Thursday, December 08, 2016

Throwback Thursday, Christmas cookies and family game night 2007...

A glimpse of 2 of our 3 Christmas trees inside our home at Christmas. : ) We have 1 regular standard size one in the living room. 1 super small one in the genkan/entrance area/front door area with clear bulbs and 1 super small one with colorful lights that is out on display on the 2nd floor during the Christmas season. I love Christmas and find it to be such a fantastic time of the year, People seem kinder. Happier. More merry! Full of good cheer! Festive! And I want my kids to know what a fun time of year this is! : ) 
The Japanese have their Christmas cake! We Americans, have our Christmas cookies! And since we are a household with an American mommy and a Japanese daddy. We get to enjoy both! Why choose? Why not get the best of both worlds! So, we ordered our Christmas cake (icecream cake from Nagano already this year) and we will be making Christmas cookies this year same as every year too! : ) Back to the pic! I bake Christmas cookies with the boys every single year! When they were itty bitty in age, it seems sometimes we got more of the sprinkles on our kitchen floor, than on our actual cookies! Hahaha. : ) However, doesn't matter! I cleaned up afterwards and I wanted to make sure the kids had fun! #1...wanted them to enjoy it...and smile and have fun! Just making some memories! : ) I love those great big innocent wide eyes! Sure do love you kid! 

Branden you looks so brave and so sweet and kind. Should we pop this batch in the oven? Let's go for it!

Wow, those look delicious! I think this particular year we made 3 batches of these Christmas cookies (each batch makes a couple dozen). Why so many? Because we give some as gifts to neighbors and our close friends and always to the kids teachers! Though Noah was too little for school at this age, but Bran had a teacher! : ) Well done my sweethearts!

Family Jenga night. What's your favorite family game? We have a bunch of games here. I would bring a game back every trip to America...I would bring one back to Japan every chance I got when the kids were kindergarten or toddler aged. We have...Chutes and ladders, Candyland (we don't play these 2 anymore obviously.) : ) But, I'm keeping them around just in case. We have Operation and we play it about once a year, because it's fun when the buzzer/nose goes off! Cracks us up! : ) Monopoly we love... but it takes forever and ever to finish one game. We have had games that lasted 2 days straight. As in, we left the game where it was... went to sleep and the next day when we were ready we started again. So...I like Monopoly but...it takes so long. Too long! We love Sorry! And Jenga still. And we play Sorry! And Jenga still to this day. We also have the Wii and play games on there too. When our family of 4 plays, we play the Wii Bowling. : ) That's right...I can't forget Uno either! We play Uno about once a month at home. All 4 of us are pretty strong Uno players so our matches are quite a challenge. But lots of fun! : ) Hahaha.

Anyway, Happy Thursday everyone. I hope you all are enjoying December and this Christmas and holiday season!

Anything new to add? We bought our movie tickets online today for the new Star Wars movie that comes out worldwide next week. Is it December 16th? I am pretty sure it comes out the same day in the USA, as Japan. We however can't go December 16th! Well, Noboru can't go. The kids and I can go. However...I'd really like Noboru to go with us, because I know how much he wants to go. So...he said he is free and available December 17th! Just 1 day later than opening day! And that's totally fine with me! So, we went online today and we purchased our tickets for Star Wars Rogue One. December 17th! The 4 of us already have our seats picked out and everything! We can NOT wait! I will be collecting a few chocolate bars or treats this weekend to prepare us for the movies. We will of course buy popcorn and drinks at the concession stands though. But I can barely wait to see this movie! Squeal! Branden and Noah have been watching so many YouTube videos regarding Rogue One and I'm so glad they have because I feel a lot more in the "know" now. Who do you think the main character is? Of course this is all just speculation. But they say on YouTube. No way can the girl from the movie last year, on The Force Awakens "Rey" be the mom of the girl in Rogue One. Because given the timeline she'd be old and gray by then. So they say Rey is not the mother to the girl in Rogue One...she must be someone else, according to the folks on YouTube. And then there was speculation that the Rogue One 5 or however many of them...were going to be captured and end up being Kylo Rens army! @_@ OMG. That shocked the heck out of me, when we watched that YouTube speculation video. I was like...say what???? That floored me completely! @_@ And honestly it made tons of sense. Again...it hasn't been released. I have not seen this. But there is so much...speculation on this. By hard core Star Wars fans. And I am a total fan. But I'm not like super hard core... where I have read all the comic books and stuff on them. So...anyway. We are totally full of anticipation. And can't wait until December 17th! : ) 

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Recent good eats...

As you all know, I make dinner at home 99% of the time. We rarely eat dinner outside of the house. Because well, there aren't any restaurants in our town unless you count 7-11 and the Mini Stop (convenience stores hahaha) and we could go to a restaurant but they're far. And by the time night or dinner rolls around... we're all tired and just want to relax and eat at home. Plus, I like cooking. Cooking and baking relax me. I really enjoy cooking. So, why in the heck not. : ) So not in any particular order at all. Just some random pics of our meals....that our family here has been enjoying lately. : )  This night we had mashed potatoes and chicken strips.  

Just an average basic American meal for one night. Mashed potatoes, and gravy and chicken strips and some broccoli and a delicious dinner roll. These rolls taste a lot like those Hawaiian dinner rolls, with a slight sweetness to them (King's Hawaiian). These are really good dinner rolls, the bakery in the small city nearest me, make these. : ) 

This night I made curry nabe. Well technically curry soup. But it's absolutely delicious. Udon noodles, some veggies. Cabbage and mushrooms.

Chopped up potato and chicken breast about to go into the curry soup first. We eat this meal all in 1 pot in the middle of the kitchen/dining table. 

Curry soup/nabe packets. I just dissolve these first and then add the chicken and potatoes first since they take longest to cook, then add the other veggies and udon and whatnot. : ) 

Fully loaded nachos. These are so good. And we're having these again tomorrow night. : ) Because I just went to Costco today and picked up a new bag of corn tortilla chips. 

These come from Hanamasa and are super cheap there. 100 yen a bag. They sell this same brand at Kaldi for like 450-500 yen a bag. I enjoy buying the rigatoni sized pasta, because I make a delicious baked ziti about once a month in Fall and Winter. My family loves baked ziti, with a side salad and a fresh crusty loaf of bread from the bakery..


I also bought these. These are for my homemade from scratch minestrone soup. 

Stocking up the pantry for some Fall and Winter staple meals in our house. Baked ziti and some homemade minestrone soup essentials. I make minestrone soup about twice a month. In Fall and Winter. A nice hot bowl of soup when it's cold outside. Yum! : )

A slightly unattractive meal, because it's all bland one color on the plate. But it was honestly pretty good. Rice a roni, American style fried pork chops and some corn. Some bright green broccoli would have really... made this pop...but the kids requested corn...so corn it was! : )

Kabocha. Japanese pumpkin. I think it is no big secret but...I love kabocha! It is so delicious. About once a month, I make a pot of kabocha soup. A nice creamy hearty soup. So filling and so delicious. I also like to make another dish out of kabocha too.We definitely enjoy kabocha at our house in Fall and Winter. I also make a fantastic from scratch... potato soup too. We eat lots of homemade soups in winter time and with a crusty loaf of bread on the side...yum! : ) 

Baked ravioli one night with a side salad, 1 person wanted no salad that day and that's fine and I also made garlic bread. This was a very good meal that night. Again very filling. I don't want anyone to starve around here. : ) 

Rice Crispy treats. Rice Crispy treats are so good! So perfect in Fall and Winter. So super easy to make. There's definitely nothing wrong with some dessert once in a while. 

Taquito night. Refried beans are homemade from scratch, Spanish rice is homemade and the taquitos are homemade too. I buy the rotisserie chicken and use the chicken breast meat from that. This is Noah's favorite meal at the moment. Whenever I make this, he's so excited. : )

Miso. I buy the generic store brand Besia one. Miso is very YMMV (your mileage may vary) type of thing, meaning everyone here in Japan has their own personal favorite. They sell different colors of miso. And some miso are just plain and some have added ingredients like fish or dashi in them. As you know, I really hate fish and fish dashi. I just can't handle the flavor. So, I buy plain miso with zero fish. And I personally like the deep red colored one. Again it just boils down to personal preference...what everyone likes. And that's my personal favorite. : )  I use this to make homemade miso chicken and miso pork at home.  

I have the very best recipe for miso pork and miso chicken. It's so basic and easy... but it tastes totally legit! As in...you'd never in a million years guess a western woman made it. LOL. It's so good. : ) I like to marinate my miso pork or chicken first thing in the morning, because I find that if it has marinated longer it has a better flavor. : )

A simple meal, some rice, some miso chicken and some broccoli. I made enough miso chicken for the boys to take in their packed lunch the next day for school. : )

Homemade from scratch gratin potatoes. Or cheesy scalloped potatoes if you prefer. These are so bomb! We had fried American pork chops with these and a side salad. I will be making these potatoes for Christmas dinner. Just twice the amount. Branden *loves* these cheesy gratin potatoes.


Baked chicken parmesan. Ya'll know this is a family favorite that I make year round. And I love that home-style pasta from Costco too. 

Chocolate chip cookies happened too. : ) 

Holy goodness, I nearly forgot to take a pic this night. We had homemade from scratch pizza night on a Friday night and a family movie night at home followed. Best funnest way to kick off a Friday. : ) 

Sunday night pot roast happened. And funny...that I happened to buy 2 big lean hunks of beef for pot roast again. Probably this coming Sunday is when I will make that. : ) So Bran and Noah can take pot roast sandwiches in their obento next Monday. Back to the pic...pot roast, mashed potatoes and brown gravy and some green beans. 
When we're in Inzai/Chiba New Town there are so many restaurants there. We will usually have lunch there. Noboru and I had lunch at the Ohsho. This was my lunch. Fried rice, gyoza, 2 pieces of karaage (all white meat) and egg drop soup.
Sweet and sour chicken. I love sweet and sour chicken. I love it. And that Cook Do packet it is so delicious. I love using that. : )

Pizza Hut and Dominoes is in Narita City. We prefer Pizza Hut. We don't go there often, but when we do... we go to Pizza Hut and take it home. : ) This night we picked up 3 large pan pizzas, this was also on another Friday. 

Random lunch pic. I make Branden and Noah lunch every day Monday through Friday. And these Oscar Meyer 100% beef hot dogs are what I grew up with and same for my kids too. : ) And I skillet fry them and a little ketchup and mustard under the hot dog. And a container of seedless grapes from America. And another container of some macaroni salad. And lunch was ready! Noah takes 1 hot dog, while Bran takes 2, he's older and needs more fuel. And they both took the same sides, grapes and macaroni salad this day. : ) 

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Enjoying Noah's observation day at the local elementary school...

November 10th was a Parent Observation Day at our local elementary school. You could go and visit any time of the day. Any class and observe. Observe a regular typical day. Noboru and I both went and we observed 2 classes. 1 class inside the classroom (math) and gym class, which they have outside if the weather is good, otherwise it is held in their gymnasium. On this day we observed them doing gymnastics. In this case they were practicing cart wheels and doing them over again and again. 

Before they started with their hour long cart wheel fun! They warmed up by running 1 lap around our huge field. This school has enormous school grounds, which is awesome and the rural greenery and trees and hills are so amazing and beautiful. We love living in a true rural/country area! It's gorgeous. Lucky country kids! : )

And the class also did some stretching before too! And lol! Noah has the whitest legs EVER! Complete with a pink tint to them! Hahaha! Alright so....stretching done and 1 last thing...some yoga!

I love that the kids at our elementary school practice yoga at school. They do 5 minutes of it every day Monday through Friday to warm up with.. whatever activity they are doing for that day gym-wise. It's so fantastic for flexibility. Noah is really great at this! Noah likes doing a lot of the poses at home. He shows me the crow pose. And all sorts of his favorite ones, he can do. Our elementary school is amazing! Flat out amazing! They learn and do the coolest things here! : )

Okay class pep talk! There is only 1 fifth grade class and this is it. : )  See all the mats down. Yep, some cart wheeling fun is about to happen soon! : )

They broke up into groups of 4. Noah and Lily-chan. She is not pictured, I think she was talking to the teacher at this time. And S-chan, the little girl standing behind Noah. She is my friends daughter. : ) And the little boy standing behind S-chan, he is an identical twin and his twin was in another cart wheel group/team. : ) 

There was a break for lunch. Which Noboru and I ran home to eat our lunch at home. And then we went back to the school and watched a play. This play was put on by 4 elderly grandparent aged people. Three pictured here. They were so good! Super talented! Much respect! : )

See the fox mask on this "wall" well this play was about a fox who out smarts these 2 on the left! In Japan, foxes are not to be trusted. And they say they are crafty and cunning. We say that too, in the United States. "Crafty like a fox", I think is the saying we use. : ) Anyway this fox was just too naughty and bad for words! However, these 2 outsmarted the fox in the end! The "fox" was the lady in yellow pictured here. I really *really* enjoyed this play a whole lot. It was fun for me. The kids and the other parents seemed to enjoy it too. : ) Anyway, that's Noah's observation day in a nutshell! : )

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Throwback Thursday...

video

Just a little 2 minute video. This is/was a private family home movie that I took in 2006. I have never shared this on here before. I have so many home movies. I take movies almost as often as I take pics. Because I like going back and looking and listening to their voices at a certain point in time. Like this one. I usually listen to music while cooking. And we don't ever listen to music while we actually eat dinner, we like to talk to one another. However on this video we clearly were listening to music. I like looking at this video and get the chance to reminisce...oh yeah I remember when we were into that Indian style curry, that you could make at home. They sold these packets and we were into those many years ago. We're not into those anymore of course, but it is nice looking at this video. And think. Geeze that music was a tad too loud, were we totally jamming or what? Hahaha. Or, I remember when we used to make that curry. Or this video reminds me...how Noah was *so* teeny tiny. And I like hearing all his squeals and watch him wave and see his happy personality shine through... at one point it looked like he was jamming with the music. It was just so super cute for me... to look back on this clip and think. Wow, how glad I am to have this. I haven't uploaded a video on here in...forever. I hope this video comes out for you guys and you can see this cute little moment in time captured of our family. Oh and where was BrannyB? He was tuckered out from yochien (kindergarten) so he had eaten earlier and was napping on the couch. : )

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Going to the movies! Taking the boys to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them...

Sunday, November 27th, I took the boys to the movies! We went to see, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them! I had mentioned back when Noboru and I went to see Bridget Jones's Baby that I was planning to take Branden and Noah to see Fantastic Beasts as soon as it came out for us in Japan and on a day that we were available and Sunday was our first available day!  

We had a large caramel corn! And a drink each. And I snuck in a Snickers bar for each of the boys and a pack of chocolate covered raisins for myself. And we went and enjoyed the movie!

My thoughts on the movie? I really liked it! I felt it was pretty good. However would I buy it on DVD? No, I wouldn't. If I were on a flight to America and it were available, would I watch it again? Honestly no, I wouldn't. I think for me personally, it was more of an...I am really glad I got to see this. But, I would only watch it this once. Still, I know this movie is incredibly popular right now and I am very glad I took my boys to see this. I personally thought, Mrs. Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children was way better!

Next movie, I plan to take the boys to see, the new Star Wars movie of course and there's another movie too, that has caught my eye but I can't think of the name of it right now, gah figures...doesn't it? Hahaha. : ) Happy Tuesday everyone! : )