Friday, January 24, 2014

Bits and pieces

Okay this is a "bits and pieces" type post for January so far. : ) Just sorta what we've been up to here in the countryside of Japan. January 11th, the 4 of us went to the little shopping mall in the small city nearest our town to look for a backpack for Branden. He had an upcoming field trip coming up and as a 6th grader, I don't think he would love to keep rockin' that Ben 10 backpack. : )  It's in fantastic condition, but I think Branden needed a little more age appropriate backpack.  We found one. The kids ended up getting a few extra school supplies and we decided to each get an ice cream on the way out. Branden, Noah and myself picked chocolate soft serve with sprinkles. Noboru picked plain vanilla, which is his fave. : ) 
It's a Coleman backpack. Downstairs a store was selling it for 5,000 yen and upstairs same exact backpack was selling for 4,000 yen. We picked the one for 4,000 yen (about $40 US). And treated ourselves to ice cream with the money saved. Good thing we all walked around the entire mall before buying. : ) It has reflectors, the zippers are so smooth. It has a separate bag inside for extra storage. Just a very nicely made backpack. 
I'm now thinking about getting Noah a backpack like this. Will have to check the colors out first though. Branden loves green though so he was happy. 
The kids at our local school all brush their teeth after lunch, and Noah ran out of toothpaste so we picked him up a small tube of toothpaste for after lunch. He wanted that gold eraser. Pokemon pencil caps and a shitajiki.

Branden picked a very cool eraser. 

Branden picked red and blue pencils, pencils and a pencil case.

It stands like a pencil case. 
The tostadas we had one night. I also made  taco meat with ground beef and you could have just bean, or bean and beef. I picked just bean, everyone else had bean and beef. 

Mc Donald's in Japan has currently come out with an "American Vintage" series. They are for a limited time only. They are selling, 1 burger and 1 chicken sandwich for a limited time and then will come out with another one (clearly besides their regular menu : ). For right now or when we went there, the burger being sold was/is the, "Diner Double Beef" And the chicken sandwich being sold was/is the Diner Honey Mustard, as you can tell from this box in the pic. I wanted to try the chicken sandwich. Noboru had a Big Mac. We had lunch there one afternoon. What did I think? I thought it was pretty good. The honey mustard was delicious. I did ask for my sandwich to come without bacon and that's only because bacon is usually served here like absolutely way too undercooked looking for me personally. I prefer my bacon crisp and looking fully cooked. Just personal preference though, if you can handle the limp bacon by all mean, no worries, enjoy. : )  All in all, I really enjoyed the Honey mustard chicken sandwich. : ) 

It had cheese, it had honey mustard and a sesame seed bun even! lol. : )  Also, in case this info helps anyone, my Mc D's had a poster/ad and I think the sign said the next burger/chicken sandwich would have salsa and the next after that would be BBQ. 

January 16th, Noboru and I went out on a lunch date and had ramen, We also picked up 2 donuts each for our family. For Branden and Noah it was to enjoy 1 after they got home from school and 1 for after dinner. : ) We also had ours, when they had theirs.
This new show just started 2 weeks ago. It's called, 90 Day Fiance. Spoiler alerts ahead, so skip these few paragraphs if you are worried. This show is about, a couple American guys who are already in a relationship with someone overseas and they bring her to America and if they don't get married by 90 days, she has to go back to her home country. This show is so interesting, it's only been on 2 weeks so far like I said, but I have enjoyed both episodes so far. This guy in this picture, he is a Mormon, was on his 1 year mission in Brazil and fell in love with this gorgeous girl/lady. This girl is really kind and lives with her family, never really left her countryside village. She has now flown to California and she is homesick and she misses her family, she cried and said she misses her mom. She calls her on skype, I thought that was so cute. She said, "I love him but the longer I am here I realize how much I miss my family" : ( Awww.  So yeah wondering if they will make it. I hope they do. : )

Another couple, Mike and Aziza. 

This is Mike. Gosh, I don't even know what to say about them. Mike is from Ohio, Aziza is from Russia. He seems like a very nice guy, really quiet. Says he has had trouble finding love in America. His friends meanwhile are on high alert. And extremely worried about Mike. And to be fair, they are right to be worried. Aziza, only agreed to started dating Mike, when her working Visa to the states fell through. His friends flat out told him, "isn't that a red flag that she only wants to come here." When he hugs her and stuff she looks a little revolted. or at least...not in love. Her face says it all when he tries to cozy up to her. This poor guy has mortgaged his house to pay for her airfare and stuff, it showed that on the episode, him at the bank. Anyway...just worried about this guy. I hope his friends are wrong, and she loves him, truly madly deeply. But we'll see. Oh also...this last episode a few days ago. She went to his parents house. Mikes mom was so happy, she hugged Aziza and said they were making a BBQ for her outside. Just Mike, his sister, mom and dad and Aziza. The mom says, okay Aziza, you can have hamburgers or hot dogs, I also bbqed some chicken for you. His mom even made a fruit bowl/plate. She went all out. And Aziza did not eat 1 bite. Her paper plate was plain white with no food on the plate. Mikes whole family was like @.@ But not wanting to push too much...she said, if you don't want to fix a plate, we can fix you a plate, do you want with a bun without a bun? No thank you, she said. @.@ After a while the poor mom finally said..."I feel like you don't like my food" Mikes parents were then interviewed outside away from earshot and his mom bluntly said, I think it doesn't matter what country you are from, if you come to dinner, it's usually expected you come to eat. She continued to say, she could have picked some salad or some fruit or bread, something. You could tell the mom was a little hurt and maybe a little upset too. She said, I spent a lot of time preparing all of this *for her* and to have her not even eat anything, I feel very uncomfortable now. Watching that was awkward, but I do know how making a meal for your family does take your time and energy and love and to have someone not even have a piece of bread or fruit, gosh, I could understand that mom's feelings though. Anyway, I hope everyone is wrong, and Aziza turns out to be a sweetheart. But wow....just be careful Mike. Please. : )

Meanwhile, this guy went to Colombia for work for a few months and came back hit with cupids arrow. : ) He is in love and was getting his sign ready to welcome his sweetheart at the airport.

His name is Russ and he's from Oklahoma.  

A picture of him and his little brother on the wall at his parents house.

And what does his mom think about this? Read her words here. This has her so distraught she lost sleep over it. : ) 

This is his fiance, she is stunningly gorgeous. She and his mom don't seem to get along as of right now.  

They also just introduced a new couple this week. A woman from the Philippines. I feel bad for her because her fiance has a very strong minded American ex wife and her fiance also has 2 kids from that previous marriage. The ex-wife is not too thrilled he is in a new relationship with the lady from the Philippines. I hope this lady can deal with the ex-wife and plus he has 2 kids. She has a lot to deal with. : ( The scenes, previews to next week, the 2 kids from his previous marriage say while jumping up and down on their bed, they say to the woman from the Philippines, "your feet stink" (you know everyone has feelings you know, I imagine hers were deeply hurt) : ( That poor lady...she is going to have to deal with a lot. I hope they are not going to be mean to her.  Anyway this show is so interesting. I hope I am wrong, but it sort of seems like that ex-wife is going to make that lady's life a living hell. : ( 
January 17th, while the boys were at school, Noboru and I hit Costco Chiba New Town in the morning and had lunch there too. We picked up some string cheese for Branden and Noah, parmesan cheese for pasta and pizza etc. Margarine with butter in it for toast. Salsa and chips. Big hunk of cheese and a rotisserie chicken. Noboru was off getting toppings for his 2 hot dogs and getting a Mountain Dew. My pizza was under the tin foil in this pic and Noboru and I shared that ice cream. So that was last Friday.

Also, last Friday, we drove about 45-50 minutes away to our favorite yakiniku restaurant. I took Noboru out for his birthday, even though his birthday wasn't until the next day January 18th. January 18th was an evening full of meetings for our housing community. 2 hours worth! @.@ Anyway, we had ordered a big platter of rosu/red meat lean meat. Noboru picked some fattier cuts because he prefers that, says it's juicier. He also had soup and ordered different cuts of meat during dinner as well. 

Making silly faces at each other.  We like to have fun. : )

Hi Noah! : )  Last time we went here, Branden sat next to Noboru and I didn't get a single pic of Noah, this time it was Noah's turn to sit next to his dad. : ) 

Lots of meat, rice, kimchi, lettuce for wrapping our meat with, fries, we always have free coupons for those, plus drink bar. 

I wish, I would have brought my regular camera, but I forgot and so I used my Nexus cellphone camera.
It has snowed twice in our tiny town, this season so far, The first snow we finally got is pictured here. January 19th, it was very light, like a dusting of snow. And it was all melted by 11am that day.

See the mountains, hills behind had no snow at all. I can even see grass underneath the snow, so again a light dusting, but it still counts though as our first snow. : ) January 19th for our tiny town. 
I was slightly worried about the weather on January 21st though because that was the day of Branden's field trip to Tokyo. However as luck would have it, it was the warmest day of the whole week. Granted still like 45 degrees F, but again warmer then the other days. That morning, I woke up and made Branden's obento/lunch. Two rice balls, karaage (I purposely made karaage the night before so we'd have chicken cut and marinating in the fridge and I could quickly dredge in flour that morning and fry it up. Okay where was I, 2 rice balls, karaage, 2 fries 2 broccoli, 1 slice of cake and 2 slices of kiwi. I packed this up all nicely in a lunch bag, and into his new Coleman backpack it went along with whatever else was needed. Thermos with tea. And of course, lots of "I love you's, be careful, don't talk to strangers (stranger danger), stay with your school and group" Branden smiling...I know mom, I know...I will, I will, please don't worry. : ) Hugged and kissed Noah, and said....now your brother won't be at school today so, take care of yourself and I'll be at the plaza at 3pm. Be careful. : ) Yes, I am a worry wart about my kids. But I am not a helicopter parent, I know they need these experiences to grow.... I just love them dearly. would be lost without my kids, : ) Dropped them at school early since Branden had to be in the "limousine" bus at a set time. Waved, and went home. : ) 

In the summer, every week I put the comforters outside to sit under the sun. In winter it's harder because most days are too cold, but the day Branden had his ensoku/field trip, it was cold but sunny, so I put Noah's comforter outside, whacked it with a stick for the longest time. It needed it. and let it sit for about 3 hours, I did flip it twice though. It was so fat when I brought it inside. Then I got out Branden's. 

Whacked Branden's comforter with a stick. Let it sit for the rest of the day. Meanwhile, both of their sheets and pillow cases were in the washer and dryer here at the house. 

The day after Branden's field trip we woke up to find this! @.@ A more serious snow for our part of Japan. Granted we're not talking a Colorado mountain snow or a Hokkaido snow. But this is a lot of snow for our part of Chiba. Snow in the mountains/hillside in the background, yep it even stuck this time! And I can't see blades of grass under the snow this time! Can you believe it was so sunny the day before? @.@ I had the comforters outside 24 hours before this pic was taken! Wow, what a difference 24 hours makes, hahaha. But to be fair even if the sun was shining it was still a chilly 45 the day before. And around 5pm that night it was dropping to the 30's F temp range.  Pic taken, January 22nd, 2014. Woke up January 22nd and it was 23 degrees F outside. Freaking cold! Took the boys to school. 



That skies looks seriously cold! Those hills had a decent amount of snow for our area and there is still snow on parts of our town even now as I type. 
January 22nd, snow outside, the boys at school and wanted to tackle some housework. Scrubbed and cleaned my microwave. It's also a convection oven but we only use it as a microwave. 

Wiped down where the microwave sits, made it shiny and new. : )

Wiped and cleaned the toaster oven.

Dried it after this pic and ready to go back where it usually sit. 
January 18th, for Noboru's birthday I made him some homemade pizza. 

I am going to switch to the shredded mozzarella that Costco sells because it's more cost effective...just cheaper. But anyway.... : )


One thin and crispy, one thicker, both super good though. Our tern is over in March, no more hancho and fukukaicho stuff, meaning block leader and community VP. We are so over it. But we must attend the takeover meeting in April and that will be the last, last meeting. Just standing there in April, saying "used to be us, now it's you" good luck, blah blah blah. Over and done. We have since made paper work for who will be new hancho for each block and will drive around like newspaper delivery men today dropping new "you have been chosen" this years new block leader rep! New block leader for our block will be "boy next door's mom" So we are winding down and she will have to get ready. So 1 meeting in Feb, 1 meeting in March and then the "take over" Passing the torch on to you meeting in April. We are going to do a happy dance when it is all over because it is very hard. 
I like to watch cooking shows, and I saw on the Food Network, someone made gyoza/dumplings. Anyway I started thinking, you know I should do that too. And then I started thinking and egg rolls too. Hahaha. The egg roll and gyoza wrappers are available all over and are around 100 yen a pack. 


I don't want any meat in my egg rolls or gyoza. So, in my egg rolls I just wanted cabbage and bean sprouts. 

My gyoza just had, cabbage, nira and garlic, that's it! Super easy and simple. 

Garlic.

Gyoza veg on the right and finer chopped then egg rolls veg on the left. Sprinkled with a little salt and pepper mix.


The egg roll directions say to make a little mixture of flour and water to stick them to together, that was done and easy. 


My 2nd try making gyoza and my first time making egg rolls. I did not make a lot because I wanted to test the flavor.  What did I think? Loved them both! The egg rolls tasted like any egg roll you'd find in the states except minus the meat. And the gyoza tasted like legit real gyoza. Loved them both can't wait to make more. 

And it was so cheap to make them. I will probably buy more stuff and make double the amount and just stick them in the freezer for a lunch anytime when needed. 
Anyway, now it's Friday again here. 37 degrees outside right now. Nothing really too major to say or going on. we are both fried with our housing community duties, like I said. Today's plan is for Noboru to drive to each future hanchos house, I'll get out of the car at each stop and put the paper in each of their mail box, lol. : ) Also today we are planning to go to Nitori. And I think in a week or two we will be going to Ikea again. I am slowly going back to my downstairs update. We will take it slow though, buy a few things each month. It is truly never ending though. : ) Noah gets out of school at 3pm today Branden 3:45pm. I also need to run to Costco soon and the regular grocery store soon too. Oh yeah...I am thinking about making a turkey soon. My blog last February we made a turkey then too. Anyway nothing too major to say, just wanted to get caught up with you all. Have a great weekend everyone. : ) And stay warm, if you are experiencing winter right now, that is. : )