you start getting super full but it's just too tasty to stop. It was a rare occasion after all!

And finally comes dessert: Buche de Noel. It's a cake in the shape of a yule log, and this one was raspberry flavored with vanilla cream, and decorated with chocolate and macaroons.

And then, Christmas day we went to visit the other side of the family, and it was round two! This time we went to a fancy restaurant instead. We got completely distracted and didn't take pictures of all the courses, but here are a couple of examples.

This was an interesting salad with pieces of - I think - melon, cucumber, fois gras, etc... I think this was probably my favorite course. And that toasted bread was amazing. We had two or so other courses before dessert.

I love having multiple little things to eat, especially for dessert. A chocolate cake, ice cream, and a "fondant"/crispy crepe type of thing. Maybe a bit too much chocolate for my tastes and but undeniably delicious.

So you could say that we had a successful Christmas. Good food, good people, good times. And that wasn't it for us.

My mom's birthday is on December 26th, so it's always kind of hard to celebrate it. This year we dedicated the Buche de Noel to her and sang and everything on Christmas eve, but on the 26th my dad went and bought these adorable pastries to celebrate as well. The chocolate ones have meringue, and the snowmen have both raspberry and vanilla mousse, with an outer shell of white chocolate.

And now to go starve myself... heh, just kidding, but these were definitely special meals for special occasions! Hope everyone is enjoying the holidays!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tweet Log 12 (August)

Continuing my story through tweets... start at the beginning here.

Go back to part 11.
Go forward to part 13.


Had ZERO internet for the past few days, didn't expect that! So much to blog about, such bad connections XD

Blog Post: Epic Journey of Summer 2010! Part 2 (Belgium)

In the end, I had to post it without some of the pictures, but I'll fix that when I get back home. At least I'm getting some material out :)

Arashi's new album is out!! I just listened through the entire thing right now ^^;; Sooo happy about it~~~

Also, I'll be heading back to the US tomorrow. I'll have to put the blog posts up when I get back due to the problems with the pictures...

Back in the US! So much to doo~ Need to catch up with blog posts! I'll try to get those out asap :)

First things first, fixed the pics from the last Belgian trip update!

Urk. I just updated Anki and my kanji deck just... disappeared. o.o ?!?!?!?

Ok.. I lost the progress I'd made, but I think my deck's ok now.... phew! XD

I've been kind of under the weather, so it's been hard to get anything done... Bear with me >.<

So I've calculated I need to do ~30 new cards a day if I want to finish my goal of getting through Heisig's 1st book before school starts...

We'll see if I can do it, but either way, I'm almost there! :D

Blog Post: Epic Journey of Summer 2010! Part 3 (Holland) Lots of pictures in this one ^o^

アムステルダム | Lang-8 #lang8

Never made so much food before! off to another avatar party~ XD

Blog Post: Tweet Log 8 (March/April)

Uploaded a sorta filler-blog since I've been so busy and unable to post new travel stuff! Hope to change that within the next couple days :D

I've been doing pretty well at keeping up my pace of 30 new kanji a day... we'll see if I can keep it up till the finish line though o.o

Just finished lesson 48 in Heisig's. Only six more! :D

I tend to try to sing (or at least lipsync vigorously lol) to Japanese songs I love when I run on the treadmill. Bit more of a workout XD

I tend to try to sing (or at least lipsync vigorously lol) to Japanese songs I love when I run on the treadmill. Bit more of a workout XD

Sorry for the hiatus, folks! I've been moving into a new apartment and school starts in a couple of days, so I've been busy - bear with me!

Blog Post: Epic Journey of Summer 2010! Part 4 (Holland)

Phew, new blog post, and also plans of starting my daily twitpics again. Slowly getting back into the swing of things!

Reached kanji 2000! Gah, so clooose, hope to get done within the next few days XD

Just finished lesson 56! One more lesson! Maybe I could even finish today! :D

I officially finished Heisig's first book!!!! やった〜〜〜〜〜〜!!!! Partaaaaay ^o^

So I might have reached my kanji goal about... four days late, but honestly I don't mind. I just feel great about finishing the book!

Now I need to actually properly learn everything and keep reviewing. But I won't have any new kanji cards for a while :)

Back to an attempt at daily Japan pics! Here's a pretty doll we saw in a train station.

Urk... been too busy to do anything fun with an Arashi birthday as an excuse... but had some cheese cake today... Happy Birthday Jun! XD

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Motivation ideas: Jigsaw puzzles

I’m dealing with finals for school right now and am trying a new way to keep myself motivated. Maybe this would work for you too!

I try to find different ways to turn tasks into a game to keep things fun and help with motivation. This includes checklists and bar graphs, like I mentioned in another post. An awesome app for the iPhone is EpicWin (check them out!) But I’ve also added a further element to the fun.

A jigsaw puzzle. What I did was print out a picture (this time around, it was one of Teppei Koike – I mean he does have one of the best motivational videos ever…). I flipped the picture over, drew dividing lines on the back, and cut the picture into pieces. The number of pieces equals the number of tasks I need to finish (for this case, the number of readings I need to do for a final exam). I put these aside, and every time I finish a task, I award myself one of the pieces of the puzzle at random. The puzzle itself isn’t that difficult, but this way, instead of just writing check marks or filling in a progress bar, I’m actually piecing together a picture, which is much more gratifying.

I’m surprised by just how much this has been helping me. It might be the fact that I personally love jigsaw puzzles, so this may not work for everyone. I definitely plan to use this kind of thing next semester for my new courses, and this can also be used for things like Japanese study (or just about anything!). 

I love coming up with fun activities like this to track progress on various tasks, and over the break I’d like to develop some kind of new fun system for next semester’s classes. I really like the jigsaw puzzle thing, but I also love things like treasure hunts and whatnot, and I’m trying to think of ways to incorporate that. I feel like I’m turning into a kid again, but hey, fun gets things done!

I realize that the methods used to accomplish tasks probably shouldn’t take more time/effort than the tasks themselves… I’m trying not to go overboard, but just come up with new ideas every once in a while and implement them in the most efficient way possible. If you guys have any fun ways to keep yourself motivated, let me know!