September 30, 2014

The List of Favorite Books


What are your all-time favorite books?

One of my friends nominated me to make a list of books that I love, have affected or changed me on facebook a few weeks ago. The rules were that you shouldn't think too hard about it and just write down the top ten books that come to you. So during my lunch break today, I jotted down my top ten books.

I think I was in a nostalgic mood and chose books I've been reading for years. These are pretty much my go-to books that I can (and have) read over and over again. I tend to lean toward happy endings and/or witty comical books. Or the one's that just take me away to a completely different world.

Here is my list:


1. ANNE OF THE ISLAND by Lucy Maude Montgomery
“I do know my own mind,' protested Anne. 'The trouble is, my mind changes and then I have to get acquainted with it all over again.”

2. BET ME by Jennifer Crusie
“Statistics show that men are interested in three things: careers, sports, and sex. That's why they love professional cheerleaders."
Cal put down his fork "Well, that's sexist."
"Yes I know," she said. "But it's true isn't it?"
"What?" Cal tried to find his place in the conversation. "Oh, the sports and sex thing? Not at all. This is the twenty-first century. We've learned how to be sensitive."
"You have?"
"Sure," Cal said. "Otherwise we wouldn't get laid.”

3. THE BUDDHA IN THE ATTIC by Julie Otsuka
"On the boat the first thing we did -- before deciding who we liked and didn't like, before telling each other which one of the islands we were from, and why we were leaving, before even bothing to learn each other's names -- was compare photographs of our husbands."

4. ME TALK PRETTY ONE DAY by David Sedaris
"Every day we're told that we live in the greatest country on earth. And it's always stated as an undeniable fact: Leos are born between July 23 and August 22, fitted queen-size sheets measure sixty by eighty inches, and America is the greatest country on earth. Having grown up with this in our ears, it's startling to realize that other countries have nationalistic slogans of their own, none of which are "We're number two!"

5. MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING by William Shakespeare
"A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of yours."

6. NEVER LET ME GO by Kazuo Ishiguro
"He did a laugh and put his arm round me, though we kept sitting side by side. Then he said: 'I keep thinking about this river somewhere, with the water moving really fast. And these two people in the water, trying to hold onto each other, holding on as hard as they can, but in the end it's just too much. The current's too strong. They've got to let go, drift apart. THat's how I think it is with us. It's a shame, Kath, because we've loved each other all our lives. But in the end, we can't stay together forever.'"

7. NUMBER THE STARS by Lois Lowry
"Annemarie stood on the balcony of the apartment with her parents and sister, and watched. Up and down the street, and across on the other side, she could see flags and banners in almost every window. She knew that many of those apartments were empty. For nearly two years, now, neighbors had tended the plants and dusted the furniture and polished the candlesticks for the Jews who had fled. Her mother had done so for the Rosens.
"It is what friends do, " Mama had said."

8. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by Jane Austen
"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."

9. THE SECRET GARDEN by Frances Hodgson Burnett
"I am sure there is magic in everything, only we have not sense enough to get hold of it and make it do things for us --like electricity, horses, and steam."

10. STRANGERS FROM A DIFFERENT SHORE by Ronald Takaki
"And so they entered a new and alien world where they would become a racial minority, seen as different and inferior, and where they would become 'strangers.'"


Sometimes it's fun to make a list like this. Although t's really hard to narrow down your favorite books to ten. My friend has kids and she said she wanted to make a list just out of children's books because there are so many good ones out there. I completely agree.

As I was looking at everyone else's book list after posting mine, theirs kept on reminding me of good books! I forgot so many, from John Grisham (I love his books with a twist at the end) to the Harry Potter books (specifically the third one). It's really impossible to choose. But I guess we should just all be grateful that there are so many good books out there!

Have you read any of the books on my list? What books would be on your top ten list?

September 15, 2014

The Tunisian Restaurant Cafe Chameau in Kobe


Did you know you can find a tiny piece of Tunisia in Kobe?

One of the things I love about conversation with my friends in Kobe is that our topics are far and wide. It goes from toddlers to Irish law...and in this case, couscous! I happened to mention that I've only had it once and didn't know how to prepare couscous. Apparently V's sister makes an amazing couscous dish and one thing led to another and we ended up having lunch at Cafe Chameau.

How much do you know about Tunisia?

I personally didn't know very much about Tunisia, except that they have a soccer team that Japan has played in a past World Cup. So I did a little research (i.e. google) and learned that Tunisia is a North African country that sits snug between Algeria and Libya. Previously part of the French colony, they became independent in 1956. And despite political turmoil at times, their gorgeous beach resorts seem to remain a favorite destination among many Europeans (I can see why!). Obviously, this is like saying Japan is an island and Tokyo is the capital city...but we all have to start somewhere, right?

The friendly Tunisian owner of Cafe Chameau welcomed us into the restaurant. Because my friends are French, that is what they spoke. Later he switched over to English for me and showed me pictures of his daughter who also already speaks Arabic and Japanese. So many languages...I love it.

For lunch, I of course chose the couscous set, which was full of delicious spice and vegetables. So good! Also, perfect dish for a vegetarian (especially if you have a friend like V, who ate the meat for me!). Oh and can I tell you how much I loved the sweet mint tea? Mmm! I'm definitely coming here again next time I'm back in Kobe.

Have you ever tried a Tunisian dish before? What do you think? x

Look for the Tunisia flag and this restaurant sign!
Loved this little corner filled with various Tunisian goods, some of which you can buy.
This is the lentil soup and pita bread with a bit of mechouia, part of the couscous lunch set.
The flavorful couscous dish! It was super filling, too!
Not only is the food delicious, the dish itself is gorgeous as well.
My first time trying the sweet mint tea...I'm still craving it right now!
There are two table seats as well as counter seats...so stop by when you're in Kobe!


Yale Yamate Bldg 104, 2-13-9 Naka-yamate-dori, Chuo-ku Kobe-shi, Hyogo JAPAN
兵庫県神戸市中央区中山手通2-13-9  エール山手ビル104号
TEL: 078-242-0807
OPEN: 11:30am-10:00pm
CLOSED: Mondays (unless holiday)

September 10, 2014

The Fun Rainy Day in Kobe



Well, that didn't happen. Not that I'm complaining though, I love a good typhoon. And there will always be another high school baseball Koshien tournament. Maybe even my own high school will make it there someday! (You'd think with me attending two high schools, the chances for this would multiply...)


Best of all, the typhoon gave me a chance to just relax indoors with my amazing friends who braved the weather and came out to see me! Nothing beats that!


As often as I get on and off airplanes, it's rare that someone is waiting for me at the airport. I usually quickly get on a bus or train after I've gone through baggage claim. But this time, I got off the flight at Kobe Airport and my lovely friends were there waiting for me! Isn't that the best surprise?



We've mostly gotten together when they've been in Tokyo (here, here, and here) so it was fun getting a chance to get together in their beautiful city of Kobe this time. Well, we mostly just talked a lot while walking around or eating. But in all honesty, that's all I really need when I'm in good company!


Here are some photos:

I can't get enough of this handsome little man, he's grown so much!
Starting off the day right with Kobe coffee and waffles at UCC Cafe Plaza...YUM! 
We walked through Ikuta Shrine, exploring a bit of the city once the rain stopped.
Ikuta Shrine is one of the oldest shrines in the country, founded in the 3rd century.
Isn't this building so quirky? Shows us how to fold...the building? :D
For lunch I had this delicious couscous dish! Loved this Tunisian restaurant!
My lovely friends...best hosts ever! x
Once it started raining again, we headed to a shopping center. Specifically this gelato shop!
Here I'd just asked little A if he was ready to eat gelato...I think that smile says he was!
It took forever to choose but we adults settled on this!
How do I say delicious in French? It was so good!
A pretty sunset outside of our dinner restaurant.
The Hawaiian flavored coffee was delicious, especially this latte!
Had an amazing time because I got to spend the day with my favorite family in Kobe! x


Kobe Kotsu Center 2F, 1-10-1 Sannomiya Chuo-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo JAPAN
兵庫県神戸市中央区三宮町1-10-1 神戸交通センタービル2F
TEL: 078-391-4057
OPEN: 8:00am-9:00pm

1-2-1 Shimo-yamate-dori Chuo-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo JAPAN
兵庫県神戸市中央区下山手通1丁目2-1

Hankyu Nishinomiy Gardens, 14-2 Takamatsu-cho, Nishinomiya-shi, Hyogo JAPAN
兵庫県西宮市 高松町14−2 阪急西宮ガーデンズ
OPEN: 10:00am-9:00pm

Hankyu Nishinomiy Gardens, 14-2 Takamatsu-cho, Nishinomiya-shi, Hyogo JAPAN
兵庫県西宮市 高松町14−2 阪急西宮ガーデンズ
OPEN: 11:00am-11:00pm

September 3, 2014

The Afternoon with the Kiddos: Part Two


There's really nothing as sweet or as loud as happy children, am I right?

Just like last year, we gathered at my coworker's house for an afternoon of fun with the kids. I could not believe how much baby L had grown! She was so tiny before! Her brother R now talks non-stop and it's the cutest thing trying to decipher what he is saying. He is a huge Mike fan (from Monsters Inc) and is very serious about operating the trains!

The twins are in fourth grade and were great "older sisters" to L and R. We spent a large part of the afternoon constructing an intricate railway system together. We had multiple trains moving in every direction and R was in charge of keeping them on track. It was quite the job, which included a lot of shouting and jumping up and down.

It's not everyday I get to spend an afternoon with so many entertaining kids all at once. I definitely had a great time. Nothing better than hearing kids giggling together. Makes me smile, too!

But I'm not going to lie...I fell fast asleep the minute I got home ;D

Here are some photos:

My coworker makes the most amazing felt art...isn't this amazing?
The twins are better at cellphone games than I am.
A miracle I was able to get this group picture!
She is so grown! I still can't get over it!
The kids watching Totoro while we got ready for lunch.
Happy railroad construction workers!
"I've been working on a railroad...all the live-long day!"
I laugh every time I see these photos, these girls are so silly! :D

September 1, 2014

The September Link Love


Hello there September!

I could have sworn I had a few more weeks of my birthday month...but alas it is over and we are heading straight into fall, it seems. Not sure how I feel about this.

Last month, my Obon break consisted of three flights, five airports, and a typhoon! So much for swimming in the ocean every day. But I did get to spend quite a bit of time on or around the Seto Inland Sea, so I can't really complain. And there is nothing like the joy of seeing good friends and family to fill your day with smiles! So glad I got to see everyone!

This month we have two holidays in Japan, the Respect for the Aged Day is on the 15th and the Autumn Equinox is on the 23rd. It's a little early but I'm planning on doing a big fall cleaning of my apartment because I'll be away again at the end of the year (which is when we usually do our big once-a-year house cleaning in Japan). 
And also because my optometrist may have mentioned that my blood tested positive for house dust and mold allergies last week. Is that even a thing? (My itchy eyes seem to be telling me yes.)

I'm also looking forward to another wedding and catching up with high school friends this month! What are you up to in September? Hope there's less rain and more sun this month! x



-------------------------------------------------------Link Love-------------------------------------------------------

- Ready-to-eat version of the rice curry from my university cafeteria is now on sale.

- Trying to remember these yoga moves at work.

This music video by Cameroonian singer-songwriter Irma is amazing.

- Would love to go on a long trip with just a carry-on!

- Imabari posts coming soon!