[Easy English Blog]Soup season

appetizer bowl bread breakfast

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I love soup, especially warm soup on a cold evening. Now that the nights are getting cooler, I make soup quite often. My favourite kinds of soup are sweet potato, mushroom and onion; tomato, onion, spinach and mushroom; and carrot, onion and mushroom. As you can see, I like mushrooms!

It only takes me five minutes to make the soup. That’s because I don’t actually make it. I chop the vegetables, put them in my soup maker and switch it on! I wait 20 minutes, and then I have smooth and hot soup!

I bought my soup maker about 4 years ago, and it is the best kitchen item I have ever bought. It was cheap too, only about 4,000 yen. I can also make smoothies in the soup maker, which is great for breakfast.

This season I’m going to try experimenting with different flavours of soup. I wonder what I will try next…something with mushrooms in it, I’m sure! 🙂

 

I’m famished!

Do you know the English expression “to be famished“? Read the conversation below. Can you guess the meaning?

Eri: I’m famished! I haven’t eaten since 6am this morning.

Fiona: Same here. Let’s take a break and get something to eat.

Does it mean:

a) to be full

b) to be tired

c) to feel dizzy

d) to be very hungry

The answer is below! ↓

 

Answer: d) to be very hungry

[Easy English Blog] Coffee morning

six white ceramic mugs

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This morning I went out for coffee with a friend. At the beginning of the year, I decided that I needed to make more time to see friends. Most of my close friends are like me – they work for themselves (have their own companies), so it is difficult for us to schedule time together.

When I first came to Japan, I worked in a language school. When work finished, I often went out with my colleagues for dinner or drinks. Everyone started and finished work at the same time, so it was easy to see friends and go out.

Now, everyone is older. My friends are busy running their businesses, or they have children. I haven’t seen some of my friends for a year or more. The friend I met today is a friend I meet regularly. We usually meet once a week, but I have been busy lately, so we met for the first time in a month. We had a lot to talk about!

Most of my friends work in the afternoon or evening, so meeting in the morning is best for us. My schedule is quite flexible, although I prefer to work in the mornings, because I am more productive in the morning than at any other time of the day. However, chatting with my friend over coffee in the morning gives me energy. I should do it more often.

[Easy English Blog] Zen meditation

view of building exterior

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About a year after I arrived in Japan, I started going to a temple to do Zazen, or Zen meditation. It was held at 6:00am on Sundays. At that time, I didn’t have a car, so I rode my bicycle to the temple. It took about 30 minutes. Before we started meditation, we cleaned the Zen-do hall. There were five of us – the priest, three men, and me.

We did Zazen with the doors and windows open. It was nice and cool in summer, although I panicked when a bee or large insect came in through the doors. I tried not to disturb the other people, but I’m sure they could see me panic! In winter, it was so cold that my fingers and toes turned blue!

After Zazen, we went to a different room to copy the sutras. It was my first time to use a brush and ink to write. I’m sure my writing was very bad, but the others always said it was good. They were very kind. After copying the sutras, we drank matcha and listened to a lecture by the priest. This was 17 years ago, so at that time, my Japanese was not very good. I couldn’t understand much.

When we finished, one of the men took me to a room overlooking the temple garden, and we talked about many things. I enjoyed talking to him. He spoke slowly so I could understand him. He was the president of a large company in the area.

After Zazen, I went home, got changed, and went to work. I felt peaceful throughout the day. I can’t remember why I stopped going to the temple. Maybe I needed more time to study for my Japanese tests.

Last year, I went to Zazen classes at a local Buddhist centre. Every month, we had a lecture and then Zazen practice. I was pleased because I could understand the lectures. I was also happy because the Zazen practice was in a room, with an air conditioner and a heater. (I know, I shouldn’t think like this because endurance is part of the training. I need to practice more!) 🙂

Put (something) away

Do you know the English expression “to put (something) away?” Read the conversation below. Can you guess the meaning?

Harriet: Susie, the living room is a mess! Put your toys away!

Susie: OK, mum. I’ll put them away now.

Does it mean:

a) throw  away

b) put something in a different room

c) tidy up

d) make a mess

The answer is below!↓

depth of field photography of p l a y wooden letter decors on top of beige wooden surface

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Answer: c) tidy up

Short Story – Marvellous Max

strength strong toy action figure

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A short story for learners of English.

Max loves action comics and movies. He works in the car park of a big supermarket. It is a not a good job, but Max was not clever at school. He doesn’t have any qualifications. He couldn’t go to university. This job was the best he could find.

Max collects the shopping carts that shoppers leave in the car park. He takes the shopping carts back to the entrance of the supermarket. It is sometimes hard work but it is not difficult. So Max has a lot of time to dream.

He dreams of being a hero. He dreams of being Superman or Batman. Of course his dreams are crazy but as Max tells himself, Dreams are free.

Today it is very wet and windy. Max is wearing a long blue raincoat. It has the name of the supermarket on the back.

Max is standing next to a row of carts. He will push them together and then he will take them all back to the supermarket door. He looks around to see if there are any more in the car park. There are special places for shoppers to leave the carts. Most people take their carts to these special places but some people are lazy, and leave them near their cars.

He sees two young boys in jackets with hoods.

They should be in school, he thinks. What are they doing here?

He sees a small woman pushing a cart towards her car. The cart is full of shopping bags. She looks old and the weather is very bad.

I’ll go and take her cart for her, he thinks.

He starts walking across the car park. The woman puts her cart behind her car. She walks to her car door to unlock it.

Suddenly the two boys run towards the cart. They take the cart and push it towards the road.

“Hey you!” shouts Max “What are you doing?”

Max chases the boys. The boys run out of the car park with the shopping cart and along the road. Max runs very fast.

“Stop! Stop!” he shouts.

The boys run to the corner. There is a car coming. They have to stop. They turn around and see Max. They see a very big man. His long coat is blowing in the wind. It looks like a cape. He looks like Batman, or Superman. They are frightened. They leave the cart and run across the road.

Max takes the cart of shopping and pushes it back to the supermarket. The little old lady is sitting on a seat outside the store. The store manager is talking to her. She is very shocked. She is crying. Max walks up to her.

“I couldn’t catch the bad boys, but here is your shopping,” he says.

“Oh, thank you!” she says.

“Well done, Max,” says the store manager.

“You are a hero,” says the lady.

Max’s face is red. “Oh, no,” he says. “I am not a hero.”

“You are a hero to me,” she says. She gives Max $20.

Max doesn’t want to take it, but she pushes it into his pocket.

“Please take it,” she says.

Max helps her put her shopping into her car. Then he takes the empty cart away.

I’ll be able to buy a new comic on the way home, he thinks.

[Easy English Blog] Sunsets

I love sunsets. I love sunrises too, but I usually miss them because I am still sleeping… (I must get up earlier!)

The area of Japan where we live has a lake. Every evening, when the weather is fine, photographers gather at the side of the lake. They all want to take pictures of the beautiful sunset over the water. When I have the chance, I go to watch the sunset too. Although I only have a small, cheap and old camera, I like to take pictures. Here are some that I took this summer. I hope you enjoy them!

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Can you see nice sunsets where you live?

Heather@I Talk You Talk Press