Friday, October 29, 2004

All I Want for Xmas is My Baby's Two Front Teeth

Her two front teeth, her two front teeth
Gee, if I could only have her two front teeth
Then I could wish you, "Merry Christmas"

I am such a bad mummy (dejected sigh).
My baby has lost another front tooth and I don't even know when!

She broke one of her upper front teeth a long time ago, but just this week, I noticed that another one is broken clean in half. It had to have been within this week because last week when I checked it was still intact. But when did she do that? Could it be from the bones that I gave her to chew? (unlike most dogs who chew bones with molars, she likes to nip on them with her front teeth) Or did it happen when she try to catch a frisbee? Although I can maybe get away with not feeding her bones, I cannot stand to take away the frisbee from her! It's only her second favorite activity, next to swimming, and I already don't take her swimming enough.

Science Diet, what are you not doing enough to strenghen the teeth of my baby?!

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Only In Japan

Someone has gone and invented a camera for your doggie! Called Wonderful Shot, it's a digital camera with an 8MG memory card, strapped on to the dog's collar. You can take pictures with a click of the remote control. The sales pitch is "See what your dog sees."

Now, I got suckered into buying the dog bark translator “Bowlingual” to find out that the only thing that Libby ever says are “I feel lonely” “Please don’t leave me by myself” “Play with me!” No such thing as “I am happy!” “I love you!” for when she’s happy she doesn’t speak!

So I will not pay almost $90 for a doggie cam to find out what Libby sees. I know exactly what she sees: the food on my plate, people’s knees, bushes, grass, cats, and the occasional doggie butts.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Getting Prepared for the Big One

A series of three quakes shook Japan on Saturday September 23, 2004. The largest one was measured at Richter scale 6.9, in Niigata prefecture, some 200km northwest of Tokyo. It happened around 6pm. I was in the kitchen frying ribs, when all of a sudden I heard the clinking sound of wine glasses and when I took my eyes away from the frying pot, I saw the glasses swaying precariously on the rack, then I felt the ground shaking. For a split second, I thought about turning off the stove and go hide in a room where there’s no risk of being scalded by boiling oil, but I decided to stand my ground and finish frying the ribs. After a few seconds of shaking, I actually felt dizzy (funny isn’t it?). And the quakes occurred two more times, all in the coures of dinner preparation.

Last night, I watched on TV the damage caused by the quake. They showed National Guards evacuating people from dangerous areas and I was glad to see dogs among the rescued. Twenty-six people have already died as a result, mostly elderly people and young children. Some 100,000 people were forced to evacuate and are now living in emergency shelters with not enough food or blankets. Over 200 aftershocks have occurred, sometimes as large as scale 5.

When we first came to Tokyo four years ago, our relocation advisor told us we should prepare an earthquake kit and familiarize ourselves with the emergency shelters in the neighborhood. I always brushed it off as paranoia, but seeing it happen, albeit just on TV, convinced me that it’s time we get prepared.

After carefully surveying my entire apartment, I have decided that the walk-in closet in our bedroom would be where I keep the kit (i.e. we’ll try to run there when the house starts to fall apart). I picked it because: a) it has no windows so no danger of being decapitated by falling glass, although come to think of it the window glass at my place is of the type that don’t break apart, but one can never be too careful; b) we will never be cold due to skimpy clothing items; c) it’s right next to the bathroom which, due to all the pipes running in the walls, is supposed to be structurally sound, relatively.

Now, what should I put in the kit? The Niigata earthquake has proved that you really do need 3 days of food because that’s how long it’s taking to get food and other supplies to the area. The recommendation is 2L of water per person per day. I think that’s a ridiculous amount of water, but anyway, I will keep a case of six 2L bottle water in the closet. Food is a tough one. If I stash candy bars and cookies in the kit, I will just end up eating it, so I’m going to stock it with canned food, with the pull-open top of course. (Maybe just one or two candy bars.) When I was talking to my colleagues yesterday about the earthquake, one guy said that it would be good to have a tabletop gas stove, the type for hotpots that uses canisters, in case you want to have something hot to drink. Hmmm, not a bad idea, I will throw that in too, along with some instant coffee, tea bags, our camping mugs, two sleeping bags, a tent (one family interviewed on TV was saying how grateful they are to have a tent to protect them from the icy rain), foam mattress, flash lights, heating pads (another useful item according to the rescue authority) Libby’s food, bowls and toys. Man, it’s just going to be like a camping trip!

Monday, October 25, 2004

Commuter Fun

I take a train to work everyday, the train that leaves Akasaka Mitsuke station at 7:55am. When I get off the train, it's another 10 min of walking to my office, and every morning, I can always count on running into the same people going towards the station, and I always wonder what's the story behind.

There's the old bald guy with glasses always in a black tunic, the thickness of which changes with the season. He looks like a Feng Shui guy of some sort. By chance, I even found out where he lives and works. Am not a stalker, I swear.

There's the elementary school boy who shivers in a T-shirt and shorts even in the deadliest of winter storm. I was told boys often try to win the contest at school by wearing only a T-shirt and a pair of shorts all year round.

There's the lady with the stick, who I don't think is really blind. Seriously, I am sure I read somewhere that it is illegal in Japan to pose as blind people.

And my favorite is the cute couple who are obviously newly weds. Every morning, I see them go towards the station, in their work clothes, hand-in-hand, their wedding bands shiny on their fingers. A couple of months ago, the girl doesn't go to the station any more, and I thought, she must have quit her job. And I was right, for this morning, I saw them again, except she was in jeans and a sweat shirt. I guess she must be going to the station with him to see him off.

By the way, I take this as another sign that I should quit too!

Sunday, October 24, 2004



This is the first braided bread that I've ever made, and I can't say I am not pleased (the black bits are poppy seeds not burned).
It's supposed to be a Jewish egg bread, but since I've never had the real thing, this will be what challah tastes like to me. Even my picky husband approves.

Recipe Here

Garfield the Cat

This is Tama-chan, a very fat yellow tabby often seen near my office where he suns himself. Am not entirely sure if he belongs to anyone, but I have heard the owner of a clothing store call him “Tama-chan.” Tama means ball in Japanese and I think it’s a very suitable name for him.

Anyway, has anyone seen the Garfield movie or the preview of it? Why did they have to use a computer-generated cat that doesn’t even really look like Garfield, when there is Tama-chan? Tama-chan not only looks like Garfield, but from what I can tell, also has the same personality. I have never seen him in any activities other than sleeping and eating. And even his facial expressions remind me of Garfield, especially when he puts up with passersby who pet him.

Tama-chan, you could’ve been a Hollywood star, if not for those slack-off casting scouts who were too lazy to look. But then again, knowing Tama-chan, he couldn't care less about fame and fortune, as long as he has a warm bike seat to sleep on and a hearty meal when the sun goes down.

Chinese, anyone?

The problem with Chinese cooking is that there are just no clear-cut recipes out there. Open up any Chinese language cookbook and you see under the ingredient section phrases such as “a little bit of salt”, “the appropriate amount of cooking wine” etc. How am I to know how much is “a little bit” and exactly what is “the appropriate amount”?!! If you are like me, who’s never had to cook while living at home, hence missing out on the opportunity to learn from your parents, you are doomed. And that is exactly why my entire repertoire of Chinese dishes is made up mainly of stir-fried green vegetables, the only dish my dad hand-taught me when I was little.

So why would I attempt to make a Chinese dinner? It all started when I went grocery shopping on the day that typhoon #23 made landfall in Japan and saw Chinese chives on sale, 2 bunches for 99yen (a bargain in Tokyo). I thought, I know how to make stir-fried egg and chives. So I bought two bunches. Come Saturday, I realized that stir-fried eggs and chives a meal does not make. I have to come up with a meat dish. Stupid me, who had to ask for my husband’s opinion, to which he gladly offered, “Can you make some tang-cu-xiao-pai (sweet and sour spare ribs)?” Great, he had to pick the one dish with the difficult sauce, which most of the Shanghainese restaurants in Tokyo couldn’t even get right. But he’s worked very hard all week, and just twisted his knee running with our dog, Libby, so I thought I should indulge him a bit. I drew the line, however, when he asked if we could have a soup to go with it. Do I look like iron chef?

So out came the Chinese cookbook that a friend of mine brought back for me from China years ago. Low and behold, there’s the recipe. But wait, under ingredients for sauce, it only listed what’s needed, with no amount whatsoever, like I am supposed to know intuitively how much to add. And to top it off, the spare ribs had to be deep-fried first. Did anyone know this? As if to highlight my inadequacy at making Chinese food, all I have in my kitchen is olive oil, so I had to run to the grocery store again to buy vegetable oil. But I am the proud owner of a tampura frying pot, complete with thermometer to test oil temperature (bought two years ago, and never been used). Why would someone who has never deep-fried anything own a tempura frying pot? Well, I am a firm believer that you first have to have the right instrument before you can make anything.

So after three trips to the grocery store, I am finally ready to cook. Three earthquakes later (richter scale 6.9, 200 some km northwest of Tokyo), and a minor panic over not knowing when the ribs were done, Dinner is Served!

Doesn't look too bad, huh? But as it turned out, I still didn’t fry the ribs long enough to give it the right texture. And I have to confess that I was so discouraged by the vague instructions in the recipe that I cheated and bought a sauce package. Jason’s comment, “No wonder it doesn’t taste right.” Ha, at least now I can blame it on the store-bought sauce.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Fall is upon us!

My beautiful pumpkin roll. So moist and fluffy and the nice orangy color! Yummy!

Am a geisha/maiko

When I stepped into my kimono lesson (kitsuke is the correct Japanese term), I was greeted by the teacher with a cheery "Lynn-chan, can you be my model for period costume (jidai ishou)?" Ever the adventurer, I said yes happily. Turns out my teacher (sensei) is teaching an advanced level kitsuke lesson to a group of students aspiring to be kitsuke masters (professor is the term used), and she needs to practice on someone beforehand. So for the next hour I pateintly held out my arms at my side while sensei and her assistant frantically worked around me. After putting on a underrobe, first they had to put some padding on me, one draped in front of my chest, and three in the back, to give me a perky butt (sensei's words exactly). Then comes the second layer, called nagajuban. This layer is usually made of silk of a subdued color like ivory and pink, but for jidai ishou, the skirt and the sleeves are a luxurious red silk. The back of the collar is pulled way low to expose a good portion of the neck. Now comes the real thing. The beautiful black kimono with colorful drawings near the bottom hem. This kimon differs from the modern day ones in that it's longer and slimmer. Around the opening of the collar, sleeves and the bottom hem, a padded layer of white silk edge is attached. The front hem is pulled open and secured so a triangle of the bright red under skirt peaks out. From there on, the real torture started. A long piece of red silk fabric (maybe 10m?? they sure tied it around me a million times) was wrapped around me from just below my hip bone to reach my armpit. I imagine that's how mummy would feel, if they could feel. We're not quite done yet though. On top of this comes the obi. I think the particular pattern was called "yanagi" but I am not sure, as I was focusing all my concentration on breathing. Anyway, with the obi came more tying of strings, etc. etc. But I must say the end result was pretty impressive, although I could neither walk nor sit and I had no idea what to do with my hands. Mind you, I have worn kimonos before, but this is an entirely different league. Hats off to the petite Maiko-sans who have to drag all this fabric around while entertaining guests! Phew, now I am tired just writing about it.

My Dog Libby

This is the pride and joy of my life.

These couple of days though, she's been driving me a little crazy. She would plop herself down in front of me when I'm watching TV and demand that I pay attention to her. I think it's a sign that she's lonely spending the whole day all by herself. I think she's trying to tell me that I should quit my job and spend more time with her.

Monday, October 04, 2004

My very first blog

So there, I've done it. More out of boredom than anything else, but also would be a good way to keep in touch with people.

Anyway, kinda busy today so I will write more later about my sweet Libby. She turned six on June 21, by the way, but is still every bit as playful as when she was a puppy.


The Nikko Curse

Shanghai Night

First Ski 2005

Ski Trip to Tsumagoi

Manmade Mother Nature

Tibet Travel Advisory


Random Rantings

Who Ate My Banana Bread

November: Steal From Lynn Month

The Big Deal About the Gingko Trees

Japanese Exaggeration Part II

Demise of the Rosemary

Passengers Only

Wanna Know How a Japanese Company Works?

Blind Mens' Elephant


Chinese New Year is When?

Pitfalls of a Romantic Idea

Losing My Mind

Inexplicable Fashion Trend

Inexplicable Fahion Trend Part Deux

A Day Ruined

Drink Juice and Floss

For the Love of Water

The Things that Nobody Told You About Hanabi

How Stupid Am I

What A Waste

Are We Too Picky?

Why can't Life Always be Peachy?


Life's Little Moments

Am Geisha/Maiko

Garfield the Cat

Commuter Fun

Getting Prepared for the Big One

Only In Japan

My Funny Brain

Fun in the Sun

Anti Atkin's Diet

My Kind of Bag

WHO Warns of Flu Pandemic

Autumn Sky

Living with Shoji

In the Spotlight

Confession of a Procrastinator

Lazy Woman's Solution to Christmas Cards

America the Great

2004 In Review

A Somber New Year

Icy Icy Rain

I Quit

Analogy Between Skiing and Driving

Suspicious Job Offer

Fantasies Come True

Valentine's Day Part 1: Lost Dog Found

Three-Month Long Kimono Break

No Regrets


Let It Snow

First Signs of Spring

Rice, Snow, Earthquake & Breast Pudding

Unexpected Discovery

Spring Blooms

Let the Hanami Begin

The Big Day

Falling, Fallen, Gone

He Did It

My New Toy

Are You Going to School There?

Home is Where the Dog Is

Here We Go Again

The Nice People at

Farewell, My Cucumber

Am Back


My blog is One Year Old

Scent of Autumn

Judging for DMBLGIT

From Tokyo to Hong Kong



My Dog Libby

All I Want For Xmas is My Baby's Two Front Teeth

Libby II

My Picky Dog

Upside-Down Libby

Doggie Pillow

A Dog's Life


Close Encounter

The Dog Knows It All

Who's the Luckiest Dog in the World?

Libby's Best Friend

Like Mother Like Daughter

My Baby Can Howl

Doggie Helper

Princess Chariot

Happy Birthday Libby


Pierre Herme

Emotion Ispahan


Emotion Ludic & Inca

Emotion Eden

Collection & Emotion Exotic


Food Related Entries

Pumpkin Rolls

Chinese Anyone?


Torte Florentine

Minty Sourdough

Tomato Sourdough

Tis the Season to Eat Nabe

The Turducken

San Francisco Sourdough

The Pudding

Walnut Sourdough?

TV Cooking Tip #1

Apple A Day

Kitchenware Galore

Strawberry Attack

Nabe For One

In Love with Fennel

IMBB#11: Beans of Fortune

Initiation to Sukiyaki

Chive Box

TV Cooking Tips #2: Homemade Cottage Cheese

Chive Pao

You Say To-may-to I Say To-mah-to

Blueberry In Winter

SHF: Portugese Egg Tart

Valentines Day Part 2: Lack of Planning

TV Cooking Tips #3: Five Minute Pao

Sourdough, At Last

IMBB #12: Natto, You Are What You Don't Eat

Back to Square One

ABC: Feb

Quest of the Perfect Char Siew Pao

Crumpets on a Snowy Day

Pork Soup For the Soul

Cooking ABC: March 1st Half

IMBB #13: My Little Cupcake

Birthday Celebration Round 1: Italian

Birthday Celebration Round 2: French

Cooking ABC: March 2nd Half

Black Eyed Pea Cake

SHF: Molasses - Indian Pudding

IMBB #14: Orange

Cooking ABC: April

Want Seconds?

I Scream For Ice Cream

SHF #9: Sweet Tomato Tart

Cooking ABC: May

Cooking ABC: June

Cooking ABC: July

IMBB #18: Summer Frying

Best Blueberry Pancakes

Keep it Simple

Let's make macarons

Le Cordon Bleu posts

Le Cordon Bleu Here I come

In Two Days

First Week