Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Health Matters and all that stuff

I think it is a result of my getting older- but I am becoming more health conscious each and every day.  What I used to take for granted seems so precious and precarious now.  Hubby and I watched Dr. Oz the other night- the topic was sleep apnea.  They showed this couple and how they actually would stop breathing in the night while sleeping.  According to Dr. Oz this was 'killing them'.  My step-father had sleep apnea, this is before the awareness of sleep apnea we have today.  My mom said she used to freak out when he stopped breathing and sometimes would shake him awake (much to his annoyance.)  Eventually he developed COPD (due to his years of smoking)- the docs gave him oxygen to breathe at night.  The poor man finally started sleeping well- unfortunately three years later he suffered a fatal heart attack.  At least now I know why he was so grouchy all those years while I was growing up (it wasn't me!) :-)  Poor guy- if only he had been treated all those years ago.

Forward to present time- I think Hubby has sleep apnea.  After watching Dr. Oz I can hardly sleep if Hubby is snoring  (it never bothered me much before.)  At times he sounds like he is choking or drowning- it so scary.  Am I overreacting?  I don't think so.  So how do I convince him to get help?  And how do I convince him to eat better as well.  I am overhauling our meals and what kind of foods we eat.  He seems to think we need meat at every meal- I say we need protein- does not have to come from meat.  I need to get creative here- maybe I should get some vegetarian cookbooks?  I'll just have to make sure he doesn't see them. ;)

So my question is- how do you convince your partner to eat better and generally take better care of his/herself?

On a side note- I am still trying to avoid sweets.  I have given in a time or two- but generally have done well.  I have lost 10 pounds since the start of the year.  My clothes fit better, so that is encouragement in itself.  BUT...

GUYS- close your ears- unfortunately I think most of those 10 pounds came from my bossoms- Hubby agreed with me too.  Darn! 

Why can't we CHOOSE how to distribute our fat?  Of course if that were the case the women would all have double D's and the guys- well you can imagine where that would go..

I think my next post will be about plastic surgery- yay or nay?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

This is one long month!

Maybe it is because February is such a short month- but March seems to be the looongest month!  It could be because I want to hurry up and get to April because maybe April will bring warm weather?  Let's hope so.  The sun is out more at least.  The cherry blossoms are teasing us, the buds are getting nice and fat.  I have seen a few blooming trees here and there so far.  But the two big ones by my house I am anxious to see.  They are huge!

Did I mention I am going to a cherry blossom viewing party next week?  Hubby is wearing his dress uniform (the formal one for special events).  The invite says civilain dress is "casual".  Uh, no- not when dress uniforms are being worn!  So I am teetering on what I am going to wear.  I have a beautiful silk baby doll dress- but I am worried it too dressy?  Or maybe it is not dressy enough?  I hate situations like these!  I need to find someone who has been to one of these parties and find out what is appropriate.

I really shouldn't want to rush time- Hubby will be deployed eventually so I should just enjoy our time together.  I looked back on 2009- we were only together 3 months out of 12.  I should be glad he doesn't have to deploy for a year at a time- at least not yet.

Last week was a busy one for me.  So I don't have any new foods or places to share today- nor any pictures.  Sorry- I'll try harder next time....

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Fallen Hero

I usually check my Goodle Reader every morning to see if there are any new posts.  This morning Riding the Roller Coaster posted a link to a very sad post about a Marine Wife and her Fallen Hero.  I had not visited this blog before today, and I do not know her- but my heart breaks for her and her little baby girl.  It is a stark reminder of how precious and fragile life is.  She already has over 200 comments from people expressing their love and support.  I really hope it helps her. 

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Holy Cherry Blossom Frappuccino!

Sissy and I had the best day ever.  First- she got to miss school- and we took the train to Tokyo.  We were headed to her 2nd modeling job.  Before you think- hmm- why did she take her daughter out of school for MODELING?  Well let me tell you- everytime we go for an audition or what have you- we go to a new place in Tokyo.  There is so much to discover and so much to see and do.  Someone told me not to let school get in the way of your child's education.  That is so true! 
Anyway- we took the train to Yokohama (express train baby!) and transfered to the Tokyu Toyoda line and headed for Gakugeidaigaku station. 
I repeat- Gakugeidaigaku station.  Bit of a mouthful to say- I lovingly renamed it "googoo gaga" station- much easier to say.  Sissy thought that was the funniest thing she ever heard- I love 7 year olds- they are so easily amused. :-)
Back to my story.  We got off at googoogaga station and proceeded to find something delicious to eat.  There is a little shop right outside that had some lovely obentos- but they didn't have any seating (kind of more "take-out).  So we decided to proceed down the road.  We found Starbucks.  Tempting- but I reminded myself we always end up eating at Starbucks or Tullys or Krispie Kreme.  I wanted some good Japanese food.  We finally found what looked like some yummy gyoza.  So we stepped inside the little bitty restaurant and ordered the best lunch I have had in a while!  We had a large bowl of ramen, gyoza and chicken nuggets.  Don't think "McDonalds"- no these were lumpy real unprocessed chicken thigh meat.  The Japanese are spot on with chicken nuggets I tell you.  Sissy also ordered what looked like two balls of something coated with sesame seeds.  We had no idea what they were- but what the heck- the food was cheap so why not?  They turned out to be filled with mochi.  I actually liked it this time- the sesame seed coating/crust complimented to mochi's sweetness just right.  I was delightfully surprised at that.

After lunch we still had another hour to kill so we decided to do some exploring.  We found a shrine right in the middle of some apartments and houses.  I am trying to figure out the name.  Sissy hadn't been to one yet- so she was intrigued to see people going up to ring the bell and say a prayer.  I tried to get her to ring the bell but she was too scared.

The small shrine we found

Notice the fox on the right is nursing her pup? 

The photo shoot was long but fun.  The photography staff were just gaga over Sissy.  They kept saying "kawai!" which means "cute", in reference to her.  Today she modeled jewelry- a little different then last time.  I'll post pictures once it's safe to do so- don't want to get in trouble.

Oh geez- I forgot to tell you what happened before the photo shoot!  We made  it to Starbucks after all- all the walking made us want a little snack.  I was planning on getting something iced- but they had sakura flavored drinks and pastries.  Sakura means "cherry blossom".  I wasn't sure if it would be any good- but the frappuccino was so pink and pretty I had to give it a go.  Sissy picked out a little sort of bread that was sakura flavored (and pretty and pink as well.)  In fact- there was a real cherry blossom on top.

That sakura frappuccino was divine!  Sissy's desert was good- but not as good as my frap!  I can't exactly put my finger on the flavor- kind of tasted like cloves and maybe pumpkin?  I don't know- it was just good. 

My delicious cherry blossom frap

After the photo shoot we stopped at this lovely little park called Himonya Park.  We are planning a trip back as the petting zoo and the pony stalls were closed.  But we did find the little temple resting on a tiny island in the middle of the park's lake.  We walked to whole park and then I let Sissy blow off some steam and play in the playground for a just a bit (it was starting to get dark and hence rush hour on the train.)  As it turns out- it is a famous park and very old.  Who knew?

Front view of bridge to temple.

Sideview of the bridge.

I am not sure if this counts as a Torii gate?

We didn't avoid rush hour- but it wasn't too bad.  Let me to tell you -Sissy is a totally different child then the one that rode on the train with me when we first got here.  She no longer complains about having to stand when there are no seats and she WHISPERS!  That is a feat in itself.

She went to bed a happy little girl tonight.  She loved our mommy/daughter day she told me.  I think the icing on the cake was when I ordered a Happy Meal for myself- just like her.  She thought it was for Brother- when I said it was for me- she hugged me right there in the middle of McD's.
I have to say I will go to bed happy tonight as well!

Oh- we saw the cutest bulldog at the park.  He walked right up to the water spiggot and started to lick it- then his owner turned on the water for him and the bulldog proceeded to drink.  Too cute!  The picture is a little off kilter because I was trying to play it off like I was taking a picture of Sissy and not the dog.

Update:  It took me three days to finish this post (that is why it is so wordy)- plus I wanted to get the pictures up as well. 
After doing a little research- I realized that there are THOUSANDS of shrines in Japan.  The one we visited is very small so therefore it doesn't deem a mention in any of the websites I looked up.  But- I did find out that it is an Inari shrine- due to the foxes with the red bibs that guard the entrance.  I'll have to research some more so I can give a more educated description than that!
And lastly- I can now pronounce (after much practice)  Gakugeidaigaku.  That is my accomplishment for the week. :-)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday update

My day started off waaay too early.  Brother has been sick since Wednesday night.  I thought he was getting better- but last night/this morning proved otherwise.  There is nothing like the fear that strikes a parent's heart when 103.2 registers on the thermometer- especially at 2 in the morning.  Poor guy was just delirious- as a high fever will make one feel.  I remember feeling that way as a kid- it is quite scary.
I usually get up with Hubby in the morning and make coffee for him (because I am nice like that.)  This morning I had just gone back to bed when he got up- so no coffee for him today. 
I did have to drag myself back out of bed to make Sissy's lunch and get her off to school.  I made some coffee for me then- I desperately needed it.  The coffee pot beeps at me to tell me the coffee is ready.  I greedily pour myself a cup.  Hold on- why does the coffee look so watery?  #$#$%# it!!  I forgot to put fresh coffee grounds in the coffee maker- I only poured in water.  (And no- I am not diligent enough to clean my coffee maker out every day after I am done drinking coffee- that is reserved for the next morning.  Sorry- that is just how I roll.)
I did finally get my coffee made properly.  So now we are waiting for the time to leave for Medical (military/Navy term for the Medical Clinic.)  I am not sure what his temp is now- the thermometer died.  I have like three dead thermometers in the house now- this last one only lasted a few months.  grrrr

Did I mention I am getting braver and more comfortable about driving on Japanese roads now?  I finally braved a new section of town and finally found the mall!  Right next door is Viva Home- a Japanese version of Home Depot.  One could spend hours in there perusing all the cool Japanese gadgets.
Anyway I am pumped to get out and explore more.  There is a bigger mall I have been to by train- but I am going to try driver there next time.  My iPhone has a Maps app on it so if I get lost I can punch in "Home" and it will tell me how to get back home.  Very handy that is.  I can't read all of the kanji writing- but I can tell if I am on the right path or not.

We are eagerly awaiting for the magazine that Sissy posed for to come out.  We looked it up on the web and found it out it is due to be on the newstands on the 26th.  In the meantime she may have a couple of more jobs lined up.  She could have had a job today- but she has a slumber party to go to and I didn't want to stress out about getting back in time.  It is a good thing since Brother is sick and I would have had to cancel anyway.

Happy Friday.  I will sign off with this little number.  If you are a Navy wife you may have seen this already.  It is one my fave YouTube videos.  And before you say- "hey- shouldn't they be working instead of making videos?"  Let me point out that when they are underway/deployed- they work 12 on and 12 off every day.  No weekends off and no overtime pay (though they do get Sea Pay- but overtime pay would be much much more!)  I see this as a great way to let off some steam and it is a great "team-building" exercise as my Hubby would call it!

Oh- I learned something today- how to embed a video from YouTube- I am moving up in the world! ;-)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Some more of my favorite Japanese things...

If you have read my other posts about cool Japanese stuff- you can probably tell that I like to take pictures of the things I buy that are different- or that I just love.  So here is another installment of some of my favorite Japanese things...

Mini beers!  Isn't this the cutest little can?  I am not really a big beer drinker.  But I saw these at the grocery store and had to buy a couple- just to say I did.  They look like "kid-sized" beers- though they are definitely not kid beverages!  I am not sure how popular these beers are here?  The drunk driving laws here are uber strict to say the least.  Maybe the mini beers are for those who just want a taste of beer but are driving so they can't consume too much?  I have noticed that some Japanese people really follow the "in moderation" rule.  Unlike me- who can eat a whole bag of cookies- here they would and could stop at just one.  It's major will power baby!  So maybe the little cans are for those who know that too much beer is bad- and just want a little taste?  I thought they were mighty tasty- Japanese beer is pretty good actually.  But like I said- I am not a big beer drinker..

Japanese bread!  I am just talking about the bread they sell in the grocery store- not the bakeries (I'll post about those later.)  As you can imagine, the bread we have at the commissary just plain sucks.  It is old and stale- which is understandable considering the length of travel they have had to endure to get here.  The Japanese bread "loaves" are thickly sliced and so fresh and yummy!  I made sure we had plenty for the after Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches.  Hubby totally loves the bread.  I have always eaten wheat bread- but I love the white bread here.  The slices are much bigger and they come 8 slices to a loaf.  There are no heels   included either- I am not sure what they do with them after they slice them off?  I am sure they get put to good use.
Speaking of the commissary- they do sell the local bread there as well- but with a big mark up.  I don't get that!

My lovely dishes!  I found these in the entrance to the grocery store (Maruetsu).  The plates were only 300 Yen each and the bowls I think were about 100 Yen each.  So cheap and so pretty!  I love the edamame bowls- so different than anything I would find stateside (at least without paying an arm and a leg.)  The plates are smaller than what we are used to- but I kind of think that is better.  Maybe I will eat less? ha ha  Anyhoo- I plan on buying more to add to my collection.  I am going to need a pretty china buffet now...

 Did I mention how carefully the cashier wrapped my dishes?  She actually put up a sign to say her lane was closed while she diligently wrapped each piece in paper.  When she was done she took down the sign.  I just love that!!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Some more Japanese faves...

I don't have to leave to pick up my English student for another hour so I thought I would talk a little more about my favorite Japanese things.

Bento lunches! One of the pictures is upside down- I didn't realize the bento was upside down when I took the picture. But you can see the price in the lower right corner- 398Yen. That is roughly $4. Talk about cheap and yummy! I admit- I did not eat all of the seaweed looking stuff- but I ate just about everything else. It had a fried fish fillet, salted salmon, some sort of dumpling, a chicken nugget and tamago (egg omelet I mentioned before.) They have the best chicken nuggets here. I am not a big nugget fan- but I love them here. Of course I had to top off my lunch with a Caffe Latte from Mt Rainier. I am not sure if the coffee is really from Washington state- but who cares- it is good!  I bought this particular bento at the grocery store- but they can be found everywhere.  7-Eleven carries them and will make them to order.  Did I mention that there are 7-Elevens and AM/PMs on every corner?  That is not an exaggeration either!

Festivals, street fairs- whatever you want to call them.  They seem to spring up spontaneously- but I am sure there is much planning involved.  This particular one was last fall in Yamato (I may have posted pictures of this before?)  We had no idea it was there- we just happened to come across it stepping out of the train station.  What a nice little detour.  We found all kinds of food, drinks (beer) and dessert.  Sister enjoyed her chocolate covered banana on a stick.  It was good- but I am used to the banana being frozen- so I was surprised when it wasn't.  The last picture is a Japanese tea ceremony.

I am sure I will have more festival pictures to share in the future.  There will be a big cherry blossom festival next month I believe.  I can't wait!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

March already?

I just had a mini heart attack- I thought I missed my blog-anniversary!  So I had to go back and check- its not until April 1st.  Of course there will be much celebration on that day as I will have kept up with something for a whole year!  That's not to say I have been a perfect little blogger- but "I'm gettin' there".  (I always think of that one scene in Dazed and Confused when I hear that term "gettin' there".)  I know- I totally sucked last month.  It was just a bad month for me.  The big factor that made me down in the dumps was the damned cold weather.  I just can't move when it is cold out.  I probably have Seasonal Affective(ed?) Disorder (almost typed discorder-maybe I have that too.)  I should buy one of those fancy lightbulbs that give the good sun rays I miss when it is cloudy out.  Of course the fact that I am sharing a car with Hubby doesn't help.  I just don't want to get out and walk when it is cold out!

I had a health scare this last week.  I went to see the doc today- he says I am ok- big relief.  I won't go into detail but I was freaking out thinking I might have cancer or something terrible like that.  I know or know of too many people that are in my age range that are battling cancer- and some who didn't make it.  Talk about putting a little perspective in my life.  I have a new neighbor- she just went through a big ordeal where they took out a bunch of tumors that turned out to be benign.  But at first they told her they were cancerous and she really had a big scare.  I can only imagine. 
Sooo- I have come to the conclusion that I have not been taking good care of myself.  This was the big boost I needed to motivate myself to eat better and exercise.  Motivation is awesome and so hard to come by for me.  I have sworn off sweets until June.  So far so good!  I'll let you know when I make it to June! 

What else?  Well I have been trying to catch up on all the blogs I follow- no easy task I tell you!  But reading "my" blogs makes me happy!  So I think I will keep it up.  I have been finding more and more military spouse blogs.  I love that we have this "sisterhood" that I am a part of.  I saw some of them mentioned in Military Spouse Magazine today as well.  That is awesome.

Oh- sign-ups have started for youth baseball and softball.  We are excited to watch the kids play.  Hopefully Hubby will get to see some games this year- last year he missed them all. :(

I know "March Madness" has to do with basketball- but for me it is the crazy lusting for warm spring weather that drives me wild!

From my yard last year in Washington I miss my tulips...

Ok ok, I confess.  Facebook took over my life.  I have quit cold turkey- no more games.  Really- what did they do for me but suck my life awayNow I have more time to blog!

I must sign off here- Sister is making hamburger helper for dinner.  I know- that is not the ultimate healthy meal- but it was her request...  (we'll add a big salad.)


Monday, March 1, 2010

A few of my favorite Japanese things...

The more I explore and the more I discover here in Japan- the more I realize how much I will miss it all.  I still have another 2 years, but already I am thinking how much I will miss all this.

I love my PASMO card.  It is my ticket for riding on the trains, subway and buses.  And- they can be used to buy stuff at the vending machines.  The kids think it is awesome they can flash their card in front of the machines and pick out what they want.  The best thing about the Pasmo card is that I don't have to worry about buying the correct fare.  The charts can be very confusing and not always in English.  I don't even take it out of my wallet, I just flash my wallet over the machine at the gates and it beeps me through.  Ok- I know that this is not really a big "miss" item- as I most likely will go back to commuting only by car when we get back stateside.  I still think my PASMO card is cool.

Sushi-go-rounds.  They are the bomb!  And they don't just have sushi.  They will have salads, vegetables, juices for the kids, and desserts!  If you don't see what you want- they will make it for you right then and there.  If you go during a slow time of the day there will not be much on the conveyer belt as they don't want to waste food- so you'll get everything made for you as you order it.  My favorite is the salmon and young yellowtail.  The tuna and scallops are also very tasty.  They even have little egg omelets (tamago) that are served on a little lump of rice that I find quite tasty.  They are kind of sweet and almost taste like a custard.  I do not care for the "fishier" kind of fish like smelt and some other ones I don't remember the name of.  At first I tried it all.  Now I am a little more picky and can tell usually what to stay away from.  The baby octopus is "interesting"- I would probably enjoy it more if it wasn't so dang chewy.  I also didn't care for the pickled eggplant.  But I do love fresh Japanese eggplant- it is most tasty when fried up tempura style.  Did I mention dessert?  They have the cutest little custard dishes with all kind of nummy fillings.  My favorite is a coffee flavored custard with a dallop of cream on top.  When you're all done you flag down a waiter or push the button at your table.  All the plates are color coded- the waiter or waitress will count the plates and enter it all on their little hand held order pad machine.  They hand you a ticket and you go to the counter to pay.
Oh- when you enter the restaurant the sushi chefs and the wait staff will often greet you enthusiastically in Japanese.  When you leave they will do they same- except say goodbye and thank you.  It's an awesome experience. 

Grocery Stores!  I highly recommend anyone visting Japan to take a little time to stroll through a grocery store.  First of all- they are usually in a multiple floor building where you will find assorted stores and shops.  My favorite store Maruetsu has a sushi-go-round upstairs- perfect for a nice cheap lunch.  A lot of times you'll find dry cleaners, bakeries, clothing stores, drug stores and all sorts of other things all in one building.  It is like the Japanese version of a Super-Walmart- except they are actually separate store/shops- so there isn't one big cashier line.  In Maruetsu they have beautiful- I mean beautiful produce.  When I finally get my DSLR I am headed there to take some photos.  The meat and fish are beautiful too.  I have never seen such fresh salmon- it is practically still moving.  If you want a cheap lunch you can't beat the bento boxes.  They have all kind of stuff from the traditional salted salmon to fried chicken and tempura.  Honestly- Japan isn't all that expensive if you get out of the touristy areas and shop with the general population. 
(From the Maruetsu website- I believe these are sweets made from mochi- a kind of sweetened rice that is pounded down into a kind of paste and then shaped into assorted shapes.  I think it is definitely an "acquired" taste- very different than what we are used to.)

 These are just a few of my favorites- stay tuned as I discover more things I love about Japan!