Thursday, June 25, 2009

Win Some Japanese Kit Kats, Egg Molds & Other Goodies

Want some free stuff? I have too many Kit Kats, cans of Pringles, Japanese egg molds and other goodies that are taking up too much space in one of my cabinets and two drawers!

On May 15th Pass the Chopsticks turned one year old, and to celebrate I'm holding a contest.

In April I posted about a contest to help me clear out the cabinet above the microwave. It was called the Contest Idea Contest, and the winner's (Kelsey from Canada) idea was to write a Haiku about Kit Kats. A Haiku is a Japanese style poem and I explain it below.

Submit your Haiku (by leaving a comment in this post) within the next 15 days.

Contest begins as soon as this is posted and closes two weeks from today - that'll be July 10th at 10 am JST, July 9th at 9 pm EST.

Winner will be announced the evening of July 11th (JST), so those you in the U.S. will see it the morning of the 11th. Be sure to check back for updates and the winning Haiku!

The definition for Haiku for this contest is as follows:
An original poem of 17 syllables in 3 lines written in the format of
-line 1 in 5 syllables,
-line 2 in 7 syllables, and
-line 3 in 5 syllables

-Keep it clean/family friendly language

-Entrants can be world wide
-No limit on entries

*As an added bonus, I'm going to have a drawing on July 11th. The names in the pot will be my followers. Right now there are 95, so become a follower and you'll automatically be entered! You'll see the Followers gadget in the side bar on the right side of the page and can add yourself there.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Pepsi Shiso - It's Green and it's Good!

Pepsi Japan has done it again! Last summer I found Blue Hawaii Pepsi, in the winter it was Pepsi White (yogurt flavor), and this morning Shiso Pepsi hit the shelves here in Japan. I'll include pictures of the other Pepsi flavors I've found. You'll notice in the picture the Green Tea Coca Cola is on the second shelf. I liked that a lot, but I think Pepsi Shiso is better...maybe because it's just so different.

Shiso is an herb, usually used with sushi or in bento boxes. Some people I've talked to said it's a bitter herb, and others said it's a little like basil. I wasn't sure what to expect, so when I took my first sip before driving off! The girls and I were done with exercise class, got it in the car and hoped our first stop would have it!

I describe the taste in the video below, but it was a little sweet, kind of like basil, cilantro and oregano in one. It also tasted like fireballs, the candy from years ago that I remember loving. The Pepsi Shiso didn't have a cinnamon taste, but when I had the second sip, the fireball candy came to mind.

If you subscribe to my blog via email you'll need to click here to watch the video.

More about Pepsi White here, and Blue Hawaii Pepsi here.

Garlic Bread with a Japanese Twist...Maple Syrup

My friend Lisa took Sydney and I to an Italian restaurant in Yokosuka at the end of April. It's on the top floor (9th?) of More's City Mall which is down Blue Street and walking distance from the base. We walked around a little bit working up an appetite, and of course saw some funny Engrish shirts. It was shortly before Mother's Day, so we saw some Mother's Day soap that read, "Thanks Mam!"

Once we got to the restaurant I opened the menu and saw garlic bread. Okay, no biggy, it's an Italian restaurant so seeing it on the menu is a given. Well there's a twist. This garlic bread comes with maple syrup. No kidding, maple syrup. This is why Lisa took us here! I'm game for trying just about anything - especially here. We live in Japan, LIVE here. Most people don't get the opportunity to visit here, nevermind call it home for a couple of years, so why not try it, right?! So we ordered it, how could we not?

It was great and I'll be ordering it again next time I'm there. I'll also be making it at home and putting some syrup in a ramekin. Bob, hope you have an open mind!

This restaurant reminded me of "Cheers." Every time someone walked in the staff would yell "Irrashaimase!" That means welcome. But it was just like "Cheers" when Norm would walk in and be greeted with "Noooooorm!" I took a short video talking about the garlic bread and while watching you can't miss the "Irrashaimase!"

If you subscribe to my blog via email you'll need to click here to watch the video, and if you're reading this on my blog's website, it's below the four pictures.

Sports Drink Kit Kats

The newest flavor came out yesterday, Sports Drink. I haven't tried it yet, but will since it's white chocolate. When I saw this my first thought was that it was something like Gatorade mixed with chocolate.

Almost makes me want to run a marathon and hydrate with these instead of a marathon that is!

Monday, June 22, 2009

More Fun with Japanese Egg Molds

And what shape is it this time? Today I found a Hello Kitty egg mold (thanks Jessie!) and literally squeeled with excitement! I posted about using Japanese egg molds last month; if you want to see it, along with pictures, click here.

Hard boil the egg the way you normally would. I put it on the stove and when the water starts to boil I pull them off the heat and let them sit for 11 minutes. After that I put it in a bowl of cold water to help the peeling process.

The egg has to go into the egg mold while warm, and then into cold water once in the mold. So I peeled the egg, put it in warm water, into the mold, into a bowl of ice water, and about 20 minutes later I pulled it out and hoped for the best. She came out all right; next time I'll use a smaller egg. But so many details...she's even got whiskers!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Bob, To the World You Are a Father, To Us You Are the World

Happy Father's Day to all you dads out there! And to those of you with dads or husbands deployed this Father's Day, I'm thinking of you! Bob's out to sea yet again on Father's Day...this is the fourth year in a row. We wanted to try to make it special for him though, so we each colored a sign, and the girls were so excited to be in a picture just for him. You know, anyone an be a father, but it takes a really special guy to be a daddy. Every night Keanna and Sydney ask to kiss Daddy's picture, and over the last few weeks Keanna and Sydney have each started sleeping with a picture of him. It's so sweet to see when I check on them before I go to bed.

A driving force behind the establishment of the integration of Father's Day was Mrs. Sonora Smart Dodd, born in Creston, Washington. Her father, the Civil War veteran William Jackson Smart, as a single parent reared his six children in Spokane, Washington. She was inspired by Anna Jarvis's efforts to establish Mother's Day. Although she initially suggested June 5, the
anniversary of her father's death, she did not provide the organizers with enough time to make arrangements, and the celebration was deferred to the third Sunday of June. The first June Father's Day was celebrated on June 19, 1910, in Spokane, WA, at the Spokane YMCA.

Unofficial support from such figures as William Jennings Bryan was immediate and widespread. President Woodrow Wilson was personally feted by his family in 1916. President Calvin Coolidge recommended it as a national holiday in 1924. In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson made Father's Day a holiday to be celebrated on the third Sunday of June. The holiday was not officially recognized until 1972, during the presidency of Richard Nixon.

Everything Dad By Joanna Fuchs

A little girl needs her daddy / To love her with manly charm, / To soothe her when she’s hurt, / And keep her safe from harm.

A girl needs her dad / To show her a man who’s good, o help her make right choices, / As only a father could.

A woman needs her father / Just to be aware, / He’ll always be there for her / To sustain her and to care.

You’ve been all these things, Dad. / I hope that you can see / How much I treasure you; / You mean everything to me.

To Jack, Bob's father, and the best father-in-law a girl could ask for, hope you have a happy Father's Day tomorrow!

And last, but most certainly not least, I want to wish my father, Ron, a happy Father's Day!!!

Last year the girls and I took the same picture, so here's a side-by-side comparison. I'm kneeling this year, just like last year, and it's amazing to see how much they've grown and changed! Apparently they're not the only ones that have changed. My glasses have along with my hair getting longer; the table behind us is now on the other side of the room, we have window different treatments and I got the tonsu which now holds our collection of kokeshi dolls, some pictures and an obi as a runner.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Brain Food, Mr. Brain Food

Seriously, Mr. Brain food. It's a roll with caramel and whipped cream inside, and for ¥128 (about $1.50 with the yen rate) I had to buy and try it today. Oishi desu! It's delicious! It had the texture of a jelly donut from the outside and the bread was good and soft. The caramel wasn't liquidy (is that even a word?!) at all, but wasn't too hard either...kind of like the cream in a Bavarian Cream donut. I had one bite with the filling and gave the rest to the girls. They both approve and have already asked for more next time we're out!

The company's website is on the back of the package, and if you want to take a look at it click here. I found Mr. Brain's website and tried translating it into English, but nothing did. You can take your mouse and put it on on the blue rectangles on the bottom half of the page, and you'll see small pop-ups in English.

But get this, "Mr. Brain" is a TV show! It's a brand new Japanese drama. I found their website through the bread's website, and if you click here you'll be taken there. Here's a very short article about the bread being tied to the show and the health benefits of it. Very interesting and explains the tie-in to the show!

It's called 脳トレパン meaning train your brain bread. It's got DHA in that means I can eat this and it's good for me, right?!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Kit Kat Ramune (Soda)

Kit Kat Japan came out with yet another new flavor on Monday, Ramune. Speaking of which, I haven't updated my list since October...and I need to because I've got about 20 to add...including baked potato and grilled corn on the cob!

Ramune is "soda" in Japanese. I wasn't sure what to expect with this, but when I saw they were white chocolate I was excited to try them! They're light blue and smelled and tasted like the squid ink soda I tried last bubble gum. I liked them...a lot! Keanna thought they tasted a little like strawberry and Sydney said they tasted like lemon/lime.

The one thing ramune is known for is the design of the bottle. You don't just twist the cap to open it, you've got to push a marble down into the bottle! Back in November I took a video of my friend opening a bottle, and if you want to see it, click here.

On a side note, Bob's not overly thrilled with the fact that I collect these and don't eat them....I don't care for chocolate, so usually I smell them and let the girls have a stick each. The rest get thrown into a kitchen cabinet. When I got home from spin class yesterday I immediately took a picture with the little camera built in to my laptop and emailed it to him. I couldn't resist!

USS Los Angeles Visits Yokosuka

Bob was the Weapons Officer on the USS Los Angeles (SSN 688) from June 2006 to January 2008. He was out to sea almost 10 months during the 2007 calendar year, and when they got back from WestPac (western Pacific deployment) in November 2007 his detailer called (the guy that assigns jobs) and said, "You're being split toured to Yokosuka and will go to this certain job at this certain command on this certain ship." A month later we packed out our house in Hawaii, Bob had to go to some schools in San Diego and shortly after we arrived here and started to get acquainted with the Surface Navy. Wow, completely different!

Anyway, the USS Los Angeles pulled in here last week on a port call, and Bob was disappointed about missing them. He told me a few of the guys would call, and when they did I would need to tell them I've got meat, beer and internet. Sure enough the phone rang, an email showed up and messages on Facebook arrived too. Three of the guys from the wardroom came over and hung out for about five hours. They grilled, I made sides and a salad, they relaxed, slept on the couch, used my computer, watched TV, called home and got a break from the boat for a little while.

When we went on base to pick them up I tried explaining to the girls who they were, how dad worked with them on the submarine and that they have met these guys before. Heck, they remembered the wife of one of them....Sarah, big shout out to you!

Keanna and Sydney loved the extra attention and Bob was able to call and talk to them for a while...he enjoyed it, and I know he really missed being able to see the guys.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Green Tea Coca Cola Makes its Debut in Japan

And I found it today! I've been looking since Monday, and after my stroller workout class I headed straight to 7-11 in search of Green Tea Coca Cola. After hearing Jimmy Fallon talk about it last night on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" I was even more determined to find it! Coca Cola Japan has a website dedicated to Green Tea Coke, and you can click here to take a look at it.

We live about an hour south of Tokyo and usually when new flavors of something comes out it takes a couple of days to make its way down here.
Julie was with me and snapped a picture with her cell phone in the store, and I took the other picture on my kitchen counter. And just yesterday I mentioned always having a camera with me. Go figure, I forgot it this morning!

You probably want to know what it takes like. It's diet, says "No Calorie" in English right in the front. Everything on the back is in Japanese. I smell a little bit of something extra, but can't tell that it's green tea. It tastes like Diet Coke but does have a little bit of a green tea after taste.

I bought three bottles and will get a few more. Bob's out to sea, so in case it's not being sold when he comes home he'll have a chance to try it. Later this month Pepsi is coming out with Pepsi Shiso! I'll be buying a few of those too!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

What's the Name of that Car?

I'm not making this up, I was next to a Daihatsu Naked while driving off the base today. This is a perfect example of why I keep a camera on me at all times! Click on the picture to enlarge it and you'll see for yourself!

Below is a 15 second Japanese commercial for the car. If you subcribe to my blog via email you'll need to click here to see the video.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

LTJG & Mrs...

Today, June 9th, is our 8th wedding anniversary!

Bob and I met in our high school cafeteria one early morning in November of 1994. I was a 15-year old sophomore, and he a 17-year old senior. He was selling candy bars for a National Honors Society fund-raiser and asked me if I wanted to buy one. I am picky when it comes to chocolate, so I kindly passed up his offer and he was on his way. The next morning I was sitting at the same table with the same people, and one of them told me that the person here the day before wanted to talk to me and get my phone number. I had no idea who it was, but was curious to find out. A few minutes later he sat down next to me and we started talking.

That weekend we went out on our first date to a movie. It was November 12th and we saw “The Santa Clause.” My mom was working that night, so my Bob came in my house and met my dad and two sisters. He was very nervous and chewing his gum very quickly! He always chewed strawberry Trident.

The next week at school we walked to class together and talked on the phone too. On November 19th we went out with some friends and ended up at his parents' house; I met his brother, Chris, that night too. We were in the car on the Berlin Turnpike in front of Lechemere’s and I remember he asked if I wanted to be his girlfriend. I of course said yes, and we’ve been together ever since. That was the night we had our first kiss the driveway at my parents' house...after the date of course!

On June 27, 1995 he left for the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland and in August of 1997 I started college at Eastern Connecticut State University. We had a long distance relationship while he was at USNA and until the day we were married.

On May 13, 1999 Bob surprised me in my apartment at college and proposed. He told me he was going apartment hunting in Charleston, but drove up to CT instead. He knocked on the door, got down on his knee, had a dozen roses in one hand and a beautiful diamond ring in the other.

In June of 1999 he moved to Charleston, S.C. then to Ballston Spa, N.Y., Groton, CT and finally to Kings Bay in November of 2000. During that time I finished high school and college and we finally got married on June 9, 2001 at Sacred Heart Church in East Berlin, Connecticut. Three days after the wedding we packed up my blue 1996 Ford Taurus and drove down to St. Marys, Georgia where we started our new life together.

It's been eight years since we got married, almost 15 since we've met and now we've got two daughters, Keanna's 5 and Sydney is 3. We've made five moves from Connecticut to Kings Bay, GA, to Hawaii, back to Connecticut, back to Hawaii and now we're in Japan. Hard to believe I've spent just about half my life with him...but it's been a great ride!

Thanks to Uncle Bruce for pictures 2, 3 & 5!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Quench Your Thirst with Squid Ink Soda

That's right, squid ink soda. Last week Julie found this at a store in Kawasaki. She came over for dinner and we tried it together!

I thought it smelled and tasted just like
Bazooka Gum...remember the gum that came with the comic strip inside? It may have smelled and tasted like that, but it looked like dirty water.

Julie said this is called Ikasu Ramune and is made in Hokkaido, Japan's northern most island. Be sure to click on the picture to enlarge it...I love the label!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Suica & the Narita Express Train Fare Discount

Here's a great tip that we can thank Bob for discovering in March when coming back from a work trip to South Korea. When he landed at Narita Airport in Tokyo (NRT) he had a few hours to wait until the Narita Shuttle (a shuttle bus to/from the airport to the Yokosuka Naval Base) was scheduled to leave. He decided to take the train instead of waiting, and when he got to the station (in the basement of the airport) he saw a sign advertising a special for foreigners to Japan.

This is a big FYI for anyone stationed at Yokosuka, Atsugi, Zama, etc. We can use it since we hold our U.S. passports, and so can anyone visiting us from home. We can sign up our family members for the Narita Shuttle at PSD, but since it's space available and they're at the lowest priority, having a back-up plan for transportation is a must.

It's called the Suica & N'EX package, and for ¥3500 (about $35 depending on the yen rate) lets you save ¥1610 (about $16.10 depending on the yen rate). This is cheaper and will come in very handy if you plan on taking the trains in and around Tokyo.

It consists of:
-a one way trip from Narita Airport to Tokyo, Yokohama, Yokosuka, etc by Narita Express
-a Suica card worth ¥2000 (¥500 refundable deposit plus ¥1500 worth of train fares)

Suica is a prepaid card that we use instead of having to buy a ticket at every train station, and there are machines at every station where we can recharge the card when the balance gets low. Until this offer Narita Express ticket (N'EX) cost ¥3110 for a one-way trip from the airport to the Tokyo area. I've heard that the money on the card doesn't expire for 10 years, so you can keep your card and use it if you visit again, or give it to someone. I use my Suica card to pay at convenience stores and at vending machines too, so it comes in handy for more than just the train. The one I have is green and gray with the penguin on it, but I've since started using/recharging the one Bob got...the one I'm holding in the picture above. It's a special edition card and is much prettier than the one I had!

The Suica & NEX package is only available at Narita Airport and only for travelers who hold a non-Japanese passport; the Narita Express train leaves once per hour. All the info, including price charts, FAQs and more can be found at this website.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Squid Teether, Butter in a Tube & Aflac in Japan

Is your baby teething? Why not get a fish or squid teether for relief his/her relief? Julie brought me to Nishimatsuya last summer and every time I'm in the area I love going to this store. It's a discount children's clothing store; they also sell car seats, strollers, maternity clothes, etc, and isn't much larger than the CVS in my hometown of Kensington, Connecticut. Keanna and Sydney love coming here because they've got toys out for kids to play with. We went today, and while I looking for some baby gifts Julie spotted the fish, then I looked down and saw the squid.

Afterward we made a quick trip to Costco since it's very close by. I've been there so many times and every time we had fun and see new things. Today's new to me at least...butter in a tube. We were all looking for it, but when Julie told the girls to look for butter in a toothpaste tube their eyes lit up!

You know those funny (or depending on your sense of humor they can be dumb) commercials with the duck? Today I found this place and laughed almost as hard as I did Tuesday at the Wood & Pecker store. My father, Ron, loves the Aflac commercials and when I spotted this store I immediately thought of him. If you look on the right of the picture you'll even see a TV with the Japanese Aflac commercial showing on the TV.

If you subscribe to my blog via email you'll need to click here to view the Japanese Aflac commercial I found on Youtube.