September 30, 2012

Lipton Tea...

I am not feeling great.  My stomach is doing somersaults so I figure the least offensive post I can do it a tea post.

I tried two new flavors recently.

First is Straight Tea:

This is pretty good.  I usually drink Kirin brand straight tea but this one is much better.

Next is Apple Tea:

This is okay.  It's not the best but it's definitely better than Green Apple Tea.

The list:

Milk Tea
Maple Milk Tea
Lemon Tea
Peach Tea
Earl Grey Milk Tea
Green Apple Tea
50/50 Tea & Lemonade
Tropical Fruit Tea
Chamomile Citrus Tea
Roast Milk Tea
Jasmine Lemon Peel
Grape Tea
Straight Tea
Apple Tea

I hope your weekend is coming to a close nicely.  It's back to bed for me.

September 29, 2012

My week in outfits...

I am currently quite sad.  It's no one thing but a combination of many things like something a friend said to me, my beloved garlic press breaking and my birthday looming on the horizon.  I usually get sad around my birthday but I do have some great activities planned so I am going to try to make it a great birthday.

Anyway, I presume you didn't come here to hear me whine but to see how stylish I can be.  Tokyo is insane right now.  The temperatures are way out of whack and I don't think it's settled on getting cold yet.  Here's what I wore this week.


Paris sweater Daiei, pants Kohl's, flats Payless.


Shirt Target, sweater YesStyle, jeans & boots Kohl's.


Jacket & necklace Forever 21, tee Uniqlo, jeans Colleen Collection (Target), shoes Payless.


Shirt Target, vest Goodwill, pants Kohl's and boots eBay (Shiekh).

I hope your weekend isn't sad.

September 25, 2012

A vegetarian foodie in Japan...

I'm a bit behind on this one too.  Sorry about that.

So what's this biggest news to hit the foodie section?  I got an oven!  In America this wouldn't be big news.  Every apartment comes with an oven and some houses do too.  In Japan, most apartments comes with nothing.  I was lucky I got an air conditioner.  I've been nearly 4 months without an oven and I thought I would survive.  It sucks!  So when I happened across an adorable Tiger oven which was on super sale (¥2000 off plus an additional ¥600 off) I had no reason not to buy it.

My kitchen is decorated in hues of red (towels, recycle basket) so naturally this was the perfect choice.  It's basically a toaster oven with temperature settings on the right and a timer on the left.  For making my famous banana bread, I'll have to set it twice since it only goes up to 30 minutes.

Now on to the cooking, I made some great foods.

This tofu is a little crispy because I made it in the fish broiler before I had the oven.  Now that I have the oven, I'm going to make it again and I'm certain it will be better.  Note: it's only good the first day.  Leftovers of this are positively offensive.

Next, is the best salad in existence.

Double, triple, quadruple the recipe.  For real.

Some pretty peanut noodles:

It tastes great but the sauce is dry.  Needs to be smoother.  Will work on that.

Really delicious pasta:

No other comments except I wish I had goat cheese.

Excellent minestrone:

The only problem is quinoa soaks up all the liquid so it's no longer soup a day after it's made.

The salad is only the best salad ever because of the dressing.

I might not have come to Japan if I couldn't get balsamic here.  A funny story about balsamic vinegar.  When talking about moving in together and saving money, my former friend and roommate said "You don't need to always have things like balsamic vinegar in your pantry."  I replied "Yes, I do."  Two things about this story, balsamic vinegar has ALWAYS been in my pantry and she's not my friend anymore.  (Before you get all crazy, the friendship didn't dissolve over balsamic vinegar but it's a funny coincidence nonetheless.)

Finally last night, I gave the oven it's first test run making a cake for my best friend and coworker's big 25.  The recipe said to bake for 30 - 40 minutes.  At 30 minutes the batter was still soup and after hyperventilating, I set it for another 15.  It came out perfectly baked.

It was, of course, very well received and some commented that they forgot what really delicious (proper) cake tasted like.  My baking days are back.  :)

I hope your week is coming to a close nicely.  The wind is whistling something fierce here but I am bundled up in jammies while drinking hot tea and buried under covers watching my favorite shows.

September 24, 2012

What I wore...

I've been lax on updating feature sections of this blog.  Sorry about that.  Sometimes life in Tokyo moves pretty fast and I simply don't have time to blog.

So I'm a bit behind outfit wise.  There are going to be a bunch here.

September 10th (x2):

Sweater & skirt Goodwill, top Colleen Collection (Target), boots eBay (Shiekh), bracelet Forever 21.

Dress H&M, shoes Payless.

September 11th:

Sweater & jeans Uniqlo, shoes Payless and top H&M.

September 13th:

Top Daiei, sweater Forever 21, jeans Uniqlo, shoes Payless.

"Jess you rock a lot of polka dots."

September 14th:

Top Astoria, tank Wal-Mart, skirt Goodwill, boots eBay (Shiekh), bracelet Forever 21.

September 15th:

Sweaterdress H&M, boots eBay (Shiekh).

September 16th:

Top A.C.C.E.S., tank Goodwill, shorts Wal-Mart, shoes ABC Mart.

September 19th:

Sweater & shirt Uniqlo, jeans Colleen Collection (Old Navy), boots Kohl's.  (Should wore a necklace.  Kinda boring.)

September 20th:

I wish I had one of everything in this color.  Such a beautiful color but so hard to find.  Blouse Forever 21, tank Wal-Mart, skirt Target, boots eBay (Shiekh).

September 22nd:

Top Daiei, leggins Wal-Mart, boots Kohl's, bracelet Forever 21.

Whew!  I'll try not to procrastinate clothes so much next time.  I hope your week is starting out fine.  I'm off to bed!

September 22, 2012

Off the beaten path: Maid Cafes...

Off the beaten path and maid cafes seem like an oxymoron.  If you visit the busy bustling electric district, Akihabara, you'll see many adorable women handing out fliers for their establishments.  A number of these women are dressed like anime maids.  See photo below:

(The above photo was taken in Ikebukuro not Akihabara but you get the idea.)  Akihabara is well known for these maid cafes.  They are unlike anything in the world.  In some maid cafes there is a show with song and dance.  Other maid cafes, the women get on their knees to serve you calling you "master" or "mistress" or sometimes "princess."  If you come to Japan as a tourist, I recommend checking out the anomaly that is the maid cafe.  Fear not ladies, there are even butler cafes where your eye candy is of the male persuasion.

Obviously, I am not a tourist in Japan.  So when my friend said he wanted to take me to a maid cafe, I cringed.  Foreigners who live here do not go to maid cafes, I thought, especially girls!  He led me off Chuo-dori, one of the main streets of Akihabara, down a street with hardly any people, a rarity in Akihabara!  When we entered, the place looked like a library.  Another major difference were the maids.  They were, of course, unbelievably cute but they weren't dressed like the above maid.  They were dressed in Victorian maid garb (as a vintage lover you can imagine how happy this made me).  You can google Victorian maids because you're not allowed to take pictures in maid cafes so the few I got were done stealth style and unfortunately none of the girls.

Here is the interior:

I had some chiffon cake which I wish had been sweeter:

And all you can drink tea:

I bet you want to know what this place is called.  Well you can forget it!  A very nice Japanese man at the cafe told me: "There are two kinds of maid cafes.  Maid cafes for tourists and maid cafes for locals.  This one is for locals."  If you are a tourist, go to the maid cafe for tourists because you want that experience because it makes a great story to tell.  The first maid cafe I went to was for tourists.  If you live here feel free to search for it and if you come visit me, I'll certainly take you there.

I hope you're having a nice weekend.  I'm enjoying a lazy Sunday drinking tea and listening to the rain.

September 19, 2012

Progress through the Japanese language...

It's like a turtle's pace man. 

I've determined that my best skill is undoubtedly writing.  I can write like a mofo.  I guess then listening and speaking tie and finally reading.  I am a super slow reader.

My recent undertaking is trying to refamiliarize myself with kanji.  I had begun to learn it but it was so long ago unless it's numbers 一 through 十 or simple kanji like 日 or 月, I have forgotten anything I might have learned so it's all new to me again.  Unfortunately, 漢字 is not like ひらがな or カタカナ which each consist of 46 letters.  To be fluent in Japanese you need to know approximately 2000 - 3000 kanji characters.  It is estimated that there may be some 100,000 kanji characters!  What I find interesting about some Japanese people is that even they do not know ALL the characters.  It seems a bit of an impossibility doesn't it?  Sometimes a friend of mine will flat out admit that they do not know a particular kanji character. 

Japanese schoolchildren generally learn these 2000 - 3000 kanji by the end of junior high school.  This means I have 7 to 9 years of catching up to do, depending on how long you think junior high lasts.  To be honest I haven't even mastered 1st grade characters yet.  But I would like to start tracking my progress through the language on this blog.  After all, it's Lost in Japan and I'm currently lost in the language.

One of my necessities for my house was a printer/scanner.  I'd like to scan some sentences I write from time to time and post them here.  I know I can type 日本語 on the computer obviously but this will help me practice my writing.  I hope you will indulge me and I hope you enjoy this new feature on my blog. 

Now if you'll excuse me, it's 日本語のクラス time.

September 16, 2012

It just so happens...

I've managed to become a regular at a local Tokyo bar.  I didn't really plan it that way; I just kept going back there because I love the atmosphere.

Let me tell you about Japan bars.  You sit at a table.  You are corralled into your little space and people rarely branch out and talk with others.  The bar atmosphere in Japan isn't like that of America which promotes interaction with those you didn't arrive with.  The 居酒屋 is even worse.  You are often closed off by a screen or a partition and no one interacts with those outside his or her party.  These things make it terribly difficult to meet people.  If you want a bar like an American bar you have to look for what's called a "standing bar."  They are dotted throughout Tokyo.  Just do a Google search.

One night my friend Dan the Man took Nate the Great and me to one such standing bar.  I liked it so much that I went back.  And then I went back again.  And then again.  And again until the owner recognized me and the staff started to recognize me and then the regulars started to recognize me.  Unintentionally, I suppose I also became a regular.  I actually lost count of how many times I've been there.

I've not met the man of my dreams at this place.  At this bar I have met plenty of guys who don't want to make time for me.  On the flip side, I have made some dear dear female friends because of this place and I love them to death.  Each time I go I meet more and more wonderful people.

Here's a picture of the place.  Do you recognize it?

So here's to Tokyo's standing bars!  I don't need your stinking tables!

Lipton Tea...

Holy crap it's been weeks since I updated the Lipton Tea feature!

I've managed to try two new Lipton Teas since the last post.  I get so giddy when I see a new Lipton Tea flavor.  It's almost silly how much I love trying new things.

Grape Tea:

I can't really say I'm crazy about this tea.  It tastes like watered down grape juice.

Jasmine Lemon Peel:

This is fantastic!  Unfortunately it's almost gone and the place I bought it doesn't have anymore.  :(

I've got as top three list now.

1. OG Milk Tea
2. 50/50 Tea Lemonade
3. Jasmine Lemon Peel

The list:

Milk Tea
Maple Milk Tea
Lemon Tea
Peach Tea
Earl Grey Milk Tea
Green Apple Tea
50/50 Tea & Lemonade
Tropical Fruit Tea
Chamomile Citrus Tea
Roast Milk Tea
Jasmine Lemon Peel
Grape Tea

My weekend is not over yet.  It's a 3-day!  I hope yours is equally great!

September 14, 2012

A vegetarian foodie in Japan...

It's the weekend which means scouring the internets for delicious recipes and then cooking up said recipes.  (I've already found one!)

Unfortunately it also means doing the dishes and laundry I have procrastinated.  The laundry mostly does itself although I do have to hang it but Japan has yet to get on the dishwasher boat and alas I have to do my own damn dishes.  It's the chore I hate most in the known world.

This also means trying to figure out what to do with myself for the long (3 day) weekend.  I am trying to save money because I decided that my birthday gift to myself next month will be a trip to Tokyo Disneyland and Disney Sea (since we don't have the latter in the US).

Anyway, what you came here for I'm assuming was the food.  ;)

I made a few delicious things this week.  One was pretty much the most delicious pasta ever.

I did broccoli and asparagus because I had some broccoli that I didn't use for another recipe.  I almost ate the entire pan.  I will be making this all the time.  It's really easy and super tasty!
Next I made this sandwich:

Mine is a little different because I would poke myself in the eye with a fork before eating sprouts.  So gross.  Also, I don't think Japan has pepper jack cheese so I just used the standard cheese.  Finally, you must do this.  Make the spread with chives but add dill.  It's pretty much the best spread on the planet.  I learned that trick from another recipe ages ago.  Best thing ever.

I would make these again but maybe a little different.

I really think they need some kind of sauce.  I did put a bit of Tabasco on the muffin.  Maybe pizza sauce next time.

Here's some Japan snacking:

Caramel Latte and salad chips.  I know right?  The chips were good though I have no idea what flavor they were going for.

And finally, I tried roasted chestnuts for the first time:

Funny, I had to move to Japan to do that.

I hope you have a lovely weekend.  I'll be cooking.

September 11, 2012

Happy Anniversary!

(Disclaimer: I am fully aware what day it is but I never post political stuff because I don't want to argue with people.  Ergo no political stuff here or anywhere for that matter.)

Today is my anniversary!  What anniversary you say?  Exactly one year ago today to celebrate "New Girl" (which would premiere in 9 days) I got bangs.

Here's a picture of me today:

Here's an awful picture of me a year ago (freshly fringed):

Can you spot the differences?  Eyebrow piercing!  Dark ends!  Shorter hair!

If you don't know why I got bangs then you don't really know me at all, do you?  I think this marks the longest I've had bangs since I was a child.  Every time I had bangs before it was only for a couple of months.  Anyway, I enjoy the bangs and I think I'll keep them around for a while longer.  ;)

Happy Anniversary to my bangs.

September 10, 2012

Lost in sadness..

About two stops into my journey home a couple got on the train.  He was dressed in a white button up shirt and slacks and I assume he was an IT worker.  He was leading a girl who seemed really tired or possibly drunk.  She was cute and was wearing a blue dress, a cardigan, tights and Mary Jane shoes.  Her manicure was perfect.  He wedged her into the only open seat in our car right between a group of Frenchmen.  I tried not to stare.  After all, it's rude to stare but soon after she sat, tears started to roll down her cheeks.  The man, who I now noticed was carrying her purse as well as his bag and some shopping bags, got a small pink towel out of her bag and roughly dabbed at her cheeks.  After a while, I realized that his method wasn't meant to be cruel, it was just the best he knew how to do.  After the Frenchmen left, she hunched over in her seat and broke out into a full sob.  He continued to mop up her tears, he got her tissue and he even awkwardly patted her on the head from time to time.  My guess was that he was not the cause of her tears.  She couldn't even lift her hands to dab her own tears for a great while.  It wasn't until just before my stop that she took tissues from him and tended to her own tears.  When I disembarked, she was holding his hand.  I tried to make up a story about them as to why she was so sad that she displayed this sadness on a train in Japan where this kind of behavior is most certainly frowned upon.  I came up with nothing.

I don't know why this affected me so much.  Watching this scene unfold, I many times came near tears myself.  Maybe on some superficial level I felt I could relate to her.  I've been on a train, in Japan and sobbing but with no one to take care of me.  If we had been in America, I might have asked her if she was okay.  I really felt like she could use a hug but Japan stopped me from doing either of these things as I'm just supposed to (like everyone else) pretend this isn't happening.  I hope she's okay.  I honestly do.  I hope that tomorrow is a better and brighter day for her.

September 9, 2012

And this is how you trade in flip flops for fashion...

My summer is officially over with the start of this week so I cannot justify living in my sandals any longer.  They are still the most comfortable shoes I own and I still maintain I was either a hippie or Transcendetalist in a past life walking through the grass shoeless and carefree.  I'll never match Japanese girls in that respect.  I still do not understand how they walk everywhere in sometimes ridiculous heels.

Today, I tried to do my eye makeup and I know I can make it look better.  I just need some practice.

Anyway, I am attempting to force it to be cooler by duping Japan with my fall clothing.  It hasn't worked yet and by Friday I was back in shorts.


Sweater and shirt Uniqlo, skirt Goodwill (Gap brand), necklace Forever 21 and boots Kohl's.


Had a freak accident Monday night and sliced into my finger.  I've been using dull knives for like 10 years, I have no idea how sharp new knives actually are.  Anyway, Shirt Uniqlo, jeans Colleen collection (Target), shoes Payless, necklace Kohl's and jacket H&M.


Love love love these pants from Forever 21, shoes Payless, sweater & shirt Uniqlo.

(I do realize that I am a walking advertisement for Uniqlo but their clothes are so damn cheap!  Need to pick up some of their new cardis.)


My poor poor shorts.  The hem came undone part way (which I temporarily fixed) and then all the way when I washed them.  I won't be wearing these until I can fix the hem properly which means (unfortunately) hand sewing.  Shorts Kohl's, shirt Target, shoes Shiekh (from eBay).


Shirt Target, shorts Zara, shoes Fergalicious.

Today, I went shopping with a friend in Kichijōji 吉祥寺 the best place to visit that isn't anywhere near my house.  This place is cool and apparently the place where most people in Tokyo wished they lived.  I wish I lived there but I'd probably be dead broke if I did.  Anyway, today was screaming with deals (the best was either two tops for ¥745 or a pair of flats for ¥950).  I absolutely cannot wait to wear my new clothes but some will sadly have to wait for cooler temperatures.

I hope your weekend turned out to be a happy one. 

September 8, 2012

A vegetarian foodie in Japan...

Today was a productive day.  I scoured the shelves of my local supermarkets (and one not local import market) looking for ingredients for my recently found recipes.  I was 90% successful.  The one ingredient I didn't find was celery.  I've bought it here before so maybe it will appear again (hopefully soon).

Anyway, I've not really started cooking for the week.  This is just a teaser. 

I made some delicious tofu:

I had some trouble finding some of the ingredients but I think with my substitutions it was good.  A bit too oily but that can be remedied if I make it again.

Next, this salad is a weird combination of ingredients but it's actually quite delicious. 

I omitted the bacon but you can throw it in there if you so desire.  Also, I didn't use this to top a lettuce salad.  One final change is I added just a little honey to the dressing, a delightful change.

Are crepes dessert or breakfast food?  I've always eaten crepes for breakfast but here in Japan anything sweet you might think of as a breakfast food (ie. pancakes, waffles and crepes) is a dessert.  Today I had them for dessert and tomorrow they will be breakfast.

Big changes occured where this recipe is concerned.  First of all I don't care for ricotta and even if I did I've never seen it here.  I used softened cream cheese and I mixed it with not only the lemon peel and honey but also some of the leftover lemon boiling water.  These crepes are to die for.  If I can't blog anymore it's because I am too fat having eating an offensive amount of these crepes.

That's it for the food preview.  More to come soon!  I hope your weekend is starting off stellar.

September 4, 2012

Lost in Japanese...

I am trying to learn Japanese.  When I am not working my butt off or exhausted from it, I crack the books.  I am fully aware that learning a language isn't going to come overnight but I am also afraid that in 3 months, I've not made much progress.  Granted I've not been going to classes the entire time but I feel like I should be learning things.  I would like to think I'm quite intelligent but for the first time I feel infantile and stupid.  I try to tell myself that everyone is a baby when they learn a new language but sometimes this doesn't help.

Today I hit another inability to function in Japan due to lack of Japanese wall.  I hate these walls.  They hurt my already fragile pride.  Again it's something that's seemingly so simple but made impossible without the language.  I fully respect and commend anyone who goes to another country and learns the language.  Because it is during this process that the most difficult and the highest hurdles stand in a person's way.  We must run faster and jump higher than those who have been running all their lives.  We often fall but we must get back up and continue to run.  The trials will make us stronger, better and faster runners.  Winning this metaphorical race means understanding a difficult language in a sometimes even more difficult culture.

I guess I'm saying I don't want to give up running.  I've fallen trying to scale yet another high hurdle but I must get back up and brush off the scrapes and push myself to run faster and jump higher.

September 1, 2012

A vegetarian foodie in Japan...

Sorry my posts lately have been all food and clothes.  Apparently, that's all I do these days I eat and wear clothes.  I happen to be doing both right this very moment.

First I made me some delicious taco salad:

Then some Breakfast Quinoa:

I love that it looks like a giant chocolate chip cookie.  :)  I used what I thought to be brown sugar but it ended up being way too sweet.  Impossible right?  I'll cut down the sugar next time.  Also, I used dried blueberries.  This recipe makes 2 servings.  If I were you, I'd double it.

I made pretty much the best vegetarian chili in existence.  Sometimes, I buy things in Japan even if I have no immediate use for them.  Weeks ago I bought a can of chili beans (¥400) just because it reminded me of home.  I finally decided to make something with them and since it was raining yesterday, I figured what better time for chili.  The only problem was I didn't want to go to the store so I invented a chili recipe using what I had here and I'll tell you how to make it.  But first, a photo:

1. Reconstitute sun dried tomatoes in boiling water.  Cool and then throw them in blender or food processor using just enough water to cover them.  (You can use oil packed if you want just make sure you rise off all that oil.)

2.  Fry up some onion.  Add some garlic.

3. Dump in tomato mixture.

4. Dump in a can of chili beans and some of the liquid.

5. Add your favorite chili spices.

6. Simmer until delicious.

Believe me this was the best chili!  If I had cheese I would have topped it with cheese but instead I topped it with some jalapeño slices and sour cream.  So good!

It must be cooking with sun dried tomatoes week.  I also made some Penne with Sun Dried Tomato Pesto.

This was better the second day.  Seriously, don't eat it the first day.  I mean it.  Don't do it.

Finally, I made the best recipe on the planet.

I used more dressing than the recipe called for because I simply love dressing.  Also, I didn't have agave or cilantro (I found spinach).  In fact, I was afraid to even add sugar (as a substitute) because the dressing was so good already.  In the end I added just a pinch of sugar (literally a pinch). 

Well my weekend is almost over.  I hope yours went by more slowly than mine did.