Friday, 20 January 2017

In The Book Bag - Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

My best mate Di bought the box set of Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children for me for Christmas and I demolished the first book in just over 2 days, taking time off from work really frees up reading time!

I didn't know much about the book before I got it, just that it revolved around some old photographs, the whole concept is amazing and I love the intrigue of it all.

The book, written by Ransom Riggs is about a boy, his relationship with his grandfather, time travel and some peculiar children. I have to admit I didn't know about the time travel element before I started reading and it might have put me off, not my usual cup of tea but as it turned out it was fascinating.

I found myself not wanting to cook dinner because I needed to know what happened next.

My box set came with a set of photos, apparently these are all real photos that the author found from collectors and from the pictures he wove the tale.

The book is fascinating, a little bit weird and little bit romantic and very addictive. The first couple of chapters I thought it was going to be psychologically deep and scary, not suitable for kids but as I read on it didn't go as I expected. I would have LOVED this book as a kid, maybe age 10 and up and I'm sure Ebi-kun will enjoy it too.

The film is out here but not anywhere near us so I doubt I'll get to see it on the big screen, which is a shame, I would have liked to have seen it. Hopefully Ebi-kun will have read it by the time it comes out on the small screen!

Do I recommend this? Absolutely!

I'll do an update when I get round to reading the other two books in the set, I haven't started them yet because I have a sneaky suspicion that I won't be able to put them down!

Monday, 16 January 2017

Bakery Socks

I am always on the look out for fun and interesting gifts so imagine my delight when I found Bakery Socks! Yes, they really are a thing!

The packaging is brilliant, a great way to catch your eye and a fab way to make boring old socks a more exciting gift option.

Just take a look at these taste treats...

Maybe baguette is more your style, I wonder if these are long socks?

Or would you rather have something sweet, a cinnamon roll perhaps...

No? Then why not walk around with eggy socks! I'm not sure what the design is like as a sock but I do love the clever packaging.

And of course, we couldn't have a Japanese packaging post without something really silly - surely this text would be better on a plate, doesn't work at all on a cup!

And this is why I still haven't left Japan, if they ever sort out the crazy English and stop the fun design, I am outta here.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Yuzawa Station - an interesting place

After we had finished skiing/boarding we had a couple of hours to kill at the station. Luckily Yuzawa station is a great little hub of activity.

The main part of the station has a great selection of souvenir stands from food to locally made goods, something for everyone. But the best part is right at the back and could easily be dismissed as just another shop.

It is a shop but you HAVE to go in, all around the store are samples to try, Ebi-kun trying to decide where to start with the pickles - you know what he is like, this is taste-testing heaven for him!

Then we found a corner that was all soy sauce, now I am far from a soy sauce connoisseur, all much of a muchness to me but Ebi-kun went and samples all 15 types, he recommends the ume infused soy sauce!

There is also a sake sampling area, you pay ¥500 and then get to sample the different types, we lost Daddy for a while so I suspect that's where he disappeared to, these statues just outside the sake section crack me up... I'm not sure it's a great sales tactic!

 thought these fish were real to begin with but on closer inspection they were just decoration, they were over the fermented god-only-knows-what section

And yes, of course Ebi-kun tried several of these too, it was no wonder he didn't eat all his bento on the train home!

Once you have filled your boots with samples, head even further back and you will find an interesting little shop, about 1/4 of it is taken up with this massive display of Japanese style ornaments which turns round, it is quite a display and there is a great assortment of ornaments displayed

This is the bottom, which if memory serves me right, gets changed with the seasons. Next to the shop is a little cafe and through that there is the sake onsen. The lads went to the onsen, I got myself a nice coffee and grabbed a comfy chair and my book. I'm not a big fan of public baths.

If you find yourself transferring at Yuzawa station, try and work it so you have a bit of time to look around the station, it is one of the more interesting ones!

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

New Year Skiing and Snowboarding

A few years ago we started a new tradition of going to the mountains for new years. We weren't able to book the hotel for New Years Eve so we headed up New Years day. Got the train to the slopes and went straight out on the snow.

Unfortunately, we didn't have the best weather. It reminded me a lot of skiing in Avimore, Scotland - nearly zero visibility in places! At least it didn't have the Scottish ice patches.

Hubby was a bit nervous at first since our last trip to the mountains ended up with him in cast, breaking his arm! But there is nothing like getting back on the horse as they say - most people thought I was insane going skiing again after my accident ( broke my tib and fib, was in cast for 6 months or more and on crutches for a year, fun times! They also had to re-break my leg and gave me no kind of pain killer when they did it, so I suppose technically I have broken my leg twice...)

Anyway, at least it wasn't too busy at Yuzawa Nakazato which is where we were for day one and day 3. I have given up trying to video Ebi-kun on the slopes, he goes to fast and I can't safely ski after him, keep up and film at the same time, I think we need to invest in a Go-Pro camera!

Day 2 the weather forecast for Nakazato wasn't good so we thought we would try out a different place. Nakazato is a family resort so there are fewer idiots on the slopes, you just have to keep an eye out for pint-sized maniacs.

I don't remember the name of the other place but it was young, hip, snowboarder dude, heaven. I don't have anything against snowboarders - since I live with two of them but... some of them as right fricken idiots and shouldn't be allowed out unsupervised.

And what is with sitting in the middle of the bloody slope? Like I said, idiots!

Totally different feel to the place, much busier, much faster paced and much 'cooler' than Nakazato. Maybe I would have different views if I were 20 years younger and hadn't had a bad accident under my belt!

This place did have a practice area for rails and jumps etc. The boys had a go, tried a few times and decided it was way to painful, so we hit the slopes again. I did struggle this day with the old break giving me gyp, I think because I was worrying about being hit, I was manifesting the pain. It was suddenly OK again the next day.

All in all it was a fun few days. The last day I have no photos, it was heavy snow and we were soaked by lunchtime. We needed to catch the train by 4pm so we all had to get completely changed before we could do so, normally we just travel back in our snow gear!

Already looking forward to the next trip...

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Happy New Year!

Here's hoping that 2017 is a fantastic year for all of us and let's face it, it won't be hard to beat the disaster of 2016 now will it?

I'm looking forward to it and have big plans, how about you?

The annual trip to the shrine to get the new years lucky arrow was very successful for me. We did the lucky dip fortune teller and I git the top one - hurrah! Now it has to be an amazing year :)

Monday, 26 December 2016

Celebrating The Emperors Birthday

Any excuse for a party if you ask me!

We had a few friends round for a Christmas party, these days it's quite a feat to get everyone together, now that the kids have so many different clubs and activities going on!

The best thing is we always end up with a great spread of food, the not so great thing is that the kids seem to inhale it!

I didn't have much time so Ebi-kun and I made melted snowmen cookies (well decorated store bought cookies!) and a Yule log, again store bought Swiss rolls and homemade butter cream frosting. Very quick and easy to rustle up!

All topped off with Jacks cocktails, which didn't seem that strong but in hindsight they were very well disguised!

It was a great day, fun way to bring the end of the year to a close!

Having a national holiday so close to Christmas is a great excuse for us to get together especially as Christmas isn't actually a holiday here- thankfully the 24th was a Saturday- so we had time to nurse our hangovers!!

Christmas Day 2016

It was a quite one as usual, Ebi-kun got up early as usual and just say reading a book waiting for us to get up, we didn't realise he was up and lay in bed dozing waiting for him to come and get up up - Christmas morning fail!

Usually my husband brings a posh cake home from work - his company makes industrial cake mixing machines, at Christmas they support thier clients by buyng cakes for all the company employees. This year though, Christmas day fell on a Sunday and Friday was a national holiday so we got the posh cake on the 22nd, there was no way it would keep!

So breaking with tradition, instead of posh cake and bubbly for breakfast we had croissants.

Then it was the usual present opening frenzy. Ebi-kun got a good supply of books, some new games and clothes.... Including the Linkin Park hoodie that I ended up bootlegging because I couldn't find one for him.

 And Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without some Lego!

His 'big' present was a Piper Computer. The thing is, you have to build it yourself, completely, from scratch! It has a Raspberry Pi chip and you can use Scratch programming plus minecraft so you learn to code and about electronics using the computer you build yourself.

He has built it and managed to do that all himself, I'll do a proper review once he has used it for a bit and we have a good idea of what it's all about and the capabilities.

As you can see from the video he was pretty surprised - he had NO idea this was coming.

Of course we had the big turkey meal and what turned out to be a very small Christmas pud! We caught up with mom and the chaos going on back home, drank more wine and watched Christmas movies!

Thursday, 22 December 2016

The Universe And Art

Daddy was working on Saturday, so Ebi-kun and I went on a date to Roppongi to the Mori Arts centre.

We stopped off at the little German market first, there are only a few stalls but it wasn't overly crowded so we grabbed a couple of pretzels and brotwurst and of course Gluwein (for me) for lunch

Then we headed up to the museum. Luckily it wasn't busy, so we outdated our time and saunter around.

It was quite a strange mush mash of exhibits from Leonardo Da Vinci and Galileo to installations by teamLab

As you walk through it kind of takes you through the ages, although I feel they were grasping at straws with some on the items on display it was interesting and enough to keep the kids interested too.

I think the museums are catching on that social media can be free advertising for them. Although you can't photograph everything in the exhibit, there were quite a few pieces marked with a photo ok sign. And social media icons so you can hashtag each one.

Win-win as far as I'm concerned, we get to share what we are up to and they get free publicity.

This exhibit is on until Jan 9th

Don't forget to check out the view, it really is stunning in the winter

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Taste tests: Ebi-kun Eats and taste tests - vauquita

Today Ebi-kun is digging his nashers into some Vauquita all the way from Argentina.
What on earth is vauquita? You'll have to watch the video to find out!

Remeber to give him a thumbs up and better still leave him a comment over on YouTube!

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Apples in the mail

18 years in Japan and I still find amusing when we get food parcels in the post.

This week we got a box of delicious apples from my Japanese mom - who is not my mother-in-law, she was one of my students when I lived in Iwate. She's about the same age as my mom and became my surrogate mom for the two years I lived up there.

As you can see, they are good sized apples! And too delicious to cook with, so it will be an apple a day for theft 2 weeks!

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