Friday, August 18, 2017

Summer Fun: Spending the day at the beach and also enjoying a nice packed picnic lunch...

August 9th, our family went to our closest beach to our house. Our closest beach is located in Ibaraki prefecture. 


We brought our UV beach/pool tent that we usually bring...so that we can sit under it... when we're not in the water. Which we spent 99% of our time in the water. : ) We brought the Costco bag which had cookies, chips, paper cups, napkins and a trash bag (spare grocery bag) and extra sunscreen.
2 bottles of pink lemonade, plenty of ice for our cups and rotisserie chicken sandwiches were in the cooler.

Our picnic lunch. We also had a big bag of Country Ma'am cookies too. : ) It's just...as you know...swimming always makes people hungry. : )

Each of our boys got new floaties/ innertubes. Cool chocolate donut ones with sprinkles. These came from Amazon.jp. 

Quenching that thirst. 
There was a place to fill up their donuts for free with air. Noah just filled his up and Branden was about to go and fill his up too. Which he did. : )

Hey! I recognize those 2 choco donuts with sprinkles! Hi Branden, hi Noah!

Hello Noboru. And a smiling Noah. 


We spent the entire day there from 8:30am until 3:50pm-ish. While our area/part of Japan where we live... has been relatively cooler than normal, weather-wise most of the summer. On this day it was a super hot and scorching 36 degrees C. Which is 97 degrees F for us Americans.

I always want to make sure my kids have a very nice summer. Whether we just do a free activity like going to the beach. Or having a backyard BBQ. Or having a movie night at home or even going to the movies. I just want them to enjoy their summer. Because...they're my kids and I love them. : )

Summer is so awesome!

Ibaraki is way less populated than Chiba. Although we live on the edge of Chiba and in a very rural area. So when we go to the beach...there's people. But only "Ibaraki" amounts of people. Meaning just a few. 

For about 3 minutes Branden was a double donut. LOL. That's only because Noah was boogie boarding and asked B to hold his donut. : ) Bran ended up boogie boarding too and Noah had to be a double donut for a bit too. : )


An extremely happy Noah! Just enjoying a "chill" day at the beach! I love this picture so much!

After a few hours, the kids just went in the ocean without any donuts or anything. They just jumped around. Talked each others ears off. And enjoyed the rest of the day. 

Just splashing around enjoying the rest of our day. Noboru and I enjoyed most of our time in the ocean splashing around and talking. Watching the kids. And talking and splashing. An excellent way to spend the day, if you ask me. : ) 

We drove home. I jumped in the shower first. Only so that I could blow dry my hair. Everyone took turns showering after me. I didn't wear a stitch of makeup. But, I was clean and had freshly blow dried hair. We all put on some fresh clothes and went out for dinner at Saizeriya that night. We were all super hungry. After spending an entire day splashing around and swimming all day long. Saizeriya is a very affordable Italian food chain restaurant. I had a salad and rigatoni/stove pipe pasta. And a drink bar. The kids each picked 2 Italian dishes. They each picked meat sauce spaghetti, but I think Noah picked pizza and Branden picked a doria. Noboru picked a different type of pizza and a different type of pasta. We all had drink bar. It was a fun day! And a nice way to end the day. I definitely didn't feel like cooking, so it was nice to take a break. We all went home and had some shave ice. And ended our night watching good TV. 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Summer Fun: Going to the movies...

While this movie came out a long time ago in the U.S. It just came out for us in Japan, August 4th. Noah *loves* the Transformers movies a lot. And so, Sunday, August 6th, I thought it would be a nice activity to take both my kids to the movies to go and see Transformers: The Last Knight. Noboru had work and would be gone until late this day. Both my kids wanted to go and thought it would be a great idea to go and watch it. So that's what we did. The movie started at 4pm. And we went and spent 2 and a half hours enjoying this movie. The last Transformers that came out, I felt was a bit stale. But this one was surprisingly really great. I enjoyed this one a lot. And so did both my boys too.
That is a Snickers Peanut Butter Squared wrapped resting on Branden's shirt. I snuck in a bunch of good snacks of course for us 3, as always. But I also bought popcorn and sodas for the kids and I at the concession stand too. After the movie, I drove us to McDonald's, we picked up some dinner to take home. We usually eat a home cooked dinner. But...we're super flexible, since we were at the movies...MickeyD's seemed like a great idea. The kids were happy. We ate a quick dinner. And then showers for everyone. : )

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Summer Fun: Enjoying lots of shave ice/kakigori...

One afternoon, the 4 of us, went to a super teeny tiny kakigori shop. This is like a very old school place. They only have 3 tiny tables for customers to sit at. Branden was sitting to my left, but they only make kakigori 1 at a time and mine happened to come out 3rd. But if you can see how tight and close Noah and Noboru were sitting next to one another. That's how close Branden and I were sitting next to each other too. This place is not in our town, but it's about 2 towns over and we started coming here last year. We like this place very much. This shop is owned and run by an extremely kind and friendly old woman and her husband, very nice couple. : ) 
Also, we have been making our own kakigori/shave ice at home too. We have store bought white peach, mango and lemon flavor syrups. This mango one is *so* freaking good! It's so good. : )
Since before we left to Denver. And even after we got back. We love these mikan shave ice, from 7-11. We love these *so* much!

They're not stingy with the amount of mikan you get at all! Very generous amount!!!
And this pic is of another batch. We always have a handful of these in our freezer. They're just so good. : )

Summer Fun: Family backyard BBQ...

Since we have come back from Denver, Colorado. We have BBQ-ed twice. We're also going to be having another one this weekend.

As usual, our barbecues are always extremely low key. We had yakiniku beef, a ton of it, for the kids. A different type of beef for Noboru. And chicken breast and veggies for me or for whoever would like to enjoy some too. We had sauce for dipping our meat in and lettuce for wrapping our meat and rice inside. And like I said, I bought a case of fresh mango at Costco the day after we got back from America and we cut and sliced them everyday, until they were gone. Everyone in our household *loves* fresh mango. And we had 7-11 mikan shave ice for dessert. Super yum! And again super low key and simple. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

The goodies we brought back from Denver, Colorado...

Like I always say. What one person "needs" to bring back. Another person might be able to live without. And vice versa. For each expat, what are essential "must-haves" from home, vary from person to person. And you know what? That's okay! I know people are *always* curious what other people bring back from their home country. And I never mind sharing what I personally find essential for me to bring back. If you're curious keep reading. If you're not, absolutely *zero* worries at all. Skip this post and catch up with me another time. But for those of you that would like to tag along and see what's up. Keep reading. : )  Here is the table pic of mostly everything brought back. Like the Bath and Body Works stuff couldn't fit on the table and the magazines couldn't fit either. But for the most part this is mostly everything. Oh, we also bought a new hard shell suitcase from Walmart. It's a twin of the one we bought last year.  

We still had a 6 pack of Vitamin Water XXX left. The 6 pack was only $3, but I prefer lug it back to Japan, than to throw it out and waste $3. 

A ton of Walmart/store brand jalapenos. These were 52 cents a can or something like that. 47 cents a can? They were dirt cheap though and I use them a lot. 39 cans total. Again though, when you live overseas. You really have to think ahead. What will, I need for Fall for example? Do, I need anything for important holidays? Thoughts like that. You can't of course lug *everything* back. So you have to prioritize. 

Walmart brand corn tortillas. $1.19 for 2 dozen. Like insanely cheap. I can buy them in Japan. 400-500 yen for 10 measly corn tortillas. Granted, it's better than nothing but yeah....for less than 2 bucks, yes I bought these. I was worried/concerned about weight of my luggage, otherwise I could have bought more. 

Olive Garden salad dressing. This was extremely high priority for me. It's not available in Guam unfortunately. I wish it was. I don't know why...and again chalk this up to personal preference but...  unless it's goma salad dressing which I love, I really dislike the flavor of Japanese salad dressings as a whole. Japan's version of Italian salad dressing is always completely *off* for me. I do like goma. Years ago, Japan had a very nice Italian dressing that I adored and bought all the time.. but they discontinued it. An olive oil company made it. And I really liked it. So, for me personally...I either bring my salad dressing back from Guam or the mainland. 

I have a lot of salad dressing now and that's a relief, because we eat salad a lot.

Miracle Whip. It is a gold standard, like the package says. Makes the best sandwiches. I am always boggled why Costco Japan doesn't carry this. I am sure many Americans would be happy if it was carried here. 

Pot roast seasonings. I am not sure what's up. But, I checked about 4 Walmarts and 2 Targets for this and could not find it in Denver. I was relieved to have found this in Grand Junction, Colorado. I bought all they had. I wished to have bought more. But they only had this many packets. The bright side is...better than nothing. And I would have preferred buy generics/store brand but they didn't even have that. At least when Fall comes around, I can make a nice pot roast for my family now. 

Yes, it tastes like a cinnamon roll with frosting.

13 King Soopers (Kroger) store brand coffee creamers in Cinnamon Creme flavor. This is so freaking good. When Fall comes and it starts to get cold and crisp in the air the leaves start to fall, a nice hot cup of coffee with this is divine. It just is. 

Caramel Macchiato. When Fall hits and everyone's spending tons of dough on Starbucks for a delicious yummy one. I can make a month of caramel macchiatos for only $2 US, in the comfort of my own home nonetheless. 

Cinnamon French Toast? Have never heard of this flavor, but thought it sounded absolutely delicious! And at that price...most definitely worth a try.

Each container is about a pound and a half. That's a lot!

Stocked up for the year. Total peace of mind. And all store brands. So super smart and wise purchases. Very happy with this!!!

These are 99 cents or $1 US. We brought back 36 packs of the flavor butter noodles. We use these as a main dish with chicken and broccoli and also as a side dish.

These are so good. Many stores were wiped out because of us... we bought all they had in this flavor.

Another variety in a side dish. Cheddar broccoli rice. We bought 14 of these.

3 packs of Stroganoff. I wanted to buy like 14 of this flavor. But weirdest thing ever...these were not available in Denver, Arvada or Westminster at all. Believe me...I checked. We found these in Grand Junction after we ate Sonic and were there getting our Vitamin Waters. I'm glad I picked up 3, but wished I could have picked up more. The bright side is...3 is better than none. I tried very hard to make sure I had side dishes for Fall and Winter. 

Also picked up 4 big sizes of chicken Rice a Roni. Again weight of my luggage was a major concern. But again...better than nothing. So...at least we can enjoy 4 times this Fall. : )

The perfect size for a family with growing boys.

Again, I had to think ahead. Thinking about Thanksgiving. I prefer chicken flavor over turkey. I personally find turkey flavored stuffing, *extremely* hella bland. But the chicken flavor is poppin'!!!

Fideo had to happen. Perfect thing to eat on a cold winters day. And these were like 40 something cents each. Insane cheap. Again wish I coulda stocked up hardcore. But...each luggage has to be under 50 pounds and they were. The salad dressings, the cans of jalapenos and the Bath and Body Works weighed down our luggage considerably.


Again with the... thinking ahead. Cinnamon roll hot cereal, for cold Fall mornings. Yes please!!! And don't mind generic/store brands one bit. And Cinnamon Roll Pop Tarts too. 

The Japanese call chicken flavor ramen "salt ramen" It's true. It most definitely is called shio ramen. And I can understand why. American flavored chicken bouillon tastes pretty much plain and almost like salt. Same for Japanese bouillon too. Sorry, but it is true. I love to make chicken noodle soup in winter. In fact I make potato soup. All sorts of soup. But anyways...if you ever get the chance...try Mexican chicken bouillon. It's got a special something something. It has the best flavor. It's super cheap. I find it at Walmart or any regular store. It's in the Mexican food aisle though. But it does make a difference. It's delicious. Under 2 bucks for this size and it will last me all Fall and Winter.  

Italian bread crumbs we use these a lot. For meatballs and for chicken parmesan. Again wish I could have brought back 6 of these. But the weight and space inside my suitcase is always at the top of my mind. 

2 brownie mixes. At 99 cents a box. The price makes you want to lug a whole bunch back. But again...luggage space. 

2 of our neighbors always watch our house. And believe you me. They watch our house like a hawk! We brought back 1 of these for each of them. Except for... we bought these in Grand Junction, Colorado. And considering our drive to Utah...plus it was like 98 degrees F. One package melted and 1 didn't. Why only one? I don't know. : ( But...we gave one of them... something else instead, equally as special and nice. Meanwhile, these were a melted mess. We put them in the fridge...they hardened. Granted they looked ugly, but we ate them. LOL. They were delicious. So 1 family received a nicer package of these. And the other family received a nice gift from us too. And this melted ugly pack...we ate them. They were too bad of shape to give as a gift but edible for us though.

88 cents each, so considering Noah's upcoming undokai. I figured these would be perfect for Noah's Sports Day. 

Candy for the kids.

Remember in Willy Wonka how the gum Violet tried changed flavors? From roast beef, to creamy baked potato to the blueberry pie? Well these change flavors as you suck them! They're called Tic Tac Mixers. 


Breath mints. Fresh breath is very important.

These are the best. We love these. We love anything and everything peanut butter.

Chili Cheese Fritos. 

Reusable shopping bag.

Super cute.

I know some people wouldn't admit it. But, I love to read the tabloids.




Bought this in Portland Oregon right before we boarded the flight back to Narita. Between the heated nuts, the guacamole and pita chips and pretzel bread and chicken breast and hot fudge sundae and cinnamon cookies and lemon cokes and frittata. I frankly never got around to opening these. They're still in my pantry right now. : )  

Cinnamon toothpaste.

Unisex *amazing* smelling deodorant and antiperspirant.

Three for Bran, these are what he picked. He also has a brand new one at home unused and 1 at 80% new still too.

This is for Noah. He's barely 12, doesn't sweat on the daily. But he uses it on gym days at school or during undokai season. He still has 2 unopened ones from last time and 1 at 90% full too. 

These are for me. This smell reminds me of Aveda Rosemary Mint Shampoo. It smells very clean. Very unisex smelling. Really good.
360 tablets. Right on!!!

A Costco sized amount.

They're very small and easy to take.

With an expiration so far away...we'll definitely be able to use them.

The *hottest* mascara since it first came out. This just came out mid June or early July. This mascara is all over YouTube. Loreal is clearly taking on "Too Faced Better Than Sex mascara" And many people are saying this is even better! And honestly it is THAT good. My lashes did get that big. This mascara is super famous right now in the US, it's fairly new. It was $5.89 at Walmart.

Too Faced mascara is in a pink tube. And Loreal made their mascara in a pink tube too, same shade and everything and put near identical claims as the Too Faced mascara on their packaging too. There is clearly *no* denying which mascara this is duping. I knew this was 1 thing I would be bringing back with me to Japan from America. Noboru purchased me 3 waterproof formula's and 1 regular formula. I wanted to see for myself, what the difference in formula's between the water proof version and regular version. The wand and everything is an *exact* dupe of the Too Faced mascara. And like I said... many say this is even better. This was cheaper at Walmart than at Target. I have to give my opinion about this. I have tried *many* American and western mascaras. High end and low end. I have also tried Japanese drugstore mascaras too. Very highly ranking much loved ones too. And I... in all honestly have to tell you...this right here, is the best mascara I have ever used. My lashes are *huge* after using this and they hold a curl. Branden told me one day, "mom your lashes are so long today" he rarely notices any change on me. Noah is the one who often notices things. So for Branden to notice and comment how great they looked. Yes, wow! Will, I repurchase this? Yes. Am I glad I have a good supply? Yes! Noboru has also commented on my great lashes when I wear this. If you are in Japan and can't get to the states. Just be patient...I bet by Christmas this will be for sale here in Japan. It's worth a try. I love it. : ) 

Concealer. I was considering trying the Tarte Shape Tape concealer available only at Ulta or on the Tarte website. But, my 1 concern was some people said it made your under eyes look dry. So for me...I stuck with my one fave that I have used for years. Because my under eyes never look dry using this. 

This says concealer plus treatment. I'm not sure about the treatment part. But, I do know. I like the easy application. It's super easy to apply. It erases *all* my dark circles. And my under eyes *never* look dry at all. I'm glad I stuck with what works for me. 

I have used high end primers and low end primers. And I always go back to the Rimmel ones. They're both white and go clear. My makeup always looks smoother and better after using this. I used to use their old formula that was peach colored. I disliked that it was peach colored, but liked the formula. I am glad it's now normal colored. And I forgot which one I preferred...since it was years since I used it. So, since they were so cheap at Walmart picked up both. I am liking both. 

Olay daily facial moisturizer. From Costco Arvada.

Olay Serum from Costco in Eagle, Colorado. Bought this along the way from Denver to Grand Junction. I usually use a different Olay serum, but the price and the fact it came in bulk at Costco made me want to switch to this one. I was debating about which serum to get. But decided during our mountain drive to Grand Junction, that it was smarter to get the serum from Costco.

Olay night cream from Costco Arvada.

Okay, I now have all my moisturizers. I'm set. : )

Tampons. Nearly 200 of them. 

I'm using this pic of mine for reference. This package, I bought in Guam, not sure if you can read it.. but it says 50 tampons and in the pink upper left hand corner it says a 4 month supply. Of course it varies from person to person. But about a 4 month supply. So if 50 is about a 4 month supply. Than 96 would be about an 8-9 month supply. So...I have *quite* the supply now. Just using this pic for reference. And I still have about 60% of this box too. I think I roughly have about a 2 year supply of tampons. Which again...is peace of mind.

Neutrogena makeup remover wipes. From Costco Arvada.


200 Gain dryer sheets. Our blankets are going to smell *amazing* all Fall and Winter.

Bath and Body Works had to be packed super tightly. With bubble wrap and rolled up grocery bags. And in a box for extra protection too.

Becca Moonstone liquid and Moonstone powder.


Love the packaging of the powder.

Brow products from Anastasia Beverly Hills.

3 Brow Wiz pencils and 2 Perfect Brow pencils. Why am I using both types? Because I love the Brow Wiz and I love the Brow Wiz mini brow brush *however* I hate how it breaks off. That rounded brow brush seems to break off on *everyone*!!! I read reviews everyplace and they all seem to say it breaks off. And yes it does. Drives me nuts. So, while I love the Brow Wiz. And love the brow brush. I hate how it breaks. I also love the ABH perfect pencil and the rounded brow brush is bigger than the Brow Wiz brush, which is a bummer. I wish it was smaller. However the perfect pencil brush *never* breaks off. The only thing I dislike about the perfect pencil, is it has to be sharpened often. I will use both. And I am sure by the time I finish these 5. I will decide which of the two products, I prefer.  

And a sharpener for the brow pencil.

Medium brown is the perfect ashy brown color, with absolutely not 1 dot of red in this color. Which is what I need.

These went in my carry-on luggage.

The Bath and Body Works. Never want any leakage. So always use Ziplocs. We didn't have any leakage at all. But still...better to be safe than sorry.
All the scents that I picked up this time. I brought back mostly full sizes, but I did bring back some minis so that I can toss in my bag and spritz myself through the day, if I'm out and about at a school function or something. I also brought back a mini body cream in a tube too. 


Noboru brought back underwear. 

Toilet deodorizers. 12 of these.These were like 50 cents or so each at Walmart.Under 60 cents for sure!!!

I brought back this Denver Broncos tee shirt for myself. I have worn this twice so far in Japan. I actually had someone stop me at Costco in Inzai after we got back. I was wearing this shirt. It was a hafu man, I'd say around age 23. @_@ A very nice one. Could be one of my friends' kids...so of course you always should be polite, you know. : ) He asked me in English..."OMG, I love the Broncos, such a nice football team" "Are you from Denver?", he asked me? "yes I am", I happily replied!!! Branden was listening. Noah meanwhile told Noboru and whispered after the man left. That guy was talking to mommy. Noboru is so chill, as am I...  so he told Noah, "well your mommy is quite popular, you know" Noah said, "yes I know" Awww. And fwiw... Noboru obviously knew that young guy wasn't hitting on me, maybe I reminded him of his mom or something lol...and so Noboru always tries to keep it positive for the kids. Hahaha. And the same day, an African American man was at Besia/Cainz right near Costco and he read my shirt in the fruit, veggie department and he struck up a mini conversation with me. He was like..."isn't it so hot today? I said "yes it sure is" And you could tell he was like married and had kids in Japan and stuff...he was just being friendly. But again... he just was friendly and nice... he then said..."you have a nice day." I smiled and told him.."thanks you too!!!" At that point...I turned to Noboru and said...clearly people love my shirt today! Hahaha. : ) 

And the Suave Rosemary Mint Aveda knock-off shampoo and conditioner are what we used in Denver. And I brought it back. And the same goes for the face wash. I just bring it back. : )