Archive for the ‘carebag’ Category

Awkwardly clearing throat. Hey!

So what have I been doing in my blogging absence? I would typically say “nothing” but I actually have been doing some stuff. I’ve been baking a bit. I bought a bread machine and have made lots of bread. Lots of lumpy, weird bread, but it all tastes good so whatever. Last month Noji and I started jogging in the morning and we’ve logged 45km/28 miles already. We’ve watched a lot of TV. I think I’ve seen every L&O SVU from seasons 1-8 at least 3 times over now. That’s pretty much the norm for me, though.

Baking is fun and easy but cooking can go either way, especially when I read American-based recipes that are like “grab some quinoa pasta and kale from your local grocery..” and it’s basically a big list of stuff that I cannot easily buy. I mean I guess kale is sold somewhere here. Wikipedia tells me it’s called “keeru.” But if I can’t find it at Seijo Ishii, it might as well not exist. Anyway, mentally calculating the cost/effort involved in just getting all the ingredients I need for something and I’ve already given up. Japan is also not really health-conscious the same way that America is, less obsession with whole grains (bleached, thick slices of Wonder bread the norm), trans-fats (no full nutritional info on boxes so who knows what’s in what), no weird gluten free junk or agave nectar for sweetening or whatever. So the point of view is a bit different too.

Since moving here, though, I’ve come across plenty of resources to get me through a lot of the needs/wants from Back Home, which helps reduce the amount of crazy spending sprees whenever I set foot on American soil. If anyone is curious, these are my supplements to shopping here:

iHerb.com – (WordPress won’t let me link directly to it but that’s the address.) This site is a godsend, for reasons mentioned above– it’s got all the hippie-dippy American-style health food/supplements/beauty items that are missing here. What did I do without this site until now??? I’ve made two orders in like 10 days. 4 dollars for shipping to Japan up to 30 pounds, comes in 3-5 days. Prices are equivalent or cheaper than buying in America. Some stuff can’t be sent to Japan (flour, quinoa, ghee, pretty much anything with vanilla in it, some supplements etc.) but they’ll tell you when you try to check out. I have a coupon code for $10 off new customers (HTC502) which I’m guessing is what is making WP all pissy about linking to the site. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

572310.com – This is not import food but a Japanese site with bulk grains, dried fruits, nuts etc. including organic options. They have a good selection of different flours with the ash and protein content listed. It’s more on the expensive side but I like all the options, especially for bread baking.

We also hit up brick-and-mortar international groceries sometimes — Seijo Ishii and Kaldi mostly. Kaldi sells some delicious massaman curry roux in a box. FBC and The Flying Pig are options I’ve never used but have a better selection of more typical American-style groceries than anything listed above.

StrawberryNET – HE makeup, skin care, and perfume. I’ve used them for makeup and skincare and they’re not bad. They’re kind of like an online cosmetic outlet and have a lot of brands that aren’t available in Japan. Prices have gone up significantly since the yen weakened though.

iBeautyhouse – Same thing as SNET, nearly the same stock and price, interface is all in Japanese.

Cosme Cosme / Cosme Link – Local (Japan) Rakuten shops, HE cosmetics/skin care usually around 10-30% off Japanese retail. Usually ships next day.

Mariposa – Nail polish! Essie, Zoya, OPI, ORLY, Jessica, Nubar, lots of treatments and topcoats. Shipping is based on how many bottles but anything over 9,900 JPY is free shipping. I remember requesting a Zoya color that wasn’t on the website, so even if it’s not there doesn’t mean it’s not available. Looks like they’re now selling Butter London at a slightly inflated price.

e-yume USA – Also nail polish. Prices are more or less the same as Mariposa, stock is similar but I think Mariposa has a bigger range and maybe Mariposa’s shipping is slightly faster. I usually pick depending on the promotion running.

Nordstrom – A lot of American department stores ship internationally now and include shipping, duties, and taxes at check-out, so you don’t buy some leather shoes and realize you need to pay like 200 dollars in duties once they get here. Shipping is expensive (~30 USD?) but depending on what you’re getting it can be worth it (expensive bags? limited edition America-only makeup?). Not all brands are available to ship internationally but most are.

Everything else:

My mom – Anything I can’t get on the internet, I ask my mom to send me. :*

Alternatively, you can eat fish and beans and pickled daikon and live like a Japanese granny with no external wants in the world, but I unfortunately know how good ranch dressing is so that option is over for me. Am I missing anything?



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Coming off of Golden Week was intense. I was so sleep deprived and fussy for the whole week. This week I’ve been trying to get to bed earlier, hence the lack of updates.

Last week, my parents sent me a care package to remind me and Noji how awesome American grocery stores are. If I could import an entire Safeway to my neighborhood, I would probably never leave Japan. Assuming I can guilt my family into visiting me?

I used the “If I don’t eat them quickly, they’ll go stale” excuse to polish off one of these babies in like 4 days.

These sounded like such a good idea to request and then I ate a bite and I had satisfied my craving for Cadbury Creme Eggs for at least 7 years.

The pickles are amazing and I had Hamburger Helper for two days in a row (whole grain means it’s heathy?). Also big ups to my mom for sending me some eye cream because along with clay masks and nailpolish that contains no glitter, Japan does not seem to carry cheap eye cream? My dry, flaky concealer…!

Okay, I’m trying to enforce an 11:30pm curfew meaning I should already be asleep. Goodnight!

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Today we got a care package from my parents. Already Noji has stolen my bag of Kix, eaten my Milk Duds, and I’m guessing the homemade pickles will be gone before I get home tomorrow. “Wait, I don’t remember the pickles being THIS good!” Well, they were, my friend. My family makes the best pickles. Full carebag report l8r, I am exhausted from writing Kokuhaku summaries.

Day 06 – Food that you swore you would never eat but now love (or tolerate).

I used to really hate Anin doufu because of the almondy taste, but now I can eat it a little. I started to like bell peppers a lot since coming here. I never hated cabbage, just basically ignored its existence, but I’ve gotten marginally more on board with it if it’s, you know, on the side of some tonkatsu. Japanese curry is still a little too sweet but I can wolf down Japanese-style stew or hayashi rice whenever, and I had some kuwazugirai hate of udon curry but now I like that too.

Hate still strong for: mayo, fish, nori, natto, anko. I know hating natto is some gaijin stereotype but literally it smells like rotting garbage. Noji has to eat it in the kitchen and then wash the container out before he throws it out. I have a No Tolerance policy on natto.

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Dropped 30 degrees in the last week. Now that it’s getting cooler, the news has let us know of all the horrible after-effects of the hellishly hot summer: the lack of rain means that it’s going to be extra itchy this fall with all the mosquitos coming out; the hot summer is driving bears into towns; fruit is undersized and very expensive; no sanma for anyone, ever. (Insert mention that the fruit is very SWEET, even if it is like 200% more expensive.)

A few days ago, we got a care package from my dear friend Jackie! We had a nostalgic, artery clogging meal of Hamburger Helper and 100 Grand mini choco bars last night. But my favorite part: dino sponges. Of course, my first thought when I think of dino sponges is this episode of the Simpsons (hopefully you guys can see that clip because hulu is very blocked for me). We decided to film the exciting unveiling:

Turns out to be about as eventful as Bart’s experience. Listening to this back, I also am reminded of the Simpsons episode where Bart gets a voice recorder and Marge goes “I sound like that??” after recording herself. I had to rerecord the voicemail message for my office and upon listening to the first run of my recording, my boss was like “They’re going to think we’re breaking labor laws in here.”

p.s. We went to Ikebukuro and noticed they’d kicked out the crap Nenrinya in Tobu and replaced it with a CLUB HARIE. Best baumkuchen in Japan. We bought one and ate it for dinner.

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