Keep Calm & Have a Cupcake

Bad Kitty grows up... and blooms where she's planted.

  • 17th April
    2014
  • 17
  • 17th April
    2014
  • 17

Leaving Tumblr…

Hello all -

Tumblr is not working properly in my new home, and since writing posts from my phone is rather frustrating, I decided to export this blog to WordPress. I hope you will continue to follow me there! I fully intend to keep following many of you - I just can’t deal with the issues in posting here anymore :)

haveacupcake1.wordpress.com

  • 15th April
    2014
  • 15
After much ado and brouhaha over SIM cards and oddly structured contracts, we got our new phones… As well as a blast of lovely text messages I can’t understand :) Hope they don’t mean anything important!

After much ado and brouhaha over SIM cards and oddly structured contracts, we got our new phones… As well as a blast of lovely text messages I can’t understand :) Hope they don’t mean anything important!

  • 15th April
    2014
  • 15
Nihon e yokoso! Welcome to Japan!

No one has actually said these words to me yet, but that’s indeed how you say it, according to my trusty Babel Fish translator app. In fact, “welcome” is actually “kengai”, which makes no sense in light of the previous phrase and also indicates that Japanese may be a trickier language to learn than I thought. However, one of the first things I learned upon arriving here is that some of the bases offer free language classes, so I am determined to attend and learn what I can in order to make the most of my time here and befriend the locals. I would at least like to be able to order my food in Japanese! We shall see how it goes.

Anyway, these first few days in Okinawa have been a whirlwind of discovery, rice, emotion, and noodles. I don’t even want to talk about the 40-hour journey to get here, or the fact that my cat probably hates me for life after putting her through it, but I do want to say that the island itself is beyond beautiful. The architecture, however, is a sharp contrast to the lush and colorful surroundings. It is stark… Utilitarian … Plain… Ugly. But when you are reminded that this is a country regularly battered by typhoons and earthquakes, you start to understand the need for cold, hard concrete. I have no doubt I will appreciate this reality even more once I experience my first typhoon.

For now, we are attempting to get all the logistical business done so we can get the real adventure started. Housing, in-processing, vet appointments, and new vehicles are all still pending, and it’s all very “hurry up and wait.” But since when has that NOT been the military’s style? :) We are just going with the flow over here, as always… And still waiting to truly see the beach! 

P.S. I have more pictures, but for some reason Tumblr won’t let me upload them. In fact, Tumblr won’t load properly at all, so hopefully this situation will remediate itself soon…
Nihon e yokoso! Welcome to Japan!

No one has actually said these words to me yet, but that’s indeed how you say it, according to my trusty Babel Fish translator app. In fact, “welcome” is actually “kengai”, which makes no sense in light of the previous phrase and also indicates that Japanese may be a trickier language to learn than I thought. However, one of the first things I learned upon arriving here is that some of the bases offer free language classes, so I am determined to attend and learn what I can in order to make the most of my time here and befriend the locals. I would at least like to be able to order my food in Japanese! We shall see how it goes.

Anyway, these first few days in Okinawa have been a whirlwind of discovery, rice, emotion, and noodles. I don’t even want to talk about the 40-hour journey to get here, or the fact that my cat probably hates me for life after putting her through it, but I do want to say that the island itself is beyond beautiful. The architecture, however, is a sharp contrast to the lush and colorful surroundings. It is stark… Utilitarian … Plain… Ugly. But when you are reminded that this is a country regularly battered by typhoons and earthquakes, you start to understand the need for cold, hard concrete. I have no doubt I will appreciate this reality even more once I experience my first typhoon.

For now, we are attempting to get all the logistical business done so we can get the real adventure started. Housing, in-processing, vet appointments, and new vehicles are all still pending, and it’s all very “hurry up and wait.” But since when has that NOT been the military’s style? :) We are just going with the flow over here, as always… And still waiting to truly see the beach!

P.S. I have more pictures, but for some reason Tumblr won’t let me upload them. In fact, Tumblr won’t load properly at all, so hopefully this situation will remediate itself soon…
  • 9th April
    2014
  • 09

And off we go…

Last night, on the eve of our big 3-year adventure in Japan, a good friend gave us a beautifully written card:

"Chuck, when you proposed to Nikki - could either of you imagined how the next years would lead you to Japan? Surrounded by cherry blossoms, your decision that day led you down a path that could never be known to either of you in that moment."

Ironically, last night was the 4-year anniversary of our engagement, which took place the midst of DC’s Cherry Tree Festival (albeit in a quieter part of it!) Now, we are headed to the land that gave us those cherry trees, starting a new phase of our lives across the world.

We have had a fantastic time here during our break. We spent quality time with family, friends, and the city we call home. We celebrated our democracy with a private tour of the Capitol, honored our history with visits to the Air and Space, Natural History, and American History Museums, and just plain had fun by trying new restaurants and enjoying respective girls’ nights and guys’ nights out and about town (with a side trip to New Orleans!)

Now, I am simultaneously excited, nervous, and a little bit sad as I prepare to fly to the Far East later this afternoon. I will miss everyone, and I am sure I will have moments of nostalgia, but Chuck and I both have a sense of adventure that will ensure we make the very most of our time in Japan… 

"…I hope the same thought applies to the time in your new home - letting things come one day at a time, knowing that the next adventure is right around the corner.

Actually, scratch that - you’re living the adventure today!”

  • 9th April
    2014
  • 09
  • 26th March
    2014
  • 26

American Bloat

While I was in France, I ate whatever I wanted. French food is heavy on all the currently “taboo” food groups in this country (depending on who you’re talking to these days), to include dairy, grains, meat, fats, and everything in between. And I have to tell ya - my digestive system never felt better while I was over there! 

I returned to the U.S., and while I surely love American food in all its glory, I am back to being bloated, irregular, and less energized. It’s not because I eat bread… or because cheese is wrecking my digestive system…or because I enjoy red meat. I ate all those things in Europe. I know this is no secret, but it really is the fact that food in this country is SO overly processed. Even the packaged foods in Europe had smaller lists of ingredients, most of which I could actually pronounce. Everything is fresh and mostly local there. I ate raw eggs and beef for crying out loud (and lived to tell the tale.)

I’m not one to judge the U.S. based on what other countries are doing. I’ve never thought it’s a fair comparison - we are so much bigger and more diverse than most European countries. However, I do wish we could take at least SOMEWHAT of a hint from their dietary practices. Natural ingredients. A reduced reliance on corn. Cleaner, more humane livestock care. And perhaps the elimination of preservatives, dyes, and other miscellaneous ingredients that are banned everywhere else in the developed world except here! Of course, Americans could take a little personal responsibility and work on portion control, too…

I hate to be that Northern Virginia snobby white girl, and I probably won’t have this opportunity on a military base in Okinawa, but I may have to start shopping organic (it’s a start!)

  • 26th March
    2014
  • 26

EuroTrip Re-Cap!

Since I have the worst memory, I was going to record what I did each day in England and France. That was obviously a big fat failure (and now I don’t  feel like scrounging up that much detail), but I still want to share the highlights of our 10-day journey to see a slice of Western Europe…

London

This was my third trip to London, and I still don’t care for it much. However, it did have one major highlight: I saw my friend Beth for the first time in many years! She just got married this past December, and I was able to meet her delightful hubby James, as well. She hasn’t changed a bit :)

image

If I had to choose one other thing about London that I really liked, I’d have to say it was the spring blooms in Hyde Park. Beautiful!

image

Oxford

I love Oxford. Always have, and I think I always will. I was happy that Chuck liked it too! I was able to visit my old campus at Pembroke College, and I was delighted to see that the Alice in Wonderland shop and Ben’s Cookies are still there. Seriously, if you are ever in Oxford, go get a Ben’s Cookie. Amazeballs. 

image

Also, I can’t forget to include that Chuck and I enjoyed a pint at the pub where C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien brainstormed some of the greatest stories ever told, the Eagle and Child. I’m not even a LOTR or Narnia fan, but it was still pretty cool :)

image

Paris

Oh my goodness! Where do I even start? I fell in love with Paris. Every positive stereotype is completely true, and every negative stereotype completely untrue. Highlights included: 

  • The entire first day & night - walking the historic Ile de la Cite and Ile St. Louis, lunching at Au Bougnat around the corner from Notre-Dame, eating Berthillion ice cream for dessert, sipping evening cocktails on the roof of Maison Blanche (where staff called Chuck Captain America!), watching the Eiffel Tower sparkle, feasting on the giant wheel of cheese at Philippe et Jean-Pierre, and watching burlesque at the iconic Crazy Horse (even if I did drink too much champagne in the end.) It sounds cheesy, but the misty, ethereal haze that hovered over Champs-Elysees on our walk back to the hotel added to the magic of that first evening in Paris… But sigh… moving on…!
  • Meeting with friends at Versailles and being the first to hear of their engagement
  • The fact that art and beauty are EVERYWHERE.
  • Our poignant, emotional visit to Belleau Wood (where countless American Marines and soldiers lost their lives fighting the Germans in WWI). 
  • Monet’s Water Lilies at L’Orangerie
  • THE FOOD. And trying beef tartare, even though I had no idea it’s a raw ground beef patty with a raw egg on it…

image

Provence & the South of France

Growing up, I used to watch Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence with my mom and sister. I’ve always romanticized the region, and have long wanted to visit. I was worried that between the film, things I’ve heard, and the copious amount of dreamy Provencal images I found on Pinterest, I was setting my expectations a bit too high. I shouldn’t have been so concerned - Provence exceeded every whimsical expectation! 

image

We started our trip in Gordes, un village perché in the Luberon Valley, and enjoyed the luxury of one of our splurge hotels with a series of killer views. Gordes is full of adorable nooks and crannies, and I met THREE cats while I was there :) Also, it must be noted that I had the most delicious chocolate dessert ever in Gordes, and I can’t stop obsessing over it. I only wish I had a photo, or its exact name. Oh man. So delish.

Over the next few days, we explored the villages of Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, Aix-en-Provence, Cassis, and Arles. Cassis and Arles were my favorites (after Gordes!) At Cassis, we took a boat tour of les Calanquesand dipped our feet in the Mediterranean under a warm, sunny sky. In Arles, we ate delicious quiche, eclairs, and brioche in the courtyard of the building where Van Gogh sliced off his ear, and then explored Roman ruins.  I did a few ballet spins and took a bow on the ancient stage at the amphitheatre… Chuck thought I was a fool :-) Honestly, I didn’t think I’d like Arles - I had heard it was a little “dirtier” than other Provencal towns - but I actually enjoyed its artsy, antique intrigue and mystique.

We ended the Provencal adventure with a visit to Glanum, an ancient archaeological Roman site near St. Remy. The history nerd in both of us was tickled pink, and I met my final French kitty snoozing in the middle of the museum…

image

Anyway. I heart France. And I have to give myself credit - I plan a good trip! It cost more than our honeymoon did, but I think it was worth it. Every night I have a dream about being back - sometimes in a spot we already visited, sometimes in a place I wish we could have seen. It’s kind of pathetic really…!

image

The only mementos I brought back (besides the memories and 1,587 photos) were a magnet for each city, a jar of lavender honey, and a little bottle of lavender liquor. I can’t wait to break into the latter two ;-)

All in all, a very bon voyage!

  • 22nd March
    2014
  • 22
  • 21st March
    2014
  • 21

And we’re back!!

Home safe and sound after a EuroTrip that really could not have gone better, in the soft fluffy purring embrace of the Bean, with the news that the first of the grad school programs to which I applied has accepted me. Wahoo!

In the meantime, 1,587 photos are uploading to my computer. I’m gonna have a blast with those…!

  • 21st March
    2014
  • 21
  • 19th March
    2014
  • 19
  • 18th March
    2014
  • 18
  • 18th March
    2014
  • 18
  • 17th March
    2014
  • 17