Monday, March 31, 2014

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Drawing a Fight Scene

Say what?  Drawing a fight scene? So off the wall for me, yah? But this is what happened. I was looking for something on YouTube on Japanese calligraphy . . .  ahhhh, now that makes sense.  I came across this and was so intrigued that I wanted to share.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Studying Kanji

Me and my sisters loved loved loved shopping in Japan.  Mostly we loved loved loved shopping for food products.  Unfortunately, unlike back home, there is no English label on the packaging to help us.  

I hope we get to go back again next year.  And so, in preparation, I'm studying kanji.

I can read hiragana and katakana so when I bought this at Daimaru Department store in Hokkaido, I knew that this was some kind of garlic condiment.  If I knew how to read the kanji back then I would've known that this is actually garlic miso.

I bought this thinking it was garlic furikake.  It turned out to be garlic shichimi . . . which is actually even better . . . and had I known that, I would've bought more than this one bottle.

I also bought a few of these tiny bottles of shoyu.  I didn't know back then that it was konbu shoyu. I love the flavor.

Here's what I've been doing to help me to memorize.  First, I try to turn the kanji into a picture.  This character is "mame" (bean). I think of the bean as an almighty bean sitting on top of a pedestal with a crown on.

These two characters spell out "miso".  The squares to the left of each look like shields to me. So I imagine that they're guards and they're guarding there precious cache of miso.  Not working for you?  My sister Geri too.  She said, "Wha? I don't see it."  LOL.

This is "sake" (alcohol).  I imagine the part on the right is a face. The three strokes on the left are his fingers and he's drinking some sake. He even has a little smile.

This is "shio" (salt).  This looks like Hannibal Lecter's mask to me.   I picture him eating some lamb with a pinch of salt.

This one is kind of easy.  It's "sakana" (fish).  The four strokes on the bottom are fins.

Problem is . . . this one is "uma" (horse).

And this one is "tori" (bird).

Which leads me to my second method of memorization . . . flash cards.  You like me make for you too?  Let me know.  Only thing . . . this is a work in progress, so dunno when I'm gonna be done.  Maybe soon.  Maybe not.

And finally . . . my third method. Repetition. While I'm watching TV, I try to fill in the blank spaces.

I bought these pens to help make writing the kanji more fun.  The one in the middle is my favorite. It's from Marukai.  Was only $1.99.  

I keep um in this pencil case that I got from Sweetie.  Cute yah!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Dry Natto

These are the dry natto that I got at Dillingham Marukai.  I couldn't bring myself to eat um, so I let my sisters be the guinea pigs. 

This first one was a definite "Yuck.  Ptui.  Ptui."

This ume-flavored one was "Not bad."

This mustard-flavored one was "Pretty good."  

We were on our way to Dillingham Marukai at the time, and when we got there my sister actually bought the remaining two packages that were on the shelf.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Learning Kanji

Learning kanji the fun way.

Monday, March 24, 2014

More Natto?

I kid you not.  Here's another natto post.

I went to Dillingham Marukai this past weekend 'cause one Anon commenter said that they had some dry natto snacks on sale there. I did find the dry natto, but I gotta show you that later. I still gotta work up the courage to try um first.

But I wanted to share this in the meantime.  You see, I've been trying to learn how to read kanji on food labels.  I even made myself flash cards to try and help me to memorize a few characters.  So, I'm looking in the freezer section at Marukai where they got all the natto and I see this. I can read that it's big bean kuromame natto. Ho, I feel so proud. I remember somebody mentioned that I might like the big bean version, so I bought it. 


The beans are about twice as big as the ones I've been trying. 

It came with mustard and sauce.

I also bought this konbu shoyu. 

So I added some of that in too.

This natto is my favorite so far.  Not too stinky and I think not as slimy . . . but it could be that I'm just getting used to it.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Snail Damage

This is what happened to my favorite lemon plant while I was in Japan.  My egg-shell defense system didn't work at all because the snails are teeny, tiny ones that can weave their way between the eggshells.  I found that out during evening snail patrols that I resorted to over the course of several nights. 


There were millions of um all over the ground. Wendell complained that the neighbors would think I was crazy if they saw me in the middle of the night, flashlight in one hand and chopsticks in the other picking up tiny snails. So one day a few weeks ago I finally relented and bought some snail-be-gone pellets.   That did the trick.  I haven't seen any snails since. I just hope the pellets are not harmful to Kona.  I don't trust the label even though it says "Safe for Pets".

But look what's been happening lately!   New leaves and branches are sprouting.  I noticed growth spurts at the start of last spring too.  How do the plants know that it's spring and it's time to grow?  The weather's pretty much the same all the time here.  I think it's so cool.  

See.  Remember when it was just a seedling?  Click here if you need to refresh your memory.  They were so cute. 

This is what the snails did to all of my calamansi plants.  But I have hope that they still might survive. 

'Cause remember the plant that Damn Rabbit ravaged?  I kept watering the remnant stick and look! Still going strong even though the snails got to the bottom of it too.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

More Natto

Wendell picked up this pouch of chopped-up natto from Marukai.  My son likes it because it's easy to use.  


And look at this!  Dried natto!  Looks like a snack that JAL might pass out to its passengers. I wonder what it tastes like.  I forget where I found this picture.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014


When you get to be of a certain age and your skin gets all loose and wrinkly, maintaining a youthful appearance can be quite challenging.  Me?  I've more or less given up.  No matter what I do, I still look the same . . . old.

BUT, I'm still clinging on to eyeliner and eyeshadow.  The problem now is that I can end up looking like a raccoon at the end of the day when the eyeliner color starts smudging into the wrinkly skin under my eyes.  My favorite eyeliner used to be a Shu Uemura refillable pencil but they discontinued it.  Bah. I like Clinique's eyeliner cake too, but it's humbug 'cause you gotta use a wet brush to moisten it.

A week or so ago, me and Geri bought this eyeliner from Marukai (our new favorite hangout).  The few words I can read are "natural", "tea color", "waterproof",  but mostly the "24h" is what sold me. Plus it's made like the Shu Uemura pencil that I liked. It was $19.

I love it.  I would give it 5 stars except Geri doesn't like it.  She said that there's nothing left of it by the end of the day.  Maybe you need really old, dry skin for the liner to adhere on to like I have. Mine stays on all day and barely smudges. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Rolo Pretzel Delights

Coworker Mel bought this from Sam's Club.  Sorry, I forgot to ask how much it cost.  Michele put um together one morning at work.  The box says it makes 50.


This is how many had left by the time I got to work.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Natto Pizza???!!!!

OMG, check out Jenny's Natto Pizza.  You can click here or if it's still there, click on her link on my sidebar to the right.  It looks so onolicious!!

jenny's pizza

Friday, March 14, 2014

One Moth

My sister saw this moth at her working place a few weeks ago.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Natto Saga Continues - Kuromame Natto

When my sister Geri mentioned that the natto that she liked in Japan was black, I was astounded. I heard a bell in my head go "PINGGGG". Astonishment soon gave way to excitement when I realized that there still was hope. I might still find a natto that I could enjoy eating.

Marukai didn't have it. Nijiya in Puck's Alley didn't have it. 

Nijiya on Kona Street did!  Happy!  Happy!

It came with the tare sauce, but in place of the usual mustard pack it came with a wasabi pack instead.

I wasn't sure how potent the wasabi would be so I decided to just go with the tare sauce.

I did the "litoru mix, litoru mix".  I know.  I know.  The chopsticks don't match.  Oh, you so observant.

I took just a little bit for my first bite.  I didn't need to chant encouragement to myself this time. Okay, maybe I did a little.  And yes, the rice is brown and white mixed in case you noticed that too.

Ummmm . . . . . it wasn't as stinky as other natto . . . . but . . . . ummmm . . . . maybe the wasabi would help after all. 

I also added this nori paste that I got from Marukai. 

See how it says you can add it to natto.  

It came in this box.  It was expensive . . . $10 . . . but it's good.

I also added some green onions.  And guess what happened.  It was very, very delicious.  The nori and green onions helped a lot.  I actually finished this bowl.  BUT . . . .


I guess I just gotta get used to it.  That's probably the clot-busting enzymes in the natto.

But . . .  I . . . . think . . . I'll . . . . still . . . .  continue . . . . the . . . . search . . . .

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Why Eat Natto?

My cousin Gary emailed me the following info on natto. After reading it, I became even more determined to somehow find a way to enjoy eating it, especially after me and my sisters went to Marukai and saw how $$$$ the natto pills were.  Tomorrow, I'll tell you how my Kuromame Natto experience went.

Dr. David Williams has scoured the planet and returned with solutions to virtually every common health problem.
 High cholesterol does not cause heart attacks or stroke and lowering your cholesterol will not give you an ounce  of protection from either one.  Until now, if you had a heart attack or stroke, and if you were fortunate enough to make it to a hospital within a few minutes, the emergency room staff could often help. They could immediately inject you with a very expensive clot-busting super-drug to temporarily alleviate the blockage and hopefully limit the damage.  But at $20,000 per catheterized I.V. dose, this miracle drug isn't in every hospital...and you won't know whether yours has it until it's too late.
Dr. Hiroyuki Sumi of Japan and his team of researchers recently made a ground-breaking discovery: They found that a 100 gram dose of a traditional Japanese food called "natto" exhibits the same clot-busting activity as a $20,000 therapeutic dose of that super-drug. But while the drug is effective for only 4 to 20 minutes, the enzyme in natto maintains its activity for 4 to 8 hours. They have discovered the world's only natural clot buster. And that, my friend, makes natto The Discovery of the Century.
Heart attacks and strokes are caused by blood clots. Plaque plays a huge role, but the most current research shows that plaque leads to blood clots, which are the real heart stopper.
Here's what happens: Despite having the same name, the plaque in your arteries is not at all like the crust your dental hygienist scrapes off your teeth. Arterial plaque is made up of oxidized LDL and other fats that glob together and penetrate the inner lining of your artery wall.
New research also indicates that plaque doesn’t actually coat the artery wall, it resides inside the wall. As it grows it can eventually rupture, causing a blood clot.  If the clot floats downstream and blocks the flow of blood to your heart you have a myocardial infarction, aka a heart attack. If it hits your brain, you have a stroke. Natto stops both cold. Plaque is a toxic mixture of fats that festers and grows beneath a thin layer of cells.  As it grows, it gradually impedes blood flow. When it becomes inflamed it ruptures, causing a blood clot. When a clot gets lodged in a vessel in your heart or your brain it blocks the blood flow and causes a heart attack or stroke.
Natto increases circulation even through restricted arteries, breaks up clots, and keeps this from happening. Historically, the Japanese have had dramatically less heart disease and greater longevity. These statistics have been used to illustrate the benefits of eating more fish. But this recent research on natto shows what is probably an even greater factor in Japanese longevity.  The potent enzyme in natto prevents clots from forming. Not only major clots caused by ruptured plaque, but the thousands of tiny clots and blood-sludge that are the result of a natural, age-related decrease in your body's production of clot-busting enzymes. But what's even more astonishing, it not only prevents future clots, it dissolves existing clots--safely, naturally, and effectively.
 Dr. Sumi's research has given us the "magic bullet" clot buster we've all been praying for. I hope you're beginning to see the staggering implications of this. Never before have you been able to boost your circulation so safely and naturally, restoring it to the healthy pace of an 18-year-old's.
 Now, rather than waiting for an emergency infusion of clot-busting super-drug, a very inexpensive daily amount of natto will keep you out of the emergency room in the first place. Plus, it will help protect you from a host of other problems related to impaired circulation, including macular degeneration, senility, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and others too numerous to name here.
Circulation is the single biggest factor in determine your lifelong health or early demise, and natto is your #1 best method for keeping your blood flowing as strong as the Nile until the day you die of something other than any circulatory disease.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Kuromame Natto!!!

Whaaa!!!!  I know . . . I never knew either.  A few days ago Geri mentioned that the natto that she liked at one of the breakfast buffets was BLACK.

I got this at Nijiya Market on Kona Street.  I haven't tried it yet. Stay tuned.

photo copy 2

Monday, March 10, 2014

A Couple of Bird Visitors

A couple of birds have been tapping at our window lately.  They're different from another bird visitor that I wrote about here.  





So cute yah!  Cardinals?