Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Saturday night with homemade pizza

Last Saturday we had fun making pizzas together for our dinner.
I made the pizza dough, and Amar prepared toppings and baked the pizzas.
The funniest part was when Amar tried (successfully!) to toss the pizza dough in the air to enlarge and shape it.

I referred to a recipe in a book called "The Bread Baker's Apprentice" (by Peter Reinhart) to make this pizza dough, and in that recipe, Reinhart recommends to toss the pizza dough to shape just as the professionals do. (see the picture)
I wouldn't dare to do it myself for fear of dropping and spoiling the dough, but when I asked Amar if he can do it, showing this picture, he must have taken it as a challange (!), for he immediately said, "Yes, I can." And he did!

Totally impressed, I asked him, "So, did you always shape the pizza dough this way in the past?" To which Amar replied, "No, this is the first time I did it." And he explained that he thought he could do it because it is a same kind of trick as "throwing peanuts and catching them with the mouth" and things like that. "Boys grow up worrying about these things, you know." concluded he with a wink. Hmm, I see.

Well, thanks to the professional-like shaping of the dough, pizzas came out very thin and crispy, yet with creamy texture when you bite them, and the toppings were very nice too. (One was a simple yet delicious pizza margherita - my favorite, and the other was with kale, mushroom, garlic, turkey and fontina cheese.) Um, yum! Thank you, Amar!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Our News from 2006

Our biggest news from 2006:

1) Amar & Michiko held our wedding celebration & reception in NZ, the gloom's home country, in March. It was a great gathering of our family and friends in NZ, and those who flew from Japan and UK. Michiko's family and Amar made a short trip around NZ (the north island) after the celebration.

2) Michiko moved to Bloomington, IN, US, to join Amar and start a new life together in May.

3) We bought a house (a nice-looking house built in 1985) and moved in to the house in August. (If you are curious, please check out the house pictures at my old blog site photo pages:

4) We made a short trip to NY and stayed with M's former colleague's family for three days in July.

5) We made a short weekend trip to Chicago in September, and we spent one afternoon with our Scandinavian-couple friends Sune and Anneli, who also happened to be staying in Chicago over that weekend.

Michiko's biggest news from 2006:

1) I have been settling in very well in Bloomington. The town is a bit small, but not too small and when you get used to, the size is actually quite comfortable. Beautiful town thanks to a lot of big trees, greens (or red colors in autumn) and flowers everywhere; and due to the fact that it is a university town, the atmosphere is quite liberal and international (which is very unique and special in the middle of U.S. Midwest), and we have quite a good variety of international cuisine restaurants.

2) I started baking bread, for the first time in my life, in September, and now I am hooked to it. So far I have been baking one or two, sometimes even three, different kinds of bread every week. (If you like, please check out the pictures of some of the bread I have baked so far, on my old blog site:

3) I started learning the piano again in November, after as long as 18 years of being out of practice. I used to learn the piano from the age of 10 until I graduated high school, but I gave it up when I moved to Tokyo for my university education because I couldn't keep a piano in my small apartment in Tokyo. I have always been wanting to take it up again, for I love music, especially the sound of piano, and nothing beats playing the piano to make me so calm and content whatever the worries I have at that moment (for I am quite a "worried soul" if you see what I mean ;-) ... Anyways, Amar and I bought a second-hand upright piano for my Christmas gift, and ever since any single day passes in this house without me playing it.
My piano teacher, Natsuki, is a Japanese postgrad student in IU (=Indiana University) Bloomington Music School, which is highly acclaimed as one of the top 3 public music schools in the country. We are now very good friends too, not only being a teacher and a student.

4) Though we decided to take time for me to find a full-time job until we get green cards, I have been trying to get myself to become a part of the local community: I have taught English pronunciation to one Chinese post-doc researcher for 5 months (we finished the sessions because he made a very good progress during the time); I volunteered to do a tea ceremony demonstration at IU's Asian Culture Center in November; and through the connection I made at that occasion, I was asked to start teaching Japanese at the Asian Culture Center from May this year (2007) (hooray!). And finally, since December 2006, I have been doing a volunteer work at the local public library once a week. So there, combined with my hobbies such as piano, baking and cooking, these keep me busy all the week and all the year around.

5) I got my driver's license on the 9th of December, after all 16 years of my rejection and fear of driving. (This is really some major achievement for me, who managed to avoid driving even while living in LA for a year.) Now that I overcome my fear and inability, I enjoy freedom that comes with capability of driving, and driving around the town whenever I want to ;-)

Amar's news from 2006:

Well, I need to ask Amar to write himself or tell me what his personally biggest news are from 2006.
Meanwhile, however, I can guess some of them ;-)

1) Working hard every day, all through the year, as a young assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry, Indiana University (IU). He has been trying to encourage, stimulate and inspire his postgrad students and post-doc researchers in his research group, and to integrate all the different personalities and characters into a good productive and creative team. I think it's been going quite well. (But as Amar usually is, he always aims at very high, so who knows how much furthur he could push his students as well as pushing his own boundaries... ;-)

We held Amar's research group's Christmas party at our house in early December. It was a great fun! (More pictures are on my old blog site:

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Snow garden photographs

4 days have passed since the snow on Sunday, but our garden is still mostly covered with snow.
The landscape with snow is strangely heart-stirring, so I went out to garden this morning and took some photographs.

Our back yard covered with snow:

Here is a sage plant with snow-flower caps at a little corner of our yard:

And, looking up at the sky, there was a poignantly beautiful combination of a lonesome tree top and a blue-gray sky.


Last Sunday morning (21st Jan.), we woke up to find a pure white world around the house - it was the first snow this year, and in this winter season. It had been really a mild, warm winter, but it seems the winter finally caught up with the passing of the season.

Amar shovelled snow, while I "fluffed around" (a favourite term of Amar's to tease me) trying in vain to make a snow man. Some kids in the neighborhood ran to our garden, aiming at using one of the trees in our front yard as a "fort" for throwing snow balls around (in Japanese, we literally call the game "snow ball battles").

I was smiling at these innocent kids, thinking that kids are the same everywhere, when I suddenly felt something hit me by back ... it was Amar's snow ball! Yes, I do already have a kid in our house, thank goodness ;-)