Thursday, January 31, 2013

Welcome to the neighborhood, weirdo.

Our new house is in a cul de sac of sorts, where the neighbors are very friendly, and also very social. Every Thursday night is deemed "Wine Thursdays" where the ladies gather outside and drink wine and the men gather and smoke cigars after the children are put to bed. Victor and I do neither of these things, but we still went and joined them to introduce ourselves and hopefully get off to a good, non-anti-social start with out neighbors.

Last night, I was speaking to the neighbor that we first spoke to when we were back in the choosing process, and she asked me:
"So what did your husband mean when he asked if there were any skanks around here?"

Me: "ummm....come again?"

Her: "You know, when you guys were first here and he asked if there were any skanks in the area."

Umm, wow. Ok. Rewind in my head to that moment when she was standing across the street when we said hi to her. We had just come from a housing briefing where they talked about all the fun stuff of the island aka the spiders, snakes, etc. Victor was paranoid about having a yard with the possibility of snakes and such. And that's what he had asked her. Twice, because the first time she was all, "excuse me???" I remember she looked really confused, but I brushed it off.

Back to last night. Me: "oh oh oh. He said snakes. He was really worried about it apparently!"

Her: "Oh, that's a relief! I thought he said skanks!"
She then turns to every lady there (like eight of them) and exclaims, "you guys, don't worry! He said snakes!"

Yep, they all knew. And all of their husbands. I'm actually pretty happy she asked me so the cul-de-sac didn't think we were a bunch of pervert weirdos.

But you know, I'm glad to live in a place where the neighbors actually talk. It's a nice change from our last place.

And in answer to Victor's intended question, my neighbor told me that snakes aren't a big problem in our area. Just the occasional cockroach or blind mice called shrews. No biggie. (sarcasm intended)

No sightings of any skanks just yet.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I can't live like this.

Moving day was yesterday! No more hotel living for us! The move went smoothly, and I was so extremely happy that all my dishes and breakables arrived in one piece (now just pray the next shipment makes it ok too). I have heard so many horror stories of military moves so I count myself very lucky to not have had any problems. I'm really very fond of my dishes  and would be pretty upset if they broke. Anyway.

The next shipment we are waiting for is our furniture (what little of it we sent), and for the time being, we are using government loaned furniture which we get to keep, or which we can have them take back when our other furniture arrives. This is where I get dramatic. The furniture isn't bad. It's not. But it's just bad enough for me to not be happy. I don't want it in my house!

Case in point:
Table: ok. I can live with this. It can stay.
 Chairs: NO. Get them out of here! I will probably just buy new chairs, because I have found a few options at Japanese stores for a decent price.
 The couch and chairs:
I like the shape of the couch a lot. It's not uncomfortable either.
the globe is mine and it is staying!
 But the fabric? NO. I ordered couch covers immediately. The end tables are also leaving, since mine are coming. But how I wish I could repaint the coffee table or something. Nope. Government no no.

Ooh a hutch! I've always wanted one. But not if it looks like this:

It's leaving. I know it's really not all that bad, but I don't really even have anything to put in it, so it's leaving.

This is the bedroom set, which will be staying because when my bed comes, it will go into the guest bedroom. Not bad, but not good. I already have some ideas on jazzing them up, so stay tuned.
this is your bed when you come and visit!! Don't worry, the mattress is comfortable enough.
That's me giving a thumbs down.

So yeah. Consider this your "before" shot because I hope to get this place looking not so drab and personality-less. And if you have any refashion ideas at all that do not involve actually changing the original state of the furniture, then I am all ears!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Adventures in Japanese Shopping

The cute, the strange, and the Chinglish.
(wait, what's the Japanese version of "Chinglish"? Is it an all-Asia encompassing word?

Anyway, here we go!

First off: the treats
Purple yam flavored Kit Kat: the purple yam is the agricultural specialty here in Okinawa. Maybe I'll try this someday. 
Rest assured, Hostess is alive and well in Japan! I guess people didn't get the memo to buy up all the inventory in sight. I should sell the sno balls on ebay. 
Get in my belly, almond fish!

Moving on. I love the Japanese stationary. So cute and irresistible. 

 "I hope everyday will be happy!!"
"There is nothing nicer than giving a gift to a friend."

"A gal likes a laces. My laces are kept in my favorite case."

Adorable dishes from the 100 yen store aka the Dollar Store:
"Jet'aime: Our love is like the wind. We can't touch it, but we can feel it with our heart."

I need these duck measuring cups! I love ducks. 
Get on my feet you adorable kitty flats!
 Extra extra skinny ties. Like one inch wide. I want the second one on the left for my husband

And now, just the quirky:
Adorable toilet seat warmer/cushion. Yes, please. 
 This would be a fun Halloween costume
Do you find that your stomach gets so cold in the winter? Then you need the warm winter belly band!!

That's all for today. Stay tuned for the next installment. I'm pretty sure there is PLENTY more where that came from. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Okinawa Sunflower Festival

Just another Saturday in January here in Okinawa...
Little Japanese heads peeking out from the sunflowers:
The creatures in the back are called Shisa dogs and are an Okinawan tradition. One supposedly wards off the evil spirits from the home while the one with the closed mouth keeps in the luck and good spirits. I'm on the lookout for my own set. 

Nora Ephron already deemed daisies as the friendliest flower, and who am I to argue with Nora Ephron? But I must submit that sunflowers are a close second. I love how they without fail face towards the warmth of the sun. In Romania you would see acres and acres of sunflowers all facing the sun, which can't help but make you happy. So while daisies are the friendliest, sunflowers are the happiest. Kind of interchangeable, but I love sunflowers so much that I think they deserve a superlative of their own.

Hope you have a great week!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Thursday, January 24, 2013

You can't always get what you want

You Cant Always Get What You Want by The Rolling Stones on Grooveshark

These last few weeks have been a time of reflecting for me. A time where I realize that I'm pretty spoiled. I am used to having or taking control over my life situations (the ones that I can have control over) and getting what I want (within my means). Admitting this does expose how spoiled I am, but I prefer to use the word "blessed" ha ha.

The big example I am thinking of here is where I live. Since college, I have always carefully selected where I live and I have had some pretty sweet apartments. I refuse to live in a hole in the wall, so consequently my paycheck was mainly prioritized for rent. But that's ok with me, because I'm one of those people whose mood is affected by where I live.


So when I come here to Okinawa and have the military completely take that choice away from me and tell me that I have to live on base, end of discussion? Well, that was a really hard pill to swallow. I realized that I was so used to being in control and getting what I want that I didn't know exactly how to cope. I was stuck here on a military base without a car, and thinking about having to live here all the time, and not having a Japanese neighborhood or neighbors, was making me (and Victor) pretty frustrated.

But things got better. We got our drivers licenses and a car which helped a lot in getting out of that "wo is me" attitude. And then came the task of "looking for the positive." At first this was hard, since, let's be honest, it's much easier to let the negative stuff take over as you're making your pro/con list, especially when the whole reason you are trying to look for the positive is because you didn't get your way to begin with.

So, this is my positive anecdote to all of this: if we had lived off base, we most likely would have had to use all our reserve cash for the deposit (which is usually two months worth of rent) and then we probably would have only had one car for the time being or have one on a payment plan. Instead, we were able to get two cars and have them completely paid off in cash, which included me getting this little cutie:
"You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes, you just might find,
You get what you need."

So, I guess I needed a mini-me pink car.
Now I just need to get some HelloKitty accessories to make it authentically Japanese.

And as one more solution to when you don't get your way: you find something to distract you or make up for the fact you didn't get what you wanted. My pink car does that for me. Sounds silly, but hey, I'm being positive here.

When we see a sign in English, we follow it.

Victor and I both love stopping at historical markers. Virginia seemed to be overflowing with random markers and monuments and we enjoyed seeing what we could. So far in Japan, we have seen a lot of cool looking monuments, but usually we are left to an explanation like this:
Yeah, not so helpful. 

There are still a lot of historical things here that are marked in English. So if we see it, we follow it! Just the other day we were driving around a smaller neighborhood and saw a sign for castle ruins. We walked up to the top of the hill and saw these ruins: built in the 1400s. 

The misty leftovers of the rain gave it an eerie, frozen in time feel which was cool, but I would love to go back on a clear day when you have a sweeping view of the East China Sea and the rest of the island. 

On the way out I found a list of stuff to see just in this area: so much to see! Pottery kilns, glass blowing factories, art museums, etc. And that's only in a 2 or 3 sq. mile area of the island. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Probably the best lunch date ever.

Victor and I had a wonderful date yesterday at this little cafe called Cafe Doka Doka. As of right now, it's my favorite place on this island. Check out those views!
It's a quiet little cafe, and the atmosphere there is so relaxing. 
It's mandatory to take off your shoes. Kind of a pain (especially when your shoes are such a pivotal part of your outfit, right?), but for that view of clear turquoise water, it's a price worth paying. 
Just in the time we were there, the sky went from calm and peaceful
To a storm coming in from across the bay. It was pretty cool to see it all happen.
The other thing that I loved about this place is that they make all their own pottery that they use and sell it on-site. I wanted it all!!
Victor made a new friend, too:

Oh, I loved it so much! And I can't wait to go back. Next time I will for sure take a book and a journal or something, because it's such a cozy place to spend all morning or afternoon there.