Every time I visit Japan, Aya’s parents always ask if there is anything specific I’d like to do or try. They have done an excellent job at showing me Japan beginning from my very first trip fifteen years ago. I’ve tried all of the most popular Japanese foods, and even some of the not so popular ones. I’ve seen the scenic sights and the city sights. I’ve gone to the hot springs, and sang karaoke. I even saw my favorite enka singer in concert! After all that, it still seemed like I had a list of things that I wanted to try. During our previous trip, I requested the KFC Christmas chicken dinner (it’s a big deal there). But now, it’s getting harder to find things I haven’t tried yet. That was until I discovered matcha.
I’ve always wanted to be a reader. Like a real reader. Not just short Mitch Albom books, but real grown up books. Books that are longer than 150 pages and don’t have pictures. I always imagine myself nurturing my brain and expanding my vocabulary. It’sd be nice to start a sentence with “I read this book,” once in a while instead of “I saw this show the other day,” too. But no matter how much reading I manage to sneak in, I still feel like I’m a wannabe reader. So in hopes to change that, my friend and I started a book club. We alternate book picks to help us broaden our horizons in what we read. She is always on the search for the perfect love story (which she is failing miserably), and I usually pick depressing non-fiction (which I am winning at). It’s nice to be pushed out of our comfort zones.
The only rule we have is that we remain two members. She’s been in a book club before and didn’t like waiting so long for her pick. Because of this, she claims we are “book buddies.” I let her call us that, but I haven’t adopted that term myself. I think we are more like “literary losers.” If you continue reading you’ll see why.
I have a friend from high school, Lynne, who has been making cakes and cupcakes on the side lately. Cupcakes that look like Elmo and Thomas the Train cakes and cakes using marshmallow fondant. My mom used to make and decorate cakes a lot a long time ago. The fancy cakes with frosting roses and basket weave patterns, etc. She still does them, just not as frequently. So one day my mom offered to show Lynne her skills and Lynne offered to show my mom her tricks with the fondant and all that stuff. So what does this have to do with me? Well, I have a unique set of culinary skills sought by many in the baking world. I am an expert in the art of cakeball making. And because of this, my presence was requested at this cake convention.
At the beginning of the year, I set out on a quest to learn the basic skills of sewing. So I signed up for a sewing class. Knowing that most likely I’d be the only guy and a loner, I recruited my friend Kelly to join me. We stuck it out for the full 15 weeks and actually made a few things. I made two aprons, a skirt and dress for Ellie, a skirt for Aya, and two pairs of pajamas for Ellie. I’m no expert by any means, but I can successfully say, “mission accomplished.” And over those 15 weeks, there were a few lessons that stuck out more than others.
Before Ellie was born, we bought a scrapbook so we could collect Ellie’s milestones in one place. Pictures of her first birthday, Doctor visit measurements, her first drawings, and ultra-sound pics. You know, that sort of stuff. The only problem is that Ellie is now almost two and a half and the book is empty. So before she turned 18, I wanted to get caught up. And with it being Mother’s Day, I thought making a scrapbook of Ellie’s first two years would make a perfect gift for Aya.