Friday, February 26, 2010

Japanese photo booth

Have you ever been to a photo booth? They are ALL OVER the place in Japan. It is kind of funny how many of them there are. There are plain ones at every train station, in case you need a photo for a passport or something of the sort. Then, you go to the photo stores or the photo booths at grocery stores and you will see something like this:

Now, at first, you might think what the heck is that? I thought it was like a dating service booth or something x rated. I found out from my neighbor's daughter it's a photo booth with crazy features, some of them even print out your pictures on sticker paper. In this case, the far left one. Today, we are going in the far right one. Here it is up close:

Let's see what happens. First, I inserted 400 yen, what a bargain!!! This screen is where you can choose the types of backgrounds for your six different photos:

This is the camera that takes your photo. I was taking the picture of it as I realized the button I pushed on some screen was the start photographing button. Needless to say the first picture was of me leaning to the bench to put my camera down to let their camera do the work. I had to quickly put the two little ones on my lap so they could be in the shot.

I'm pretty sure this screen was telling us to get ready to smile, not sure though.

This one I think is telling us to do different poses and showing us what background was coming up next (I think).

Photo session over I think there was a choice to retake if you weren't satisfied, but the button I hit must have meant satisfied:

This showed up next, go around the corner to edit the photos, this could be fun if there wasn't a HUGE arcade all around us and the 4 kids with me were well behaved enough to stay in the booth with me.

Oh, and if you didn't have to edit the photos behind these curtains:

Here we are in the editing mode. I missed the first screen because I was trying to tap it with my finger to choose which photo layout we want for our prints. Needless to say the large pen on the side didn't seem to stick out to me until time was up and the machine chose one for me. What the heck? I was worried I'd only get one pic and be stuck with the crappy first one of me. Here, you can add glasses to faces, different icons on the photos, sayings, dates, moustaches, disguises, etc. or make it like a calendar. I had NO IDEA what a lot of the buttons were.

I was just pushing stuff and I saw one button I did know how to read, which said "Owari", which means finish in Japanese. I hit it for one of the pics (you have to edit each one separately). Next thing, very rapidly, the editing screen disappeared, then two more screens showed up with two buttons to choose from. I hit one of the two choice buttons, I'm assuming yes or no, but not sure what they said. I started panicking thinking I hit cancel and that I had just wasted 400 yen. Anyways, next thing I know, out of a little door came a paper and we ended up with our pictures, not the layout I wanted but hey at least I got them to print.

This is now part of my official tour of Japan. Next time you visit, I'll be sure to take you here!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Zucchini cakes will you marry my husband?

Seriously, last night for dinner, I made chicken salad, which Dave LOVES. I also made these zucchini cakes my neighbor told me about. Holy party in your mouth! Dave started eating them and didn't stop to get teh chicken salad out of the fridge and to think, I had even gone to great lengths to get croissants at COSTCO for the chicken salad. This is the same Dave that snuffed his nose at me when I first offered him zucchini bread at a Thanksgiving dinner. Oh little did he know I was introducing him to something that has become a staple at our house.

My neighbor found this recipe at this blog, pioneer woman. This link shows you pictures for each step, very nice. I will just write the recipe here how I used it, it's very simple, beware you will eat a LOT!

2 medium zucchini shredded (japanese medium so US small)
heaping 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
heaping 1/2 cup italian style breadcrumbs
2 eggs
4-5 cloves minced garlic (depending on how garlicky you like it)
pinch pepper
1 tsp salt

I heated up olive oil in my frying pan, scooped the batter with a large dinner spoon and kind of pressed it against the side of the bowl and dropped it into the pan, I had it heating up on medium (with my lux gas stove so you might want med high on your electric range)- then let them sit about 7 min because I wanted them crispy, then flipped them and pressed them down to make them flat not balls. Cook them on this side about 5-7 more min and enjoy!

Here's a pic of the ones left after the kids and I ate, Dave ate all but the smallest one.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Superhero Birthday Party

For Addison's fifth birthday, it wasn't very hard to choose a superhero theme. At first, it was going to be a mesh of all different superheros, but luckily Owen was obsessed with the superman theme song when he was 1, so his second birthday was superman and there were lots of decorations to reuse.

For a cake, I went with batman. I was nervous to do the logo on the top, but I had already downloaded a logo for a cape I'm making later. I printed it out, cut out the oval, traced it on the chocolate frosted cake with yellow colored icing. Then, I cut out the bat and stuck it in the middle of the oval outline and filled in the area between the outline and the bat with yellow, and voila, a batman lover's dream cake!

Check out the inside. Next time I'll have to use white cake so the red looks red and not orange. I used my Pampered chef checkerboard cake pan inserts.

For the party decorations, I used all the superhero cards my kids have ever received. I am too sentimental to throw away their cards yet.

Originally I was going to let the guests each decorate their own capes, but being so proud of the ones I made for my kids, I thought if I took an extra hour to sew the kids' initials on, they'd be a LOT nicer and be more apt to be used again after the party. Boy, was I right, I've seen a few flying around the neighborhood this week already.

I got party boxes from birthday express. They reminded me of wonderwoman and since there were mostly girls coming, I thought they'd be nice.

To help with the games, I printed out a superhero score sheet for each kid. They had to get a sticker after participating in each game to pass the superhero test. My kids are still giving themselves stickers when they think they pass a test. We are going to present these to the kids with a pass circled with the Thank you cards.

For the reflex challenge, we played pass the kryptonite to the batman theme song. The "kryptonite" was a rubber ball that had a green glow stick in it, thank you 100 yen store!

For the strength, we had two challenges (which made us end up deciding to eliminate the xray vision - a search for green lanterns ring for lack of time). The first was to put on the incredible hulk gloves and punch the anpanman punching bag down all the way to the ground.

The second strength was to lift a heavy basket of toy cars up to your nose.

For the superhuman senses, we played Ned's Head, you had to put your hand in, grab an object and tell us what it was before you pulled it out.

For bodymorphing, we used a broom across two chairs and kept lowering it to make a smaller space for them to fit through. Here is it at its lowest (except when Dave put it on the floor and said this is the extreme challenge- ha ha). And yes, Owen insisted on wearing this monster costume because he wore it for Halloween the year everyone else dressed up like superheros.

For accuracy, we painted a target and hung it outside our glass sliding door, we let the kids use a nerf suction pellet gun to aim at the target. I taped a batman, superman, flash, and green lantern on the target for bonus points. Each kid has 6 pellets to try. This was a hit- no pun intended. (Sorry this was taken tonight, a few days later, no one took pics of the target practice. Luckily the kids are having so much fun with this the target is still hanging.)

Finally, for speed, we had a running race of course.

At the end, we had painted a big piece of cardboard white and taped some superhero logos onto it and had the kids choose a mask and stand in front of it for their superhero id (also for their thank you card).

Here are my superheros:


Monday, February 22, 2010

Renewing my japanese driver's license

Today I had the pleasure of renewing my japanese driver's license. Once you get your license, you have to renew it every third birthday afterwards (you have plus or minus a month from your bday). I received a random notification in the mail and all I could make out was the date March 15th (which I knew meant 1 month from my birthday, hence the license renewal). Did I mention that it was VERY stressful to get the license to begin with, let alone, having to go back to renew it and have everything be spoken and written in japanese with no translator.

We get to the building at 8:15 because we thought it started at 9 and in order to get a number we had to be there early. True and false, the part where they copy your old license onto the application for the new one starts at 9, being there early just meant being closer to the front of the line. Oh, the stations you had to go to to get to the room for the video/briefing were numbered (1-7)- HOLY CRAP! We got in line number 1, okay, why were all the japanese going to this machine and coming back with a barcoded ticket. Luckily, I knew how to say "kore wa nan desu ka" what is that in japanese. Turns out, we had to enter a pin twice and the barcoded ticket printed out (I am not sure what this code is for, but maybe if you get a ticket or in an accident you are expected to remember it- I hope neither of those happens to me). Why wasn't this number 1, I'm not sure.

Back to number 1, luckily in our same position. Get to the front, get an application, get our license copied onto it (after a 10 minute briefing all in very fast japanese of what the 8 stations were- great because I didn't understand anything. Get the form, go to fill it out, in BLACK ink only. First problem, what is the year in japanese, they don't use 2010 like the rest of the world, it is 22 because that's how long the emperor's been in power. ay ay ay. Then there were two blanks for the name, one for first, one for last, couldn't figure out which was which, two different japanese told us two different ways. They call each other by their last name for the most part (why do they bother having first names?). Then there were all these questions with difficult kanji, um yeah, if I looked clueless enough, I knew someone would feel bad and help me, didn't take too long.

Station 2, pay, get a stamp receipt on the application.

Station 3, get another little stamp (for what, not sure but seemed a complete waste of time to go to station 3 and maybe it was just to make you wait more and break the crowd up, seriously why was there a station 3?

Station 4, eye test, the letter c facing all different directions, answer in japanese. Took 3 seconds, not sure they even cared if you failed or not, just some weird formality.

Station 5, you get a number for which line in station 6 you will go to. Seriously, why was there a station 5?

Station 6, get your photo taken. Yes, I got to scan my barcoded ticket. Now I know it's linked to my license, please don't let me forget my code 0317, it's actually a highlighted number on my license, so if I forget it, I deserve it. You cannot smile in the photo, talk about bad license photos, come here (oh and there was a giant mirror outside, wish I brought hairspray and make up).

Station 7, get a number for which seat in the "video" room you will be sitting in for TWO HOURS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I got 23, my neighbor was 21, she had her daughter, so we luckily got to sit in the back (good thing because the chairs were attached to the desks and there was literally 6 inches in between, good thing japanese are so tiny. We had heard that throughout the entire two hours in the room a guard walked up and down the aisle and kept anyone from sleepign or doing anything else but paying attention. Luckily our guy was a gem. He put us in the back because of the little girl, but probably because he knew we'd understand nothing and our presence was just a complete formality.

Here's what we were given:

These five manuals are necessary for anyone to browse if they want to renew their license, I need a nap. The guy talked for about 20 minutes, then we had the video, which was only 30 minutes, but he left the room during it, which was a relief because I could barely keep my eyes open. The video was SO ANNOYING, they set it up like it was being narrated by an old japanese buddhist. He looked like he was 200 and sounded like a 200 year old that was constipated and going through puberty (NO LIE)! I just wanted to tell him to clear his throat. You throw that non-clear speaking voice in with the japanese I could barely understand and you have a video I couldn't understand at all.

Thankfully the japanese like cartoons and the manuals were full of some good ones, here's a few:

I think this means if you are not safe on the road you are going to be pulled into heaven.

I like the drunk car on the bottom right:

After the video, we had a ten minute break followed by 55 minutes of non-stop lecturing on the manuals. Good thing the cartoons were in there. What did I learn? Next time bring a book to hide in the manual so I can actually read something I understand.

Finally he's done talking and we go downstairs to get our new license. Wouldn't you know it, they are calling you in the order of which you were sitting in the video. Four hours later, I've got a new license and I'm still legal to drive in Japan.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A cape is a cape unless it's a super cape!

My kids love superheros, but I wasn't about to pay over $50 for a nice one with their initial on it. I knew I could make them myself. I have had the fabric to make these capes for my kids for almost a year, my New Year's Resolution was to finish all my projects in the works, even if they were just in my head. One down:

The backs:

There's always one that's gotta be different:

The inside linings, I have so much fun fabric laying around, they were hard to choose.

He's so proud and SUPER!

Captain underpantress!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

When you are proud of someone

you should tell them! Every year on Addison's birthday, I am reminded of how I am proud of my mom for quitting smoking. I hated the smell of the smoke as a kid and used to ask if any of us got cancer would she quit, and she said she thought she couldn't. Then, along came Addison, and my mom knew that the lingering smell of smoke on her clothes, transferred to the baby while she was holding him, so by the time Addison arrived (the second grandchild), she willed up the strength to quit. This in turn helped my dad to quit. I would like to say that I am proud of both of them for quitting. Thank you for giving yourself health so you can be around to see the kids grow and for giving them a bit more fresh air on this earth.

Here is the inspiration for quitting. Who would want to see his lungs filled with smoke?

Here he is today, look how he's grown, five years go by so quickly. Tell people you are proud when you think of it, time goes quickly.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

It's almost a birthday

It's just about Addison's 5th birthday! The night before the kids' birthdays, I always make them the cake of their choice. Since last year, he has been asking for a melonpannchan cake and here it is:

I was trying to use up some of the frosting on the sides here:

These are the treats for his class party (the big ones are for his teachers):

The model posing in front of his subjects:

Now, I am off to decorate even though I really want to go to bed, otherwise, I am going to have one disappointed little 5 year old.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

My masterpiece

I saw an outfit online that inspired me to make this.

I used a pattern by ModKid (Emma) for help with the top. The bottoms I came up with on my own-capris for summer.

Here is a link to the outfit (on the craftaddict website) that inspired this and the tutorial I used to make the ruffled underlay.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

H is for heart crayons

I've read about these in magazines before and always wanted to make them. We got a cheap silicon pan at IKEA and have oodles of broken old crayons that were waiting to be revived. Warning: if you use a silicon pan, it gets floppy when you take it out of the oven and liquid crayon all over the bottom of an oven can't be pleasant to clean up, if you do this, put a pizza stone under the pan before putting it in the oven. It took some crafty maneuvering on my part to get this out of the oven onto the pan with no spills. We put them in a preheated 275' oven for 10 minutes, then put them outside to cool, they popped right out of the pan, no greasing was necessary (at least with the silicon pan).

Getting ready to go in the oven:

Coming out of the oven:


Using the new crayons:

Beware, my husband thought they were candy and he almost ate one for dessert, they look delicious!