bento happiness

24 05 2009

This week at school was busy with revision, followed by 3 days of mid-term exams. So I was writing tests, photocopying, supervising study lessons and exams, marking, calculating grades and getting ready for mid-term reports and newsletters.

Swine Flu is still on the front page everyday of The Japan Times newspaper that comes to the Inter department. The school called a 3 hour meeting for students on Saturday afternoon to go over the drills for a flu pandemic (and a flu outbreak coupled with a fire, and a flu outbreak with a lockdown etc). Luckily I wasn’t required to attend the meeting. I also got to go home early 3 days this week (on the days when there were exams- exams only went for the first 4 periods). They were much needed afternoon’s off!

During my afternoons off we went bento shopping (for my birthday).

My cute bento and accessories!

My cute bento and accessories!

We now have 2 triangle onigiri makers with stencils for the toppings (heart, star, music note, faces), animal sauce bottles, small cutters for fancy shapped vegetables etc, colourful animal picks for eating small fruits and my bento lid with the top section. Benno also has a large bento for his lunches. It is black and boring whereas the smaller lady-sized bento are cute and colourful.

My first attempt at making onigiri, ready in the second layer of my bento for lunch tomorrow.

My first attempt at making onigiri, ready in the second layer of my bento for lunch tomorrow. There's a heart, a smiley face and a star topping.

The weather has been all over the place – typical for spring. Wednesay was 26 degrees with 60% humidity while Sunday morning was dreary and pouring rain.

Saturday night we had dinner at Apita’s Italian restaurant with the other Inter staff. It was complementary, thanks to Kocho (the principal), except he wasn’t even there as he was in hospital this week with illness. We thought we had found a vegan option, the waitress said it was fine. The salad seemed ok, but the mushroom pasta was distinctly fishy. They must have added fish stock to the sauce. Bugger. The Japanese never seem to understand or even realise that fish stock (dashi) is not cool. However the grapefruit sorbet was delicious. After the meal we rode our bikes to a karaoke place where we sang some songs with the younger inter staff.

Sunday morning Benno got up and made pancakes while I did some marking of exams. We had red bean jam (adzuki bean paste) on some, maple syrup on some and lemon and sugar on the rest of the pancakes. Yum! Then Benno surprised me with birthday presents! He had snuck out of bed in the middle of the night and made a lemon and coconut mousse and a chocolate mousse in cute heart shaped dishes. We ate them after pancakes, and then he gave me a present of an oven-mit. So good, as I’ve burnt myself 3 times this week trying to remove things from our small convection microwave oven with a folded-up tea towel. So now I feel spoilt! I made cupcakes to take to school on Monday to celebrate my birthday with the other Inter staff. I hope they like them!

Lara's Birthday cupcakes. Fluffy white sponge cupcakes. Some made into butterfly cakes with red bean jam, some with lemon icing and strawberries and choc chips.

Lara's Birthday cupcakes. Fluffy white sponge cupcakes. Some made into butterfly cakes with red bean jam, some with lemon icing and strawberries and choc chips.

Vegan Strawberry Cupcake.

Vegan Strawberry Cupcake.

Inside the fluffy sponge cupcakes, showing the red bean jam inside.

Inside the fluffy sponge cupcakes, showing the red bean jam inside.

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The end of Golden Week

8 05 2009

The spring weather that was so sunny and warm on Saturday, Sunday and Monday (excellent weather for our excursions) took a turn to the cold side for the rest of Golden Week. Tuesday and Wednesday it rained on and off for most of the day and it was cold. Perfect weather for baking and reading books and so we stayed inside wrapped in mofu (blankets).

Benno had bought some minature cookie cutters from the 100 yen shop – a dog, a car and a fish. So I made some spiced biscuits so I could try out the cutters.

The little spiced biscuits in the shape of a car (kuruma), a fish (sakana) and a dog (inu).

The little spiced biscuits in the shape of a car (kuruma), a fish (sakana) and a dog (inu).

We ate soup and had our new found dessert, zensai. A steaming bowl of sweet adzuki soup and mochi works great to warm you up.

zensai

It was back to school on Thursday. I went in early at 7.30am to organise myself for the week – why would I do any prep in my holiday time, now? It was still cold and rainy at night so that called for curry and rice pudding for dinner.

Friday was another normal day.. struggling to stay awake. I never felt tired or like I wanted to fall asleep at my desk in Australia – why am I so tired in Japan? Is it because the work day is from 7.30-4.30pm perhaps (I actually only work these hours on Mondays – other days are from 8.30-4.30pm or 7.30-3.30pm)? Time to put fat on the bones and eat chips with gravy and a side salad for dinner.

So, it was dreary and drizzly for the rest of the working week, warming up again on Saturday when we had parents enter the classrooms to observe and see if they want their children going to Gyosei high school. Unfortunately they were scheduled to visit during my science lesson with J-2 (that is, the class with the worst English skills and lacking most in motivation to do any work). Oh well. Good/Bad news is that they arrived late and completely missed my fantastically planned lesson and the parents didn’t enter any of my classes (they entered the poorly planned block 4 classes instead). One of the parents asked an English teacher “my child has buck teeth. Will she be able to learn English? The dentist said French would be okay, but she may not be able to learn English with buck teeth.” How do you reply to that!?

Here’s a picture one of the girls from that class drew for me. The person has blue eyes, so it’s obviously me.

Rina's drawing of me, for me...I think.

Rina's drawing of me, for me...I think.