Quantum Cleanse Week Three Reflections

First I want to give some tips about what made this cleanse mostly doable for me. My top tip is to have easy snackable foods ready-made in your fridge. For me, that was at least one kind of healthful, filling spread for rice crackers or veggies available at all times. When you are hungry, instead of feeling like you have to get by on nuts (which are also super helpful!), you can have a mini meal that tastes delicious, has lots of nutrients, and fills you up. My favorites were homemade tapenade, which is high calorie but has that umami flavor that I craved a lot, plus a good amount of vitamins from the large amounts of parsley and basil I added. I also used a lot of hummus and a white bean and roasted red pepper “hummus” that was really delicious and a bit different.

Tip number 2 is protein shakes. I know Kathy Freston would disagree that I needed more protein, but I got so hungry, and just had a feeling like I was wasting away, which a quick little protein shake cured. I use a protein powder that has some fructose in it, which is like so totally bad for you, I know, but I did not want to buy something new. I am all about not wasting resources and money. Protein shakes were great for me as a mini meal, because these vegan and gluten free meals were filling at the time, but I would end up being hungry a couple of hours afterwards. I sometimes would make them for myself right before running out the door so I wouldn’t have to subsist on nuts while out and about.

Tip number 3 is use umami! Mmmmm, that savory flavor that the Japanese consider the fifth taste, after sweet, sour, salty and bitter is so necessary when you are cutting out the meatiness of animal products. I didn’t realize that beets are considered to have the umami flavor until the last week, so it was just coincidence that I happened to keep a stash of fresh steamed and cubed beets in the fridge that I added to everything from salads to sandwiches. Mushrooms are high on the umami list too, and although I didn’t find any specific reference to this, I believe olives are too. I ate a lot of olives! Other foods high in umami include tomatoes, wine, beer, fermented foods like sauerkraut, dried sea vegetables, and nutritional yeast. Roasting, caramelizing and grilling foods also brings out the umami flavors in foods.  

Tip four is drink homemade juice for breakfast! Homemade juice is still high in sugars, but it is also really high in nutrients, so it inevitably, for me, gets my day off to a good start. On the days where I was too rushed or lazy to make juice, I always felt a little less sparkle in my step. We have a fancy Angel Juicer and it was a great investment. We missed our morning juice a LOT when we were on the road.

Now, for the final reflections:

I liked this cleanse. But it is soooooo restrictive that I did hate it several times throughout the process. I was so angry at the limits I had put on myself as well as Kathy Freston´s tone in her book. OK, I was eating vegan without too much trouble. It wasn´t fair to not have gluten, either! And then a glass of wine was forbidden, TOO? REALLY?

I didn’t feel like that the whole time, just occasionally. And I did slip up. This last week especially, I have slid, dramatically, from the 1000% adherence the first week. I ate smoked salmon at a birthday party. I drank wine. I took cold medicine, which is probably off limits even though it doesn’t say so specifically. I drank hot lemonade sweetened with honey for my sore throat and cough. I used chicken bouillon in my soup because we were out of veggie and I was sick and didn’t feel like going to the store. Finally, I ate a veggie burger on normal bread that was probably not vegan. But I don’t feel I did these things in any sort of malicious way to the planet or to my body.

Mostly I was proud of myself. And mostly I felt good about how I was eating and how I was feeling. I didn’t feel like the plan made me thousands of times more energetic or peaceful or clear skinned or some of the things she promised, although I did not follow her meditation schedule, but my own. My skin was quite clear until I started adding in an animal product or two, actually. I was sleeping well, but I have never had a problem with that, except when I was pregnant.

I guess the biggest benefit has been that my body feels lighter. I am lighter. I have lost 3kg, or over 6 pounds. But it feels more efficient or something. I like that. I want to find a way where I can eat out and with family and friends more easily but still maintain that feeling. Maybe it is impossible.

Update: I have introduced everything back in, and I think that dairy gives me eczema. I think that gluten makes me feel bloated, but I don’t want to cut out everything with gluten. I don’t want to eat anything from animals that have not been raised compassionately. I think I might try to be 90% vegetarian and 75% vegan or something like that. We will see how it goes.

 

Meals week 3

 

Sunday

Breakfast: Mushroom and spinach skillet with roasted sweet potatoes.

Lunch: White bean stew and tapenade leftovers (recipes from Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook – WLNC)

Dinner: Brown rice, black beans, avocado and tali sauce (Recreation of the Whole Bowl from Portland)

 

Monday

Breakfast: Vegan gluten free cornbread leftovers with vegan spread; carrot, apple, beet, lemon, ginger and watermelon juice

Lunch: Rice milk smoothie with protein powder and banana; almonds; cashews

Dinner: Leftover black bean quick chili – beans, a can of tomatoes, garlic, onions, red peppers and spices with leftover cornbread

Snacks: Herbal tea, gluten free vegan bread with vegan butter

 

Tuesday

Breakfast: Beet, carrot, cucumber, celery, apple and lemon juice and cornbread leftovers

Lunch: Bouillon with carrots, celery, garlic and fresh thyme

Dinner: Lentil soup

Snacks: Banana, almonds, herbal tea, dried apricots

 

Wednesday

Breakfast: Beet, carrot, cucumber, celery, apple and lemon juice and gluten free vegan pancakes.

Lunch: leftover lentil soup and tapenade with crackers

Dinner: Whole meal salad with tofu, beets, carrots, spring onions, almonds, avocado and tahini lemon dressing

Snacks: Banana, almonds, rice crackers, herbal tea

 

Thursday

Breakfast: Beet, carrot, cucumber, celery, watermelon, ginger and apple juice and gluten free vegan bread with olive oil and sea salt

Lunch: Leftover lentil soup and cornbread and tapenade on vegan gluten free bread

Dinner: Veggie burger on a gluteny bun with parmesan cheese (meal out, not vegan, not gluten free, but I did not order a shake or fries, which I thought was a victory)

Snacks: Rice milk smoothie with banana and protein powder, Japanese rice crackers, almonds, olives, spinach salad with steamed beets, sunflower seeds, lemon juice and olive oil. Wine. (whoops!)

 

Friday

Breakfast: Gluten free bread with vegan butter

Lunch: Beans and rice

Dinner: Black beans and tali sauce

Snacks: Herbal tea, protein smoothie with banana and rice milk

 

Saturday

Breakfast: Homemade juice and gluten free bread.

Lunch: Sandwiches – gluten free bread with organic peanut butter and banana

Dinner: Lentil soup with tomato salad for starter

Snacks:  Rice crackers, Almonds, herbal tea, banana

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Quantum Cleanse Week Two Reflections

This week on the Quantum Cleanse was harder than I thought it was going to be. I started out really strong. I had refused a lot of tasty food while my in-laws were visiting, but it left a nasty feeling in me – like I had given up a lot so I deserved a treat. I hate that.

But soon I was running low on inspiration. Hubby was away three days and usually I get a little excited to be able to cook whatever I want (heavy on the soups, stews, and mushroom dishes, yay!), but I had a hard time getting anything done because Kiddo decided not to nap for three days in a row, and be extremely clingy, so I was not able to cook really. I managed to make a couple of decent meals, that made great leftovers, but I didn’t feel like heating up damn leftovers the next day, I wanted something new! And then Hubby came home and didn’t want to eat leftovers either. I had a breakdown and ate some cheese. I also got drunk. I also had coffee. (Not all at once ;)) 

But you know what?

The morning after I ate cheese, I inched forward in my weight loss – I went down another pound. Maybe I ate less other food because I was so satiated from cheese? Maybe it was a coincidence.

I don’t know. I like the idea of eating more vegan foods, but this week made me doubtful that I can maintain it long term, and all the time. I read a blog this week that hit home. Four writers had gone vegan for a month, and afterwards, they each were pleasantly surprised with the meals, the food, and the relative ease (although they are in the US, the vegan food selection in Norway is almost non existent), but none of them would continue full time. They would be sometimes-vegans. Strict vegans are squirming uncomfortably right now, and I totally get that, but also, I do think it would be a terrific revolution if more people could eat vegan some of the time. It there wasn’t a huge stigma to trying to add more vegan meals into our lives, but not the total commitment that turns a lot of people off. Food is related too much of our culture, for better or for worse. Birthday parties, religious holidays, Friday night pizza, family favorites, comfort food…it is so tied up in these things. I agree that just because it is a part of the culture doesn’t mean it is okay, but I think the world would be a much healthier place if people didn’t feel like they had to give up all of that, but they could just eat more consciously. They could sprinkle nutritional yeast on their popcorn instead of butter. They could grab a veggie burger instead of a beef burger. They could have bean and sweet potato burritos, no cheese needed. But they wouldn’t have to promise to always do that.

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This was the gluten free, vegan pizza that broke the cleanse for Hubby. For me, it was proof that if you want pizza, you should eat pizza, and it you want vegan, gluten free pizza, you should probably eat something that is naturally vegan and gluten free….

  

Meals week 2

 

Sunday

Breakfast: carrot, apple, beet, lemon, ginger and watermelon juice; vegan gluten free cornbread leftovers with vegan spread.

Lunch: Mushroom, tofu, green onion, spinach and rice stirfry

Dinner: Rice paper wraps with rice noodles, hummus, beets, napa cabbage, carrots and spinach.

 

Monday

Breakfast: Vegan gluten free cornbread leftovers with vegan spread; carrot, apple, beet, lemon, ginger and watermelon juice

Lunch: Homemade tapenade from the Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook (WLCB) on rice crackers; spinach salad with beets, avocado, chickpeas and lemon juice.

Dinner: Chickpea coconut curry over brown rice, from WLNC

Snacks: Herbal tea, rice crackers

 

Tuesday

Breakfast: Beet, carrot, cucumber, celery, apple and lemon juice and cornbread leftovers

Lunch: Rice cakes with beets, hummus, avocado and spinach

Dinner: Leftover chickpea coconut curry and brown rice

Snacks: Banana, almonds, herbal tea, dried apricots

 

Wednesday

Breakfast: Beet, carrot, cucumber, celery, apple and lemon juice and gluten free vegan pancakes.

Lunch: Homemade rice crackers with hummus and vegetable and almond pate from WLNC (weird, do not recommend!)

Dinner: White bean stew with homemade tapenade, both recipes from WLNC

Snacks: Banana, almonds, rice crackers, herbal tea

 

Thursday

Breakfast: Beet, carrot, cucumber and apple juice and leftover gluten free vegan pancakes.

Lunch: Leftover Curry

Dinner: White bean stew with homemade tapenade, both recipes from WLNC

Snacks: Banana, dried apricots, rice crackers, almonds

 

Friday

Breakfast: Beet/carrot/apple/celery/lemon juice and apple grain free almond flour vegan muffins that I made mini for Kiddo

Lunch: Leftover bean stew and tapenade

Dinner: Vegan gluten free pizza (This was so….interesting that Hubby stopped doing the cleanse. He was so disgusted by it. I thought it was good for dinner, but NOT FOR BREAKFAST REHEATED!)

Snacks: Herbal tea, banana, mini muffins, tapenade on rice crackers

 

Saturday

Breakfast: Leftover pizza

Lunch: Tapenade and white bean dip on homemade rice crackers; vegetable and almond pate.

Dinner: Caprese salad (with mozzarella WHOOPS) and asparagus. And wine.  

Snacks:  Rice crackers, banana, protein shake with homemade almond milk, banana, avocado and chocolate protein powder

On being home

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My daughter and I hanging out after an appointment, watching some big machines do their work.

Suddenly we are home. We have no place we have to go during the day. No shops to check out, no museums we must see, no zoos to visit, no lunch to be found and no dinner either.

We are home, waking up, taking the dog, making breakfast, buying groceries and doing laundry. Today I washed sheets for the first time in a half a year. I feel a bit annoyed, like 5%, at having to clean up the kitchen several times a day, but not really. Really, I am happy that I can prepare healthy food that I choose, from a recipe, and try to find things that my family and I will like.

So that is nice.

With Kiddo, it is hard to tell how the big uprooting is affecting her. She has been having super big meltdowns. We had put the pause button on requiring much of her. She was being a great kid on the trip, but she was also watching a lot of videos, eating a lot of junk food, and otherwise having habits that I generally hope she wouldn’t do under normal conditions. Now, I think it has been an adjustment. She had a meltdown asking for chips the other day. Someone who stayed in our apartment through airbnb had bought them and left an unopened packet, and I made the mistake of offering them to her when I was trying to finish a phone call, and then she wanted them for the rest of the day. But she hasn’t asked for them since.

She wants to watch videos, but not as much as when we were on the trip. I am pretty radical about screen time in that I believe that if allowed unlimited access (or just about), it becomes one other toy in a whole world of toys, and not a limited and therefore attractive good. So I was a bit concerned that she became used to seeing a lot of videos and playing with a lot of apps since those were easy to have with us, and our small stash of toys was not constantly appealing. Now that we are home, she will go all day without asking for the iPad. She still can get a bit overloaded if she watches it for a long time, but then I try to talk to her about it and find other things to focus on, and she will then forget about it for hours and hours.

She still likes books! We only had one book with us. Well, we had a few more, but we sent them home from Hawaii because they were just taking up space and there were so many things we were doing in the day we were making up our own stories. Now, she goes looking for her books, and loves talking about the pictures and the stories. A lot of video time did not make her forget that books are their own kind of magical, too.

She is still a music loving, animal loving kid. We tried to give her access to these pursuits on our trip (mostly animals, but also listening to music in the car and in the hotel/motel rooms), but it is different when you are out in the world, with beaches and car trips and new birds and zoos and cool museums and things – and I think it can be hard to be sure if your passions are still there or if you are just a passive spectator to exhibits that look nice. To illustrate my point, which I am not sure I am making well at all, I have a story:

We were watching Enchanted, the movie, because I was tired of playing with blocks and the toy kitchen and I heard “Happy Working Song” on my run and thought it would be fun to watch it with her. When it started, I thought, “oh dear, what have you done? It is an over the top princess movie, with full on stereotyped ditzy princesses and knights in shining armor and what have I done?” Well, the thing she hasn’t stopped talking about was about rescuing the dragon, which was actually the evil queen, who gets killed by the valiant Patrick Dempsey. We went outside for a walk this morning to “rescue the dragon!” “with a plane!” “woohoooooo!”

Okay, so my daughter is still able to take a lot of stimuli and walk away with her passions intact – living creatures, big or small, imaginary or not. It was a fun lesson.

Speaking of coming out of a passive tourist state, I have been getting back into meditation. I went to a course on Saturday about the Buddhist concept of the art of loving kindness. It was interesting and it gave me an even deeper respect for Buddhists. I tried reading a book one time and I don’t think I would ever be a full on Buddhist, but I do like their teachings a lot. As I discussed with one of the participants at the course, Buddhism seems to be the only religion that doesn’t qualify their teachings on love with “but.” Like, “love thy neighbor, unless he is of another religion, and then convert him.” Or something.

Anyway, it is nice to be back and to be able to do other things than just looking around and seeing new and exciting things. It is nice to be able to lose myself in a book, to explore interested that came up or deepened while on the road, without feeling like I am taking time away from seeing a place I don’t know if I will ever see again. I have sewed a lot since we got back. I have cooked for more hours in the last three weeks than I have in the last maybe months before we left, even. We have just been outside to be outside, not to catch a bus and go across town and no something. And when we have had to go across town and do things (an amazingly long list of things pile up to do when you are gone half a year! – well baby visits, residence permits, vet appointments, and so on), we take our time. We pack a lunch and sit around, watching construction sites when we come upon them and collecting leaves or rocks at other times. It is pretty awesome.

Traveling the world was amazing, but so is coming home. 

The Quantum Cleanse: clearing out my mind and body after 5 months on the road

Our trip was amazing. All of the places we visited had their charms, and it would be difficult to say what the best all around place was that we went. (No it wouldn’t. Tioman!) 

But sometimes, the draw of home is strong, regardless. I think I am not too much of a routine person, because I do like doing new things, but I do start to miss some things about being in one place, like being able to exercise regularly (I will post more about my journey to exercise throughout the trip later) and being able to cook my own meals. I think I am routine “light” – I like to be able to have a few days a week where I am more in control of my environment or my days than it is in control of me (and I am a SAHM of a toddler? Good luck!), but then I like to do different things too, like take a hike on a weekend even though we are not regular hikers.

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Really? I needed SO many noodles? Probably not.

But the main thing I guess was the food and exercise imbalance that we found ourselves in come the end of the trip. We were eating too much, drinking too much, and not ever moving our bodies into the high intensity zone. Add that to the weirdness of coming back to reality, being done with our big adventure, wondering where we were in the world and where we were going.

There is something about being out in the world and seeing lots of different people and places that puts the big picture into perspective. I am talking about realizing how your daily life impacts the environment and other countries (there are no borders on the air or sea as far as toxins and sea life are concerned).  I am talking about realizing that not everyone has the same issues swishing around in the heads as they make their way to their jobs and navigate their days. I am talking about how small you feel when you fly thousands of miles, get off the plane, and see millions of people walking around, in some place you have never gone and might not ever go again!

All that does something to you. I wanted to have a reset button so we could assimilate all the things we experienced into bodies and minds that were ready for them.

So. I thought of a cleanse that my good friend did. It is called the Quantum Cleanse, and involves abstaining from “the big five” or animal products, alcohol, caffeine, gluten, and refined sugar for 21 days, in order to cleanse your body but also your mind, if you will. And Hubby was down! So we started the first full day we got home. It’s been good. I have lost a couple pounds already (water weight?), and am, for the first time in a long time, am being conscious about what I am putting in my body. For me, having the rules (no gluten especially!) means I eat no junk, whatsoever, because the rules say not to. Because they have gluten. Or dairy. Or white sugar.

Also, I have realized that I get more likely to eat less healthful foods when I am hungry (like I have read a zillion times before), when it is the afternoon slump (read that too), or when I am emotional. I also have sweets cravings after I eat, and around 3-4pm, and before bed. It will be interesting to see how much of this is from habit or addiction (I totally am addicted to sugar – the headache for 48 hours was totally a sugar withdrawal headache). I haven’t craved other things, like burgers or anything. Fries and chips, maybe, which technically are allowed, but I am avoiding because of the slippery slope, and because I don’t want to interpret the rules in a way that makes eating processed snack foods okay.

A couple of interesting things: I had a couple glasses of wine on Day 7. It wasn’t even as nice as I had imagined it would be. I bought some rice crackers that accidentally had brown rice syrup in them, and then were SO sweet. Too sweet to eat. Unfortunately they had flecks of seaweed in them or Kiddo probably would have liked them (I tried, but she wanted me to get those bits out). Herbal tea is an amazing way to cut cravings, as are bananas, as are avocados (I guess I am used to eating a LOT more fat, probably from dairy and cheese). 

I am looking forward to seeing how the rest of the weeks go, since next weekend I have a baby shower and kid´s birthday party to go to, and I have other things during the week where I would normally drink wine or nibble on foods.

 

Meals week 1

 

Sunday

Breakfast: baked diced sweet potatoes and regular potatoes; carrot, apple and cucumber juice.

Lunch: curried rice salad with squash, raisins and cashews, roasted potatoes, green salad (at a brunch).

Dinner: Steamed naan bread (from M.A.G. blog), red lentil daal from the Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook (WLNC) and curried vegetables also from WLNC. (P.S. – everything I have made from WLNC has been really good, although some of the desserts were not a hit for my guests. I really recommend this book!)

Snacks: Banana, carrots, almonds, herbal tea

 

Monday

Breakfast: Gluten free vegan pancakes

Lunch: Leftover dinner from Sunday

Dinner: Whole Meal Salad (lettuce with soaked raw almonds, cubed/pan-fried tofu, carrots, cubed steamed beets, avocado and a lemon tahini dressing) from WLNC

Snacks: Banana, carrots, almonds, herbal tea

 

Tuesday

Breakfast: Beet, carrot, cucumber, celery, apple and lemon juice and a banana

Lunch: Leftovers from Sunday´s dinner

Dinner: Rice paper wraps: rice paper filled with spinach, julienned carrots and cucumber, green onion, avocado, steamed beets, rice noodles, and tons of hummus.

Snacks: Banana, almonds, herbal tea, dried apricots

 

Wednesday

Breakfast: Beet, carrot, cucumber, celery, apple and lemon juice and gluten free vegan pancakes.

Lunch: Last of the leftovers from Sunday´s dinner (made a lot!)

Dinner: Quinoa, mushroom and green lentil pilaf (great, except I messed up and used bouillon instead of broth and it was barely edible for dinner, and I had to throw the rest out. So don’t make that same mistake!)

Snacks: Banana, almonds, an orange, hummus, herbal tea

 

Thursday

Breakfast: Beet, carrot, cucumber and apple juice and leftover gluten free vegan pancakes.

Lunch: Whole Meal Salad from Monday

Dinner: Vegan Mac n Cheese (adapted from rouxbe and Save the Kales) with broccoli

Snacks: Banana, dried apricots, hummus and leftover rice noodles and carrots, hazelnut milk with melted vegan chocolate in it (whoops – it had sugar in it, but I thought I had raw cacao and was going to use that but I didn’t, and I had already heated the milk ;))

 

Friday

Breakfast: Beet/carrot/apple/celery/lemon juice and steamed brown rice

Lunch: Japanese rice crackers, leftover vegan mac and cheese with broccoli

Dinner: Black bean soup (except I added two chilies and left out the bell peppers) with a dollop of vegan sour cream and cilantro and vegan gluten free cornbread

Snacks: Carrots and hummus, banana, rice crackers

 

Saturday

Breakfast: Leftover cornbread with olive oil spread and beet/carrot/apple/watermelon juice

Lunch: Quinoa and sweet potatoes, iceberg lettuce salad with olive oil, rice cake (lunch at a Buddhist meditation center), banana

Dinner: Black bean soup (except I added two chilies and left out the bell peppers) with a dollop of vegan sour cream and cilantro, roasted potatoes in vegan butter, and steamed asparagus with olive oil.

Snacks:  Rice crackers, protein shake with homemade almond milk, banana, avocado and chocolate protein powder

Welcome home!

We are home!

I don’t feel like writing the whole long spiel about the plane ride. It wasn’t the best; it wasn’t the worst. Hubby used miles to upgrade us to business class, which was amazing, and honestly I don’t know how horrible it would have been had we been crammed in the back, with Kiddo´s mood. Basically, we didn’t prepare well for this flight because we just were so out of it with the thought of going home, and seeing the dog, and packing up all the stuff, and remembering everything in our bags, that we didn’t download new videos for Kiddo and she didn’t get to run around outside for the whole last few days we were in Tokyo, so the consequence was that she was not happy to just sit and chill in her seat like she so often is known to do. She wanted a change of scene every 2-15 minutes. Which is normal toddler behavior, but frankly, exhausting and irritating when you just don´t have that much to offer on a plane! Not a lot of space, not a lot of variety, not endless kinds of food, or toys, or drinks, or anything. So, we survived just fine, but Mama had to use all sorts of Zen breathing and so forth to get through. I told Hubby in no uncertain terms that I was not up for flying with her anytime soon. Enough is enough!

Anyway, we got home, and because Kiddo only slept an hour after her Tokyo bedtime until we actually went to bed (a seven hour time difference, or is it eight?), the jet lag seems to be going okay for everyone. We all slept 8 hours the first night, which was unexpected and nice. It was great to see Poodle. It was great to sleep in our bed. It was great to cook some food this morning and make some juice in our Angel Juicer. It was so normal, it felt like we never even left!

Since we had been renting out our place through airbnb, we were half expecting anything from small scratches to huge disasters when we got here, but it was perfect. Practically better than we left it!

We tried to take the dog for a walk all together this morning, but Kiddo wanted to hold the leash, and she fell when Poodle drew too hard on the leash and scratched herself, so Hubby went ahead and we went back. Kiddo is thrilled to have her toys again. That is nice. 

We haven’t been doing much, just wandering around, unpacking, doing laundry, playing with our new toys and such. We have been awake for a lot of hours, and it feels sort of surreal to be here. We also started a diet/cleanse/clean-eating plan (after eating out almost constantly for 5 months, we need a jumpstart to feeling better!) so that probably adds to the weird feeling. I have been awake for almost 8 hours and only eaten some potatoes, fresh juice, and almonds, and I am not even hungry. That is very unlike me.

I sort of don’t have it in me to reflect right now, but I just wanted to catch up to the present so that when I feel like reflecting, I can do so.

We will see what shape the blog takes over the next period. I want to keep writing, because I am enjoying it, but also because the adventure is continuing with remodeling our house and moving to a new city. The craziest part might be over, but the year is not done!

Another few days in Tokyo – also known as, time to shop!

We have been on the road for a long time, and haven´t accumulated much more stuff, other than a huge cooler, a couple of bottles of wine, and some shells. And a fast-fading tan.

But we always knew we would want to shop for some crazy Japanese stuff, just to really decimate our budget before we come home. We wanted to buy some knives, those really sharp and amazing Japanese knives we have a couple of at home but wanted more – and the real sharpening tools you can only get here. We wanted to get crazy Japanese toys and kid´s stuff. And then while we have been here, the list has been growing: Japanese robes (called yukata), a Japanese water boiler, tiny stickers, kids socks, art/origami supplies, cute Japanese patterened fabrics, miso soup bowls…and the kicker, a Washlet – a Japanese heated toilet seat with bidet and bum spray functions.

Ok, are you done laughing? These functions are amazing. The first day in Tokyo, I tried the bum sprayer and I couldn’t stop laughing for about 5 minutes. It was just so…accurate! But soon, we were both looking forward to the next chance we could use them. Ok, maybe not “looking forward to”, but it added a nice finish to something otherwise rather unpleasant, or something. I am not explaining myself well. Anyway, we wanted to get one – you can buy just the seat cover, which connects to water and electricity for heat. I can´t believe 3 months ago I wanted to get a composting toilet and now here we are buying a super fancy toilet seat. BUT, the idea is that you use less toilet paper. We shall see.

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Hubby holding tight to our “Shower Toilet” and water boiler on the local train.

Anyway, we spent the last days shopping. We went to Tokyu Hands, which is a crafting superstore. Seven floors of stationary, origami, kitchen stuff, fabrics (bad selection, but still), pet supplies, art supplies, and that kind of stuff. We stumbled upon a fabric store where I bought an embarrassing amount of cute Japanese (and some not even vaguely Japanese) prints and knits. Two of them were Mickey Mouse prints. Kiddo was ecstatic. We went to Akihabara, which is the electronics shopping area near Asakusa, and bought a toilet seat (not Toto brand, unfortunately, because they don’t have the right voltage), a water boiler, and two electric toothbrushes for Kiddo. (We have a minor/major problem with teeth brushing in our house, depending on who you ask. We bought one first and then we saw a Minnie Mouse one, so we had to get that one too.) Then we went to get miso soup bowls and a couple other things over on Kappabashi Dori, the kitchen street we already went to once. On our last day, we went to an amazing toy story called Hakuhinkan Toy Park in Ginza, which is a five story toy store with amazing selection of the most random Japanese toys, where we spent too much money and had a surprisingly nice time (not the usually stressful experience of Kiddo trying to throw stuff or grab it and so on). We also had to hit up Uniqlo once last time for clean socks and sweats and Muji for additional baggage (plus they have really cute and small markers and craft books – and I finally bought an aromatherapy diffuser – which I have wanted for years!). We looked like the craziest people on the last two days, carting around bags and bags and front carrying a slim but tall as crap two year old.

We failed a bit at eating good food. When we first arrived back in Tokyo, it had been a long day of train travel from Takayama, and Kiddo needed some hotel room time, and Hubby wasn´t feeling well, so we ended up grabbing a quick bite in the train station, and then the next night, Hubby wasn’t even hungry for dinner (poor guy!) so I just went to 7-11 for some ramen. I could have gone to the food court but I just couldn’t face the crowds and the lines. Lazy introvert! Although the last night, we ate great sushi at one of the best sushi places in Tokyo (someone told us this while we waited in line for 1.5 hours to get a table – they don’t take reservations). We had tuna sashimi and some nigiri and half a California roll, for good measure. It was a great way to close out the Japanese food experience.

The last night, we switched hotels from the Prince Sakura Tower for one night in the Imperial Hotel. We had to do it that way so we could store our luggage while we were choo-chooing around Japan on the Shinkansen. We couldn’t have carted around the cooler we hauled with us from Australia and the carseat. It would have been ridiculous! We could have dumped both of those things in Australia, but we decided we would stomach the extra storage costs while we were in Tioman and while we were exploring Japan by rail in order to keep the carseat – which Kiddo loves because it has a cow cover, and the cooler, which is a really nice one that you cant find in Norway. Anyway, my point is that, we stayed in a fancy hotel the last night. You might recall that we got a great deal on a room the first time we stayed there, in March, because Hubby is amazing and found out that you can get half off the room rates in March. Well, I guess we were their only repeat customers or something, because they upgraded us, for free, to a SUITE for our last night there. It was amazing. There was even a guest toilet. I felt like royalty. And most importantly, we had tons of space, enough that Hubby, the packmaster, could manage to fit all the crap we had bought into the bags while Kiddo and I could do something else (Kiddo is definitely in a “take everything out of where you put it” phase. As well as a “throwing things” phase).

All in all, the last days in Tokyo were a fun and fast closing to our time in Japan. 

Takayama and the Japanese Alps

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Looking out onto the Japanese Alps from our hotel room in Takayama

The beautiful train ride to Takayama was over two hours long. It was a pretty nice scenic route. It seems we weren’t the only tourists on our way to Takayama, a city I initially wanted to avoid because it is known for being touristy. The train was full of groups of white people on tours! We decided to go to Takayama for a change of scene before we went back to Tokyo. Even though we didn’t really want to be cold, we wanted to see more than just southern Japan. And there was a direct, but scenic train from Nagoya. So, Takayama it was. (Or takoyaki, as we like to call it, because Hubby can´t keep the two straight – takoyaki are fried octopus fritters and Takayama is a town a couple hundred kilometers north of Nagoya.)

The hotel had a shuttle, so we didn’t even have to spring for a taxi to get the 3km to the hotel. It was nice. The hotel was very opulent but not too bad for a couple carting around a toddler who is in a throwing stage, so that was good. We were both feeling over being tourists with the same hoards who came off the train with us, so we holed up in our room and watched YouTube videos of Chip and Dale and Donald Duck. We were just going to eat ramen at the hotel restaurant, but we decided to venture out. Hubby found a burger shop called Center 4 Burgers on TripAdvisor – the best rated restaurant in Takayama! So off we went. We took the shuttle into town and walked a mile or so to the burger shop, which was OMG the hippest place we have been to in Japan so far. We thought the people who worked there must be, like, the coolest kids in town. But the best part BY FAR was the AMAZING burgers we had. I had a double cheeseburger and Hubby had a single cheeseburger and Kiddo had fries. We were full and happy and took a taxi home. Kiddo fell asleep in the Ergo and we thought she was done for the day, but she woke up at 9:30 with spades of energy and we were not so happy anymore. But it was fine, we watched more Chip and Dale and were only up until 1:30am with her :/ That is what you get when a two year old doesn’t get outside much and takes a 2.5 hour nap at 7pm!

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One of the best burgers I have tasted – at Center 4 Burgers in Takayama.

 The next day we went out on the town. We bought some toys, saw some cute streets, and went back to Center 4 Burgers for lunch because we are LAME! It was amazing, again. I got a cheeseburger and a chocolate shake, and Kiddo ate half of Hubby´s Hida beef burger.

We went back to the hotel for some post large meal R&R and Kiddo got to play with her new toys with Dada. We ate ramen in the hotel pub that night and Kiddo annoyed the servers by playing under the tables. Sorry, lady, but we don´t care if she gets a little dirty, we just want to eat our noodles while they are warm!

I was ready to go to sleep at 9:30 but no one else was. Finally we crashed and it was time again for big city life!