Sunday, July 27, 2008

July 27th, its not fresh

... unless you just pulled it out of the ocean yourself. Well that is exactly what happened with this saba or mackarel sushi. It was caught, cleaned, sliced and served by a husband and wife team that a few of you know. And I ain't talking about myself and the Mrs. The inlaws continue to serve it up in grand style. Tonight was ebi fry, age dashi tofu, saba sushi, grean salad, saba cooked in a miso soup and some fried potatoes. We all sat down to another fabulous meal in Injuin this evening. I think I am starting to acclimatize as I am no longer covered in sweat all day. Just from 9 to 7 when I am not in an air conditioned car, shop, or the back bedroom. It is summer in full force here in the Kag. The children being much smarter than myself managed to find a fountain to play in and really took a break from the heat. We also went to the swimming pool but unfortunately did not take the camera with us. I think I have also missed at least one meal, possibly three. I have lost track of time and no longer know how long we have been here. This last shot is of nephew who speaks no English and Son who will not produce any Japanese. The son is really cute when he is with the almost two year old neice. He is pushy, bossy, and constantly feeling like he is being hard done by. He tries to stop her from doing pretty much everything saying things like, "that's not his" (he doesn't get gendered language). Gotta love finally being older than someone. Well that is all for this internet cafe session. Hope to be back in a few days. Keep the faith.


Its not Yucky, July 26th

Its Yaki, as in Yaki soba. In Japan Yaki soba is made on a grand scale. And this is a good thing. The wife's mother took control of the evening meal on the 26th and did it up in grand style. Lots of veggies fried up with the real soba noodles. The wife commented that she can't get noodles like this in Canada. Ahh what a shame. We will keep trying though. Heavily flavoured yet the comment was made that there wasn't enough sauce added. We are already feeling the effects of heavily flavoured food. When in Rome I guess. We were very grateful to be finally settled in Ijuin Japan and living the good life. The travel day from Tokyo was tough but it was so great to see grandpa and cousin in the crowd outside the arrivals gate. We settled in for a nice evening chatting and catching up. With six cousins in the same house it was very lively. A few people felt left out and let everyone know but almost everyone had a turn at it so I think for the most part everyone is getting along. I thought this combination of signs on a condom vending machine across the street from a pachinko parlour had a pretty nice message. Don't you. I personally love coming across this type of thing in Japan. Random English used for emphasis. However, there has got to be a huge portion of the population who just ignores this stuff. The true craziness of Japan.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Tokyo Times

So we had our vacation day in Tokyo today. The Hirano's took us to Asakusa to see the giant gate and temple. And when I say Giant I mean Giant. Unfortunately, this is a picture at the first smaller gate. Notice the son is asleep. He slept at all the most inopportune times. For example, when I had to carry him. He did wake up for the play time at the park. There was a great climbing play structure with a slide, no pictures but there is some video which may be available some day. Our gracious hosts demonstrated superior kindness after lunch when they drove us to our next stop. It was on the other side of tokyo from their house but they took us all the way there saving us a brutal train ride and about 45 minutes. My gratitude knows no bounds.
The next stop was at the wife's Aunt's house. Here we played with the wife's cousin's kids. When I say we I mean our kids and their kids. The adults enjoyed the hospitality of the hosts. We sat around drinking beers (mostly me) and eating snacks (me again) and catching up. It has been almost five years since we had been to their house and as with the last time it felt like we were at home. After the great visit at their house we went out for sushi, at least some of us went out for sushi. The five kids went out for origami making, running around and having a blast. We ate at the local sushi-ya (sushi restaurant). It was a block down and a block over and our group arrived over the course of about 20 minutes. The kids arrived with Koichiro (the cousin's husband) first. I thought they were getting take out originally but after they had been gone about 5 minutes there was a consensus that we should be going and I got the picture. After that we walked back to their house and had some fire works in the street. It is a fairly busy street but ... well its hard to explain but we did most of our playing in a little lane just off the road. Kids running around with sparklers, taking turns climbing the stop sign, playing with toy guns. It was an awesome evening and no one wanted us to go, us included. We all walked to the station together and amid some tears we made our farewells and promises to see each other soon. I sure hope we are able to keep them.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The longest day

So thiswas the longest day ever. We started in Vancouver at about 6 am and finally went to bed in Japan the next day at 6 am, Vancouver time. It was a good day, the kids slept in the plane, the trains all connected. However, 10 hours in a plane is more than this cowboy needs. We actually managed to have five meals today but we are going to consider the last meal as dinner. The plane food wasn't bad. The adults had chicken then beef. The kids had noodles and cheese then the daughter had a rice dish and the son had noodles in sauce. At both meals the kids got a wicked brownie and at both meals they barely touched it. I also managed to put back a few ceasars on the plane and I was feeling no pain. That was then.
As for Dinner here at the Hirano's house we had te-maki sushi. We also got some really nice gyoza. The te-maki was authentic as they had the cupid mayonaise and fresh sashimi. I made some of my favourite lettuce maki and with the kagoshima soy sauce it was like I had stepped back into 1997. Good times.Oh it was good. We played a little after dinner and all the kids got to know each other. Shota is great. Soooo cute. We are here for another night and then we head off for the Kag. Having a good time in Tokyo. We made it.

Monday, July 21, 2008

They like Me

Just like Sally Fields at the Academy Awards I feel so great. The validation from getting an amazing gift from your siblings is quite awesome. I suspected some of them knew what I was about in the past but they completely brought it home again with the awesome birthday gift I received. A brand new Pizza Oven. Brings a tear to my eye. So with this awesome gift I had to break it out once before going to Japan and we did that tonight. The wife whipped up the sauce and dough while I went trolling for some guests and another pizza peal. Both could conveniently be found on the same block of the same street directly across from each other. If that wasn't fate I don't know what is. With peal and guests in hand, or more correctly in car, we headed for home and within minutes of arrival (note, minutes can mean anything under an hour) there was some pizza baking. We did manage to snap a picture of the last slice but I can tell you and everyone can attest that there were five pizzas made this evening. Toppings included, pineapple, mushrooms, spinach, red peppers, feta cheese and ground turkey. They were used in different combinations and everyone seemed to be quite full when they left. Phew. There was also an amazing guacamole and chips as well as a green salad. The beer this evening was Sleeman's cream ale and we managed to put back 11 of 12. Pretty good odds and an awesome way to finish our time here in Vancouver. We head out tomorrow for Japan and look forward with glee and trepidation. I do know how to speak Japanese, don't I? Time will tell.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Dinner and Incident

Well one of my little sisters invited us over for dinner this evening. We really invited ourselves over but she was gracious enough not to point that out, even after the incident, but more about that later. The dinner was a feast. Our lovely hostess had made turkey dogs for the kids and pork chops roasted after being dressed in five spices. Lovely and simple. She also made the family favourite. Veggies and dip. Our contribution was green tea and giseng Arizona (Drunk exclusively by myself, too sweet for wife and grand ma trumped me with carbonated juice for the kids) Cheese and Jalapeno flavoured Pringles ( I missed the jalapenos in the store so once again mostly consumed by myself), bits and bites (not really consumed) and watermelon (not really consumed but left for our hostess who cannot bring it home herself due to its weight). So my poor shopping added nothing of consequence to the dinner. Well done by me again.
As for the incident lets just say there was copious folex (carpet spot and stain remover) and paper towel used, along with some scent neutralizer. My son spent some time in the bathroom acting like a forlorn puppy. Rightfully so. However, after the trip to London Drugs and some good old elbow grease we think the problem has been sufficiently resolved. I have offered to buy a mini carpet shampooer. Hostess was far too kind in turning down the offer. I will leave it open for a week, just in case. Big dinner at the beach tomorrow, although with the Folk Fest we may need to change venue. Whoops. hee hee.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Closing time.

So we have made our last meal for a while here in the GF. I think we are pretty much ready to go. The house is cleaned, the car is washed, the sprinklers and timers are all set up. We will pack our bags tonight and maybe do some yoga. And then it is off to Vancouver for the first leg of our "Family Reunions Summer Trip". Really looking forward to seeing friends this Sunday at the KKD Birthday extravaganza. If you are in Vancouver and haven't been invited consider yourself invited. Email me and I will get you the details. The lack of invite is just oversight on my part.

Lets start with this evenings meal. The third planned meal was te-maki sushi. Always a favourite at our house, surprisingly it was not met with the rave reviews as usual. Perhaps it was the heat today. Too hot to really want to eat anything. The toppings included, pan fried salmon, fake crab, big shrimp, avocado, cucumber, pickled daikon spears, and celery. There was also a side of cauliflower with cheese sauce. I really enjoyed it and am now contentedly full. The rice was a little drier than usual but still sticky enough to make it all work. Ahhh... Well I think I might be able to get the next couple of days up while we are in Van. As for blogging from Japan I will do my best and the good lord willing, things will turn out, is your name ray-anne, isn't that a song by motley crue, the ra-in is a stay-an.

Post dinner wrestling match. They both wanted to have a turn taking pictures with the camera.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Then there were two.

With two sleeps remaining in GF before we start our big summer excursion I am starting to get pretty excited. There is also that nervous feeling that goes along with travelling. Will we forget a passport? Will someone get ill and not be able to travel (bought the cancellation insurance, phew)? I really hope to be able to relax and just enjoy being in Japan. I know that the smartest thing to do would be to start making some serious plans for when we are over there but I just can't wrap my head around it right now. We are people who live better when we have plans. We just don't often have them. The last two weeks feel like they have been super planned, yet all we did was have two birthday parties and a garage sale. For someone who is without a day job that really isn't that much. I should get on that but then again, is life really passing me by if I have an hour long nap everyday at 2? Do I need to rise before ten? How important is having breakfast? I mean, I like cereal for lunch. So this indecisiveness will continue to plague me. Do I need to be more organized to enjoy my vacation time? I do not know. As for dinner we did have a plan. Only we forgot to buy pasta. I mean I was at the bank, the dump, the recycling place, and the high school (printing our e-tickets) today and just totally blanked on shopping. So I made pizza dough, cooked it on the pizza stone on the barbecue and then ladled pasta sauce over top. Instant-esque pizza. No cheese. The kids had the tiny amount of remaining bow tie (is it farfalle) pasta. The sauce was pretty good but the wife pointedly noticed I had not added the mushrooms. So she sauteed these on the side and then mounted them on top of the aforementioned pizza. Mushrooms deserve to be cooked and served on their own. They just rock. There was some mint chocolate chip ice cream for dessert and then we went to play ultimate. It was awesome as we managed to talk our house sitter into coming out and we had 3 on 3. Great workout. I must sheepishly admit that during the second water break I took off my cleats and was the reason we did not have a third session. We had this marathon point to end the second session and I was done. That and we had scored the marathon point and I wanted to end on a high note. But it was great and things hopefully bode well for September. All we need is like 3 or 4 more people and we could get 4 on 4 with subs. That would be awesome.

In other news today the wife scored a job. Not a real job but perhaps a stepping stone to a career. Our friend the baker said he would be happy to take her on as a volunteer, you know hang around, see whats going on, lend a hand, sell some stuff, do some dishes. The wifes goal is to slowly learn the bakery business and one day a week for a couple of hours sounded great to everyone. So yeah this fall is gonna be great. Maybe we should spend our time in Japan scouting locations for our dream bakery spot with backyard garden. Who knows where life will take us. I was going to go with a Groundhog Day line ( Well its brought you here, Yeah which is a million miles from where I started in college, what you weren't in broadcasting, no I studied 18th century french poetry, what a waste of time, I mean for somebody else that would be a waste of time, ) but I didn't know if anyone would get it and it is awfully long and if I had ended at a million miles would anyone have gotten it. I want to believe so but yet. Anyways, I have really rambled tonight. This pic of the kids was taken exactly fifteen seconds after one was in tears and the other was screaming. Amazing the effect the word "smile" has on people.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Curry with a plan

So we are back in business. With three days worth of meals left to eat in Grand Forks we have actually made a three day plan. I knew we had it in us and we did. So today, the first day, was a pork curry. We didn't eat all of the good pork yesterday so we chopped the rest of it up, fried it with garlic, ginger and assorted spices and made curry. Mmmmmmmm.... curry. I think the coconut milk is the key to making a nice mild curry that kids are willing to eat. That and not adding to much paprika. It was served over rice. It was served at various times as various members of our family took in various parts of the four mustketeers return. Or some such title. C thomas howell, richard chamberlain, the gladiator trainer from gladiator, kim cattral as the bad guy(girl). Total fluff that makes you wonder how they decide to dole out money for making movies. Anyways we enjoyed another day in paradise, swam at the river, put away the water slide, didn't do much else. Tomorrow we have big plans. More of the same.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Shish Returns

So since we were shut out last night on the shish kabobs we made them again tonight. Very worth while. The garlic, soy, honey et al marinade only had a few hours rather than over night but the pork still turned out very well. I unfortunately didn't cut the chunks small enough so we didn't intersperse with veggie chunks. Our worry was that the meat wouldn't be done or the veggies would be super burnt. As you can see we ended up doing the spears separately and we're damn glad we did. The tomatoes were awesome and the mushrooms were a perfect complement to the pork. There was also some sushi leftovers as a side and it was just as good today as it was yesterday. After dinner we all had a chuppa chup. (loot bag left overs) and now the kids are in the bath. You have to check out this video. This is a card my son got for his birthday. It is easily the best card I have ever seen and we have now listened to it at least a hundred times. I think there is something especially inviting about being able to wind it and make it go.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Birthday Part 2

So we managed to pull off a second wicked party. This was a family affair and we had something for everyone. Children of all ages, 3 to 40 something ish. Fabulous food fun and games. But lets not get ahead of ourselves. To start with there was a cake. This cake was finished last night while I simultaneously played in a free online poker tournament, which I also happened to win. Wife-ola baked the cake and I was in charge of decoration. The problem with the cake was making five cups of fire engine red icing. This was as close as we could get to fire engine red. I think it turned out reasonably. Once again my photography skills leave something to be desired and do not capture the true essence of the cake. It was delicious and fun and we gave out quite a bit of seconds. Which were in turn finished. Good on us. The wife also whipped up a whale of a menu for this afternings affair. There were both pork and chicken shishkabobs. They were wickedly tasty and we will be making them again tomorrow so we can have some. Did not plan out the servings appropriately and didn't realise they would be as big a hit as they were. There was also a big bowl or chirashi sushi which went over well. Some of our guests not only knew what chirashi sushi was but had had it on more than on occasion. Fill in the rest of the gaps were a solid pasta salad. A green bean salad made with some of the last fresh green beans on earth or at least in Grand forks and the requisite chips and dip. Finally there was some watermelon which leads nicely into the next part of the party. We played some games at todays party and they all ended rather abruptly. The popping a balloon by sitting on it went as fast as I have ever seen. Older kids make for quick popping. Then the suika wari (break the watermelon ) actually worked and the second kid out the gate cracked that sucker clean in half. Everyone else had a go with the larger half of the watermelon and we had two more direct strikes. Gotta get a much softer bat next year. Anyways, between trampolining, water sliding, cake eating, present opening and beer drinking (mostly by the dads) we wiled away a Sunday afternoon. Every one had fun and left with either a smile on their face or a loot bag (many had both). Party season is over and now we start mentally readying ourselves for the trip to Japan. Oh, its gonna be good.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Worth 1000 words

Or $12.60 with the coupon. Lets face it it could have been worse. We could have purchased the whole meal. As I was driving home I had this thought drift through my head, "Am I the only person who eats this chicken?" I vaguely recall the last time we had this chicken both children being impressed with the purchase but unimpressed with the product. The wife isn't big into the fast/processed foods so I think I finished most of the last 10 piecer we bought. So yeah I was a little nervous that this was a "me" meal and I had helped no one but myself. Fortunately, this turned out not to be true. The son gobbled two and half pieces and the wife and daughter combined finished off the same. There are two pieces left so you do the math. It wasn't all about me. Also with the sides the meal was very nice. Tomatoes and cucumbers sliced and dressed in soy sauce and vinegar. Simple but a kid favourite. Tomorrows sushi rice, note sushi can come in a big bowl. This type of sushi is called chirashi sushi. No rolls, some shrimp and vegetables chopped in. Served cold it has a nice sweet and vinegary flavour. It looks something like a chinese food fried rice but the tastes have nothing in common. To finish off this evenings meal there was some left over home made chow mein. So even though I broke down at my end of the dinner spectrum the rest of the team pulled through and made it a meal. Tomorrow is birthday party number 2. Fingers are crossed for the weather.

We also had a garage sale today. That was great. Put up the signs around 8 and moved everything that was left into the free pile at 11:30. Made a little bit of money. Nothing compared to the daughter who raked it in looking cute and selling the half of her stuffed animals that we forced her to cull. She was hesitant until she got her first $0.50. After that she kept saying, "Dad, tell them I am in charge of the stuffies." She had recognized that when people knew she was in charge they were more inclined to give her the sympathy buy. One lady who wasn't even garage saleing had to stop and buy some because she looked so forlorn sitting behind her display with no one buying anything. Her profit was about 50% of the rest of the family's but her percent sold and profit per item were way ahead of us. She even managed to get some money for some kids books that were in the free pile. People just couldn't stop giving her money. Well that is a good feeling of clean for the house. We have been planning it for a while and didn't really do a hard target search of every item we haven't used in the last two years. I also didn't pull the trigger on a lot of duplicate items, you know one may break and then I would have to buy a new one. Next time I don't think I will get away with that. Anyways, good day, some wicked kite flying and soccer/hockey/basketball this afternoon. Hope to see you here tomorrow. Beers will be cold and food will be cooking by 4:30. Kids will be playing sometime around 3:00. Its gonna be good.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Easy on the Cheesey

So this was the wife's request this evening. A pizza without cheese. It seemed so outrageously sacrilegious (which doesn't spell anything like religion and gave me a lot of trouble until I finally went to the spell checker) that I could only do a half pizza with no cheese. Strangely though it was awesome. The pepper salami was so much more vibrant when not smothered by cheesey goodness. Now lets not rush to any conclusions. My pizzas will still have cheese on them. However, I am commited to using a lot less cheese. And occasionally we will have some pizza al fresco. We also used the bbq this evening. With the hijacked pizza stone we are getting the good texture on the bottom of our crust. The bbq cannot do the whole job so I am still bringing them in for a quick broil before serving them. I like that slightly crisped up top. A little brown on the crust. Overall, my timing was off this evening -- what with not using the oven or a timer and experimenting with different temp settings -- and some of the pizzas were a little doughy. My daughter went through a whole little speech and was building towards the dough not being fully cooked only to finish with, "but I like it." Phew!

There were no accompaniments with this evenings dinner. It was a busy day. Summer does strange things to the timing of your average day. Yesterday was refixing the bathroom faucet and finding all the places I hadn't done it properly. Like most fix jobs I do I started just trying to do a little here or a little there so that I wouldn't have to take the whole thing apart. I found a piece that had to be replaced after trying to tighten it 3 different times, between 4-7 minutes each time. So that took a big chunk of time but the kids got to play at the park. After arriving back home I did the right thing and took it all apart back to the start and did it all properly and finally finished only to realise that the piece I needed to attach to, which was not replaced in this current episode, was now dripping. It was a small but expensive piece and had a small drip. I got a bucket and had some dinner.

So this is how these summer days get away from me. I mean I took the whole day today cleaning out the garage and getting ready for our garage sale tomorrow. And I am still no where near ready. Tomorrow is another day.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Dueling Salmon

So we had two salmon fillets this evening and we couldn't really decide what to do with them. So we did something different with each. One was salt, pepper, and freshly grated garlic. The other had dill and corriander. Tin foil pouch for each and then slapped on the bbq for 6 mins. The wife had whipped up some really creamy mashed potatoes. She had also stirred up some fried veggies. Nice light fare. We actually didn't need to bbq this evening because the wind storm today kept the temp down. Very pleasant. We walked down to the tasty treat after dinner and all had an ice-cream treat. A wonderful day to spend this the Tenth of July. Now the kids are in bed and soon I will be too. Ah summer.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Looks Can Be Deceiving

So we did not fry up a river creature for dinner this evening. Looking at the picture I am worried this is what you may have been thinking. It is not the case. It just looks like a fried up sea creature. In fact it is okonomiyaki. Those who like it like it a lot. It consisted of bacon fried, then covered with a pancake mix (batter, bean sprouts, cabbage, and others). The frying continues until it looks mostly cooked and then the pancake is flipped to the other side. This is me flipping an okonomiyaki. It is finally covered with mayonaise and okonimayaki sauce. Despite the uterlly revolting look of the above picture I assure you we ate two of these things for dinner and had the third cold for lunch the next day. Moving on. We also did a lot of playing while at the campground. The girl next door and our daughter became fast friends. The spent a lot of time playing at the park situated in the middle of the campground. Good times.

Continuing on with the dinners we had fire roasted chicken, unshucked fire roasted corn (to much fire not enough heat equals slightly raw corn), a lovely green salad with the yogurt and dill dressing/dip, liptons sidekick noodles (the second packet from the previous camping trip), and more marshmallows. I have really got my roasting technique down and served up some molten, crispy, sugar bundles. So good. My son's favourite saying right now. We went for chinese food for lunch today and that was all he could say. He also said that about the grilled cheese sandwich I made him for dinner, of which I only just realised I didn't take a picture. But after this fabulous three day trip forgetting to take a picture of a rather meager dinner cannot spoil my love of life. Starting to gird our loins, not for the field of battle jobu, but for the second birthday part. I wonder how that is going to turn out. Time will tell.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Post Party Blues

So the day after the party we were definitely on the downward part of the wave. To say it was a slow day would be a bit of an understatement. We really didn't do much. I mean we did swim in the river and both the parents got in their morning run. The water slide got put away and some laundry was laundered. Still it was a slow day. Once again we planned to get some take out and once again we reneged and bought some groceries. We had to get grocs for our camping trip tomorrow and the next day so I got some chicken to cook up this evening as well. Damn chicken breasts with the bone in take for ever on the bbq. They are great when they are done but they sure take their sweet time. They were devoured in short order after they were served up. We plan to take some potato salad camping with us so that was made with extra for this evenings meal. About half of that was eaten as well. Then we cut up the watermelon. We are watermelon people. The small fridge downstairs will partially freeze an orange so you can imagine the almost crystalized form the watermelon was in when it was sliced open. Perfect. Along with the Sol it was a magnificent dessert. As for the next two days we plan to take pictures and will dutifully up load whatever we take when we get home and have a chance. Garage sale this Saturday. Starts at 7:00am. Early birds will be shot.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

You're such a Fairy

Classic SNL line. Matthew broderick is dressed as a baby and these guys are mocking him saying he is such a baby and he keeps agreeing and saying things like, " I know, I still suck my thumb and wet my diaper." I believe it is Phil Hartman who comes in dressed in a tutu for the payoff gag. Anyways, we had a fairy party today. We had eight 5-6 year old girls and 2 pre-school boys out in the backyard for a fairy party. The fairy part of the party mostly consisted of the opening fairy hunt (10 min max) and a bunch of up trading and suspicious deal making because I didn't realise that the one in the long purple dress was evil in the movie so almost no one wanted either of the two of them that I had hidden. Strangely the third evil one I had purchased had lost it's head right out of the box and though crazy glue had put her back together I ended up not needing her because of a non-vitation that I had not been privy to. There were also 3 no shows. One was probably our fault but as for the other two I am stumped. Who doesn't want to go to a six year old girls party. Especially when you yourself are also a six year old girl. Anyways, the grand plan to build fairy houses out of naturally sourced parts (twigs, leaves, bark) which seemed so killer for the last four weeks was so obviously not within the first two sentences of trying to sell it to the group. Especially with this bad boy up and running directly across from the lame piles of leaves and twigs. In a wise move I only tried to sell the fairy houses for another 45 seconds before, in a rare flash of inspiration, getting all the girls to put their dolls on top of their names on the poster I had made. I figured this made a bunch of thats mine this is yours never happen. There were some trades I wondered about but in the end everyone left smiling so I guess it was okay. Back to the wicked water slide. Of the something like 16 hours of daylight today there were 4 that were grey and cloudy and not so hot. The four hours started 30 minutes before the party and ended 30 minutes after the last kid went home. It was 39 freakin degrees five days ago, today it didn't crack 27. Just my luck. So between shivering, sliding, jumping on the trampoline (3 at a time, man do we need a net[ed. This is not a plea to a relative to save the author from his own thriftiness.]) and eating snacks and drinking the cool juice boxes we made it through the first 45 minutes. After that we did some water balloon tossing. The boys were picking them up as fast as the wife could make them and just whipping them against the fence. Ah boys. Then we had the cake. Now what you see here is the back side of the cake. In the picture with the kids you see the whole thing post blow out. However, we didn't take a good cake shot. I still can't figure this one out. What was going through my head that I didn't get a whole cake with fairy looking like she is wearing a dress shot. Mind boggling. Anyways, we wowed the six year old crowd and had a good time making it last night. The best part had to be throwing the little chocolate pieces at the dress to get them to stick in the frosting. After cake we cracked the prezies and then parents started arriving. Phew, 2 months of worry, 4 weeks of planning, 3 days of serious prep, and it was all over in 2 hours. Note to self. Start with sidewalk chalk. That could have been a really fun half hour if organized right. Go straight to the water slide when you get to the backyard. Why leave your ace in the bullpen. Have more than one game activity for the mid party slow down. And plan to have at least 40 minutes for present opening and 15 minutes for cake. If I don't seem to be remembering this next year please remind me. It was a lot of fun. Good thing there are still two days until her actual birthday.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Quicky Cue.

Well we had various dinner plans until about half an hour before cooking. Some of them involved various forms of take out. Others involved frozen foods. In the end we made barbecue. Unshucked corn on the cob roasted right on the grill. Potatoes baked to perfection. Pork Chops done in a sweet barbecue sauce. The pasta salad made a fierce comeback this evening. I am uninspired to give any more description than this. I barely have the strength to stay awake. I have to say that with one day to go till the "party" I will be very glad when it is done. I can't believe I am going to these lengths for two hours that most of these kids will probably not remember. Couldn't find face paint anywhere in town today. Did manage to get the second to last packet of water balloons. They were in the sixth store that I tried. There is a 40% chance of rain tomorrow afternoon. It just has to hold off till 3:30. If there is a higher power I will not make any demands. All my luck is being saved up for us to get to and from Japan without any hitches. The rest of the summer can be what it is.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Happy Handles.

Well with the heat still on today we hit the granby river for a change of pace. Nice, but much colder than the kettle. This followed hard on the heals of a morning of gardening. Almost ready for Kiyomi's b-day party in two days. I am trying to green up the lawns. The veggie garden is ready for display, mostly. I have to prune the apple tree both for production and the pruned bits will be used for the fairy houses that are going to be built on Saturday. So yeah things are getting done. Speaking of which I finally changed the faucet in the upstairs bathroom. Moen, buy it for looks, buy it for life. It really does look much nicer don't you think. A really organized person would have had a before and after picture. Well at least some of you gave me the benefit of the doubt. Suckers. This all managed to occur with water still running through the rest of the house. No hot water but toilets and washing were all going. Everyone was happy. Upon finishing I was greeted by this lovely summer dinner.

The pasta salad had a mayonaise and vinegar dressing. Lots of big chunky fresh vegetables, some steamed for ease of munching. The sandwich was a black forest ham, cheese, lettuce and mustard on whole wheat bun. By the time I took this picture I had already finished the first one. Fixing bathrooms is hungry work. Thirsty work too. Of course I finished the second beer minutes after finishing this first one in the frosty mug. Two more days till show time. Wish us luck.