Sunday, August 25, 2013

Countryside living. Wave pool family fun and picnic yet again. Getting ready for Nagano

August 20th we headed to Costco, just to get a few things, especially since we were heading to the wave pool the next day and were going to pack a picnic lunch yet again. : ) This is the view heading from our house to Costco Inzai. Just endless amounts of rice fields (tanbo) farms, scattered towns and small cities in between. But this is pretty much the view. : )
This pic, we were in Inzai/Chiba New Town and probably 1-2 minutes from Costco in this pic. Again farmland to the left, but Costco is near that red and white tower in the background on this picture.
We hear, a giant Cainz Home/Besia is being built right next to Costco, there is a few land areas near Costco with stuff being built on it or construction going on. And again farmland or vacant land to the left.
Entrance to Costco and you can see apartments in the distance. I would best describe the area Inzai/Chiba New town as a suburb. There are a lot of housing communities, a lot of tall-ish apartment buildings. A huge shopping mall with Gap and Aeon, Starbucks, etc. There is a huge Joyful Honda store there, that I really like and have for years, there is also an outlet mall in Inzai too. On the weekends the traffic in Inzai is crazy. It's slow moving. According to Wiki, Inzai has a population as of April 2012 of 89,505 people. So coming from our town, that we live in, of just under 5,000 people where we live, for us Inzai is very populated. But it's not Tokyo or Osaka city type populated at all, by any means. So compared to the bigger cities Inzai is small, but compared to our town it's huge. And there is also a lot of farm area around Inzai also. We enjoy going to Inzai a lot, we have a lot of friends who live there, it has a lot to offer. So we will try to go to Costco every 2 weeks from now on. : )
Another picture from the Costco parking lot again farmland right next to Costco and what looks like a Porta-Potty (portable toilet), I'm assuming it's for the construction that's going on around there and will be taken down once it's finished. : )
Apartments in the distance.
I'm getting more used to having a Costco but still not completely yet. When I saw these semisweet chocolate chips, I was so happy. So happy because gee, I had lugged chocolate chips to Japan from Guam every Fall and Winter for gosh only knows how many years. And now I don't have to anymore? How weird that is going to be for me (in a good way though). And Costco also has huge boxes of oats and I bake a lot of oatmeal cookies and apple crisp in the Fall and Winter and again now I don't have to lug it back in the ol' suitcase? Again just super weird for me, but I'm trying like heck to get over it, but yeah still weird things like that happen to me still. Also, not that anybody is going to mind, but we didn't go anywhere at all the day we went to Costco, we just simply went to Costco and then home again. Noah wore this outfit for about a total of 1 hour and a half tops. And the next day, when we went to the pool he needed an outfit to go home in after he was to spend an entire day at the pool in his swimsuit and so since his clothes were sitting on the back of his chair, I had him wear this outfit the next day also just for going home in after spending the day in the pool. So technically he only wore this outfit 3 hours both days combined tops. Again, I know nobody really minds but just thought I'd say that here real quick anyway. : )
Our cart.
The ride back to the inaka (countryside) from Costco. Lots of farms, lots of trees.
There are a lot of camphor trees. The same type of tree that Totoro lived in. : ) Bamboo is plentiful. Just a whole lot of greenery and trees.
Noboru picked a cheesecake.
And this is it. Chips and rotisserie chicken for the next days picnic, we bought 2 because we wanted to think of dinner after the pool. Instead of going to a restaurant, we decided we could just buy another chicken and throw it into the oven when we got home from the pool, and the rice we put the timer on for it, the next morning before leaving to the pool. Pizza for dinner that night/Costco night. Microwave bacon, not sure if we'll like it, but I thought to try it for weekdays when the boys start school. Bagel Bites for after school snacks, for an in-between school and swim school snack. And Noboru wanted tortilla chips. : )
We bought 2 packs of water this time, because after trying these little bottles for the first time a few weeks before, we decided we love it. And we drink tons of water this way. : )
At the pool August 21st. Not sure if you can see, but not many tents in the background. It was way less crowded then the last time we went here. Which was nice. :)
Inside the cooler, 3 bottles of soda.  We're not massive soda drinkers granted, but for a pool day it's fine. And the lunch we packed to eat outside in the fresh air while watching happy people splash in the water. : )
Just a simple picnic lunch. Sandwiches and chips.
Branden coming out of the water since it was time for lunch.
Hi Noah! : )
Everyone was stuffed and we still had this many left. Which was fine because during the day if someone got hungry they just opened the cooler and ate a nice little sandwich. : )
Noboru just chillin' eating some chips and watching the boys.
I see you! : )
There are slides, they cost 200 yen to ride once. Branden wanted to go down the great big clear slide but the line was like forever. Noboru counted how many people slid down a minute, he said 2. And then he eyeballed the line, trying to guestimate how many people were in line and said it would take Branden about 2 hours to finally reach the top of the line. Yikes! So needless to say, Branden has yet to try this slide. Aww, better luck next year. : ) 
At the wave pool.
Our inner-tubes for going around the lazy river pool.
Branden and Noah walking and holding their soft serve ice-creams.
It was a pretty nice day.
Noboru holding 2 ice-creams. His and mine. : ) What a sweetie pie. Good guy, good guy. : )
Branden and Noah each had chocolate, I had a twist, half chocolate and half vanilla. And Noboru had caramel. I think I should have picked caramel, but mine was very good also. His was better though, for the record. : )
When we come to this wave pool, we stay the WHOLE day. Look many tents are gone now. Ours is still there, closest to the camera.
And only about 3 tents on the other side of the "river" pool.
Having a good old time just floating around.
Noboru smiling. It was just a great day for all of us.
Packed up and now heading to our minivan. It was a nice long relaxing day spent there. See you next year, wave pool place! : )
The view on our way home from the pool to our house. Fields of sweet potatoes.
And more fields of sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are plentiful around here. They're everywhere, sweet potatoes and rice. And trees.
Lots and lots of trees.
Sweet potatoes, trees and bamboo mixed in there. : )
By now in this pic we were awfully close to our town. Super close. And again, rice fields for as far as the eye can see, trees, bamboo and hills. Not mountains granted, but hills. It's very rural, very countryside. But my gosh it is so beautiful, so peaceful.
Trees so thick you can't see what's on the other side. But it's another rice field though, we know. : )
Farms are everywhere around here. And again trees of all shapes and sizes here in this pic.
We are now in our town and yep more sweet potatoes. In the winter time there is a roasted sweet potato truck that drives around and you can go outside and purchase a delicious roasted sweet potato, when he drives by. They are so good. : )
More rice fields and yet more trees.
And this is the final pic, but this is a sweet potato and rice field area with again trees a plenty in the background. : ) There is also, an actual place you can buy farm fresh eggs in our town, an old house with huge private farm which also has chickens, they sell eggs daily outside their house. It's on the honor system meaning you put money and pick your eggs there is no person working, the egg stand. It's on the trust system. There is also a vegetable stand in our town, which is also on the honor system, meaning they sell veggies and trust you to pay for the veggies you buy and toss your money into an old metal money box. There is also a dairy farm where you can buy milk if you'd like. I usually buy my milk from the grocery store, but it's nice to know it's there. I do however buy the farm fresh eggs about 75% of the time when we buy eggs. And the boys have rode their bikes before a handful of times to go and purchase farm fresh eggs. Anyway, we went home unpacked the car. And I preheated the oven and then I put the whole roasted chicken in the oven to warm up and crisp the skin. The rice was done. And I steamed some veggies. Meanwhile the boys were taking showers upstairs getting soapy clean and hair shampooed. They came down in some fresh house clothes. And then we ate supper. Noboru and I took turns showering after dinner. Dinner was easy and cleanup was easy also. Just threw the dishes in the dishwasher. And we then just enjoyed the rest of the night.
Other then that, we've just been hanging out at home pretty much. Enjoying our last bits of summer.  I've been cooking dinner every night as usual, a lot of the time the boys will come in and help me. August has just been really nice for us.  Oh yeah, I also colored my hair back to my normal/natural hair color. I have been coloring it an auburn or coppery brown color for a year or so (could be 2 years). But, I had been debating to go back to my natural brown color for the whole month pretty much. However, I didn't want to jump the gun on it, so I took some time to think about it. I finally decided yes just to go back. At my local drugstore, last week I must have stood there deciding which color for about 10 full minutes. It's a big decision you know and I didn't want the wrong color. I did have it narrowed down to 2, then made my choice. This color #68 says earl gray. Which basically means tea color. After I let it set for the proper time and rinsed it and whatnot. I blow dried it and it really does look like a beautiful brown color of tea on me, not too  overly dark but really pretty.... pretty much like the hair color on the box. : ) It looks really good and I'm really happy with it. : )

Anyway, I also went through the boys pants and jean drawer. Branden had outgrown length wise all his 150cm jeans from last year. So, I ordered Branden 4 new pair of jeans, in size 160cm they should be here this week. Meanwhile I went through Noah's closet and while he had outgrown all of his 120cm jeans from last year, so much so, they looked like capris on Noah. I found 2 new pair of jeans I had ordered Noah in March or April 2013, in size 130cm. They are still like brand new and they are long on him and even folded over a bit on the length. So Noah has 2 pair of jeans here, like brand new, so I ordered him 1 pair online that should be here when Branden's gets here. So again, 4 new jeans for Branden on their way and Noah will have a total of 3 in size 130cm. Noah will get another pair somewhere, maybe the Gap outlet or someplace. But this way at least I know, I have started to make a dent for Fall/Winter clothes for the boys. : )

We leave in a few days on our last trip of summer. Our family will be driving to Nagano. It's about a 4 hour drive to 4 and a 1/2 drive from our house. So it's pretty far away from where we live. However it's breath taking. It's truly a gorgeous part of Japan. So many mountains. Reminded me just a bit of Colorado actually. When we drove through Nagano this past January, Noboru and I were just dazzled. We said, we definitely need to come back here! And well....now we are. : ) It's just for a short 1 over night trip, plus our hotel has an onsen/hot spring for soaking and relaxing also. But 1 leisurely day getting there and 1 day of sight seeing while heading back will be great. Car trips in general are pretty fun! Also something I've been keeping in mind is, weather wise, clearly the mountains have slightly cooler temps... so I'll be packing a sweatshirt for each of us and maybe a pair of pants for the boys just in case. Better to be safe then sorry. Anyway that's all for now. : )

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Enjoying our summer and some of the things we’ve been up to. Plus the trip we’re taking next week

I think once I can get this post up, I luckily won't be behind with blogging anymore. I'll be caught up pretty much. So, I hope I can get this post up today. : ) This was dinner the day after we went to the wave pool in the post down below. This was August 8th. We had bought the baby back ribs before the swimming competition and we threw them in the freezer until we could enjoy them. So, August 8th, we had a backyard BBQ and we made these ribs. We had Bush's Country style beans to go with. We also had rice to go with also. Noboru requested some rice that night, so that's what I made that evening for him, the beans and ribs were plenty for me though. And yep we still have a ton of those plastic cups leftover from the summer festival stand we had, so we've been trying to use them up all summer. : )
Just enjoying our family dinner together. : )
This was taken August 9th. Noah made a cake all by himself, he read the directions in English, read the measurements went and got the correct measuring cups from the cabinet and I think he really did a pretty good job on this cake. He also rinsed and tore a lettuce head into nice little pieces for a simple salad. We didn't even have tomatoes for the salad that day. Which was fine. But again Noah did a pretty good job cleaning and getting the salads ready. Meanwhile, Branden made his first curry form beginning to end, he diced up the veggies (onion, carrot, potatoes and mushrooms) He also diced up some chicken breast and fried it up in a pan and then boiled it up. It boiled for the right amount of time, then I watched him dissolve the roux. He did great.
What every one's curry dinner looked like that night. Curry and rice, salad and corn.
Oh yes, I almost forgot, Noah also frosted the cake.
Our dessert that night. : )
Meanwhile, we have received 2 omiyage this August. Grandma next door and her family went away for 2 nights. Not only do we keep an eye on the 2 houses (grandma next door's house and her daughter's house across the street from us, where boy next door lives) we also keep an eye on her 2 dogs. They are very nice dogs. They are quiet unless someone comes to our street who the dogs aren't familiar with/they don't know, then they bark which they are supposed to. :  ) And also the 5pm bell music that plays, makes them howl and that makes me laugh! It just does! It's cute. : ) Every time I go hang the laundry, they wag their tails. Sometimes I speak to the dog-aloos in English, sometimes in Japanese. : )  So we keep an eye on them. Anyway, they went to Izu and she said it was pretty awesome. : )
Ayumi-chan's dad, went to America. He lives across the street also, but next to the "boy next door's" house. Anyway it was his first trip ever to America in his life according to him. He went there because his niece got married. He said, I didn't realize America was so beautiful.: ) Hearing that made me smile. He went to Oregon and also to Washington.
What else...oh yes fishing!
Noboru took both Branden and Noah fishing one day.
You know, that whole guy bonding stuff. That whole father and son time stuff. : ) Branden caught a fish, Noah caught a fish, Noboru caught 2. They also said they saw a rotten dead fish thrown along the river bed apparently this was super gross smelling, they figured he was there a week by the smell of it, because they talked about the smell of it a whole lot after they came back. @.@ Yikes! Hahaha. But they had fun together and that's nice. Noboru and the boys release the fish they catch though alive back into the river. : )
What else have we been doing. Oh yes we also went back to our Costco. Just for bottled water and a few things. We ended up drinking this whole 35 pack. It's great water. The boys love it too. We 4 have all been drinking this.
We also bought potatoes.
Red seedless grapes.
And dinner for that night. Noboru picked up take out sushi at a restaurant along the way. The boys and I had pizza and also shared this sandwich.
One morning I made pancakes. I ended up combining 2 packs (banana and coconut), so we had banana coconut pancakes that morning.
I think you can see Noboru leg in this pic, he was enjoying his pancakes. The boys enjoyed them too.
Let's see some of our meals I've been making during Summer break. Chicken strips and homemade mashed potatoes with gravy. You need a little extra gravy on top then usual, so you can dunk your strip into the gravy. You need that extra bit for dunking each strip. : ) We also had corn on the cob. This is probably one of the boy's favorite things I make for supper. The kids are always super happy when I make this. : )
I also made chicken parmesan.
Let's see what else. I love watching cooking shows. I enjoy shows like Triple D (Diners Drive-Ins and Dives) another one of my favorites is The Pioneer Woman. I love watching her ranch life in Oklahoma. Her name is Ree Drummond, and I just really enjoy her show a lot. I also like her website online. Her recipes are amazing.
She was making fried chicken and potato salad that particular episode.
We've also been making ice cream runs to the local conbini about once a week this summer. : )  Noah's was the chocolate Garigari. : ) I had the cheesecake Coldstone. Branden picked the brownie one. Noboru picked the other one. : )
Another night we had tostada night.
They were pretty good. I forgot to take a pic of the sweet and sour chicken I made another night. So some nights it's Chinese, Italian (chicken paremesan), American (chicken strips) it just depends. And I like that it varies and we mix it up. : )
Final dinner pic. This night I made chicken teriyaki bowls. This is more so something you'd find at a food court in the US type chicken teriyaki bowl. So not so authentic maybe... but it's good. Really good actually. : ) 
Chicken breast meat and whole mushrooms. Lightly salted and peppered and finally added some teriyaki sauce.
Just a simple chicken teriyaki bowl and added a few shakes of the chili pepper on top. This is pretty good and fast and we usually eat this about once a month. : )
The grandma next door's apple tree is ready. So she brought us apples. : )
We've also been enjoying homemade kakigori/shave ice. A nice treat for after dinner.
Snack for Branden and Noah. They eat breakfast, have lunch at noon and we usually eat dinner between 4 and 5pm. However they usually get a little hungry somewhere between lunch and dinner. So they usually eat a light snack. Cheese and crackers and some fresh apples from the grandma next door. Just a little something to tide them over until dinner time. : )
I caught that Lindsey Lohan interview with Oprah the other night.
I did like that sample of the Innis Free sunblock and I ended up buying a full size. It keeps my face  matte and gives me really good sun protection for my face every day and the price was good. Also bought a skin toner from Etude House. I love this! : )
School is starting this week and also next week for a few of my friends kids in Colorado. Though school won't start for Branden and Noah until September 2nd or so. However, since back to school sales have been going on this month in the US, I decided to take advantage of the super savings and get a few things. Gap was 40% off as you can see from this pic and Old Navy was 30% off. The purchases I made were from Gap though.
This shirt is really cool. And so I ordered one for Branden and also one for Noah. And considering the 40% off it was a great buy.
Branden and Noah also each will get one of these. In fact they should be on their way to grandpa's house as we speak. Again at 40% off.
And this was the final thing. But again, both the boys, Branden and Noah, will be getting this one also. And again at 40% off, is a really good savings.  Anyway, we are still enjoying our summer, but we're also slowly starting to get ready for Fall slowly, little by little. That way, by the time it finally gets here we'll be ready a bit, at least.: )

Today our family is heading to the wave pool again. Last time for the summer season for us. And we’re taking a picnic lunch again too (same yummy sandwiches). : ) Noboru is actually loading up the car as I type. So I better hurry and publish this. : )
 
And we’re taking a family over night trip to a mountain resort next week in Japan, as a...”last trip of summer”..so we’re still going to try our best to squeeze every dot of fun out of our summer, as we possibly can. : ) Anyway, now you’re all caught up with us here. : )