Tuesday, January 05, 2016

New Year’s Eve fun and New Year’s shenanigans. Plenty of good eats. Homemade Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup ice cream (super easy). Homemade cinnamon rolls. And New Year’s get together with our extended family, otoshidama, lots of laughs, delicious food and good times...

I hope you all had an amazing New Year's eve and New Year's so far! : ) Let me catch up real quick with you all right now. Our one and only grocery store in town sells some amazingly yummy and super cheap 100% real ice cream from NZ. The price is 298 for the tub so it's a super great deal. And I always buy that there, because most places sell tubs of ice milk versus cream. Or some weird lighter version of ice cream but our store in town actually sells real ice cream and it's pretty cheap in price. So, I bought a tub of that in advance. And added just 1 tablespoon of Skippy creamy peanut butter mixed in, real quick in this bowl. And after it mixed really well, I added some chopped up Reese's peanut butter cups. And then put it back into the vanilla ice cream tub and stuck in the freezer until after dinner. And it was solid and frozen but...delicious Reese's peanut butter ice cream. So super easy to make. For us in Japan, getting the good and wide variety of flavors of ice creams, we are used to getting in the US is impossible here...but this shortcut of just buying vanilla and adding your own flavors is perfect for those of us living in Japan and still wanting the FUN flavors of ice cream.  So info share on that. : ) 

We had baked chicken parmesan on top of a bed of pasta. This is so good, so simple to make. We had this for our last dinner of 2015. We had garlic bread and a side salad with this.
I did make the cinnamon roll dough December 31st real quick, while the chicken parmesan was baking in the oven. I used the recipe from allrecipes.com or whatever that website is called. I love that recipe website and am there often. I used the recipe for the "Clone of a Cinnabon" and they were so delicious. The cream cheese frosting was so good too. Also, for us in Japan, powdered sugar is so expensive and only available in teeny tiny amounts. However as you know...powder sugar is really just regular granulated sugar...just ground finer. So, I used regular granulated sugar and threw it in my blender and blended it to the finest powdered sugar... you ever did see. : ) So..if you already know that...no worries... disregard but...this info could hopefully help someone. : ) Fresh hot cinnamon rolls with a delicious homemade cream cheese frosting...the perfect breakfast for January 1st! : ) We had enough cinnamon rolls for 2 breakfasts. hahaha. : ) This recipe made a lot. : ) 

January 1st dinner was homemade from scratch pizza. Noboru told me as it was baking..."omg does our house smell so good." : ) He wanted to eat that pizza! And we all did. We munched homemade pizza, I baked 2 large pizzas (enough for lunch the next day) and we each had a Dr. Pepper with ice. It was just a very restful New years eve and January 1st. I was talking with my good friend, an American papa who has a Japanese wife, who lives nearish us, he was saying how he spent hours at the Narita, shrine/temple area there and how there were about a billion people there, I totally understood, I have seen pics of that crazy crowd. I told him, he sure toughs out the crowds and how brave they are. So, I was glad to message him and wish him and his family a nice new year. But, we just stay home, we don't want to face any huge crowds. We just stayed in the house where... it's toasty warm and we already had the food, I had planned at home to make... and on whatever day it was, I made that. I was meanwhile in Twilight Zone heaven. Noah wanted to watch the scary movie Annabelle during the first 3 days and so we watched Noah's request and Bran wanted to watch, Unbroken so we watched that together as a family too. Noboru likes the Twilight Zone too. : )  Those first couple nights from New years eve on, we munched our chips we bought earlier during our movies or during the Twilight Zone, one of those nights, I also popped some homemade popcorn on the stove. We basically just hung out and had fun here at home with peanut butter cup icecream and cinnamon rolls. 

Mascara attempt #2. Three things purchased from the drugstore Jan 2nd Kate brand mascara (from the drugstore in Japan) this was for long length. And 2 hand creams. In summer my hands are normal, not dry at all. But in winter, my hands are so dry. We're talking painfully dry hands. As in, I am constantly rubbing hand cream, on my hands all winter long. In Japan most shops have testers, love that about Japan. So, I had been squeezing a squeeze... each time I am at some drugstore. After squeezing about 20 different ones all December, I finally was ready to buy 2. The purple Q10, I tried a few weeks back at the tester in Inzai/Chiba New Town. And the Neutrogena one, I have used it before...sometimes I think it has a texture I dislike, however I was swayed by the limited edition holiday packaging. My thoughts? I am liking this Kate long lash mascara. It gives me super long lashes and no thickness/volume, tarantula lashes. So, it is something, I would be into. Do, I love it? No. Is it holy grail status? No, still testing it, so verdicts still out. But, do I hate it? No. Do, I think there is better? Probably. But for now, I will use this happily and whenever this is gone, I will purchase a new one...in March or end of February. Mascaras need to be thrown out every 3 months or so, so by mid march, I am sure I will have another one to try, but for now, this is footing the bill. I do dislike... that it has fibers in it. But then...maybe that's just the wave of the future? I dunno...I do know I really loved that Cat's Wink mascara though. But for now.. Kate's mascara is doing the job and it does give me insanely long lashes. As for the purple hand cream. I love this. There are 4 of these Q10 by Kose hand creams at the drugstore, different types in different color tubes. The price is like 350 yen a tube. And yes, I can most definitely see it clearly says in English...night handcream. However, the other Q10's had words of whitening on them. And I really don't need to whiten my hands. And then it got me thinking... perhaps too much thinking/over thinking...and I thought/worried, I hope it doesn't have a bleaching factor on those other 3 and then I bleach my bedding or winter coat or clothes. So, I knew I didn't want the other 3 Q10's. Again it might not be a powerful whitening at all, but...ehh. I just wasn't all too keen on the other tubes marked whitening. This was the only Q10 that didn't say whitening. Also, the smell was light and tolerable to me. A very light scent. Noboru said peaches. But if it was strong, I know me...I couldn't have picked it. It is almost not noticeable. Also it has some moisturizing beads in there and I sorta liked those. Also the purple tube hand cream... didn't make my hands sticky. Just soft, moisturized but not sticky. So, I am really loving this purple tube hand cream. Is it holy grail status? I don't know, but maybe......I will see. Still testing it out. 

The cute limited edition design, it even says that towards the cap in English. And my old regular tube of it. Like, I said, I am always on the fence about this one. Do, I love it? No. Do, I hate it? Sometimes yes. And sometimes not. However the winter edition design got to me...and why I purchased a new tube of this. This was 498 yen... so pricier then the purple one. I have been using this, the old one trying to use it up. And it does leave a very thick almost sticky heavy feel... on my hands. Last night after my shower, I was in my night gown on the couch and this took forever to soak into my hands. I didn't want to place my sticky Neutrogena hands on the fuzzy couch blanket...didn't want to touch my freshly washed and blow dried hair. Until this sucker soaked into my hands, I was like...unable to do anything until the sticky thick feeling went away...until they soaked in or whatever. So, I am very meh on this hand cream. I tell ya what...live and learn I won't get sucked into buying this one again...even if they get cute packaging. It just takes a billion years to get that thick heavy sticky feeling to go away. I actually prefer the purple tube of hand cream. I get no sticky feeling at all from that one. And it is deeply nourishing too... just without the tacky/sticky feel like the Neutrogena one has. 

A blurry picture of the restaurant we went to in Narita City. We went and met up at an Italian restaurant called Mamma Pasta. Wood fired pizzas, yummy pastas. A dessert cart that wheels around to tempt you. We had a reservation at 6:30pm. January 3rd. 
We already know who these 2 super cool guys on the right are! : ) My only 2 nieces, I have, but that's okay... it's the quality... not quantity that counts, right hahaha. Since I am an only child, these are my 2 cherished nieces. : ) Look at these 2 cutie pies! I also have a nephew (half American/half Japanese) but he is living in America, but he's oldest and he's a 9th grader. Bran is an 8th grader (also half American/ half Japanese, hafu/hapa). 3rd oldest is my lovely niece J, right in this picture a 7th grader, first year in JHS. She is also hafu/hapa (half American and half Japanese), 4th oldest is Noah, also half American/ half Japanese. And 5th oldest is my amazing and cute niece M, she's totally Japanese and adorable. And her little brother was at the opposite end of the table and he's going to be 2 this year. Noah is a 4th grader, my niece M is a 3rd grader.  I'm sure, I could have skipped mentioning J is also half American/half Japanese. But, I think that fact... is quite important and something not to just glaze over because in Japan. Maybe in the big cities like Tokyo there could be 5 hafu or multicultural kids in 1 class. However, for many hafu, they only see themselves and go to class with 100% Japanese classmates and the only "different" one is themselves. Noboru is Japanese, so he can't really share or have the same experience say Noah would have. I am just American, so, my experiences of living in Japan are experiences as a westerner/foreigner...Long term resident yes. But, if I walk into a store I am treated as a foreign person immediately, an American female. I too can't share the experience..say Noah would or Branden would. When Branden sees J or when my niece J sees Noah, they uniquely have experiences that they 3 together share... and have. So when my nephew K and my niece J sees and spends time with Branny McB and Noah, there is like....this huge understanding of each other. They "get" each other. Her mom and dad have been divorced since she was a wee baby. And her brother moved to America in the 3rd grade. Not because he doesn't love his mom. But because he wanted to try giving living in America a chance too. My niece J goes to the US every summer to spend the summer with her daddy and brother. So, yeah...these cousins love and adore seeing each other. Because they uniquely understand each other. At the restaurant we could hear them talk......"oh yeah...don't you hate when people assume this. or assume that." and they laugh. They're lucky to have one another. My niece J loves One Direction. So it was nice to have a talk about that. Seeing the kids get together and eat and talk facing each other. Heck, they didn't talk much to us adults, mostly with each other. But my MIL stared at the boys a lot and interrupted the kids conversation every once in a while...to ask Noah  questions or Bran a questions. She was staying with my brother in law, so this was her one chance to talk to our boys. So she did want to get a word in here and there too. : ) Hahaha.  But yes all of the cousins are very close and have lots of love for each other, as they should. However, the 4 cousins who are half American/ half Japanese have that...special little bond. And it's nice knowing they have each other. : )

My amazing...her style is *always* on point... mother in law. Noboru's mom. : ) Oh and this is sort of funny. But she was staring at me for about 1 whole minute. That 1 minute... seemed to feel like hours. She was like 1cm from me. Anyway I could feel she was about to say something. And she said. "You know what is so weird....Gina has seriously not aged 1 single bit, she looks the exact same as the day I first met her." I suddenly felt really hot/warm and very flushed. She was still staring at my face like 1cm away from my face by the way. And now the entire table is facing me/staring at me. Hoping I don' faint straight away... out of sheer embarrassment. She said "her/my skin... it looks so glowy...so smooth, not 1 wrinkle in sight." She's now even closer to my face. I can now hear my heart beating in my ears... that's how nervous I am at this moment. "I can't get over it" she said. She then asked me..."what sort of products are you using, Shiseido?" I can now see everyone is waiting for me to say something. I swear to you... I must have been beet red by that point. I just quietly said... after I cleared my throat. "I am using Korean Skincare with a few American things mixed in." Korean skincare @_@ everyone said. My mother in law... is known for speaking her mind...being totally brutally and bluntly honest. And so yes, with someone staring that closely. I was nervous...about to have myself a heart attack type nervous. But yeah...I couldn't believe what she said. I was *really* taken aback. very pleasantly surprised. Noboru told me on the way home in the car....he said.."you know what my mom said about your skin?" I said yes. He said, "she's actually right, you haven't aged at all, it is sorta really weird." : ) So yeah...just an interesting little observation from my MIL.  
The awesome amazing Fantastic Four! Best cousins. Wish cousin K in America, could have been here too. But, at least these kiddos could get together and spend an evening together.  

Sorta makes me think of Sister Sledge, the song... We are family! Side note, You know how different parts of Japan speak different dialects. Many having flat out different words/vocabulary completely. Anyway, my MIL and niece J come from Osaka. Out of all of Japan, Osaka-ben is probably the most famous dialect. Most people especially folks form Tokyo/Kanto are usually a bit scared hearing Osaka-ben. Think along the lines of Goodfellas or My Cousin Vinny. Osaka people are also famous for their comedians too. When people from Kanto hear it they immediately know exactly where they are from. They are blunt speakers and direct and depending where you are from...the accent could shiver your timbers. : ) Noboru and my bil Jun are also from Osaka. So my niece M and my 2 kids they are used to hearing Osaka-ben since their papa's come from there. So from our table...you hear Osaka-ben and English. Other tables around us and the restaurant was so packed. People were like staring. And it's sorta a given...that they would. But yeah...so funny. Anyway that's what we did January 3rd, 2016. 

We all had dessert. Noboru and I shared this, trio of desserts. Bran and Noah shared 3 too and same for the rest of us. And our waitress was amazing, she was such a trooper. : ) 

Otoshidama. New Years money given to kids in Japan at the new year. Each of the boys, received a packet from their grandma, uncle Jun and family, auntie K my niece J's mom, my other SIL who could not be here (Jun and Noboru's sister) and from Noboru. Each of the kids wound up with 20,000 yen each, about $200 US each.  Noah has nothing he wants or needs so he's saving his. We also gave otoshidama to my niece J, niece M and her little brother too. : ) 

Branden on the other hand, had something in mind.

Bought directly from Amazon.jp so if anythings wrong... they would take it back, no problem. Everything's fine though. : )

A new pair of beats headphones, for Bran.

What else have we been up to? January 4th, I went for a hair cut, same all one length bob/lob. And had it colored 1 shade darker. And now we're just gearing up for school to restart and we're also gearing up for one of the Disney's. And we will be staying at the hotel for 2 nights when we do that.

I don't really want to talk too much about it now.... for this post. But, I will talk about it more to you all later. But, my BIL is going to training in Jan, Noboru in Feb. And so we have been quietly preparing for that, we discussed this a lot at dinner the other night at the restaurant while we were together. It's not like he's gonna be gone for a couple days. It's going to be for an extended period of time. And I can't say which part of the US they will be. But, we are all sorta gearing up for it. Am, I nervous to be alone in Japan with just the kids... sans husband and best friend. Yeah, honestly I am. So, just...a lot going on. But for now...no use worrying about something that's not even this month yet. : ) So for now...let's just focus on the happy and present and focus on the Disney trip. We'll get to the US trip. Just no need to stress about it... before it's time.