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. : )