Tuesday, January 09, 2007

An Ikea Christmas

Here in Japan, Takeshi and I celebrated our christmas cheer by pooling our winter bonuses and buying...*drumroll please*... A real bed! Like, with a mattress and raised above floor level and everything. It isn't even one of those sneaky raised tatami-mat-that-you-can-put-a-futon-on fake beds. But this raised a question.

When you want a real bed in Japan, where do you go?

A: where the rest of the world goes: ie, Ikea.

Ikea, like Costco, is kind of new for Japan. They just opened in Yokohama, so we went over to check it out. We spent the better part of a day testing out beds. Big enough? Not ugly? When we were trying out the bedframes, we discovered another criterion: Not possible to bruise your shin on. Found about three that failed THAT category, which made the search easier. Of course, after we found the frame, we got to the part where we chose mattresses. After sleeping on futons for a year and a half, almost everything in the store felt wonderful... but we decided to get a really hard one to sort of ease us into the whole bed thing. (It still feels like a feather bed to me.)

The only problem with Ikea is that even though they're so cheap and cute and dependable, their funiture takes SO long to assemble!! and of course, do not underestimate the risk to life and limb. There are perils involved, I say.. PERILS! About two seconds after scoffing at the warning label, Takeshi managed to get a cut that looks EXACTLY LIKE the picture on the warning. Coincidence? I think NOT. ^^ (Eew!) All in all I am quite pleased. Even more so because I have a new contract with a company based in Shinjuku and I get to sleep in until 8:30 am, which means I get an entire hour of queen-sized luxury bed to myself. You can almost hear me purring from the next room. ^_^

Another good thing about Ikea is you can get christmas stuff there! It's true, I had already bought a little cone-shaped bush and decorated it and even put lights on it and a star, but it was still, after all things considered, a christmas BUSH.

So I got a gingerbread house kit for something really cheap like 400 yen, and suddenly got a urge to have a christmas party. Most of my japanese friends here have lived in America at least a few months, so we had a potluck and a white elephant gift exchange. I think I must have not explained the game very well, because I got someone's gift of a DVD burner(!), while some poor sap got my gift: a picture frame I wasn't using and a koala-shaped pocket-heater holder. (only in Japan!) Taka-san swears he didn't need that DVD-burner because his new computer came with one built in, but I still feel a little guilty. ... (excuse me while I go off and chortle evily). ^^

But the main event of the christmas party was assembling the gingerbread house. we had to improvise, because I only had one small packet of powdered sugar, and I made the mistake of adding too much water. The sugary mixture was supposed to be like cement to hold the house together, but it ended up being about as effective as using some *really sugary* soda.

While my friends were lokoing at me with a mixture of helplessness and incredulity that it was even worth the effort of sticking some big cookies together, they suggested various sticky substances as a substitute.These substances included: 1) glue 2) some normal sugar heated to a very high tempurature 3) (my personal favorite:) sticky rice. We actually tried that one. Finally when these all failed, I melted some chocolate in the microwave, which seemed to do the trick, and it all started to come together. One good sport had even been using a hair-dryer on the "cool" setting to make the chocolate dry faster. We had to work fast, but we managed to get it all up, and it turned out very cute. Ok, so the brown didn't have quite the romantic snowy feel of sugar, but it still tasted good. We all cheered as the last part of the chimney went up, and we all felt a sense of acheivement. Then they looked at me like "now what do we do with it?" The answer to that question ended up being : "leave it at our place, for Kyra to nibble on, until she finally loses all pretenses of self control and eats the entire house by herself." Oh, and don't even bother asking what my new year's resolution was because I already broke it. I think it invloved eating less of that gingerbread house. (but it was so tasty!) Happy year of the boar everyone!


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