I was going to write about how I baked cakes and made desserts using yuzu, after I'd turned a good lot of them into marmalade. It took me days to write the post (I'm a slow writer...) and I had nearly finished it. Then... I couldn't. I was not able to bring myself to publish a post about how I baked this or that. Not after seeing all that was happening, and still is happening, here in Japan.
By now most of you are probably aware, a massive earthquake struck off the coast of northeast Japan in early Friday afternoon. The magnitude 8.9 quake is said to be the largest one ever recorded in Japan, and the fifth largest (I think) in the world in the last century or so - but that was only a part of the story. We have since been (or even before that, too) hit by who knows how many aftershocks, including pretty big ones, in a widespread area mostly in the northern parts of the country.
The big quake was bad enough by itself, but it triggered apocalyptic tsunamis that then crashed over the already damaged areas and caused more damage, engulfing cars, ships, houses, buildings, fields... and towns. And smashed up cars and houses were swept away in the flooding water, catching on fire here and there. I remember watching a live footage of a particularly ferocious tsunami on TV, about an hour after the massive quake; I stood there transfixed as it gushed out over the fields, carrying cars and houses, and easily smashing roads and bridges...
...And it has been about 36 hours since that deadly shake, and I've spent those 36 hours pretty much in front of the TV, glued to the news, barely having any sleep. I am extremely fortunate that I know all of my families are safe and well. I was, and still am in Nagano, where the damage has been minimal (though a northern part of Nagano has had its own big quakes). I managed to get a hold of all of my families within a few hours after the big quake. I have also got in touch with my relatives and friends in Tokyo eventually, all shaken, but safe.
And over those 36 hours, things seem to have gone from bad to worse, as the full extent of damage gradually unfolded. So I feel both fortunate and anguished to be able to stay in a warm room and eat and drink as normal, following the news on TV and staying mostly up-to-date with whatever information that becomes available, with full knowledge that my families are all safe. I feel fortunate for all that I have
So I just had to put off publishing the nearly finished yuzu post, perhaps until next winter now that the yuzu season is nearing to end. Instead, I decided to bring up something that has been in my mind. Actually there are two things; first is something that I have been pondering on and off over the last year, and it's a little giveaway.
How would you like it if you got your hand on some sakura (cherry blossom)-flavored baking ingredients?
Yes, it's (almost) that time again - sakura!!! Remember how I got almost obsessed with playing around with cherry blossom flavors in baking last spring?
I have lost count of the number of e-mails I have received from abroad over the past year, asking me how they could get their hand on sakura-based baking supplies, particularly cherry blossom flavoring. So I have come to wonder what if I just did a giveaway and got done with it (if I can). The truth is, I felt bad I couldn't help them all - I did help a few of them, but obviously couldn't help every single one of people who asked me about this or that sakura thing.
So I started shopping sakura-flavored baking supplies about a week ago or so to create my "sakura set". Then the earthquakes hit, and as I was watching TV yesterday, following the news, thinking what I could do to help them, one of the packages I'd ordered for some of the ingredients arrived. Then it hit me; what if I made this little giveaway a fundraiser at the same time?
I was buying all the ingredients at my own expenses to give away, and wasn't going to ask anyone for payment. But if some people found this as an opportunity to help the disaster relief efforts that are needed in the land of cherry blossoms, wouldn't it be okay for me to ask them to make a little contribution?
Maybe this is just my naive idea of emergency relief support, but I've decided to do what I can do. So here is my little fund-raising campaign site I've set up. I would like to invite you to take a look, and make a contribution if you find it worthwhile. And I'll pick a few winners from among those who have made a donation, and send them a little sakura baking ingredients.
I am still in the process of creating the set, and will do another post on full details sometime next week. Now I'm fully aware that you'd find it odd that I invite you to enter to a giveaway before showing you what exactly it is that you are going to enter to win, but I thought people in disaster zones would need your support now rather than next week. If you're curious, you can take a glimpse of some of the things that go into the set here.
So forgive me for not doing things in the "right" order, but I hope you'll understand. You can of course wait until I do the full giveaway post next week - or just simply go and make a contribution, no sakura involved. It's up to you. But if you are unsure, wait until I post the full details.
* 3/17 UPDATE: full details are now available here.
Lastly, I wanted to thank those of you who sent us your thoughts, sympathy, prayers, and love - it meant a whole lot to us. We are safe, but there are so many others who aren't, and they need our support. Any support will be appreciated. Thank you! -cx
* Fundraising + giveaway - Japan Disaster Relief with Sakura