Monday, April 18, 2016

What’s up in our neck of the woods! Spring cleaning, brownie baking, Spring and Summer clothes shopping for the boys. Roasting a 14 pound turkey. Planting some flowers in my hanging baskets. Growing some jalapenos and just ordered 10 Big Jim plants (great big chili’s) to grow this coming season...

Happy Monday everyone! How's everyone been doing since the start of school again, after Spring break! As for us here? Things have been going pretty good here! On sunny days, I find myself throwing out every one's comforters outside to get fat and fluffy in the sun! Still blanket and sheet washing of course weekly, but I do love the Japanese way of letting your comforter sit under the sun! They do get so fat and fluffy by hanging outside! : ) 

I went to Starbucks with my sweetie pie one morning after we sent the boys to school. We sat and talked and talked for a good hour. 
The ladies at Starbucks are always really nice! What else did I do since the boys went back to school after spring break. Oh yes, I went for my hair cut and color. The boys first day back at school actually, was the day of my hair cut and color at the salon. I went April 6th to the salon, yep that was the day! It feels nice going to the salon once a month. And keeping myself looking good and freshly cut and colored is so good for my mind body and soul. Taking care of myself is important, just makes me a happier mommy! : )
The cherry blossoms in our town are long gone and have blown away. But while they were here, they were gorgeous! I appreciated seeing them, in all their beauty while picking up the kids at the plaza after school. 

The cherry blossom petals that had fallen look so nice.

So pretty.
Random morning lunch pic.

Have you ever had a skillet fried bologna sandwich? So good. Bran this day, wanted bologna sandwich and Noah this day, asked for turkey! Bran is bigger, so he needs 2 sandwiches. 

Noah's lunch at the local elementary school. This is not a yochien obento where we try to... out cute all the other mother's obentos. *yawn*... this is a basic...fill you up...Monday-Friday packed elementary school lunch! It's also not a cutesy field trip/ensoku type obento either. Again it's a no frills no thrills....regular common Monday-Friday elementary lunch. And healthy! 1 turkey, miracle whip and cheese sandwich, 2 apple slices and 1 banana. Definitely enough to fill up my skinny 10 year old! : )  

For my 14 year old, 2 bologna and cheese sandwiches and 2 apple slices (note he doesn't want his apples in a container...have mercy...he's a teenager.) @_@ And 1 banana. Just simple healthy sandwiches and fresh fruit! 

Packed up in sandwich containers bought in America and with a band to make sure...this keeps the container closed bought at Seria (a 100 yen)

A visit to Costco happened since the boys have been back to school after spring break. I went there for a turkey. Turkey was for sandwiches. But, I also bought, as pictured...Q-tips, mozzarella cheese, provolone cheese, senbei and tortilla chips for our fully loaded nachos.

Tissues, the price of tissue is such a fantastic deal at Costco.

Come on turkey, get in my cooler and let's go home! I bought the smallest one I could find. A 14 and a half pound turkey. 

I didn't care for the pot roast cuts of beef they had at Costco that day...so I bought mine at Joyful Honda in Inzai since it's right near Costco anyways. Also picked up a huge bag of chicken leg quarters and chicken breast from Joyful Honda too. And the tortillas came from Costco. 

My flowers came in, for my hanging baskets that sit on my front porch every Spring and Summer! I buy them online from a really nice flower farming place. I have since planted them and they are now hanging in baskets on my front porch. So that is another thing I did recently too.

What are these 3 containers? I bought these 3 tupperware type containers from Seria (the 100 yen btw)....I planted my jalapeno seeds in here! Jalapeno seeds need no direct sunlight or any sunlight at all. They also need to be in a warm location. So, I have been keeping these jalapeno babies in my genkan/entrance way. I have been spraying them down with water once a day. Talking to them. Like..."good morning you spicy little babies YOU!! And this morning...I saw 1 jalapeno baby had popped it's head out of the dirt! Yes!!! I am so happy! And as soon as they get bigger then I can throw them outside and they can get sunshine and whatnot. But they're still vulnerable right now. I also ordered 10 Big Jim plants...these are quite common and well known in Colorado and New Mexico. I ordered Hatch's last year but he (the chili farmer in Japan) only had 3 Hatch's plants left. So, I will try and grow 10 Big Jim's this year. They won't be arriving to my house until the end of May though, but they have been ordered. Last year I grew 4 hatch's green chili plants. This year I am going to grow over double that amount, with 10 Big Jim plants plus...however many jalapeno plants survive. We will see. I'll keep you updated. : )

I made a great big pot of beans and a great big pot of pork green chili (from my chili harvest last year.) We had both beans and chili mixed in our own individual bowls for dinner one night with tortillas. It was delicious! 

I have been really enjoying this new TV show. Called Bride and Prejudice. Basically it's about 3 couples. It's reality TV, so it's not scripted and they're real people not actors. It's where somebody doesn't approve of their interracial or inter-faith up coming marriage. 
Take this family for example. There is 1 mother and 2 grown adult son's, one is married also to a Jewish female. They're all Jewish except for the younger/second son...his fiance is not Jewish and the older brother has a serious problem with that. I don't mean a mild problem with it. But a huge...will never accept or like you...type of problem with it.

This is the gal who isn't Jewish. It is fair to mention, they also have a baby son together. 

This is the older son and his wife. This is the guy who is totally against his brothers choice in fiance. He is VERY vocal about not accepting them. 

This is the youngest brother and yes the 2 brothers look like identical twins but they're not. : ) Anyway...so far...the oldest brother said...I might not even attend your wedding. That's how strongly I feel about you guys being together. He flat out says...he does not support them. The younger brother is the weaker of the 2 but he finally said last week..." if you don't go to my wedding then you no longer have a brother!" How will this end? I have no idea. But holy cow...this show is a real nail biter. 

Next couple. We have this lady. She is so pretty by the way! Anyways, she is African American. She is in love with a white guy. It wasn't intentional. It's just...out of all the people on the earth...that's her soulmate. That's who she clicked with. He makes her happy. He treats her like a queen. He respects her. He's a really good looking guy. Her parents like him. However...this lady right here. Is so sick with worry. Why? because her cousin...disapproves of her marrying a white guy! She (the cousin) is so mad about it. She says she doesn't want to attend the wedding. She wants nothing to do with her cousins husband...EVER ever ever! And it is so stressful to her...because that's her closest best cousin. The stress this poor lady is under. 

Her! She is the one...who hates him. She doesn't even know him, she admits that. Doesn't want her cousin marrying a white guy. Her cousins the one getting married is like near tears. meanhile...the cousin in question pictured here...says she flat out doesn't want to get to know him! She's basically not even willing to open her mind. Who is it hurting most? Her cousin. 

She's asking...please come to my engagement party. And of course her cousin doesn't attend and it crushes her! Absolutely crushes her!

Her and her fiance...hoping to meet her cousin at this pool hall. Her cousin showed up for like 3 minutes and left. This show is interesting to watch. But also...I find myself wondering. Why this gorgeous girl would give her cousin any power at all? Bottom line is...do you know how absolutely rare and special.... it is to find...your soul mate? Some people walk this earth and never find theirs. If this lady has found hers! And he treats her right! Adores her...treats her like a princess. Then honestly...it's sad but...who really cares if her cousin is okay with her relationship or not. Stop begging your cousin to approve of you guys! As long as YOU approve. Also...her parents like this man too. It's just the cousin. Seriously...she needs to stop this madness. Not beg her cousin anymore. Her cousin feels the way she does and she'll never change. So let it be! And besides...does she want that negativity..her cousin would bring to the wedding by inviting her? No! These couples...are giving way to much power...to people who shouldn't even have a say. Opinion of cousins and brothers? Puhleazze! It would be nice if everyone got along yes. But honestly...don't give them 1 dot of power to control your special day. Ugh uh! Just don't do it! Anyway...clearly I like this show. : )

Roasted turkey sandwich fixings/toppings.

I roasted this on a Sunday. The boys took turkey sandwiches, Monday and Tuesday of that week as part of their packed lunches that week to school, with also a lot of fruit too. In case you live outside of Japan and are wondering, chips in lunches here are not allowed at school, chips are considered junk food, so not allowed as part of school lunch in Japan. No worries though. They loved the turkey sandwiches and fresh fruit! 

Lettuce, provolone, tomato, avocado.

Some Lay's potato chips and a sandwich. These sandwiches were so good and I was really happy I roasted a turkey that Sunday. : ) 

Spring means Spring cleaning for Americans. That's what I have been busy doing too! I pulled out Noah's drawer in his closet. Vacuumed and dusted behind it. I know exactly what's in Noah's closet. I spent 3 days cleaning Noah's bedroom. The first day, I spent about 2 hours in there. The 2nd day I spent about 3 hours in there. And this weekend, Noah and I took and pulled out his other dresser in his closet and he vacuumed and dusted in there. His room is now 100% spic and span clean. Not a single dust or anything. I didn't just want to do a quick...band aid... type of clean up job. I wanted to do a...thorough and intense clean up of Noah's room! Besides doing my regular daily cleaning. I have been spending 1 week tackling 1 room...but a very detailed...ever nook and cranny type of cleaning of each room. Next room, I am tackling? The kitchen! The kitchen will be this week and next....and that's only because I have 3 days this week. I will be gone or not available. So, it will take me 2 weeks. Since some days I am not available. Like 2 observation days etc. 
Noboru and I went on our weekly lunch date. Last week we went to our favorite Indian restaurant. 
Also made karaage one night. What is this... 6 skinless boneless chicken breasts sliced up and in Japan we sell a tube of ginger. Regular stores sell it for 98 yen a tube. But at Cainz/Besia it is 49 or 59 yen a tube. So, I buy mine there. I squeeze a whole tube of ginger with 6 skinless sliced up chicken breast. And let it marinate for about an hour. Alone with just the ginger. This just infuses lots of yummy ginger flavor deep down. I use 6 chicken breasts because with a hungry husband, and a teenage son, I need to make a lot plus I also need to get 2 packed lunches out of it too, for the boys. 

After an hour, I pour the karaage liquid in with the chicken and ginger and knead the ziplock a bit. Just massage it a minute or two. And then I throw it in the fridge. Mine sat with just the ginger from 9-10am. And from 10am until 3:45pm. It sat with ginger and the karaage liquid in the ziplock in the fridge. It marinated all the way through. Traditional karaage is just flavored powder and while it flavors the outside of the chicken okay, the inside just tastes...tasteless and plain. I mean not terrible. But meh! This karaage liquid on the other hand marinates every fiber of that chicken. It is flavored through and through. And after the kids come home. I just dredge/roll in plain flour and fry in oil. If your fried food tastes really oily. That means you aren't doing it right!!! And #2 it means your oil temp is way too low. If you fry things correctly and right...your deep fried stuff will never taste overly oily at all. It will be light and crisp and delicious. Drain it in a drain type pan where any excess drips down and it's fine! As long as you make it once a week or once every 2 weeks as a treat. Not every single day type a meal, if you know what I mean. 

This is so well flavored and marinated.

You can see all the ginger in there. I tell ya, I have been perfecting my karaage through the years and my karaage is most definitely on point! It's so good. My family loves when I make this. 

This Sunday, while Noah was playing with his friends. Riding bikes. Saturday is the day we finished his room. Anyways Sunday, I baked these brownies for our Sunday night dinner's...dessert. This picture is nice but it's badly out of order/sync. Should be 2nd to last pic on this post. Oh well...it happens. : )
Last Friday, both schools in our town got off at 1pm. Noboru was off work that day. So it was the perfect day for us to hit Uniqlo and GU for the kids and then after that we went to Capricciosa for dinner at the Narita mall. We shared a pizza. First, we each had our own salads. Noboru, Bran and Noah... had 3 individual cesar salads and I had a garden salad with Italian dressing.

We all had the spicy tomato and garlic pasta. Dinner was really nice at the Narita mall.

Spring/Summer shopping.

Two new pair of shorts for BrannyB. I love that shade of blue, he picked up! 

Noah meanwhile got a pair of house comfy shorts. He's in size XL for kids sizes now at Uniqlo. 

I like Noah's house shorts, they look like jeans but are soft short material. We wanted a pair of house shorts for Bran too, but they had none out yet at Uniqlo. Never fear...we went to GU, which is Uniqlo's more affordable sister store. 

You know how there's Gap and Old Navy, same...for Uniqlo and GU. : ) 

Bran got a pair of jean looking house shorts too, but from GU and he also liked these jean colored slip on shoes from GU too. These are really popular shoes now days. Since Bran liked them...we said...okay. And bought these for Bran too. 

They are actually sweat shorts material, but look jean-y and I think that's just the style for 2016 for house shorts in Japan. I actually really like that Bran and Noah both got similar house shorts this year. : ) 

And the price for house comfy shorts at GU was so cheap. A really great deal. And that's the same price for Noah's house comfy shorts from Uniqlo too. And B's slip on sneakers were only 1400 yen. So again...super great deals. Yet they're still going to look really cute this summer.

Yesterday's Sunday dinner. We had brownies for dessert. Pictured somewhere up above. And we also had a delicious very tender pot roast (3 pot roasts but for you in America...size wise it's just 1 American sized pot roast) : ) Homemade mashed potatoes, beef gravy and green beans. 

What's on my agenda for this week? I have Branden's observation day this Wednesday (Noboru and I are going to that). Noah's observation day meanwhile, is this Saturday (Noboru can't come since he's working but Branden and I are both coming to support Noah and observe.) 

This Thursday, Noboru and his coworker are planning to dismantle our huge jungle gym in the backyard. Why? Because honestly Branden is a 9th grader, he's far too big/old to want to play on our huge big playground. And honestly Noah's already a 5th grader and he didn't play on it once all last summer. Noboru and I were thinking about giving it away last summer. But we waited and watched. And sure enough it got zero usage last year. So, this year, I told Noboru, he's right. And since they're not using it anymore. I would talk to the boys about it first though. I was very honest with my boys. I said..."ya'll aren't using it anymore, you know that and I know that" It's just taking up space in our yard...if it goes unused it's a waste of space. If it's being used no problem. I said..."daddy's (Noboru's) coworker who's hobby is carpentry and he built his own house by the way. Anyway he has 2 yochien aged kids, who could get a good 7-8 years usage out of it. They'd play with it every day and love it. And the man would take care of it and wood treat it and stuff yearly, since wood work and carpentry is his hobby. I also told them if they wanted to keep it...I would in fact keep it. They thought about it for a week. This was a few weeks ago. And they said...they think we should give it to the other family. As for the family who is getting it..I am not charging them anything or asking for anything. I am giving it to them for free because it will be given to a good home and be loved by children once more. So it is quite a good deal for them too. Considering this was a couple thousand US dollars when bought new at Costco in Japan. However...it served it's purpose for our family. Branden and Noah got many years of fun out of it. It was very well loved. And now like...Woody and Buzz who went to live with that girl in Toy Story 3. The play ground will go and live with another family and so it is a good and positive thing for us. 

This Sunday, Olive has a check up. My Nissan Leaf. Nothings wrong with her, it's just time for a check up. So basically I got a whole lot on my plate this week. Between 2 observation days and a playground dismantle as well. Now if it rains the playground dismantle will be postponed. I hope it doesn't rain, because I really want to move on and close that chapter. Saying good bye to our playground will be bitter sweet, but its time.  I also ordered Branden a new pair of Crocs from the Crocs Japan website, they're coming this week. Not sure when.. but I hope they get delivered on a day when I'm actually home. : ) I would have ordered Noah a new pair of Crocs too, but they didn't have his size. So, we'll have to go and get Noah's in Inzai or the Ami Premium outlet. Anyway, that's enough for now. I better motor. I have to run to the store for some fresh fruit, some bakery bread. And then come home and get my baked ravioli prepped for dinner tonight. So when the family gets home, all I have to do is whack it in the oven and serve some salads along with it and some fresh buttered and sliced baguette from the bakery. 

The earthquake down in southern Japan. We're basically on the opposite side of Japan we live in the north, granted not Hokkaido type north, but we are indeed in the north. We felt nothing here. So we are good and well and okay here. But, I of course worry for them and hope they're okay. If you live in Japan period. You know this could be you next, I know that too. So, all we can do really is hope and pray they are okay. And hope it's not us, the next time. : ( I am truly so sorry for the folks who were affected. I watched a video from a lovely American man on YouTube who I have been watching for years. He and his family are so sweet and such good people. Anyway he lives at ground zero basically. He's actually one of the few that I know that actually lives in actual Kumamoto. They have no power, he said... he also said...he waited in line for gas for 45 minutes (this is exactly why we bought my 100% EV car btw especially living in earthquake country... again not rubbing it in...but this is exactly why, we personally waited for about an hour or more after 3/11)...their house is damaged on the inside... but the outside structure is fine. Everything was knocked and thrown around. He has been making the very BEST videos showing what actual Kumamoto looks like right now. His videos are in English. So, I have been so informed by his videos. I am so thankful to him for making such videos. And even though he lives in the center of where it happened. He's in such high spirits and says...at least they're alive. As least they didn't totally lose their house. It's just so reassuring seeing someone who lives in the center of where it hit... being so positive. Many were not so lucky. : (  Anyway, so for those wondering if we were affected. No, we were not, we didn't even feel it, where we live. Alrighty you guys. I really have to get going.