Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My dad's arrival and the pumpkin pie baking we did and a few other bits for good measure. : )

Sorry you guys, I know I am a bit behind blogging, but with my dad here last week all the way until Saturday night (now he is gone though : ( and the Thanksgiving holidays and all, I've not been on the computer all too much this past week. So, trying to catch up again real quick. I have about 4 posts to get up. Also tomorrow/Wednesday December 1st... I have a movie date with my 2 very close friends Noriko-san and Jogo-san to go and first have breakfast together (after sending all our kids to school) and then going to see the new Harry Potter movie at 11am. So, I may or may not get a chance to get all 4 posts up. But I'm sure going to give it a shot and do my best to get as many as I can up. : ) So where did I leave off? Hmm, okay well.... I think I mentioned the boys had to go and get their 2nd and final flu shot for this season. Well we did that. This year seems to be a 3 in 1 type combo (guarding against 3 viruses) according to our Dr. anyway....protecting of 2 different flu viruses plus the swine flu (wasn't last years just a 2 in 1 combo?... ours here was, I think). I liked that this was a combo flu shot (well at least it is in our area) also a coworkers of Noboru's said at the beginning of October (a week before we took ours, they did theirs) the flu shot didn't burn this year like last year and they were right....I noticed that myself when we got our first round of flu shots in October. And when we went and got the boys their 2nd and final dosage in November....both Branden and Noah said the same thing. So, anyways, I'm starting to babble aimlessly about flu shots now, whoops sorry. Also, I'm sure it won't protect from every strain in the whole entire world or universe...but still, for me personally it still gives me peace of mind that at least I tried to get them flu shots and hope they work. : ) But if they don't...I've got a ton of kids cold meds here in case. ; ) So flu shots, both first and second dosage done and done! Phew! ; )
They've been showing Stella on satellite here in Japan lately. This is one of my very *favorite* movies of all time. This was one of my mom's favorite movies and we always watched this together. And always cried together at the end watching this. And now that I am grown up....I still enjoy watching this. Notice a very young Ben Stiller playing....Jenny's "bad boy" boyfriend.
This mother gave everything to her daughter. And I'm not talking material stuff. She loved and adored her daughter and her daughter her. They were so close. And in the end....the mom let her go. It's a very excellent movie. I hate to say it....but even now, it gets me every time. I seriously cry at the ending every single time. Branden always looks at me like @_@ lol. Meanwhile I am sitting on the couch sniffling away. I love this movie...in fact one of these days I will have to buy the darn dvd. : )
The turkey came last Monday morning hard as a rock. He sat and thawed in the fridge until Thanksgiving morning.
You can see...we ordered the 18-20 pound one. And they sent us a 19.10 pounder. Very good size.
My dad brought us so many fresh bakery breads. From American bakery and Guam bakery. I stuck them all into the freezer until the night before Thanksgiving to sort of make sure they stayed fresher longer.
A disposable turkey pan. These are very common in the US, they make clean up a snap!
He also brought a few extra boxes of popcorn. He knows we're a dvd renting family and so we appreciated it.
Swiss and mozzarella cheeses for the leftover turkey sandwiches and a block of colby for grating for some chili concarne/Texas style chili and maybe some cornbread that I'll be baking soon.
And last but not least, brought the black olives, an extra can of pumpkin pie filling, whole cranberries, some frosting and a big Costco size of lemonade and some Miracle whip for the turkey sandwiches and some strawberry cake mix (for the bazaar bake sale for Noah's yochien later last week). My dad knows and understands how hard it is getting the little odd and ends that really help make Thanksgiving extra special....especially with living in Japan (and not really wanting to pay an arm and a leg at the international shops...so he completely rocked by bringing them along in his suitcase!!!! Thanks dad. : )
Bean and cheese burritos. Sitting in the freezer as I speak...errr type. ; )
So, last Monday October 22nd, my dad arrived. At 1:20pm. He was just going to take the train but Noboru was free so he picked up my dad, I meanwhile was at the yochien picking up Noah since he gets off school at 1:40pm. I met up with my dad, we both got home around the same time. My dad unpacked the perishables into the fridge and freezer right away, put his suitcase in our spare bedroom and we left to go and pick up Branden. My dad stood along the pathway where the kids let out..... there waiting for Branden. And Branden ran right up to grandpa. We headed home...and had dinner. Tuesday was a holiday here in Japan last week. So, the boys and my dad and I went to the mall. I clicked this pic as my dad was leaving the Daiso. We spent a good hour in Daiso. My dad loves that store. And I had to go there because I needed plates and ribbon for the upcoming bake sale. After the Daiso, we went to the men's department at the mall and my dad bought himself, a few tops. A comfy house shirt, a fleece and a sweater. He was quite pleased about the stuff he got. Oh yes he also got a nice light cream plaid flannel type top that I have a pic of somewhere. It'll be on the post where my dad leaves and is at the airport. : ( So, a few posts to come still. But anyway he got stuff he really liked. After that we went to Mc Donald's. The kids had happy sets/happy meals. My dad had a quarter pounder combo and I had a 100 yen shake. I've been really avoiding deep fried. Trying to have it once a month to twice a month tops. So.....yeah a shake. And I wasn't really all that hungry anyways.
Wednesday my dad went with me everywhere and I loved that. It's so nice to have someone riding along shot gun like that with me. Dropping off B. Then running home...making obento, dropping off Noah. My dad loves to walk Noah into his class and the kids always go crazy and "hello and good morning" my dad to death. Which he never minds. And I find it cute. The kids are used to me by now and speak to me in Japanese. But my dad's the new one. Ha ha ha. : ) Wednesday after dinner....I made beef curry that night. And after supper, I threw the dishes into the dishwasher. We preheated the oven and whipped up 2 pies. Oh yes, I made the crusts in the day time though. Nice butter crusts.
And fresh out of the big oven and cooling.
I rented Repo Men, with Jude Law and Forrest Whitaker. And The Book of Eli. We enjoyed watching those movies while my dad was here. My dad and Noboru both REALLY liked Repo Men. The next post is the Thanksgiving post. Hopefully I can get that one up this evening, (Noboru gets off work tonight at 8:30pm though so I might not have time and I still have to get the kids to bed, so maybe.. maybe not) if not maybe tomorrow evening. Because I will be out of the house all day tomorrow with that Harry Potter movie. Anyway...at least I got one up. Three more to go. ; ) Have a good night everyone. : )

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Shichi-Go-San (7-5-3) the Catholic version! ; ) Among other random catch-ups. : )

November 15th is the date we celebrate shichi-go-san
here in Japan. So, on Monday November 15th, our private Catholic school held a little 7-5-3 ceremony for the kids. I, as you know am Catholic. I was raised Roman Catholic my whole life. My parents, grandparents, etc are Catholic. Noboru and I, also married in the Catholic church in Osaka years ago. And we both agreed to raise our children, if we ever had any. Catholic. We also live in Japan. So, I was happy the way our Catholic school sort of merged the two, meaning not forgetting about the 7-5-3 while also not leaving out.....the Catholicism part either. I think the school did/does a wonderful job balancing the two. : )
The front rows were saved for the children for 7-5-3. Us parents sat towards the back. This started at 10:30am. Noboru and I went to breakfast before this but after dropping off Noah at school.
The bags the kids each made and crafted to hold their chitose ame (thousand year candy). The pink badges were the penguins. And the priest blessed all the bags and candy inside as well as their religious medallions. The kids also each got a blessing.
The priest starting with the prayer.
Afterwards, all the kids all gathered for a group photo. Which I took one as well. And then I took this one.
I have all of Branden's medals and necklaces he got from church tucked away for when he's grown and can see them. And I have Noah's from this year and last year tucked away as well. : )
The candy Noah shared.... he gave 1 to Branden and 1 for himself. Very nice.
What else have I been doing since we went to the onsen? Not a whole lotta anything. Nothing major or earth shattering going on here. Life's good, the kids are good. Hmm, what can I say? Oh yes, I went to Hanamasa (a meat shop) They have rigatoni for very fair prices. The other store I shop at has rigatoni for 500 yen. @_@ So, I don't buy it from that store. I buy it from here, if I need it. 138 yen is more my speed. : )
2 types of pasta. 1 bag of fries. The fries are so cheap. Cheaper then even my closest Cainz store.
Some veggies, Hanamasa has cheap frozen veggies. I'm now hiding/keeping one of these bags of green beans pictured....away for upcoming Thanksgiving dinner.
I go to Hanamasa because they have cheap fresh whole chickens. And living in Japan whole chickens are quite hard to find. And also lean ground beef is also hard to find. Pure ground beef not mixed. So, when I go to Hanamasa, I only go here every other month or so. So, when I do come here....I usually get a few packs of the ground beef. 3 packs so that means we've had hamburg once already. And tonight I'm making spaghetti and meatballs. And the last pack of ground beef, I'll probably make cheeseburger night next week after we're sick of the turkey. : ) Also picked up a big cheap pack of pork chops. We had fried pork chops and rice and roni and veggies one night already. And the chicken, I baked last week. And made mashed potatoes and gravy. Trial run for Thanksgiving perhaps. : )
Went to my regular Cainz store and did the weekly shopping. Did I get burnt out on all the Oreo coffees and caramel machiattos? Maybe for a time being. For now I'm back on the Blendy. Also have been enjoying these tiramisu cupcakes with cheese filling, so good. Have bought these 2 weeks in a row.
This is the breakfast I had and Noboru had before the 7-5-3 ceremony on Monday. I had a western breakfast and Noboru had the Japanese breakfast.
What else...
Thanksgiving update:
The turkey has been ordered since a week ago. We ordered the 18-20 pounder. The arrival date of the turkey we chose is for this coming Monday. I bought 3 packs of butter this week already in preparation for the 2 homemade pumpkin pies I will be baking. The butter is for my butter crust for the pies. I feel like Santa checking my list and checking it again and again. 2 packs of butter for the pies, 1 pack each. And the other butter is for...1/2 is for turkey basting and the other half is for mashed potatoes.; ) Etc. yep, Thanksgiving day and the days that follow definitely not a healthy eating time of year, is it? lol. But....definitely one of my favorite holidays. : )
My dad....he flies in this coming Monday to be with us here in Japan. So we can celebrate Thanksgiving together. He's also bringing with him many yummy goodies in his suitcase. In fact he's going to get the hoagie type rolls for the leftover turkey sandwiches on Sunday.
Thanksgiving as you know is this coming Thursday, it's always on a Thursday. And basically we're all just sorta having quiet time now, getting ready for that 1 big giant meal on Thursday. @_@ It's funny how much thought and time goes into just 1 meal, right? Ha ha ha. But...it's tradition.
My dad will be here from this coming Monday to next Saturday evening. He was going to leave Saturday morning, but Branden has observation day next Saturday and Branden asked my dad if he can come too. So, my dad said yes so he's leaving next Saturday night. So, he'll be here 6 nights. A very nice time, we're all looking forward to. My dad will also be here to attend Noah's school bake sale and bazaar (for which I am baking something to be sold on the bake sale day) Yep, there will be a lot of baking this coming week.
We're leaving next month. We were going to Honolulu. But, will go there hopefully this coming January. Man we've been waiting for that forever it seems. And when we do finally finally get to Hawaii, we will be there for a long time, like 7 nights type length. But next month for/around Christmas, we will be in Guam. Enjoying the tropical weather. So, we're looking forward to that next month.
Anyway, not too much going on with the update, sorry. ; ) Life's quiet.... but good. Waiting for Thanksgiving this coming week. Waiting for my dad to get here. And that's sorta it. : ) Oh yeah and the spaghetti and meatballs for tonight and another loaf of bread from the same bakery. I went there this morning already on the way home from dropping off Noah. Picked up a fresh loaf.
Oh yes, I have to pick up some dvd rentals from Tsutaya rental online soon.. maybe this evening after supper.
TV Talk: What have I been watching? The Hills, still watching this faithfully, it's in the last season now. And still watching the Jersey Shore, love this show! Have been watching this since the first season too and am enjoying season 2 just as much. I'm also enjoying...Cold Case on AXN. America's Next Top Model is one of my favorite shows, I watch every week. True Blood is getting so good too. I love that show, Sookie Stackhouse and all the other characters quite fun and interesting to watch. I'm still enjoying the old SATC repeats every night after the kids go to bed. And saw an episode of Hoarders the other day that truly made me think....holy smokes!
Movie watching: Hmm, The new remake of Nightmare on Elm Street was actually really good. I generally for the most part, think remakes are crap compared to the originals. But this one...wasn't so bad at all. And it was interesting to see someone other then Robert Englund play Freddy.
Prince William engaged: Isn't that wonderful news. You know....I remember when Princess Diana and Prince Charles got married. I was really little, wasn't even in the double digits yet myself. : ) My mom and I sat down on the couch and watched in awe. Wow she's beautiful...my mom said. She's going to be a princess you know. I said really? We watched in the living room, all the way in the US. It was like a fairy tale. My mother adored Princess Diana, as did so many people worldwide. So, I naturally grew up really liking her, as well. When they had William and Harry, it was so wonderful. And then when Princess Diana divorced we were sad but it was understandable why. And when she died. It was horrible. Absolutely horrible. I remember watching in Denver, the funeral procession, her brothers speech. But mostly I remember,her 2 lovely sons walking along with their father, they were very close to their mother....I knew they'd forever miss her. Did everyone else's heart break a little that day? Mine honestly did too. Ever since then, I've read bits and pieces on William and Harry throughout the years. Anyway.....just really happy for both William and Kate. I recognized that ring right off. Before they even mentioned whose ring it was, I knew. Anyway....I wish them well and all the best.
Anyway...I better publish this, so I can go and pick up Noah at 1:10 pm. Have a wonderful weekend everyone. : )

Friday, November 12, 2010

Yunessun Spa in Hakone Japan. Onsen family trip.

We had been quietly planning this trip to Hakone since 2 weeks before Noah's undokai. One thing I love about the gaijin community in Japan is how much information we share with one another. No matter, if you're here because of marriage or for the military, the help we do with info share wise is always one reason I enjoy blogging so much. Around 6 month's to a year or so ago, I read on Alisa's blog about this amazing onsen her family had went to, the Yunessun. Definitely not your typical run of the mil onsen that I've ever been to that's for sure. Huge big bottle of wine, huge tea pot. Great big milk. Reminded me almost of a half Willy Wonka-ish" type world if he were to make an onsen that is. ; ) I showed my husband and he was amazed by how cool it was, he mentioned we should go there some day. Then many many months passed. And then we finally started using those travel coupons you know. And we got to thinking. I bet they have hotels that would take our vouchers. And sure enough there were like 7-8 hotels that would in the Hakone mountain area. So we picked the hotel we liked best and made our reservation, before my MIL even came down here for the undokai. Finally weeks passed and a month passed. And it was time for us to prepare. So last Friday evening after we ate the teriyaki sandwiches. I baked some homemade Nestle tollhouse cookies with pecans. For the trip. I had also gathered up a small snack bag of goodies we might need for our trip to Hakone. Cheese crackers, pasta soups, chicken cup of noodle, coffee, homemade cookies, peanuts, etc. We didn't need even half the snacks I brought, with so much to eat there, but it was still peace of mind bringing them though. Especially since it was just our first time being there.
The dvd's got here before our trip. The new Nightmare on Elm street on the left. Which Noboru and I will watch this weekend after the boys go to sleep. And Toy Story 3, we took for the long car ride to Hakone with us.
So Sunday morning we woke up at 6am and we were packed already and so we left around 6:30am. It was a couple hour drive with taking the highway all the way there. This picture was taken at the base of the mountain.
And up the mountain we went.
There was this cafe on the mountain. There was also a large bakery that was packed. A Family Mart right next/across to the Yunessun Spa (the fun onsen). There was a Daily Yamazaki. A few other cafes and restaurants we saw too. There is plenty to eat in Hakone. And at the Yunessun, spa there is a lot to eat and choose from.
We heard that there are tourists by the heaps. And that was totally indeed true. In fact, we were there Sunday and Monday hoping for a dead/meaning not many people. And there were still people galore. See all the buses. So, if it's that busy on a weekday. I can only imagine how packed it would be on a weekend. @_@
The Yunessun.

A coffee onsen. The water was very hot and it smelled totally like coffee.

Enjoying the waterfall bath.

Standing on the hot marble.
I've heard of people soaking in the tub with a glass of wine before. But this takes the cake!!! : ) This was so cool. As I soaked in here, I would watch peoples facial expressions and reactions as they passed this particular onsen. Their face would light up, or they'd crack up and point. Or take a picture of the great big wine bottle and the cool onsen. Everyone had the same reaction. We did too. I was downright @_@ when I first saw it. This was such a nice place to soak.
Happy boys.

What a great way to spend a Sunday. : )
At special times they had a performance of sorts. A man brought out 3 bottles of wine and poured it into every ones hands. He poured it into all 4 of our hands. And we smelled it and yes it was indeed wine.

This green tea bath got me, I loved it! It was so intensely bright green. And the temperature was so nice and hot. It also smelled so amazing. I sat in here the longest time. Ahhh. : ) Yes they had to say on the bottom of this sign..... do not drink. Because it smelled so wonderful. : )
You always hear how good milk is for your skin. Right? I hear that too. : ) And so I soaked a good long time in here too.
Just couldn't keep away from the green tea one though.
Great big tea cup. And the cool Fall weather was perfect weather for soaking in the onsen. The little waterfall in the back of the onsen where green tea came out.
Great big tea pot.
Noboru told me...you remember "Spirited Away" when they lit the fire underneath the big bath? And I said yeah. This reminded him of that. ; ) Meanwhile I kept half expecting Gene Wilder with top hat and purple coat to pop out at any moment singing..."Pure imagination" (if you wanna view paradise...simply look around and view it). Or to pass me a Scrumpdiddlyumptious bar at the very least. : ) Good to know though...little things during our full day here at the Yunessun reminded us each of movies though. We have seen online that in the past, they have had different things here too. We saw some photos online of when they had the cup of noodle baths. They had a few of the tubs and they looked just like instant cup of soups. We also heard they had garigari ones before too. And around Valentine's one time, they also had a chocolate one, that my husbands coworker recalls. We're coming back here, to Hakone and to the Yunessun this coming Febuary or March for my birthday. We loved this place so much.
Soaking while looking at all the Fall colors. Amazing.

Look at the shape of that roof of the charcoal one.
And so foggy steamy whatever you wanna call it. : ) And see those metal things? They held the charcoal. Great big hunks of charcoal. And it smelled like charcoal very very lightly, not bad smelling at all. Well, if our skin had any impurities, it sure doesn't anymore. : )
Huge pool. This Yunessun place. They have 2 sides. One sides the real onsen side, where you are naked and girls go with the girls and guys go with the guys. Then they also have this fun side, where you wear swimwear and can go with your whole family and not be separated.
And another big onsen area.
Nice floors.
Great big food court area. And there was another one near the other big pool. I quickly scoped the menu out. They had a very good menu it seems. Very westerner friendly menu. Pretzels, churros and chocolate churros, chicken sandwich. Onion rings etc.

These towel hooks made me smile.

Very popular skin care products in Japan. And they had a few baths packed with the stuff.

See they look younger already! LOL! : )
Look above Branden and Noah's heads. Yes they are soaking in an actual tub of cream. LOL. I soaked in there myself. Smelled amazing.

See the guy wearing the coat in the background? Yes it really was THAT chilly to need one. Which is why the onsen felt so good.
Branden going down the slide.
Hi Noah!
The Roman baths. Quite a few different types in this area. This whole Yunessun was pretty big.
Salt bath.
The boys and I went in this.
After playing a full entire Sunday at the Yunessun. We took showers. The shampoo (Pola and it smelled amazing btw) conditoner and body wash... all provided in the shower rooms for free) After soaking and playing but basically relaxing a whole day away and a good shower afterwards we went downstairs of the Yunessun. They had an Italian restaurant there. This place is basically a copy cat, exactly of Capriaciossa (sp?). Same rice ball for the apetizer (though we did not order it, but it was on the menu) same garlic and chili pasta which we did order. Noboru and I guessed/think, whoever runs this must have originally worked at Capriaciossa (sp?) and then opened their own copy cat restaurant way up here. Not that we mind or care. It's delicious. And the prices so fair. Our total for dinner was just 4200 yen. That's about $45 US. For 4 of us, that's really great.
Branden getting a napkin and Noah talking to Noboru.
2 big pizzas (they only had 1 size but they were quite large and we had leftover pizza even) and 2 garlic chili pastas and they offer regular or extra large portions same as....you guessed it. Capriaciossa. We also had 4 cokes. We were stuffed. And we will come back to this restaurant for sure, the next time we go to Hakone. A great menu and very good prices.
Grape icecream. Cheesecake icecream. Green tea. They had a souvenir shop in the Yunessun and also this icecream shop.
Noboru is pretty traditonal, he picked green tea. Noah vanilla and Branden and I both picked cheesecake.
Leaving the Yunessun. Branden unzipping his sweatshirt so he could put it on.
On our way back to our hotel. Noboru stopped off at the Daily Yamazaki conbini. He wanted some cup of noodle. I had told him I packed some but I think he just likes to buy some when he's on a trip. See the tour bus parked near? All the tourists got off and picked up some snacks too probably to enjoy in their own hotel rooms.
Our hotel. So pretty with the lights. Looked sorta like a French chateau (the online reviewer who said that was right). Really very pretty.
B carrrying the swimsuits so we could hang dry them in the shower of our hotel room. Noah pulling the Buzz Lightyear suitcase that carried both kids clothes and pj's. Noboru carrying my hisbiscus carry-on that carried both hubby's and my stuff. And the left hand carried our snacks bag. I meanwhile in charge of taking all the family pics. So following behind. : )

Branden sitting under the chandelier waiting for Noboru to check us in. After soaking away all day. We felt nice and relaxed. We checked in, and looked around our room. Switched to our yukata and as you know from the second half of this post, went downstairs to our hotel and shampooed and soaped up, rinsed off, then soaked in the onsen again. Outside in the rotenburo. And then went up to our room and enjoyed our time together and then the next day took the ferry back home. All in all, this was an amazing trip, we had a truly wonderful time. Noboru wants to come back, I want to come back, the kids want to come back. So we're thinking about coming back for my birthday. My birthday's in March, but depending on when he can get the time off, maybe Febuary or maybe March, we'll see. We're definitely coming back here for sure.
Three cheers for Hakone Japan and the yunessun spa. Anyway, that was our mini getaway we had last Sunday and Monday. : )