2011 RubySongbird year in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,700 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 28 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

For obvious reasons, I’m super excited about my year in blogging, and I love the way WordPress puts together the stats with little fireworks. Adorable.

I was also amused to see that people found me by searching for:

“rubysongbird, weird spiky bugs on my tomato, coffee shop central park, and skip kichijoji shoes.”

Particularly since the shoes in Japan did not fit me, as I have big ol’ feet, and even at the onsen / hotel, I had to wear the men’s sandals to go outside. Someone also found me by searching Google for veiny feet.” That’s just gross, but I hope they found what they were looking for.

The fact that most people reading my blog were from the United States is not surprising, but I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I have readers in Japan AND Canada! Hello neighbors! And someone in Oceana, Australia! So cool. Seriously. Amazing.

October was my blog’s most popular month, centering around our too-short visit to Tokyo, Japan, and the subsequent blog posts. I know many of these clicks were due to family members checking up on us, since we weren’t calling home to check in.


Only 3 of the 5 top-viewed posts in 2011 were about Japan. Which makes me feel like the Internet likes RubySongbird, and not just the Japan trip posts. Check it out, in order of popularity:

  1. Day 5: leaving onsen; Shimokitazawa shopping  October 2011
  2. Y’all, it’s officially Fall. Sweater time. November 2011
  3. Day 7: Temples! Buddha! Koi! Sushi! October 2011
  4. Day 4: my favorite place, onsen October 2011
  5. Fashionably late to this appetizer party December 2011

Obviously my own favorite posts this year were those I wrote in Japan, exhausted and curled up on the futon with the iPad, uploading just a few of the almost 900 photos that I took overseas. I almost feel bad for our family members because we inflicted the full slideshow on them, all in one sitting!

I’m so glad I started this blog. It’s opened up my little world to a much bigger one, with tons of blogs to follow (honestly, I’m on Google Reader and WordPress reader multiple times a day just to keep up!) and I LOVE learning about your lives, your stories and your style. I almost feel like I know many of you, even though we have never met or spoken.

Thank you, thank you, all of you, for reading my little blog!

100 Things to be Happy About: Part 1

As it’s the holidays, and actually going to be a whole new year in just a few days it seems like a good time to remind myself of all the things to be happy about.

100 is a pretty big number but I think I can make it!

Here we go:

1. My crazy family.

My crazy, crazy family.

2. My wonderful boyfriend.

Boyfriend and me, in Japan at Freshness Burger.

3. Traveling and taking vacations!! (being able to visit Sedona, AZ and Tokyo, Japan this year.)

I know one person in this photo - can you pick them out?

4. Starting this blog so I can share part of my life with all of you lovely random people!

(I don’t really have a picture of that.)

5. My health and the ability to use that precious gift to share with others.

Celebrating sister's birthday by giving life. Does my hand look really big to you? And am I the only one who wonders if people who think they are vampires sneak in and steal donations sometimes? Gross.

6.  The most adorable furbabies. And discovering a Reddit thread for guinea pigs!

7. Adventures, like going ziplining for the first time this year!

8. The fall. There’s almost nothing I don’t like about fall weather, clothes, pumpkins, etc…

9. Food! I’ve becoming something of a cook over the past couple years and it makes me so happy to share meals and treats with the people I love (or even like a tiny bit haha)

10. Learning to make collages with my pictures! You’ll see more of this on the blog in 2012! Thanks to Ellyn at Mandoo and Lumpia for telling me how to do the collage thing.

Happiness # 6-10

100 Things to be Happy About: Part 1

100 Things to be Happy About: Part 2

100 Things to be Happy About: Part 3

100 Things to be Happy About: Part 4

100 Things to be Happy About: Part 5

100 Things to be Happy About: Part 6

100 Things to be Happy About

Fall photo: Kamakura, Japan

We are on the verge of Christmas season, but I am not ready to jump on that bandwagon yet. In an effort to hold on to the crisp fall feeling, I’ve changed my desktop background to this lovely memory, a photo I took when we were in Kamkura, south of Tokyo, in  Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan.

I thought I’d share it here with you in case you’re also not quite ready to loose the death grip on fall foliage.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving with lots of good food and good company!

Walking around while visiting temples in Kamkura, Kanagawa, Japan

Thankful: frosted and freezy

In honor of Thanksgiving, and in hopes of being a happier person, I am doing a few posts on what I am thankful for.

I live in CA and while (I think) the reputation of our weather is “Sunny 70 degrees” all the time, the reality is that it does get really cold.

*Now’s a good time for a disclaimer. I’m a bit of a weather nerd. I don’t know what meteorologists actually do, but I like to look at pretty graphics of weather forecasts*

In SoCal we don’t get cold enough for snow, but it’s still frigid enough that I need a scarf, two shirts and a jacket sometimes to go outside. It’s cold enough to turn on the heater. And I’m not far from real snow.

Looks like snow, right?? It totally isn't. I don't know what it is. But it was windy that day.

But that’s one thing I’m thankful for. I’m thankful, first of all, that I am able to appreciate the small things in life — the things we often take for granted or don’t think about.

I’m thankful that we do have rain, cold, sun and trees that change colors and seasons. I’m thankful for the beauty in nature, and for remembering to stop sometimes and appreciate the sky, or the frost on the leaves.

And thankful for talented photographers like SKPhotography for sharing their images. If you get a chance, swing by frosted « Personal Perceptions.

I’ll be back tomorrow. Stay warm, my friends!

See that? SNOW!

This, sir, is trench coat weather

It’s been all grey skies, drizzly clouds and a chill in the air the last few days. This is wonderful because it’s a great reason to wear all the long sleeved shirts and sweaters I unpacked from storage BUT for whatever reason I have been Just. So. Tired. lately.

When I wake up, I’m groggy and just want to cuddle back under the sheets, comforter, and quilt I’ve got piled on the bed. My fuzzy rainbow slippers are never far from my feet, and I’ve been burning apple orchard candles every day (right now, in fact).

I’m not sure if my recent extra-sleepiness has to do with the weather, or daylight savings changes, or maybe I’m B12 deficient again? No idea, but it sucks getting sleepy early and not being able to get out of bed like a normal person.

Also, my camera is broken, so you’ll have to settle for old photos for a while until my shiny new gadget is returned to me.

This is also cookin’-at-home weather… below are the pictures from when I made Basil Cream Chicken.

Basil in a bowl.

This recipe is a good excuse to use up the big basil leaves on Vincent’s plant. That thing is HUGE. And has lots of tasty leaves to contribute to my food.

You can see the bugs like it too — gross.

Pimentos. Colorful peppers!

I just love all the bright reds, yellows and greens of the pimento peppers I bought for this recipe. And I love that the peppers aren’t spicy at all.

Funny story — when we accidentally ordered pad Thai and forgot to say ‘mild’ I didn’t make it past a few bites before my face turned red and my tongue started burning. I am definitely a ‘mild’ anti-spicy girl.

The finished product is just heavy enough to be filling but not so much that I feel fat for the rest of the night. You know the feeling, yes?

The colors don’t really come through but since I took this under bad lighting with a cell phone camera with no flash I’ll let this one slide 🙂

Basil Cream Chicken

Fall leaves, fall colors, fall weather…

California hasn’t yet given up summer sun, but it’s beginning to get cooler.

Still, there’s a feel to the air that screams fall. It seems like everyone blogging has something to say about this favorite time of year.

Here’s a roundup of my top fall blog posts so far. If I’ve missed any, please let me know so I can add!

I adored the decorations, especially the tree branches and the front step pumpkins in this post from Loonyville.

Loonyville blog post on fall.

My friend over at Two Betties shared her fall favorites back in September. Who isn’t a fan of pumpkin spice drinks?

If you’re not in a spot where all the leaves change, the Fall Color Blog has you covered, with tons of gorgeous pictures (and potential computer/phone backgrounds) of fall foliage at its best.

I also enjoyed Self Magazine’s suggestions of how to use canned pumpkin. Though I’ve heard rumors of a potential pumpkin shortage, it’s always good to have ideas on hand for when you can’t use up the gigantic can of pumpkin puree in one recipe.

And if you’re a fan of sweaters and scarves, the InStyle fall fashion guide shows bright colors everywhere this season. I’ve already got my scarves accessible and ready for the crisp fall mornings.

Don’t let us forget this oldie (I crack up every time I read this. Warning: Contains multiple obscenities): It’s Decorative Gourd Season… 

My favorite line: “That shit is going to look so seasonal.”

Fall: Pumpkin bread

Well, Labor Day is past, so that means the summer is officially over.

Ironically, this tends to be the hottest part of the year. Just when I start to get excited about scarves and sweaters, new boots and hot tea in the cold evening, the sun seems to get closer.

Labor Day weekend was full of fair weather. A perfect amount of sun for swimming, visiting the fair and birthday parties. Not so hot you’re roasting, but hot enough to feel the warmth on your skin.

But the Tuesday following Labor Day we woke up to 95 degrees outside. And Wednesday was even hotter. What gives?

So though it’s sweltering outside, and I’m sequestered in air conditioning as long as humanly possible (and oh-so-grateful I don’t live on the East Coast or in the South), it’s never a bad time of year for pumpkin bread.

Canned pumpkin had been on sale a few times over the summer and we picked up the gigantic cans of the stuff just in case. My boyfriend’s mom has the best pumpkin bread recipe I have ever tried so the other night we popped this sucker in the oven and sat down to catch up on back episodes of The Office on Netflix and debate keeping DVD service.

(Has anyone else been surprised at how heated people are getting about the Netflix price change? The cost increase sucks, but streaming just does not meet all my needs. Some people are shocked and appalled that I would continue subscribing to DVDs. They are not outdated, damn it. Besides, Grey Gardens is not streaming. And I’m not willing to give up gems like that.)

Flour, sugar, canned pumpkin ... all the usual suspects


In the oven.

Three didn’t seem a bit much when we were making them, but it turns out, two people cannot eat three loaves of pumpkin bread in a week. Even if it is scrumptious. And reminds them of fall.