Saturday, August 29, 2015


I have survived my first 3 weeks of being an elementary school nurse! Woo-hoo! Most importantly, the kids have stayed safe and healthy for the most part. I have my "frequent flyers" who have a "stomach ache" almost every day…..and guess what, they don't have a fever or any other symptoms! Imagine that….guess they just want to come hang out with the cool school nurse! ha! I have some entertaining stories at the end of the day to say the least…'s never a dull moment, let's just say that!

Ava has adjusted so well to her little school too! She LOVES her teachers, they love her, and it's so funny to see her with all of her little friends when I pick her up every afternoon. The school is associated with a church and the class size is perfect for her. She has been doing these new dance moves with her arms and hands at home… when I asked the teachers where she may have learned that, they said, "oh well we do praise and worship every morning, so it's probably learned from that." This made me laugh to think of little Ava doing praise and worship songs and dance. They also said it could be from their Twinkle Twinkle Little Star song and dance they do…..but it's much more entertaining for me to think of Ava doing praise and worship, so I am going to go with that! haha.

We are getting settled into our new house….it's wonderful having so much space compared to our house in Okinawa! And we are getting settled into living in Beaufort! I love going to the farmer's market every Saturday morning and stocking up on fresh fruit and vegetables for the week. I also love going for weekend walks on the Shadow Moss Trail. It will be even more enjoyable to walk once the weather cools down a bit. Here's a glimpse of the view on part of the trail!
I have been waking up at 5:30am every morning to get my workout in for the day! The workouts I do are just 25 minutes long, so that is motivating knowing I can do anything for 25 minutes. The workouts are TOUGH though….I even got Andrew to do a workout with me one morning…even he had to admit it was a good, tough 25 minute full body workout! Marine-approved! haha. Working out at the end of the day just doesn't work anymore because I want to spend as much time as possible with Ava after I get off work! Although there are times I want to sleep longer, I remind myself how great I feel the rest of the day after getting my workout in. I feel so much more energized the rest of the day and it puts me in a much better mood. Oh and the shakes I drink every morning….they are so delicious! I really have noticed an increase in my energy levels throughout the day….I used to rely on a diet soda almost every day at lunch or mid-afternoon for a little energy boost. No more! I rarely have a soda anymore….if it is, it's not for the energy aspect, it's just because I want something different. With that being said, for something other than plain water, try La Croix sparkling water! The Pomme Baya (apple berry) and Pina Fraise (pineapple strawberry) are my jam! They are a great soda alternative! Anyways, if you've been struggling with energy levels or are looking for some good, quick workouts….send me a message on Facebook or email me…would love to help you out!

Well, it's Saturday morning… gotta get ready to head to the farmer's market and stock up! Hope you all have a great weekend!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Life back in the states

We are back in America!! We are living in Beaufort, SC and absolutely love it. Although, I must say, my first few days back I was in a bit of culture shock. It was really overwhelming. Life in Japan was pretty simple. We drove old, beat up cars….remember Cliff?!
All the Japanese were so appreciative and polite in stores…..I went to Walmart here, had my first encounters with rude, unappreciative people. Okinawa was also incredibly safe, whereas here, I find myself looking over my shoulder on a lot more occasions. And choices, there are SO many choices here….when it comes down to where to live, cell phone plans, grocery shopping, shopping in general, and cars to drive. It was just a lot to take in at first when it's been something we haven't been used to having over the course of the past 3 years. Now that we are adjusted, we are getting back into our routine again.

I made the big decision to go back to work! I am going to be a school nurse at a local elementary school. I decided this is the perfect job for me to have because of the hours and all the days off (I will only be working 190 days out of the year!), so it still gives me a lot of time to spend with our sweet little girl!
With being so busy, I have been needing to get into my workout routine as well. Realizing I don't have too much free time, I was looking for workouts that I can do at home and in a short amount of time. Soooo, I decided to join BeachBody. They have SO many different at-home workout DVDs. They also promote drinking Shakeology everyday, which is a delicious, nutrient-packed shake. I decided to give it a "go" and I am on day 2 of doing the Focus T25 workouts, which are 25 minute workouts and drinking Shakeology. I ordered the vanilla and chocolate flavors and they are amazing. I am interested to see what kind of results I will get (if any) by doing these programs. I will definitely keep you all updated on my progress and if you are looking to make some changes to your fitness routine, just let me know and I can help you get started!

I am going to get better about updating my site with recipes, happenings, etc….I promise! I still need to write about our amazing trip to Bali that we took right before leaving Okinawa, so be on the lookout for that post! Well all of our stuff finally made it here from Okinawa, so I better get to unpacking…..rather than procrastinating!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Funfetti Cake Batter Mug Cake

Okay, so my food weakness? SWEETS. I can't keep them around, otherwise they will get eaten….and all by me! Not good. Also, anything gooey and under baked is extra delicious. So I have come up with a healthier version of a mug cake. If you are in search of something that is actual cake-like consistency, then this may not be the recipe for you. But then again, I'm not sure because I only microwave it to my liking, which is super underbaked  ….so if you microwave it longer, than maybe it will turn out cake-like. But it's safe to eat because there are no eggs! It is so moist and gooey and delicious. And it really doesn't have a crazy amount of calories when you consider the alternative of eating an entire cake! HAHA! I think calculated it to have at most 300 calories--and this isn't a small dinky serving either! So this is what mine looks like….nice and gooey and a TON of sprinkles. You can add as many sprinkles as you like! Sprinkles make everything better!
Funfetti Cake Batter Mug

1/2 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
5 packs of Truvia
pinch of salt
1/2 c unsweetened vanilla almond milk
3 heaping tablespoons of applesauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp butter extract
4-6 tsp sprinkles (or more)

Whisk flour, baking powder, Truvia, and salt in large coffee mug. Make sure it's well mixed. Create a "well" and add the milk, applesauce, both extracts into the hole you've formed. Stir well, making sure all is mixed in. Stir in sprinkles. Put the mug in the microwave and microwave for 2 minutes or longer, depending on your desired consistency. 
Eat right out of the warm mug…..and get ready to be amazed with how good this is!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

A day at Nago Castle Park

Although we aren't sure exactly when we are leaving Okinawa, we know that it will be fairly soon. With that being said, we are trying to fit in everything we have yet to see and do in Okinawa. One of those things I have been wanting to do is to check out Nago Castle Park. The weather has been absolutely beautiful these past few days, so Sunday, we ventured up north to Nago. We parked at the bottom of the park and walked/hiked up the paved road. It was definitely an unanticipated workout as the majority of our walk included going uphill. We chose to walk on the road and utilize our stroller so we were kind of limited to exploring areas of the park. However, if we had chosen to use our carrier for Ava, instead of going up a paved road, we would have been going up a billion stairs….pick your poison I guess! haha. Every so often, it leveled out and there was a different area of the park to check out….and catch my breath! HA! The views from the top were so beautiful! Here are some pictures from various areas throughout the park and some views from the top of the mountain. It was worth the hike!

And 2 of my favorite from the top….

Life is good!!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Japanese signs….

Japanese signs and menus are really the best ever. They can and will always bring a smile to my face. When we go out to eat, Andrew and I have a little game of who can find the best menu translation…for sushi, we've seen a Las Begas roll or for your drink, Coca-Cora is a common menu finding. Or a short-lib sandwich….Also, t-shirts have even better wording or expressions that have absolutely no meaning… a shirt that says "Beady Nail Gleam"….what does that even mean???!!! haha. Here are a few signs I snapped to share for your entertainment….

Do you sleep on a pirrow at night??

How nice the Japanese are! They even thank you for using a toilet finely!
Car Creaner???
Anyways, at least they try, so i'm not complaining!!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Some good finds…..

I don't know if you all have heard about or have the iPhone app called Rock My Run, but it's awesome! Professional DJs have created different playlists, so no matter what music you like, there's a playlist for you. There are some great club remixes and mashups….versions you would never hear on the radio. So far, I just have the free version of this app, which allows access to a number of different playlists. I am going to do a free trial for the subscription to access all the playlists, so when I do, I will let you know what I think. I love not having to keep up with creating my own workout playlists and I love being surprised by good songs I've never heard before! It makes my workouts so enjoyable and keeps me motivated! Definitely check this app out!

This past week, I made this Doritos Taco Salad from the blog, Emily Bites. This was SO delicious and easy! Andrew loved it too! I made it with lean ground turkey instead of ground beef. She has so many good recipes on her blog and at the end of each year her readers cast their votes on her favorite recipes. So naturally, I make sure to try out those recipes as those are for sure going to be delicious….For example, the Doritos Taco Salad was a 2014 reader recipe winner….and it was a winner in the Williams household as well!

Here's another easy and delicious dinner I made a few nights ago… 

Honey Sriracha Chicken Tenders

1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup Srirachaa
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1 lb boneless skinless chicken tenders/breasts

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, mix honey and Sriracha, stir well. Pour breadcrumbs into large ziplock bag. Dip chicken in honey and Sriracha mixture, then put chicken in bag to coat with breadcrumbs. Put chicken on foil lined baking sheet and cook about 30 minutes, or until chicken is cooked and golden/crispy. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

New Year, New Age, New Adventures!

Hello hello!!

It's been oh so long since my last post! But hey, it's a new year, and I decided, I am going to keep up with my blog again!

It's 2015, I just turned 31, and it is going to be another exciting year with lots of new adventures. One of those adventures is that the Williams family will be moving back to America!! HOORAY!!! Where? We don't know yet, but keep checking back and I will hopefully be making that announcement in March…April latest! With that being said, we want to make the most of our last months here and get in some traveling off island…Taiwan and Thailand are at the top of our places to visit!

I will also keep you more involved with the latest and greatest of baby Ava. She is already 8 months….where does the time go?! She loves being on the go constantly, which makes for a tired mama, but I love every second of it!

Now that my time is more limited, I have to try and keep my dinner recipes fairly simple and quick, so when I try out a new recipe or food, and it is delicious. I will post those for you here as well.

Well, I just wanted to let you all know that the blog is back and thanks for reading!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Oh let me just tell you!!

Okay, so yeah, most of you know the big news…..I am a MOM!!! Yikes!!!!, Crazy, scary, new, exciting, unbelievable, yes….all of the above and more!! I gave birth to Ava Kiyomi Williams on May 3, 2014. Overall, it was a wonderful experience!! Let me just tell you my story…..pregnancy for me was pretty much a blessing! Morning sickness?! NOPE! Cravings?! NOPE! Tiredness? Yes, unfortunately, but granted, I was working 0645-at least 1600 hours, so give me a break….anyone would be tired working those hours!! So regardless, it was a pretty enjoyable pregnancy and I was able to be "myself" until a few weeks before my due date. My due date was May 18, 2014. I always thought they were off on my due date by about a week….so I always thought in my head I would be going into labor early. Well, turns out my suspicions were right, as I started having contractions on May 2nd. I was supposed to go into work for my 2nd to last day, but realized, I wouldn't be able tolerate the pain I was going through, so I called in sick. I spend the majority of the next day balled up in pain, but then the following day (May 2nd) I had my 37/38 week check up…..I told Andrew, it was crazy I could go from feeling so amazing my entire pregnancy up until now, where I felt like absolute "shit." Excuse my language!! But seriously, I did joke with Andrew saying, "hey, maybe I will be 8cm dilated or something crazy when they check me." Well, it turns out, we went to McDonald's and had lunch (McDonald's in Japan is wayyyyyy better than in the states btw) and then went to our appointment. She checked me and she immediately said, "Holy Cow girl, did I just break your water???!!!! You are like 7-8cm dilated!!!") Me thinking OMG, NO WAY!!!!! She says, "Yep, you are having this baby today!" EEEKKKK!!! We were kind of ready, but not THAT ready!! She told Andrew to go home and finish packing our overnight bag and in the meantime, I am trying to get officially checked into the labor and delivery unit…..well, since they didn't' see me "screaming" in pain, they didn't believe i was in active labor…..and until you are in active labor, they will not admit you. SO….I was advised to keep walking and come back in 2 hours… Andrew and I went walking around (with me in excruciating pain at times) and out to eat, knowing we wouldn't be getting good food for a while….So we left Macaroni Grill with me in pain and contractions that were coming every 3-4 minutes….we thought that would be enough…..NOPE!!! Turned me down for admittance once again….so I told Andrew "let's just go home for this final time." (I didn't want to be just lying in the triage area in pain, I'd rather be home!) He agreed….but in the meantime I begged the night nurse to give me something for the pain….she said she could give me tylenol, but "it probably wouldn't work." Reassuring, huh?! Well, she was right, it didn't' work, however, by the time we got back to our house and as soon as i could make it to the bathroom, I knew something was different…..either I was going to take a huge poop OR I was going to have a baby in the toilet. I was scared for the latter and started screaming saying, "Andrew!!! There's something wrong!!! They got it all wrong!!!! I am about to have this baby right NOW!!!" He immediately got on board, said, "That's it!! If we get there this time, we aren't' leaving!!" So, we sped BACK to the hospital, I couldn't even walk in, due to the pain….was wheeled in, told that in the 10-15 minutes I had been there, I had gone from being 7cm-basically almost 10cm! I was getting ready to have this baby!! Did my water break?! NOPE! So because I was 37 weeks and 5 days pregnant, they would not "break" my water… I opted for a spinal and then later an epidural at  that point. They did finally break my water and about an hour later, I was pushing for this baby to come out!! And about 30 minutes later, Ava Kiyomi, the love of our life, arrived!! It was AMAZING!!! She could not have been any more perfect!! Tears of joy just streamed down both of our faces and it was a moment I will never forget!!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Where I've Been....

I realize and apologize for being MIA for a while! I am going to try and do better at keeping you all updated on what's going on in my life in Okinawa. Here's a brief recap over the last month or so.....

We moved! We were in a place off base, but made the decision to move on base for a couple of reasons. Number 1 reason being, to be able to save a lot more money. Living on base means no more electricity or water bills, which was a huge expense living off base. Number 2 reason being that the majority of our friends live on base and that means we would be walking distance to most of our friends! Number 3 reason was that our street we lived on off base was SO loud with kids playing in the street all the time, running in between our buildings, throwing rocks, hoarding our driveway....anyways, you get the point. With that being said, we moved on base and we love it! We love being super close to our friends, not having to pay the expensive utility bills, and living in a quiet neighborhood!

Most of you probably know by now that I got a nursing job!! YAY!!! I am a sedation nurse at a dental clinic on base. We do conscious sedation at the clinic and the majority of the cases we do are wisdom teeth extractions. I started working a few weeks ago, so I am starting to get the hang of it now and so far I am really enjoying my job. With that being said, I am still adjusting to early mornings.....I have to be at work at 6:45am and with me not being a morning person, that has been the biggest adjustment of all! ha!

Andrew and I took a trip to mainland Japan for our 3rd wedding anniversary. We went to Osaka and had a blast. When I get my pictures uploaded, I will give you all more details on our adventures in Osaka.

This past weekend we went to be part of the audience for the X Factor Japan auditions. I don't know too much about how the X Factor works in Japan, but I assume it's supposed to be somewhat similar to the way it is in the U.S. However, there were a few groups who danced for their auditions and did not sing, so maybe they have a dancing group category?! Ha. Again, I am not sure and we also couldn't understand anything the judges were saying. Another difference in the auditions is that everyone in the audience was SO silent, but when I watch the auditions being done in the states, the audience is going crazy with cheering, etc. Most of the contestants sang American songs and it's pretty funny because they will sing all the lyrics, including the words that are typically "bleeped" out...I don't think they really understand the meaning, or maybe they do?! Haha. But anyways, it was a pretty cool experience to be a part of and we could at least understand if the contestants were going to make it through to the next round because the judges would vote with "yes" or "no".

Just wanted to give you all a quick update on my busy life and I will update again soon!!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Sunsets and Salmon!

I made the most amazing salmon the other night....this was actually my 2nd time making it because it is so yum and so simple! Because I get the salmon at the Japanese grocery store, I am not sure the exact weight of the salmon filet that I use (since I am unable to read Japanese). I do know it makes enough for 2 people and we normally have a little bit leftover, so I am guessing it is about a 3/4lb filet of salmon. Here is the recipe:

Cashew Encrusted Salmon

1/3 c cashews
1/3 c shredded parmesan cheese (not the grated)
1/2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp Italian seasoning
3/4 lb salmon filet

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Put cashews, cheese, olive oil, and italian seasoning into blender/food processor and grind until it is a fine consistency. Line a cookie sheet with foil and place salmon on top. Put the cashew mixture all over the salmon, place another piece of foil on top of the salmon and enclose with the foil. Bake for 12 minutes covered, then uncover salmon and bake uncovered for about 5 minutes, until the top is slightly brown. Enjoy!

This salmon is so good that Andrew, who doesn't even really like salmon, loves this recipe, so please try it out! I imagine if you absolutely hate salmon, the cashew mixture would even be good to put on chicken. I wish I had a picture of it to share, but I am so bad at taking pictures of my food before I start eating it! Oops!

One thing that I have been good at taking pictures of, are the sunsets here! They have been absolutely breathtaking. These are 2 I took the other night which were taken on my iPhone and I didn't edit them at all. How amazing!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Snorkeling, 4th of July, and SUP yoga!

Summer is here in Okinawa! That means in order to stay cool most of your activities need to involve being in the water, so that's exactly what i've been doing. A few weeks ago my friends had discovered this amazing beach so they were nice and introduced Andrew and I to this secret spot! We took our snorkeling gear and had so much fun......the beach was amazing and there was a huge cave you could go inside and swim, float, whatever. This picture doesn't do it any justice to how beautiful it is, but it kind of gives you an idea of how huge this cave is. 
We all put on our snorkeling gear and went out to discover the ocean. It was the most amazing snorkeling experience i've ever had. We saw so many different fish, both big and small and there were so many I felt like I was in an aquarium. It was awesome. Of course we had to take a time out for a picture!
After we worked up an appetite snorkeling, Whitney's husband brought his grill to the beach and grilled us up some was a great day!

Our first 4th of July in Oki was a ton of fun. Us girls decided we needed to tie dye t-shirts for the occasion. That was so much fun doing and I think we are going to continue the tie-dye tradition now for all upcoming festivities! We had a big group of friends that went to Torii Beach which is an Army base and we tailgated in the parking lot and then went into the party. We swam in the ocean, watched fireworks, and had a blast! Please note how awesome our shirts case you want one....yes, I will be taking orders! Haha.
A few days later, my friend Erin found a free stand up paddle board yoga class and asked if I would want to try it out.....of course I did! It was a really cool experience and used a lot of core strength. The last part of the class was my favorite because the instructor just had us lie flat on our backs on the boards and relax. That was so relaxing and I loved it. Our goal for next time is to do a headstand on the paddle board....think we can make it happen?! Wish us luck and more pictures to follow! :-)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Tilapia Thursday

I made this last week and it was such an easy and delicious recipe! I used tilapia, but you could use flounder or a different white flaky fish of your choice as well!

Cajun Tomato Tilapia


1 tsp olive oil
4 tilapia filets (4 or 6oz filets)
3/4 cup onion, chopped
3/4 cup green pepper, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
28 oz can diced tomatoes (drain most of the liquid)
1 Tbsp Mrs. Dash's Extra Spicy Seasoning Blend


In a fairly deep skillet, heat oil and sauté onion and garlic on medium heat, until soft. Add tomatoes, green pepper, and spices....stir and cook for about 3 minutes. Lay the tilapia on the sauce and cover and cook for about 15 minutes, or until the fish easily flakes. Serve the fish and then spoon the sauce on top. I served our fish on top of corn grits and topped it off with the tomato mixture and it was fabulous!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

2 new recipes and a workout!

It's been forever since my last post and I apologize!! I am back in Okinawa after a wonderful trip back to the good ole U-S of A where I got to see all of my family and friends who I miss so much! I will recap on my trip back to the states in a later post, but I wanted to share 2 delicious recipes with you as well as the treadmill workout I did today. First things! You need to make these pancakes NOW and thank me later.....they are SO amazingly good.

Better than banana bread pancakes

1/2 super ripe banana
1/2 cup quick oats
1/4 cup fat free cottage cheese
2 egg whites
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pumpkin pie spice (optional)

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl (smashing up the banana as you mix). Then put this mixture into a blender and blend until will now be the consistency of pancake batter (don't be worried about the cottage cheese--it blends right in!). Spray pan with non stick cooking spray and put batter in pan making 3 pancakes and flip when necessary. When pancakes are done, I sprayed mine with I Can't Believe It's Not Butter and sprinkled a little pumpkin pie spice and drizzled with syrup. If you don't like this recipe, there may be something wrong with you! :-)

I am new to the whole kale thing, but I found some at the commissary and decided to try it out! I was not disappointed because these chips I made were so good!

Salt and Vinegar Kale Chips

Kale, chopped into 1 or 2 inch sized pieces
1-1/2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
Course Kosher Sea Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Wash and chop kale. Make sure kale is completely dry. Mix olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and kosher salt in a large bowl. Mix in the kale and toss to coat. Place kale on foil lined baking sheet, sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Space kale out evenly so it is not overlapping. Bake for about 13 minutes or until crispy. (Note: Keep a close eye on it at about 10 minutes and frequently check because it will burn fast!)

Now, thankfully both of those recipes are healthy, but work it off, here's a good treadmill workout.

Time             Speed          Incline

 0--2                  4.2               6
 2--4                  4.2               8
 4--6                  4.2              10
 6--8                  4.0              12
 8--10                4.0              14
10--11               7.0               0
11--12               6.8               0
12--13               6.6               0
13--14               4.2              10
14--15               4.2              11
15--16               4.0              12
16--17               4.0              13
17--18               7.0               0
18--19               6.8               0
19--20               6.6               0
Repeat 1X.

I repeated this once for a 40 minute workout, but you can adjust it to your time liking. You could choose to do the 20 minute workout or you could make it a 30 minute workout by only repeating the first 10 get the drift! My thighs were on fire by the end of the walking segments, so I quickly welcomed the running believe it or not!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

I wish I could take credit....

For these recipes that I have made over the past week because they have been so delicious! These recipes were so good that I just have to share them with you all. Just click on the recipe title and it will direct you to the recipe. Both of these recipes are from the blog, Skinny Taste. If you haven't checked out her blog before, visit it now. There are recipes for everyone and best of all, they are healthy, nothing super complicated, and I haven't been disappointed with a recipe yet.

The first is for White Bean Turkey Chili. I made this on a rainy day and it was delicious. Here are a few changes I made to the recipe. I used 1.25 lbs of 99% lean ground turkey instead of the 3 lbs of ground turkey the recipe calls for. The recipe calls for 2 cups of low sodium chicken broth, but I found that the chili was going to be too thick for my desired I used approximately 3 cups of chicken broth. I used 2 cans of cannellini beans and 1 can of white navy beans. I didn't have a bay leaf, so I omit that and also didn't have oregano, so I used italian seasoning instead. Although I decreased the amount of meat and beans used, I kept all the seasoning portions the same amount as what the recipe calls for. The flavor of this chili was excellent and I think it was even better as leftovers!

The next recipe is for Sweet and Fiery Pork Tenderloin with Mango Salsa. We made this recipe Saturday night and instead of putting the pork in the oven, we put it on the grill. This recipe is another winner! Our produce selection here in Okinawa isn't the best when it comes to getting fresh fruits sometimes, so instead of using a fresh mango, I used frozen mango. I also am not a huge cilantro fan, so I omit this ingredient, but next time I would probably try it with the cilantro. The pork was a little sweet, yet with some spiciness and the mango salsa on the side balanced all the flavors out so well and was a very refreshing dinner!

Tonight, I am making Cheeseburger Casserole so I will let you know how it turns out!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Kadena International Wine Fest!

Last weekend we were given tickets to go to Kadena International Wine Fest. I was pretty excited about this because I love to try out new wines and it was a sold out event! I had to idea what to expect going into this wine fest, except knowing I would be drinking a lot of wine and we had heard to get there early, before they run out of the "good" wines. We got there right at 5pm, when it started and there was a line out the door. When we got through the door, we were all given a wine glass for our wine, a wine sheet which listed each table and which wines were at each table...oh and a pencil to make notes about the wine. So basically, we just found our way to the first wine table we saw. I didn't know if there was going to be a method to the madness of tasting the wine, since there typically is an order you go in, but it seemed like it was just "find a wine and taste it." I decided to try out a few white wines to start off and then made my way to reds. The layout of the room was a little disorganized in my opinion because there were six tables that each had about 20 different wines at each table. The tables were scattered and not really in one particular area. In the meantime, there was a ton of food buffets scattered throughout the rooms as well. It was a little overwhelming and the food wasn't that great in my opinion. It got to be so crowded around all the wine tables, you had to fight your way through the crowd to stand there waiting for your tiny little sample of wine. They poured such small samples of wine it got to the point that it was hard to distinguish the different tastes of the wine. Towards the end of my sampling spree, all I wanted was just a normal size glass of wine to sip on while I ate my food. So then, I just decided, enough with the sampling, I am going to order a glass of wine from the bar, so that's what I did.

These were a few of my favorite wines that I did taste:

  • Sommerbosch Chardonnay, which is a South African wine and very non-oaky
  • Edna Valley Chardonnay, which is from San Luis Obispo County in California, this is a medium-bodied wine, and my personal favorite! I linked the name of the wine to their website if you want a better description of it. 
  • Estancia Pinot Noir, which is another California wine that was very good. 
  • Alamos Malbec, which is a wine from Argentina that I have had before and thoroughly enjoy!
Those are a few highlighted wines that were there that I enjoyed. 

Unfortunately, my favorite red wine is not sold here. It is the R Collection by Raymond Vineyards and it is the Field Blend. It is a red wine blend and as my brother-in-law would say, "it's so good, it goes down like candy." Haha. But really, it is SO good and I could only dream that Raymond Vineyards would ship me a case of their field blend! Next time you are in the mood for a good red wine blend, see if you can find this wine and I don't think you will be disappointed!

All in all, the Wine Fest was a fun time and I was glad we went.....and of course we had fun with our friends!

Thursday, April 11, 2013


Here's a Japanese lesson for all of you who may not know what bingata is. "Bin" means colors and "gata" means various patterns. So, put it together and you get bingata, which is "colored designs." Bingata is an Okinawan traditional resist dyed cloth and there is a design of some sort stenciled onto the cloth. Bingata is worn during traditional Okinawan arts performances and historical reenactments. When Heather and I went to Okinawa World, we decided it would be fun to get in touch with our artistic side and make our own bingata. It was a really fun experience. We sat down at a Japanese style table and the lady didn't speak much English but she demonstrated what we needed to do and she also gave us written instructions that were in English. I chose to do a Hibiscus flower coaster. You put different shades of paint all over the stenciled white design until you don't see white anywhere else. Then, you take it home with you and let dry for about 2 days. The last step is soaking it in hot water for about an hour, which causes the excess paint to wash off. It was pretty cool to see my end result. Here is Heather doing her coaster!
Here is a picture of my coaster with all of the paint on and how it looked for the next 2 days while it was drying. As you can see the background is a tan color, which is a special rice paste which is scraped onto the stencil across the cloth. This will wash off when you soak it in the warm water.
Ta-Da!!!.....Here is my finished product after soaking it in hot water.
Pretty cool, huh?! For someone who's not very good at arts and crafts, I was pretty impressed with my skills! haha.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Healthy Chicken Broccoli Casserole

 Last night I made a really good, healthy recipe and it couldn't have been any easier! I put it together right before I left for the gym, stuck it in the fridge, and then all I had to do was bake it in the oven!

Chicken Broccoli Casserole

3 cups of cooked, shredded chicken (I used canned chicken)
1 can of cream of mushroom soup, reduced sodium
1 package of frozen broccoli, cooked
1 cup of reduced fat shredded cheese
1/2 cup of cornflakes (optional)
2 Tbsp dried onion flakes (optional)
garlic salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 9 inch pan with nonstick cooking spray. Combine all ingredients, EXCEPT the cornflakes in a large mixing bowl....mix well. Spread mixture into the 9 inch pan. Crunch up the cornflakes and sprinkle on top. Put in oven and bake until heated through.....approximately 20 minutes.

Eat up!! :)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Two new recipes!

I am so excited to tell you guys about the 2 new delicious recipes I tried out this weekend. They were SO good and SO easy, which makes everything even better! The first is for ribs. I have never made ribs in my entire life, so I was a little intimidated, but this recipe seemed easy enough for me to handle....and it was a huge success! The ribs easily fell off the bone and the meat was super tender! Here's the recipe...I promise you won't be let down!

12 oz bottled beer (I used Coors light because it's what's in our fridge)
1 rack of baby back ribs (I made 2-1/2 lbs)
1 onion
Sweet Baby Rays Honey BBQ sauce (or your BBQ sauce of choice)
sea salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Slice onion and layer rings evenly along tin foil. Place ribs on top of the onion, bone side down. Pour beer on top of ribs. Season with salt and pepper. Wrap tightly in foil. Place in a pan in case some of the beer leaks out of the foil. Bake for 2 hours (or 30 minutes more if you have more than 3 lbs of ribs). Take out of oven and prepare for grilling. Brush BBQ sauce on ribs and grill for 10 minutes on meat side down first. Flip over and brush more BBQ sauce and grill 10 more minutes on opposite side. Then......prepare to enjoy!! If you don't want to grill, you can finish these in the oven.....just unwrap the foil, brush on BBQ sauce and bake for an additional 30 minutes!

My next recipe is a French Toast Casserole I made on Easter Sunday. This was a delicious breakfast recipe and was so easy. You can make your own adjustments, but this is how I made mine. This is now one of my favorite recipes.....please make it and let me know what you think!!

6 cups of light (45 calorie) bread, cubed
1/2 cup of egg beaters
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups of unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/4 cup of white sugar, divided
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
Can't Believe It's Not Butter Spray


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9x9 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Line bottom of pan with bread cubes. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, milk 2 Tbsp sugar, salt, and vanilla. Pour the egg mixture over the bread and spray the I Can't Believe It's Not Butter spray on top. Let it sit for 10  minutes. Combine remaining 2 Tbsp of sugar with the cinnamon in a small bowl. Sprinkle this mixture over the top. Put it in the oven and bake for approximately 45 to 50 minutes until the top is golden. Serve with syrup.

I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as Andrew and I did! :-)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Ryukyu Glass Craft Village

As many of you know, I have NO sense of direction which puts a whole new twist on exploring! I am proud to tell you all that with the whole week of Heather being here, I did not once get lost!! Thank you!! :-) One of the days we ventured to the completely southern tip of the island to check out Ryukyu Glass Craft Village. It took us about an hour and a half to get there, but the trip was an enjoyable drive and the village was really cool. It is completely free to walk around and check everything out and when we first arrived it was pretty overwhelming, but then we got focused! First, we watched the men and women actually doing the glass blowing. That was fascinating. Who knew that glass could be so expandable?! Not me! The guys would blow through a metal pipe with the glass attached to the end of it and it would slowly get increasingly larger. You could pay to do this process yourself, but you weren't able to keep your own glass from our understanding, so what's the fun in that?!
Then there are quite a few different stores where you can purchase glass. This was the overwhelming part. One of the stores was HUGE with more glass than you can imagine. We must have been too overwhelmed because we didn't purchase any glass. However, they did have a smaller store that was considered a discount store because some of the glass had imperfections. When I do choose to purchase some of the glass before I leave Okinawa, I will come back to this glass craft village because they had the best prices on all of their glass by far. The village grounds were really pretty and all of the walls were covered in glass and made into beautiful pictures. The picture below is one of the walls outside and it is made out of all different pieces of colored glass. Pretty cool!
Everywhere Heather and I went, we were able to find face cut-out photo ops. Apparently that is a big thing here. So of course we had to participate. Here is Heather doing her Shisha lion faces....mouth open to scare the bad spirits away and mouth closed to keep the good spirits in!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Our first visitor!

We had our first visitor here in Okinawa.....guess who it was?! My best friend, Heather!! We had such a great time together (as always) and explored Okinawa to its fullest. While it would be too long of a single post about her visit and everything we did, I will blog about our adventures over the next few days!

The morning after she arrived, she woke up and it was her birthday! A pretty awesome way to celebrate your birthday is to come to Okinawa.....just saying! I even made her a birthday cake with homemade icing, which I had never done before. It was a success! During the day, I gave her a basic tour of the military bases that we live by. I also took her to American Village, which is an outdoor shopping center with a ton of different restaurants and shops. We ate lunch there and then I decided she needed to have a true Japanese experience (one in which I had never experienced before either). What was it? Doctor Fish!! You put your feet into a pool of water that has a ton of tiny fish inside and as soon as you emerge your feet in the water, they start to "feed" on your dead skin. No worries, the fish don't have any teeth so they can't hurt you, but it does tickle. It kind of tickles and almost feels like your feet are tingling, like they are about to go to sleep. But then you look down and you see this!
 Yikes!!! After you got used to the sensation, it was all good and the man must have needed to feed his fish because he gave us a free extra 3 minutes. We had to conclude our authentic experience with some peace signs of course!

That evening we went to Sam's by the Sea in Awase. This is a nice chain restaurant here in Okinawa with each location being a little different. The one in Awase is known as the "romantic location" and it is right on the water. Heather and I both got seafood dishes and Andrew got steak and shrimp. They also make this really good curry soup that comes with every meal....Yum! Then we came back to the house and sang Happy Birthday to Heather and had a piece of birthday cake. A great ending to a great day!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Last day at school

Today was my last day teaching at the school. I will miss the kids a lot more than I will miss the work of being a teacher! They are such sweet kids and they were sad to say goodbye (as was I), but I will stop in to visit them from time to time! My fourth graders made me a book in which each of them wrote something. It was so sweet it brought tears to my eyes! Here are a few of the pages:

Then one of my favorite little 3rd grade girls made me lunch (rice, sausage, and egg--it was really good in case you were wondering!), a small gift, and gave me a sweet note. It's nice to know I was appreciated! 

 Here I am with my third grade girls.......they are my favorite! :-)
Happy Friday!!!!.....and I promise to keep you all updated more often!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

I hope this post makes you laugh!

Okay, so we have been busy exploring on the weekends as usual which always makes for a fun time! We went to the Koza music town area and walked around and discovered some shops, recording studios, as well as a dance studio. For anyone who knows me, I LOVE to watch people do hip hop dance. I am so envious of their dance ability and I just really wished I had those kind of moves (which I totally do not!). So anyways, the dance studio was so cool to just stand there and watch these kids do freestyle dance to whatever hiphop song the DJ would put on. They were SO good. The kids ranged from ages 5 to maybe about 15 years guy was spinning on his head and had all sorts of dance moves, which apparently inspired Andrew to tackle some dance moves of his own later that night.....I hope you find it as funny/entertaining as I do!

This past weekend we decided to go look at a furniture store I had heard about to see if there was anything I was missing out on....on our way there, I heard a loud pop and then air was coming out of a tire. And yea, that's exactly what it was.....Clif (Andrew's big red van) had a flat tire. So we find a parking lot (those are hard to find around here) and think, okay, no big deal, Andrew can change a tire no problem. Well of course nothing turns out as planned and the van's tire repair kit had the wrong sized wrench for the tire. So we decided since it was a nice day, we could just walk to the furniture store and then figure something out. We walked to the furniture store and I found two wooden pictures I wanted to buy and found out where the next MakeMan (like a home depot) was we walked there (ended up being a 3 mile walk), thankfully found what we needed, and then took a cab back to the van! It was such a classic moment that I had to capture, plus many of you have yet to see Andrew's "hot ride." HA!
Once we got the wrench, everything was good to go and we got home safely, but we were both pretty exhausted after what we expected to be a casual trip to a furniture store! 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Chicken Taco Casserole

I made this for dinner tonight and it was super easy and super delicious. It also makes about 9 to 12 servings, so when you are only cooking for one or two, it is perfect to make so you have leftovers for lunch and/or dinner the rest of the week!

Chicken Taco Casserole


1 bag of Baked Tostitos Scoop Chips
2 (10.75 oz) cans cream of chicken soup (I used the Heart Healthy, low sodium cans)
1-1/2 cups of light sour cream
1 (14 oz ) can Ro-Tel diced tomatoes and green chilis
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (1 oz) packet original taco seasoning
3 cups chicken, cooked and shredded
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (I used fat free)


-Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9x13 inch pan.
-In a large bowl, combine cream of chicken soup, sour cream, diced tomatoes and green chills, black beans, taco seasoning, and the chicken.
-Crush chips up with your hands or however is feasible for you and spread half of them on the bottom of the pan. Spread half of the chicken mixture on top of the chips. Then top with 1 cup of cheese. Repeat this layer one more time with remaining crushed chips, chicken mixture, and the remaining 1 cup of cheese.
-Bake for 30 minutes until cheese is melted and starts to brown.

Recipe adapted from Six Sisters Stuff.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Cooper's trip to the vet and a few other happenings!

Recently Cooper has been doing a lot of scratching around his face. It was starting to concern me because he would start to scratch his face and while doing so he would cry. He gets ear infections a lot, but I ruled that out because he would let me touch his ears and they weren't waxy or smelly. I thought he could possible have something wrong with his tooth, but he was eating fine. So about a week and a half ago we called the vet on base to get him an appointment....well that was a failure because they didn't have any open appointments until February 5th. We waited a few more days to see if Cooper would get better, but it seemed to only be getting worse. This past Sunday we took him to a Japanese vet called Animal Hospital 22. They didn't have any open appointments, but they said if we just walked in, they could probably see us with only about a 30 minute wait. So to the vet we went! Thankfully we had a great experience there and I will definitely take Cooper back there in the future. There was a person there that did the translating, the vet hospital itself was extremely clean with no odor, and best of all, it was super reasonable. We walked out of there spending less than $50 including the office visit, a skin test, along with steroids and antibiotics. Thankfully they don't think anything is wrong with Cooper except for him having some allergies right now to whatever may be in the air or grass and he seems to be doing much better with a lot less itchiness going on!

I was at the gym at my normal 5:30pm Zumba class the other night and I was walking to my into my car and all of a sudden some guy was knocking on my window. Scared the crap out of me! He informed me that while I was in the gym working out his wife managed to hit my car. How in the world do you hit a parked car?! Especially so hard that it gets dented in on the driver's side door. Beats me, but it happened. So now we are just trying to figure out how to go about getting it fixed. We called our insurance company, but of course they speak Japanese, so a translator got on the line and asked us a million and one questions only to tell us they would call us back. Have we heard back yet? Nope! It's just frustrating because nothing is easy when you can't speak the language here! Which is why I am determined to learn it!

I have downloaded an app on my phone and iPad called Human Japanese and it is awesome! I originally started with the free version, but because it was so good, I decided it was well worth the $12.99 for the full version. I just need to get better about dedicating at least an hour to it everyday! I know I will probably never be fluent by any means, but it would be really helpful if I could at least understand what people are saying and contribute a little to the conversation!

A while back I had told you all about Tina's Best Body Bootcamp that I signed up for. We are already going to be starting week 4, which means we are almost halfway through! It is an 8 week online bootcamp and every 2 weeks she emails you detailed workouts for 2 weeks. I love it because there are new exercises I have never done before and I love having a printout telling me exactly what to do. I have found myself being sore in places I haven't been sore before, which is always great because you know you are working all different areas of your body! Her bootcamp is an exercise plan that any fitness level can follow and you can modify it in any way. No worries if you're intimidated by trying to figure out how to do certain exercises because she attaches a video link that demonstrates each exercise so it makes it super easy to follow. If you are looking for some change in your current exercise routine, I would highly recommend signing up for the next Bootcamp round. It's only $25 and so worth it! Speaking of all this working to the gym I go! :-)

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Skinny Turkeyloaf!

I made this recipe last night and it was so good I have to share it with you all!

Skinny Turkeyloaf

1 lb extra lean ground turkey (I used 97%)
3/4 cup chopped onion
3 Tbsp ketchup
1 Tbsp spicy brown mustard
1 Tbsp worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup quick oats
2 egg whites
1/4 tsp salt


1/4 cup ketchup
1.5 Tbsp spicy brown mustard
2 tsp brown sugar
tiny splash of worcestershire sauce

Preheat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Combine all main ingredients and mix together in a large bowl. Once mixed, hand-form a loaf with the mixture on the baking sheet. In a small bowl, combine topping ingredients and mix. Spread all over the uncooked meatloaf. Put it in the oven and bake for 55 minutes and let it sit about 5-10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Where I've been!

It's been a while and I have been busy! Let's see....Andrew and I went to Okinawa World which is I guess what you could call a theme park (no rides, only shows). The main attraction there is a huge cave that was formed about 300,000 years ago. You can walk through it which was unbelievable and it took us a good 20 minutes to walk through the cave! Andrew has most of the good pictures, so I will post more later, but here is one that I took while venturing through the cave.
After going through the cave, we walked is almost like a little village with different little huts everywhere with various activities you can do (like glass blowing, bingata making, etc) all for an extra cost. We found our way over to the Habu museum where they have all types of preserved snakes in tanks and information about all the crazy snakes out there. I am not a huge snake lover, but it was fairly interesting. They even have a live Habu snake demonstration which was pretty crazy and I was a little scared for the snake handlers, even though I know they are trained!
The last show we went to was the Eisa dance show. The Eisa dance is a form of folk dance which is unique to Okinawa and consists of singing, drumming, chanting, and songs played on the sanshin (a 3 string instrument, kind of similar to a banjo). It was really cool and definitely one of my favorite parts of the trip!

The next day we ventured off to see the cherry blossoms in the northern part of the island. They weren't in full bloom I don't think, but they were still really pretty and I am glad we made the trip!
Let's see....Oh yeah, this week I got to go on a field trip with the kids I teach to the Kinoshita Circus. The Kinoshita Circus is one of the world's three major circuses, so I was pretty excited that I was able to go! I guess I was expecting it to be super spectacular since it is really been hyped up and while it was fun and entertaining, it wasn't anything I had never seen at a circus before I guess. But it's all about the experience and seeing the kids have fun and be amazed with it all is half the fun too! I had to laugh because our kids (from our Japanese school) were so well-behaved the whole time and they were complaining about all the American kids (from the on-base schools) because "they were so noisy." One of my students said to me, "Mrs. Leah, they are acting like animals!" HA! With that being said, I am SO thankful for my well behaved students even though sometimes I may complain! :-)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Nail clippings anyone?!?

There is one truth to my teaching job at a Japanese is NEVER a dull moment. Between kids being kids, the language barrier, etc. after my day is over and I am thinking about everything that happened in one day, I can't help but laugh. Today was no exception. Here's my story of the day:

I have a new student in my class. He is probably 12 years old and he comes to my 3rd grade Language class, even though he is only on a 1st grade level (if that). He pretty much can't speak or understand any English. My 3rd grade Language class is my largest class with everyone constantly wanting my attention, so it is a challenge to work with one person who needs so much instruction. Today I had given him some 1st grade worksheets to work on while I was teaching everyone else 3rd grade stuff. Apparently during this time, on top of doing his work, he was also working on picking me a lovely surprise of fingernail clippings! With about 5 minutes left in class while I was walking around he was holding a sheet of paper out at me which had what I thought looked like fingernail clippings on the paper. There were SO many, that I had to ask, "What is that?!?...." His friend (who can speak some English) verified my assumptions by saying they were his fingernails. I'm thinking, "EW! Are you kidding me?! Why the hell would I want your fingernails?!" But I politely and calmly said, "Okay, will you please throw that in the trash?" And his response.....a blank stare. So I repeated myself again and in the meantime, the super smart girl comes over and says, "He doesn't speak English, so he doesn't understand you!!" So I had to get someone to translate it in Japanese so he was able to understand I had NO interest in his nail clippings, although, thanks anyways!!.....Hopefully the gift of nail clippings isn't some Japanese culture thing I don't know about yet. Ha!

So yeah, looking back on my day at work today all I can say is "Wow, how weird....did that really happen?!" :-)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

How old are you now?!

29!! That's how old I just turned! Yikes!! So every year my mom and dad sing me "happy birthday" and then right after, they start singing "how old are you old are you old are you leah, how old are you now?!" Then they say, "how olllddd???" And each year I respond with my age and it has been a family tradition/joke every year. This year was no different because I got to FaceTime with my mom and dad and at the end of our FaceTime, they ended it with the song! It wouldn't be a birthday if I didn't have them sing me that song!! haha. When I was in Charleston my parent took Heather and I out to Cypress in celebration of my birthday a week early. Before dinner we had a cocktail at the bar and we introduced my mom to one of Cypress' signature drinks, the lavender martini. She was hesitant to order it because she is not big on sweet drinks, but we convinced her it wasn't a very sweet drink and she ended up loving it. Then we proceeded down to our table and I ordered the scallops which were amazing. They were served with tempura sweet potatoes, curried pearl onions, and bacon jam. Yum! Thanks again to my mom and dad for the wonderful birthday dinner at my favorite restaurant!
My actual birthday was spent here in Okinawa. I had been deprived of sushi when I was visiting back home, so Andrew took me to Kouwa Sushi, which is one of our favorite sushi places here on the island. The sushi tasted so good since I hadn't had it in so long! Then he baked me a yellow cake with chocolate icing, decorated with sprinkles so we ate that for dessert....after he sang me happy birthday of course! I am still celebrating my birthday today, since it is my birthday back in the U.S. so tonight we are going to have an american birthday dinner....steaks on the grill, baked potato (for Andrew) and a baked beni-imo (for me) and some veggies.

Oh yeah, and happy birthday to this crazy guy too! He is 6 years old today....yes, we do have the same birthday!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Blast 900

It was my last full day in Charleston before heading back to Okinawa and I decided that I needed to get in a good workout before traveling/sitting on the plane for the next 24 hours. I had heard great things about Blast 900 and that it was a tough workout and it’s also a bonus because your first class there is free! The concept behind the name of Blast 900 is that you will “blast” 900 calories in the 60 minutes of the class. Let me just start by saying that it was definitely one of the hardest, if not the hardest workout I have ever done.

The Blast 900 gym consists of one room where the workout takes place. There are 12 treadmills and 12 spots available on the floor, so if the class is full, it maxes out at 24 people. When I took the class there were only 6 of us, so we all started out on the treadmill. The trainer calls out 3 different speeds and inclines: one for runners, one for joggers, and then another for walkers. This is great because all fitness levels can do this class. You spend about 5 minutes on the treadmill while the trainer is calling out different speeds and inclines. You are basically maxing yourself out on the treadmill. Then you hop off the treadmill and head to the floor to do more fun stuff like lunges, squats, pushups, abs, bicep curls, etc. Again, once it seems like you can’t handle anymore of that stuff, it is time to get back on the treadmill. The class continues like this for the whole hour. I can honestly say that I was extremely close to throwing up during the class! At one point our incline was so intense on the treadmills it looked like they were almost straight up and down. Craziness. But of course I loved it! J

What I do not love right now is sitting on the plane getting increasingly sore from that workout! I can’t seem to stretch out enough! Speaking of this flight….I need to vent on one thing. My biggest complaint about flying United Airlines is their lack of water. I drink a lot of water and it is important on flights to stay hydrated. They give you a tiny cup they fill with water that contains approximately 5 sips. I asked for a whole bottle of water and they told me they can only “pour.” On one of my trips to the back of the plane to ask for water one of the flight attendants told me she would not give me any water and that they would be coming by in a few minutes and I needed to wait.  Seriously?! I think I had to wait about 15 minutes until I got my tiny little cup refilled with water only to be just as thirsty right after finishing it. She was standing around talking and it would have taken her all of 2 seconds to fill my cup up with water. That flight attendant was the only non-accommodating person on the flight and I will be writing a letter of complaint.

Anyways, I am back in Okinawa safe and sound and hopefully the jet lag will not be too bad! When I wake up, it is my birthday in Japan! J