Saturday, July 30, 2016

Branden and Noah’s every 6 month dental check up and teeth cleaning. My 3 last Costco visits...

July 11th (Monday), Noboru and I took the boys out of school at 12 noon that day because we had a dental visit for the both boys and our dentist is in Tsukuba, Japan. He's the best dentist we've ever had in Japan. The kids have been going to him for at least 5 years... could be more. The dentist we used to go to was in Narita. She was very popular in our part of Japan, an older lady that dentist. However she had a whole lot of ego. She acted like she was the queen, you could never ask questions. She had lots of rules that MUST be followed or she'd get ANGRY with you the customer. One of her rules was you must always bring a handkerchief for each of your kids. You must. We would hear her a few times telling off other patients come you forgot your handkerchief. Again she was not a horrible dentist. But likewise she wasn't the best of the best and with her ego you'd think she'd be practically god like. Her attitude was the main factor for our unhappiness. After every cleaning... we always felt like we should be bowing on our hands and knees and grateful she saw us. And that's not exactly a type of relationship you want from a dentist. Coming from America, I expect better treatment, more like there is a mutual respect back and forth between patient and dentist, we never felt that way with her. She was so very popular that it was hard to book a cleaning or check up. The waiting room was so tiny and the patients were so many that we were stuffed like sardines in that wait room. So long story short. About 5-7 years ago we found ourselves a way better dentist. We were looking for an American dentist. And somehow on our search we found this guy. Because he has a philosophy about teeth that they should be beautiful and white. And he really follows American dental methods and that's why his name popped up when we were searching. He is Japanese but he's very modern and very good. He's like 35 if I were to take a guess. Slightly nerdy. He's not a cool guy, if you know what I mean. And that is actually what we want in a dentist. No ego. Just a very good... very kind dentist. When we first started seeing him. He had like 3 patients, he was a newish dentist and just started his own practice. He knows we were one of his first 5 patients. From our house our nearest big city is actually Tsukuba City. As you know our home is literally bordering, Chiba and Ibaraki. It is a 30 minute drive one way, but it is well worth it. He always welcomes questions. He's always smiling and kind. My kids have never gotten fillings cavities knock on wood... but he believes in giving white tooth colored filling versus the tin or metal old style ones. He's a good dentist. Best dentist around our area so for us... it's worth the drive. And besides the Narita dentist was a drive for us too. So since Branden's last test was already taken and school at that time was about to go on break. We thought why not just book our dental exam at 3pm. And we can hit Costco in Tsukuba afterwards. We also had lunch along the way too. So we made a fun half day, visiting the dentist. Look how nice and wide the streets are in Tsukuba City!

Mt Tsukuba. Yep, we certainly are in Tsukuba.
One funny thing is Tsukuba has the most Nissan Leaf (100%) electric cars ever! They are everywhere in Tsukuba. Tsukuba is a very green city. There is one in this picture even. A maroon Leaf in the background of this pic. As you know my car is also a Nissan leaf 100% electric car. And so when we see fellow Leaf cars we call them our car's sisters or brothers. We say "hey Olive...there is your sister", lol. "Or your brother", lol. Anyway their dental exams were fine. Absolutely no cavities. Teeth are all coming in perfectly fine for Noah. Straight teeth no funky gaps or overcrowded shark teeth. All is fine since this dentist is our dentist. And he is on the case and on the ball. We thanked him and left. He gave both boys dental exams and teeth cleanings. 
After the dentist. We hit Costco right away. The boys can't eat anything for 30 minutes after their cleaning which is fine so we walked around Costco for a good 30 minutes. Until we were in the safety zone. We bought just this. Sorry about the foggy picture it was just so humid that day. Just a case of Dr. Pepper. A rotisserie chicken and mozzarella cheese for family pizza night. 

These fans were on sale and so cheap. $2000 yen about $20 US. With a remote and big. When we see these at regular Japanese electronic shops they are in the 4000yen/Us$40 price range so this was super cheap and we jumped on that deal. Between this fan and the ceilings fans and the 24 AC, we are enjoying a nice cool summer in our house. We're melting when we leave the house though. But only the walk to my car. Good thing my car is nice and cool too. Temp wise. I can only imagine how horrible it would be having to get around on foot like Fred Flintstone around Japan, in this sauna like Japanese summer. Thank gawd, I drive here!
Another Costco trip, this time I was at my usual regular Costco location in Chiba New Town. This day it was just these few 3 things. Homemade pasta, this spaghetti is so bomb! Chicken breasts I am now buying at Costco now. And tortillas. Chicken parmesan was happening. And the tortillas were for pork green chili and beans. 

This was our most recent trip to Costco. Pasta sauce at the way back and super lean 100% ground beef because Noah requested spaghetti and meatballs and so I am actually making that tonight. Also the rotisserie chicken was for sandwiches at the beach as was the sliced 4 types of cheese between the chicken and the cardboard box. See it's in blue wrapping. And beneath the ground beef is 1 pack of chicken breasts. And you see the homemade pasta between the cardboard and the dinner rolls. So spaghetti and meatballs definitely happening. And the dinner rolls for the sandwiches. 
Also chips for the beach picnic lunch and you see a case of mugicha down below. 

In Japan if you dislike going to the grocery store or if you are a full time working mom you can order your groceries to be delivered to your house. There are a few companies that do that. The Boy Next Door's mom works and so she orders her groceries once a week from the Co-op delivery. And my other neighbor, she also works and she orders from PAL. However, I just asked Noboru and he says they are the same company as Co-op? @_@ Umm okay. But they do have 2 separate trucks. I know because I see The Boy Next Door's truck that drops food off it plainly says Co-op on the truck in big letters. And the other family that orders... their truck says something totally different. But okay. I guess they're the same company? @_@ Anyways. I however would never order from a delivery system. Why? Because #1, I'm picky. I don't want a company to pick my bananas. I want to pick my own dang bananas thank you very much. Also I don't like old or giraffe bananas. You know with black or brown polka dots on them. I want to pick my own stuff. I also want to grab my own milk and pick the milk from the back of the shelf with the best date on it. I want to pick my own steak with no veins or white fatty bits in it. I want to make sure the pork I choose looks bright and pink and not gray and dull and old. And no, I'm not saying their stuff is bad. It's just I very much want to tap my own melons so to speak and gently squeeze my own avocado and see if it's ready to make fresh guacamole... and not over ripe and black inside or too hard. I want to touch and see and pick my own stuff. Also, important to note. When I lived in Denver, I just shopped at 1 store. I shopped at Safeway 99% of the time for EVERYTHING. Sure I'd check weekly sales on Sundays. And if something was super cheap, I'd make a trip to another store. But for the most part I could get all my shopping done in 1 fell swoop. In Japan however, it's totally different. At Japanese stores. I find what 1 store sells and offers... another store nearby won't sell that. Each store sells different things here. Some stores have super cheap fresh veggies. Some stores specialize in meat. Then you have import stores like Kaldi. Then you may need American stuff so will have to hit Costco. If you only knew how many different stores are on my weekly route. If I lived in the US, I could get my shopping done in 1 fell swoop, I just said that. But in Japan, I break my weekly shopping in 2 days a week and only half days so they don't like take over... my whole day or anything. For example once a week I will drive to Inzai/Chiba New Town. I hit 3-5 stores there. Depending on what I need. There is a Trial grocery discount store. I prefer the other location over this location, so I only go here once in a great while. There is a Cainz/Besia and again I prefer the other location for that too, but I will go to this one about once a month. And I also go to Joyful Honda in Inzai every week, because they have the best cuts of lean beef for pot roast or beef stew. They are basically a butcher...they specialize in meat. Hence the name on the building... Japan Meat/Joyful Honda name. They sell so much meat...and it's cut fresh daily and so I hit Joyful Honda once a week. I also like their prices on Kraft cheese slices, but their other prices such as veggies I find sort of pricey. So when I go there I just buy meat and cheese and sour cream. But their meat quality is reason why I go there. I also hit Costco because I love that place. And I also hit this store in this picture. Gyomu Supermarket. I didn't white out the name location on this sign because I don't live in Chiba New Town or Inzai obviously and I mention all the time I go to Chiba New Town. So yep, the sign says Gyomu Supermakert Chiba New Town location and yep it sure is. This store is a chain and all over Japan. I'm sure everyone and their mama... shops here already and I do too and have for years. They have a lot of foreign food. Cookies from Vietnam. Bulgaria. All over the world. The fresh veggies at Gyomu Super, I find good/fair priced and I prefer buy my frozen veggies at Cainz because I prefer the flavor of their frozen veggies over the ones at Gyomu Super. And I hate the frozen veggies at Joyful Honda. The flavor is weird on their frozen veggies. See, this is clearly why this girl needs to do her own darn shopping. LOL. The fresh veggies at Gyomu Super....are not the cheapest I've ever seen but not expensive either. When I was there they had 2 fresh heads of lettuce for 98 yen in a pack. Perfect if you're making tons of salads this summer. What do I like from this store? I like the frozen chicken. And the canned beans best. 
If you are making nachos and you need some cheap spicy beans. You can get them from Joyful Honda for 450 yen a can @_@ Or you can go across the street to this store and buy 1 can for 125 yen. Way cheaper. And if you don't feel like buying a jug of popcorn at Costco and sometimes I do and sometimes I don't, you can always buy a pack for 98 yen at Gyomu Supermakret. So there are useful things to be had at this store. And reason why I go to various different stores is because like I said different stores sell different things here. I do REALLY know my area of Chiba/Ibaraki pretty well. And know which stores have the cheapest this or that. And that's why once a week I'll head to Chiba New Town for 2 hours and then head back to my little rural town. 

These thumbs down. Avoid these. They were 65 yen a box. From Vietnam at Gyomu Super. We were heading to the beach the next day and I thought, we should try these. They were horrible. Dry and crumbly in texture and the taste was like plastic-y chemicals or something very weird. The kids devoured them because well... they're kids. And they're not snobs with food. But for me, I had 1 and didn't have another. Horrible. Don't buy these. Avoid these. In fact...if you see away! Dry and crumbly. Driest cupcake ever. And weirdest after taste. 

Packs of breaded frozen chicken can be found all over Japan. So nothing new there. However, 98% of the time the chicken is dark thigh meat with tons of fat on it. My particular Gyomu Supermarket however sells 5-6 different types of breaded chicken but chicken breast! So grateful! We have only ever bought the ones on the right in the pink bag. It's called crispy chicken. And this bag on the right is honestly so good. I'm really picky and I can say this chicken is not processed. And it's not mystery chicken in a blender. This is real chicken on the right. It also reminds me of Italian type chicken. The spices are very good on this chicken in the pink bag. Not Japanese in flavor at all. It's nice to buy a bag of the pink bagged chicken once a month. You can always make a quick lunch on a weekend with this and the price? OMG, so cheap. 358yen for 1 KG. That's cheaper than going to McD's. We have never bought any of the other flavors. Isn't that weird? However we bought the one on the left to try. Only because I saw 2 different people buying the one in the yellow bag. So, my curiosity finally got me last week. And considering I have been a die hard pink bag chicken buyer. I bought the other to try. And we didn't like the one in the yellow bag at all. It says chicken breast but it is really weird and the flavor is totally off. The quality of chicken is better in the pink bag. Even Noboru tried the chicken cutlets in the yellow bag and didn't like it and he eats anything. He's not picky at for him to dislike it, says a lot. They also have chicken tatsuta (sweet flavored) and others. They have karaage and I am not interested in their karaage at all... because I like my own ginger karaage I make at home. And I apparently prefer my own chicken cutlet at home too. Hahaha. But the one in the pink bag is so good and perfect for a weekend afternoon lunch at home. I am thinking about maybe trying another variety just to see. Who knows. So in a nutshell they have great bags of breaded chicken worth taking a look at. Try them all and decide for yourself which kind you like. Our family favorite is the one in the pink bag on the right. And 2 thumbs way down on the cutlets in the yellow bag. : )

My beach post is coming up next. But what have we been up to? Our housing community had it's "Summer Festival" yesterday. It was awesome! Also we found this new site that shows new movies online. It's free. The quality is crystal clear. I don't have to be a member or download anything. Just stream full movies you can watch via your computer unless you have a Chromecast then you can watch on your TV. We have a Chromecast at home. So we have seen on our TV at home. The Secret Life of Pets (such a fantastic movie), the new Ghostbusters we saw yesterday before the summer festival started, this was hilarious. And last night we saw the Angry Birds movie and I was expecting Angry Birds, to suck big time, but it was actually really cute. They have Tarzan on there the new one, not interested in that really. Finding Dory. And they have the new Purge too. A whole bunch of new ones. So we're loving this site a whole lot lately. And we've just been seeing a ton of these new movies. Anyway that's enough for now. My meatballs are seasoned and in the fridge. I will be starting supper at 3pm and it's only 2pm now, so I will relax now for an hour before I get started on supper. Tonight's dinner, spaghetti and meatballs (that yummy homemade pasta they sell at Costco), garlic bread and salads. We may just watch another brand new movie tonight too. Via that website and on our TV. Talk with you all later. : )

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Mikan kakigori at 7-Eleven...

About a day or two after we went to Tokyo Disneyland for Noah's birthday. I was in 7-Eleven grabbing my favorite ice coffee from 7-Eleven. The small is 100 yen and the large is only 200 yen and it's fresh brewed and divine. The cups with ice for that are kept in the ice-cream/shave ice freezer bin. So, when I grabbed my ice coffee plastic cup with ice chunks in that, I happened so take a quick look at all the new flavors of ice-cream or kakigori (shave ice) and I noticed this. I was in a hurry at the time, I was just grabbing myself an ice coffee at the 7-Eleven in my town and heading for my weekly drive to Costco in Chiba New Town (Inzai area) but knowing how much the kids and hubby and I *loved* that mikan shave ice at Disney. I did make a mental note of it and thought to myself. I better go and buy the fam-bam each one of these, when I have more time. I bought one the next day, I bought 4 of them so we could all try. And the whole family really really loved these! 

Just like at Tokyo Disneyland they have mikan slices on top. Not as fresh as the ones at Tokyo Disneyland of course, but honestly these are really REALLY good! I usually favor the lemon ones that look like these. But now I have been going back and forth between the lemon ones and this mikan one. My family has eaten these since then....about 5 times? Perfect in the Japanese summer heat. Mikan shave ice at 7-Eleven, meaning you can pretty much find these all over Japan. Definitely gets the thumbs up from us! Yum. And they're cheap too. : )   

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Throwback Thursday, Guam July 2008...

July 2008 our family of 4 went to spend a couple nights in Guam. We stayed from July 12th to the 15th. So 4 days and 3 nights. A perfect amount of time for our family to go and soak up some sun and enjoy our summer break. We stayed at the Hilton Hotel. This was our room for that trip.

Our view, we were really high up. 

Turn down service is so nice. And the little chocolates and the next days forecast. Next days forecast says 88 degrees F. Awesome perfect weather for hanging near the pool.

We did enjoy our evening there and dinner that night and here were the boys watching some TV before sleep.

Next morning we enjoyed some breakfast. And yes I have been loving those bacon egg and cheese biscuits for that long. McLoving It!!!

Noah drinking some orange juice and he had sausage and pancakes. Noboru had the big breakfast and Bran had sausage and pancakes too.

After we all ate breakfast. We went poolside for the day. 

Branden sliding down the slide.

A happy family splish splashing! : )

This I loved so much! This beautiful outgoing little half Japanese/ half American little girl who was also vacationing with her family. Except she had an American papa and a Japanese mommy. She saw my kids and maybe because my kids are also hafu too. Because there were definitely other kids around. 100% Japanese kids. 100% white kids. 100% Korean kids on vacation too. But she saw my 2 kids and again maybe she saw a familiarity or something similiar between herself and my 2 boys. But she without any hesitation at all whatsoever. Came right up to my 2 boys and out of all the other kids. She wanted to play with my 2 kids. And as for me, well I thought that was just fantastic! And my kids welcomed a new friend to play with for the day! She spoke English and Japanese too. She would use Japanese with my two and they'd use it back. And she'd then use English with them and they'd use it back too. And they all on their own 3 accord decided to play in English. Why? I don't know. So they played, these 3 gorgeous half Japanese/ half American kids all morning and afternoon long together. She would speak to Noboru in Japanese 90% of the time... but would add English here and there and only spoke to me in English. Maybe she spoke English to her dad and Japanese with her mom. Meaning American parents to her... equals she speaks English and Japanese parents to her equals she speaks Japanese. I am not sure. But it was just really cool. She was not shy 1 bit. She was so out going. A total cutie pie.  And fwiw... as you know for our household, Noboru and I both exclusively use English with our 2 kids, we just always have and they are 100% bilingual, Our kids learned Japanese at school and by living here in Japan.

Then these 3 decided to make a fun game out of splashing Noboru. I thought it was hysterical. Noboru did too. The mom ran to her daughter and told her...stop doing that! I think she was just worried. The American father came by and I spoke with him, he was very nice. And I reassured him and just said..."seriously my husband loves playing with the worries...please let her splash him. He's cool with it." And he said. Cool! And he and his wife went to relax on some seats near by. This little girl was so awesome. She was about a good 2 years older than Noah. I imagine she would be in the 7th grade right now. I am sure she has long forgotten all about us. But, I still think so fondly of her. She was so outgoing and she was such a little firecracker. Little spitfire. And so beautiful. A little charmer was what she was! : ) I hope she never loses that! They truly were raising such a fantastic daughter! : )

Their little friend had to leave... she had to go and have lunch with her family. They were such a nice family. Our kids wanted to play a little longer so we did. : )

Two boys making daddy a jungle gym! : ) 

We all took good quick soapy sudsy showers and went and had some lunch of our own. Vitale's for some Italian lunch. The boys shared a small pepperoni pizza. Noboru and I each had the lasagna.

A few pics along the way to our rental car. On our way to see a movie.

About to order our popcorn and drinks. I had the chocolate bars in my purse. Shhh, let's keep that part between us. : )

The next day we were right back at it. More pool time for our family. And yes, I swam and slid down the slide every day of my stay. : )

Noboru, are you plugging your nose? LOL. : ) 
A footloose and fancy free jump from Branden. What a fantastic summer!


Okay so...are you a Burger King? Or a Burger Prince? : ) 

All that swimming sure made you hungry huh? Enjoying your stay in Guam kiddo? I know I sure did. : )

Chinese for dinner that night. This place makes the best Chinese food on Guam. It's our family favorite. However we haven't been there in years. We should definitely go back some time. We had egg foo young, fried rice, egg rolls gee how come they gave us this many? We just ordered one order, I am certain we didn't finish ALL those egg rolls. @_@ LOL. We ordered twice cooked chicken and also walnut shrimp. : )
I love that Noboru is such a "mother hen" when it comes to his kids. Noah wanted to eat on his own. Hence the...he was holding the fork by himself and really wanting to give it a shot by himself. He ate at home all the time by himself without any help from anyone. But Noboru kept grabbing a fork and saying..."let me just help you one more time" he was taking some chicken off a bone of the twice fried chicken. Then Noboru would leave Noah alone for a while and Noah would be just fine...meanwhile Noboru ate his own food. And Noah would happily be eating by himself. And then Noboru would get nervous again. Let me just help him again. And he'd grab Noah's plate away from Noah and start rearranging his food on his plate yet again. LOL. @_@  Noboru the parental worry wart. Guilty as charged. But's just because he loves his kids though. So, I guess it's rather sweet if you think about it. He doesn't do this now though obviously. Thank gawd, hasn't since they were this teeny tiny age. @_@ Hahaha. : ) He's a good papa though. : ) He cares about his family. : ) Anyway...that's a little throwback to our family from July 2008 when we were in Guam. : ) 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Chili update...

Hi you guys! I sure hope everyone has been having an amazing and awesome summer! We sure have here! : ) Yesterday we went to the beach. It was gray overcast but no rain. It was so fun you guys. We brought a picnic lunch with us and everything. And yes we will be heading to the US for summer break/vacation... as always. It's just this year. We couldn't go at the end of July like we usually do. Because we had a high school to visit. And 2 parent teacher conferences to do. So we will go later and Noboru already got his vacation days off and everything for that. But yep. Just been chilling out over here. Enjoying summer break. And I do have about 6 posts to get up and posted. But for now this one will have to do. It's just a chili update. We have gotten 2 chili harvests so far actually. And I have had 1 friend, plus my dad email me asking if we got any chili as of yet. And we have. So, I thought this would be a perfect short little update for now. Until I can get something a little bit more substantial up. So chili update. Right now. : ) In this pic you see some pretty good looking jalapenos. Many were full size and some not quite full size. : ) 

These were the Big Jim's. And again some full size and ready and some tinier and almost ready...but not quite there yet. : ) But many chili's on 1 plant.

Our first harvest of all the plants. Yielded just this 1 bowl full of various assortment of chili. Big Jim, Hatch's and jalapeno. Our first harvest was taken on July 19th. 

This was our 2nd harvest and was harvested this morning. July 27th. So we are now at the point where we are harvesting this amount once a week. Our second harvest was twice the size as you can tell by this picture versus the picture up above and the amount of chili from the first batch. All chili have since been roasted, peeled and put into freezer bags and put inside the freezer. If we keep getting this amount once a week, our freezer will have a nice amount of roasted chili for Fall and Winter. Anyway that's enough for now. I have a pot roast in the oven. A pot of potatoes boiling away. We'll be having pot roast, mashed potatoes, gravy and green beans for dinner tonight. Have a great night you guys. : ) 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Summer break family fun! Going to the movies to see Finding Dory and Kua'Aina for dinner...

Wednesday, July 20th! The last day of school for both Branden and Noah. And only a half day at that. July 20th was the day we had our family plan to go and see Finding Dory. It may have come out in the USA a month ago. However it barely opened for us in Japan, July 16th. So 4 days after it opened we went and saw it. We went and saw this at the only movie theater in Chiba prefecture that offers it in English (sound) the original...way it was made. Versus being dubbed in Japanese. We caught the 6:30pm showing. We arrived at Ikspiari at 4:30pm-ish. We bought our tickets right as we got there and then we just walked around the mall a bit, to kill some time. 

Japanese subtitles. I really love this movie theater. I love the people working here. I love the delicious popcorn and drink combos they sell here and their prices are wonderful. Just the whole vibe of this place is so nice. 

The kids got a large caramel popcorn and 2 sodas (1 each)

Noboru and I got a large half and half (half salt half caramel) and 2 sodas too (1 each)

I saw these seats when we saw Zootopia. Knew these would be best for us for next time. Noah and Bran sat in front. And Noboru and I sat behind them. We had no other people sitting next to us and that was so perfect for us! And that way, if the kids needed to go to the restroom before the movie started there wouldn't be a whole bunch of people in our same row or aisle. Best seats for our family, hands down. 

This movie theater was filled to the gills. So many people, it was seriously packed! Glad we picked the seats we picked. What did we think about Finding Dory? We loved it! During the movie during many scenes the whole movie theater was laughing hard! And laughing loud! It's so nice to be around people who enjoyed the movie too. Would I buy it on DVD? Yes, I would. I'd love to have Finding Dory in my collection. 

I completely forgot to take a picture of our meals until they were half over/eaten! I'm so sorry. But, we went to Kua'Aina for dinner after the movie.I had a chicken teriyaki chargrilled sandwich on whole wheat and onion rings and a large guava juice. The food is so good here!
Noboru, Bran and Noah each picked a chargrilled cheeseburger and fries combo with soda. We ate, enjoyed our meal. And drove back home! It's very far from where we live. While we rode the toll highways to Ikspiari (we needed to get there as soon as possible). We drove the regular roads back home. Just cheaper that way. And we got home at 11:30pm. It was indeed super late. But was the last day of school. We were just starting our summer break. And wanting a fun way to celebrate and this was perfect. And doesn't matter if we got home late that night. We could sleep in the next day. And we did. We slept in until 8am the next day! Finding Dory? Amazing and such a fun movie! Kua'Aina? Delicious as always! A fun way to kick start summer? Done! : )