Thursday, December 18, 2008

deli-style cold pasta salad

DELI-STYLE COLD PASTA RECIPE (serves 2 very hungry people!)

  • 200g shell pasta
  • 1 small eggplant, chopped
  • half a yellow capsicum, chopped
  • a few chunks of sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • a few leaves of fresh basil, chopped
  • Italian dressing
  • basil pesto
  • 1/4 of a chicken breast


  1. Cook the pasta al dente, drain and rinse in cold water.
  2. Pan-fry the eggplant and capsicum until the eggplant is soft. Season with salt if you want. Set aside in a bowl.
  3. Pan-fry the chicken. Season with garlic powder, salt and pepper if you want. Cut into small chunks.
  4. In a small bowl, mix about 100 ml of Italian dressing with one and a half teaspoons of basil pesto.
  5. Mix the pasta, dressing, and all the other ingredients together in a large bowl. Refrigerate and serve cold.

Monday, December 15, 2008

getting away from it all

Last Saturday Lorne and I had a weekend getaway in Shimoda. Seeing as it was going to be the last weekend we'd have before going back to our respective countries for the Christmas holidays, we thought it'd be nice to go on a trip and relax. I guess it doubled as a celebration for my finishing the Japanese Test, and his getting through working a shitload for the last couple of months.

So we headed out on the Saturday morning and got to Shimoda around 11:30 a.m. The weather was absolutely beautiful and at points it got so warm that I was fine in a t-shirt. We wandered around along the water and happened upon a perfect spot for us to have the picnic lunch that we'd made the night before: potato salad (of course), chicken subs and cold cut meat subs, and a cold pasta salad we had never made before. So good.

After stuffing ourselves we decided to waddle it off with a five km walk to the pension we were going to stay at. A lot of it was up hill so by the time we got to Shirahama Beach, which was five minutes away from the pension, we were so tired that we couldn't be bothered taking any pictures, thinking we could do it tomorrow. Lesson one learned: Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.

We woke up to find it pissing down with rain. No kodak moments for us at the beach, especially since we didn't have any umbrellas. So, we decided to go to a cafe that Lorne's friend had recommended, South Cafe. Didn't know where it was, but it was easy enough to get an address and map on the internet. Armed with this information, we headed back to the station (the owner of the pension was kind enough to give us a lift) and wandered around till 11 a.m.ish, when we decided that it was time to head to the cafe for what promised to be a amazing serving of onion rings and burgers.

Jump into a taxi. Taxi driver knows where to go (ooh lucky us! we think). 10 minutes in and we see the cafe on our left. Stop. Pay the driver. Get out of the taxi. Belly rumbling. Excitement building. Rain still coming down. Wait. Why is everything dark? Lesson two learned: Always call a restaurant beforehand to find out what time they open if you don't know. Or check on the internet at the same time you find the map and address.

Yes, it seems not much is open in Shimoda any earlier than midday on Sundays, except Moss Burger and McDonald's. We opted for the former.

All in all it was another fun trip even though there were incidents that will now be filed under "Blonde Moments". But, aren't those some of the best memories? The ones that you can laugh about even five years on.

ps. More photos will be added this week.

Monday, December 1, 2008


So the reason I haven't written an entry in a month is that I have been pretty busy trying to cram every little thing I can before the Japanese Language Proficiency Test coming up this Sunday. And almost going crazy. I've now given up on trying to squeeze new things into my head and just concentrating on reviewing the grammar points and kanji and have practically given up on learning anymore vocab and idioms. The way I figure it is, in all three of the past exams that I've done I've gotten 80 percent or more right and the part that I'm screwing up is the vocab one, which, luckily for me, isn't worth that much. And most of the other mistakes I make are stupid ones (note to self: read the question carefully).

If (when?) I pass this test, I have someone to thank for it. No, it's not God. And it's not my mama. Nor is it all my fans out there. I'm saving that speech for when I win the Nobel prize in the bullshitting category.

Seriously, the person I would thank is my boyfriend, Lorne. Without his support and his pushing me to study, I probably would've procrastinated even more.


The conversation we had Sunday after waking up at noon. We had planned on waking up at 10 ish to get a nice productive day in - gym for both of us, laundry and Christmas shopping for him, and studying for me.

What time is it?
Me: 12:15.
L: ...Shit.
Me: [hatching up a fun plan for the day] I know! How about this? Since it's already so late, let's just skip the gym and I'll come shopping with you. [grin]
L: [horrified look on his face] Absolutely not, babe!
Me: [thinking: hey, I know I'm a pain to go shopping with, but ouch!] You just rained on my parade...
L: Sorry hon, but you've gotta study today! We'll go for lunch together, but then you are going to study for your test.
Me: [thinking: dammit, I know he's right...but shopping and curry in Ueno would be so much more fun...] *Sigh* OK, babe...I know, you're right...

So, we went out for lunch together at a new curry place by his place (by the way, not bad, but not as good as the one we usually go to) and I went home to study.

And it's not just him supporting me. I think I do the same for him too. At least I try to. At the moment, he's working four nights at a part-time job on top of his full-time job and band practice. So, I'm doing my own thing on weeknights and I make sure that I mail him at least once a day, usually with girly emoticons like love hearts and music notes. It's not much, but I hope it makes his otherwise hectic day and night feel a little better.

Sometimes, however, selfishness rears its ugly head. (It's just as unsightly as jealousy, only a different colour). And it's these times that I have to learn to take a step back and reassess the situation. Support. That's what I have to do.

ps. A pinch and a punch for the first day of the month. No returns.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

being a zombie

We had a minor argument.

Growing up in Australia meant not having many opportunities to celebrate Halloween. I think I went to one Halloween party when I was in primary school, and it kinda sucked because no one was prepared for trick-or-treaters. So, going to Scott and Sakura's annual Halloween bash is pretty special for me. Makes me feel like I get to do something I missed out on as a kid. But with alcohol. A lot of it:

Although, I shouldn't like Halloween seeing as I absolutely hate horror movies and the like. Yet another opportunity Scott and Sakura's party provides: a night where I will actually watch a horror movie without closing my eyes every two minutes. Thanks to the fact that the movies are always running on mute, which takes the scariness level down a notch.


Now, what are Halloween parties without costumes? This year Lorne and I decided to go for a matching couple's costume. Cute. Cheesy. Bloody. But what the heck. Lorne wants zombies? He gets zombies. And to be honest, I had a lot of fun doing his make-up and him doing mine, and then walking to the party with a few people staring (or avoiding staring) at us.

So, a shout out to the coolest Halloween bash organisers Scott and Sakura (and Princess)! お疲れ様でした!Thanks again and can't wait till next year's one :)

Monday, October 20, 2008

being a rock star!

Well, pretending to be one is pretty cool at least. Which is exactly what happened at Hedinn and Hanako's last Saturday. Beers were drunk, bbq eaten, and the living room transformed into a stage for "Guitar Hero". Though to be honest, I think towards the end we were all just so buggered that we ended up playing the guitars sitting on the sofa. The reason being all that delicious food Lorne and Hed bbqed for us!


It's pretty amazing how far video games have come. I remember when (god, I'm barely 25 and already using that nostalgic line) I was in primary school my PC game collection consisted of Commander Keen, The Incredible Machine, Duke Nukem and Jill of the Jungle, and for the violent shooting games, you couldn't beat Doom and Wolfenstein 3D.

Then, when I was in my teens, I was all about Monkey Island, Quest For Glory, Day of the Tentacle and Companions of Xanth (a must,by the way, for anyone who loves puns) and when I finally got my hands on the now out-of-date Super Nintendo, Donkey Kong was a pioneer in computer graphics. Well, not Donkey Kong himself since he's just a gorilla, but the game series.

Now there's stuff out there which requires the hand-eye coordination of a surgeon to play. I much prefer my simple point and click games or, at the most, a system that needs a controller wih only four coloured buttons and an arrow pad. Which is why the Nintendo wii is bloody awesome. It's simple to use and the games are pretty fun. I particularly like the fact that I kick arse in wii tennis, because, as my mate Jesse would agree, I utterly suck at real-life tennis. Same goes for bowling. And playing the guitar. And hula-hooping...

And to finish off, here are my top five computer/video games (in no particular order):

  1. The Monkey Island Series
  2. The Quest for Glory Series
  3. Day of the Tentacle
  4. Rock Band
  5. Wii Sports

Saturday, October 11, 2008

laughing at yourself

circa 1968
I would've rocked the 60's 'do.

The other day I went to the Yearbook Yourself site and came back with the above photo. Flipping through the years and seeing what I'd look like with an afro, horn-rimmed glasses or bad 80's hair made me laugh (and thankful that I was a teen in the 90's/2000's). I guess I see myself as a somewhat serious person. Not that I don't like to laugh and have fun, but I tend to prefer being in the background and I consider myself a quiet person. A few of my friends have told me that when they first met me they thought I was a little stand-offish. Apparently I always look pissed off when I'm not smiling.

In any case, I don't think I take myself too seriously. And if I've learned one thing from being a teacher at a high school it's that you need to laugh at yourself every now and then. If you don't, then every embarrassing moment is gonna cut you. Easier said then done when you just want to be swallowed up by the ground, but I think laughter can defuse some awkward situations. Or at least try to laugh about it the next day.

On saying that, I am always wary of people who need to act like a fool all the time to entertain people (ok, unless they are professional comedians or something), but maybe that's just because it's so far from my personality.

So, peoples, go to the site and slap on your own face in the photos and have a good laugh!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

quesadillas and good company

bloody good quesadillas

There is nothing like good food and good company. Lorne and I went to Scott and Sakura's for dinner last night. We made some quesadillas. A LOT of quesadillas actually. Eight of them between the four of us and we managed to eat seven. Which, when you think about it, is quite a lot per person! It was because they were so damn good! They were washed down with some quality beer (kindly provided by Sakura) and followed later in the night by mocha roll-cake and coffee. And, of course, more beer than recommended for a weeknight.

I've always loved food and though it's fun going out to eat at fancy restaurants and having waiters wait on you, nothing beats having a wonderful meal cooked at home. And it's not just the eating part I dig, it's the cooking part, too. I'd never really cooked much until I started going out with my guy and it's become a favourite pastime of mine even when it's just cooking for myself.

Add a couple of awesome people and you have yourself a fun night.
Lorne always says that feeding people and eating together is a sign of affection in his family. Last night there was plenty of affection being passed onto our plates.

Food + Friends = Happiness

"The way to a man's heart is through his stomach."

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 medium steaks
  • cheese (Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack is best apparently, but we could only find red cheddar and another mixed cheese bag)
  • tortillas
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 1 red and 1 yellow pepper (sliced)
  • 2 avocadoes
  • pepper, salt, garlic powder for seasoning
  • salsa
  • sour cream
  1. Nicely brown the peppers and onions in a large frying pan and season to taste. Set aside in a bowl.
  2. Season the meat as you like it and cook in frying pan. Remove from frying pan and cut them into strips (around 1 cm).
  3. Either wash the pan or use another (non-stick is best) and heat it on a medium heat.
  4. On a plate, assemble your quesadilla! On a tortilla, put a layer of cheese, then the peppers and onions, some beef or chicken strips and then another of layer of cheese. Finish with another tortilla. Make sure it's not too chunky and that the filling isn't too close to the edge of the tortilla, otherwise it might all fall apart when you flip them over.
  5. Make sure the pan is dry (no need for oil as you want them to be crispy) and throw the quesadilla in. Try to flatten it a bit with either your hand or a spatula thing.
  6. Once the tortilla is brown, flip it over carefully and brown the other side, too. Remove from heat and cut into quarters.
  7. Serve with guacamole, salsa and sour cream.
For the guacamole:
  1. Peel the avocadoes and remove seed. Cut into small chunks.
  2. Put chunks into a bowl and season with garlic, pepper and salt.
  3. Mush it all up with a fork until it turns into guacamole!

Monday, October 6, 2008

only real when shared

I watched a movie last night that got me thinking. The movie was called "Into the Wild". I knew next to nothing about it beforehand, except that is was a. by Sean Penn, b. it was based on a true story and c. it was going to be set in the wild.
So the basic plot is a 20-something year old (Christopher) decides to ditch the materialistic world behind by giving his college savings to a charity, running away from his not-so-happy family life, and hitch-hiking to the Alaskan wilderness to find happiness in nature, where there is no bullshit distractions such as watches, politicians, money and society. Oh, and changing his name to Alexander Supertramp. Now, for those of you who are planning on seeing and don't want to know the ending, just skip the rest of this entry. For the rest, here is what I was thinking about:

Christopher was an idiot. I mean, the movie portrayed him as a very charming, sweet, and intelligent (academically) young man. But, he was stupid and selfish. To leave his mum and dad and sister without saying anything and not contacting them for two years is pretty cruel. Granted, he hated his parents, but he seemed pretty close with his sister (actually, I thought she was his girlfriend right at the beginning...oops). And to go off to Alaska in the middle of winter with more books than food provisions is being underprepared to say the least.
So, he finds temporary peace and happiness while being completely cut off from modern civilization (bar a "magic" bus, hunting tools and his library collection) but soon realises that the Alaskan wilderness can be pretty shitty when you have no more rice, and the animals seem to all have disappeared except for a moose, which you manage to kill and prepare for a bbq but maggots get to it quicker than you can light the fire. And rivers are a lot wider and harder to cross in the spring than winter. Which was one of the points in the movie (and I guess in the real story) that drove me crazy. If he was that desperate to get home, why the hell didn't he walk around a bit more to find another way across?
And where did all the animals go? He couldn't have killed them all.
Anyway, the whole point of his trip was to get away from it all and to be free and enjoy the gorgeous mountains and rivers, and being in company with no one but the characters in his books. He had thought that all this solitude and freedom would give him happiness, but in the end has a change of heart. He writes in his last journal entry before he died from starvation (or eating poisonous plants): "Happiness real only when shared."
It was a sad ending to the story. I had no idea it was coming and I was hoping he would be saved.
So, my question is do you believe that happiness is real only when shared?
I agree with it to a certain degree. I think that you can find happiness within yourself and that you shouldn't rely on others to make you happy, but at the same time there is nothing that compares to sharing wonderful moments with the people you love, or making someone happy not because you expect something in return, but just because you want to.
I guess, for me... happiness is love.

And last word. Here is what else I learned from the movie:
  1. Emile Hirsch looks a lot like Leonardo DiCaprio.
  2. I would never be able to afford college in the States.
  3. If ever I had to depend on eating wild plants for survival I am gonna make damn sure I triple check my edible/inedible plants guide.
  4. Alaska does have some amazing mountains. This movie was filmed beautifully.