Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Le three day weekend...

Here in Chiba, Monday (2 days ago) was a holiday. Chiba Day. So that means Monday was a "no school" day for Branden and Noah. Last week, I made chicken curry with veggies. I made 2 times the amount (used 2 rouxs, extra veggies and 1 extra chicken breast, so 3 total) because the following day we were going to have curry spaghetti. A family favorite, around our house. : )  Curry spaghetti pictured.

Random pic of some dusting action going on, in the living room, last week. Took all the DVD baskets out, dusted the area where the baskets usually go and also dusted the DVDs. The kids were doing the 3 day weekend, happy dance all week, last week. And I was just trying to get the house in order, before the 3 day weekend.

Friday morning after finishing up the house cleaning and tossing my load of laundry into the dryer, I went downstairs and baked the fam...a pineapple upside down cake. You know...to kick off..."Le Weekend", of course! : ) Le 3 day weekend...so even more reason, to celebrate with some cake!

Lightly buttered a baking pan. Melted a bit of butter in the microwave, which was pictured to the right. And cranked up some jams in the kitchen to keep me company. Thinking Out Loud, by Ed Sheeran...I'm Not The Only One, by Sam Smith. Not a Bad Thing, by Justin Timberlake, etc.

The tad of melted butter has to go down in the pan first. Followed by some brown sugar. It says use 2/3 cup brown sugar. I tried that once a few years ago, I felt the 2/3 cups ruined the cake, totally. It was absurdly too sweet, so I use 1/3 cup of brown sugar and it's plenty. Would never use more than 1/3 cup of brown sugar. 

I have mentioned this on my blog once or twice before. But when you make pineapple upside down cake. Do not use the 1 cup of water that the box says for the yellow cake mix. Save the pineapple juice from the canned pineapple and use 1 cup of the pineapple water/juice/liquid... what was from the can of pineapple. It instantly makes the entire yellow cake mix, now taste like a delicious pineapple cake. Everyone will cheer and clap for you and wonder..how did you get your cake to taste so good. You can either share and tell them. Or just keep it a secret. But I'll share. It's the pineapple liquid from the can. : ) 

Canned pineapple rings are 89-100 yen around my part of Japan. So it's affordable. I have even seen canned cherries and jars of cherries around. I brought the cherries, back from Guam though. : ) 

Again, just substitute the 1 cup of water for 1 cup of pineapple juice/liquid from the can. The recipe is on the Betty Crocker website. But the recipe on the website gives a recipe that many don't like. The recipe makes the cake homemade and many of the comments say the cake itself, is dry and crumbly. However 1 awesome lady...wrote in the comments on the Betty Crocker pineapple upside down cake page told the...changes she made. She said...she used a yellow cake mix and the cake mix is soft and moist. Heck, yeah it is! And she said, to use the pineapple liquid versus 1 cup of plain water. When she's right, she's right! And her cook time, was dead on right too. So it's on the website....it's just in the comments section...the recipe, I use. So, in a nutshell, 1 cup of pineapple liquid not water, and use a yellow cake mix. And use less brown sugar. It's really good. : )  

I had the cake all baked and ready for my family to get home last Friday. I also made some homemade pizza dough in the day, as well. Homemade pizza from scratch...some cake for dessert. The weekend was here. 

You know...my camera on our outside front door, security camera. Shows up very fuzzy lately. I have wiped the lens, obvious first guess... but it still comes out like this. @_@ Noah and 2 friends were outside, last Friday after school. They were riding bikes Friday afternoon. They came back twice. Once so Noah could check in. And the second time was because Noah's tire went flat on his bike. I asked him..."did you ride over any glass or anything sharp, that could have punctured your tire?" Noah said no, so Bran was a good big brother and went and got the bicycle pump from the shed and pumped up Noah's tire. His tire worked like a champ after Bran, filled up the tire. Slow leak...fast leak? I hope not...hope it was just nothing and just needed air. 

Bran and kids, and 1 kid near my TV monitor sorta hard to tell, but you can see the shadow to the left of this pic. 

I cranked up the oven at 5pm. And rolled the dough out at 4:50pm placed them on the pans and waited. Noah and his friends were outside and I had to go outside and chat a bit and ask...are you kids pumped up and ready for the 3 day weekend. They said...YES!!! As they bounced around the front yard. LOL! You know...the way happy excited 9 year olds get! Then the bell rang at 5pm and it (the bell)  let's all kids know that it's time to go home. For our area...a lady gets on the intercom for our town...and you hear her voice at 4:55pm, saying, "kids this is the 5 minute warning before 5pm." Kids start going home. And then the final bell is at 5pm and she comes on again....(is this a recording, who knows probably yes) but she says..."time to be home kids!" Hahaha. So all kids go home at a specific time. Noah was a sweaty old mess at 5pm, so we sent Noah to the showers, to get shampooed and soaped up at 5pm. Meanwhile my right hand man...Bran and I...we put the sauce and toppings on the pizzas and put them into the oven. Noah came downstairs nice and squeaky clean in some PJs. And we 3 went and ate in the living room. We munched homemade pizza. We watched cable. It was nice. Weekends, we sure love you! : ) After dinner, Bran went to shower and I cleaned the kitchen. I took a shower after B got out. Noboru came home later that night, he had a later shift that day.
Saturday. Noboru went fishing in the morning. He got to go out and do what he loves. I meanwhile was getting ready for my big pot of beef stew, that I was about to make. I sliced off the tiny bit of fat that was on there. But really...it was very lean beef.

The stock pot/pan was so hot, it was sizzling hot. I meanwhile put a bit of oil in the pan, and trimmed any fat off and diced up the beef. Really lean beef. I fried up the beef. A little salt and black pepper. It cooked quickly, then I added some water and let it boil for most of the day. When the beef is..."fall apart tender" then it's ready for the veggies. 

1 onion, potatoes, 1 carrot, mushrooms. Boiled for 30 minutes. The potatoes were tender but not obliterated. : )
Turned off the pan and added the roux. I love this beef stew roux. The one with the green bean on the picture/box. It's 120 yen, where we live, but...when it goes on sale for 98-99 yen, I will usually buy like 3 of these beef stew rouxs and store them in my pantry. : ) We watched the DVD Wildcats with Goldie Hawn Saturday night.

Sunday, I asked the boys...would you guys like to play some Monopoly. The boys *love* board games, specifically Monopoly and Sorry. So they said...for sure! 

Both my boys have tablets, both my boys each have a Nintendo 3DS and a Wii. But, I like that they're not addicted to them. I like that they...go out fishing with their dad...go shrimping with their dad. Have family movie night. Go riding bikes with their friends. Be regular kids. It keeps them well balanced and grounded. So, I like spending an afternoon with them playing Monopoly. It's good for them...heck it's good for me too. : ) So Saturday...was spent playing a family board game. 
Branden said he wanted to be the fedora (hat that kids, now days *love*) Noah wanted to be the car. So, I was the shoe. Hahaha. 

This corner area was... Noah owned. He had 3 light blues all with hotels and the bright pinks all with hotels too.  This was a scary corner for me to go around. I didn't want to pay $550 US for landing on something light blue. And some of the bright pinks if you landed, it was $900 each time. Super yikes!

Bran owned the 3 properties pictured here between the Pennsylvania Railroad and Free parking. I owned the property directly across from this picture, near the Chance area. 

Branden also owned this area. 

Noah was winning for a long time, but then, I won! They each had to sell off their houses and hotels. Branden had to mortgage his property. Noboru meanwhile came home from the store after buying some shrimp and 1 chicken breast for Noah, Noboru was happily ready to cook us some dinner. He offered that morning, and I said, heck yes. Please, please! He prepped dinner, breaded all the shrimp and the one chicken breast, he made into tiny Noah sized, mini cutlets. After prepping dinner he went and showered and came downstairs and became our Monopoly banker for a good hour. It helped us out a ton. That way we could concentrate on playing without having to dole out the $200 for passing go each time...he handled all that. : ) 

Thanks Noboru. For making us dinner and being the banker on Monopoly. : ) 

I owned the whole back row, furthest this camera. The property between Free Parking and Go to Jail. I also owned, Park Avenue and Boardwalk. 

Some of my properties. 

It was a good game. Good game kids! Gomen, ne~ Sorry for beating you guys at Monopoly. 

I did bake a yellow cake with chocolate frosting before Monopoly and that's only because Noboru and the kids ate the pineapple upside down cake... to nothing left (and that's fine and it makes me so happy). ...Since it was a 3 day weekend, I thought..oh to heck with it, I should bake them another cake. So, that's why I baked the yellow cake with chocolate frosting. : ) Noah's dinner from Noboru, pictured here. Everyone was offered potato salad and also offered cabbage salad, which cabbage salad is very normal/typical in Japan when you eat fried foods. But Noah didn't want either. Which is fine. He eats veggies often anyway...with beef stew, etc. So, skipping 1 night is fine. 

Noah always prefers to use chopsticks. Which is interesting...because Branden strongly prefers to use a fork. : )

Branden's dinner. Again, Noboru said...Bran please have some potato salad or cabbage salad. Bran said...not tonight, please. So, Noboru designed his meal like this. @_@ Clearly this is not how I plate up his dinner. Bran didn't say anything, but he was like...@_@....thanks dad. Hahaha. Ahhh...it's good that they see how mom and dad are different...heck we even plate up our meals differently and that's A-okay. : )  Noboru's meal for Branden.

And my meal Sunday night. Cabbage salad, potato salad, fried shrimp and rice. It was delicious this shrimp. Branden said so too. Noah meanwhile really loved his handbreaded chicken cutlet. : ) 

Two days ago, Monday the day off school. Chiba day or whatnot. We played the board game Sorry! Branden smiling. Thinking deeply.

I lost and I lost big time. Look at all my pawns in the start zone/area. : ( Noboru kept zonking me back to start. Branden kept zonking me back to start. Noah felt badly and would not zonk me out. He's so sensitive. Aww. : )  And hey...I don't mind...it's just a game. And everyone wants to win, so you gotta zonk somebody out, hahaha.

Noah won! : ) 

Monday, I washed up the bath mat, stripey one form Ikea. Noboru's towel and the boys thermos bags. I like to keep them nice and clean. : ) 
Vitamins for the green chili plants. Come on...drink this...just like Popeye used to eat his spinach! It's good for you. : )

Are they getting any bigger? You know, I see them every single day, so for me personally...it's hard to tell. @_@ Hmmm. : ) 

I loved this movie when it first came out. Soul Man, starring C. Thomas Howell. James Earl Jones. And Rae Dawn Chong. This movie was about a spoiled rich white college aged kid. And his parents had...had enough. So they told him, we are not paying for your college. So he decided to enter school as a black student and he took a scholarship that could have went to a real black student. This was a comedy. There was also some drama. In a nut shell, he realized what a jerk he was. He came clean, so to speak. He had to pay the money back for the scholarship, which was the right thing to do. But it was just a very good underrated movie. I had seen this movie...gosh...about 10 times at least. I should buy this on DVD. 
The 2 racist jerk student neighbors of his... pictured here. Notice that's a young Julia Louis Dreyfus (Elaine from Seinfeld.) And every time the C Thomas Howell character passes these 2 jerks...they say something so racist. Some snide racist "joke" some offhanded remark. In the end...he really lets them have it! And boy did they deserve it! But yes...this movie was just really funny, really real. And in the end...you are left thinking...the kid "got it" he finally got it.  
He fell in love. And he realized...she was to get the scholarship...  he took her scholarship. He felt so conflicted. And I think it was good for him to feel conflicted. I'm not all out to talk for eons here. But the most powerful thing said in the movie came from the legend..the one and only... James Earl Jones (he played the professor character) he told C Thomas Howell..."you got to feel how it feels to be black. You have a deeper understanding yes...*but* you always had the safety in knowing you could go back, to being white any time you didn't like it. We don't have that same option." And at that point you can see...the C. Thomas Howell character...he got it! He understood.  Anyway, it was just a movie...I really enjoyed in the 80's. Flash to now...but in the same vein as the movie... 
I get up... grab a hot coffee, last Friday or something and front page of all the online American news... this story broke. Read the caption in this picture. A white woman pretending to be a black woman? First thing that popped in mind was... Is this story true? I could not believe this story. Second thing that popped in my mind was...this reminds me of that old movie in the 80's that I used to love...Soul Man. @_@ Her name is Rachel Dolezal. She was born white. Her both biological parents are white, they showed her birth certificate where it says...parents race..it says Caucasian for her mom and dad and her at birth. They showed pictures of her growing up all the way to her teens. Here she is pictured in her natural state, on the right. She has fair skin with a light dusting of freckles/angel kisses, she's blond. And that's also her on the left, as she looks now. I must point out...her parents did not "out" her. They haven't spoken to their daughter in many years...but they never did "out" her for living a lie. Apparently on facebook she has even shard a picture of an older African American man saying that's her dad. @_@ Which was not true. Her parents are 2 Caucasian folks living in Montana. But still they kept silent. It was only when....a reporter writing a piece about her...flew to Montana to interview her real parents. They said...they decided they would not LIE for their daughter, so when he asked...are you her parents. They said...truthfully, yes we are her real biological parents and provided birth certificates etc. The second the truth was spoken, all hell broke loose. This story went nation wide. If she were living a quiet private life..I think this story might have not raised more than an eyebrow. The thing and tricky part of this story is. She was the leader/head of the Washington state chapter of the NAACP. She also was teaching at a college teaching...African American studies. She also worked for a newspaper. But the legal parts...and aspects are..when she applied for the jobs...she wrote down, she was black. So...going back to the movie...did she take a job away from a real African American applicant. So it's a huge story in the US right now. And with having American cable here at my house...I have watched this whole thing unravel. And OMG...this thing gets worse by the day. She lost her job at the university she is no longer going to teach African American studies anymore there. They politely said...she won't be back next semester. She was flat out fired from the newspaper. and the NAACP, asked her to resign, some say she resigned on her own. but who knows how it went down behind closed doors...all I can say is...by me watching all the protesters outside the NAACP headquarters in Washington State on the news, with signs that said...hashtag/ #INTEGRITYMATTERS. This thing was growing out of control. The picketers wanted her gone from the NAACP, asap/immediately. Then that news reporter surprised her and asked her...flat out...an easy question..."are you black or white?" She said..."it's a complex question with complex answers" and walked away from the reporter as fast as could be. @_@  I thought personally it was a very easy simple question with a simple easy answer. But...long story short... this story is huge right now. Side note, she does not like to be called African American, she will tell you...she prefers you call her black. The question arose...could she be transracial. If Caitlyn Jenner could be transgender, could Rachel, be transracial? You know what..I do not know. That's a good question though, hmm. On the bright side. I bet Bill Cosby is happy the Duggar news sort of took the spotlight off his story. And then I bet the Duggar's were happy the Rachel Dolezal story broke and sort of took the spotlight off of them.  Oh boy. Goodness goodness. I tell ya...nothing surprises me anymore. But yep, Rachel Dolezal tried to pull a Soul Man. And people are pretty upset about it. And rightfully so. How will this story end? I do not know. But, I'm keeping up to date with the story...same as I try to keep up with other current American news stories too. Anyways...

Today Noah gets out of school at 3:45pm and Bran gets out at 4pm. I am making fried pork chop and baked gratin cheesy potatoes and a vegetable for supper tonight. The rainy season has started for us, in our area of Japan. But it's not raining today. Have a great day everyone.