Vernicious Knids

Random musings and snapshots about life, love, travel and everything in between...

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Live on the Edge!

Sydney Tower is the 2nd tallest freestanding structure in the southern hemisphere (Auckland's Sky Tower is the tallest) and now has the added attraction of Skywalk where you are harnessed onto a moving, glass floored platform 260 metres above street level. Fortunately, it is one of the safest buildings in the world and is able to withstand earthquakes and extreme wind conditions but not Godzilla!

After that adrenaline filled heartpumping action I suggest you take a contemplative stroll through the Royal Botanic Gardens which were established in 1816.

Photos taken in Sydney, September 2004.
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Saturday, April 29, 2006

Pockets of Tradition...

What I love most about living here...
is when I unexpectedly see
women wearing kimonos on the streets of Tokyo.
It makes me remember why I chose to live here!

I took this outside Zenkouji Temple in Omotesando
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Are You Feeling Stressed?

Then you need a pack of "relaxation inducing" GABA Chocolate "for people working in stressful environments" by Glico :

Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a non-essential amino acid that is required as an inhibitory neruotransmitter to prevent nerve cell over-firing. It can induce calmness, particularly in individuals who are highly agitated.

These chocolatey balls of goodness are available in milk or bitter chocolate. I prefer the bitter chocolate you can see above.
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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Ecological Footprint Quiz...

"Save the Earth Garden" taken from here

April 22nd was Earth Day so I took the
Ecological Footprint Quiz
and discovered that my total footprint is 3.2 global hectares.
In comparison, the average ecological footprint in Japan
is 4.8 global hectares per person.
If everyone lived like me, then we would need 1.8 planets.
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Friday, April 21, 2006

Rule the planet!

CNC - Chimpan News Channel - presents hard hitting news for...
...your pets!

Gomesu is the ever smiling anchor-ape who interviews weekly human guests for your viewing pleasure:

Tune in to Fuji terebi (channel 8) from Monday to Thursday that's something worth staying up for!

CNC supports better coexistence between people and animals.
(Apologies for the blurred images, I was laughing too hard to hold the camera properly!)
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Thursday, April 20, 2006

If wishes were horses...

Traditionally, in order to have a wish granted, wealthy Japanese would donate a horse to their local shrine - this custom then evolved into the donation of ema - a small wooden tablet with a picture of a horse on it. You write your wish or prayer on the back of the ema and hang it at the shrine - if your wish comes true, it's good form to buy another ema as thanks. Nowadays, ema may be illustrated with chinese zodiac symbols or a person or object associated with that particular shrine.

Tsuru or cranes have long been auspicious in Japan. If you fold senbazuru - 1000 origami cranes - your wish will also come true. The most famous example of this is Sadako who was 2 years old when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Many people believe that Sadako was only able to fold 644 cranes before she died from radiation poisoning, and her classmates folded the rest after her death, however, others say that she folded well over 1000 during her short life. Regardless, she is now a striking symbol for peace as she wished not only for her own health, but to bring peace and healing to all people.

I took these photos at Wakamiya Hachimangu Shrine in Kawasaki in April, 2005.
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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Xenu has landed...

Well it's official; the horrifying, puke-inducing train wreck labelled TomKat has given birth to Suri - AKA "pickpocket" or "sneak thief" in Japanese!

Point your browsers towards
Tom Cruise is Nuts to see the first picture of the bundle of .... ???

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Wicked Confessions...

A few years ago I read a book review about a new novel that looked at the psychology behind the Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz. It was obvious that my mission was to locate and read this book. I've always thought that the most fascinating characters in fairy tales were the naughty ones...though there is a tendency to paint them as one dimensional crones! Well I eventually tracked down my very own copy of Wicked by Gregory Maguire during our trip to Hawaii:

I eagerly devoured it on the plane ride home and became quite entranced in the life of Elphaba with her jagged teeth and green skin:

"She would emerge. She always had before. The punishing political climate of Oz had beat her down, dried her up, tossed her away - like a seedling she had drifted, apparently too desiccated ever to take root. But surely the curse was on the land of Oz, not on her. Though Oz had given her a twisted life, hadn't it also made her capable?" (Maguire, 2000:4)

Currently, I am immersed in Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister - his retelling of Cinderella:

I am as mesmerised by gaunt and unlovely Iris, as I was by Elphaba...

"In the lives of children, pumpkins can turn into coaches, mice and rats into human beings. When we grow up, we learn that it's far more common for human beings to turn into rats." (Maguire, 2000:x)
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Monday, April 17, 2006

Tagged Again:

My Float tagged here goes:

I AM: currently living in Tokyo, Japan.
I WANT: how much time have you got...this could take a while!
I WISH: politicians had half a brain - not a whole one, just half!
I HATE: salarymen that take up 2 seats on the train because they sit with their legs so far apart...grrr
I MISS: the spectacular Australian sky, especially the millions of night time stars :(
I FEAR: snakes.
I HEAR: constant noise around me - traffic, trains, loudspeakers on politican's such thing as noise pollution laws over here.
I WONDER: about everything...just too curious for my own good :)
I REGRET: nothing!
I AM NOT: Japanese.
I DANCE: around the real issues...nah just kidding! Around my living room now that we live in an apartment with some space :D
I SING: a lot and sometimes at all-night karaoke!
I CRY: when I say goodbye to people at airports :(
I AM NOT ALWAYS: as patient as I could be :p
yummy desserts WITH MY HANDS
I WRITE: in English and (sometimes) Japanese.
I CONFUSE: the Japanese particles "wa" and "ga".
I NEED: to read daily.
I SHOULD: eat less gelato and ice cream.
I START: afresh each day.
I FINISH: every book I start.
Stepping Stones , and Gaijin Girl!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

People, hospitality and cleanliness...

As today is Easter we went to our local Royal Host restaurant for lunch today. Why did we choose Royal Host for such a special occasion? Simply because "fine food is our business for the people hospitality cleanliness" can you argue with that?!

I selected the Chef's recommendation and healthy choice Tofu and Hijiki Hamburg set you can see below:

It came with 2 patties, a piece of carrot, a floret of broccoli, half a potato and a slice of pumpkin. In the top left hand corner of the tray you can see grated daikon (giant white radish) flavoured with umeboshi. The lower left hand corner is gokokugohan (5 grain rice) containing rice, wheat, 2 kinds of millet and beans. The top right corner is a leafy green vegetable with a light honey mustard dressing and the bottom right corner is miso soup with decorative cherry blossom shaped daikon slices. The tofu patties were light and fresh with a small amount of ground chicken included. Hijiki is a black, slightly bitter tasting seaweed that is best used in slow cooking dishes. It is a rich source of protein, iron, calcium, zinc and iodine and also contains cancer-fighting lignans.

My better half decided to go for the Most Popular Omeraisu Combination Plate you see below:

It came with a small omeraisu - basically ketchup flavoured rice smothered with a light, fluffy omelette served with a demiglace sauce which today also included 5 green peas. Obviously you don't want to go crazy with your greens! It also had one ebifurai (fried shrimp) and 2 kanikuriimu korokke (creamy crab croquettes). This fried delight was served with shredded cabbage, sliced cucumber, a scoop of potato salad and a wedge of lemon.

I hope your Easter has been similarly people hospitality cleanliness filled!

(BTW the scrumptious pics above were swiped from Royal Host )
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Saturday, April 15, 2006

Sangkhlaburi Serenity...

It's been a full-on week and finally it's time to sit back and chill...

When I stayed in Sangkhlaburi, Thailand I was fortunate to see this stunning sunset. This enormous lake - Kheuan Khao Laem - was artificially created and actually flooded out an old village. In the background you can see the longest wooden bridge in Thailand known locally as Uttamanuson Bridge. It's 850 metres long and leads to a Mon village of thatched huts, dirt paths and smuggled goods. The bridge is a good place to view the merging point of the Songkaria, Bikhli and Ranti rivers.
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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Chocolatey Maths...

This brain workout (with some smart alec tweaks) was in my inbox this morning:

Don't tell me your age; you would probably lie anyway - but Willy Wonka will know!

It takes less than a minute
Work this out as you read
Be sure you don't read the bottom until you've worked it out!
This is not just one of those time wasters, it's a fun time waster!

1. First of all, pick the number of times a week that you would like to
eat chocolate
(more than once but less than 10)

2. Multiply this number by 2 (just to be realistic!)

3. Add 5

4. Multiply it by 50 -- I'll wait while you get the calculator...

5. If you have already had your birthday this year add 1756 (and say Happy Birthday!) ....

If you haven't, add 1755. (and be ready for the gifts to roll in!)

6. Now subtract the four digit year that you were born. (no lying...I'll know!)

You should have a three digit number (if you don't...use your calculator silly!)

The first digit of this was your original number
(i.e., how many times you want to eat chocolate each week).

The next two numbers are YOUR AGE! (Oh YES, it is!!!!!)


Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Life Lessons from the Animal Kingdom...

If different species of animals can tolerate each other, why can't human beings live peacefully together?

Taken at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Brisbane, Australia
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Monday, April 10, 2006

Is it a muffin? Is it a cake? No, it's a pudding...

Considering my blog's name is inspired by a chocoriffic movie I've decided it's high time to increase the chocolate content of my posts...

I made this for dessert on Saturday night

I wish I could say I made it from scratch...but then I'd be lying! It was a packet muffin mix, but as I didn't have any muffin papers I decided to improvise. I added a tablespoon of dried coconut milk to the mix and some extra choc chips...because you can never have too much chocolate! To make the sauce, I combined frozen blueberries and raspberries with some honey and ground cardamom and shoved it in the microwave for 1 minute.

And it tasted divine!
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Saturday, April 08, 2006

Whole lotta shakin' going on...

I know that I've chosen to live in one of the most seismologically active areas in the world but I really don't need to see physical reminders of this:

The photo above is of the cracks that have recently appeared in our living room wall. Today we had the builders come around to check if our apartment is structurally sound - fortunately it is. They rejoined the cracks and regaled us with tales of our neighbours' woes. Apparently their walls have actually shifted and are starting to buckle, whereas we only have cracks. I guess this is good news?!

This sign points to the fire extinguisher in our living room - do you think this will stop the cracking?

BTW there's a Japanese proverb "Jishin, Kaminari, Kaji, Oyaji" (Earthquake, Lightning, Fire, Father) which lists the things people are afraid of in order of importance!
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Friday, April 07, 2006

What I'm listening to on my iPod Mini this month:

With my recent rediscovery of a long lost fave is it any wonder that my most played song this month is:
  1. Sky - Sonique
  2. It Feels So Good - Sonique
  3. Strutter - Kiss
  4. Never There - Cake
  5. Would I Lie To You - Eurythmics
  6. Waiting For Somebody - Paul Westerberg (Singles Soundtrack)
  7. Diamonds On The Inside - Ben Harper
  8. Forever Lost - The Magic Numbers
  9. Break It (Down James Brown) - Offcutts
  10. Rather Hazy - Macy Gray

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Granitoid Lanterns...

Remember that stone lantern obsession I told you about?

Well, I wasn't kidding!

Stone lanterns were originally used to provide a subtle light during tea ceremonies. The shape of these lanterns were not standardised but were generally comprised of the following 6 features: kurin (ornamental top), kasa (cap), hibukuro (light chamber), chudai (middle stand), sao (post) & jirin (base). Nowadays, you can find at least one example of a granite lantern in a Japanese garden - I usually manage to locate more than one :)

(Picture taken at Kaminoike - Upper Pond, Shinjuku Gyoen)
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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Geoluhread strikes again...

As you now know, I am obsessed with stone you will discover my other little secret:

I love the torii (gates) found in shrines. The torii can be made of stone or wood and they mark the approach and entrance to the shrine. The vermillion ones are the most common - and I like these the best!

I especially love it when they are covered with the shimenawa (straw rope with white zigzag paper strips). The shimenawa indicates a boundary to something sacred.

Finding torii and a stone lantern together - Priceless!
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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

More cherry blossom goodness...

If you ever visit Tokyo then a trip to Shinjuku Gyoen is essential no matter what the season.

Kyu Goryo Tei (The Taiwan Pavilion) reflected in Kaminoike (Upper Pond)

I'm obsessed with these stone lanterns...I love them!

Come May / June, the azalea bushes in front will be a riot of colour!

Told you I was obsessed! I like the budding soccer player on the left too...

The park is open from 9:00am to 4:30pm - with last admission at 4:00pm - Tuesdays to Sundays and is a 10 minute walk from JR Shinjuku station or a 5 minute walk from Shinjuku Gyoen Mae station on the Marunouchi subway line. It's 200 yen to enter - a bargain as far as I'm concerned!
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The apples of love...

After reading about Ivonne's delicious tomato soup, I was inspired to create something tomatoey for dinner on Sunday night...

1 onion (diced)
a few handfuls of mushrooms (sliced)
1 carrot (sliced)
1 eggplant AKA aubergine (sliced)
5 sun dried tomatoes
ground cumin
ground coriander
ground cardamom
olive oil
as much crushed garlic as you like (I used about 5 cloves)
white wine
2 fresh tomatoes (chopped)
1 can of tomatoes - crushed or whole (I used the ones we purchased at
as much spinach as you like (I used a lot because we love it!)
cracked black pepper

1. Saute the onion, mushrooms, carrot, eggplant and sun dried tomatoes with the herbs and spices in a little olive oil.
2. Add the garlic and a splash or two of white wine - simmer until absorbed (the dried tomatoes will be starting to plump up).
3. Add the fresh tomatoes and canned tomatoes and stir well. Put a lid on it and let it simmer for as long as you like.
4. Just before serving add the spinach and cook until just wilted.
5. Season with cracked black pepper.

Dollop artfully over some kind of carb - I used gnocchi but rice or pasta would work equally well - and dig in!

And the verdict: well I planned to have the leftovers for my lunch the next day...but there were none :p

BTW if you happen to visit
Cream Puffs In Venice you absolutely, positively must look at the most sinfully gooeylicious cheesecake ever!
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Monday, April 03, 2006

Crowds and Cherry Blossoms...

My previous cherry blossom post may have given the idea that we hunted the blossoms alone. In actual fact we shared this intimate experience with a few thousand other people:

I love the old lady at the front chowing down :p

McDonald's - the connoisseur's choice...

Agghh...too many people

Cherry blossom viewing...a tranquil escape from daily life?!
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Sunday, April 02, 2006


I've been tagged by the lovely Helen but I am changing this one slightly and have added my 2 yen worth in italics...

Place an X by all the things you've done this year:
( ) Smoked a cigarette (certainly inhaled enough ETS while going about my daily life...)
( ) Drank so much you threw up
( ) Crashed a friend's car
( ) Stolen a car
(X) Been in love (not "been" but "am / are" !)
( ) Been dumped (see above comment)
( ) Shoplifted
( ) Quit your job
( ) Been in a fist fight (Do verbal joustings count?!)
( ) Snuck out of your parent's house (would be kinda difficult considering it's in a different country!)
( ) Had feelings for someone who didn't have them back (see previous "love" comments!)
( ) Been arrested
( ) Gone on a blind date
( ) Lied to a friend
( ) Skipped school
( ) Seen someone die (of embarrassment...yes!)
( ) Been to Canada
( ) Been to Mexico
(X) Been on a plane (more than one!)
(X) Been lost (in books!)
(X) Been on the opposite side of the country (while on the planes!)
( ) Swam in the ocean
(I am horrified that I haven't done this yet...I miss the ocean)
(X) Felt like dying (Um the hayfever I've been suffering certainly made me feel like I was dying!)
( ) Cried yourself to sleep
( ) Played cops and robbers (LOL this was one of my faves as a kid!)
(X) Recently coloured your hair (today!)
(X) Done something you told yourself you wouldn't (the ice cream called my name...)
( ) Made prank phone calls
( ) Laughed until some kind of beverage came out of your nose (I've laughed a lot already this year, but I learned a long time ago not to drink and laugh at the same time!)
(X) Caught a snowflake on your tongue (yeah baby!)
(X) Danced in the rain (more of a dance to avoid the raindrops when I've forgotten my brolly than a "singin in the rain" production number!)
( ) Written a letter to Santa Claus (scheduled to be done in November!)
( \) Been kissed under the mistletoe (unfortunately no mistletoe about...but kissing under the cherry blossoms has definitely occurred!)
(X) Watched the sun rise with someone you care about
(X) Blown bubbles (Does in the pool count?!)
( ) Made a bonfire on the beach (see my swimming in the ocean answer...that's it; time to book another holiday to Thailand!)
( ) Crashed a party (I'm always invited!)
( ) Gone roller-skating
( ) Ice-skating (never ever done this)

Now it's my turn to tag Liz , Bearette , Ivonne & Elsa . Feel free to bend the rules as I did :)

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Cherry Blossom Hunting...

We went to Shinjuku Gyoen today to search for the elusive cherry blossom:

Note the crowds in the background!

Don't they look cuddly?!

These look like bunches of fairy floss (or cotton candy)!

Never fear, I still have a load more to post :)
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