Saturday, December 31, 2016

Finished with our New Year's oosoji! Our New Year's cards have already been sent. Our gallon of peanut butter cup icecream is already in the freezer. And we're ready to ring in the New Year...

How has everyone been enjoying their Christmas break? As for us here, we have been enjoying ourselves. We did have a few days of hard and very thorough cleaning. But we're 100% done with our cleaning and are now just ready to ring in a new year!!! These pics were taken December 26th. We cleaned and scrubbed the entire first floor of our house. We spent 2 full hours in the kitchen. 4 people can totally knock out 1 kitchen in 2 full hours. This pic is when the boys were scrubbing the walls really hard with those Kirkland/Costco wipes. Getting any fingers smudges or whatnot off. These wipes also.... besides working super well, they smell so nice! They scrubbed and wiped all the walls down in the kitchen and they also wiped down the baseboards too. Notice the kids listening to their own music this year. : )

Not sure if you can see all the soap sprayed onto the tiles. Noboru scrubbed and cleaned our stove area super hardcore. He did such an excellent job!

I bleached the counter tops and the sink and the dishwasher. I also had music going for Noboru and I. Sia Chandelier is a current favorite of mine right now. As is Bruno Mars, Versace on the Floor. And Ariana Grande's "Best Mistake", those 3 are my current top ones, that I have been listening to and playing this week.  

Those wipes have a scrubby side and a smooth side. Noah going one by one... on every part of the built-in dish cabinet.

Branden doing the same with the food pantry door. 

After a good bleaching I then scrubbed the kitchen sink too.

I windex-ed the window/sliding patio doors.

I scrubbed by hand... the utensil ceramic bowl that holds most of our bigger utensils. Like spatulas, whisks, potato masher, etc.

Noboru scrubbed our big GE oven. I cleaned out the fridge.

Branden went over the job that his brother did. Only because...Noah missed a few spots. : ) 

Noah swept but then he ended up bringing the vacuum down from the hall closet and he vacuumed.

And all done. The kitchen 100% done. 2 full hours of 4 people working super hard. Feeling was pretty great afterwards. Feeling like...wow we accomplished so much! However we still had the living room and the genkan/entry way and the downstairs toilet to do. 

I love that place above my window that holds some decorative plants. 

The kids wiped down the walls in the genkan and Noah vacuumed in there too. Meanwhile, Noboru was vacuuming the ceiling fans in the living room and I was meanwhile dusting the coffee table in this picture. I just brought my phone and speakers in here and we jammed in the living room as we cleaned.

TV stand. We kicked butt! We worked hella hard, all 4 of us! 
We broke for lunch, we all had honey baked ham sandwiches with cheese, lettuce, tomato, the works... with some Lay's potato chips. And for supper we had ham and gratin potatoes and just...exactly what we had for supper for Christmas. But the lunch sandwiches were so nice! After lunch, I scrubbed the downstairs toilet. And then we all called it a day. We spent about....4 and a half hours cleaning, December 26th. And we were pretty much done. However Bran did have to study for his high school entrance exam that day too. The test in in January. But he just studied 2 hours December 26th (usually it's 5 hours on weekends or non school days). He did not study on Christmas. Of course. : ) But high school in Japan is extremely competitive... so he did get 2 hours in on December 26th. He showered and relaxed all evening and boy did he deserve it. : ) We all rested the entire evening on December 26th. The 27th. Bran and I went to the JHS for a bit. But, after that, Noah cleaned his room super duper and Branden cleaned his. The kids also vacuumed the stairs. And I vacuumed the entire upstairs. And I cleaned my bedroom. I also scrubbed the daylights out of the shower room and laundry room. The 28th, I went to my hair color appointment for about an hour. It was at 9:30am and I was out by 10:30am and I brought the boys plus Noboru home some McD's on the way home. I had a ham sandwich though instead. : ) We finished up basically any last minute cleaning on the 28th. And oh....the Christmas tree we took down the 26th. 

December 29th, we took the day off. Since our cleaning was pretty much done. And we drove to the big city. We went to Ikspiari. For some Kua'Aina for lunch. And also Noboru bought me a beautiful winter bag. : ) It came from Sony Plaza. 

It was originally 8,300 yen. Around $80 US and see the 5,800 yen on the right? It was on 30% sale because the New Year holidays things.... are always on sale in Japan. And so we got it for like US$55. Which is a fantastic deal. : ) 

I like that it's rubber on the bottom. So if you place your bag on the ground it won't get all disgusting. It can be easily wiped down. 

It looks like a fuzzy wuzzy scarf! Hahaha. But it's a bag. And this picture is making it looks small but it's huge. It is good sized. It is like 1 pinch smaller than the black Old Navy one I have been using for the past year. So it is indeed quite big. And as a mom who tends to carry everything in the world in my bag. I like that it's big. 

And it's nicely lined so your things won't get all fuzzy inside. I really like this bag a lot. : ) And I like it even more so... getting it on sale. : ) 
Considering all the study (Branden) and heavy cleaning we all did. We also brought back a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts back home.  Also, Noah is done with his Christmas homework packet. He got that finished in 2 days. His study habits are as excellent as his brothers!!! : )

The kids did eat one along the way though. : ) 

We stopped at Costco in Inzai on the way home from Ikspiari. We picked up dinner for that night. 1 mega sized pepperoni pizza and one mega sized cheese pizza. The kids ate the pepperoni. Noboru turned his cheese pizza slices whatever how many he ate...he put  (Christmas) ham and jalapeno on his, he loved his pizza so much. : ) I had just plain cheese. : ) 
We only went and picked up these few items. New Year's eve.... we always have chicken parmesan with that fresh pasta. And for January 1st dinner... we will be having a taco party, we usually always do that at our house. Beef and chicken tacos. : ) We have the taco shells already and the sour cream, so we are all ready! Plus you know... we have a gallon of peanut butter with peanut butter cup ice-cream here at home in the freezer... that we turned into peanut butter ice-cream already, so we're ready. That way...we can enjoy tonight and tomorrow and for however long it lasts. : ) 
And yes, we did mail off our New Year's cards. First week of December, we all sat down and wrote them out. : )  I hope you all have a lovely New Year! : )

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Christmas 2016...

A belated Merry Christmas to everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. : ) We sure did! It was just a quiet little Christmas in our neck of the woods in rural Japan. Look at all those ornaments on our Christmas tree! It was truly so dazzling to enjoy looking at this, all December in our living room! Especially for the kiddos! : )

My favorite ornament of the entire tree is always "Glitter Pig" lol...he always cracks me up!

A purple snowflake with glitter "snow" on it. A pine cone ornament. Nutcracker ornament...just so many special ones for our family! December in our living room was truly dazzling. Definitely gets you in the holiday spirit! : ) And the genkan tree dazzled everyone who visited our home this month...even if it was just a postman dropping off a thoughtful care package from America or an Amazon order arriving from the USA. Yep, we truly love Christmas around our house. Especially when you have kiddos in the house...definitely have to make it special. : ) 

Once a week from December 1st, I found myself wrapping something or other... in the kitchen. And even adding a Google Play card to their stockings. And other various stocking stuffers too.: ) This one says to Branden from Santa. They know there is no Santa but..it's still fun to write it this way. : )

To Noah from Santa. : )
And baking. I baked something every single day the last 5 days before Christmas. I had a yellow cake in the oven one day. And I just finished making my Nutella frosting from scratch. Super easy, just butter, powdered sugar and Nutella. Simple and delicious. 

A freshly baked yellow cake with Nutella frosting. The kids loved this frosting so much that they kept eating this cake. And Noboru...who dislikes things too sweet. He straight up loved this cake and frosting so much, he had 2 slices in a row, this wasn't too sweet at all, it's perfect. Saying how much he loved this frosting and cake. I thought....holy cow...this frosting recipe is a real keeper! : )

I was so close to forgetting to take a pic of the Rice Krispie treats that I made. Hence the slicing of one row. : ) I made an apple crumble. 1 batch of Christmas cookies. 1 batch of chocolate chip walnut cookies again. The final 5 days leading up to Christmas...I was a baking machine. Hahaha. : ) 
On Black Friday, I placed a fairly big DVD order on Amazon.com. These 3 were for the kids. And yes they got wrapped and placed under the tree. Artificial Intelligence doesn't come on TV very often, but when it does, my kids stop whatever it is they're doing and watch it. They love it. And Totoro, a classic. But they didn't have it. And Mocking Jay 2, they didn't have..but they have the rest. So, they did love receiving these as one of their gifts.

I also purchased other movies too. Me Before You. Loved watching this...this year/summer so much. Definitely something to have in my collection. The Lover (this will more than likely not be available on DVD in the future, so I figured better to get a new copy while I still could.) And same for The Professional. I do have a DVD coming in January. The Girl on the Train. So, I am looking forward to that. : ) 

Bridget Jones's Diary, the original one is such a favorite of mine, but I never owned it. And just a few other movies that I am very happy to have. Because The Twilight Zone movie and the Tales From the Darkside movie is getting harder and harder to find too, same for Fear. Which is weird because I thought Fear would be easily available but...not so. So...anyway...just a handful of movies to add to the collection and those 3 that the boys received. So...was very glad to get everything on such a great discount on Black Friday. Branden asked for some new car parts for this RC car. And he received those. He also received money and a bunch of other things too. He did quite well for Christmas. And Noah asked for a new pair of Sony Bass Boost earphones and so he received those and a new phone case. And he too received money and a bunch of other things too. They really enjoyed Christmas this year. : )

I received something from Shu Uemura this year from Noboru. 


Noboru and I drove to Chiba City a few weeks ago while the kids were at school. We left right away... as soon as the kids were at school in the morning... considering it is a lengthy drive. I received a Custom palette! 

Shu Uemura quality. Wow! : )

The amazing part about a custom palette is, I can pick any color of shadow and blush that I want. I could have added 2 blushes in here, if I wanted. I could have added all eye shadows too. And if you have ever seen the color range. Holy cow! They have tons and tons of colors to choose from. However, I wanted a natural palette. Nice neutral eye shadow shades. I brought my own Mac eye shadows with me and my beloved Urban Decay palette and showed the lady...the shades I use the most. The shades where... I hit pan on already. I showed her my #1 color Mac cork. It's a soft brown color and she was able to find an exact match from a Shu shadow and so I picked that shade twice. It's in my palette top upper left and the bottom far right, they are the same exact color as another and the dead on match of Mac Cork. She was able to match all my beloved shades for me and when I felt like my shadows were best for me. I confirmed. I also brought out my 2 favorite blushes...a neutral by Too Faced and a Mac one in Warm Soul. And she said this one matched best to the Too Faced one, I had. And I too looked at every shade. I asked Noboru to chime in and we 3 all agreed this was the best match...to my favorites. That I know I use often and colors I love. Except now...they are in 1 custom palette. So, if I travel...I can just take this palette, 1 brow mascara and some foundation and be pretty much set. Super easy having my eye shadows and blush combined. And in this pic...it best captures their truest colors. Plus in this pic...you can see how the inside of the custom palette it says Shu Uemura on the left hand side. And the brush...is super high quality and it too says Shu Uemura on it. The mirror inside is huge. And it's just something...I really love a lot. I will be getting tons of usage from this. But yes...this pic shows the truest picture of what their colors look like in real life. 

This has the flash on and this isn't really what the colors look like.. in real life. But you can see...the 2 on top right are more shimmery. Again though...it's just going to be a super useful and helpful palette. If I go on vacation, I don't have to lug a blush and an eye shadow palette, both are inside here already. So...but the truest what these look like in real life...is in the pic up above. 

The ladies gave me this huge Shu Uemura mirror. For free as a gift. And I really like this. : )

Love how the name is stitched on there. 

They also gave me gobs of free samples of stuff to try on. : )  All in all, the kids enjoyed Christmas, We all enjoyed Christmas. Noboru enjoyed what he got. We just really enjoyed the heck out of our Christmas morning. : )
After our unwrapping of presents in the living room. Everyone was spending time with the things that they received. And I went into the kitchen. Had a Christmas radio station playing tunes and I made some bacon and cheesy scrambled eggs and some rice or toast. And some mikan. The kids had hot cocoas with whipped cream and we had hot coffees with ours. A wonderful simple Christmas breakfast. Noah and I always eat our eggs with hot sauce. Noboru always eats his eggs with ketchup and Branden never uses anything on his eggs. hahaha. : ) After breakfast we watched Christmas movies. They played for like 2-3 solid days straight. 2-3 channels played A Christmas Story again and again. And another channel played a Christmas Carol again and again, we watched a Christmas Carol 3 times off and on (the story of Scrooge). And A Christmas Story twice. Last night we watched Scrooged with Bill Murray. And we also watched Elf about 5 times this December. We also watched National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation movie twice too. We also have all these on DVD too, but sometimes it's nice to watch on TV too. : )  
Christmas 2016! Everyone happy and genuinely smiling and in good cheer. We had a delicious dinner. Granted it's a lot simpler than Thanksgiving. But the food was most excellent! Very traditional. And as you know.... we don't dress up all fancy shmancy at our house. Nope, we don't put on airs at our house. For us, Christmas dinner is about good food and being together as a family. We dress for comfort, all of us were in sweatpants and we were so happy and comfortable. Concentrating on the happy mood we all were in and just enjoying the evening. And the amazing food we were about to nosh on! : )

We had salad, black olives, hot fresh buttered cornbread, 2 pans of cheesy gratin potatoes from scratch. a honey pineapple ham, this ham is so good. We had some Ginger Ale in glasses we use just once a year. Hahaha. : ) But it makes it even more special. And we honestly just relaxed and ate and talked all through dinner. And see Bran holding his phone? He took pics of our Christmas meal too and he updated his timeline on LINE because he was pretty happy about to tuck into this meal. : ) He said on his timeline to his friends..."Merry Christmas everyone, here is our traditional American Christmas meal we are about to eat right now." And he got so many likes and comments from his classmates. They really liked the pics he showed them, just of the food. : )

Bran put his phone away, he was so happy he was about to dig right in. So was Noah. Meanwhile, Noboru went to get something from the kitchen for a sec. 

I snapped this pic and then put my camera away for about a solid hour. We really enjoyed our dinner together. 

Handmade Icecream cake all the way from Nagano Japan! Nobody does icecream cakes the way she does! She's the best!

If you're going to have a Christmas cake in Japan, you might as well have the best and get a Christmas cake from her. Her cakes are out of this world. : )

And the cake on the bottom is so soft and good. We love her cakes...her birthday ice cream cakes and also her Christmas ice-cream cakes. : ) Anyway...that was our Christmas 2016 in a nuthsell. I hope you all had a lovely Christmas too. : )