When I mention to people how I vacationed in Japan they initially ask me about Bullet Trains. Sometimes they gauchely ask "Why?"
While I'd love to list all the reasons why, there's not enough screen or paper to answer.
My goal during this trip was to eat my way around the country. I'm pleased to report my choice to wear a stretchy fabric pencil dress on my 12 hour flight back to the U.S. was wise. I couldn't get back into my trousers for 2 weeks due to eating so much food.
While I haven't spoken Japanese since childhood, I remembered common courtesies and rituals including explaining the steaming rolled hot towel brought to our table before ordering was a welcome.
I was shocked at my husband asking me the significance of it. Doubly so at my own ability to explain without hesitation along with significance of said customs.
The peace found taking a train in and out of Tokyo goes beyond the world relaxing. Not one passenger spoke louder than a whisper, coming off the train to walk in silence up stairs with hundreds of people was surreal.
But let's get back to talking about the food.
I am not one for taking pictures of the food I eat during my travels too much. I can say that even of I took a picture I would not be able to give you the proper name. In the city I often ordered my afternoon meals from a vending machine.
You put money in, make a selection, receive a chip/marker, hand it to the server or place it in the tray and wait for your mystery to you meal.
I craved noodle soup the whole time so I knew I would be 90% happy with the selection. Each time I was able to find non-beef based meals and that made my gastronomy-filled adventure 100% amazing. Hence why there's more of me and my thighs.
Speaking of thighs, they come in handy when you don't want to wait in the long line for the women's restroom?
No woman wanted to squat so I strolled past the line, noted that there ways a door and toilet paper available.
Let's just say when I walked out I was struttin' like a boss. When asked 'how was it?' by another American in line, I replied, "I'd like to thank my Quads and all the reps I've done..."
Like I often say, Thick thighs save lives. In my case, they saved me from a long line and wasting what little time I had in Japan.
Part of our trip involved stumbling onto an vintage car show. Someone from Jalopnik took much better pictures than I could the drizzly Friday morning.
For me I was focused on taking pics of food when not stuffing my face so my pics are of dessert displays in windows.
There were traditional kasagi and then as expected French pastries in which gave the originators a run for their money.
I was seduced and inspired by what I saw and tasted. It will be coming out on my future desserts.
In Japan I discovered so much, but it unexpectedly reminded me of my childhood in the Bay Area too.
I cannot wait to use some new ingredients from Japan and try some of the recipes in my new cookbooks!
I think I need a larger dress.
While everyone was waiting for my newest novel MISE EN DEATH to arrive on their tablet or their mailbox I was on holiday. I posted some pics on Instagram and Facebook, but there's more behind the pics.
Okay b*tches, have a seat. It's #CocoaGaijin Story Time.
This is about my first time….in Japan. Y’all thought I was gonna say something else about my honeymoon? Pfft. I was a late bloomer but I eventually bloomed. Anyways…
So there we were at the dock awaiting to get through customs. It would be the first of what we'd find out would be 4 or 5 times in 5 days. Anyways...
So after 3 hours we get through and take our first step in Hokkaido, Kushiro to be exact.
We were told to go to the 7-11 and get some yen (which is actually pronounced en because the y is silent). Yes, I said 7-11. Don't suck your teeth. 7-11 ain't like here in the States. Japan's 7-11 is all da t'ings and more! Okay, so where was I?
Oh yes so we get out with our (y)en and head to the market we've heard so much about and it's to music. I don't mean we so in love we heard mofo birds and ish. I mean they have music coming from speakers on poles all around the town. Think of the propaganda talks from speakers in the book 1984, but Kushiro's propaganda was to make you feel welcome and full of chill.
So after wandering we finally get to this market and I'm jonesing for noodle soup. Welp, we never did find it, but our wandering Nerd points out some kimonos and I'm like "Hell to the yes!"
"500 yen to try on"
That's like $5 to cosplay for a minute so I'm like okey doke.
Let me tell you these 2 sobo were as cute and polite as could be as they reminded me to remove my shoes in their little makeshift try on section.
I pick out a nice little kimono and Sobo #1 starts helping me in while Sobo #2 asks for permission to touch my hair and put it up. I have a weave and I'm a foot and a half taller than Sobo #2 so THAT was as hysterical as you'd think. We both giggled when she let out an "oh" when she tried to pull up my hair a little too high. "No girl, don't be showing the tracts....there will be tears.”
Okay so Sobo #1 starts to wrap the kimono on me and she tries to wrap it around my big ol' bootie and finds it a bit snug. I shrug.
I make a gesture of eating from a bowl and say in half Japanese and half English: I like to eat. Then she tries to flatten down my DD chest. She tried to politely and delicately push them down, they bounce back like buoys in the Pacific Ocean we just crossed. We all laugh and I shrug.
So Sobo #1 starts makin' me look all sorts of right by getting the kimono just so on my frame and then she yells at an elderly gentlemen who was chowing down on some noodles while watching the Cocoa Gaijin show.
The way she yelled at him I'm certain they were hitched. That kinda yellin' is universal at e'ryone's significant other.
No translator needed.
So they finish and grandpa asks me to put on some cute orange flip flops. Not zoris. We talkin' American flip flops.
I'm like okay, clearly he's about to show me another mirror on the outside of the booth, right?
Nope. He continues and I think, oh, he's about to show me to my shoes.
Grandpa takes me for a walk! Nerd is laughing…while taking pictures of the entire situation.
Grandpa leads me.
All. Around. The. Busy. Fish. Market!
And Grandpa calls out to e'rybody to clap for me and starts bringing attention to my Cocoa Gaijin big busty booty self!
That's the story behind that first batch of kimono pics I posted.
That was my first few hours in Japan. So embarrassing, but not one person was mean or tryna humiliate me.
In my upbringing in parts of California with a heavy Japanese population and taking this trip, Japan’s culture showed me that it was more important to make sure I never felt shamed.
It was an introduction to shedding the reluctantly learned cynicism of my homeland. In that exchange I learned that I could be my whimsical, silly, and joyful self without apology.
If you liked this story, trust me there’ll be more if you’d like me to share. Speaking of share, please comment and then share this post with your friends to do the same.
Chef Alex LeBeau, your Steampunk Chocolatier of LeBeau Chocolates and Confections, has her first book in a new Culinary Cozy Mystery series titled: MISE EN DEATH- a LeBeau Chocolates Adventure!
The artist Claudia from Titan Comics illustrated the cover and will be creating the next 3 in the 4-part Bittersweet Mystery series!
This full-length novel involves new characters and a few from the Sweet & Steamy series you know and love. Oh and new chocolates that will be available in the limited Bittersweet Chocolate Collection. An announcement for chocolates will come via our monthly newsletter so don’t forget to sign up to stay in the know on our Newsletter Sign-Up page!
Digital copies of MISE EN DEATH- a LeBeau Chocolates Adventure (Bittersweet Mystery, #1) arrive October 15th!
Click on MISE EN DEATH to get more information and pre-order today!
CLICK, BUY, SHARE!
Want to join in our excitement? Come join us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram! Click on an icon below.
I was interviewed on the amazing Nicole Kurtz blog- Women and Words. I talk about books, chocolate and the creation of everyone's Steampunk Chocolatier Alex LeBeau! Click HERE to read the interview in it's entirety.
A friend of mine, Jenn Nixon, has a new Sci-Fi story out this week! She's shared some details about the continued series and given us a blurb of what's in store for this newest, action-packed installment.
Read more below!
Fan Favorite, Baldwin Bates, finally gets his own story and HEA in book three MIND: The Reckoning. To celebrate the new release, books 1 & 2 are both on sale for the rest of the week! You can find all three books here: www.amazon.com/Jenn-Nixon/e/B002BLNBBQ MIND: The Beginning .99c, MIND: The Emergence $1.99
Baldwin Bates has only wanted one thing since joining MIND, to take care of his friends and keep them all safe. While the Meta-Alien Investigation and Neutralization Department is busy monitoring an emergence of human psychic and alien activity, Bates takes his first solo assignment searching for a woman who claims to see the future, only to botch it up and let her get away.
After helping to destroy an alien device called the Transcender, Lexa Quinn wakes from a two-week coma a very different person than she was before. While her abilities grow stronger, her feelings for Bates begin to interfere with the MIND team's mission, putting everyone at risk. Secrets from her past threaten the present and future, forcing Lexa to decide who she is and where she belongs.
When a powerful, ancient enemy lays claim to the Earth and brings his judgment upon the population, Bates, Lexa, and the entire MIND team must do whatever it takes to save the human race before the reckoning is complete.
As Bates bypassed the crafters and artists, the scent of Asian BBQ wafted through the air. He grumbled along with his stomach and hoped a few of them stuck around so he could pick something up on his way out.
"How’s it going?" Dina Ranger asked via his earcomm, jolting him.
"Shit! Forgot I had this bloody thing in," he replied, taking a breath and shutting his eyes for a second.
"Have to get used to it if you want to be in the field...alone."
"Unlike your brother, I need some me time, Sherlock." This time, he chuckled when he felt her brush his mind with calming thoughts. "How’s Lexa? Any change?"
"No, nothing. Never changes. I...just don’t get it."
"Me either," he said with a sigh, quickly putting it out of his mind to maintain his focus. "I just got to the park. I’ll check in before I leave."
"Okay. And whatever has you so hungry bring some back. Talk to ya."
Shaking his head, Bates waited for the static of the comm to fade before pushing farther into the park, eyeing the tables and tents, but mostly their occupants, searching for a face. Miss Takashi had a pretty face, although older now, since the photo from the collective Meta-alien Investigation and Neutralization Department database was almost one hundred years old.
When he neared the end of the first row of vendor tents, he took in the sight of the city across the river, and then found the second and final row of vendors left to search.
He politely declined several offers to purchase various items like candles and potholders, wondering why his ‘blah face’—a term his new friend Kim called his usual stern façade—wasn’t working.
Toward the middle of the second row, Bates slowed, eyeing a colorful booth, shrouded in light purple curtains, and a sign that screamed for attention.
When a face-painted toddler, followed by a frantic parent, came running out of the booth, he barely sidestepped out of the way. The parent offered Bates a weary shrug. He nodded politely and carried onward, finally seeing a sign for "Madam Takashi" two booths down.
Author Bio: Jenn Nixon’s love of writing started the year she received her first diary and Nancy Drew novel. Throughout her teenage years, she kept a diary of her personal thoughts and feelings but graduated from Nancy Drew to other mystery suspense novels.
Jenn often adds a thriller and suspense element to anything she writes be it Romance, Science Fiction, or Fantasy. When not writing, she spends her time reading, observing pop culture, playing with her two dogs, and working on various charitable projects in her home state of New Jersey.
Last Friday started off with promise, but ended in me being stuck in several traffic in multiple States.
Autumn is here and the sky is cloudy and gray. The ground is wet and my plants are grateful for the refreshment. Goodness knows that despite me meaning well, I am terrible with plants. This is probably why I like terrariums. Like 'em so much I put them in my second Steampunk Cinderella story THE MEN OF SUMMERLY.
When I started the novellas it was on a dare to find stories with characters that I relate, but I didn't expect to insert one character. Chef and Chocolatier Alex LeBeau.
I created her over 10 years ago and throughout the years I've drafted and tweaked a mystery novel with Chef Alex LeBeau. I was very focused on having her debut in her own novel, a series. With the Steampunk RomCom came to my mind LeBeau made a cameo appearance and it made sense since food is such an important aspect of my work. Food is a strong character in all my stories.
When I re-issued THE WINTER TRIANGLE (#1) of the Steampunk series I reinserted Chocolatier LeBeau back into the story. Tell me what you think of her and her recipes. You can download the novella on your Kindle and Kindle app and get the Maple Pecan Popcorn, Cinnamon Marshmallow, Mexican Hot Cocoa recipe and more!
Don't forget to share the link and review our novella. Click Here
I hope your Sunday is relaxing and full of laughs.
This weekend has been filled with Steampunk goodness all against a Vermont setting. The attendees were welcoming and friendly and the Springfield Steampunk Festival staff were amazing and should be given extra stickers for talking me off the ledge when I was in a panic.
We started our Chocolate season off with a bang. We sold out of books AND chocolates this past weekend along with letting folks know about our ETSY shop with a new, affordable box of chocolates.
This past summer has been full of change. While I welcome change what I had faced required having to inform people that some things were not in my control. For some that was not acceptable and for some they understood, but either way I am grateful for the lessons learned so far and I hope that I can delight people with my words and chocolates as the seasons change.
This weekend I was made to feel awkward but in the best way (I think). My Nerd and the wonderful Scott Anderson were talking at our table last night and they both, while I was standing right there, began to talk about me in glowing terms. I mean, big words. Words you may need a dictionary for…okay, not really.
Though it left me in a dazed state, it got me thinking about how we see ourselves versus how others may see us. I’ve been open about my past in terms of folks projecting things that aren’t me onto me so I am very hesitant to take on anyone’s view of what they believe to see of me.
Last night was difficult, but a lesson to be learned. After I was blushing and thanking Scott for such encouraging words and positive feedback on things I stole a moment with Nerd in semi-private, behind the booth sign. (Yes, there may have been some PDA. Yes, Zoe and Wash kinda lovin'. Be jealous!)
Around the chaos of the photobooth patrons and the beginning evening’s festivities I slid my arms around Nerd and asked “How come I can’t see myself as intelligent or powerful in presence like you and Scott say I am?”
Nerd replied, “Perhaps someone who knows that they are powerful and smart would take advantage of it. For you, I think it’s best that you are all these things, but still humble.”
I had no pithy reply nor anything of value to add to that and so I was quiet for the evening and frankly it's been on my mind even late this Sunday evening and I assume tomorrow too. So how do you negotiate such a thing in your mind? How do you balance confidence and belief in self without letting it give you a fat head? I'm asking for a friend. Ya...a friend.
Autumn Equinox is here! Here's a freebie recipe to celebrate the Harvest season.
This month, we're sharing a recipe for Caramel Apple Cider, our twist on a traditional Autumn beverage. It’s Vegan and you won’t even notice! I’ve tested out the Caramel Recipe several times and had non-Vegans try it too and it’s unanimous the Caramel is rich and creamy without any hint of the coconut cream used.
It's no secret I adore the cooler weather and with them brings Samhain/Dia de los Muertos and Spring/Ostara... unless you live in the Southern Hemisphere. To my Australian and New Zealand friends, I am totes jealous you get to have an all in one season.
That said I am putting the finishing touches on my Steampunk mystery novella THE CASE OF THE ROSE GRIMOIRE. This story takes place in 1880 mid-Autumn, but unlike the previous novellas I will be making a few new recipes available on my blog for the month of October and November for free! I'll tell you what else will be free starting in October for a limited time... THE WINTER TRIANGLE! Book #1 of the Steampunk RomCom series will be FREE soon! Make sure to sign up for our BOOKS & CHOCOLATE newsletter to get the link.
Look for Apple and Pumpkin delights soon and keep a batch of marigolds with your offerings for your Dumb Supper and celebration of when the Veil is the thinnest.
So, which is your favorite, Apples or Pumpkins? Why?