Friday, September 23, 2011

O #2 for "Oatmeal Cookies"

I couldn't resist repeating the alphabet because this is a fantastic "O" topic.

I used to make very fatty & sweet, but very tasty oatmeal cookies in the shared kitchen in my landlady's cute townhouse.  But they didn't come out successfully when I tried to make them in Japan.  I think I didn't use proper oatmeal.  The other day, I found a recipe of oatmeal and chocolate chip cookies the Internet.  It's here.  (To be fair, I didn't take the title of my blog from this website.  This is just a coincidence.)  It quickly encourage me to go to the store, and this baking project became my major activity of this stat holiday.  I kind of eyeballed the amount of butter, didn't use a food processor, and omitted honey and cream of tartar (since we didn't have them in the kitchen),  so the dough came out a little dry.  But I managed to place it on the baking sheet, and the cookies held their shapes when they are done.  The smell was amazing.  It has been a while since I baked something last, so it made me feel very relaxed and excited at the same time.  The result was perfect.  The texture was exactly what I wanted.  They're filling and delicious.  They'll make a perfect snack for me to travel to Chiba for work tomorrow in the morning.  

They look very different from the ones on the website, but this is my version of satisfactory oatmeal cookies ;)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

O for "Oh, Parents"

I'm not looking forward to this.  What 's "this"?  Two nights without mom.  That means, two nights only with dad.  I have no objection to my mom's visiting her parents, but it is really stressful to be left alone with dad.  Sounds like I'm still a teenager, but what he does to me is just like he used to do to me and my sister 15 years ago; preaching.  At this age, I don't care for being caught in the serious conversation, which mainly consists of complaints and blaming about me being over 30, dependent, single, and hardly making money (according to his standard).  I have my own thoughts, but neither of us is interested in sharing them.  They don't respect or even think that I have something in my mind.  What they do is to insert sneaky criticism into the conversation anytime they have a chance.  Now everyone thought that they desperately want to get rid of me from home?  No.  At least, my mom doesn't.  She wants to see me leave home for getting married or moving to Canada, for no other reasons.  Dad?  I don't know, but he might not be willing to lose the target of his bitching since he seems to think that this is a means of affectionate communication with his daughter, which is absolutely not.  Knowing thoroughly that they are just worried about my future, I should not complain.  They let me stay home and work for the small company for not worthy pay (just for my interest).  If I were a Canadian daughter, I would have been kicked out from home 14 years ago.  Yes, I am thankful.  But if only we could form a better relationship and be more independent from each other even we're living together.

Thanks to this uncomfortable environment, I started to dig up my old plan that has been abandoned for nearly a year.  I will go back to Vancouver as a graduate student.  I haven't told this to anyone else since I'm not sure yet.  But the deadline is approaching, and I don't want to wait for another 2 years, doing an interesting but low-pay job and missing Canada.  If I make it to the deadline this winter and be successful, I will be able to be a student from next September.  I have a feeling that I should bring myself in that country and then think about the way to remain there rather than spending endless years stressed and defeated.  There is a major financial obstacle, but I will figure it out.  Just I'm not going to ask my parents for money again since I've already been in a huge debt from them.  Quickly, I have to make up my mind and start moving.

The reason why I've been living in tight budget is partly because I'm saving up some money for my parents anniversary.  This is my sister's idea.  (The other daughter is thoughtful, you see.)  She has already saved enough money to serve them with a trip abroad.  As one of their daughters, I would like to take part in.  So I've been slowly working on it out of my income.  At the same time, I've been keeping some other part of my payment for myself in the bank.  I didn't have a clear goal of how much money I would need, so there is not much savings in this account.  (Moreover, all of them will be consumed for my winter trip...)  But now, I have a visible financial goal that I have to reach (tuition fee and all), I will work harder on it.  My company won't give me a raise (asking for a raise is out of question in many companies in Japan, as far as I know), so all I can do is to reduce my expense.  I will have to give up my gym membership.  Thinking of all this gave me insomnia last night.  But I feel good to know that finally something started moving in my mind.

I'm such a slow starter (and great procrastinator), it took me what, more than a year?  Gotta keep the fire burning :) 

Friday, September 9, 2011

N for "New School Term"

Long, long time no see, readers.  :)
I haven't written my journal for so long.  Actually, I have a lot to share because I have just had a summer vacation and my birthday!  I have finally got used to the normal work hours.  I had summer work schedule for 4 weeks, but I didn't get the hang of it till it was over.  Now I know what time I should leave home and which train to take.  Kids started schools again and the latter half of this school year has started.  I expect this coming 6 months will be much busier than the first half since we have a parents' conference, presentation day, assessment test, and on top of all, we are planning to launch a new reading program.  Our time schedule is already full and very difficult to squeeze in another class.  But the decision has been made.  We have to do it.

Let's talk about my summer vacation.  I had a week off and spend 3 days in my sister's place in Shizuoka.  It was my first time to visit Shizuoka city properly, and I was first surprised how close it was to Tokyo.  My sister took me to the zoo and the museum, and I even had a completely free day on my own.  Shizuoka city has almost everything and there was not much difference from Tokyo.  (I once had lunch at Soup Stock Shizuoka!  Shame!)  I realized that I haven't travelled much in Japan.  (I tend to think I'd better keep the money to travel abroad rather than spending to explore Japan.)  It was a very interesting experience and made me want to visit more places.  Also, my sister's place was, as expected, very neatly organized and clean  ;)  I was happy to see her, her dog, and cat again. 

And my birthday.  Guess what?  I got a proper birthday cake, with a name plate and candles!!
This made me sooooo happy :)  How long had it been since I saw my name on a birthday cake?  (Usually, I just have regular dessert at the restaurant, or my mom makes one.)  Of course, this cake tasted great ;)  This came before my birthday, but on the actual day, I was invited to my friend's housewarming party.  There were three other people who recently had their birthdays, so they had secretly prepared a big cake for four of us!  It turned to be a joint celebration.  There were two other cakes for personal birthday present and housewarming present, so we enjoyed three different cakes that night!  Yum ;)

I was not looking forward to the day I get older, but I thought it's not too bad to be one year older since I had such a great day this year thanks to wonderful people around me!

Cheers :)