Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Art - The Rijksmuseum (National Museum)

My favorite writer, Shinichi Fukuoka, loves Johannes Vermeer, so I am interested in Vermeer's art. Fukuoka's book, ”生物と無生物のあいだ” is a brilliant poetic science book. This book is unfortunately not translated into English yet. But his thoughts and research deeply influenced my poetry writing.
Opening Hours:
9:00 to 17:00 daily, all days of the year
The Rijksmuseum’s ticket desk closes at 16:30

€ 15: adults aged 19 and over
€ 7.50: CJP
Free: children aged 18 and under, Museumkaart holders, members of ICOM, ICOMOS, UNESCO, the Rembrandt Association (Vereniging Rembrandt), KOG, Vrienden van de Aziatische Kunst and Vrienden van het Rijksmuseum

Museumstraat 1
1071 XX Amsterdam
Telephone: +31 (0) 20 6747 000

 Het melkmeisje by Johannes Vermeer

 Brieflezende vrouw in het blauw by Johannes Vermeer

De Nachtwacht by Rembrandt Harmensz

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Life - Kaiware Pizza

Dining Table Gardening 

I added Kaiware - daikon on a leftover pizza-like-sandwich. 
Kaiware does not have a strong taste...

Monday, February 24, 2014

Brillian Beauty - Gout!

My poor husband got gout. Last weekend, his foot suddenly swelled. He could not move for two days. At first, I thought that he was acting – like when I asked him to cut a pumpkin and he cut his finger. Over the phone, I thought that he needed to surgery attaching his joint or something very serious. However, it was a little cut— just like other men, he is over dramatic. But this time, he was really serious.

He is well built, but not over weight; however, his father’s side may carry gout in their DNA. In addition, I loved to cook tomato, asparagus, broccoli, beans, and seafood, which trigger problems. Moreover, we occasionally drink local beer. Beer and alcohol cause gout as well. Along with my brilliant beauty project, we are going to prevent the next attack.

For neutralizing uric acid, having food such as daikon-radish, gobou-burdock, carrot, kabocha-pumpkin, spinach, potato, sweet potato, okura, and seaweed is helpful. Thankfully, those vegetables are main ingredients for Japanese cooking.

Hijiki-seaweed is delicious when it is cooked with rice. I have not eaten white and brown rice for a long time because they highly contain sugar—even though I avoided rice, I welcomed a huge chocolate birthday cake—I like one cup of brown rice and a half cup of white rice mixed together. I cooked them with a lot of water, cooking wine, salt, and a little bit of soy sauce. Brown rice needs a lot of water to soften.

For Japanese culture, I cannot waste even one grain of rice—a grain is the same value of one thousand of monks’ death (it doesn’t help when my husband cries in a little voice when one grain is left on his plate, “eat me, please!”). I really need to wash them carefully with thankful feelings toward the farmers and workers. I sometimes wish that I can open a rice bag and throw it into the microwave and be done with it. But that is not the beauty of cooking, nor being healthy. I shall take small additional steps. So I decided to cook rice once in a while with hijiki-seaweed.

Using a pressure cooker is very helpful to make the meal. I only need fifteen minutes to cook beans chili, chicken soup, and beef stew. I am not a vegetarian, but I only cook meat for special occasions—mainly I do not trust meat from local supermarkets. I purchase high quality meat from a trusted store—but actually it is a good thing because having a lot of meat is not good for one’s health anyway.

For cooking vegetables, I only need three to five minutes. Daikon-radish is super delicious during the winter in a simple vegetable soup. Carrots are yummy in every meal. Okura is super easy to cook in a microwave in two minutes. It is very delicious with my favorite dressing.  However, gobou-burbock is unfamiliar territory for me. It was easy to find at an Asian store, and it looked like an archer’s bow or long branch—perhaps, it is a root vegetable—sometimes it is almost taller than me.

I looked up recipes in Japanese and English—I am thankful for the advantage of knowing a second language—and I found one recipe that both my husband and I could enjoy for today’s dinner.

#1) Wash the gobou-burbock with a brush.
#2) Cut it into bite-sized pieces and soak them in vinegar water.
#3) Drain the vinegar water and cover them with potato starch powder.
#4) Deep fry them with oil.
#5) Mix them with cooking wine, soy sauce, and Japanese dashi-seasoning.

Wish me luck not burning myself!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Happy Birthday - Thank You!

Bonsai - tree from my hubby

Thank you very much for birthday wishes, cards, gifts, & giant chocolate cake!
I had a wonderful birthday, yesterday. 

Have a fantastic weekend!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Art - The Anne Frank House

I read Anne Frank's diary many times through out my young age. If I visit her hidden home behind the bookshelf, I may cry thinking why her amazing writing talent and herself had to be killed. Humans really have to learn from history. -- Peace.  

Anne Frankhuis

Opening Hours:
November 1 through March 31
Daily from 9:00 am - 7:00 pm (Saturdays from 9:00 am - 9:00 pm).
Daily from 9:00 am - 9:00 pm, (Saturdays from 9:00 am - 10:00 pm).
In July and August the museum is daily open till 10:00 pm.

Age 10-17: euro 4,50
Age 0-9: free
European Youth Card: euro 4,50
Adults: euro 9,-
No free entry with the I amsterdam City Card.

The Anne Frank House is situated in the centre of Amsterdam at Prinsengracht 263-267. It takes around 20 minutes to walk from the Central Station to the museum. Trams 13, 14 and 17 and buses 170, 172 and 174 stop nearby, at the ‘Westermarkt’ stop.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Life - Dining Table Gardening

Kaiware Daikon is growing well. It will jump into my salad after one more week. I am going to plant the green onions into a pot. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Brilliant Beauty - Sugar * Sugar * Sugar

A sugary Valentine’s week has passed. I had Chicago style popcorn (cheese and caramel), Japanese chocolate snacks, a brownie, chocolate chip cookies, a pink frosting cup cake, and a cinnamon roll. Sugar was unfortunately unavoidable. My birthday is in seven days.

When I reviewed the last ten days of my food diary, I refused to regret this week. If I am upset about how much sugar I had, stress will build up and that is definitely not good for my body and metal health. However, I tried many things to avoid sugar.

Solution 1:
I ate a small honey crisp apple before lunch and dinner.

My digestion system worked so well. My stomach became beautifully flat just like my upper body.

Solution 2:
I ate raisins after lunch and dinner when I wanted to have sweets. I bought a small box with just 100 calories.

One box per meal was not enough. I ended up having raisins with glasses of champagne. They were surprisingly good together. My death metal hubby said, “Do you know what champagne is made of?”

In addition, each raisin box had a fortune and wise message on a lid. Some of them were: “Work hard. Be efficient at your office,” “Your bosses are unfortunately right,” and “Five minutes before your meeting means on time.” I did not know that my bosses’ second jobs were writing those words. The messages helped me not to open another box.

Solution 3:
When there were chocolate cookies and brownies on a table, I persuaded myself that it was ok to eat if I continuously did the eighteen hours fast.

I also found an interesting article / book about eight-hours diet. Basically, during the eight hour (lunch – tea time – dinner), I could eat whatever I wanted. It was a similar concept of the eighteen hours fast. Importantly, I had cookies but I did not develop the cookie monster syndrome. Had I never really over stuffed myself?

Solution 4:
For a better metabolism, I kept taking vitamins and exercising with X-Box working programs.


X-Box scanned my body and helped motivate me during an online dance class. The beautiful instructor said, “You look wonderful!” and “It is your own responsibility to burn your calories!” During the weekdays, I had to leave pretty early because of morning meetings; however, I woke up at 5:30am and danced a couple days of the week. The drum rhythm kept me going. Unconsciously, my hands were up in the air while I was copying documents at work.

Solution 5:
I concentrated on what I was having before, during, and after meals.

I planed what I would like to eat before meals. If I wanted to eat cookies, I should avoid sugary Japanese dishes for diner. Japanese cooking is healthy considered to other American food; however, some contain a lot of sweet cooking wine and sugar. During meals, I concentrated on what I was having. I tried not to think “what is for dessert?” After meals, I stringed out my dessert such as a box of raisin and a cup cake. My weakness now was unsalted crunchy tortilla chips.     

My birthday week is coming. From Japan, my family and friends kindly sent me gifts like my favorite boxes of Japanese chocolate and sweets. There are attractive birthday cakes at every bakery, and my coworkers baked handmade cookies. “Naoko, be strong!!” The X-Box instructor said, “No matter how hard is, do not forget to smile. Work it!”

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Art - The Orchid Show at Chicago Botanic Garden

Open Hour:
Open Daily,
February 15 – March 16
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Adults: members/nonmembers: $8/$10
Seniors 62+: members/nonmembers: $6/$8
Children 3 to 12: members/nonmembers: $6/$8
Children 2 and under: Free

Chicago Botanic Garden  •  1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, IL 60022

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Poem - Isamu Yoshii's Poem & Rose

A rose from my death metal hubby & a hand written poem from my grandmother

Did you have a happy Valentine's day?
”墨を磨り 麻紙展
べて 何を書かむ

-- 吉井勇

My ink is ready, paper on the desk,
what shall I write,

for the first stroke, 
a love poem is nonsense.

-- Isamu Yoshii   
(Translated by Naoko Fujimoto)  

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Art - Katten Kabinet - Cat Museum

Katten Kabinet in Amsterdam is all about cats. Their homepage has an amazing visual tour. The museum also sells goods about cats. When I visit there, I would love to buy a bowl for our dear O-Yuki. 

Herengracht 497 | 1017 BT Amsterdam
Phone 020 626 9040 

Opening Hours:
Monday - Friday: 10.00 - 17.00 pm
Saturday - Sunday: 12.00 - 17.00 pm
Holidays: 10:00 - 17:00
Closed on December 25th; 
January 1st; April 27th

Adult:  € 6 
Children (4 t/m 12 jaar) € 3 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Life - Dining Table Gardening

I am growing Kaiware Daikon and Green Onions on my dining table. The plants grow without sunshine all day. After 10 - 14 days, they will be an additional flavor to my salad. The hyathins smell beautiful in the room.    

Monday, February 10, 2014

Brilliant Beauty - Sugar Rush & 18 Hours Fast

I love sugar. All I want to eat is three miles of shortening cookies, caramel chocolates, and life-size gummy bears. The most ideal world for me to live in is Sugar Rush in the movie "Wreck-It Ralph".

Unfortunately, my skin condition (アトピー性皮膚炎) does not take sugar well. When it is processed in my body, additional vitamins and minerals are required. My body lacks those substances and causes problems for my skin.

I decided to do two experiments for my body. The first: take vitamins, and the second: do eighteen hour fasts.

I chose the following vitamins with my doctor's suggestion. I also read articles and decided to take additional vitamins that my body might need. They were water-soluble vitamins, so it would be out if I accidentally overdosed.  

B1 50mg (supports the processing of sugar) 
B2 20mg (supports metabolic energy)
B6 20mg (enables reactions of amino acids in the metabolism)
Mg 375mg (supports more than 300 enzyme systems)
C 500mg  (enables at least eight enzymatic reactions, like wound-healing)

I have been taking the vitamins for three months now. I felt energetic. My emotional ups and downs may have been reduced, but I was not sure because I occasionally blamed my husband with or without his direct faults. Poorly, he was still my punch bag.

The eighteen hour fasts were one of the proudest experiments that I have ever done. My mother was a nutritionist, so she always said, "Eat breakfast!"  I felt guilty when I skipped it. I worried when my stomach made loud noises during morning meetings. I was also concerned about how my brain functioned without the food.

When I was a teenager, my metabolism was like a bullet train. But now, I wake up, drive to work, and sit eight hours in front of computer. I was over calorific. For three months, I did a short fast after dinner for about 16 - 18 hours. The first month, I was constipated and my face was red. But soon, all the unnecessary junk regularly came out from my body. My skin tone even became normal. Amazingly, I am not hungry in the morning anymore. With a cup of tea or coffee, my brain works nicely. 

I drink one - two liters of water and tea during the eighteen hour fast. For lunch, I usually have homemade vegetable soup and fruits like apples, pears, bananas, or oranges. My coworkers occasionally feed me with fantastically tasting (and greasy) food. I eat whatever is offered, but try not to stuff myself. In the afternoon, I have a cup of tea without a snack. After work, I cook dinner with my husband. He cuts kabocha pumpkin (and himself, but only one time). I keep a food diary so I know what I had for the week.

My biggest weakness was SUGAR after dinner. I tried to eat an apple or dried grapes to offset it. Of course, they were different than chocolates. Some doctors said that taking magnesium would help no to crave chocolate because it also contains magnesium. I think it was a lie. Even I know that Chocolates are the worst food for my skin condition because of the sugar and oil. I will always want chocolate though (my husband mentions serotonin levels, but research is unclear about that).

So far, I limit myself to have a square of chocolate -- I often fail. I tried baby foods with chocolate flavor because they have less sugar and oil -- they were disgusting. Though I do not have chocolate at home -- there is a vending machine at work. I felt like I was absorbing chocolate into my body by surrounding it with candy wrappers. Eliminating chocolate and sugar from my life was too risky.

I changed my thoughts on it eventually. My coworkers might bring donuts and chocolate cakes for morning meetings or somebody's birthday, so I would have that, but limit my sugar after lunch. I had a bowl of chocolate ice cream with my husband, so I was not going to have chocolate after dinner. I coordinated my sugar levels with my food diary. If I still want sugar, I have a box of dried raisins.

I sometimes think that I could be a cookie monster who has never worried about their over-cookie-eating habit. For my healthy skin (and brain functions), I have to maintain some sugar, right?


Sunday, February 9, 2014

CHICAGO - The Musical

"CHICAGO"- The Musical is on tour and hits the Bank of America Theater in Chicago, IL, showing from 25 Feb 2014 to 2 Mar 2014.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Empty Suitcase

"Empty Suitcase" in the Preface at Indiana University South Bend 
From September 12, 2007 to April 29, 2009

Back issues: 
#01) Conversation to Shakespeare - Not available
#02) The Excessive Phone Bill
#03) High Heels on the Track 
#04) Something between Toothpaste and Heartbroken
#05) A Direction with a Hand for Chopsticks 
#06) Because Because Because! 
#07) The Invasion 
#08) Dear Mr. Black Hair 
#09) A Favorite Day 
#10) An End of the Year
#11) Welcome to My New Year's Resolutions 
#12) Concerning Campus Safety - Not available
#13) At an Airport 
#14) Milk for This Week 
#15) A Locker Room
#16) February Flue 
#17) Twizzleristic Experiment 
#18) Falling in Love with Someone or Something 
#19) Three Hundred Million - Not available
#20) Bird Flue, Bare Shoulder, and Burning Skirt 
#21) Letters and Resolutions 
#22) A Handkerchief on Knees 
#23) Filling Me Up with Soul Foods 
#24) End of Semester 
#25) First Day of College Life 
#26) My Writing Carrier 
#27) Closety Experience 
#28) Flash Drive, Baking Powder, and Limitation 
#29) Call for an Art Director for Analecta 
#30) Surgical Complication with Every New Skirt 
#31) Six Unspectacular Things about Me 
#32) Centipedic Musing in a Cloud of Blueberry Fallout 
#33) A Violation of Parking 
#34) The Halloween Magic, the Nile's Haunted House 
#35) Olives on Pizza 
#36) Meet the Fujimoto Parents 
#37) If I Chew My Homework Morse, It'll Absorb Better 
#38) Last Season of Empty Suitcase 
#39) Figure-skating with 2600 lbs.
#40) Crystalline Emission 
#41) Perforated Value 
#42) Economic Mosquitoes Holey Stocking Blues 
#43) Moments with Fathers and Daughters Before Goodnight Sleep 
#44) The Coldest Afternoon with a Yellow Sock 
#45) Pick up the 27 Phone Receivers from Artists and Writers in Analecta 
#46) Bangs, Bangs, Bangs! 
#47) My A.C. 
#48) My Yesterday 
#49) "Overstuffed" Suitcase: My Inner Ponyo
#50) Tomorrow, Tomorrow, I love Ya Tomorrow!
#51) No 50. The Last Story 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Art - The Kröller-Müller Museum

For one of my new year's resolutions, I would like to try oil painting and hang it at my apartment's entrance. My goal is to use colors like Van Gogh did. I really love the way he used yellow. The Kröller-Müller Museum features one of the largest Van Gogh collections and the largest sculpture garden in Hoge Veluwe National Park in The Netherlands. I definitely would like to visit.

Opening hours
Tuesday until Sunday (and public holidays) 
10.00 to 17.00 hrs.
The sculpture garden closes at 16.30.

The museum is closed on:
Mondays (except public holidays)
1 January

Special Exhibition:
A One Day Walk - Two generations of British artists: Caro, King, Long, Fulton, Flanagan, Pope, Cragg and Woodrow

Admission prices:
Day tickets 2014
(Combined ticket for Park and museum)
Children up to 6 years: free 
Children 6-12 years: € 8.70 
Adults: € 17,40 
Car/motor in the Park (incl. parking): € 6.20 
Parking outside the Park € 3.00 
Parking fee coach: € 28.25

White Bicycles - Free Rental:
The bicycles can be found at one of the three entrances of National Park the Hoge Veluwe (Hoenderloo, Otterlo, and Schaarsbergen), at the visitor's centre, and at the Kröller-Müller Museum. There are 1700 bicycles, approximately 400 at each entrance. It's not possible to make reservations. 

***The museum is situated in the middle of National Park De Hoge Veluwe. National Park De Hoge Veluwe and Kröller-Müller Museum are two independent organisations that preserve the legacy of the Kröller-Müller couple. Each is responsible for its own management and income. In order to reach the museum, visitors need to make use of the infrastructure of National Park De Hoge Veluwe (roads/bicycle paths, free white bicycles, ticket office facilities). For this reason museum visitors also pay an entrance fee for the park.

How to Visit:
From the A1, A50, and A12 motorways follow the signs for Park Hoge Veluwe/Kröller-Müller Museum. The Kröller-Müller Museum is located in National Park The Hoge Veluwe. There are three entrances to the Park; at Schaarsbergen ( Koningsweg 17), Hoenderloo ( Houtkampweg 13) and at Otterlo ( Houtkampweg 9).

Monday, February 3, 2014

Brilliant Beauty! - Bath with Plastic Bags

I needed to detoxify. Some doctors believe that atopic skin conditions (アトピー性皮膚炎) are caused when patients cannot digest and detoxify unnecessary substances in their bodies; therefore, they itch to force scratching, which helps release the substances from their scars. I realized that I do not sweat -- when my death metal husband was sweating a gallon of perspiration in the hottest summer in Japan, I sweat just ant’s tear worth -- I needed to find a way to sweat.

When I thought of sweating, the first thing that came to mind was a sauna; so I looked up sauna places around my apartment. They were usually available in fancy gyms and beauty spas. However, their monthly fees were super expensive. If I have to spend $30 - $80 every month, I would rather buy new handbags, shoes, and skirts instead.   

I was thinking of how I could have a sauna in my apartment without spending a lot of money while avoiding any mold buildup -- when I was a student in Indiana, my school house had a mold problem because I created a jungle-like atmosphere -- Once, I even had mushrooms growing in my bathroom (that’s my story and I’m sticking with it)! I am a tiny Asian girl, so I don’t need much of a moisture barrier to keep my body moist. I thought of using an umbrella, a bucket over my body, and even building a plastic igloo in my bathtub. But I did not want to suffocate with those plastic covers over my head.

Disposable plastic bags are ideal for cost and sanitary reasons. If they are old and dirty, I simply toss them out and use new shopping bags that I occasionally collect. I cut a rectangle out of the shopping bag (one of the higher quality, thicker plastic bags from upper-class or specialty stores, like the Tin Tin tote bag my sister gave me) to expose my face and breathe. Then I take a bath with it over my head for a straight week. Amazingly, I sweat!

My facial skin became smooth and fabulous after a few weeks, so I decided to create a cover for my whole body. I cut the needed holes in a trash bag (eco friendly and recyclable) and used it with my facial bag.

I also bathe with natural salt and lemon. Salt makes me sweat more and helps detoxify. I sometimes use table salt when the natural salt is gone, but I prefer to use natural salt with minerals from the ocean (I don’t mind which one, they’re all great oceans). I bought a bag of it from a regular supermarket. Lemons' vitamin C helps neutralize tap-water. I used to bathe with a whole lemon, but for budgeting reasons I now cut them into eighths.

A bath usually lasts about an hour (I listen to musicals, like "Chicago" -- my husband downloaded it for my phone). I used to read poetry books in the tub; but I realized that I cannot sweat much when I do not concentrate solely on sweating.

With hot water in one fifth of the bathtub, two plastic bags, a handful salt, and a piece of lemon (while singing “Pop! Six! Squish! Uh uh, Cicero, Lipschitz!” -- my husband was frightened when I did it behind the shower curtain), I have finally worked up a sweat and have great looking skin. After the bath, I do not forget to dry the two bags (proudly hanging from the shower curtain bar).

As fate would have it, I was finally happy with my skin three days ago. But then I cooked potato salad (I know, the nerve), and the hottest potato splashed on my forehead. A quarter size skin came off above my right elbow. I burnt myself.

Well, life moves on -- I took bath every night and brain storming how I could erase this burnt scar. 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

PMS "poemmemoirstory" 2014

"Poemmemorstory" by the University of Alabama at Birmingham was out. Please check my poem, "Electric Bills."