Monday, June 28, 2010

Real yoga for real people

Summer has arrived and with it-high humidity which makes walking at night the exact opposite of refreshing. In fact....I hate it. So, I decided I would get back into yoga. The problem is local classes aren't really an option and I only have 1 DVD (out of about 10) that I actually like doing. 1 DVD is obviously not enough and I really want to have yoga on my ipod so I started looking at itunes. I found a few that were ok but the problem is they were just missing something-I wasn't connected and found myself looking at my clock every few minutes. Finally I found one and downloaded it and I LOVE it!! It is called "Namaste yoga with Dr. Melissa West". Her website is here

The funny thing is that she is Canadian and lives not too far from where I grew up-what a small world!!! Anyway,...what can I say? Her podcasts are feel like you are in the room with her. She banters with her guests, she jokes...she is natural and real. I have found her classes really are for real people and she herself says she isn't Yoga Journal model...which is one of the reasons I love her classes. Before I sound like an infomercial (and no, I'm not affiliated with her) I just want to say that if you have ever wanted to try yoga but weren't sure where to start download a class and give it a try! If you are in Ajax or Whitby, Ontario you can contact her for Personal Yoga, Pilates, Thai Massage and Yoga Therapy at 416-737-0999
One final note-if you just want to download to your computer and do the class from your computer there is no problem. If, however, you want to download on to your ipod (like me), some of the podcasts may not download until you convert them. This is easy to do. If, after trying to download you get a pop up note that says something like "this podcast wasn't downloaded because it can't be played on this ipod" just highlight the podcast, then go up to the top where it says "advanced" and you will see "create ipod version". Click on that and it will convert it. It will take time-on my computer it takes 10 hours for 1 podcast but it is well worth it! Enjoy!!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

What would you ask?

In yesterday's post I mentioned that I would be adding 2 new is blogging about cool items and the other thing I am planning to do is to interview people. Some will be artisans who either are in Japan or are inspired by Japan. But I am also planning to interview "regular" (not selling on Etsy) Japanese people and I likely will be interviewing more women than men so .... what would you ask a Japanese woman? What would you want to know about the culture, lifestyle, fashion, food....? I know from my own Japanese friends, my husband's family and my students that Japanese people are very curious about "ordinary" things like how often people go to the supermarket (here it is almost daily or every other day in many many cases) as well as the "big" things like ... religion or politics so I'm sure many of you probably are curious about similar things. After reading the questions, I will ask (depending on the question) girls in their late teens to women in their 70's to get a variety of answers and then blog about them.

So, please, feel free to leave me as many questions as you like.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Inspired By Sushi!

I have decided to add 2 new features to this blog-this first one, which I will start tonight ('s 2 am here in Japan) is blogging about cool Japanese inspired items. I am constantly awed by the things I find and I want to share them with my readers. Though I find lots of fabulous items, in keeping with the title of this blog"From Japan With Love", all the items will have a Japanese theme. So....let's get started!

Inspired By Sushi!

How cute are these baby booties?!! Check out Sushibooties on Etsy for other cute items! I am planning on buying some for my niece!I LOVE this hand painted sushi tray because not only do I love sushi but I LOVE bamboo! Check out Mypolkadotpottery on Etsy for this and other fabulous items!
Sushi and wasabi go hand in hand....and apparently they love each other! What a cute print by FashionCandy!
Speaking of about some wasabi solid perfume? Apparently it is a "clean, really complex, really sexy very version of the spicy scent of wasabi". This is available from Soapopotamus.

These are very cute little stickers-perfect for adding to a letter! You can buy these at digicute.

Soap....everyone needs soap so why not cute soap? This is perfect to give to your sushi loving friend or as a gift to yourself! Click here to go to BunnyBubbles' shop!

For a perfect sushi dinner at home...why not eat it from this fabulous set by AmyKirkman!

If glass isn't your thing...what about this gorgeous wood sushi board by inspiredbywood? It is stunning!

And last but not least.....sushi candy!!! Perfect for the friend who loves a unique gift! I love the shop's name as well... deathbycupcake!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Homemade Gluten Free Okonomiyaki

Lately I've really been into cooking and baking and so I decided to make some gluten free okonomiyaki and the sauce for it. Okonomiyaki is kind of a savory pancake. We eat the "kansai fu" which means "Osaka style". We took some pictures.....but they aren't great as they are taken at night in the kitchen. Also, if you click on the links within the recipes, it will take you to some sites that sell the items you need to make it. We aren't connected to these places in any way and haven't used these brands but it will give you an idea of what the items are.

This makes a big okonomiyaki-good for 1 really hungry person or 2 or more people.

I made the sauce the day before (all store bought sauce has gluten in it).

The sauce:
1/4 cup ketchup
1 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon soy sauce (gluten free)
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon mirin (Japanese sweet cooking wine)
1/8 teaspoon ginger (ground, in a jar)

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer for 1 minute or so stirring constantly. You can add honey for a sweeter version or a bit more soy sauce if you find it too sweet. Remove and cool. Store in the refrigerator.

The "pancake" part of the recipe:
1/2 cup Pamela's baking and pancake mix
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1 large egg
1 cup of water
about 2 cups of cabbage cut into bite size pieces (I didn't measure this so it is a guess)
6 pieces of raw shrimp cut into pieces
3-4 pieces of "buta bara" (buta bara is thinly sliced pork belly-You could use another kind of pork-thinly sliced bacon perhaps) Here is a picture.


sauce (see recipe above)
aonori-ground nori (seaweed)
Japanese Mayonnaise (American mayonnaise won't work for this)
katsuobushi (dried shaved bonito fish)

Cut up the cabbage into bite sized pieces and put aside for the moment. In a big bowl,combine the flours, water and egg and stir well.

In a big (lightly oiled) frying pan, lay the meat out in strips and then add the shrimp on top. The heat should be medium. Add the cabbage to the bowl of "pancake" mix and mix well. Pour this mixture on top of the meat and shrimp. I then covered the pancake with a lid. Just like a pancake...when the top has bubbles or is getting a bit dry looking and the bottom (you can check with a spatula) is turning a nice golden brown you can flip it over. Now, this is a big heavy pancake-I can actually flip it (thanks to a few years of being a cook in a restaurant back in high school!) but if you can't you will have to try to flip it over with a spatula.....if it break apart don't worry about it as it will still taste great! Let it completely cook on the other side. You can cut into it to check that is cooked through if you aren't sure. When it is done, put it on a plate.

Add the sauce on top-I like a nice bit of sauce so I add a fair bit. Then sprinkle the aonori on top. Then add the mayonnaise and then the katsuobushi and it is done!! My hubby loves this better than the real stuff so I'm pretty happy with that!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I know you want to be Canadian, please.

My friend sent me this and I just had to share as it is hilarious! Enjoy!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Difficult teaching moments!

WARNING! There will be swearing in this blog post.

In most English conversation schools there are a few things you aren't allowed to talk, politics, religion and of course....don't teach your students bad words. I am quite lucky in that most of those rules don't apply to me as my boss is very liberal. I don't teach my young students swear words. I don't normally teach my older students (adults) swear words either... though over the course of 12 years, I have.

The thing is there are lots of things that my students are curious about that frankly, aren't in any text book. Once, a class of ladies (all in their 60's) asked me to teach them bathroom English....yup....all about bowel movements, passing gas (and they wanted the slang) etc. That was fun! Another time, one of students (also a woman in her late 60's) said that she had been watching a TV show and a celebrity was being interviewed and they wanted to know what her favorite swear word was. My student was curious because when the woman said the word, there was no explanation in the Japanese subtitles. Turns out the word she was curious about was "cocksucker". Yeah....just about spit my tea out when I heard that one!

I also remember when one of the sweetest little ladies (again, in her 60's) I have ever taught blurt out in class that her crotch hurt.....I now totally forget what the topic was about but I remember teaching her to say something else as that would be surprising to hear!

Explaining these kinds of things to adults is fine albeit, embarrassing at times but today I walked into a class and a 13 year old boy wanted to know what "fuck you" meant. Ah..... He then proceeded to say "shit" "goddamn" among other things. I told them (there was class of 4 kids watching carefully as they knew something was going on) that these weren't things they should say. He then turned to his friend in class, flipped him the finger and said "fuck you". I asked him where he learned these things. From a friend. They wouldn't let it drop. These are good kids and I love this class but I certainly don't want their mothers thinking I'm teaching them these things. So, I asked my boss (who, obviously can tell them in real Japanese) to tell them these are things they shouldn't say etc. He walked into the class and the kid asked him about "shit" boss said that it means "unko" (poo) and then told them to not say these things in class. I thought it was settled but when that kid didn't get perfect on his test, he looked at me, snapped his fingers and said "shit"...just like a Canadian would!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Worried about your skin looking older...take a placenta pill!

I have seen a beauty commerical on TV many times and at first when I heard the word "placenta" in English in the commerical, I thought that it must be one of those crazy Japanese English words because I just couldn't imagine that there would actually be placenta in the pill. But no, I was is placenta.

The reason to take the pills is basically to keep your skin looking young. They say that the placenta helps to stabilize protein so your skin shows less signs of aging. Hmmm.....Apparently they decided to go with bovine placenta from Denmark since Denmark is famous for pigs (I didn't know that!).

Now, if pill form bothers you, perhaps you could drink it with fruit and vegetable juice? Here is a commercial I found on YouTube.

Before writing this I googled, in English, "placenta pill" and from what I could see in the wee bit of time I looked most of the sites that talk about eating placenta have to do with people believing it helps moms who just gave birth to recover faster and possible stave off postpartum depression. All the sites talked about using the woman's own placenta.

Now, I usually say "never say never" but I just can't see myself doing this for beauty.

Any thoughts?


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