Monthly Archives: January 2010

Friday For Friends – Book Review – A Doll In The Wall by Thea Phipps


TITLE: The Doll In The Wall

AUTHOR: Thea Phipps

PUBLISHER: Xlibris Corporation (October 27, 2009)

Paperback: 344 pages

PRICE: $19.99

Before Christmas I was lucky to win a copy of Thea Phipps book, The Doll In The Wall.

Thea Phipps bio lets you know she is funny and fun, so I was looking forward to reading her book The Doll In The Wall. I love a good mystery and humor makes it that much better.

Early on she got to me with a presence that came through in her choice of words.

Pg. 65 ROFL

Pg. 189 I’m stumped by the intricate mystery here.

The description of fallen petals like confetti speaks to me.

Pg. 116 reminds me of the first time I kissed a boy. (sigh)

I love that Thea brings up the difference between being unaware of someone vs. ignoring them, perhaps because you have such regard for them.

Pg. 270 Thea uses chess in a brilliant way.

Here is a photo of my “cheat sheets” as I was determined to solve this mystery.

Pg. 288 LOL, tears in my eyes.

This was a satisfying read,well plotted and well wrapped up. Later I found myself missing the characters. I love when that happens. Thank you Thea

© 2010 J.B. Vadeboncoeur


Posted by on January 14, 2010 in Book Review


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Travel To Japan – Omori-Cho

Another favorite place that I am longing to return to is Omori-Cho. When I googled it I found Steve Biemel had written about it

Count me as one of those who was enchanted and longs to return there.

Matsuba Tomi-san organized a meal for our large tour group. Yes it was delicious, served family style and cooked in a very old kitchen. One of the many things that is forever in my memory was what they did with an ordinary white paper cup.

They put a leaf on each cup and tied it with blue string. They added a small square of fabric, and it looked so lovely. I kept my paper cup and brought it home with me. It still impacts positively on me, what they did with a few simple things.

The hospitality was very gracious. A man from the town, I think he is the one pictured in Steve Biemel’s blog entertained us by acting out a Japanese tale. I never saw anyone so agile and fluid in his movements.

The chopsticks we used at dinner were similar to these in the photo.

Theirs had undulations on most of the chopstick, as opposed to the ones in the photo with a few at the end. It made them so comfortable to grip.

It was even more impressive to me to know that these people had brought a ghost town back to life.

© 2010 Jeanne Litt All rights reserved.


Posted by on January 13, 2010 in Japan, Uncategorized


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Travel to Japan – Samue

When I was served dinner at a ryokan, It was by a beautiful woman in a kimono. For breakfast the next day the wait staff wore samue.

Samu means everyday labor and -e means clothes. Buddhist monks have worn the samue for centuries.

The samue wore by the wait staff were in pretty colors. I bought these navy blue ones to wear like scrubs. They are very comfortable.

At a flea market in Japan, I bought this top. It is my favorite jacket because it is comfortable, looks fine without ironing and is lightweight for Hawaiian weather. The inside is lined at the top with cotton fabric with writing printed on it. I think a sack was used for the lining.

I love the indigo color with jeans.

© 2010 J.B. Vadeboncoeur


Posted by on January 12, 2010 in Japan, Uncategorized


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Once I went to water aerobics and felt social anxiety. I observed myself thinking things like, other people don’t like me. I stopped those thoughts and asked for the ‘light’, the energy of the universe to fill me. As I did the exercises, I envisioned light coming out of the ends of my limbs and spreading through the water to the others. Then instead of feeling anxious, I felt like I was contributing and in that I felt worthwhile just being who I was and doing the class.

Before that I was caught up in thinking that because I didn’t want to join in other group activities that they would reject me.

I was after a way to feel that I am enough and that I have something of value to offer. What I got was a sense of oneness where being enough isn’t an issue.

In the above example, my demands on myself changed from thinking I had to do more activities to be accepted by the group; to feeling content with doing this class and knowing I was sending positive energy to all. In that, I was acceptable to myself and acceptance by the others didn’t matter to me.

© 2010 J.B. Vadeboncoeur


Posted by on January 11, 2010 in How to


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Travel to Japan – Footwear

One of my favorite things that I brought back from Japan was these socks.

They are made from mulberry, I believe the stems. They are so comfortable and conform to your foot. they give your toes lots of wiggle room. I was afraid to wash them and ruin them but they are very sturdy. I throw them in the washer with the rest of my whites.

They came from the Gungendo Company in Omori-Cho n Shimane Prefecture, Japan.

At a temple I admired a monk’s socks, called tabi. Later I bought myself a pair. They’re made of the smoothest woven cotton and have non-slip bottoms. They close up snug around your ankles with fasteners.

The Japanese have very flexible feet compared to most Americans. They keep the freedom to move their toes. I saw a basket weaver and he used his feet like another pair of hands.

These socks work very well with flip flops or the Japanese geta. I bought myself a pair of men’s geta because the women’s didn’t come in my size – an 8. My feet used to bother me sometimes and I would wear jogging shoes with lots of cushioning to make them feel better. With a geta your foot is basically on a flat slab of wood. I was concerned that they would not be comfortable. I was very surprised that my feet felt better while wearing them.

Perhaps part of that is the amazing agility you have when leaning forward and back in the geta. It can’t be beat for going up and downhill. I’ve worn mine out and need to get more.

There is a less expensive version made in China. I don’t recommend it. They detach at the strap between the toes very easily. With my Japanese geta, I have worn out the wood, (with much use), and the strap is still secure.

© 2010 J.B. Vadeboncoeur


Posted by on January 10, 2010 in Japan


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Fridays for Friends

Fridays will now be for friends and will feature a post about a fellow blogger. Since I’ve been posting in the evening and my evening is late night zulu time, I’ll post it on Thursday evenings.

Today’s is about Daria from
Daria’s Blog

Daria won the book, The 3 A.M. Epiphany. Here’s a little about her:

“My name is Daria and I’m relatively new to blogging. Sure, I have had a blog for quite a while, but only recently have I understood what it is to Blog, and what goes into it… I enjoy writing, and reading what others write, but I am now learning what goes into a blog – traffic, readers and the like. The 3AM Ephiphany is going to be a great benefit for me, and I cannot wait to see what kind of reading exercises it holds, and I am excited to try every one.

My newlywed husband may not be so excited (he is not a fan of my hours on the computer, but he will live), but I think it will work out well in the long run! My blog is new, and because of that, I welcome all constructive criticism! If you don’t blog well, who am I going to learn from?? =)

JB – thank you so much for this contest, and this book! I appreciate it, and will hope to take advantage of this teaching in the near future! =)”

You’re welcome Daria. I’d love to hear how the exercises go for you.

Next Friday I am committing to having read the book I won on Thea Phipps blog, and commenting on it. Her book is called The Doll In The Wall and I’m hooked. It’s a humorous mystery.

© 2010 J.B. Vadeboncoeur


Posted by on January 9, 2010 in writing


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By Jeanne Litt.

Are you adventuresome in your eating? Are you willing to try new tastes? The Japanese are. If you traded your lunch for a Japanese bento box, you would probably get a very different meal from the one you brought.

If you went to school in Japan, you might have a cold lunch in a box called a Bento. Bento box can mean the box that the lunch is put in or the lunch itself. Bento means “behind the curtain.” The lunches were first served to actors behind the curtain at the Kabuki theatre in the 1600’s. The actors needed a lunch that they could eat while working.

The foods in a bento box are arranged very beautifully. If your mother made it, she would have spent almost an hour preparing and arranging it. She would put it in a lacquered wood or plastic box that you carefully bring back home. Or, you can buy bentos ready to go in a disposable box or basket.

Inside is full of a variety of foods and colors. The Japanese encourage eating thirty different foods a day and 100 different foods a week. They do this for enjoyment. If you eat one food, you only taste the first few bites. If you eat one or two bites of many different foods; then your taste buds are interested throughout the entire meal.

A Japanese meal will include all kinds of flavors – salty, sour, bitter and sweet. You will find different textures – crispy foods, for example, fried chicken or shrimp. There will be chewy textures, like grilled fish and seaweed. You will have soft food such as custard, steamed rice and boiled vegetables. And you will likely have something slimy, like okra.

Some things will delight you. You may find soft play dough-like gluten formed in the shape of a leaf. It will be colored with food coloring, green in summer and red and yellow in the fall. A slippery smooth egg custard will surprise you with a bite of tasty white fish in the center and a ginkgo nut (it tastes like a roasted chestnut). What looks like a perfectly formed mushroom turns out to be a potato, carved and colored brown. Pine nuts stuck into a center of bean paste look like a pine cone. A few grains of rice still clinging to their stalk are cooked until puffed like popcorn.

Often pickles are included. A sour-salty umeboshi plum will leave your mouth bursting with flavor and you reluctant to spit out the pit.

There will be seaweed, often strips of Nori – dark green-black and paper-like. You place this on your rice and scoop up a bite of rice along with the Nori. This paper-like seaweed softens on your tongue. It tastes and smells slightly fishy. Some seaweed is thicker and chewy, with a stronger flavor. Japanese are fucivorous, that is seaweed eating. Seaweed makes up 15% of their diet.

A bento box meal can be as simple as batter dipped fried rice and rice balls enclosing a bite of fish or bean filling with pickled ginger. Some are very elaborate. What would be in your lunch if you traded? Your lunch would probably seem as strange to them as theirs is different to us.

© 2010 Jeanne Litt


Posted by on January 8, 2010 in Japan


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Travel To Japan – More Toilet Paper Holders

In addition to yesterday’s toilet paper holder; there were two others that I noted.

One was a beautiful clam shell type apparatus, simulated here by my hands.

To add paper just lift the top part of the clam shell and place the roll of paper in. Then let the top of the clam shell back down.

No little metal bar is needed to put through the center of the roll. The clam shell holds it it place and allows sheets to be pulled out and torn off. It is quicker and easier to change a roll than our traditional types. It looked very pretty and completely covered the roll, not like my simulation.

In one elegant bathroom, the Japanese owners had a flat rectangular plate holding a stack of rectangular sheets of toilet paper. No roll at all, just take a few sheets as needed.

The Japanese are very good at ‘borrowing’ ideas from other cultures and improving them.

© 2010 J.B. Vadeboncoeur


Posted by on January 7, 2010 in How to, Japan


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Travel To Japan – Bathroom fixtures

Before I went to Japan, a co-worker of mine told me about a gift they had received from a friend who traveled to Japan. The friend, (knowing my co-worker’s husband built houses), brought him back a toilet paper holder.

She described it to me. There are two little projections that hold the toilet paper roll.

Instead of taking the roll off the holder and removing the metal bar that holds the roll in place; these two appendages lift up and release or grab a roll. Much quicker and easier to replace a roll.

This is one of the many innovations of the Japanese. A Japanese toilet is a whole other post.

© 2010 J.B. Vadeboncoeur


Posted by on January 6, 2010 in How to, Japan


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Matcha Tea at home

Most days I have matcha at midmorning when my day settles down a little.

I eat a tea sweet while the water is heating. I get them from Costco here in Hawaii. They only have them in the fall.

Then I take my Matcha out of the freezer. I get it from Matcha and More. They order it from Japan when you place your order. It comes in two weeks. My current favorite is Kiun or Joyous Clouds.

Measure two scoops, ( approximately 1/4 teaspoon), of powdered green tea using a curved bamboo measure.

Add hot water, (1/3 cup more or less), and whisk with a bamboo whisk. It’s cut from a single piece of bamboo. Use it at first to mash up any lumps, then beat till frothy.

Then hold up your bowl and say “ita daki mas.” One translation is, “I receive.”

© 2010 J.B. Vadeboncoeur


Posted by on January 5, 2010 in How to, Japan


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