Food Stand Heaven: Commune 246

At the beginning of last summer my family and I took a trip to Aoyama. Aoyama is an upscale shopping and entertainment district not too far from Harajuku and Shibuya. While exploring, we found a small narrow alley that expanded into a larger sized space called Commune 246.

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*Commune 246 located at 3 chome-13 Minamiaoyama, Minato,Tokyo. Open 11a – 10p

Commune 246  is host to about 11 food stands, each having their own special style. I was so amazed by the area; it was stylish, cool, and hip. There were different varieties of stands ranging from: vegan, organic Hawaiian food, Indian, and Thai. 

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With so many places to choose from it was hard to pick just one place to try, but we agreed to try Brooklyn Ribbon Fries. The ribbons fries came in two different sizes: small and large. There were 4 signature flavors: Sea Salt & Black Pepper, All Spice, Cinnamon Sugar, and Onion Gratin Soup. My husband and I tried a large Sea Salt & Black Pepper, which cost about ¥550 each.

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The ribbon fries were delicious and fun to eat! If you decide to check out Brooklyn Ribbon Fries, I would recommend making it the first place on your list while in Aoyama; they run out of potatoes pretty fast. I cannot wait until we head back to try the other stands. I had my eyes on the organic Hawaiian food truck!

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Book Review: Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons by Lorna Landvik

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SUMMARY:

Without giving too many spoilers…
The  women of Freesia Court  lived  four decades of  laughter, heartache, and friendship together  through their book club they named Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons  or AHEB for short. There’s Faith, a mother of twins who has been living a lie, Audrey, who is very comfortable with her sexuality; Merit, a shy woman  who is in  an abusive marriage. Kari, the eldest of the group, receives a gift she’s been wanting, and then there’s Slip, a small woman who has a lot of passion in what she believes in and will stand up for any cause.

 

MY THOUGHTS:

I desperately try to stay away from any book that I think will make me cry from start to finish, but I picked this book because I needed an escape from the dystopian worlds I have gotten myself lost in.  Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons was a perfect choice for me! I really enjoyed this book and yes, a few tears fell. I loved Lorna Landvik’s writing style.The characters were rich and very genuine. I felt myself in every scene. I shared every emotion the characters had; the happy and the sad. It was like I was in their special book club circle. Angry Housewives made me cherish my own relationships with my friends back home in Missouri and thankful  for the new friends I made while in Japan.  This book makes you think about family, books, food, and booze.

One of my favorite moments in the book was when the ladies heard a noise coming  from Merit’s house. That scene was strong and showed just  how powerful their friendship was and, also a great moment for Faith.

I haven’t made it to my own book club meeting about this book, but a friend and I were having a talk about it and there was only one thing we felt was off about this book. Audrey, the sex kitten, she has a “gift” that was mentioned and was KIND OF   the basis of her character. Sorry, one spoiler!  She has premonitions., but you should read the book and determine if you think it’s strange.

I hate to sound cheesy, but this book will make you laugh and  cry! I would definitely recommend this book. Read it with a friend or two and don’t forget the bon bons!

Star rating:
black-20clip-20art-black-starblack-20clip-20art-black-star black-20clip-20art-black-star black-20clip-20art-black-star out of 5 (4/5 because of the weird premonition thing)


Have you read Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons?
Did you enjoy this read?
Let me know what you think

Reader’s Group Discussion Questions: Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons

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Here are  some  reader’s group questions for Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons:

From LitLovers:

1. During the sixties and seventies, the Angry Housewives smoked cigarettes and threw back highballs—even while pregnant—without knowledge of the harm it could do. If they could have glimpsed their futures then, what do you think would have surprised them most about their future selves? What is one thing you know now that you would have really appreciated being aware of ten years ago?

2. Why do you think groups like AHEB—women who live near each other, raise children together, and bond over books together—persist even in a climate of working moms and in a culture that is flooded with other types of media?

3. Discuss Faith’s letters to her deceased mother. What kind of catharsis do they provide Faith, and how do the tone and nature of the letters change as the years go by?

4. Audrey gets a kick out of introducing Kari to strangers as a recently released convict. Discuss the women’s jokes, nicknames, and embarrassing moments—how does humor work to solidify friendship?

5. Kari faces a critical decision when Mary Jo forbids her from telling Anders that the baby is his grandchild. Would you be able to keep such a secret? For which character is this secret most constructive; for which is it most destructive?

6. The women suggest that Slip thinks that by wearing revealing clothes Audrey perpetuates her role as a sex object and “‘subverts [her] real self.” Audrey replies that she takes no one’s opinion into account when she dresses—she simply likes it. How much does physical appearance burden or bless the women in AHEB? Do you think it is easy to make generalizations regarding persons who dress provocatively?

7. Faith becomes a guardian figure after staying up with the gun waiting for Eric Iverson’s return, and keeping watch over Slip in the hospital bed, prepared to confront the Grim Reaper. What do you think are her conscious or subconscious motivations for being ever watchful?

8. Audrey has a talent for sensing upcoming events. In what ways do her capabilities influence how she deals with her family? Does it differ from how they affect her friendships? How much do you believe in psychic phenomena? Would being endowed with such a gift help or hinder one’s decisions?

9. Merit is ashamed that a part of her believes her mother’s statement that her brave Aunt Gaylene—happily unmarried, fulfilled with friends and books—was “living half a life.” What sides of Merit’s character produce these contradictory feelings? How do you think the other women of AHEB would respond to this opinion, and why?

10. At the AHEB meeting for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, the women toast their favorite and most influential teachers. In what other ways does the act of teaching influence the relationships in this novel?

11. Slip and Audrey allow a conflict between their children to seriously harm their friendship for a short time. If you ever had the desire to openly criticize a friend because of the way he or she raised a child, would you do so? How does Landvik’s portrayal of differing parenting techniques and the children they produce function as social commentary within the novel?

12. What do you think caused Faith to (almost absent-mindedly) bring Audrey to Trilby? How did confronting Beau’s sexuality help her have the strength to confront the reality of her own past?

13. Merit attributes her quiet acts of rebellion—trash rolled up furtively in her hair, choosing only banned books for AHEB meetings—to her maintenance of sanity during her years of marriage. What do you make of these coping methods? How do they compare to the methods of the other women in AHEB? Discuss your own strategies for staying lucid and balanced when confronted with situations that can be unbearable.

14. Kari and Mary Jo both question the timing and content of their admission to Julia after it’s too late. Do you think it would have been wiser to have Julia grow up knowing the truth, or perhaps never knowing at all? How do you feel about Kari’s impromptu decision to come clean in front of Mary Jo and without her prior knowledge? Was Julia right to be so upset?

15. How do you feel about the later inclusion of Grant as a member of AHEB? Did you think the inclusion of a male affected their particular group dynamic? What is valuable about inviting men to participate in women’s dialogue?

16. Merit eventually finds Paradise, literally and figuratively. Do you believe that good things come to people who wait?

17. At the peace march, Fred states that, “Only by trying to help someone else save their life could I save my own.” What do you make of this statement considering the horrors he experienced during the war? Do other characters in the novel embody or contradict this notion? Are certain characters better described as saviors than saved?

18. How are midwestern values portrayed in this book? In what ways might the book have differed if it had been set in the northeast or the south?

19. Slip is described throughout the book as the strongest— physically—of the Angry Housewives, in addition to her dynamic will and stalwart convictions. What emotions are stirred when someone who is perceived as invincible suddenly becomes critically ill? How does she continue to display conviction and energy? Do you think she will prevail?

20. Audrey says she believes in luck and God acting in tandem. What events in her life do you think contributed to this belief? How much weight do you give this sentiment regarding your own life? Do you think people tend to attribute life’s painful events more to luck or to God? What about the joyous events?

21. Did you like the format of the book? How did giving every character the opportunity to voice their thoughts support the all-for-one and one-for-all theme of the book and the club itself?

22. This book covers a lot of ground, both personal and political. What do you think the most important lesson these women learn over thirty years is? Which characters were most ripe for change with the political and cultural tide? Whose story did you think most embodied the emergence of women as a growing force outside the home?

23. In order to attain a greater understanding of herself, Faith utilizes therapy, learns from her friendships and culls inspiration from books. How do these three supplement each other as means of self discovery? Which books and authors have inspired you most through the years?

24. What did you think of Merit’s idea to unite mothers around the world to stop war and halt violence? Were you surprised this notion came from her?

25. Slip tells Merit that re-dubbing their book club Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons would be taking their husbands’ words and “giving them and their chauvinism the finger.” What other subversive techniques do the women display for giving chauvinism the finger? Do you feel it’s an apt name for the club and all it turns out to be?

26. Discuss Kari’s notion that her heart was able to put itself back together after the loss of Bjorn much like a lizard that can regenerate a tail. Do you think this sort of regeneration would have ever been possible without the arrival of Julia?

27. Marjorie McMahon has a plethora of nicknames: Slip, Warrior Bear, the Big Kahuna; and she is called everything from a leprechaun to a member of a “bloodstained group of nuts.” What in her character lends itself so well to these various labels? Which do you think is the most accurate?

28. What do you think about Merit’s final interaction with Eric Iverson? Was the slap beneath her or just what he deserved?

29. How does AHEB compare to your book club? Are there any ideas in the novel, like themes for meetings, which you’d like to incorporate?

30. Which character was your favorite? Was she or he the one you identified most with?

31. A number of the characters in the book harbor secrets. What does secret-keeping do to characters like Faith and Fred, who fear their actual secrets as opposed to Kari or Beau who fear the reactions of others?

The Reader’s Digest Book Club Reading List

Last year around March I started a book club with a couple of women.  I enjoy reading and I thought starting a book club would be a great way to meet new people. I mean, who doesn’t like books and food? If you don’t like one, you have to like the other. So we named our club The Reader’s Digest Book Club.Great books and good food! We read 8 books last year and hope to read 10 in 2016!

There are so many people who love to read, that I decided to share our reading list. If you’re looking for something new or old to read take a look at the list below:

Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons by Lorna Landvik
Big Girl Panties: A Novel by Stephanie Evanovich
Pretty Girls: A Novel by Karin Slaughter
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Admas
The Luckiest Girl Alive: A Novel by Jessica Knoll
Eat, Love, Pray by Elizabeth Gilbert
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger


PSSSSST…
Click the link and follow me on Goodreads!

 

 

 

Tokyo with Kids #1: Tokyo Toy Museum

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One of the many reasons why I love Japan is because there is so much to do here. I have a 2-year-old daughter and its never hard for us to find something new and exciting.  In my opinion, Japan is pretty much mommy and baby friendly. I can’t tell you one place that I have been to that did not have something to accommodate mother and child.

Recently, a friend and I took our kiddos to the Tokyo Toy Museum in  Shinjuku and we had a blast! The Tokyo Toy Museum has a gift shop and 3 floors. Each floor has about 3 to 4 rooms filled with unique and fun toys to play with it. Unlike some of the museums in Japan, there is not a place to eat lunch inside, but there is a Burger King near by.

When we walked into the first room, I was very nervous about  a toddler running around touching and accidentally dropping toys, but the wonderful staff assured me that it was okay. Every room in the museum was great, but I think the kids enjoyed the Wood Toy Forest the most; it was hard to pull them away! The Wood Toy Forest has a Wood Ball Pool, a tree house, and many other things off to the sides.

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My favorite part of the museum was the Good Toy Galley.  The Good Toy Gallery is a section of the museum where toys that are given the Good Toy Award for being the best for children’s development skills are displayed.

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We enjoyed the Tokyo Toy Museum so much, that we are planning another trip soon. The Tokyo Toy Museum should definitely be on your list to visit if you are traveling with children. They will love it and so will you!

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The Great Burger

Okay, I must admit I’m a foodie! I love food and whenever I find a good spot with great food and good service I get overwhelmed with excitement. The Great Burger in Harajuku is by far one of the best places to get a burger in Tokyo! Its a little tricky to find but thank goodness for Google Maps!

11997897_10205161647943023_740339821_n*The Great Burger is located at 〒150-0001 Tokyo, Shibuya, 神宮前6-12-5. Open 11:30am – 11pm Mon-Sun.

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I absolutely love the inside of this restaurant! Its junky but in a cool funky kind of way! We love to eat in the back of the restaurant where there are two couches and a table in between them. It almost feels as if you are eating at home on the couch in front of the TV.

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Let’s get to the best part: THE FOOD! The Great Burger just doesn’t have burgers. They have sandwiches, pancakes, steaks, and salads. There is also a featured Burger of the Month. With so many different types of burgers its hard to choose which one to try, but I’d recommend trying the cheese burger or the grilled chicken sandwich, if its your first time visiting.

12001783_10205161658783294_941333001_o * Grilled chicken sandwich. Another Yum! (The Hubs takes the best pictures)

12021739_10205161648703042_376073716_n*Cheese burger. Yummm! Not too many potato wedges but that’s okay… Trust me!

So, if you are in Harajuku for a day of shopping and get hungry, visit The Great Burger! You won’t be sorry.

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Breakfast In Tokyo

Before moving to Tokyo my husband and I loved to hit up our favorite breakfast spots. You know, everyone’s favorite breakfast spots: Denny’s, IHOP. When we finally arrived here we quickly realized there weren’t any places to get pancakes in our area, so we settled on making pancakes at home. Months had gone by and we were fed up (YES, fed up. Lol) with making pancakes and decided to search for a place. I mean, we live in Tokyo, there HAS to be at least one place to get pancakes, right?

Well, one weekend while exploring Harajuku we came across a restaurant named Eggs ‘N Things. Super excited about our find, we stood in line waiting to get our hands on some PANCAKES! We both ordered a pancake/omelet combo and dug right in. The pancakes were small (which is fine because we have gotten use to smaller portions here) but just what we needed to extinguish our cravings. Our omelets on the other hand, we didn’t like. But, overall I would still recommend stopping by to check it out for yourself.

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** Eggs ‘N Things is located at 4-30-2 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo. Open Mon-Fri 9am-10.30pm, Sat, Sun 8am-10.30pm.

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So back to the drawing board.. We found a place named Sunday Jam and we love it! The restaurant is small, located on the second floor at 4-28-27 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo. Open 9am – 10pm daily.

The atmosphere gave off a hipster vibe. The menu isn’t in English but it wasn’t hard to figure out what to get. My husband and I ordered the Honolulu Pancake Nuts and Maple and a mojito. Everything was DELICIOUS! Served with whipped cream  and your choice of Bacon ( I wish I would have gotten the bacon. I tried a bite of my husband’s and it was good) or sausage. The waiter also offered maple syrup! I would definitely recommend this place to anyone visiting Tokyo looking for a good pancake breakfast!

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*Excuse the baby hand. She was going for the sausage! lol

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*Mint  mojito.

20150329_123229*Stairway leading to the restaurant 
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Book Review: Departure by A.G. Riddle

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SUMMARY:

Flight 305 took off in 2014…
But it crashed in a world very different from our own…

With time running out, five strangers must unravel why they were taken..
And how to get home.

Without giving too many spoilers,  Harper Lane is a writer who has a career changing decision to make upon her arrival back home  to London.  There’s Nick Stone, who is on  his way to a meeting about building a dam across Gibraltar. Yul Tran, a computer scientist who has created a high-tech, super fast quantum internet service. And then there’s Sabrina Schröder;  a scientist who’s latest work harms half the passengers on the flight.  Somehow, someway they are all connected!

 

MY THOUGHTS:

Upon reading the summary for Departure, I was very excited to read this book! From a plane crashing in an unknown place, to people being connected to one another – I really thought this would be a great mystery.

I originally bought this book because I thought it would be somewhat like the TV show Lost, but I was wrong! It was like a knock off version of it. This book had all the elements of being an epic sci-fi book, but it failed. I felt like this book was trying to be a hardcore sci-fi book, and it just didn’t happen.

Departure does start off good and honestly I was very nervous about reading this, (just the thought of a plane crashing freaks me out!), but it slowly got boring and dry. By the middle/end of the book, when it picked up a little, I had completely lost interest and found myself having a hard time finishing it. But when I finally did finish it, the ending , like the entire book was a let down.

Star rating:
black-20clip-20art-black-starblack-20clip-20art-black-star out of 5

Have you read Departure?
Did you enjoy this read?
Let me know what you think

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Hello…It’s Me!

12351311_10205531132339902_1485373608_oI’m 25 years old and currently living in Tokyo, Japan with my husband and 2-year-old daughter. We have been living in Japan for 3 years now. I’m a Stay-At-Home-Mom who loves to travel throughout Japan with my family. When I’m not out exploring, I enjoy reading and TRYING to cook (Because I haven’t gotten my mommy powers in that field yet, lol.)

I started this blog because I wanted to share my experiences, to pass on information and receive some in return!  I don’t know how you stumbled upon my blog, but I’m sure glad you’re here!

See ya around,

Essence ❤