We got a Starbucks! And Potluck Food

First off, Merry Christmas to all my readers that celebrate this holiday.  Although I don't, my husband does, so we have already exchanged gifts, had an extra special breakfast, and will soon head to get some Chinese for dinner (the standard Christmas day out for Jews!)

I am slowly gathering up pictures that have yet to be posted.  I have some time off from work now, which is nice, so I am hoping to get caught up on posts and sharing pictures.  

I know I mentioned this before, but things have gotten very crazy around here and I have found myself without a lot of free time for blogging.  I went from 16 hours at WIC to 31 hours most weeks (going back to 20 in Feb!).  On top of that I was teaching 2 classes, as well as taking 2 classes (in a doctoral program), writing on 2 other websites monthly, and then add in some volunteer activities...yeah, I have been busy!

The good news is that while I may have been too busy to work on this blog, I did have some time to hang out with friends and Ryan.  One of those great evenings with friends included a potluck to celebrate the going away of one of our Key Spouses.  For those of you that are not associated at all with the military you are probably wondering what a Key Spouse it.  Basically this is a squadron appointed volunteer position where I help keep spouses connected to what is going on with the squadron and on base when their spouses are deployed.  We also help organize events for families when our spouses are busy with exercises and extra long days at work.  It is something I really enjoy doing and I love all of my other Key Spouses for our squadron.

Here are some pictures of the foods we made for the going away potluck.

Mac and Cheese
Taco Bar
7 Layer Bean Dip (which I made!)
This bean dip ends up being my quick, go-to recipe for potlucks.  In case you are interested, it is super easy, and here are the ingredients.

Starting from the bottom and working your way up:
Refried beans (I use 1 can fat free refried beans)
Guacamole (I mash 1 avocado with garlic powder and some lime juice)
Diced tomato
Sour cream (I use light)
Green chilies (or jalapenos)
Black olives 
Shredded cheese

Next up I have some pictures to share of the local Japanese apples.  Apples are a major product from the region where I live in Japan.  They can get quite pricey, but for the most part they are some of the highest quality apples you will find.  A few weeks back we found the biggest apple we have ever seen. 

Here it is leading the pack of "baby" apples!
It is a little hard to tell, but this apple is huge.
This picture may give you a better idea of just how bog this apple really is.  Yeah, just a little smaller than my head!  Surprisingly, this was very flavorful.
The apple was to compliment the other items we purchased to make up our sophisticated movie watching snacks.  This included some olives.
We served them in our olive dish that we bought when we lived in the Azores.
Here is the apple inside.
French bread of course.
Who could resist a cheese platter like this?  Certainly not us!
Lots of goodies inside.
We also picked up some Japanese baked goods for the next day.  

Oh, and we enjoyed wine with our cheese plate.  There is always wine!  We lived in Europe for 2 years, so wine is still very much a part of our lifestyle!

Now I want to share a major milestone for this area.  You may not think Starbucks is a big deal, maybe overrated and overpriced, and really just a luxury and not something we need.  But, I know many of you probably still go to Starbucks or at least recognize that this is a coffee symbol and a symbol of the US.  Therefore, living abroad for the last 3 years without access to a Starbucks has increased the value this has for us.  We have plenty of other good coffee chains around, so I could go on living without a Starbucks, but that didn't stop us from driving 30 minutes to get to the new Starbucks in Hachinohe.
Tokyo and other areas already have Starbucks, so this is not new to Japan.  However, I think the nearest Starbucks to the base (not counting the cafes on base that brew Starbucks) is about 90 minutes away.  This is the first location in this area and people went nuts when it opened.  Nuts?  Not kidding, I heard that traffic blocked up the roads and wait times for the drive through was insane.  I read one article that said people waited 7 hours in line to sample coffee.  Yeah, we were not those people.  We waited until about a month or so after opening before trying it out.  It was busy, but not a ridiculous wait.  I was definitely glad we went.

Here is the parking lot.  They picked a good location.  Across the street you can see the hospital.
Inside they had many good looking food options, but we just stuck with ordering drinks.
Nearing the end here, I promise.  I know this post is not the most exciting! 

Here is a red wine that Ryan and I bought when we were in Paris.  It traveled back to Portugal with us and then all the way to Japan.  Thankfully we were able to ship our wine collection in our household goods.  
We enjoyed this wine with some perogies, which Ryan cooked up for us.  They were not as good as our homemade ones, but they were good, and certainly took less time than the homemade ones.
That brings me to my last picture.  I had a Scentsy Party!  I had never heard of this company until I moved overseas and I am definitely hooked.  I am allergic to a lot of scents, but I have also found tons that I can tolerate.  I even use it in my office at work.  My office smells like peaches, which I love because I am a dietitian and get to talk about healthy eating with our WIC participants.  Here is Ashley, my lovely (and very pregnant) Scentsy consultant.  She is awesome!  I had some friends show up and we all had a nice afternoon playing some games and smelling the scents.

QUESTIONS:  Have you ever heard of Scentsy?  Are you a Starbucks fan?  What did you do to celebrate Christmas?


Biz said...

I could have cheese and wine for dinner most nights and be perfectly happy with that!!

Hooray for Starbucks! I only treat myself to one or two a year - I had one when I was hanging out with my daughter last week - the skinny peppermint latte was only 130 calories!

eatingRD said...

Glad you had a good holiday and some quality time off :) That's always nice. I am actually getting more into essential oils for scents and health. We made a nice xmas eve dinner and everything turned out yummy! Happy New Year!

Astra Libris said...

Happy belated Chanukah! :-) I have gotten hooked on scentsy recently! I love having one in my office... I'm so excited to read about your spouses club!! One of my good friends and her husband were recently transferred to your base!!!

Kristen (swanky dietitian) said...

That mac n cheese look fabulous!!
A Starbucks!??! Exciting! And officially there must be a Starbucks everywhere. I swear they are going to take over the world! ha.

Roz @ weightingfor50 said...

Happy Holidays Melinda. I'm looking forward to following your wonderful adventures in 2013.

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