A Pretty Good Food Adventure in Tokyo (a book review)

Okay, it’s no big secret that I am deeply in love with Japan. I love all things Japanese, and I have fond memories of the almost three years I spent living on the Southern Japanese Island of Okinawa. I frequently find myself gravitating to Japanese things. I love reading about Japan, following YouTubers in Japan, watching Movies about Japan, and I even have taken numerous Japanese language and history courses since returning to the United States. For Christmas I got an awesome Kindle, and with it comes one free month of Kindle Unlimited. Looking under the Travel section of the books available for free reading I found a book called “Pretty Good Number One- An American Family Eats Tokyo

Book Cover

My favorite things- Japan and Japanese food. Matthew Amster-Burton writes in a way that you can see yourself walking down the streets of Tokyo, you can smell the Yakitori, You can almost feel the sweltering July heat. Maybe it’s partly because I am familiar with Japan, and I have seen streets as the ones he is describing, and I have smelled the smells, and tasted many of the flavors. The writing really comes to life, it felt as if he were writing from my own memories of Japan.

Matthew takes his family on a one month adventure to Tokyo and eats his way around the city, writing all of their adventures and misadventures. With his daughter Iris and his wife Laurie they try new foods, and experience old favorites in their country of origin. If you are familiar with Japan you will recognize many types of foods, and places they eat. Including Mister Donut, where you would find both sweet and savory donuts. Numerous times foods were described that I had never heard of before, but he does such an excellent job with his descriptions that once I got around to googling the foods he was describing the photos that came up matched what was in my mind.

To say the book made me homesick for Japan would be an understatement. Countless times as I was reading this book I would laugh out loud, or chuckle and read passages to my husband who also agreed that the descriptors of certain places and scenarios are spot on. Specifically certain foods and grocery stores. In one section Matthew talks about the music in the Japanese grocery store, in fact most stores have similarly catchy melodies, that just become a part of the fun shopping experience, even though they play the same 10 second tune over and over again.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in Japanese food or Japan. The book will bring out the adventure foodie in you and make you wish to hop a plane to Japan for some fresh tempura and udon.

this post is totally my own and I have not been compensated in any way for this review. I read this book because I found it on Kindle and it looked like a good read, oh how right I was.
You can find more information on the book, including where to purchase, here: Pretty Good Number One

Baby Number two 20 week Update

 

So here we are, half way through. We waited a lot longer this time around to make any announcements. It was hard at first, but once we were okay with the idea of announcing the pregnancy it didn’t seem like such a big deal. Not that the pregnancy wasn’t a big deal but, we were okay with not telling people, our families knew, and they had since we found out, but we didn’t need to tell anyone else. On Christmas we decided to make it facebook official. Things have been trucking along since then. I’m looking more and more pregnant each week. Evey loves to “see the baby” although I am not entirely sure she really understands what is going on. My neighbor had a baby last year and I have tried telling Evey she is going to get a baby like the girls next door. I can’t really think of another way to relate it to her.

I’ve not been sick in a while. I was having terrible headaches, everyday, and they were making me miserable. But I have started running a humidifier almost 100% of the time and I think that’s helping, I have had two headaches in about a week an a half, which is way better than my non stop headache for a month. I think that with winter, and running the heater on and off I have dried out the air in the house so much it was making my head hurt.

I’m not having uncontrollable cravings, but I wouldn’t mind eating appetizer food all day every day. Every time I go to the commissary, I have to restrain myself from buying the mega size box of mozzarella sticks in the freezer section. I have given in and bought a couple of small boxes though. I could eat my weight in Jalapeno poppers, french fries with cheese on top, potato skins, any kind of dip, especially cheese dip, nachos, fried pickles, and well just about anything fried, bonus points if it has cheese in or on it.

I have been very emotional too, I get sad a lot. Because of this I am trying to avoid facebook. Every sad story about some animal or child or anyone dying, brings me to the verge of tears. When I was having the headaches I was getting really angry too, I don’t know if I was angry because I had another headache or if my hormones were making me angry, but I was not a fun person for a couple of weeks.

I have only gained about 6 or 7 pounds, which is good for 20 weeks I suppose. But I am really struggling with my body image. I don’t know that I had this hard of a time with Evey’s pregnancy, but I can’t help but think I just look really gross.

We have the gender ultrasound next week. I am predicting a boy, just because I feel so different. We’ll see.

Migraine

Renji Roo the Boston Terrier
Renji has no context to the post, but I hate making posts without photos.

I don’t get migraines often, in fact I’ve only had 3 or 4 in my entire life. But when I hear people talk about doing things, like grocery shopping, or driving somewhere with a migraine, I don’t understand.

Every migraine I have ever had has landed me in the Emergency Room.

Only twice in my life have I been in so much pain my body’s reaction was to start dry heaving. Once was during Evey’s childbirth. Easily the most pain I had ever experienced in my life.  The second time was Tuesday night. I can’t even begin to explain how much it hurt. 3 am, on the bathroom floor, sobbing and heaving. My husband woke up and insisted I go to the hospital. I felt guilty for making him drive me there, and he had to wake up Evey. They sat in the waiting room for almost 3 hours while I got pumped full of meds.

I am extremely thankful for modern medicine. I tend to think I have a pretty high pain tolerance. But this pain was like nothing I have ever felt before. The nurse asked me at the hospital if I had driven myself there, I think she was hoping my answer was no because I couldn’t take my eyes out of my cold damp rag I was clutching to my face. To her relief I had not. I can’t imagine how people can do anything with a migraine. I sat in that hospital bed, curled in a ball, trying to not heave, or cry.

As soon as the meds kicked in and things subsided I was allowed to go home. At this point it was nearly 6 am and Paul had to go to work, Evey was wide awake, and I was groggy as hell. I locked her in the bedroom with me and gave her the iPad and I was out. I was only able to get a couple hours of sleep but when I woke up I felt so much better. I could still feel the headache though, but it didn’t hurt. It’s hard to explain but if you’ve ever worn your hair in a really tight ponytail, and when you take it out your scalp feels really weird for a minute. The release of tension almost hurts but it’s a good hurt. That’s how the inside of my head felt most of the day. So I spent the day cramming for my Anthropology final, and then doing my final online. But most of the day is a hazy blur, a migraine hangover is a weird thing.

It’s been about 48 hours since the onset of migraine, and I can still feel it a little bit, just a strange uncomfortable feeling in my head. I have been trying to avoid triggers; eyestrain, strong scents, bright lights. So I haven’t been on the computer much. I spend the afternoon trying to make salt dough ornaments with Evey and doing laundry. I will likely avoid the computer as much as I can tomorrow too, I think it’s a huge issue for the headaches I’ve been having building up to the migraine. I think I need to find my glasses and try wearing them again. But for now I am just hoping the meds they gave me ward off any residual migraine and I am able to continue to function.

Although my migraine is not chronic, the explanation Jane over at It’s not Me It’s You gives about migraines is really good, you can read it here: Chronic Intractable Migraine: It’s NOT a Headache, It’s a Medical Condition. And it’s sort of funny she posted this the same day my brain tried to explode inside my skull.

 

More random thoughts from a college student

I have gone MIA again, but for good reason. Finals.

study times

I am very excited about the progress I have been making in school the last few semesters.

Admittedly this semester I over did it, and I haven’t done as well as I usually do.

Next week I have finals, and I just finished my 15 page paper for my Japanese history class.

I am not looking forward to next semester. It’s all hard stuff.

After this semester I’ll only have 1o classes to my bachelors.

Also I will hopefully have my Assistant Teacher certificate in Early Childhood Development, I am still wait-listed on one of the classes I need.

I am kind of burned out and looking forward to some time off for winter break.

I am actually very burned out, but if they were offering a class I needed over winter break I would probably take it, because I am a glutton for punishment. And I really want to finish.

I may still pick up an extra class for Spring, but just because I hate myself. And I really want to finish.

Wish me luck, After Wednesday I am done with this Semester!

December has begun

We’ll it’s December.

This year seems to have flown by.

I don’t remember if I made “goals” for 2015, I’ll have to run back and check.

With school winding down I want to take some time this winter break and do some things for myself.

I want to drag my camera out and take more pictures of my family. I don’t remember the last time I used my Nikon for something other than food.

I want to get outside and have fun. I have been cooped up in the house all semester and I only leave to go to school and grocery shop.

I would love to find time to do some more geocaching. We had so much fun with it over the summer, and I don’t know when we will have time again after school starts in January.

I need to purge the house. Spring cleaning if you will. I want to get rid of so much stuff, maybe I’ll have a yard sale, or maybe I’ll just take it all to the thrift store. But I need to get rid of stuff.

I need to really clean too. Like down on my hands and knees, scrub the floor, clean. I haven’t done that but once since we moved in here… it was a long time ago.

I want to take Evey to the beach more. We live less than a mile from the beach and I’ve only been maybe a dozen times. Need to fix that.

I also mentioned on facebook that I would really like to sit down and fix broken links and poor quality pictures here on the blog. Some things got messed up when I moved here and I would like to fix what I can.

These are my December plans, now watch as I fail miserably at them.

NaBloPoMo

If you didn’t know November is National Blog Posting Month. This is something I have tried to participate in a few times, posting goals of posting every day or something impossible, and I have never succeeded for one reason or another. November seems to be a busy month in my personal life. Holidays, Anniversaries, we are frequently traveling and once or twice we were moving.

I have also noticed I often make lofty goals and share them with the world, and then fail miserably. These goals get stuffed back into the closet never to be spoke of again.

So this year I made my NaBloPoMo goal of posting more this month, sort of my re-introduction back into blogging after my “school is overwhelming” hiatus.  But I didn’t tell anyone. For two reasons, one my goal was just for me, two if I failed I didn’t have to be sad. My goal was also very light, post two times a week. Although I haven’t quite kept up with the twice a week posting, I have posted once a week. So I consider that a success!

Did anyone else have writing goals this moth? Did you achieve them?

A story of True Love

This week is Paul and my 9th wedding anniversary. On the same date will be my parents 38th anniversary, and my grandparents 62nd anniversary. Getting married on a certain date is a bit of a family tradition. With all the love in the air, I thought I would write a cute little story about how two cute kids met. I think my parents have one of the most romantic “how we met” stories that I have ever heard of.

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A long time ago, in the middle of the 70’s two young ladies, Linda (my mom) and RoseMarie, decided to go to a concert. They got their tickets to see Electric Light Orchestra and Journey playing at the local concert hall. I can only imagine how excited they were, I mean they were going to see Journey! Actually I do believe they were going to see ELO, but still… JOURNEY! I bet as they were getting ready for the concert that night they took their time getting ready, braiding their hair, picking out the perfect outfit.

On the other side of town there were two guys Scott (my dad) and Mario, they were very excited to see Journey. They didn’t spend nearly as much time primping as the ladies, but they still put some thought into making their hair look good, and picking out the perfect big chunky boots to go with their wide collar shirts that were so fashionable in the mid 70’s. Also making sure to smuggle a bottle of rum in those big clunky boots.

me on guitar

The guys arrived at the concert and decided to try to score seats up front, but the concert was nearly sold out so they ended up in their assigned seats several rows back. Lucky for me those seats happened to be next to two beautiful ladies. During the show the guys chatted up the ladies a bit, but most of the time was spent consuming their smuggled alcohol and smoking… other things. At one point one of the ladies, Linda had to get up to use the ladies room, and upon returning her clunky 70’s style shoes tripped over Scott’s big boots, and she fell into his lap.  She claims it was the shoes, he says it was lust. But whatever it was, something sparked.

That night the guys walked the ladies to their car and they went out afterwards for a coke. They talked and learned my Scott was a student and Mario worked at a gas station. That night they learned a bit about each other but didn’t exchange numbers, the girls had to  hunt down my Mario at his work to score another night out with them. RoseMarie wasn’t really interested in my Mario, but she played a wonderful wing-man that night because Linda was able to give Scott her phone number.

I guess you could say the rest is history. They ended up getting together a few times and now here we are.

the dress

 

I asked my parents for their version of how they met, and my mom had each of them write their own version. It’s hilarious guys. My dad was such a rebel and my mom was such a good girl. You can see it in the writing.  If you are interested in reading their version you can find it here in the link below, I added it because I just can’t keep it to myself.

How They Met Google Docs

Wanderlust Wednesday

 Go find Mr. & Mrs. O for more Wanderlust fun!
If you’re going to be cold in the winter, Wyoming is the place to do it.

The first 2 years we were on Recruiting Duty in Montana, we had the Marine Corps Birthday Ball in Jackson Hole Wyoming. It snowed every year, but it was so beautiful.

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I think this is the Grand Tetons covered in snow

 

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The resort we stayed at every year was beyond spectacular.

 

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viewing the Grand Tetons from the East

 

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snowy drive

 

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light snow

 

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valley

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Although I am not a huge fan of the Great White North, I wouldn’t object to a short visit, if it involved a nice resort with spectacular views, room service, a fireplace and a big bath tub.

 

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Wanderlust Wednesday

Can we talk about food today? I miss the food in Japan.

Yakiniku meat
Yakiniku meat

 

Yakiniku Grill
Yakiniku Grill & a delicious beer

 

Sushi Zen
Sushi roll from Sushi Zen

 

King Taco!
King Taco! Best Taco Rice on the island

 

Sushi lunch set
Sashimi lunch set

 

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Unagi Lunch Set

 

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CoCo Ichibanya curry!

 

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Ramen and Gyoza

 

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Beer vending machine. Best idea ever

 

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Garlic fried rice

 

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Sunabe Gyro

Le Sigh* I really miss the diverse food in Okinawa. It’s weird, I am in North San Diego, you’d think I could find all kinds of foods to suit my every craving whim. But there is so much that I cannot find. Maybe a huge part of it is my love for Japan, and how I long to return.

Paul and I were talking the other night and one of the things I miss the most is izakaya food. They are these little bar/restaurants that have basically an extensive a la carte menu. You can get some meal sets, but most of the food is single serving. You can spend about $3 and try some squid, if you don’t like it, it was only $3, if you love it, eat 6 more orders. We could easily go out and spend about $50, eat lots and lots, and throw back a few beers, leaving full and happy to walk home. I really really miss that. The one by our house was also very family friendly. People were in there with kids all the time. Everyone was very social, it was a very open area, with a bar area and a large tatami mat area with lots of tables in a big open floor area. You’d sometimes find a group of kids playing in one corner quietly while their parents sat with their friends enjoying a beer and some sashimi. It was quite a bit of fun for everyone.