Friday, February 28, 2014

California Winter Storm


    I was woken by the sound of fierce winds this morning. I turned on the TV and checked the weather report. Some flooding was reported in Los Angeles area, and a mandatory evacuation was ordered for people living in Glendora. This winter storm was heavier than I thought. In addition, there were a great number of accidents on Highway due to rain. I was going to meet with my friend this morning, but I asked her to skip today's meeting because I wanted to avoid going outside during thunderstorms. Considering that the California drought was the worst in its history this winter, this rain possibly helps.


     I recorded video to show how heavy rain and wind were.
 


Thursday, February 27, 2014

Nissui Frozen Takoyaki

     I love takoyaki, which is a Japanese snack. "Tako" means octopus, and "yaki" means grill in Japanese. Takoyaki is made of octopus, flour, cabbage, and so on. While I was living in Osaka, which is famous for takoyaki, one of my friends invited me to the takoyaki party. She made many kinds of takoyaki for guests, and it was very fun! While I really love takoyaki, I am not familiar with making takoyaki because my hometown is not Osaka. I believe that people live in Osaka eat takoyaki more often than any other prefectures in Japan. When my husband and I were living in Osaka, it was easy for us to find takoyaki stores. We enjoyed finding good takoyaki stores in my neighborhoods. All stores were great though. They were selling takoyaki at very inexpensive price; for instance, four pieces of takoyaki were 100yen, which is equivalent to a dollar.
     After moving to U.S., I have never seen any takoyaki store sadly. However, I found this frozen takoyaki at a Japanese supermarket. It was on sale for about $4, so I decided to purchase it. When I was in Osaka, I also sometimes bought frozen takoyaki, so I had already known that it was very easy to make and had very good taste!

Nissui Frozen Takoyaki
      I heated some frozen takoyaki balls in the microwave for several minutes, and added takoyaki sauce, which I bought at Daiso, and dried bonito, which is called Katsuobushi in Japanese. Then, I added some mayo. They were just as good as I was expecting.

Nissui Takoyaki

     If I compare frozen takoyaki to takoyaki in Osaka, I will defenetely choose takoyaki in Osaka, which is very creamy and has the best taste!
Takoyaki in Osaka



     My entries related to Japan can be seen here.
http://itisapieceofcake2011.blogspot.com/search/label/Japan

       These are my entries you might like.

■JFC Frozen Jumbo Takoyaki 

■How to Make Tamago Kake Gohan - Raw Egg on Rice

■Top 10 Products You Should Buy at Japanese Supermarkets (for Beginners!)

■Top 10 Most Popular Japanese Foods

■My Top 15 Must Eat Foods in Japan - My Favorite Japanese Foods

■8 Interesting Japanese Kitchen Gadgets!


■My Top 10 Favorite Japanese Sweets

■How to Make Japanese Deep Fried Chicken, Kara-Age

■How to Cook Japanese Curry

■How to Cook Miso Soup

■Top 10 Products You Should Buy at Daiso

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Thinking about Visiting Japan

     I have been thinking about visiting Japan next month. I haven't decided it yet though because I just came back from Japan 4 months ago. My husband will probably go on business trip to Japan in fall, so at first I thought that I would go to Japan with him. However, I might take some class in fall semester, so if I take the class, I can't go to Japan with him. Spring is the best season to visit Japan because weather is perfect, and Japanese cherry blossoms bloom beautifully. My niece is going to enroll in elementary school in this spring, so I can see her enrollment ceremony if I visit to Japan. I have to think about it some more...

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Garrett Popcorn from Chicago

      As I mentioned in my yesterday's entry, my husband bought the Starbucks mug and card, which are released in Chicago only. He also purchased Garrett Popcorn for me. Before he went to Chicago, we had never heard about their popcorn.

     Garrett Popcorn is famous popcorn company in Chicago. It was first established in Chicago in 1949 and has many branch stores now. In Japan, there are two Gourmet Popcorn branches, which were opened last year, and there are always long lines in front of the stores. People wait for an hour or so to get their popcorn in Japan. I read many reviews of their store in Chicago, and people in Chicago also wait in long line for it. At first, I wondered why people wait so long for just popcorn.

     Anyway, my husband bought the small bag of the Chicago mix, which combines sweet caramel crisp with savory cheese corn, for about $5 at O'Hare airport. The small bag was big enough for two people.

     The taste of the Chicago mix was good. I was not expecting that it was so good for only popcorn. The salt and sweet combination was perfect!


     Now, I understood why people go crazy for their popcorn. This was the best popcorn I've ever had.

Chicago



Monday, February 24, 2014

Starbucks You Are Here Collection Mug - Chicago

     My husband came back from business trip last night. Because he was in Chicago for four days, I asked him to purchase Starbucks mug and card which are only released locally. When we started collecting Starbucks mugs, we were going to collect mugs which we both visit and purchase in that place. However, I've changed my mind. Starbucks You Are Here Collection mugs have over 50 different kinds of mugs, so it is not easy for us to visit so many places together in the U.S. However, my husband occasionally goes on business trip, and it is possible for him to purchase their local mug. That's why he bought the mug and card as our new collections. :) Even though I have never visited Chicago, I know a little about Chicago because the drama ER, which I have watched everyday, is set in Chicago. He was surprised that I had already known about its cityscape. :)

      Let's look at the Chicago mug!
Starbucks You Are Here Collection Mug - Chicago

      Chicago has railroad trains as one of the major transportation. The train has sometimes come on drama ER.
Starbucks You Are Here Collection Mug - Chicago

      Downtown Chicago has many old red brick buildings and modern high-rise buildings. I was not able to figure out what the left side building is. Do you know that? (Thanks for the comment! It's the Water Tower, one of the few buildings to survive the Great Chicago Fire in 1871.)
Starbucks You Are Here Collection Mug - Chicago

      There is a Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier, which is a 3,300-foot long pier on the Chicago shoreline of Lake Michigan. (Thanks for the comment! The Ferris Wheel was invented for the World's Fair in Chicago in 1893 and the one is on Navy Pier is there to commemorate that.)
Starbucks You Are Here Collection Mug - Chicago

Starbucks You Are Here Collection Mug - Chicago

Starbucks You Are Here Collection Mug - Chicago



      My husband bought this Starbucks card too. I think that this is designed in a motif of Chicago Theatre, which was built in 1921.
Starbucks Card - Chicago



    Now, we have 8 Starbucks You Are Here Collection Mugs. :)




    These are my entries related to You Are Here Collection Mugs.

Hawaii

Waikiki

Las Vegas

Los Angeles

California

Orange County

San Diego

Chicago

Dallas

San Francisco

Utah

Vancouver

Arizona

Phoenix

Lake Tahoe

Houston

Ohio

Pike Place Market

Seattle

Illinois

Texas

New Mexico

Twin Cities

Washington, D.C.

Virginia

Maryland



      This is my entries related to our Starbucks collections.
 http://itisapieceofcake2011.blogspot.com/search/label/Starbucks%20mugs

      My entries related to Starbucks Japan can be seen here.
http://itisapieceofcake2011.blogspot.com/search/label/Starbucks%20Japan

      My entries related to Starbucks can be seen here.
http://itisapieceofcake2011.blogspot.com/search/label/Starbucks 





Sunday, February 23, 2014

Top 10 Products You Should Buy at Daiso

      Last week, my husband and I went to Daiso, a Japanese 100 yen shop, and purchased a few products there. Because I grew up in Japan, I am familiar with Daiso. That's why I know that what I should or should not buy there. In Southern California, Daiso sells most products for $1.58. It seems like all products are bargain. Yes, they are, but some of them are not good quality. For those who have never lived in Japan, it is not easy to find really good products there. I'm going to share what to buy at Daiso with you.



     1. Foaming Net

     This foaming net is used to create lather with a tiny amount of facial cleanser. If you are girl, you really should try it. You will be surprised how easy it is. I always buy one at Daiso.




   2. Nylon Bath Wash Towel

     The nylon body towel makes it easy to create lather with little body soap, and you can scrub your body. There are many kinds of nylon body wash towels at Daiso. You can find what you prefer. If you have never used those towels, I recommend you to choose softer one.




   3. Cleaning Brush

     They sell many kinds of cleaning brush, so you can find what you need. When I wash small slim container, I use cleaning brush which I bought at Daiso.




     4. Dishwashing Sponge

     They sell dishwashing sponge at very reasonable price, and those work well.




     5. Clean Magic Eraser Sponge

       I think these are bargain. It is not easy to find these at this price at any other store.




     6. Chopsticks

      There are many chopsticks with interesting design. Just keep in mind not to wash in the dishwasher.





     7. Eraser

      Japanese eraser is very well made. Especially, these erasers, which are Matomaru (まとまる) and Mono (モノ), are ones I used to use when I was child, and most Japanese people probably have used them before. I seriously believe that these are the best eraser in the world! These prices are just right even though these are imported. However, I don't recommend eraser with very cute figures, such as sushi and animal figures, because they are just cute but don't provide the best performance.




     8. Fake Eyelashes

     Personally, I don't wear fake eyelashes. However, if I wear fake eyelashes, I will definitely buy them at Daiso. It's because my Japanese friends told me that these are just as good as high-end ones. Indeed, these have many positive reviews on Japanese beauty review site as well. My friend recommends Daiso fake eyelashes with pink package.(See upper photo.) However, she said that their fake eyelashes glue is not good, so you should probably buy glue at other stores.




     9. Japanese Candy

     Daiso sell many kinds of Japanese candies, and I recommend Hi-Chew. This is pretty known in the U.S. now though. There are many other kinds of candies as well, so it is good to try ones which are new for you because it's only $1.58. My husband bought brown sugar candies that time.




     10. Hemming Tape

       It costs a lot of money when you get the hem of the pants taken up. You can do that on your own with using this if you own an iron. My husband bought this that time.



      This is my Daiso entry.

     My entries related to Japan can be seen here.
http://itisapieceofcake2011.blogspot.com/search/label/Japan


      These are my entries you might like.
■Top 3 Most Popular Daiso Hair Products





■My Top 10 Favorite Japanese Sweets

■The Best Japanese Shampoo & Conditioner

■5 Best Japanese Hair Treatment / Mask Products

■Top 5 Japanese Sunscreen Products





Saturday, February 22, 2014

Our 30-day Challenge

      My husband and I finally accomplished our 30-day challenge, which was going to the gym 30 days in a row. :)
      Obviously, I am not a person who love exercise, and I usually tend to be lazy. However, if I don't exercise on a daily basis, I will end up having severe backache. That's why this challenge was essential for me.

      Before taking NCLEX, I watched this video and tried to make a habit for studying for nursing by 30-day challenge. It's because I didn't study for it on a daily basis even though I really needed to make a great effort for it. I finally accomplished that goal and was able to make it into a habit. I was able to get things off to a good start because of 30-day challenge. That's why I like the idea of 30-day challenges and believe that this is the most effective way for me to break out of the rut. It leads to having a life of fulfillment.

     My husband and I will continue our 30-day challenge which related to exercise, but he is on business trip now, so after he came back home, we will discuss what we should try for the next challenge.
     In addition, I am going to try my 30-day challenge, which is watching English DVDs for 30 days in a row. I was watching ER DVDs as much as possible in order to improve my listening skill before. Actually, I noticed that my listening skill has improved by watching them. However, I haven't watched them these days. It's because I have been thinking about doing online business until I get a RN job, so I have spent more time in front of my computer these days. I want to get a job as a nurse but to think that it will take a long time to get a job during RN employment ice age. I haven't heard any good news about RN job marketing in California. Furthermore, my teacher told students about many negative stories of U.S. medical system which never happen in Japan. Personally, Japanese medical system is much better than the one in here U.S. I have been asking myself if this was what I wanted to do. That's why I am running out of my drive for getting a job. However, I think that this thought is just part of dealing process, so I will finally get through this. Anyway, I need to keep watching English DVDs on a daily basis to keep up my listening skill until I get a RN job here.

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Best Places to Eat around Salvo Hotel in Shanghai

     While my husband and I were staying at Salvo Hotel in Shanghai, we found many good places to eat. Their foods were incredibly inexpensive and tasted so good! I wished I could have eaten more! I made Youtube video for the best places to eat around the hotel.

      We were traveling in Shanghai in 2012 and were satisfied with the hotel and the surrounding restaurants. :)  I know it's been a while since then. I just didn't have time to make videos for a long time.

This is my Shanghai entries.
http://itisapieceofcake2011.blogspot.com/search/label/Shanghai


     These are my Youtube video related to Shanghai.







Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Place with the Greatest Number of Vending Machines in Japan



      Today, I uploaded my Youtube video which is about Japanese Vending machines. When my husband and I were visiting in Japan in 2013, I found these vending machines.
    Most of foreigners who are traveling or living in Japan are surprised about Japanese vending machines because those are found everywhere in Japan and sell so many different kinds of products. Yet, vending machines are nothing special for me because I grew up in Japan. However, when I found these vending machines in Japan in 2013, I was very surprised because I had never seen so many vending machine at one place before!!! I don't remember exactly where these were, but I think these were probably in Oita prefecture. These were placed beside the roadside station, which is called Michinoeki, which is a rest area along roads in Japan. The Michinoeki was closed at that time because of New Year's Day, so there was no customer. I was able to take as many pictures as I wanted without shame. :)



     Some countries might have problem with placing vending machines outside at night because it is possible that someone may steals them. However, Japan is one of safest countries in the world, so it is usually not a problem to place them outside even though the street is empty at night. That's why I think Japan has so many vending machines. It saves labor cost and very convenient for everyone. According to Wikipedia, "Japan has the highest number of vending machines per capita, with about one machine for every twenty-three people".
     When I was a child, my parents sometimes let my sister and me go and buy a bottle juice from a vending machine. (Unlike U.S., children in Japan may go out freely without adult.) We were very excited because there were so many we could choose from. My favorite ones were UCC coffee and orange juice. It's because I couldn't drink soda yet. I didn't like its carbonation because it's too strong for children. My mother always asked me to purchase Oronamin C for her at that time.
















      My entries related to coffee can be seen here.
http://itisapieceofcake2011.blogspot.com/search/label/coffee


     This is also my entry you might like.
Top 10 Products You Should Buy at Japanese Supermarkets (for Beginners!)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Completed the Refresher Course

      Yesterday, I finally completed my refresher course and got the certification for it. I accomplished one of my new year's resolutions. Before taking the class, I was not sure if I would be able to understand the contents of the class because of my English. However, I was able to fully understand the class and noticed that my medical knowledge was not bad at all. I still found it difficult to speak in English though. I really wish I could speak as fluently as my classmates do.

     I have been out of clinical practice for six years and was really interested in how standard protocol and medical instruments had changed. Some medical instruments have been developed to prevent needle-stick accident, but its procedures are as same as I used to do before. I am familiar with inserting the IV line and had done it hundreds times in Japan. That's why I was surprised myself that I was nervous during practicing for it at the class.

     Next, I will get a certification of ACLS, which stands for Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support. I will probably take the class for it in March or April. I should start studying for it on my own prior to take the class.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Best Places to Eat in Tenjinbashi in Osaka

        Because I used to use JR Tenma station to commute to my work place six days a week for four years, I am pretty familiar with around Tenjinbashi. As I mentioned in my previous entry, we stayed at Hotel Daiki, which is located near Tenjinbashisuji Shoutengai, in 2013. I'm going to share with you the best places to eat in Tenjinbashi, Osaka.


     There was a cabbage yaki fast food restaurant. It was very delicious and was just 130 yen. It takes 3 minutes by walking from the hotel.
Kyabetsu Yaki (Cabbage Yaki) Fast food restaurant (キャベツ焼き)

Kyabetsu Yaki (Cabbage Yaki) Fast food restaurant (キャベツ焼き)


Cabbage Yaki キャベツ焼き
Kyabetsu Yaki (Cabbage Yaki) Fast food restaruant(キャベツ焼き) : 4-4-12 Tenjinbashi, Kita-ku, Osaka
hours: 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 a.m.

 
 


      There are numerous good sushi restaurants in Japan, but Harukoma is the best of the best! Harukoma is located on Tenjinbashisuji Shoutengai, the longest shopping street in Japan. They serve many fresh sushi at very reasonable price. I miss their sushi so much. It takes 5 minutes by walking from the hotel Daiki.
Harukoma 春駒

Harukoma 春駒

Harukoma 春駒
Harukoma 春駒 : 5-5-2 Tenjinbashi, Kita-ku, Osaka
hours: 11:00 a.m. - 10:30 p.m.
closed: Tuesday 
 




     At the Tenjinbashisuji Shoutengai, there is Tanbaya, which is a Japanese sweets store. It takes about 5 minutes by walking from the hotel. We used to buy their daifuku, which is mochi with sweet red beans. When I came back to my hometown, Southern Japan, I sometimes brought their sweets for my families.
Tanbaya 丹波屋

     They also sell many kinds of steamed rice. We chose kashiwa meshi, and it was very delicious.
Tanbaya 丹波屋

Tanbaya 丹波屋 : 5-7-20 Tenjinbashi, Kita-ku, Osaka
hours: 10:00 a.m. - 7 p.m.
closed: 1/1-1/3 
 




      There are many good restaurants on Tenjinbashisuji Shoutengai. We walked into Osaka Tonkatsu Daruma Dou, a Katsudon restaurant.Their tonkatsu is very delicious and inexpensive. It takes about 15 minutes by walking from the hotel.
Osaka Tonkatsu Daruma Dou (大阪とんかつ だるま堂)

    
Chicken Namban Combo at Osaka Tonkatsu Daruma Dou (大阪とんかつ だるま堂)
Katsudon at Osaka Tonkatsu Daruma Dou (大阪とんかつ だるま堂)

Osaka Tonkatsu Daruma Dou (大阪とんかつ だるま堂)
Osaka Tonkatsu Daruma Dou 大阪とんかつ だるま堂 : 4-6-23 Tenjinbashi, Kita-ku, Osaka
hours: 11:00 a.m. - 11:00 p.m.
closed: none



     My husband took out gyoza at Gyoza-no-Ohsho. They have many delicious Chinese foods with reasonable price. It takes 5 minutes by walking from the hotel.
Gyoza at Gyoza-no-Ohsho 餃子の王将
Gyoza-no-Ohsho 餃子の王将 : 4-11-10 Tenjinbashi, Kita-ku, Osaka
hours: Monday through Thursday 11:00 a.m. - 11:30 p.m.
           Sundays and Holidays 11:00 a.m. - 10:30 p.m.
closed: none



     We bought two Taiyaki at Naruto Taiyaki Honpo. They make many kinds of taiyaki. It takes 3 minutes by walking from the hotel.
Naruto Taiyaki Honpo 鳴門鯛焼本舗

Naruto Taiyaki Honpo 鳴門鯛焼本舗

Naruto Taiyaki Honpo 鳴門鯛焼本舗
Naruto Taiyaki Honpo 鳴門鯛焼本舗 : 5-7-4 Tenjinbashi, Kita-ku, Osaka
hours: 11:00 a.m. - 11:00 p.m.
closed: none



      Osaka is famous for takoyaki, and Wanaka, takoyaki store, is one of our favorite stores. When we go to Osaka, we can't resist eating takoyaki! We bought takoyaki and fried chicken there. It takes 5 minutes by walking from the hotel.
Wanaka わなか

Takoyaki

Fried Chicken
Wanaka わなか : 4-7-21 Tenjinbashi, Kita-ku, Osaka
hours: Monday through Saturday 11:00 a.m. - 10:30 p.m.
           Sundays and Holidays 11:00 a.m. - 9:30 p.m.
closed: none



       Because I hadn't visited Osaka for three years after moving to the U.S., I didn't know that this supermarket, Super Tamade, had been open near the station. It took about 3 to 5 minutes by walking from the hotel.
Super Tamade (スーパー玉手)

      There were many foods in deli section at the supermarket.


Super Tamade(スーパー玉手) : 4-8-9 Tenjinbashi, Kita-ku, Osaka

hours: 24 hours
closed: none



     These are my Youtube videos related to Tenjinbashi.


天神橋筋商店街 Tenjinbashisuji Shoutengai, Osaka - The Longest Straight Shopping Street in Japan



     This is my entries related to Osaka.
http://itisapieceofcake2011.blogspot.com/search/label/Osaka

     My entries related to Japan can be seen here.
http://itisapieceofcake2011.blogspot.com/search/label/Japan



     These are also my entries you might like.

Top 3 My Favorite Delicious Souvenirs from Osaka 

Top 5 Sushi Restaurants Around Tenjinbashi, Osaka

Top 5 Breakfast Restaurants around Tenjinbashi in Osaka, Japan

Top 10 Most Popular Japanese Foods

Must Go to Place in Japan - Tennoji Mio

Top 10 Products You Should Buy at Japanese Supermarkets (for Beginners!)

Top 10 Products You Should Buy at Daiso

Top 3 Daiso Beauty Products

My Top 10 Favorite Japanese Snacks

My Top 10 Favorite Japanese Sweets

The Best Japanese Shampoo & Conditioner

5 Best Japanese Deep Conditioning Hair Masks

Top 5 Japanese Sunscreen Products

Top 5 Most Popular Japanese Bath Salt Brands