Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 Recap and 2011 Goals.

OMG, its almost 2011! This year really flew and a lot has happened. This post will be a diary of sort for myself to reminisce on the past and gather my thoughts on what I'd like to accomplish in 2011.
I'm not big on New Year resolutions. I think resolutions can and should be made any time of year, but its nice to get an idea of what I'd like to achieve now and make tweaks throughout the year.

Not long a go I stumbled across a To Do List that I made for myself before getting married. I think I made it immediately after getting engaged and I promptly forgot about it. But I was surprised that I subconsciously accomplished almost everything I wrote on that list in 1.5 years.

My list:
  • Study Japanese. (check! studied full time for 6 long months!)
  • Get a marathon PB. (check! I improved my last marathon time by 11mins!)
  • Improve my diet. (check! at that time I had a major sweet tooth and I'm proud to say, I don't have one any more!) I'm eating way more variety of fruits and vegetables and the credit goes to getting into raw foods and committing to a vegan diet. I've been vegetarian for 11 years, and vegan off and on for 2 years. I'm now more then certain that a vegan diet fits me far better then vegetarian. 
  • Stop procrastinating. (humm....still working on this one)
  • Find my "happy weight" which basically means a weight that is sustainable, that I feel comfortable in, and most importantly doesn't make me feel deprived. (check! I lost 3kilos this year without feeling deprived AT ALL and have more energy then ever!)
  • Strength train 2-3 times a week. (check! I don't do major weight training, but I do body weight exercises along with yoga and running and I have to say it REALLY made a huge difference in my body! At first I could hardly do 5 regular push ups, I now can do 20 regular push up easily and finally have definition that running and yoga was not giving me. I still want to be stronger, but I made a huge progress here! My running and yoga has also improved greatly and I honestly think it has to do with building a stronger body muscularly.)
  • Get over my fear of swimming in the ocean. (failed! My fear is only worse now, ha.)
  • Teach yoga regularly. (Check! I've been teaching yoga now for over a year and absolutely love it! Next year I may get a little busier in the teaching department and I'm so excited!) 
I had some other goals, but they weren't really all that realistic, but they still will stay on the list as a reminder of where I want to be in the next 5 years from now.

Other changes and accomplishments this year:

  • Became an Aunt to 2 beautiful girls! I have 1 nephew and 2 nieces now. Thank you Joey, Jesse, and Lilia for bringing joy and unbelievable cuteness in my life!
  • Made awesome friends through running, yoga, school, and through hubby. It amazes me how life style choices affect who comes into your life. I feel lucky I have friends who share the same interests as I.
  •  Completed Oxfam Trailwalker 100k hike for the 2nd time and had a total blast! It was raining, snowing, freezing and horribly muddy, but a wonderful experience! 
  • 10k PB (5 minute improvement) without even trying to get one. :) This year I decided I wanted to take a break from heavy racing as the pressure to train was only making me stressed and miserable. Last year running was not fun at all! I was clocking in 80-90k a week, I felt in wonderful shape, but I dreaded every single run and developed 2 injuries. Plantar fasciitis and almost a stress fracture. Even though it was SO hard not to run, I focused on yoga and body weight exercises for 3 long months until my injuries recovered. When I started running again I was determined to find that love for running and most importantly a balance. I learned that my body functions better with short/fast runs rather then long/slow runs. I'm only clocking in 50-70k a week now, but my runs are a lot more efficient (speed baby speed!). At some point I want to get back into racing, but until then I'm pretty happy being a serious casual runner. I've accepted that I'm a short distance to semi-long distance runner. My strength is definitely in the 5-10k distance and half marathon. But for full marathons, I think I'm still not mentally mature to deal with the amount of training required. 
  • Got more creative in the kitchen. Earlier this year I was in a major food rut. I'd prepare food the exact same way over and over. So I made a goal for myself to try out 1 new recipe a week.  By branching out and trying new things I found a new love for my kitchen and in the process, introduced a whole variety of foods into my diet. Although I'm FAR from being a good cook, I think I have improved and it has made me a healthier eater. I can't wait to continue experimenting in the kitchen come 2011! 

This is getting a little long, so I'll wrap things up with some goals for 2011.
  •  Continue improving my Japanese.
  • Work on my horrible procrastination problem.
  • Study more yoga (possibly get another certificate) EXCITING! :-)
  • Care less what people think and try to be less opinionated myself.
  • Find more ways to be more environmentally friendly.
  • Spend less time on the computer. 
  • Complete my current studies so I can start studying for my drivers license. (yeah, still don't have it.)
  • Improve my photography skills. (All in the hope for my food to look yummier! Hehe)
  • Mark my siblings birthdays (its hard to remember all 11!) in the calendar and SEND PRESENTS! (I've been horrible this year. So sorry my dear family!)
  • God knows what will happened in 2011, but I know my life will change drastically! Some important things in my life will have be sacrificed and a lot will be out of my control. My goal is to embrace the change and be the best person I can be through it all.
And that folks sums it up. I'm sure there's more that I just can't think of right now, but I think that list is pretty good at the mo. I'm excited for the new year! Are you?!

Since no blog post is complete, in my opinion, without photos, here's some photos of our honeymoon. A year ago Motozo and I were in the Maldives during x-mas and New Year. I look back at the photos now and I wish I was back there! Ah, sweet sweet memories that make me smile.

Our water bungalow. 

Every day view coming out of our bungalow.

Can we make it!
Yay, we made it!

 Happy in paradise! 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Day In Photos.

Motozo and I celebrated Christmas with my family this year. Knowing there will be an abundance of food, I made sure I got in a run before heading out for the 1.5hr train ride. I'll let the photos do most of the talking.
It was a fabulous day full of laughter, hugs, and eating!

Waiting for Mum to pick us up. Someone is obsessed with his new Android phone.

WOOHOO, Look at mum driving! So proud of her for getting her license just recently!

A warm welcome from Jamie.

The happy family of 3. 

Aw! Jess and Kanon.

Younger sisters Jenny and Sherry. 

Lenon found my scarf and purse to be the most comfortable thing in the world! I wish I could take him home with me! The sweetest dog in the world! Lilia do you recognize the purse?

Present opening time. Total chaos and a huge wrapping paper mess occurred. 

Brother Jess seems happy with his gift from his wife. 

Kanon probably got the most presents out of everyone. 

 Mom got me a ton of cooking appliances. Moto is demonstrating my excitement for a pink hand blender :)

Sweet Dad! 

OO, what did you get Timmy?

Jamie and Timmy's present from Rumi and Jess. Lets hope Nene survives longer than a year. 

Moto obviously enjoyed the hamster more then the boys. 

Sherry and I got busy in the kitchen baking a vegan chocolate cake. 

And vegan peanut butter cookies. 

Other delights Mom prepared. Sorry, no photos of the turkey.

I loved this stuffing! Mom made it vegan especially for me :)

My ginger breads were a big hit with mom and dad. The spices were more pronounced after sitting in my fridge for 2 days. 

Someone's really excited for mashed potatoes. 

Even after being completely full with the main meal, I somehow managed to eat a slice of cake. 

Jamie smothered his slice with whip cream.

With major sugar highs the silliness started. 

Kanon showed us her excellent button pushing skills! 

And since no one wanted to move much after the large meal, a seated game of Unbalanced started. 

Dad showed me how to use the remote on my new camera. 

And that concludes our lovely day! We got home around 11:30pm. Totally exhausted and bellies still full.

It was so nice to spend the day with family and my everyone has grown so much! We missed Lilia/Max/Amelie in Aus, Joey/Cha/Jason in Toronto and Nina in China. We love you guys and hope you had a fabulous Christmas as well!

Friday, December 24, 2010

HO HO HO, Gingerbread Time!

I seem to be the only one in blog world who hasn't done a string of post leading up to Christmas. I've had my fair share of holiday spirit around here though. Yesterday I spent a good few hours present shopping for my family and how much did I get done? 1 present completed! I'm a terrible shopper and find the experience so stressful and absolutely horrible. I love this season if only we weren't obligated to buy stuff. I get serious anxiety over having to buy presents for every single one of my siblings, parents, and siblings wives/husbands. Argh, its just too much work and MONEY!
I swear, I'm persuading my mum that next year were drawing names and buying only that one person a present. So much easier and practical if you ask me! Besides, I don't think the emphasis of receiving presents is all that healthy. Christmas should be all about spending quality time with family/family/pets etc.

Moto and I will not be exchanging gifts though as we are presents already to each other haha! Sorry, cheesy cheesy.
Earlier this month when the shops started playing their holiday tunes and putting out their holiday specials Moto and I had a little conversation that went something like this....

Me: "How about we get a little fake tree?"

Moto: "No, I'm Jewish." (this coming from a man who eats pork and non-kosher food all year long!)

Me: "How about a reef then?"

Moto: "No, I'm not a Christian."

Me: "How about we get one of those Japanese bamboo trees during New Years then?"

Moto: "Oh, yeah, thats fine."

So that settled that. We have not one single Christmas decoration in the house and I'm perfectly OK with that :) Luckily, we have not 1, but 2 Christmas tress in our building lobby to make up for the lack of Christmas decor in our place.  Photo turned out a little too dark, but this tree is quite tastefully decorated in my opinion. The ornaments are red and purple with one color light. The other tree's decoration is all gold and just as beautiful. Unfortunately, I keep forgetting to take a photo of it, so I only have this one to show.

I've been so busy today that I completely forgot that it's Christmas Even until my sweet friend Miyabi called to wish me a lovely Christmas. The dear!

I decided it was time I get my holiday baking on. Vegan Gingerbread Man! Ooo, I had so much fun making these! I really should use cookie cutters more often.

Fingers crossed these little babies turn out!

Humm...fluffing up a little more then expected.

Oops, burnt the first batch!

Second batch, just right!

Almost too cute to eat!

I couldn't help myself!

 Someone's got to do the taste testing after all :)

 Comparison of the burnt and just right cookies. 

Mission accomplished! Tupperware full of baby gingerbread man ready to consume on Sunday with family! Do they look more like stars or what?
Shhhh, don't tell them the burnt ones are at the bottom!

Tomorrow, on Christmas day I'll be running and teaching yoga as usual. Immediately afterwards I need to do some serious shopping (hoping for special sales!) then present wrapping and an early bed. Were celebrating Christmas on the 26th with my family. I can't wait to meet everyone.

Happy Holidays everyone. BIG HUGS AND KISSES!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Carrot Ginger Soup

Winter is the best time of the year in Japan in my opinion!  Clear  blue skies are more days then not. Today in particular was very warm. Wearing long tights and two top layers during my run was a big mistake. I was sweaty mess and face was red as can be when I got back home. I'm not complaining though. Its the end of December and I hope these lovely days will never end!

Sometime in the late noon it starts getting a little chilly. Especially in the house. Unfortunately, we only get sunlight between 9-10 in the morning and the rest of the day its pretty dark around here. In an effort to conserve energy and not use the heater as much as possible, I'm almost always wearing a scarf from the moment I wake up and layers are the norm. The problem with me is my hands are always cold. I may need to start wearing fingerless gloves in the house.

Luckily today, I had a nice remedy to warm me up. SOUP! I made carrot ginger soup last night and its Motozo approved! He even went back for seconds and if I say so myself, it is pretty damn good!
I had an excess of carrots from last week and got another fresh batch yesterday, so soup was the answer to use up lots of carrots.  I ended up only using 3, but that's way more then we'd normally eat in one meal!

If you like ginger, carrots, and orange this might be just up your alley! At first I wasn't crazy about the orange flavor, but it started to grow on me and the soup tasted heavenly the next day. I love ginger and enjoy it every single day in my green smoothie. This was a perfect way to add more into my diet! Its warming and very soothing on the stomach.

Adapted from here

  • 4 heaping cups of chopped carrots
  • 1/2 small purple onion (I would have used yellow if I had any)
  • 1/4 cup fresh ginger, minced
  • 3 cups vegetable broth (I used non-salted)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
 In a large pot, I sauteed ginger and onion in the olive oil just until everything was evenly coated with the oil. Next I added the chopped carrots, stirring for a minute or 2. Added the vegetable broth and simmered it on medium heat until the carrots soften.
I worked in 2 batches and blended the carrots up in the blender with just enough broth to puree it smooth. Returned the puree carrots back into the pot along with the rest of the broth and added the orange juice. Heated everything up briefly and seasoned with salt as desired.

The original recipe called for WAY more orange juice and I'm so glad I didn't put that much in or it would have tasted like orange soup rather then carrot.
This was really wonderful and its definitely going to be a regular. The good thing is, it can be enjoyed cold or warm, so even in the summer this would be delightful! I love it when a recipe turns out just right! :)

Later today I was in the mood for baking! I didn't actually feel like eating anything sweet or eating anything at all, but just the action of mixing flour, sugar etc together can be quite therapeutic sometimes. Yes, I baked today for therapy, I'm weird like that. But I also wanted to use my new silicon muffin cups! Aren't they adorable!

These turned out much better then I thought they would. I used the standard Crazy chocolate cake because it NEVER fails and uses minimum ingredients. I spiced it up though by adding shredded coconut and goji berries. The end result was a moist and almost brownie like cake with a good chew from the coconuts. Oh, it was good!

Good timing for me to bake too because we had a horde of guys come over for poker. 
Let me tell you, they were a HUGE hit with the guys! A few guys went back for seconds and I even over heard one guy telling another that he wants to take the left over cakes home with him. :-)

As for poker I have no idea whats going on there, but I have my fingers crossed  that hubby dear will win us a fortune. :)
Tomorrow is national holiday so we'll be sleeping in and taking it nice and easy. woohoo!

Good night and sweet dreams to all.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Run, Yoga, Party, Then Sudden Fever.

My Sat started off similar as last week. A long run with running buddies from 8:30AM. I was feeling pretty tired so my goal was only to run 1.5 hours, but we ended up running out quite far and I knew I didn't have enough on my Suica Card to get me back home, so I stuck it out and ended up running for 2.5 hrs! An hour longer then planned and I was starving! My friend gave me one of her gels, but these days I really can't stomach those artificial flavors, so I waited till I got home to eat something. The first thing I did when I got home was raid the fridge. mmmmm.....a huge apple before jumping in the shower never tasted so good!
I was dying to take a nap, but I felt obligated to stay up and prepare for my yoga class. After teaching, Motozo and I rushed home to get dressed for our Bonnenkai.

I can't believe its already this time of year! The time of year when my running club hosts a Year End Party and we all get pissing drunk and dance until mid-night.  For the past 3 years we've had the lovely opportunity to have the party at the British Embassy, thanks to Jaynie and Simon who work there. We order pizzas, Yumiko always makes fabulous salads, and there's plenty of snack foods and of course, LOTS of alcohol.

Today I was particularly excited because I wanted to take lots of photos with the new SLR. I seriously need to branch out of Auto mode, but I wasn't in the mood to fiddle around too much. Party photos are HARD! More times then not, I got people with their eyes half shut, an arm or leg suddenly blocking the view, or to just put it plainly, drunk photos are never too flattering. Humorous though! :-)

Half way in the party, we have an award ceremony with prizes for most improved male/female runner and prizes for the people who contribute the most to the club in forms of race organizing, photo taking etc. 
This year, I was so surprised they gave me the Most Improved Female Runner prize. I won a Y1000 Starbucks gift card! You know that's going to be put to good use!

I'm still not sure I deserve this prize literally just over my last 10k results of 40:40, because other then Tokyo Marathon and Namban's informal 10k race, I haven't done any thing else as far as racing goes. This is a very quiet and conservative running year for me, so I almost feel like I'm cheating other more serious runners out there. But I'm still very very happy to have gotten the prize :) Damn, I'm afraid I'm going to have to get a little more serious next year and bang out a couple more races. We'll see we'll see....

Once all the prizes were passed out, we started the music and everyone got their dancing shoes and wigs on.

The dancing did not stop until we got kicked out of the embassy at mid-night. I think half of the club went to karaoke, but I was totally beat and did not feel 100% on the taxi ride home. Motozo even had to help me take off my boots and help me into bed or I probably would have fell asleep right there in our door way.

I woke up Sunday morning feeling horrible! I think I may have over did it yesterday with the long run and late night. I didn't feel like moving a muscle, and spent the entire day curled up on the couch feeling chilled to the bone. It never occurred to me that I may have a fever until the evening, yep, fever alright! Motozo was an absolute saint! He turned the heaters on even though he himself wasn't that cold, he rushed out and got me organic lemons to make me fresh lemonade, and was there on my every whim. I don't know how I would have managed without him! I realize I haven't had a fever in quite a while and the last time just happened to be also during x-mas time. I remember Motozo and I had some holiday party but Motozo ended up going to alone since I was too out of sorts to go. Well, I'm glad the fever decided to make an appearance after the party this time!

Luckily, Monday morning I'm feeling pretty fresh with lots of appetite to make up for the zero appetite I had yesterday.  I'm still going to take it easy and take another day off running, maybe just do some light yoga and nap in the noon. I hope everyone else had a fabulous weekend that did not involve a fever!