Monday, December 31, 2012

An Okinawan Christmas

What a change a few years makes!  I think back to my first Christmas post 3 years ago, and I, for the first time in my life, wasn't really looking forward to the holidays.  We had moved to Okinawa just 3 months earlier, and I was pretty much a wreck.  This place wasn't home.  I had no job.  We had no friends, and no church.  There was nothing on my mind except being home in Chicago for Christmas and all of the holiday traditions and get-togethers that we were missing out on.  It was a difficult time, to say the least.  Thankfully, the holiday season is once again something that I look forward to with great anticipation.  And while I miss my family more than usual at this time of year, the thought of spending the holidays without them seems bearable and even somewhat normal now.  It just goes to show that change is possible, and I know the time apart is going to make me appreciate the Christmases we will have together in the future so much more than ever before.  I'd never thought I'd be saying this, but these past couple Christmases in Okinawa have been some of my favorite ever, thanks to our amazing friends who are more like family.  I know these are memories that I will miss in years to come.  

Again this year, we had almost a whole week of gifts arriving from the States, it seems!  Our families are always so generous, and we have so much fun opening gifts from them.  I cannot wait to open gifts WITH them this time next year!  Here are just a few snapshots from our gift-openings:

The most surprising thing we unwrapped this year!!

Hot chocolate in my favorite mug I got last Christmas
Fun new rain boots

One of Matt's favorite gifts - a scope for his guns

These adorable scuba diver ornaments with our names on them!  The girl diver really looks like me with that shell in her hand - God knows I can't stop collecting those things!

As for Christmas Day, we got together with our favorite people on the island - the Posada's & the Perez's, of course!  Lyndsey also had her parents in town, so the festivities were at their house this year.  Her parents, Steve & Renee, are awesome, and it felt a little more like a "family Christmas", which was really nice.  We had a delicious cheese fondue, prime rib, and pomegranate champagne followed by our annual gift exchange!  The guys took a cue from us girls and actually did an exchange of their own this year, which was pretty funny to watch - while the girls exchanged jewelry, pajamas, and cosmetics, the guys exchanged things like machetes, emergency radios, and field trauma kits.... Hahaaa!  We ended up chatting the night away with Lyndsey's parents - until our 11:00 curfew that is.  I'm not sure if I've mentioned it in on the blog yet, but over the past two months, all US military personnel living in Japan have been on a strict no-consumption-of-alcohol-off-base rule as well as an 11:00 curfew (you must be back on your base by 11:00).  Since our friends don't live on the same base as we do, this tends to take the fun out of things a bit, especially around the holidays.  However, I think we made the best of things:)

Our traditional Christmas pajamas!

We had to recreate our picture from last year:)

Us and Willis

Merry Christmas everyone!  I hope you had a blessed few days with family and friends wherever in the world you may be!


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Motobu Fuji

As if we, along with our four closest friends in Okinawa, didn't get enough mountain climbing fun earlier this year when we all flew up to Tokyo to climb the real Mt. Fuji, we all decided to spend a beautiful winter day in Okinawa climbing what is known as "Motobu Fuji", a (MUCH) smaller version of the real thing.  I have to say, although not a very long hike at all (I'd say it took us all of 40 minutes to get to the top), it was a little more steep, slippery and sharper  than I'd imagined it to be.  We were definitely slipping and sliding around a bit, and the rocks were that razor-like limestone that we have all over the place here in Okinawa, so I should have been prepared:)   

What we had to climb up - it is sharper than it looks!

After making it to the top, we all spent a while up there, resting, taking photos, and enjoying the company of good friends as well as the gorgeous views of the Motobu peninsula and Ie-shima (Ie Island) in the distance.  What a gorgeous day this was; I can hardly believe this is mid-December!   

Love these girls!

'Till next time!  


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Chikyu Zakka Warehouse


It seems like lately I've been finding quite a few new places that I never knew about before, and Chikyu Zakka Warehouse is one of them.  I had heard about this store before, but didn't know exactly where it was located.  I drove up to the area and found it, despite some detours as I turned off the main road a bit too soon.  Chikyu Zakka, which literally means "planet earth goods" in Japanese, is just what it says - a warehouse full of goods from all over the world, mainly India and different parts of Asia, much like the gift shops we have here on our bases.  In fact, I saw quite a few things at Chikyu Zakka that I've also seen at our gift shops, however, this store is much, much larger!  


Acacia wood serving plates

Multi-colored benches and boxes that reminded me of the reclaimed wood furniture pieces I saw in India

Hide rugs

Saa paper from Thailand

Pretty knobs that remind me of Anthropologie

Thai Buddha heads

Two little pieces that I scooped up from Chikyu Zakka - an Acacia cutting board and an Indian wood-blocked table runner

I really enjoyed browsing around this place - they have a TON more that I didn't show!  


Monday, December 17, 2012

Okinawa Farmer's Market

One thing that I miss about living in California is all of the little fruit and veggie markets.  I actually used to work right next to one that I would often visit on my lunch hours.  I'd heard of a few farmers markets in Okinawa, but either they were too far away from our area, or I was just too lazy to go find them.  Most likely, it was the lazy thing.  I've come to rely mainly on our imported-from-the-states produce from the commissary on base, because it's just so close to home (seeing as we live on the base).  However, I've recently decided to seek out some more locally-grown options.  A couple of my girlfriends had told me about a little farmers market in Yomitan, and the other weekend, I set out to find it while up in that area doing some shopping.  It really was great - a ton of veggies and fruits that were all grown right here in Okinawa - and all at really good prices!  Oh, and they had pears - not the Asian kind, but REAL pears!  I haven't had one of those in two years (since we visited Chicago last), and there they were, at this little market... where have I been all this time!?  Bottom line: SO glad I found this place, and I can't wait to go back this weekend;)

The yummiest Prosciutto, Arugula & Heirloom Tomato Pizza I made using veggies I got at the farmers market

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