Thursday, July 29, 2010

New York and Toronto trip

Its been almost a week since I've been back in Japan from my NY and Toronto trip. I've been putting off updating this blog because I didn't know where to start from. Too many stories and exciting things happened for me to be able to explain it all so basically just photos and video clips will have to do.

The trip was great! Short, but I made the most of it. We spent the first few days in NY visiting Motozo's Aunt and stayed with his parents. Saw the house that Motozo grew up in and visited the near by beach and a beautiful huge park! They say New York was going through a heat wave, but it still doesn't compare to Japan's Summer.
The outing to the Yankee's baseball game was rough though because of the heat. Just sitting there in shaded stands was almost unbearable. But a great first time experience at a baseball game.
We ate great vegan food and ran in Central Park (this was a huge priority for me!) and in the process cheered Motozo's friend doing a triathlon race on the same day in the park. I really love NY! Its exciting and very interesting! Last time we visited in the winter(freezing!) so it was great to walk around a bit more and run in the park in day light this time.

New York Album

The last few days I went to Toronto by myself while Motozo had business meetings in 6-7 different states. It wouldn't have made much sense for me to follow him around, so I visited dear Joey and his family. Charissa is absolutely lovely and Jason is adorable! I was surprised that Jason gave me a little hug when we meet at the airport. This was only the 2nd time we met and the first time he was too young to have remembered me. My nephew is such a clever little boy who's seems to understand everything you ask him or tell him. He says individual words to get his point across and he's a doing a pretty good job of communicating. Joey so kindly took a week off work for me and showed me around. We did the touristy thing, visited the CN Tower (the worlds tallest building) and Niagara Falls. We rode the boat and got real close to the falls. It was so beautiful! At Joey's and Cha's house I enjoyed running around their neighborhood early in the morning. It was actually quite cold in just my running shorts and shirt (I miss cool Canada) and Joey gave me a tour around the neighborhood and drove me to Whole Foods (awesome organic store!) and Lulu Lemon (best yoga clothing store!) where I stocked up on some hard to find ingredients in Japan and yoga pants.
Thank you Cha and Joey for your generosity! I truly enjoyed myself there!

Toronto Album

A few videos of everything.

Triathlon race in Central Park.

Motozo's dip in the beach

CN Tower

Niagara Falls boat ride


Speed boat ride

And thats a speedy and short version of my trip.

As for my life in Japan, I went back to my old job the Gym for kids to teach for a month. I work from Mon-Fri 5 1/2 hours a day for a Summer School program that also incorporates a 30min yoga class for the kids. The 4 1/2 hours that the kids are under my supervision, we basically run a preschool/kindergarten type day.
Its been nice to get out of the house and have something constructive to do.

I also hired a private Japanese teacher who I meet twice a week and she'll teach me Keigo (formal business Japanese). She's a really nice lady and it feels like I'm learning from a friend rather then a stiff teacher. I hope she can teach me a few things and help me not forget what I've learned so hard in the past 6 months at Japanese school.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

More back bending

I decided to take everyone's advice and post more yoga videos. I really apologize about the blur. I couldn't figure out why it was so blurry. It must have something to do with the fact that my camera was cheap (I just found out from Motozo recently! SHOCK!). Or its just that particular room I was in today. Yesterday's video quality came out better and I was in the living room.
I also have to keep the video lengths really short or it just takes FOREVER to upload.
So I'm going to have to keep all the poses brief. I might give more explanations in text form if I didn't manage to get everything in the video.

I think I have a speech impediment because I can never get the words out right and I'm am always correcting myself. Maybe I'm just nervous to talk on the camera. Hopefully, that will improve.

Lil, I made a video for you, but being 3 minutes it took way too long to upload and I gave up. I'll try making it more brief next time and maybe it'll make it here.

So if you guys want something specific let me know. Hana, I'll give you more back bending exercises, Lilia prenatal yoga, and Nina what do you what?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

King Pigeon - gambaro!

Hana! Lets work on our King Pigeon pose together!

Please overlook the bags under my eyes, sweaty hair and over all uncomfortable look of talking to a camera. Its kind of scary to see my mannerisms and facial expressions. But enough with my vanity. This is a post dedicated this beautiful pose...that I am still struggling to do.

So time to start practicing more on my left side! woohoo! Ideally, I want my head to be in the center of my foot. Right now my head is still at the toes.
More back bends to ease into this pose would be:
Cobra pose
Wheel pose
Camel pose
And a host of others. Anyway, that's my little goal for this week.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Cuban night

This post is really just to see if I can successfully upload a movie on this blog.
I think I figured it out. It needs to be less then 2mins long and then it uploads fairly easy.

So, we went to a restaurant Sat night and the theme was Cuban Night. I'm not sure what the traditional Cuban food is, except perhaps Mojito. I'm not huge on strong alcohol, but every now and then I do enjoy a Mojito. The mojitos they were serving though were extra strong. Too much rum and not enough mint leaves. But after 2 glasses, I got used to it and didn't really care about the taste any more. The wonders of alcohol!
I'm glad no one said we looked like brother and sister. We get that A LOT in public and its starting to get irritating!

We had some great company with some other hapa (half, mixed) friends and there was a live band. Few others and I were more intent on having a conversation, but that was quite hard when the band is just 2-3 feet away from us playing their hearts out.
But after a satisfying meal (special vegan meal for me) and plenty of drinks I was finally able to really appreciate them. This video doesn't really do them justice. It sounds more like noise then anything, but believe me they were pretty good.
Ended the evening by dancing with a Chinese women to the cheering of all the customers.
As for Motozo, I don't think he had as great of a time as I did. He was across the table from me surrounded by strangers and you can see from the movie that he's tired and ready to leave, and I on the other hand was just getting started.
Sorry the lighting is dark.

Anyway, for some reason every Sunday I haven't been feeling too hot. My body is fatigued and I feel so tired! Last Sunday I was so cranky and irritated by the heat.
This Sunday I was also on the verge of being cranky, so I kept the day as relaxing as possible. Watched TV in the morning and since Motozo had to go to the office, I went out to Shibuya and finally got myself some luggage. Up until this point, I've always used Motozo's cases whenever we travel since he has a few. But I need to get my own anyway, so after basically going out every day to different stores, I finally got one at Tokyu Hands.
What is it with Japanese and their hard case suitcases!? They look so ugly all shinny and you can't really stuff a lot in because a hard case has its limits.
The selection of non hard cases were few, but I did manage to find what I liked in the end.
Lets hope it fits all my stuff, because I do not know how to travel light!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Running speed speed speed

I'm inspired to start running a little harder!
Thanks to a running friend Leng Leng who got me to do an interval training on Monday.

What is Interval Training?

"Interval training is defined as a series of repetitions of work with a recovery period following each repetition

Interval training is the keys to running faster. Running long distances alone does not develop the explosive energy systems or the neuromuscular coordination necessary to consistently improve your speed.

During the running period of the interval, lactic acid is produced and a state of oxygen debt is reached. During the recovery period of the interval, the heart and lungs are still stimulated but they re-supplying body with oxygen to help break down the lactic acid."

So we did 2 mins of sprinting and 1 min of a recovery jog. We did that for a total of 8 times and I thought I was going to puke. Running a leisurely 10-15k doesn't beat speed training. I think I always train pretty hard, I never go very slow and a usual run for an hour will leave me tired. But interval's are totally different! To get your heart rate up to the point where you feel your lungs are going to burst and hold it for a certain amount of time increases your speed and is very beneficial for stimulating how you'd feel in the last couple 100meters of a race.
When I'm honest with myself then I admit I'm better at short distance(I like thinking I'm a long distance runner). I prefer half marathon distance (21k), but for me to get faster at that distance it requires heavy heavy running mileage. Last year I got my personal best, beating my last best time by a minute, and I was running almost marathon training mileage. Anyway, it was A LOT of running....for a 1 min improvement.
For short distance on the other hand, without any serious training I can crank out a good 5-10k naturally without much effort.
Motozo keeps telling me I should enter more 5-10k races because I could win 2nd or 3rd place over all or at least win in my age group. But my strength is also my enemy...I absolutely hate 5-10k races!
Why? They are excruciating! There is not one moment where I enjoy it. It requires you to start off fast and hard and keep it for the entire time.
But after the speed training with Leng, I decided I'm going to try giving it a shot. I'm not going to sign up for a race just yet, but I am going to put in the training that will give me good results.
I've already done 3 solid runs in a row this week. I'm trying to go for quality over quantity now. It doesn't matter so much the distance I run now, but rather the intensity I put into the run.

Mon - 25min regular pace run. 24min of hard interval training with Leng. Total running time: 1 hour 17min
Tue - 10k tempo run. Total time: 47min(not bad for a hot and humid evening!)
Wed - 10min warm up. 30min interval training (2min hard, 1min jog 10x). 20min cool down. Total time: 1 hour 5min
Today, Thursday is a running rest day. I'll do yoga and toning exercises.
Friday - 11.5k with some up and down hill training. Legs sore from last nights yoga class.
Sat or Sun - long slow run.

I'm excited and highly motivated...I hope I can keep it up because now that its very very hot it makes training so much harder. I've switched my run from the morning to the evening where it's a little cooler. The pros about doing this I realized is that I have to be very careful about what I consume throughout the day. I have to eat small portions, but enough to give me energy for the run. I usually finish my run with a strong appetite and I'm eating larger dinners then usual and I think it's affecting my sleep a little, so that's the con.
Its hard to find a nice balance......
Anyway, time to get my butt moving...need to go out and do some shopping for my trip next week. I need a good traveling bag and some presents for parents-in-law and Joey and his family. Can't wait to see everyone!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A foodie post

I've recently got into taking photos of my food. Taking photos of food requires it to look and hopefully taste good. I don't know about the taste (or look for that matter). I certainly can't say I'm an awesome cook. My style is to not measure and throw in whatever I feel like, so its quite hit and miss sometimes. I still don't know what taste good with what herbs and spices go well together and not so well together. I'll read up on it but when its actually time to make a meal, I end up just doing whatever I feel like and not paying much attention to recipes. So basically, if its a savory dish and it taste good....I just got lucky!
Unless, I'm baking....I usually stick to the exact measurements until I feel confident that I got the recipe down pat so I can start making adjustments to it. Replacing applesauce for some oil, using different types of sweeteners etc.
Still I'm very far from being a cook. At least I'm conscious about what ingredients I use and go out of my way to get things that are unusual in most kitchens in Japan. But for be me, its a staple in the kitchen! Flaxseed, Hempseed, Nutritional Yeast, Goji Berries, Quinoa, Bulgur wheat etc..

Anyway, today for some unknown reason I woke up at 5AM feeling well rested and had the brilliant idea of making pancakes for my dear love. I've always thought I'd wake up early enough to make him a nice breakfast, but I usually end up running (recently sleeping in). So I did a quick search on the internet for a recipe for vegan pancakes and found one that had the ingredients I currently have and had good ratings. I wrote down the instructions, but of course I ended up doing my own thing. I used a flour that has 5 different beans in it so the pancakes turned out a slightly darker shade then regular white flour pancakes.
I love seeing the bubbles pop!

Despite using baking powder the pancakes rose on the pan, but flattened out as soon as they got to the plate....darn it! Well, the recipe called for letting the batter sit for 5-10mins to let the baking power get to work, but I didn't do wonder it didn't rise! Haha.
But I garnished it up the best I could, layering the pancakes with organic strawberry jam and slices of banana. Topping it off with blueberries and a tiny bit of maple syrup(its not on yet in the current photo).

I think he liked the surprised, but probably prefers a less sweet breakfast. Next time I'll try something with potato since he likes potatoes a lot.

Here's my typical breakfast. I need my fruits in the morning! Since forever my breakfast has always been an apple(my fav fruit!) and some other fruit. Today was banana and blueberries topped with freshly ground flaxseed. I must get those omega 3s! And of course, my mug of coffee which I can't live without.

Our dinner 2 nights ago. I call it the orange dinner. Literally everything turned orange...of course, it doesn't help that my kitchen has this lighting that also makes everything look more orange.
Quinoa with grated carrots, asparagus, dried tomatoes and kidney beans flavored with turmeric and other assortment of condiments that I don't exactly remember. And oranges for dessert. It turned out alright. I'm lucky my husband is not a picky eater!

Last week after dinner at a Mexican restaurant that had tiny tiny portions, so we decided to get a little snack and dessert at one of my fav vegan cafe's. Motozo got organic beer and flavored nuts and I got a little parfait. If you think parfaits must have ice-cream you'll think differently if you tried this! This is a winner!

And that's it for now. Happy healthy eating!

Monday, July 5, 2010

結婚おめでとう Chad and Makiko!

I love weddings! When two people get together and decide to sign the paper that shows them husband and wife its a declaration of their commitment and love to each other. Its saying to the world and to each other that you can't live without each other and that your partner is the person you want to be with for the rest of your life. Well, that's my interpretation of marriage anyway....whats yours?
I know lots of people don't think its really necessary to get married if you're already happy and satisfied in a relationship. I used to think that way, but life really does change when you get married. Its totally different from being boyfriend/girlfriend.
Anyway, this day isn't about me, its about my friend Chad who married a beautiful and wonderful women, Makiko.
It was a perfect wedding! They had a traditional Japanese ceremony at a temple and despite it being a VERY humid and uncomfortable sitting outside for the ceremony (not to mention getting bit by mosquitoes), it was interesting to see a Japanese ceremony for the first time. Both Chad and Makiko were very happy and calm even though they were being shuffled around all day.

Group shot with Makiko's friends.

I've known Chad for about 3 years now. Met him at the running club and this guy can run! Great triathlete and drinker. I never was much of a drinking partner for him, but we'd meet up for a run occasionally and I remember him telling me very clearly about this women he was interested in. 2 years later they are madly in love and decided to marry. Makiko is really perfect for him. Not only can she speak great English and tolerates his training, she loves drinking just as much as him. This was a very important factor for both of them haha!

Yay, I'm a Rubenstein! I actually am still a Hirasawa, but for formal situations I use Rubenstein. Its growing on me and I think as soon as we start a family, I'll make a trip to the city hall to change my name.

Grand entrance of the beautiful couple. AW, look how they are glowing!

I had a full vegan meal from appetizers to dessert. Thank you Chad for arranging that for me!

Cake Cutting.

Makiko was a cheerleader and her cheerleader friends put on a show for them. It was quite awesome! They were very sentimental and there was lots of tears shed between bride and her cheering friends. It was really sweet!

Thank you so much Chad and Makiko for sharing your special day with us. It was such an honor to attend and meet your family and friends. You both are so beautiful and perfect for each other! Wishing you many many happy years together!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Married life and movies

After going back and forth for weeks on what day is good for both my friend and I.....we finally managed to find a date to watch SATC 2!
We were lucky to get tickets yesterday because every Wednesday its Ladies Day and some theaters give a discount for tickets. We got great seats for only Y1000 at Roppongi Hills Toho's Cinema.
I didn't have any great expectations for the movie because I didn't really like the 1st movie and read some bad reviews on the 2nd. But I ended up really liking it. It's just for entertainment and eye candy for clothes and shoes. There were many moments where I was thinking "Gosh, Carrie is such a drama queen!" and I still don't understand why she kissed Aiden (sorry, if you haven't seen the movie then maybe you don't want to read any further) when she's still in the honeymoon faze! I certainly can't imagine kissing anyone but my husband.
Funny thing is, the same issue Carrie was having at home turned out to be almost the exact same for Motozo and I that evening. In the movie Carrie feels like they are turning into a boring couple because they order take out a lot and Big wants to watch TV and veg on the couch rather then go out for dinner or parties.
Yesterday, after the movie I wasn't feeling so well. I had a little bit of anxiety trying to book our flights to France because of some issue with the credit cards etc. By evening I had a bad headache and my temperature felt higher then usual. Motozo came home in a great mood and was feeling very spontaneous and suggested we ride our bikes down to the running track and meet everyone for a drink or go out for dinner and I was not up for that. I felt too tired and ill to go out and I ended up vegging on the couch and Motozo went out by himself. We gad a good laugh about it when he got back. But at least neither one of us feel like were becoming a boring couple. We have a good social life and are pretty busy over the weekends, so nothing to worry about.
Anyway, the movie was fun and if you liked the series then its worth watching the movie. I wonder if they will make a 3rd because they seem to be kind of running out of ideas on what to do. Everyone is getting older. Menopause and children issues......
If they do make a 3rd Movie, I just hope they keep in the city next time.

I'm enjoying my time as a housewife right now. I can't really say I'm doing much housework or anything like that, but I like that I can do the preparation for our trips (usually Motozo did everything) and I have time now to finally get around to studying for my drivers license. I'm very sorry Maria for borrowing your books for ages! I'm spending 2-3 hours a day now with the books and I'm hoping to get my license this month or next.
I'm really dying for a pet, a dog in particular, and Motozo thinks I need to go back to work if I'm thinking about pets haha. I visited a friend this week who just got a baby Chihuahua and gosh it was so cute! But Motozo can't imagine getting a small dog. What is it with men and big dogs?
I'm trying to persuade him that a dog might be really good for us to see how good we'll be at this whole parenting thing....but to no avail! He thinks children first then pets...ah, the mean time I'll just keep visiting this little guy.