My name is Lisa and I'm a crafty girl with wanderlust working as an engineer by day. My blog chronicles projects in my home as well as pictures and stories from my travels.




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Entries in United States (96)


Picture of the Day: Yellow Leaves Along Torch Lake




















Torch Lake, Michigan


Picture of the Day: Autumn Aspen in Front of Devil's Tower



















Devil's Tower National Monument, Wyoming


American Presidential Election as an Expat in Japan

The 2012 American Presidential campaign is in full swing with the first of the debates between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama last night. Election time is such a wonderful chance to see our democracy in action and I enjoy learning more about the candidates and their ideas.

I like following politics and can be pretty opinionated sometimes so I always vote in every election. A typical presidential Election Day will find me heading to the polls and then dorkily, but proudly wearing my "I Voted Today" sticker to work. In the evening I eagerly watch the election returns come in, often times inviting people over to watch for an election party.

During the last presidential election, however, I had quite a different experience since I was living in Japan in 2008. One of the biggest differences was my exposure to campaign ads. Back in the US it is common to be continuously bombarded with election information and advertising. In Japan I had the luxury of choosing how much I wanted to be exposed to since I was seeking information out myself on the internet. I found it quite refreshing actually and had a lot of fun following how the campaigns unfolded from afar.

Having the chance to talk to other expats from different countries and my Japanese colleagues about what they thought of the election was interesting. Hearing an outside perspective was thought provoking and I had a number of fun discussions learning about how elections are run in other countries and how it contrasts with the United States.

A little town in Fukui Prefecture in Japan is named Obama (小浜) so during the election it received a lot of publicity in Japan for sharing a name with one of the American Presidential candidates. The town capitalized on its newfound fame by making all sorts of memorabilia with the candidate's image on it. They even made sweets emblazoned with Barack Obama's face. 

Actual voting was quite different for me while I was in Japan. I wasn't going to let being overseas keep me from voting so I applied for an absentee ballot which I had never done before. It seemed really strange to vote by mail in October a few weeks before the election instead of going to my local polling station on Election Day but I was still happy to be have my chance to exercise my right to vote.

The weirdest thing for me was watching the returns come in. Instead of watching at home they were coming in while I was at work due to the 13 hour time difference from Eastern Standard Time and Japan Standard Time. All morning as I was working at my desk I kept peeking at the Internet to check the electoral college standings. By lunchtime I knew that Barack Obama had won over John McCain. This was a far cry from the election eight years prior to that where I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning during the 2000 election only to learn that the decision between George Bush and Al Gore would not be decided that night.

Despite already knowing the outcome of the election, I wasn't deterred from having an election party at my apartment that night. I decided to make American comfort food. With my Japanese kitchen only equipped with a stove top and a small convection microwave and my grocery access limited to Japanese offerings I had to be creative with my menu. I wanted to make burgers but since that wasn't feasible in my kitchen I made sloppy joes served on some rolls that I found instead. For sides I made potato salad and green bean casserole. I also decided to make curried apple pumpkin soup since I had some canned pumpkin that I had brought from the US to Japan with me for something special. 

To add a little patriotic flare I added some skewers to the sloppy joes. I had found a package of red, white and blue twist ties at a Hyaku-En Store and attached them to the top of the skewers making little pennants. 

We had a fun night and for the Americans in attendance it was nice to eat some food we hadn't had in a long time. I never knew before that I could crave potato salad...

What do you normally do on Election Day?


Picture of the Day: Observation Deck on Top of Rockefeller Center




















New York, New York


Picture of the Day: Cypress Trees Along the Dora Canal





















Tavares, Florida



It just didn't seem right to post about a craft project or a travel adventure today. Today is a day to reflect on all the things that I shouldn't take for granted but I do. It is also a day to make a point of showing gratitude to the people who serve our country even though I really should thank them every day. I was lucky enough that no one I knew or loved was hurt in the attacks and my heart goes out to all those whose lives were shattered on that day.


The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of my Short Trip to Upstate New York

Wednesday evening of this past week I had to fly out to Syracuse, NY for a work meeting on Thursday morning. A supplier that I work with is located in the Finger Lakes region so I have taken this trip many times. It is never a great flight because it is on a tiny plane which tends to be uncomfortable but I had no idea what I was in for this time.

The Bad
The early evening flight was sold out so I was on a 9:45 flight which meant that after picking up my rental car and driving to Auburn I would likely be at my hotel by midnight. It wasn't going to be great but not that bad either.

Unfortunately my flight was delayed but since it wasn't too bad of a delay so I wasn't that concerned. After boarding the flight the pilot apologized that the air conditioning wasn't working. It was absolutely miserable - think 100 degrees with no air circulation. A baby in the back of the plane was screaming his head off most of the flight and although it made the situation worse I really couldn't blame him. On top of that the gentleman sitting beside me didn't feel limited to his own seat area and was almost sitting on top of me.

About half an hour into the flight I was trying to concentrate on my book and ignore my discomfort when the pilot came back on the PA. Due to some maintenance issues we had to head back to Detroit. A few minutes later the pilot came back to let us know that since they needed to burn off some fuel before the approach we needed to circle for a while before landing. After over an hour of miserable flying I was back where I started.

At first the air conditioning of the terminal was a welcome change but quickly the drastic change in temperature started to give me terrible chills. After an hour and a half of the flight saying we were about to board a new flight we finally managed to get on a new flight and head toward Syracuse. Lucky for me we had the same seat assignments so Mr. I Don't Care About Your Personal Space was next to me again.

When we finally arrived I was thrilled that I had only packed a carry on and didn't have to wait for any baggage. I also nearly kissed the rental car agent because she had kept the agency open over two hours after they normally close to wait for our flight. I got on the road and made it to my hotel in Auburn at nearly three in the morning.

I've flown a lot, but this was my worst flight experience. Don't get me wrong, I've had flights delayed longer or cancelled and stuck someplace for a day. But in each of those instances I've made the best of things by enjoying some extended sightseeing somewhere or relaxing and reading at an airport cafe. In short, my original plans were derailed but I wasn't miserable. On this trip I was just physically feeling miserable the entire time, plus I knew I would only be able to catch a few hours of sleep before a full day of work where I needed to be interacting with people all day. 

The Good
This post isn't all doom and gloom. After making it through the day on Thursday I went out for dinner at a lovely place called the Sherwood Inn in Skaneateles with my coworkers. The Sherwood Inn is across the street from a park overlooking Skaneateles Lake so before we sat down for dinner I wandered around a bit and took a few pictures. It was really beautiful and I wished I had some time to enjoy the lake.

Back at the Sherwood Inn I had a wonderful dinner. The restaurant's history dates back to 1807 when it was a stagecoach stop. The building itself was charming with blue clapboard and shingle siding and black shutters. Inside it was just as quaint and we ate our dinner on their Lakeview Porch and watched the sun set.

Our food was delicious. We started by sharing some appetizers including the Dynamite Calamari, which were crispy fried and tossed with hot peppers, Sriracha chili vinaigrette, cilantro and lime, and the Sherwood Kettle Chips, which were freshly made and served with melted blue cheese, bacon and bacon-ranch dipping sauce. Both were incredible and I would not be able to pick a favorite.

For dinner I had the Ommegang Steamed Seafood entree which consisted of littleneck clams, shrimp and mussels steamed in a Belgian Ale with fingerling potatoes, cherry tomatoes, yellow peppers and Swiss chard. The seafood was cooked perfectly and I loved the dish. I was stuffed after dinner but made the mistake of looking at the dessert menu anyway and couldn't help ordering the Strawberry-Rhubarb Lemon Tart. It was a lemon tart with a strawberry rhubarb topping that was out of this world. I think I need to try to make something like this at home sometime.

The Ugly
After a my wonderful meal the stress of the flight into town had been replaced with simple exhaustion. I got into my car to drive to my hotel near the airport looking forward to getting a full night of sleep before flying home on Friday morning. That was not to be, however. 
During my drive, my airline called with a pre-recorded message to inform me that my flight home was cancelled. I didn't pick up since I was driving and by the time I was able to reschedule my flight everything was booked up except for the 6:10 am flight. My dreams of sleep flew out the window. I can't explain how defeated I felt especially knowing that I was going to have to be at work late on Friday. I ended up making it through the day (it was not pretty!) and needless to say that when I made it home at nine in the evening I crashed. Hard. Really hard. 

Looking back (now that I've slept!) it's a funny story and I am going to be getting some frequent flier mileage compensation which takes a little sting out of things. What was your worst flying experience? Delays, cancellations, redirected flight: I want to hear!


Picture of the Day: New York Skyline at Twilight



















New York, New York


Picture of the Day: Arizona Cactus in Bloom

















Phoenix, Arizona


Picture of the Day: Angel Sculptures on Bass Performance Hall




















Ft. Worth, Texas

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