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Cover Pinball, 1973 (Haruki Murakami)On Sunday several tweeps held a low-key minireadathon and some of us decided to buddyread Haruki Murakami’s Pinball, 1973 together. I think @Chinoiseries, @inspringthedawn and @Owl59 accomplished more than I did… I got distracted by the fine hiking weather (still rare these days) and this month’s Hello Japan! mini-challenge which seemed such a great conclusion of my Murakami day: cooking (and eating) Japanese.

Japanese dinner, Sunday February 13th 2011

After making shiromiso soup for January’s Hello Japan! mini mission I had an open packet of aburaage (bean curd bags) that desperately needed finishing, so I put inarizushi (tofu puffs) on this week’s menu plan. But who can resist preparing some maki rolls as well when making a batch of sushi rice? Especially now that I had some avocado waiting in the fruit basket!

Next to that we had steamed broccoli with sesame seeds and lemon wheels. Pickled ginger, soy sauce and sake could not be omitted. ;)

Cover Vegetarian Table: Japan (Victoria Wise)All recipes for our Sunday dinner came from a fabulous cookbook that I’ve mentioned before, The Vegetarian Table: Japan (Victoria Wise). For our sushi rolls I didn’t follow a recipe but picked the ingredients from what I had at hand:

  1. avocado – wasabi veganaise – leek sprouts
  2. shiitake mushrooms – cucumber – spring onion – pickled ginger
  3. avocado – wasabi ‘mayo’ – shiitake – spring onion – (white) sesame seeds

They were all very nice but I think no.’s 1 and 3 were my favourites. Having leek sprouts was a lucky coincidence — and I’m definitely going to remember that for next time!

The tofu puffs contained carrot, broccoli stem and black sesame seeds mixed into the rice.

A good thing about eating Japanese is obviously that possible leftovers make a great bento. And what a surprise, Mr Gnoe opted for a small Monday bento too!

Hello Japan! Bento, 14-02-2011

Mr Gnoe’s bento (left container)

  • Tofu puff
  • Oak leaf lettuce
  • Assortment of sushi rolls
  • Soy fishy
  • Pickled ginger
  • Shiitake ‘slug’
  • Cucumber
  • Japanese strawberry candy

Gnoe’s bento (middle container)

  • Cherry tomatoes and shiitake mushroom on red leaf lettuce
  • Maki sushi
  • Cucumber

Right container

  • Shiitake mushroom
  • Lemon wheels
  • Broccoli
  • Cucumber
  • Soy container (hiding)
  • Batavian lettuce leaf
  • Pickled ginger
  • Inarizushi
  • Garden cress
  • More sushi rolls

On the side (not shown)

  • Apple
  • Ontbijtkoek

Gorgeous gift from a generous soul!Now I’d like to put the spotlight on those lovely chopsticks you see in the picture. I got them for a present from a kindhearted fellow bentoïst on my 3-year bentoversary. I use them regularly but rarely with a bento because most times a spoon suits my European-style lunches fine.

Don’t you love these bright sakura hashi? I instantly get a spring feeling when I hold them! And I even got another pair of chopsticks and some more goodies along with it. *Lucky grrl!* Months have past but I am still immensely grateful for this kind gesture.

Bentoïsts make the world a better place! ;)

Hello Japan! is a monthly mini-challenge
focusing on Japanese literature and culture.
Each month there is a new task which relates
to some aspect of life in Japan.


Ringo sunbathing (2009)

I know I already did a book-related 2010 wrap-up post, but on Bookie Mee I came across the 2010 wrap-up meme inspired by A Guy’s Moleskin Notebook and thought it fun to play along.

So here goes…

The first book you read in 2010: Trespass by Valerie Martin

The last book you finished in 2010: The Christmas Quilt by Thomas J. Davis

The first book you will finish (or did finish!) in 2011: Caos Calmo by Sandro Veronesi

Your favorite “classic” you read in 2010: The Temple of the Golden Pavilion by Yukio Mishima

The book series you read the most volumes of in 2010: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi and Les Aventures extraordinaires d’Adèle Blanc-Sec by Jacques Tardi (both graphic novels)

The genre you read the most in 2010: literary fiction (quite a lot of it being JLit)

The book that disappointed you: The Evenings (graphic novel) by Gerard Reve & Dick Matena

The book you liked better than you expected to: Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Haruki Murakami

The hardest book you read in 2010 (topic or writing style): The Pillow Book by Sei Shōnagon (struggled with it for months and almost gave up!)

The funniest book you read in 2010: Mutts by Patrick McDonnell

The saddest book you read in 2010: this is a hard one.. probably The Wasted Vigil by Nadeem Aslam

The shortest book you read in 2010: A Steam Whistle in the Night by Haruki Murakami

The longest book you read in 2010: The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

A book that you discovered in 2010 that you will definitely read again: I’m really not much of a re-reader but I know I’ll be picking up David Mitchell’s The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet again: I just won a Dutch copy and because of the games Mitchell played with my language in the English version, I’m curious to know how it was translated. I’ve heard the author say he liked what the translators did, so… That’s why I worked so hard a winning a copy ;)

A book that you never want to read again: Thomas J. Davis’ The Christmas Quilt; not that it wasn’t a cosy read for the holidays, but once is enough

And finally, make a New Year’s Resolution: since 2010 was a slow reading year I plan to read more — in time as well as amount of books; at least 11 more to be precise (Books on the Nightstand +11 reading challenge) BUT I won’t give in on quality over quantity!

And what’s the relevance of cat pictures in this post?
Absolutely none. :)
They’re just my cuties that almost didn’t make it into the new year.
And I’m awfully grateful they did.

Juno sunbathing in a cardboard box (2009)

Pet Pics, Prized Pages and Pachyderm Prose

So, it’s Sunday morning here, 20 minutes past 1 AM. Yes, I’m hanging in there! Doing well with the support of da kittehs — remember I didn’t even think Juno was going to make it until today? This afternoon she came to sit with me on the balcony! My cutie :)


But she’s not the only one keeping me company: our Shy Guy Ringo also spent some time on my lap. As you might deduce from his nickname, that is quite unusual. So I’m having a ball!

I’ve decided to use the readathon to give Sei Shonagon’s Pillow Book one more try. And it’s working! I’ve almost caught up with the Pillow Book Friday read-along at In Spring it is the Dawn (I do not own any shares of that great site, really I don’t ;) Since last status update I’ve read entries 109-142 and now I have only 7 more to go and I’m done for the week. Yay! That’ll count as 1 book for the readathon, don’t you think? :)

To answer the question of Pet Pics, Prized Pages and Pachyderm Prose, one of my favourite animal books is The White Bone by Barbara Gowdy. The main character is Mud, an elephant. So here’s my ‘emmy’ sentence: Mad Mud makes millions marvel. In contrast I’d like to share a picture of our third and last critter, who is minding her own business, Yoshitoshi. The smallest pet in the house has the grandest name ;)

Yoshitoshi having her own activities

Mid-event Meme

  1. What are you reading right now?
    Wrote about that just above!
  2. How many books have you read so far?
    Erm.. 1!
  3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?
    Probably The China Lover by Ian Buruma.
  4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day?
    Yep, had to prepare Mr Gnoe and make sure I had my snacks ready and house sort-a cleaned up, which I would have done on Saturday otherwise.
  5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?
    Ha, most interruptions come from the web (twitter, cheering, blogging, mini-challenges etc.), cuddling the cats and eating. Oh and then there’s the trouble with our kitchen plumbing… But I’m just hitting the ‘ignore’ button on that ;)
  6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?
    Although it’s LATE and I’m tired, I’m not really getting depressed yet!
  7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
    Nope, it’s a ball!
  8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year?
  9. Are you getting tired yet?
    Yep! Had to change my contacts for glasses and I’m looking kind of grey ;)
  10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered?
    No. If I think of something later on I’ll add it!

Typical Dutch afternoon snack

Status report

24 Hour Read-a-thonTime period: 21:45 – 1.20

Currently reading: The Pillow Book by Sei Shonagon

Total of time read: 6 hrs 20 mins
Total amount of pages read: 130 pages

Books finished: 1 books (The Follwing Story by Cees Nooteboom)
Mini-challenges participated in: 7 (Since last update: Pet Pics, Prized Pages and Pachyderm Prose, Mid-event Meme)

It was impossible to shoot a decent ‘solo’ picture of this week’s organic vegetables. I had locked out my feline friend Juno when I went to collect our veggie bag, so when I got back she was determined to stay in sight where ever I went and whatever I did. rest assured that she won’t be anyone’s dinner ;)

CSA Vegetable Bag week 20, 2010

  • Lettuce
  • Red Frills mustard
  • Rocket
  • Cucumber
  • Tree onion
  • Rhubarb
  • Turnip stems ? (raapsteeltjes)

It was fun to find something new among the loot, again :) When I say ‘new’ I really mean unfamiliar, since Amelis’Hof farm mainly grows traditional and often even ‘forgotten’ foods. Today’s treasure is ‘Red Frills mustard’ (mosterdblad) which can be used in salad, Indian saag or as garnish. I already had some in the Greek salad I ate for lunch; it’s nice and spicy.

The arugula went into a couscous dish last night with spinach, dried apricots and pine nuts. Next to it we had a salad of last week’s red Batavia, radishes and bundle garlic, tomato, egg, cucumber and a yoghurt-mustard dressing.

I’m not sure yet what to do with the rhubarb. I hated it as a child. In my heart head I still do, but I’ve tried it again and I know it’s not as horrible as I think it is. Maybe I’ll bake the rhubarb crumble that’s described in the leaflet accompanying the vegetables, or make some rhubarb oatmeal bars. They might provide a nice change for the Marmite cereal bars ;)

I guess I should start planning my menu for the week..!

It’s Sunday 2:45 and even my hamster is fast asleep… So I guess it will be alright for me to go take a cat nap? But not before I’ve answered the Mid-event Survey:24hrreadathonbutton

1. What are you reading right now?
I Am a Cat, by Natsume Soseki (yes, still).

2. How many books have you read so far?
I finished 1 (The Piano Man by Bernlef) and started my current read after that.

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?
My graphic novels :) And Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger — that wasn’t on my readathon pile but Mr Gnoe finished it and it seems like a real pageturner!

4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day?
Yes, prepare Mr Gnoe for my bumming around!

5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?
Not really, just that I need to eat etc. ;) And sleep…

6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?
I underestimated it! It’s much harder than I thought to read continuously. I usually don’t have a problem with that — it’s the community aspect that I don’t want to miss out on!

7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
I know it’s up to myself to participate in challenges, but as far as I’m concerned a challenge an hour is a bit much…

8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year?
I have to figure out a way to actually read more… Spend less time behind the computer. But I feel I’m already doing that! :(

9. Are you getting tired yet?
Yes. Definitely. Totally.

10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered?
I’ll have to get back to you about that!

Now, off to bed. Wouldn’t it be great if I could cheat and pretend daylight saving time won’t stop tonight? I could put the clock back and read an hour longer, it still being from 2 PM – 2 PM ;) Not too tired to think up a scheme like that! :P

Booking Through Thursday dares us this week to organize our books in a different way, using titles as a guideline.

Although I wouldn’t actually dream of doing this IRL on my book shelves, it was sure fun being challenged to think about it! So I’ve got 3 title stories to share with you (saving the best for last).

It was hard getting all titles readable in the picture, so I got a little help with the first one ;)

After the quake
The unconsoled
Black dogs
Dance with death
Through the green valley

In the country of men
The romantic
Servant of the bones
In cold blood
Through the green valley

My favourite:

After dark
Everything is illuminated

After hesitating for a long, long time we decided to get a new friend for our 11 year-old cat Juno (the real Woman in white ;) And suddenly it all went VERY fast — something like the one-click-buying-thing on amazon I wrote about a while ago — so I present to you: Remy Ringo! (Find out why we renamed him)

Remy from above Remy lying in the window sill

A new man in da house! He is about 6 years old, very cute and pretty small (especially compared to our former tomcat Jumbo who was HUGE ;)

We are thinking of renaming him, but first he needs to feel at home. Well, that really has been going well! Both pictures were taken on his first day with us. Of course the cats have been swearing at each other a few times — but today, on his third (!) day here, they already played a little together! And he really likes getting our attention :) Which is G O O D.

We’re amazed at how Juno has taken to him. After her friend Jumbo died 1,5 year ago she got aggressive to visitors out of stress and she even got depressed twice — didn’t know it could happen :\ So, you can imagine we were afraid the new cat would stress her out as well. But NO WAY! She is being very friendly and tries to make him feel at home. We are very proud of her :) And it is good to know we’ve made the right decision in taking in a new cat :)) Some positive news for other people in the same situation?

The Woman in WhiteI finished Wilkie Collins’ book The Woman in White a short while ago. I liked it very much, but I have already told you so. I also promised that I would get back to you about the Sarah Waters connection… Well, there’s not much more to say. Waters’ tribute to Wilkie (that’s how I wish to understand the comparison between Fingersmith and The Woman in White) has gone a bit too far to be appreciated for my liking. But that’s all.

Wilkie Collins’ classic comes highly recommended! And because of its size it’s perfect holiday reading matter :-) It can be downloaded at the The University of Adelaide Library website (among others). A Penguin reading guide is provided by the Penguin Group.

How do you like the picture of my real woman in white? She’s called Juno and likes reading very much… I tend to sit still at those moments — great for taking a cat nap on my lap! :-)

Gnoe goes ExtraVeganza!


Currently grazing

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Gnoe herding...