Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Little Aussie Bakery

While we were in San Antonio, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to visit The Little Aussie Bakery.  I've ordered plenty of bread from this place, and it ROCKS!  But...unlike most gluten free bakeries, this one also has a completely gluten free RESTAURANT!  OMG!  Michele and Joe agreed to try it out with me.  After driving down a pretty shady road (yay google maps directions) to get there, we finally arrived!  I decided that after a 4 hour drive, there was NO way I was waiting for a I made resevations.  And they had a cute little sign on the table waiting for me!  Bonus points.  The menu has a bunch of different options, so we decided to try a variety.  Joe and I ordered a lamb sandwich (it had a fun name but I seem to have forgotten it.)  Michele got a pasta bake.  We also ordered some garlic bread for the table and a pizza to split.  Yum.  PS - It was a lot of food.  They give you bread with all of the meals, I was SO excited to be able to eat the bread put on a table in front of me.  Even M&J said it was tasty.  Then the garlic bread came.  It was pretty epic.  But...nothing compared to the pizza.  I think I ate almost the whole thing that day (not in one seating, of course!)  The lamb sandwich was good, as well, but all I really remember is the pizza.  All in all, it was an awesome meal!  And I will definintely be making San Antonio a regular trip...JUST to visit this place!

The sign ALL for me!

The menu!

Me eating BREAD!

Our order of garlic bread


My first piece of THE PIZZA

My sandwich

Leftovers....see...told you we ordered a lot!

TWO thumbs up!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Nerd Room Re-Vamp!

A long, long time ago...the room at the front of my house was called the Nerd Room. For good reasons too. It had an Xbox 360, a PS3, a Wii, two gaming laptops and a 46 inch LCD. Fast forward to last week, when my "Nerd Room" was really just a room where a lot of stuff was stored. :) Angie and I spent the week packing up all of our CRAP in that room and hauling it to the guest room for temporary storage. And then...we took a trip to IKEA. IKEA is probably one of my favorite stores in the entire world. Even if I don't need anything, a trip to IKEA is always an awesome time. We headed there in search of brown-black five-by-five Expedit bookshelves. After a lot of research, we had decided these bookshelves would be perfect for the room because the cubbie holes were bigger than a 12x12 scrapbook, so we could actually store our scrapbooks and 12x12 paper on the shelves! WIN! We got to IKEA and I took one look at the 5x5 bookshelf and OMG it was huge (we're talking over 6 feet, which I knew, but didn't really realize until I was standing next to it!!) I started thinking that maybe the 4x4 was a better idea. Angie finally convinved me that the 5x5 was the best plan (we were planning to buy two 5x5 shelves, one for each of our stuff.) And we decided that white was a better option because (as Carolina nicely pointed out) everything else in that room is white. We headed down to pick up two 5x5 white bookshelves...and they were out of the 5x5 in white. Of course. Angie made a joke that this was God's way of telling her to listen to me. Ha! So, we got two 4x4s in white and one 2x4 in white. Did I mention that we had to call in our awesome friend Vince to haul all of this stuff home for us? He rocks. We got it home, bought Vince lunch and I took a nap. That evening we moved some of the exercise equipment around in the room and carpet cleaned (yay clean carpet!) Today (Sunday) we spent most of the day setting up three bookshelves and chasing Koby away from the small parts. We still have a lot of work to do in getting our stuff back in there, but for now...some pictures! Of our Nerd/Craft/Workout Room. I might have to come up with a better name for it... 
Our Loot!

Clean Room.  And a box for Koby to sit on!

Supervisor Koby!

Bookshelf number 1...pre-assembly

Bookshelf #1 claimed by Koby!

Big bookshelf #1!

Koby scaling his new mountain!

All three bookshelves put together and ready!

Saturday, October 15, 2011


Alright, so let’s talk about the trains in Tokyo because my attempt to ride them makes for some funny stories.  One of the train stations is right next to my hotel, so finding that train station was no big deal.  So on Saturday, I got there easily, found the machines that you use to buy tickets and then I had to figure out how to use them.  I knew what train station I need to get to, but instead of buying a ticket from point X to point Y, you buy a ticket that costs some number of Yen.  And then you can take a train to any stop that costs the number of Yen you paid.  If you accidently pay too little, they have these machines called “fare adjustment machines” so that you don’t have to live in the train station or get arrested trying to leave without paying enough.  Of course, none of this is explained in English (I know, I know, I’m in JAPAN) so it took me a little while to figure it out.  Lucky for me, however, they do put the English names on the maps so I wasn’t completely lost, I just had to find the station I wanted and it had the number of Yen above it.  I bought a ticket, went through the ticket machine (where they put a hole in your ticket and I’m sure there is something else done so that they know where you got on, but really, all I saw was a hole in my ticket.)  Then I boarded the train.  Easy, right?  Ha.  The reason this was easy is because the train from Tsukuba station only goes one direction, towards Tokyo.  You can't get on the wrong train (unless you get on a rapid train instead of a local train, but more on that later.)  I got to my stop where I had to change trains and that is where things got really complicated.  I paid the right amount so they let me out of the train station (rock on!)  I had to leave one train station to walk next door to get to the other train station (different railways.)  I got there and this one had no English name translations.  So, not only did I have no clue how much to pay, I had no idea which train to take.  With the help of some convenient signs and the map that I had printed from the internet, I found where I needed to go.  I got about three stops into this train when everyone got off.  And then there was me on a train that was stopped.  So, I got off.  And got back on.  And then got off to look at the signs again.  And then back on.  I did this like 6 times, I’m not kidding.  All the while, I am looking across the track to the other side where there are like 1500000 people and thinking to myself “I wonder if I am supposed to be over there?”  Finally, after all those people boarded the train and the train left, I realized that yes, indeed, I needed to be over there.  No worries, trains come like every 15 minutes.  Got on my train and realized it was a “rapid” train which means that it doesn’t stop at every stop.  Oops.  Someone loves me though, because it stopped at the one I wanted.  Phew.  Once I had this figured out, the trains got a little bit easier for me.  Too bad Houston doesn't have trains for me to practice on...
I have a grand total of ONE picture from all of my train riding and it is just of a map....but....enjoy :)

Monday, October 10, 2011

JAXA Visitors' Complex

At the front gate of JAXA (the space center in Tsukuba,) they have a visitors' museum and gift shop that is open to the public.  On Tuesday after work, K (my travel companion) and I decided to check it out on our way home.  They have a ton of mock-ups at the museum and the gift shop was stocked with some pretty cool things.  I bought some post cards, a space station model (assembly required) and some Manga for my friend, Carolina.  As for the mock-ups, the pictures don't really do them justice, but they are fun to look at anyway...



The Okura Frontier hotel is about a 30 minute walk to the back gate of JAXA (which gave me a required hour of exercise a day...rock on!)  The walk had a few small hills and a lot of bikers that tried to run us over as we walked.  The weather was gorgeous, so walking was the perfect way to wake up and wind down from the day!  Some pictures of the walking path...

Sunday, October 9, 2011

My Hotel

I am staying at the Okura Frontier Hotel in Tsukuba.  There are two buildings in the hotel, one is the main building and one is called “the Annex” and I am in the Annex, on the 5th floor.  The rooms in the annex are in a giant circle (technically a square) around the pool.  So, when I walk out my door, I can look down and see the pool.  Kind of cool.  It costs 1000 Yen (~$13) to use the pool.  Good thing I forgot my bathing suit. 

The hotel room is pretty much like any normal hotel room.  I have two twin beds (one to hold the feather blankets that I cannot use and one to sleep on,) a desk, a television and all of the normal things that are supposed to exist in the bathroom.  The toilet doubles as a bidet.  To date, I haven’t used that feature.  I’ll keep you posted, but don’t hold your breath ;) 

My hotel is, quite literally, right next to both the bus station and the train station.  I can see them from my window. 

I think the coolest part of my hotel room is the bathroom mirror.  It talks.  Just kidding.  BUT!  It does have a section right above the sink that doesn’t get foggy!  At first, I thought this was a fluke.  But it happens every day.  And that section of the mirror is warm to touch, unlike the rest of the mirror which is cool to the touch.  And my travel companion confirms that his mirror also does this trick.  Brilliant!  Kudos to whomever came up with that idea.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Going to Japan!

On Saturday morning, I packed my bags and headed to the airport.  In prep for my 13 hour flight, I bought an Ipad and loaded it up with movies and tv shows and music.  I also brought my Kindle (with new books) and my Ipod and lots of food!  I got to the airport pretty early (thanks to my roomie for driving me!) and got through security with no issues.  Then they called to board elite and first class and I realized that they were calling rows in both English and Japanese.  This makes sense, as I am going to Japan.  But they would call in Japanese first.  That amused me.  Anyway, they continued and I am 90% certain that they never actually called my row, but at some point, most of the people were on the plane or in line, so I decided that I should be too.  When I got on the plane, I stowed one of my bags in the overhead bin and the dude sitting in the middle seat next to my window wouldn't move, so I had to basically crawl around him to get to my seat.  No big thing, kind of funny though.  The plane ride was pretty uneventful.  A little turbulence at one point but nothing big.  They served me gluten free meals that were....gluten free airplane food.  Not the best, but better than nothing :)  One of my meals included black beans.  Brilliant.  Give me beans, when I am on a plane and have nowhere to go.  LOL.  Anyway, after about 3 hours on the plane, I thought to myself "hey, I'd be in Pennsylvania by now."  After about 8 hours, I was ready to get off of the plane.  But I survived. I watched a couple of movies on their in flight entertainment and a bunch of stuff on my Ipad.  I had concerns about my Ipad surviving the entire flight, but after 5 episodes of How I Met Your Mother and one episode of Erueka and watching The Ugly Truth, I was down to about 75% battery life.  Rock on, I love my Ipad!  We finally got to the Narita Airport and by this time I was mosty exhausted.  Got through immigration, baggage and customs just fine.  Got some Yen from an ATM, bought a bus ticket, bought some water, things like that.  Took the bus (about 2 hours) to Tsukuba where my hotel and the space center are.  Got checked in at my hotel, unpacked the clothes that would continue to wrinkle and went to bed!  I was sooooooooooooo tired by that point.
I took a picture of my gluten free airplane food, but is is on my phone so I can't get it until I get home.  I'll post it later.