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.

BUT!

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!

Holidays: 25 days of free Christmas songs

I think it’s hilarious that Amazon.com has a last-minute gift section and it’s only Dec. 5! People, these are not last minute gifts until you’re paying for overnight shipping and sweating that the gift might not arrive until AFTER the holiday. At that point, you really should put real clothes on, leave the house and buy and wrap an actual item.

However, Amazon and online shopping has been wonderful this year. Since I started in November, packages have been arriving right on time and I feel like I’m totally on top of the gift-giving this  year.

Anyway… I’ve downloaded a few of Amazon’s free holiday songs because Amazon is doing a free 25 songs leading up to Christmas. My favorite so far is the Dec. 6 “Angels We Have Heard on High” by Bayside.

If you want some free Christmas music, go to the Amazon holiday music store.

Also, it’s pretty awesome to get a bunch of shopping done without having to put on pants. 😉

I’m also pretty excited to add a new holiday album to my collection. I bought She & Him’s holiday album. I just love Zooey’s voice. So mellow and cheery! Of course, the album that feels the MOST like Christmas to me is the Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers classic “Once Upon A Christmas.”

*This isn’t a sponsored post – just a tip for some free stuff on the Internet!

Sedona: Tlaquepaque, New Age shops

I thought Sedona would have New Age shops all over the place. Its reputation for spiritual journeys and breathtaking scenery had me expecting stores built into the sides of mountains, and New Age shops on every corner.

In fact, one of the main things my mom had heard about and wanted to do was take a photo of her aura. Which we did.

Earlier we had visited the Chapel of the Holy Cross, which is also thought to be a vortex site, but no one was spinning off to the left there. I have no photos from that trip because I thought I had forgotten to bring my camera. Of course, after we got back to the main town I found the camera buried in my purse. D’oh.

This lovely picture was taken by my sis.

Thank you sister! Chapel of the Holy Cross.

The chapel was very small, but had a serene air to it.  They had a nice little gift shop downstairs that was much cooler (in temperature) than the upstairs area during midday. I recommend visiting, though the walk up to the chapel is a bit steep. A sweet little elderly woman was on the bus tour with us. She was worried about walking up the path to the chapel and struggled a bit getting to the top but she made it back down OK.

On the way back from the Chapel, the tour guide told some great stories about the wealthy people who had settled down and built mansions in Sedona.

As we left Sedona to head back to regular life, we hit up the last vortex site at Bell Rock.

We also visited Tlaquepaque‘s artsy shops. It took the entire week of our vacation before I could pronounce the word. (It’s like “te-la-kee-pah-kee,” if you were wondering.)

They had some cool stuff, and a ton of art installations and statues, but I was more interested in the first large New Age shop I’d seen since we arrived in red rock country

And there, I bought a love candle. Betcha didn’t know that existed! It’s actually a really nice candle and it’s orange.

Intrinity Sculpture

The Intrinity Sculpture was pretty darn cool. There’s a shop next door to this one that carries mostly all crystals and rocks. I over heard people talking about different healing properties and the like.

Tlaquepaque fountain

Here, they have a statue of Sedona Schnebly. Some fun facts from the Sedona Museum:

“When Amanda Miller had borne a daughter on Feb. 24, 1877, in Gorin, Missouri, she “just thought up” the name Sedona for the child because she thought it sounded pretty. So, the name Sedona isn’t Spanish, nor Native American.  It was “just thought up” by a woman of Pennsylvania Dutch heritage living in Missouri.”

Sedona Schnebly statue in Tlaquepaque

Sedona: Shopping and statues

Why does everything I write about in Sedona start with an ‘S’. Anyone else notice that?

By now you know that my family is little crazy, and me along with them. So it’s probably no surprise that when we went shopping along State Route 89A we only bought a few things. The majority of our ‘shopping’ time was spent taking goofy photos in front of, on top of, or next to, one of the many statues and art pieces installed along the main street.

Piggies! These weird-looking guys were everywhere.

We noticed statues of pigs all over the place. I have about 8 photos of my sister kissing them on their weird little noses.

These pink ones really grossed me out. Something about the bubblegum color of their hide combined with the bright blues of their eyes. They look like they stuck their snout into a bucket full of cupcake sprinkles.

Don’t know what it is about these particular statues but I really hate them. They seem evil. Like they might try to steal your soul and keep it trapped behind their beady little eyes. Is it just me? Do you find them adorable?

Sedona pigs.

One of the things on my list of “Things I Want To Do in Sedona” was to do yoga on top of a mountain.

Well, that didn’t happen because I didn’t want to get red rock sediment all over my yoga mat. Also because it was really hot outside most of the time and I’d rather lounge by the pool in the heat of the day.

But it’s OK. I’m not complaining. I think the hiking, walking and timeshare gym gave me enough of a work out while on vacation.

A candy store along this strip was where I found jalapeno jelly.

Have you ever tasted good, green, jalapeno jelly? It’s delicious! Slap a teeny spoonful into a crater of plain cream cheese on a Triscuit and you’ve got snack heaven.

I'm a horse! Glad you can't see my underwear here. Whew, that was a close one.

I probably should have brought home some souvenir boots, or a cowboy hat, or something.

Instead, I brought back jalapeno jelly, postcards, some great memories, some blackmail photos, and one very full camera SD card.

Day 3: The great earbud search

Todays window shopping is brought to you by Kichijoji. We hit the mall and the electronics store so Vincent could replace his broken earbuds.

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The earbuds are on floor three. I have never seen such a large and loud electronics store. Sales people are yelling out sales, the machines are demonstrating their speakers and loudspeakers were announcing who knows what as we wandered the first three floors.

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Pretty sure neither of us have ever seen so many choices in earbuds. We literally browsed aisle after aisle pondering the merits of jewels, in-ear vs. out of ear, color and size and brand. And we found walk-men! I didn’t even know people still used those!

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The whole experience was so overwhelming that Vincent succumbed to decision fatigue and could not pick so we left.

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While he was checking them out, I messed with my camera some more. Then we sat on a bench and people-watched/rested our feet for a bit.

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We found a pretty cool looking apartment building a few doors down from the electronics store. I liked the pattern of the balconies and the stairs leading to the first floor.

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Vincent finally made a decision and then we hoofed it back to the train for Harajuku for dinner!

Farmer’s Markets are the best (or, my new addiction)

The other day I stopped at a Farmer’s Market, on something of a whim.
And, you know, to support local farmers, eat healthier, all the usual suspects.

But I think this is the beginning of a habit.

The Farmer’s Market where I ended up is small. It only took a few minutes to make my way around the booths and decide what I wanted.

I was surprised to see fish there. And oysters, clams and mussels! I asked, and the surly man in the tent said they come down from Washington and Oregon. I bought some clams, but I feel like if I’m buying from a local market, the food really should be local.

I also picked up a bunch of dandelion, lettuce and strawberries, and was given a bunch of tiny zucchinis to try in the salad. They were picked with the flower still attached. The very kind farmer-man said to eat them chopped up in salad, or to grill or pan fry.

And the strawberries! Can I tell you about the strawberries? They were AMAZING. So sweet, delicious, perfect and ripe. And big, organic and local. From just the next town over. I may have force-fed a my coworkers some of these strawberries.

I am already excited to go back next week!

If you’re interested, and you live in CA like me, you can find the farmer’s markets on this website.

Happy shopping!