Briarwood, Sushi Cafe and Teavana

Yesterday morning I tagged along with my younger sister Maru to Briarwood Mall in Ann Arbor where she works. Ooh the mall – how exciting right? So many shops, so many people, so many things to see and buy… But that wasn’t why I was there. Nope. I was there strictly for two things, a change of scenery and sushi at lunchtime.

Once Maru and I parted ways, I sat myself at a table by the kids play area and pulled out *dun dunn duh dunn* my favorite book for learning Japanese kana, Kana Pict-o-Graphix by Michael Rowley. I have owned this book for about 7-8 years and would recommend it to any (English speaking) person who is trying to learn hiragana and katakana. It’s funny, it’s memorable and only six bucks which is amazing for an invaluable learning resource.

kanapictographix

So while I was brushing up on my kana I noticed some Japanese women walk by. How did I know they were Japanese and not something else? I used my ears. Besides that Ann Arbor is one of two areas of Michigan that I personally know of that has a substantial Japanese population. Anyways one of the women was exhibiting precisely what I had just learned about Japanese socially acceptable dress standards from MyHusbandisJapanese and Gimmeaflakeman on YouTube. Showing as much leg as possible while fully covering her top half.  Knowledge validated.

After awhile I got bored with kana and switched over to the other book I brought along; Nihongo Notes 1. Nihongo Notes is actually a reprinted column from The Japanese Times from 1976-77 which was written to help demystify the language for Japanese learners. Some of the stories of the protagonist Mr. Lerner are quite humorous and I couldn’t help but chuckle at his misuses of the language. Several things that really stood out as I read was that there’s so many easy slip-ups it’s going to be impossible to not offend while I’m learning the language and that I’m going to need to start learning grammar ASAP. I guess perfection for my trip next year is out of the question, eh?

nihongonotes

So it was nearly noon and tired of sitting I wandered over to the Mall Directory. The listing for Sushi Cafe was easy to locate and I discovered an interesting shop name a couple lines below it. Teavana. My interest immediately piqued, I made my trek across the mall to take a look. Once I drew near I chickened out and retreated to a nearby couch. The shop looked amazing (and expensive) with it’s drool worthy Japanese tea kettles in the window and a guy handing out samples of tea… I realized I would need back up if I wanted to check it out.

Shortly after that Maru and I met up for lunch at Sushi Cafe where we actually didn’t order sushi. Instead we ordered the Teriyaki chicken on a bed of rice served with seaweed salad, edamame, a salad with a grated ginger dressing and a bowl of miso soup. The Asians running the shop were friendly and fast and once again using our ears Maru and I quickly determined they were Korean. The food was good and while we were eating Maru and I were sounding out the available types of fishy items written mostly in hiragana with the occasional help of my Kana Picto-Graphix. Maguro (tuna), Ebi (shrimp), Tako(octopus), Ika(squid) and some that I can’t remember. Good times… ^u^

After lunch we went to Teavana. Immediately we were lured into the shop by a good looking and fast talking man who  had several teas for us to sample and then quickly handed us off to his female coworker who knew all the details of the teas we were trying out. Further and further in we were lead with each sample station getting closer and closer to the back of the shop until we arrived at the cash register and had to decide what we were interested in purchasing. The decision was put off momentarily by me seeing the display of Imperial Grade Matcha (squee!) and the bamboo whisks(double squee!) that are used for the Japanese Tea Ceremony. But I put the matcha back and decided to purchase a scoop of Peach Tranquility, which was one of the teas Maru and I had tried earlier, and of course a pretty container to put it in.

teacannister

Overall it was a great day and I hope to have more “change of scenery” days soon!

Japanese Women Don’t Get Old or Fat

I’ve owned Naomi Moriyama’s cookbook since 2007 and this is first time I’ve actually seen this video!

The introduction was quite captivating which compelled me to buy the book and inspired my heroic effort to make several recipes from it. However, the ingredients called for in most of her recipes were unfamiliar and unavailable locally. (I had to Google almost all the ingredients) On top of that it was my first time making Japanese cuisine let alone tasting it… So yeah. I gave up.

Since I abandoned the book I’ve had a lot more success from following along with the YouTube channel “CookingWithDog” and the book “Let’s Cook Japanese Food” by Amy Kaneko.

“Good luck in the kitchen!”
-Anna

Meet Sue the Pac Ghost Pinewood Derby Car

As I tweeted the other day, I started painting my personal pinewood derby car. You may be wondering why I’m working on one when it’s generally used for Cub Scouts or the Awana program so here’s a little back story.

My older brother Bob’s current hobby is collecting and making pinewood derby cars. He has built and modified several dozen cars and has helped our younger brothers get theirs on the track for the last two years. You can see some of his cars on his deviantART. Our Cub Scout pack has an outlaw race for parents to make and race their own pinewood cars with no restrictions besides it having four wheels and having to meet the 5 ounce maximum. This special after-race was created so that parents wouldn’t be tempted to illegally modify their child’s car therefore disqualifying them from the race.

After blowing away the “outlaw” competition last month, Bob was interested in seeing what we his siblings could come up with and gave each of us a pinewood block. I had quite a time coming up with something and just doodled idea after idea on my block. When I was doodling my second to last idea it suddenly dawned on me. Out of all the classic game characters, I like the shape of the Pac Ghost’s best! So I drew out my design and Bob cut it out for me and then the rest was up to me. 🙂

plain_blockplain_block_side

But which one would I choose? Inky? Blinky? Pinky? …Clyde? I was thinking maybe Pinky since she would match my wall of awesome but then I decided to go with a little known Pac Ghost. Sue, or in the Japanese Suu. Sue actually takes the place of Clyde in Ms. Pacman and is purple in only one version this game. How do I know about this? Lol, look at the picture below. 🙂

suepin

Found this pin last year at the local trade center and had to pick it up. I had never seen a purple one before and decided to do a little research. So Sue it is. 🙂

paint_items painted_block painted_eyes painted_pupilsfinished_pacghost

finished_pacghost-inspirationSo there you have it. I hope you enjoyed my little project as much as I did!