Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Wine bath, coffee rotenburo, green tea bath/rotenburo and a chocolate bath too. Heading to Hakone this February to enjoy the onsen

Our family is heading to Hakone in February. The hotel is booked already, we're using one of our free night stay coupons and Noboru already requested and got the day off. So we'll be there just 1 over night. But we'll have 2 days to play and enjoy there. One of those days will be spent at the Yunessun resort. A place that has fun rotenburo/outside baths. As well as inside baths too. If you see this picture from their website. Right now they currently have a nice hot chocolate bath. Lucky for us the chocolate bath will still be there when we go. I'm really excited about soaking in the chocolate bath. Also for January they also have a curry bath. This sounds heavenly to me. And I'd totally enjoy it. But Noboru was like @_@ "Curry to eat, yes curry to soak in, no thanks." hahaha. : ) Too bad the curry bath will be gone by the time we get there, otherwise I would have enjoyed it. But the chocolate one is one I am most excited about.  See the big chocolate bar above the heads on the pic top right on this picture. : )  
You know, for as long as I can remember, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate factory was a favorite movie of mine. The one with Gene Wilder. The heart of the factory, the chocolate room, where they had great huge gummy bears. Like Willy Wonka said everything in that room was edible. As a child watching that it would have my imagination spinning. Oh how I wish I could go to that room, I'd think. What would I eat first? That song....Pure Imagination. I also remember doing a book report on the book when I was in elementary school. : )
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. Terrific book both Branden and Noah love. And I can see their imaginations just churning when they saw the movie. Great big food, just go to work with a bowl, plate and silverware, hahaha.
Augustus Gloop took a dip in a chocolate river, okay okay it was on accident since he was trying to drink some of the chocolate. : ) But wow, knowing I'll finally get my chance to soak in chocolate this coming month. I can't wait.
I think that's why for me personally the Yunessun really got me. I loved it! Huge bottle of wine to soak in and big actual bottle of wine near the bath.
Also reminded me a bit of the Borrower's. We look like teeny tiny little people in normal sized jars. Again the imagination, the fun of it all. The Yunessun was a perfect place for a person with an imagination or love of the books and movies we like.  I have been to a few other onsens before in Japan, normal regular ones, but this place is by far my most favorite place, to soak, hang out and have fun.
 
Anyway, that's where we will be, this coming February. : )

Monday, January 28, 2013

Woke up this morning to a winter wonderland

Alright, alright, you all know where we live in our little town, we don't really get snow all too often. Freezing cold yes. Snow? No, not really. We did have that snow a week or two ago and I sort of figured that would be it for us for the year, lol. So, imagine my surprise this morning, there I am in my sweatpants and long sleeve shirt opening all the upstairs blinds first thing this morning and when I look/glance out the first window, I open and see snow and more then just a light dusting. A good amount for our area. @_@  Holy crap, I thought. I wasn't expecting to see this view when I opened the blinds. @_@
And it's still snowing right now even as I type.
For as far as the eye can see. A snowy winter wonderland. Holy goodness.
Our roads are packed with snow. And my car!!! Look at my poor car! Okay so here's the news regarding the snow. After I saw the snow, I said really happily in the house...."it snowed everyone!!!!" Noboru in a groggy sleep haze, said...."what?" It snowed!!! I said. He said, go and check our cell phones the boys school schedule...we will probably be on a snow schedule now" I went downstairs and yep both phones are blinking meaning there's a message on there. Branden and Noah are on the same snow schedule as a few weeks ago. Meaning school starts at 10am today. @_@ Both the boys are dressed already. But they're just sitting on the couch right now and will enjoy TV for the next few hours. The roads are packed with dry heavy snow as you can see in this pic. And again the snow is still coming. It's still snowing now. Hmm. Anything else to add? I put the beef in the fridge to thaw last night. I am still making a big pot of beef stew today for dinner tonight. I think considering this weather it will be perfect for tonight. : ) Anyway stay warm and safe everyone. Just wanted you all to be updated and caught up with us here. Snow yet again for us! Hahaha. : )

Friday, January 25, 2013

Bits and pieces from the week and thank goodness for the weekends

How's every one's week been going? Ours over here has been pretty good. We're into the school routine. It's been a quiet week. School as usual, Kumon as usual and of course swimming for Noah. We did go to the Gap Tuesday evening, but other then that, we've been just hanging here at home. Weather wise? Super cold, but no snow. Watched American Idol last night. I did see the argument/debate between Nicki Minaj and the other judges last night, when she got up and walked off set. I hope they can get along better as the season wears on, we'll see. Time will tell, but I hope so. I like all the judges but I could see what Nicki Minaj was saying regarding the lady auditioning.
Ran to the shops this week. DIY type store to pick up toilet paper and Kleenex and bar soap. However they were also have a super deal on the bath powders. The kind we use here at home. So, I bought 2, 1 is the shea butter that our family uses. And the other one looks like mikans by the look of the picture, right? But it's yuzu. Love yuzu. : ) They both smell fantastic. We do take a lot of baths after showers in the winter time.
And today I woke up, sent the boys to school. Feeling so glad today is Friday. Made sure they were bundled up in jeans, long sleeve tops, sweatshirts, puffer winter vests and scarf and hats. Dropped them off, waved good bye.  Let's see, 2 days ago, I went to the DIY in Ibaraki in the day time and also the cheap meat shop also in Ibaraki. I bought meats for about 5 days worth, still had some meat in the freezer already too. And this morning, I stayed in Chiba. : ) But I ran into the small city nearest our town and went to the bakery, to buy 2 fresh loaves of bread pictured here, they were so hot and fresh she gave them to me and said to not tie the top of the bread yet (I tied the bread around noon after it cooled all the way). We need bread every Friday, because I always make bacon and eggs Saturday mornings, so we need toast too, so we needed this and we also buy bread every Monday for the week also. And then I ran to my regular grocery store and picked up last minute ingredients. Tonight we're having chicken enchiladas for supper. Only thing I needed for that from the store today is a half head of lettuce. Did lettuce prices go up or what. And tomorrow we will be having karaage, macaroni salad, steamed veggie and miso soup and rice. Again the meat for that came from the cheap meat store so all I needed was flour and karaage liquid and macaroni salad from the deli. What else. We will more then likely have karaage the next night too since the amount of chicken on sale was huge, 2kg for 500 yen. We haven't had karaage in about 2 months. And Monday we will be having beef stew. I have the beef already for that, that I picked up in Ibaraki (cheap meat store) and have thrown in the freezer. So, for that I picked up beef stew roux today for 99 yen on sale. And some mushrooms and 1 carrot (already have potatoes and onions). The rest of everything else I have. I also picked up Kirin lemon tea for Noboru and the kids, Kirin straight tea for myself and 2 bottles of Mitsuya Cider (dinner treat/drink) and some jasmine tea and some yuzu mikan juice. And yogurt our family is lost without yogurt. lol.
Noboru says tonight is expected to be superly cold around where we live. He said the coldest of the year so far. Will be tonight. @_@ Yikes! Which is why I ran to the store, made sure I had every last minute thing, we might need for the whole weekend. That way we can just tuck ourselves in here at home. And not go anywhere. : ) Today is Friday. Thank goodness! The boys have nothing after school today, so I imagine they'll either play with friends on our street/around the neighborhood or Branden and Noah will be indoors here at home. I have a load in the dryer right now, underwear, long sleeve tee shirts, sweatshirts and socks. I did no treadmill today. I'm kind of just resting today. I have the TV on right now, I hear Dr. Phil talking in the background. And the 2 chicken breasts are boiling on the stove right now that I'm getting ready for dinner tonight. Soon, I will grate some of the cheese we bought at Costco. And then skillet fry the corn tortillas real quick and then I'll get everything rolled and stuff so that by the time 3pm rolls around, and the boys get home, I can just bring the boys home and whack dinner in the oven.  Stay warm everyone. Except for you dad, you're nice and warm in paradise already, hahaha, you can stay cool and breezy. : )  Have a nice weekend everyone. And we'll do the same. : )  ahh, my lunch I had today. Since I was at the store already, I picked up 1 croissant and 1 half egg salad sandwich. While watching Dr. Phil. : ) He's on for a few hours in the afternoons. And then I had this 1 donut from the bakery with a cup of coffee.  Anyway, have a good one, everyone. : )

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Stepping into the Gap Tuesday night. Gap Inzai/Chiba New Town

I swear the people who read my blog are the nicest! : ) Kind,  helpful, info sharers! And I try to do the same too. Anyway, it was mentioned to me in the comments section below that Gap.co.jp ships now and was having a sale and free shipping to boot. So, I went to the website. I saw 3 things I liked. I was really on the fence on choosing a size for Noah in particular since he's so thin. And I went to sleep. The next morning, I get online to order the 2 things and decide to just go to the actual Gap shop to try the shirt in question with Noah in a day or two. However get this, the 2 things were sold out already! Bummer. You know, I have only myself to blame, I should have ordered faster.  Anyway, the info did help me a lot because it made me realize I should get myself to Gap kids and see if the sale was happening also in the stores too. Which they were. My closest Gap is Gap Inzai. Unless you count the Ami Premium Outlet.
They had 2 of the 3 things I was looking for, so a good trip down there. So feeling quite happy.
I would have never known about this sale on this particular scarf if I wouldn't have gotten the helpful comment about the Gap sale, so thank you! Originally 2,400 yen about $25 US. But we got them on sale for 390 yen about $4 US. So a great deal.
Dark navy blue about the same color as the bag, hahaha. And bright happy yellow. Fleece so it's washable. And with boys these will need a weekly washing I'm sure. : )
Pure yellow on the other side with navy border. A really good deal. This was the deal, I was most happy about when we went to Gap this Tuesday evening after the boys got out of school.
I had been eyeballing this particular long sleeved top for weeks at Gap.com. And the comment that  a grandma left on Gap.com saying how she usually buys only Ralph Lauren for his grandsons and she loved this particular shirt etc etc. Yes I do read those Gap comments and they help me often decide which size, does it run big or small, though size wise I pretty much know anyways if it's from Gap or ON. Did it look like the picture, you know those types of questions. Anyway that grandma's words were etched in my brain. However someone also left a comment saying it ran big? @_@ That was what made me hesitate ordering from either Gap.com and gap.jp. This was the shirt I needed Noah to actually try on. Because he's usually a 130cm. In tops however as you know, he's freakishly thin, super thin. Pants he's usually a slim, when he was 6 he wore a 6 slim. This year he got size 7's slim. So yeah someone saying this shirt ran big? Sorta made me hesitate especially for my skinny minnie. Anyway, I went to Gap Inzai and Noah tried this on and the 120 fit him width wise best. But considering arm length, he has long arms and legs. Noah's arms were a better fit for 130cm. Plus he's constantly growing not shrinking, lol. So I got the 130cm size for Noah. I will roll the sleeve a pinch at first but I think that was the best size for him. That's all we got the 2 scarves and this 1 top. I wanted sweatpants for Branden. But the pair they had were slim fit, which Branden needs a normal fit not a slim fit. And the price was absurd, 4500 on sweatpants. No way am I spending $46 US on 1 pair of sweatpants. Sorry but not happening. especially slim skin tight ones on my normal build/to athletic build older kiddo. Nope. *shakes head*
Also, this shirt was sold in one or two other colors at Gap US (some of the colors are sold out now but they had more originally). Where in Japan it's only being sold in red with blue stripe,green with white stripe and navy with yellow stripe and the cream color with navy stripe (we bought the cream for Noah). I wish they'd make all colors available here for us in Japan. So, since I had to get the sweatpants for Branden anyway from Gap or ON US. I ended up also getting this color for Noah in size medium. From Gap.com the US site. I love this color and think it will look fantastic on Noah with a pair of khaki shorts and his brown leather flip flops this coming Summer. And I had a 35% off coupon and the price was $14.99 to start with so 35% off of that made it a super deal. : )
I also picked up this dress since it was affordable. The second I saw this dress I loved it. I have my Gap leather ballet flats already. And think this will be perfect for the warmer weather months. I picked this up from Old Navy.
And I like this one too and ordered this one also. 2 LBD's (little black dresses) to switch back and forth with once the weather heats up. Pair it with a little gray cardigan or pink cardi. Ballet flats. I'll be ready. I'd also love to own this dress in the orange color it's currently being sold in, but I'm holding off for now.
I have been going full throttle on my treadmill lately. I am way past this number now. But I am going strong on this.  I'm #3 now. Yay me! Go me! ; )
Two pair of these sweatpants in gray from Gap.com at $16.95 each. For Branden. Picked them in size 12, he's only 11, but that way he can wear them next year also. And we got these with the 35% off coupon since Gap was having that sale, so even cheaper. I was much happier about the price after the 35% off was totalled. : )  Anyway, nothing hugely important or life altering in this post, I know. But it's what we've been up to lately. : )

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Chili and cornbread and our relaxing weekend

Saturday right after breakfast I started prepping for the great big pot of Texas style chili I'd be making. I didn't have kidney beans, but I had pinto, so I boiled a medium amount on the stove. Once they were done, I rinsed and drained them. I used some lean ground beef from Costco that we picked up in Makuhari earlier in the week that I froze. Around 2pm-ish I started frying up the ground beef and putting the chili together and then boiling on simmer for a while. The whole house smelled delicious. Like chili on the stove, which it was. I also baked corn bread. I made so much chili, that I froze half of it, so we can use whenever we want. But we enjoyed a nice piping hot bowl of chili Saturday night and also on Sunday night as well. : )
The retro swimsuit came and the swimsuit cover also. Yay. : )
Remember how I couldn't find corn tortillas at Costco. Well anyway, I ordered them from where I usually order them from. Jerry's Uno, I think is the name. And we paid online via crdit card. And get this, the paperwork was written so that it was C.O.D. @_@ Imagine my surprise when Kuroneko asks me for money. This is the 2nd time this has happened with the tortillas place! So we paid the delivery man, again it wasn't the delivery mans fault at all. And then Noboru went and wrote them saying basically, please refund the money which I paid online, here is the receipt for that. And once again you all charged me as COD. He was very polite but he did say this was the 2nd time it's happened, which yes it was. They wrote back, a very nice reply. They were sorry and as a token for that we are sending your family 2 extra dozen of tortillas. Anyway that was really great customer service. We both thought so. And they did refund the amount he paid online since he gave the money also to the Kuroneko man.
These came Monday. Hmm, now we have 5 dozen flour tortillas. Oh well, we'll use them. : )
The week both Branden and Noah started back to school after the winter holidays. The entire student population was asked to write down 1 question they have about miso or natto. Your choice, just any question you have. 3 kids were chosen from our school and the other elementary school in our town also were to pick 3 kids. Branden's question was chosen. So, this past Sunday, Branden had to be at the plaza, at 2pm. The audience was full. Everyone wanted to hear this guest lecturer speak. The cost for a seat 1,000 yen. Noah and I were given 2 seat tickets since we were with Branden. But there wasn't a seat available so we stood at the back. Which is fine because I could take a good picture back there anyway. : )
At the end, the lady in cream suit towards the left of this picture said "any questions from the audience?" Two had questions. This lady was asking her question in the picture. And then they announced there were 6 children from this tiny town who also had questions.
First, 3rd grade girl from our shogakko/elementary school. She asked a very good question, very formal technical question. Question about the fermentation process. Notice the distance between the guest speaker and the girl and the woman in cream. And then the girl bowed and left to the back.
Out comes Branden. Woman in cream feels pretty happy, she is bending down. Close to Branden.
Branden asked a question from his heart. An honest question. A question many would probably like to know.  He asked very politely but he was curious. "why is natto so stinky" "basically why does natto smell like that?" again, he was very polite. The woman is smiling and actually laughing. The crowd actually erupts in laughter. The man/speaker loved this question! He comes a bit closer to Branden now.
First time he actually left the podium all day. This guest speakers walls came down right away. He asked Branden. "do you not like natto?" "No sir, I am sorry, I do not" "I see" the man says with a smile.
If it were me, and I were up there, I'd be a shivering nervous mess. But Branden isn't shy. He's very polite he does speak with respectful words, but he is quite a funny boy. And folks really really like him! They like talking to him. And the lecturer just found him delightful. Again respectful but funny and sharp.
Branden smiling and laughing in this picture. The man, look at his body language, he's having fun too...he's bending a bit back. The crowd loosened up, they laughed a few times while they spoke. He asked Branden well, what foods do you like. Branden said all his vegetables he likes. And he did say he was very fond of miso. Out of all 6 kids, he spoke to Branden the longest, yes he really did. And I stayed and watched the other kids speak and the guest speaker never left his podium before Branden or after Branden. But yeah he really enjoyed chatting with Branden a great deal, you could tell/see it. Again the principal and Branden's teacher approved of Branden's question so he did write it in a way that was polite, respectful but a very honest question a 5th grade boy would be curious about.
Sorry this picture is a little blurry. But for the record this expert suggests, to eat natto, "plug your nose like this and then swallow" the crowd erupted in laughter. And Branden shook his head in agreement like good one. It was a very great Sunday for Branden. He did so well. Proud of you kiddo!
He even stood closer to Branden and he shook Branden's hand and then Branden bowed to the audience. Everyone clapped and then the speaker went back to his podium.  And for what it's worth. Noah loves speaking with folks like that too. He's not nervous speaking in front of large crowds either. Me, I'd probably be tongue tied or trip walking up the stairs. hahaha. : )
All 6 kids were given manju as a gift. And the principal of our school was so thrilled about Branden's question and that back and forth flowing conversation Branden had with the guest speaker and how the audience loved it.... that he came right up to me afterwards and shook my hand and said, "Branden did so well!!!! Thank you for bringing him today", "not a problem", I said and "I'm glad he could come." So anyway, that was our weekend in a nutshell. We stayed home all weekend pretty much. I made homemade chili and I also baked cornbread from a box, which is fine. ; ) It was delicious. Branden had a question to ask at the plaza and he did pretty amazing with that actually. We had family movie night here at home also this weekend. And just basically enjoyed the weekend.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Bits and pieces from the week.

Alrighty, everything in this post has happened within the last week (7 days) The last Broncos game of the season for us. We lost. It was a very close game. Very very close game. So close that for most of the game we were ahead. It finally came to a head when we tied. And we went into over time twice. Yes, 2 overtimes! Because the first overtime nobody could score either team. So it was a real nail biter of a game. Edge of your seat type game. We had a lot of hopes. We would have loved to advance further in the playoffs! But not going to happen for us this year unfortunately. However and I want to say, The Denver Broncos had an incredible season 13 wins and 3 losses this year, so yeah we did play pretty great this year though unfortunately we didn't play good enough to go further. : (  I look forward to watching the superbowl. Wish we were in it of course! Haha. But love football to my core anyway. : )
In other news see this package sent to Branden...
Remember the 25,000 yen each of the boys received for otoshidama this year. Well, Branden loves Noboru's. And Noboru managed to convince me to let Branden buy one. 19,000 yen or so for it. And the rest of his money went into savings for him, he has a good amount in there. Noah meanwhile the miser hasn't spent even 1 yen of it yet. hahaha. : )  Little random story here about this. Branden accidentally left one of his dictionary's at school when he needed it at home this week. Instead of turning on his computer in his room, he just turned on his tablet and looked up the 1 kanji he was looking for and he found it in a snap. : ) I did tell him though don't forget your dictionary tomorrow! And he hasn't the rest of the week.
Let's see what else have I been doing this past week?  The new season of The Biggest Loser started and look who's back! Jillian Michaels!!! The contestants were surprised! Hahaha. I have her DVDs and I really like her so it was nice for me that she's back.  If you're somehow worried about a possible spoiler about the BL show, please skip these paragraphs.
This season looks like it's going to be a wild season! Jackson here, walked on the treadmill about 30 seconds and fell right off! They had to run and go help him. Poor Jackson! : (
This guy too! Like 2 seconds after Jackson fell, this guy fell right off too. The 3 coaches were like! @_@ What the heck?!!! The part that grossed me out to the bone was some person was vomiting in the gym/work out room. Bleh just thinking about the sight or smell of vomit. I felt sorry for everyone in that room.  So yeah it looks like it's going to be a very interesting season.
You already know about the snow we were hit with. This isn't even the end of the snow we got. We ended up with more then this. Not Colorado amounts of snow. But a big amount for this area. But yeah it's been so cold around here all week.
Tuesday night of this week immediately after the boys got out of school, we went directly to Costco Makuhari. Lucky for us it was as dead as a doornail. We skipped the top floor and went straight for the basement where the food is. We bought this pizza for dinner that night. Since the drive takes us so long, cooking dinner that night wasn't an option.
Rotisserie chicken for dinner for the next night. Perfect for us since Noah swims Wednesdays.
Big bag of potatoes so cheap. We use potatoes a lot in our household. Mashed potatoes, gratin potatoes from scratch, baked potatoes. Breakfast type potatoes. You name it, we need them. : )  We are actually thinking about growing potatoes this year.
Misc pic of stuff. Pasta sauce. Bug hunk of cheese. Fine ground black pepper and mixed nuts.
Frozen waffles for quick mornings Monday through Friday. And dinner rolls (half are frozen in the freezer)
1 pack of shrimp and 2 packs of lean ground beef. I split each pack of beef into thirds and put them in freezer bags and threw them in the freezer. So 6 packs of ground beef in the freezer now. I was disappointed that they were out of 2 things. I was wanting/wishing/hoping to buy the tiramisu (we love this) and I walked around the bakery looking but, didn't see it. I mean I walked by good. And I could tell it wasn't there but still hoping against hope it was somehow there so I asked a bakery lady. And she said we don't have them in today come back tomorrow! @_@ We live so far away that's pretty much impossible.But again not her fault. So, I smiled and said thank you. And walked away. Man, what a bummer. What are the odds really. Anyway then went to the next aisle to get corn tortillas. Nope didn't have them either. I really need them we really use them. Enchiladas and tostadas. Again, I made sure to walk the aisles very good, Noboru was looking too. However no worries because I ordered them online from the same place I buy tortillas. So, since we ordered anyway we bought 3 dozen flour tortillas and 2 packs of corn (each pack has 24 corn tortillas) Anyway we quickly checked out, ordered the pizza and before you know it we were in the MPV heading home. From the time we arrived at Costco in the parking lot and were leaving the parking lot of Costco only 50 minutes, so we really are quite fast in there, hahaha but we also know of the long drive so that's why we hurry. Time was short for us, so we paid the toll ways both ways so we could get home as fast as possible. Still took the whole evening though. But it was faster taking the highway. I know, I keep saying it, but I can't wait until Costco opens in Inzai/Chiba New Town. We will probably go to Costco Makuhari 1-2 more times and then after that Costco in Inzai opens in August 2013. So hopefully we can hold off on going as much as possible until our closer one opens.
Picture taken from Thursday/yesterday. Says 4:09pm or something.  The boys just got home from Kumon. They get off school at 2:45-3pm Thursdays. They called me at Kumon around 3:45pm and I hopped in the car to get them. They came home, switched into sweatpants and house clothes and had a snack at the table and then did their homework. They were done in like 5-10 minutes and were off playing with friends outside until 5pm. I meanwhile snapped this pic at 4:09pm and started cooking dinner.
Chicken chow mein/sara udon. Lots of veggies, some chicken.
The sauce packets in here and the crunchy noodles and we had it all with white rice. It was a good dinner. The boys and I sat and ate, we talked about their day, my day. Noboru was meanwhile at work. But, I packed him 2 sandwiches I made for him as a snack and stuffed him before he left too and he had dinner waiting for him at home when he got home. He also had sara udon. We had 2 packs of this sara udon, I'm only showing one though in the pic. : )
I'm still treadmilling like a maniac. And I did so many crunches yesterday, my tummy is a little sore today.

Anything else to say? Hmm. American Idol comes on for our family tonight and for the folks in Guam. So, I can't wait! I love all the music Nicki Minaj makes and I wonder how she and Mariah are going to get along. So, I can't wait for that tonight. Today is Noboru's birthday, he's 41 this year. I bought him a new motorcycle helmet which he picked out and he loves it! He's going to be using it today for the first time. He's working a swing shift today so going out to dinner isn't something we can do time wise. But I told him, whatever you'd like me to make, I'll cook it for your birthday dinner. He said "your spaghetti and meatballs" and I said consider it done! So he'll get home in enough time to quickly shower, and come and sit down eat his dinner and watch American Idol with us. : ) Spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread and salad for us here tonight. : )  TGIF everyone, we all made it. Enjoy your weekend. We will be enjoying here too. Plans for us for this weekend? Nothing, just staying home and relaxing. : )