Monday, September 23, 2013

September happenings! Getting the boys Fall weather ready! Revamping our living room, currently in progress! Moon viewing and pumpkin spice coffee creamer, good eats, etc!

Okie Dokie, this is going to be a long post, so sorry in advance. : ) This is just some of the happenings and stuff we've been up to around here for September. And since September is almost over, I figured I better get this up. Every Fall and Spring, I post how I am doing with getting the boys ready clothes wise...regarding a change of season coming. So this is that part of the post. Gap stuff bought from the outlet in Nagano.
Don't remember if these were 50 or 60% off. But the total for all the sweatshirts for Branden's and Noah's was like 8,000 or 9,000 yen. And not bad for 5 sweatshirts really.  Noah is a 130cm size, in every shop and store, he's average in height and superly skinny/thin. And Gap pants too, 130cm. So we were totally surprised when we had him try on the 130cm size Gap sweatshirts and they were tiny, they looked like last years size sweatshirts. Like if they shrunk 1 dot or if he grew 1 dot, they'd be outgrown. So that's why we bought the 140cm. 
Noah's color sweatshirts, red with navy words, navy blue with bright yellow words and the brown with red words, the brown goes well with his hair. Hahaha. : ) So those are what Noah brought back from the outlet in Nagano. A nice start to the Fall weather. 
Branden is a straight 160cm size. We also had Branden try on a small man's sweatshirt and the small looked identical in size as this 160cm size. And the medium man's was ginormous on Branden. : )
So Branden got these 2. The size and since Gap sizes here in Japan, are cut a bit slimmer then American Gap clothes, it even says that at the store. So, we felt it was better to get him 2 and get him anything else from Gap US. 
Branden did get new swim trunks though, he can wear any trunks since he's a level 1. And he really liked these. : )  
Cecile online ordering in Japan. I really like their quality of their jeans and jean shorts a lot. I find the jean material, thick not paper thin. They're just made really well. And the prices are wow! So good. I always buy Branden's and Noah's jeans in winter and jean shorts in summer from here. 
Three pair for Branden and 1 pair for Noah. Because we bought Noah 2 brand new pair of jeans in size 130cm in May and he wore them only once or twice, so they're like brand new still. So they both have 3 pair of jeans each so far. Again it's a start. : ) 
From the Gap, thought this shirt was so cool! Loved the color and the tie! So ordered this for both the boys. 
This style seems to be really in this year. Bought this for both the boys. From Gap and used a 40% off coupon.
Loved this varsity jacket. Now both the boys have it.  So again just getting ready for the Fall weather, little by little. 
These 4 Gap sweatshirts in size 12, ordered them in May? Branden's 11 years old. And they still are nice and roomy so he can wear these. So, sweatshirt wise, Branden is doing pretty good. 
This fleece from Gap, also still has plenty of room to grow for Branden. So sweatshirt wise, Branden is doing okay. I think he'll get a pair or two of pants still and some long sleeve tops, a few packs of socks, but that's about it.  
Same for Noah, he also got some new Gap sweatshirts late Spring/ early Summer this year. And so he can wear these as well. So sweatshirt wise, Noah is totally set. I think Noah will get another pair or two of pants and some new socks maybe for both the boys but otherwise they're doing good and when the cold weather finally hits, they'll be ready, clothes wise. : )  What else....
Homework. Noboru helping Noah with his homework. This day, Noah had to read a story and however many times you read it, you could get a stamp for it. He read it many times for Noboru and ended up with a few stamps. : ) And Noah does have a study desk in his room, but he does enjoy doing his homework at the kitchen table, while I cook dinner. And Noboru meanwhile helps with the homework. 
Branden has a study desk in his room too. : ) But again, he also likes to be in the kitchen while I'm cooking. I think he likes the company, which is fine, I enjoy the company too. : )  That day Branden was doing his math. He's really good at math. : ) 
Noboru and I went to Costco one day during September, we ended up having lunch there. I had a slice of combo pizza, Noboru had the 2 hot dogs behind the pizza. 
We each had a Mountain Dew. I love Mountain Dew. : ) 
We bought 2 rotisserie chickens that night and....
Ground beef and cheese. 
Rotisserie chicken tacos. Okay probably not the most authentic tacos, granted. But so freaking good and so easy! Thanks to the rotisserie chicken. We had salsa from Costco, lettuce, sour cream, rice. One plate of slice dark meat for Noboru. One plate of sliced white meat for the boys and I. Sodas. 
Rice and rotisserie chicken. 
Lettuce, cheese, sour cream and salsa. What a great Friday evening, the weekend is here dinner that night! Easy peasy but super filling! 
Noah enjoying his dinner that night. 
Three cheers for the weekend! And three cheers for easy but yummy meals! : )
With summer on the outs. And Fall here to stay, for the time being. Summer stuff is cheap right now. These were on sale for super cheap, and so I bought them. Lemon shave ice syrup. Hiding in my pantry now and if for some reason some one feels like one this Fall or winter, well I'll have it on hand. And the expiration date is longer then a year away. So, it'll get used. 
Slices of pork, not too paper thin, but not so thick it was pork chop thickness. Ginger pork type thickness. 
This ginger pork sauce is so good! It has pieces and bits of ginger and everything. 
Marinated in this pan all day in the fridge, wrapped with plastic wrap of course. Dinner that night, we had broccoli and a side salad and rice with this. It was so good. 
And this was on a Saturday of another week during September. We said, let's have pizza. So to Costco Inzai we went. 
One pepperoni pizza and 1 combo pizza. That was a great way again to just enjoy a Saturday night with the family here at home. 
Also picked up some made in Chiba rice at Costco. 
We had tiramisu all that weekend also. Hmm, what else have we been up to. 
We went to Ikea. Love Ikea. Our couch, coffee table, TV stand, book case, basically every dot of furniture in our living room comes from Ikea. Our kitchen table comes from Ikea, as does our corner white cabinet in the kitchen also. Branden's bed comes form Ikea, as does his night stand. Hmm, yeah 98% of all our home furniture comes from there. So of course we love Ikea. : )  Anyway, I read this blog of this wonderful family in America and they recently moved house. However, they got right to business and started decorating their house ASAP! Picture frames, artwork on walls. I mean it looks fantastic. And well, it got me thinking. My house is clean. However as far as decorating it goes, I have not. : (  I really have zero excuse why. But if I were to try and eek an excuse out... I'd say this. When we first moved to this house we had built. Our first year was spent trying to put the basics in it. Blinds for every room. Couch, TV stand, kitchen table. And so on and so on. That stuff costs a lot, if you want nice pieces. And so it took a full year to get everything just right. Then you add on, things like enrolling Branden into a new yochien since we moved. And if you've ever enrolled into a yochien in Japan. It can cost about a thousand dollars easy. Entrance fees, monthly fees, uniforms (summer and winter and they are NOT cheap), backpack and summer and winter uniform, okay I just said that, hahaha. Plus Branden started swimming, Kumon. yada yada yada. So many other details and expenses. I'd like a trip home or to America once a year, you know what I mean. So money went for that. And no wonder the decorating of our house just always got put to the backest of back burners. : ) So anyway, years have passed. No longer do we have any expensive yochien monthly fees. Etc. And well, so after looking at that family's wonderful blog. It got me thinking. "Gina you should do it now" This is the time. And so all September, I decided what I should do. Should I try and do each and every room all at the same time? @.@ Yeah I don't think so. So I decided I will go and do 1 room by 1. Slowly and nicely. I will start with the living room. So the first week of September, I looked at online sites like Pottery Barn, Williams-Sonoma. Pier 1. Ikea online. Nittori. I mean I have been really looking. So yeah that's why we went to Ikea. 
We went to the Ikea in Saitama. Saitama prefecture is far for us, but we don't have to take a highway (fees) versus if we went to the one in Chiba, (near lalaport) where we would have to take a highway or be stuck in traffic forever. And went to the Costco right near it to grab lunch for the drive home. I had a Mountain Dew and chicken sandwich. Noboru had 2 hot dogs again. : ) I enjoyed going to Ikea on a weekday. It wasn't crowded at all. 
The typhoon, where we live was nothing. It lost it's punch before it ever got near our house. But apparently it hit Saitama sorta bad. Look at the field, it's under water! 
Goal post under water.
Goal post under water, just said that but.... only a tiny tip out of the water, bike path wiped out. Tree with water to the top branches. Wow! Because our area got heavy winds but no heavy rains at all. Anway...
Gold mirror for the genkan area. Okay okay, I did get this for the genkan/entry way versus the living room. But, to be fair, we both saw this online and measured the area here at home and we knew we wanted this. 
Out with the old seat cushions and in with the new identical seat cushions. 
Living room stuff and this color matches perfectly for our TV stand area. 
Picture frames for the boys bedrooms, liners for the kitchen and pot holders, because my potholders were so old... they were against the law or against something! Hahaha. They needed a changing. : ) 
Drawer and cabinet liners.
Alright you caught me again! This was for the bathroom and not the living room. : ) Bathroom mat. I want 1 more of these! And a towel hook for over the door. And suction cup hooks for my face sponge when I shower. 
Towel hooks for over the door. 
With hot sudsy soapy water and my wash rag, I scrubbed all 4 chairs. Boy were they dirty! Yikes! : ) Threw the old cushions away, they were used to the end. We got our money's worth. And replaced them. 
This on the left is a disinfect/cleaning the drum of the washer button.... at the laundry mat. I always press that. It's free. : ) Before I put the blankets into the washer. 
400 yen. 
Dead as always. I always do my blanket washing on non rainy days. I am here every week, washing every one's bedding, our king size comforter is squished in our washer at home, and here I can throw everyone's bedding in 1 washer. I went in the car to wait. 
Rice field view out the windows. : )  This is in my actual town. 
Love the sign in English, they bought their laundry baskets from America clearly, it says California on the sign. : ) And my tiny red car out the window. Threw the blankets into the dryer. Threw a few dryer sheets in there. And then brought the blankets home. I sure do love fresh clean sheets and blankets. : )
DVD stand, but might not end up using this in the end, I'm not sure. Also look at how messy these dvd's are in this pic! Every time you open the door one falls out! This is why this living room needs a much needed reshuffle in the organizing part. 
The words on this are right, I do like this because it is compact and slim, but again, I might not use this in the end either though. But for now, it's fine. 
The problem here is, there should be pictures of my family on this left wall here in this pic, not a plain bare wall. So that will be changed and picture frames will go here eventually. And problem 2 with this picture is the dvd's behind the glass doors. I don't want them visible. Which also leads me to think I don't want the dvd's in the slim stand visible either. So this has to be changed. You'll get a better idea what I want in the pics below. 
Okay, you see this center part of the TV stand? It looks perfect enough to me and I am happy with it. The baskets or storage I picked the color of the baskets/storage blends perfectly with the stand, it's not a stand out color or noticeable. It just blends so well, with the stand color and the black dvd player on the top shelf you can barely see. So no neon signs blaring glaring type decorating and I like that. However the problem is what's happening behind the glass doors. Sure the dvd's are neat and tidy now. However, you can see what they are, that they are indeed dvd's and lots of them. And I'd prefer not. I'd prefer they be there but not obvious. Look below and see what I mean. 
Black shelf with perfectly matched black boxes that store the stuff. This pic is from Ikea's website. I like this pic because they still have their stuff but you just can't readily see what it is. Again like the Ikea website says, "hiding in plain view" and I agree with that totally. I prefer leave my dvd's there, but not make it so obvious..."hey these are dvd's!" If you know what I mean.  And again I like the color of the boxes match the shelf! To me, that looks classy! 
Another shelf idea from Ikea. Black shelf with black baskets and boxes to store the stuff. That way the contents aren't screaming at you...DVD's here. Or you know what I mean. I want my dvd's there... but I don't want to hit you over the head with the fact I have dvd's there either. If that makes sense. I'd like them stored in a basket or something. 
Again bigger stuff on bottom. And smart to put some stuff not want seen in the baskets. 
Now this is the color of my furniture exactly! In fact that book shelf at the left in this pic looks almost like a dead ringer to mine. I like how they have magazine folders on the bottom row in brown to match the book shelf and 2 brown boxes to match also and I love how they have 3 baskets on the top shelf. It all matches together and the matching looks really good. Just a really well put together room, versus hodge podge and mismatched looking. Nothing screams at me when I look at this picture, it just matches quietly and it looks really good. This is sort of the route I am going to go. I'd like to organize my living room a lot better then it is right now. With boxes and baskets that match as close to the TV stand and book shelf as I can.  I want a living room we all feel comfortable being in. We feel relaxed in. 
I have had 6 of these baskets for the past 7 or so years. I think I'll need a few extras maybe. 
And maybe these. 
I'm not going to throw my magazines in the trash, but perhaps I can hide them in this magazine file in the book shelf so it doesn't scream..."Hi I'm a US Weekly!" : )  Again though, I am going to do my living room slowly, nicely. I want to do a quality job with it... so I'm not about to rush it.  But I am happy that I at least started on it. Finally, right. : ) 
This lamp base and lamp shade is what I think I will get for my living room as well. Because it would go perfect with the navy/denim and white striped couch we have.  And I love the price. Under $20 US for a lamp and shade. : )  But again, I am not in a race and I'm not in any rush. I will try to get my living room and genkan./entry way done by December 31st. And then after that, I will start with the kitchen. But, I do have a lot of good ideas. And I do have a good eye. And I do know what I want and also what I don't want either. So, that is a good thing. : ) I also don't want to spend a fortune either. I think moderately priced is good. 
This is the towel rack I put up last week in the bathroom area upstairs. It's really cute. And at $4 US, the price was more then fair. : ) 
You remember the 4 storage areas underneath the dvd player. Well, 1 is for the Wii-motes. And the other 3 are for my fave dvd's. This section is more along the lines of some John Hughes movies (Pretty in Pink, Some Kind of Wonderful) and also some coming of age movies (13 Going on 30 and Never been Kissed, etc) and some 80's movies (Flashdance, Valley Girl). 
Oz, as in, The Wizard of Oz, Return to Oz and Oz The Great and Powerful. : ) Twilight section and Pitch Perfect.  
Terminator section, The Hunger games, White Chicks, Bridesmaids. The Help, Ted, Harold and Kumar, The Host. The Last Samurai. Again the dvd's are's just... they're just hiding in plain sight is all. And I'd like to do that with the ones behind the glass also. 
Three Diary of a Wimpy Kid, 4 Ice Age, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Monsters Vs Aliens etc. 
Holiday dvd section. Again I do manage to keep things in a good little way....that's not the problem.... it's just I don't want the dvd's to be obvious anymore. A Christmas Story, Christmas Vacation, Elf, Charlie Brown Christmas. Etc. Anyway...not too much to say on it living room is currently, a work in progress with regards to organizing it. Moving along....too much living room talk.  : )
We had curry one night and everyone had really good salads. With cucumbers and cheese, and we also had a few slices of pineapple each. 
Noboru and I went to lunch one afternoon. we make a point of going to to lunch together once a week while the boys are at school. To stay connected and talk. Enjoy each others company.  I had pizza and he picked ramen, we were at a food court type place. 
Fall to me, means pumpkins and apples. Apple pie, apple crumble, apple cider with a cinnamon stick, oh remember how good that was. : ) And pumpkin ice-cream, it was seasonal. Also, pumpkin flavored coffee, and last but not least, pumpkin pie. When I think of Fall, I think of apples and pumpkins. I just can't help it. : ) With Fall, here it sure was nice to get a nice care package of pumpkin spice creamer. Every morning, I have 1 cup of hot coffee. A nice pumpkin spice latte type coffee. It is so good. And makes me really happy Fall is indeed here. : ) What else....
Tsukimi Moon Viewing.  This moon viewing stuff is pretty popular here in Japan. And some fast food places even have special moon sandwiches (with an egg). Mc Donald's and KFC does. Anyway last week, Noah came home from school and his one and only homework assignment was to view the moon. All his classmates would also be moon watching that night also. I remember it was last Thursday night, because the boys swim that night. They ran home from where the swim bus drops them off and Branden, and Noah and myself went outside and watched the moon for a while. : ) It was beautiful and round. And I wish I could have captured a better picture, but oh well. : ) 
Noah with his binoculars! Hahaha. In our backyard. : )  Anyway Noah went to school last Friday and he said he and his classmates and teacher had a nice fun talk about the moon. : ) 
I know, I am a long ways away from starting in on the kitchen decorating, but I am already starting to get a few ideas. There is a big plain white wall behind where Noboru sits in the kitchen at dinner time. And right now, I am unsure if picture frames will go there or if this will go there. This wall organizer. I like this but I worry if it will look too cluttery. Hmm, but on the other hand I love that this is white and that this would look really good there. So either family photos or this wall thing. Hmm. Anyway, I've got a long ways away before I should be thinking kitchen decorating ideas. But it is at the back of my mind.

Anything else to add? Yesterday the boys had the day off from school. It was a holiday here yesterday. Autumn/Fall Equinox. Any day where I don't have to wake up at 5:30am, is A-okay by me. And a day off of school is still a day where the boys could play tennis at the tennis courts, just up the street in our housing community, with their friends yesterday and play a little remote control cars with the kids on our street after lunch. : )

The boys have field day/sports day/ undokai this coming Saturday. Undokai is a pretty big deal here. Half time performance. Grandparents and extended family usually show up. We usually go just us 4 though because all my family lives outside of Japan. : ) And Noboru's family lives in Osaka, well except uncle Jun and he's working hard so we wouldn't ask. However though, this year my dad's coming to cheer both Branden and Noah on. So, my dad's flying to Japan this Thursday. And he'll be leaving the following Tuesday. So, a nice visit we'll be getting this week.  So between preparing and making sure the boys are ready for undokai and getting ready for my dad coming this Thursday. Just a lot going on here at the moment. Plus I'm slowly (it's about time) getting the organizing of the living room under control.  Undokai obento means I will yet again be going to Costco Inzai this week, probably with my dad. : )  Hmm, either Thursday evening or Friday, day or evening.

In the news, tabloid or Hollywood type news. Miley Cyrus and the Hunger Games guy, Liam Hemsworth. called off their engagement. I wonder if it had anything to do with her performance at the VMA's last month or so. : ( What else. Cory Monteith being honored at the Emmy's. In the "In Memoriam" part seemed to cause a bit of a stir. I'm so glad James Gandolfini and Jean Stapleton were honored. I think I read, Jack Klugman's son was not thrilled Cory was added and yet his father was not. : ( I'm glad Cory was honored but I also wish they would have included Jack Klugman too and some others, so I can understand both sides. Meanwhile is it so? Is the Bieb's really back on with his ex girlfriend before Selena Gomez? lol. I thought I read that somewhere last week. Also, good thing Kanye shared a pic of North West, on Kris' talk show, now the paparazzi seems to have backed off some. : )  Anyway that's all for now. : ) 

Between now and the next 12 days, I will be going back to Ikea and trying to finish phase 1 of the living room. lol. : ) I will try to have my TV stand done 100% and the book shelf done 100%, baskets and storage, magazine files etc. Once that's done, I will start thinking about which mirror for the living room, I have picked it out and am 99% sure but want to be 100% sure before buying it and also where and how many picture frames. Lamp will probably go last but am not sure, have to get phase one done first. Which means a trip to Costco to get my pics developed in 4x6 sizes for the frames. I do know one thing, I need more life put into this room, possibly some plants too. And possibly some 5x7 frames too. But a start is still a step in the right direction, so phase 1 has started. Goodness only knows how many trips to Ikea I will be making in the next 2 month's. And Nittori. There's something I would like from Nittori too. Anyway I have talked your ear off enough for one post. Sorry it was so super long this time, but on the bright side, now at least you all are all caught up. : )