“We are all travelers in the wilderness of this world, and the best we can find in our travels is an honest friend.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

As I become older, I feel I still meet a ton of new people and forge new friendships but it becomes increasingly difficult to cultivate the deep type of friendships like those you had in your youth. Several years ago, I was stuck in a marriage that I wasn't happy with and contemplating what to do. I had a great husband but one who I realized over time that I didn't share much in common with in the areas of interests, personality or goals. At one point, I felt that I needed to find an outlet where I could foster my own interests so I joined a local Japanese Meetup group. I wasn't sure what it was going be like but it ended up being like any other club--there was people I immediately meshed with and a few that I didn't really care for. I only attended meetings for a year and a half; however, I had a fun time and years later I still have maintained a few strong friendships from my brief stint in that club. One of the friendships that blossomed during my time in the Japanese Meetup is with my good friend Mayumi. When I met her, Mayumi was completing a year at UC Davis as part of an exchange program with her college in Tokyo, Waseda University. We had a 9 year age difference but we immediately clicked and began hanging out. Whether it was cooking, watching Sex and the City or going on small excursions out of town-- we always had a blast. Hanging out with her also gave me the opportunity to work on the Japanese I was forgetting and she was able to practice her English. Once her school year was over, she returned to Japan but we kept in touch via phone and email. I went and visited her in Japan and vice versa. After she graduated, she made her way back to California but this time to Los Angeles. This past spring she popped up to Sac for a visit and this past weekend it was my turn to return the favor. During the few days that I was there, we OD'd on Japanese food, drank coffee while basking in the warm sun (it was 75-80 degrees all weekend!) and did some creative food artistry. On Friday, while we were perusing the aisles at Mitsuwa (a Japanese grocery store), Mayumi stumbled upon a Japanese book called "Wiener no Kazari Giri" that showed how to make various animals out of wieners. She worked diligently on a race car driving mouse, an elephant and a pig and they turned out so cute that I just had to share! I also included a copy of the book cover and a sample page. (Click on the pics to enlarge them.) Seems like a fun project that both adults and children could enjoy. For my vegetarian friends, you could probably do these with some veggies or perhaps a tofurky dog. :)
A whole Noah's Ark of wiener animals...wouldn't that be a sight!

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