30 May 2008

Blogging mysteries

Nothing relevant to this post, but I can't help posting this picture of Rowndy I took this morning. I simply love how gentle rays of dawn bring out the loveliness in things around us. I'm always sleepy in the morning, but a beautiful dawn wakes me up with a moving heartbeat.

Is there anything else on earth so inexpensive but never fails to touch you so much? Share with me! =D

Now, let's get down to some Blogging mysteries that I've encountered these days.

I couldn't really understand some blogging difficulties that other Bloggers experienced, until I've come face-to- face with them myself. Check out my list.

1. I can't leave comments at some of my favourite blogs! CRY! Mainly, the wordings required under ' word verification ' are not revealed, so I'm not able to post any message across. =( It's frustrating, especially when you wish to convey your thoughts so much.

2. I can't see pictures of some blogs! Horror of horrors, this phenomenon is spreading to some other blogs that were alright in the past. This affects my appreciation of picture blogs a great deal. =(

3. Some sent comments fail to be revealed, despite approval of author is unrequired.

As for my God-Blessed Box, signs of dismay too.

1. In Japan, my site is ' attached ' with a ' lottery advertisment ', without my consent. Worse, overseas visitors claim that accessing my site calls out a porn site! FAINT*

2. Some visitors cannot see my header ( Wrappers of the Box ). Oh... my poor wrappers...

3. Some claim that it takes agggeesss for my site to load. So my pictures and widgets are guilty?

This does not sound good. I've updated my windows and done neccessary checking. Nothing helped.

Are there any of the mentioned you're facing, I'd really appreciate your feedback! I can't feign ignorance on existing problems, I just got to pin them down ( fuming )...

And I certainly hope that your blog's health is better than mine. Have a GREAT weekend!

29 May 2008

Paris Je T'aime, and Ernie still finds me

Watching rented DVD at home is one of the cheapest entertainment one can afford in Japan. On special days, the rental store rents half of the usual price even for movies released weeks' old, an offer too irresistable.

I've forgotten to blog on the movies I've watched for the past months, mostly because there weren't many good pieces I've watched. As for Paris Je T'aime ( or ' Paris, I love you ' ), er hem, I've been persuaded to watch this ' a-miss-not-great-film '.

It's not exactly bad actually. The 120mins or so film consists of 18 short episodes that take place in Paris. Dialogues are in French, I had to catch the Jap subtitles that may have been coarsely translated, but I realized that the lines may not constitute the many frames it has.

The scenes are so unbelievably short that they got us seeing each other, ' Huh? It's over already? ', but we got used to it after the 3rd plot or so. Every story HAS a neat theme indeed but the scene-life is so short that they end up somewhat deprived or incomplete. Most are intriguing, some delightful, some of them sorry. Watching the film feels like savouring 18 starter dishes served in teaspoons, make you crave for more, only to leave the table still hungry. Not a course that I would recommend, if you have some real serious appetite.

I wouldn't watch this if not for my sister's strong recommendation. A , a true blue artsy-fartsy who preys on stuff beyond the mediocre, demands an opinion later, then get me convinced by the end that I'm just ' plain stupid '. Sigh... it' pretty tough being the eldest sister of 2 intelligent and playful siblings sometimes, I'm often caught out of wits! Try putting an ordinary person and 2 near-prodigies together, get my picture?

I shan't lament on my lack of ' clever-genes ' anymore, cos I know full well that I am ' fearfully and wonderfully made ' ( Pslam 139:14 ). =) Despite the enormous difference in gift, I'm never despised by lil bro D and A ( or is it ' H '/ ' S ' / ' C ' / etc the active name now? ) Maybe, I should call my sister ' Ernie ' in my blog.

Know Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street and you can imagine how I've agonized during my childhood. I was ( and still AM ) the boring, quiet Bert of course, while one-year junior sister perfected the role of Ernie ( she still does ). Lil bro D born 15 years later than me, has no part in our Sesame Street role-play, which I consider a relief.

Watch the video below to find out how we slept when we were sharing a room together as kids. Silence the radio at the bottom of the page to cease interruption.

Believe me... she had her props around to make the night scene perfect and complete.

And Ernie still finds Bert, with her unchanging mischief. I wonder what's next she brings me...

Sorry if I've digressed. If you've watched ' Paris Je T'aime ', won't you tell me if I'm the only one puzzled.

27 May 2008

An assembly of pictures : sights of Spring


We've just welcomed May some weeks ago, and now June is approaching...

In Nagano, the coming of June spells the end of Spring and arrival of pouring monsoon, making it the worst season to travel around Japan.

Weather hasn't been fair for recent weekends, and it's a shame to watch Spring slipping away before our eyes. It'll take 6 weeks or so for the monsoon to go, before Summer's turn to flaunt its fiery samba . Until then, here are some sights that we've managed to capture this Spring.


The Carp-shaped streamer ( 鯉幟 ) featured above is raised country-wide in early May, in celebration of Children's Day on 5th May. To be exact, these banners are dedicated to boys, and families with male offspring fly these banners outside their houses.

The field of yellow Rape Blossoms ( 菜の花 )and revealing alps make the scene picture-perfect.


I never grow sick of Rape Blossoms. I adore the collaboration of fresh yellow and green. No matter how the weather fares, they never fail to appeal to me. Somehow, I've noticed that Rape Blossom frields produce great photographs despite moody-weather times.

The month of May triggers busy hands in plantations and fields. The left picture shows seedlings of rice plant, waiting to be sit into rice padi.

I don't know about you, but I simply love fresh green or the crisp-likeness found in young sprouted leaves that the Japanese calls ' 若葉 ', which literally means ' young leaves '.

At another field ’蓮華 ’( Chinese milk vetch ) are attracting lotsa bees to them! Bees are attracted to most flowers, but the Chinese milk vetch is one that's extra special. A honey-producing company stresses that its honey is extracted from bees working on Chinese milk vetch.

Shy husband refused to pose for a picture in my blog. The picture on the right should not annoy him, I suppose. =P Spot the bee below, if you can find it. =)


Let's take a walk into the woods.




I wish I knew the name of this petite flower. The name mentioned in the label failed to be translated. How do you like the violet buds and baby blue petals?


I'm not sure if these furballs are Dandelion ( タンボボ ). I thought Dandelion stands individually? Maybe these clusters are relatives to Dandelion? Somehow, they look more ' cottony ' to me.

Picture of Dandelion that I've known.

Dandelions are found in Singapore too, but their size is perhaps 1/3 of what I've seen in Japan.


Strawberries? Nah... I don't know the name of these furries.

Sorry about the lack of information, but I hope these pictures have brightened up your day! May the rest of your week be great. =)

Wrapper from Chinese Milk Vetch field


From the Chinese Milk Vetch field ( 蓮華草)

23 May 2008

Unexpected harvest? Grin*

For flower and vegetable lovers, having a garden will be so much fun, don't you agree? =D


I didn't quite understand why my nearing 80s, but still very 元気 ( genki : healthy and strong ) father-in-law would gladly sweat for hours for his flowers, fruits and vegetables. I finally understood his joy in gardening when my own chilli plant bore fruit. The picking of sweat-and-blood-groomed produce feels like collecting gold! Nothing tastes more heavenly than one's own produce : my father-in-law's delicious vegetables and infectious smile convinced us all.

Now that we are living kilometers apart from this loving old gentleman, he imparted me a budding passion for plants. At the apartment that we're living, there at the porch stands a large pot that serves as a starter-garden. ;)

The pot gives space for 8 seedlings, and I would always try out with different plants and colors, making it look almost like a ' flower arrangement '. In a way, I get to understand which kind of flower truly thrives, lasts longer and brings pleasure to my eye. I think this will be a good time for me to learn more about plants, until the day I own my official garden. =P

Now these are strictly flowers that bear no fruits that I known of, but we are having an unexpected guest! =D

The picture on the left shows some pods that appear after the flowering of a certain plant. The tag that introduced the plant did not mention appearance of fruit so this is really surprising to us. Not every stalk produces though, there are merely 5 pods, all too sweet to look at! The neighbouring seedling of the same plant does not produce any pod so my husband suggests that we are really ' lucky ' to have them.

So, I guess you already know, I shall be planting this flower for good. I've forgotten its name though, I shall remember to ' report ' next year.

Don't you just love pleasant surprizes too? I wish you a great weekend with a delightful ' unexpected harvest '!

21 May 2008

Tough tasks & a foul attempt, that just aren't too bad

On occassional weekday nights when my husband has to attend functions, I heave a sigh of relief as I am not expected to prepare a good dinner to serve the hungry Bear. I just need to whip up something simple for myself and rest earlier.


Do you know? Being married to a Japanese guy ( especially a s . p . o . i . l . e . d only son brought up in a traditional Japanese family ) is almost like asking for trouble. ( * * ) For first, I have to cook 3 meals a day : an elaborate traditional Japanese breakfast, lunch for myself, and a satisfying dinner. In Japan, eating out is unthinkable especially if you are living with your family, and the wife is staying indoors. While eating out is outright cheap and convenient in Singapore, eating out for a person in Japan can fetch a much sumptuous meal for 2 persons at home, and this excludes the distance of driving out. Besides this, Japanese believes in goodness of homemade food, prepared in ' love '.

Now, I understand the demands and have been performing dutifully. However, though I may not know much about other countries, this obviously is a hell task for most Singaporeans! Back home, my mother cooks only dinner on mere days of a week, I've been brought up knowing the pleasure of eating out! With a population that eats out so often, the sober eating pattern of the Japanese sounds too dreary to believe.
I was embarrassed when a Singaporean friend said it in my face, ' What? You have to do all that? I can't believe it! What a pathetic life you're leading! '. Her sorry countenance puzzled me... Am I all that wretched you might think?

Probably to the Singaporeans, but I must have been ' brainwashed ' that I do not really feel the same, though I can't deny the tire. Jesus knows the best that I'm doing all these for my family, and I know that my effort is pleasing in His eyes. I desire to possess the traits of a beautiful wife, with virtues that edify my husband, and remember to work without complaint.

Fortunately, my husband kindly lets me off on weekends ( Yes, I know that there are many Jap husbands who will not do so... shiver... ). Still, eating out is also an agony cos he's right : homemade food tastes better.

Anyway, on this day when he was not home for dinner, I grabbed the chance to try breadmaking again. Just when I thought I was spared from the usual trouble, I was inviting another by committing a silly mistake!

I was kneading hard this forever wet mess for an hour, but the dough still looked how it first started! I paused for rest and a quick flashback, where could have gone wrong? Then I realized, it was not the wheat flour for bread that I was using, all along I was using the wheat flour for cake making!!

See? See? Was I not silly?
So green bakers like Stardust, learn from my mistake : All purpose wheat flour, ' weak ' wheat flour, or flour for cake will never yield you bread.

Undaunted, I quickly set up another assembly of fresh ingredients and started again. This session, I prepared curried chicken, mayonaise bacon and potato, cheeze and sausage buns. They were baking in the oven when the Bear arrived home, and he adored the delicious aroma that pervaded the room. =) We had them for breakfast the next day, Bear liked them so much that he insisted I make them again.
' Ok. But does that mean that I can be excused from making dinner? ' ;)
P/S : I skipped dinner to make these buns you know? All thanks to the silly mistake, I had to concentrate on the new batch, too tired to prepare dinner for myself. =P

Spot the heart : Strawberry love

Do you see it?

It isn't very obvious.

I was excited when it caught my eye.

19 May 2008

Good things for keeps

Cold damp feel of clay gives me a dusty old nostalgia. When I put down the pottery wheel some 17 years ago ( It's been 17 years already? ), I never imagined that I would ever touch clay again.


I was in my school's pottery club for 2 years, where I made 2 large pots and some small stuff. I didn't have the luxury of keeping any of my efforts, 2 were displayed in the school's art gallery, the rest were ' recycled ' to produce fresh clay. I was filled with envy when some my friends got to take home their works that are spared from the art gallery or recycling process. I wished I hadn't achieve the extremes.

I can't say exactly that I LOVE pottery, but the moment when I learnt about a place nearby that offers pottery lesson, the cells within were revived! We were there last year, and my husband enjoyed the experience so much that he decided we should return again this Spring.

This year, I've made myself a mug with a handle and a large saucer to go along. Why the hideously unbalanced saucer? Hmm... I've thought of having some cookies on the saucer when I have a cup of drink. =) There on the handle, I planted a bee. A sloppy job though. =P

I think I'v mentioned, there's a strange affinity between bee and me. A bee happened to buzz around me when I was working on my cup, and I just knew, that I should pin a ' bee ' somewhere. My husband said that the shape of my mug looked somewhat like Winnie the Pooh's hunny pot.

He made a large Jap style mug ( with no handle ), and 2 small plates. I like this leaf imprinted plate. I gave him the idea, but I think he has done a job far more marvellous than the brainchild.

Very unlike the method that I applied back in school, the teachers here taught us a very easy way to mould the clay into desired shape. Despite being ' easy ', it took quite a feat to complete. They shall be sent for burning, and we're waiting to see how they turn out in late June.

Of one thing I'm sure : I must have lost my pottery skills on the graduation day, when I bid my pots goodbye at the art gallery. This time, my works are for keeps! =)

After the pottery lesson, our kind teachers offered us tea as usual. I've always enjoyed this homely session with the couple in their 60's, this is one of the reason that makes us go back. Then, the jovial wife recommended us a ' secret garden ' to enjoy fading Sakura and Tulips at the same time.

So here they are, a very rare collaboration. Dedicating these especially to sweet bp.





It was the last day of the ' Golden Week ' holiday actually. We had fun memories, pictures and many good things for keeps.


I wish you a blessed week ahead with lots of rewarding keeps. =)