Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Our winter break so far...heading to the movies, Yokai Watch (for them) and Gone Girl (for me), finishing up our New Year’s cleaning, Costco Chiba New Town run and now just relaxing and ready to ring in the new year!

Saturday, December 27th, Noboru, Branden, Noah and myself went to the movies.  It was something all of us were really looking forward to. Usually we go to one movie together. However, the kids really wanted to see the new Yokai Watch movie (cartoon), it's really popular for kids and even JHS kids in Japan right now and the boys really wanted to see it. And I want my kids to know current stuff that's "in" right now too. I mean, I understand...they don't wanna be left out of the loop, if you know what I mean. : ) I meanwhile wanted to go see Gone Girl. It was a book made into a movie and really popular, looked good so I wanted to see it. Every thing I read...says..the ending will surprise you!!! @_@ So, yep...I wanted to be surprised too. Hahaha. :  ) Noboru wanted to see Gone Girl too and I wanted him too. However my movie was 50 minutes longer than Yokai Watch. And although Japan is much safer than America (sorry). Plus we live in the countryside. And doubt anything would happen at our tiny super small city movie theater in Ibaraki. : ) Nearest our town. But still....you never know....you know what I mean. So, Noboru went and watched Yokai Watch with the kids (we all just felt safer that way). And I went and watched Gone Girl. Plus Noboru gets to spend some alone time with just the boys, and that's important too for the 3 of them to have some guy male bonding time. The movie Yokai Watch is only in Japanese. And I really don't mind plus.... I get to watch a really good movie that just came out for us in Japan in mid December. So we were all happy. December 26th (day before), we went to the drugstore and bought movie snacks. Noboru picked chips and chestnuts. Bran picked, a Crunky bar (they were on sale at 78 yen Like a Nestle Crunch bar) and rice crackers mixed with peanuts. Noah picked a Crunky bar too and some cheap little 10 yen snacks each, he picked 2 of those. : ) I picked chocolate covered raisins for 89 yen and some M&M's. : ) The morning of the movie, I asked who wanted some freshly popped popcorn and only Noah wanted some and myself, so I made just enough for the 2 of us. : ) 
I had enough points for a free movie, so I got to see Gone Girl for free. Very cool. : ) The 3 of them picked their seats for Yokai Watch. I also got to pick my seat for Gone Girl. Though our movie started at the same time, like I said, my movie would be 50 minutes longer. So the plan was the 3 of them would be at the mall and I'd Line message them as soon as my movie let out and go and find them as soon as my movie was over. : ) 

The 3 of them picked a large melon soda. I picked a large coke. We waved see you and enjoy. And after my movie, I messaged them and found them at the book store reading away.... all 3 of them. : ) They loved their movie. I loved mine. How did I like Gone Girl? I really liked it! It was such a good movie and everyone was right... the ending was definitely a twist...I didn't see happening. I was like....say what??? Totally took me by surprise. But yep...a great creepy weird movie. 2 thumbs way up for me and I am really happy I saw it. : ) 

The four of us went to Saizeriya for supper after the movie. Noboru was eating a salad in this pic. He was waiting for his pasta. I was eating a pizza, waiting for my pasta.

Branden eating his pizza waiting for his doria and Noah munching his foccacia waiting for his doria too. : ) We all had drink bar and they told me all about the Yokai Watch movie. They were so happy they got to see it. Which made me really happy. : )

My dinner...absolutely way too filling, Noboru had to help eat this pizza. 

Both of the boys enjoying their doria. Plus we get to see Big Hero 6/Baymax this coming week/soon. So we just really enjoyed the movie last Saturday...and enjoyed dinner. 
Ham and cheese omelet. We had so many different uses for the spiral sliced brown sugar honey ham. We had ham sammys. Noboru made omurice twice. The ham is long gone now...but yep we truly found so many uses for it. : ) 
Cleaned the living daylights out of the house. All our Pre-New Year's cleaning has been done and finished. This is a pic of me dusting off Branden's ceiling fan. We rearranged Branden's bedroom furniture in his bedroom. Basically just swapped the bed and his desk...those changed spots. We vacuumed, we dusted, we rearranged Bran's bedroom last week. Noah's bedroom was Sunday, the day after we went to the movies. We did a complete overhaul of Noah's room (boy did it need it ; ) It felt really good to get the house in order before New Year's. We finished December 30th, with the rest of the house. Our New Year's cards were sent off December 24th. So now we can just relax now, kick back and enjoy New Year's. 
Monday December 29th, We went to Costco Chiba New Town. Picked up some waffles, a rotisserie chicken we had for supper that night. Tortillas, big hunk of colby cheese, mozzarella cheese and also huge box of mozzarella cheese sticks and scrubbing bubbles toilet gel cleaners (these make the whole toilet room smell fantastic and they're cheap at Costco for the big value pack, with different scents)

And after we paid and checked out, hence the person rearranged the stuff inside the cart, lol. But I took this pic because the Pace picante salsa wasn't pictured in the pic above but we purchased that also. : )  We 4 all had a nice cheap lunch at Costco. That new soup they're selling at Costco is so good, curry soup but that spice packet really kicks the flavor into gear. : )

December 30th after we finished with last minute cleaning, I baked a batch of brownies. From a box, so super easy, but really good. : )


We bought a new little New Year's "wreath" that is currently hanging on our front door. Welcoming the new year. : ) 
All our nearest grocery stores will be closed on New Year's. Some will reopen on January 2 and some the 3rd. I have 5 days worth of food here at the house and drinks for about 4 days. So, we're all set here at home. This morning, though...I did run to my new town grocery store, and bought a fresh small bag of mikan and 2 packs of these custard cream things. Sorta like those taiyaki (fishy shaped desserts filled with sweet beans and some are filled with custard) Anyway minus the fishy shape since these are disc/round shaped. But they taste like that...they're so yummy. I microwave them a bit and then finish them off in the toaster oven. We'll have those tonight as dessert.

Noboru gets off work at 10pm tonight, so we'll be ringing in the new year together all four of us. For dinner tonight we are having chicken parmesan with pasta. That will be our New year's eve meal. And we'll have 1 of these packs of custard creams tonight. : ) Tomorrow night we will be having ourselves a taco party here at the house. We'll probably enjoy the other pack of custard cream desserts tomorrow night. On the SyFy channel starting tomorrow morning at 7am, Japan time, starts the Twilight Zone New Year's marathon that they have every year. It runs for 24 hours straight and I love it. I enjoy it every year. : )  Happy New Year everyone! : )

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas 2014

Hope everyone reading had themselves a lovely Christmas and ate many wonderful things, and spent it with their family and loved ones. We had an absolutely amazing Christmas. Christmas morning, we all woke up. Though I did wake up first and go downstairs and have myself a hot coffee. The kids unwrapped all their Christmas presents. They were pretty happy with all that they received. : ) Noboru and I were pretty happy with our Christmas gifts this year as well too. We all took many pictures and video of Christmas morning. Noboru went upstairs and got the boys TV set up. Meanwhile I made breakfast. We all relaxed the rest of the morning. After lunch, I started prepping for Christmas dinner. Noboru unfortunately had to work on Christmas, but he enjoyed some Christmas ham and side dishes, when he got home. : ) 
I baked the pumpkin pies the day before Christmas from scratch, with a nice sweet cream butter crust.

Also, both Branden and Noah decided to spend 3000 yen each on a Google play card. This was part of the Christmas money my dad had sent to them. They are saving their 7,000 yen each now, unless they decide they want something else. However the kids have money saved from years ago still, so they're good savers, so I have no worries. : )

I doubled the amount of cheesy gratin potatoes, I usually make.

I made a delicious brown sugar honey ham glaze, that I brushed on the spiral ham every 20 minutes. This made the ham taste so good, the cooler the glaze got, the thicker it became. I got the recipe for this from allrecipes.com. This is the 2nd time I have used this same recipe.

At our house, Christmas dinner has a lot less side dishes than Thanksgiving does. It's a lot easier, still delicious, don't get me wrong. Just not as labor intensive as Thanksgiving. However, I LOVE Thanksgiving, so I don't mind the work. It's just Christmas dinner is simpler. We had, a delicious brown sugar honey glazed ham. Cheesy gratin potatoes, a nice salad from Costco, hot buttered dinner rolls (also from Costco) just toasted and warmed in the toaster oven. Green beans, and 2 homemade pumpkin pies. We had sodas with dinner and whipped cream for the pumpkin pies. It was also nice knowing we could have leftovers the next couple days so that made meals a few days afterwards super easy too. : )

I love you kids to the moon and back and am so glad you had such a nice Christmas! : ) We were just about to start eating at this point. Oh and Noah was wearing his funny Elf shirt. You know...the movie Elf with Will Ferrell. : ) 

A quick pic taken right before I started to enjoy my meal. Anyway that was our Christmas 2014. As usual, we like to spend our holidays just really low key and relaxed. No stress, just very chill. It was really nice. : ) 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Noah’s school marathon. Going to the movies with my friend. Baking Christmas cookies with the kids. Happy Holidays everyone...

Sorry ya'll, I have been just enjoying myself here with the family. So have been limiting my online and computer usage lately. The boys went on winter break from school yesterday and won't return to school until January 7th, I think. : ) But, I have a free hour and hopefully I can catch up with everyone here real quick. Before I catch up with you all, I wanted to say that I sincerely hope all of you reading are in good holiday spirits and are doing well. : )  Where did I last leave off? Last Sunday, right... when the kids and I ordered Pizza Hut. Anyway I did forget Sunday in the afternoon besides resting, Noboru did go and vote in the elections here in Japan. The kids and I went with, I think we were going to go to the store to pick up some sodas to go with dinner for later... the pizza dinner later that night. The voting place/spot for our town, they do it at the other elementary school in our town. In Japan, only Japanese nationals are allowed to vote, so Noboru can vote and even though I am a permanent resident here in Japan, I will never have the right to vote, because I'm not Japanese. Which is fine. I vote in the American elections anyways. : ) The mural on the wall in this picture says...hon ki, which sort of means "serious" or perhaps seriously. Anyway if any of you saw half of the phrase in blue on that wall back there and wondered. : ) I think it's more so a message to kids to try their best at sports or perhaps trying their best with their studies. : )  It's a common phrase. : ) I guess I could have whited it out...but I thought the message was cute.

Our one and only town store! Please understand how important and crucial this store is for our town. It is open now, it opened last Wednesday, December 17th. But this was an...almost ready picture. : ) That I snapped. Our family of 4 went to the store the first day it opened in the evening! I think the actual whole town was there! The parking lot was full. There were traffic cops directing traffic. The drugstore that is next store, their parking lot was totally full with folks trying to walk to the actual grocery store. We parked in the back of the drugstore. You could barely roll your cart around the store because it was THAT crowded. They gave all kids free balloons. It was actually a frenzy shopping that first day. It's now cooling off some. But...this store has been a blessing to our town! The prices. The veggies are cheap. The drinks are average. Their deli is cheap. But the meat is high. However, not Tokyo city type prices. So not bad. Good store. : )
The day of Noah's school marathon last Wednesday, December 16th. The teachers had them do some hand exercises and then just squats, to warm up and stretch. 

See those normal people in the background wearing winter coats? It was THAT freezing cold. I wonder how the kids can handle running in 32 degrees F which is 0 C temperatures and yep that was the temps that day. The towns low was 25 F the night before. So yeah it was absurdly FREEZING cold. I was wearing my Uniqlo winter coat and thick Old Navy scarf. It was so cold!

On your mark...get set...go! Good luck Noah and good luck fellow kids! : ) Oh, by the way in case I forget...all white hats are 4th graders and all red hats are 3rd graders.

Noboru watching the kids run the humongous lap around the rice field. And that school perched up in the distance is "our" elementary school. I was looking for red hats in the distance. 
Remember white hats are 4th graders. So we need to count only red hats. And coming round the bend the 2nd red hat I saw was Noah! However see one kid with no hat? He's near that car. He was also a 3rd grader just minus the hat. @_@  So 2nd place, 3rd place....doesn't matter. Noah ran his best and for that I am so proud of him. : ) 

Just finished running the race, coming in 3rd place for the 3rd graders. What a facial expression, lol! But honestly...for just running huge lap around enormous rice field. They ran 1.5km...in actual freezing weather...he can make any sort of facial expression he wants. : ) Good job Noah! : )

Noah's bronze medal! Aww, what a cutie, he tried his best. : ) Proud of you kiddo.
The day after, December 17th, my really good friend and I met at Mister Donut at 11am. Our movie started at 12:30pm. We sat and had a donut and a hot coffee. And then we headed to the movie. We went and saw The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. 

After purchasing some popcorn and a soda, we went into the movie. It was a good movie. I did dislike the ending though. The ending had me going...is this it? That poor elf guy. He loved that elf girl so much... yet she loved the other guy. So while I found it a good movie, I felt like...is this truly how they are ending this? @_@  Noboru got off at 2pm that day so he was able to pick up the kids. I meanwhile, came home and arrived home around 3:15pm. It was nice to get out and hang with my friend for the day and take in a nice movie. : ) 

Dinner last Wednesday. Just a random pic from dinner. I made teriyaki chicken breast for the kids and I and I made teriyaki chicken thigh for Noboru. 

While they do sell teriyaki sauce here, I use yakitori sauce instead because it's sweeter and tastes super good. : )

By 4:30pm we were eating, I preset the rice in the morning. After we ate and I tossed the dishes into the dishwasher. Is when we 4 went to check out the new town grocery store. I bought, a bag of mikan and a bag of potatoes. : ) We went there to just basically check it out. However the whole town had the same exact idea as us. hahaha. : )
I did go ahead and order 2 new face washes, because again in winter my face feels stripped so easily. 

They packed things well and gave me a free sample of foundation. 

I have used this Happy Essential Foam brand before by Etude House and I like this. But I have only ever used the witch hazel one in summer. And that one I love for summer. So, these were cheap...and have high reviews. I picked the only 2 for dry skin. Hyaluronic acid and the other is collagen. They work and were only like $4 bucks each, so I am happy my face isn't all dried out and hurting after I wash it anymore. Phew. So happy relief for my face. : ) And the scent is so light and really good. : )

Another Christmas DVD for the boys came and is already wrapped (while they were at school last week) and now sits under the Christmas tree.

A Christmas card from my dad for the boys arrived last week. 

He sent ichiman-yen for Branden and also ichiman-yen for Noah. And left a cute note that says that, they can pick their own gift. Awww. 

This past most recent Sunday, December 21st, the boys and I baked Christmas cookies. I had made the cookie dough earlier and we rolled them out Sunday. We listened to music. Here is Branden placing a cookie onto one of the baking trays. And see Mr. Potato Head just kicking it with the boys and I? Hahaha. I think Potato Head is happy he's with our family. : )

I love that even though my kids are 9 and 13, for them this cookie making tradition is as important to them as is it to me. : )

About to go into the oven.

And freshly baked Christmas cookies 2014! : ) Anyway, I am not sure, if I will get the chance to blog before Christmas again, I doubt it. : ) So, I wanted to wish you all a very merry Christmas. Happy holidays. : )