Living in Tokyo, Japan – Part 1

Tokyo, Japan was a place that I was able to call my home for two years. This is a multiple part post as there is too much to write in one blog post about my life in Tokyo, Japan. I kept a journal while living in Japan so each post will be a journal entry or two.

At the age of 11, my sisters and I were sitting on the couch when mom and dad told us they had something to tell us. We would be moving to Tokyo, Japan. The company my dad works for reached out with the opportunity to be a GM for all factory stores across Japan.

As an 11 year old it is hard to process and conceptualize what moving means, let alone to a foreign country where they speak a different language. It never hit me that we would be moving away from our entire family and the only life I knew in Vancouver, Washington.

Leaving Portland, Oregon to Move to Tokyo

July 14th, 2010

Last night when we arrived at Tokyo’s Narita Airport, we had to get dinner because it was 5:30 pm and we were so hungry so we had McDonalds. I loved how the fries weren’t greasy at all. When dad was getting tickets for the airport limousine bus to the hotel, we found out that the next bus was not until 8:15 pm.

At about 7:50 pm we went outside to wait for the bus. At exactly 8:15 pm, the bus arrives. We hopped on the bus and we were on our way. It took about an hour and a half to get to the hotel. We finally arrived at the Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel in the heart of Shibuya. checked in, and went to our rooms. 11 pm is a late night for an 11, 8 and 4 year old.

city people lights walking
Photo by Negative Space on

Today we explored the area around our hotel in Shibuya in Tokyo. While exploring we found a fish and meat market, cute little anime shops, and so much more. After exploring we grabbed some Starbucks, and headed back to the hotel to meet with the realtor to finalize the rental of the apartment.

After finalizing the rental of the apartment, we went to the find some furniture for the apartment! Sophie, Taylor and I all sat in a massage chair and it felt so good! I decided to grab some free green tea. I don’t even like green tea though, but we found out that Taylor likes green tea!

We went to another leasing company and Sophie, Taylor and I were so bored! I decided to go next door to a 7-Eleven where I made my first purchase in Tokyo! I bought a bottled water for 100 yen! After I went back to the furniture store, I went back to 7-Eleven with Sophie and Taylor to buy them another water, and I bought a rice bowl thing with a spicy sauce for 400 yen.

7-Eleven Across the Street from Our Apartment.

Once we got back to the hotel, Sophie, Taylor and I exchanged our American dollars for Japanese yen.

For dinner we went to a restaurant called Lacasa di Nao. I had fettuccine alfredo. The appetizer was bread with olive oil instead of butter. It tasted delicious! When we were done eating we went to the hotel, went upstairs, and climbed into bed. When we wake up tomorrow, we get to go to Tokyo Disneyland!

Gluten Free and Dairy Free Swedish Pancakes

Swedish pancakes are a perfect way to change up your average Saturday morning breakfast! Easy gluten free and dairy free Swedish pancakes are perfect for a weekend morning breakfast!

I am not allergic to gluten or dairy, but I prefer to cook without gluten and dairy if possible for health reasons. Some dishes are very easy to cut gluten or dairy out of. When baking or making a pastry like dish like pancakes, you can easily swap regular milk for unsweetened coconut milk.

I prefer unsweetened coconut milk over almond milk because of the nutty flavor that almond milk has. Some people may like this taste, but I prefer the coconut milk which usually has little to no flavor to change the dynamic of the dish.

You are going to see butter in the photo below, but I use that for my family and keep the good stuff for myself! 🙂

Photo of all ingredients placed together to easily see the ingredients you need.
Photo by Lauren Hill, Colorado Sisters

Quick Swedish Pancake Instructions

  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth and it has no chunks of flour. I would recommend using an immersion blender which you can find here on eBay to make it a quick and easy process.
  • Pour batter into a heated pan, spread to cover the bottom of the pan.
  • Cook for 1-2 minutes over medium-low heat until browned, flip and repeat.
  • Serve with fresh fruits and enjoy!
crepes on plate
Photo by Elly Fairytale on


  • Gluten Free Flour – I personally like to use gluten free flour so you do not feel full and bloated after eating. Especially in the morning while starting off the day.
  • Unsweetened Coconut Milk – I use unsweetened coconut milk when I make foods that already contain sugar to make sure my morning is not loaded with sugar.

Tips for Swedish Pancakes

  • You cannot just pour the batter in the pan and leave it. You have to swirl the pan around to spread the batter evenly to cover the bottom of the pan.
  • I prefer smaller pancakes and more pancakes. You can use a pan that is smaller than 9″ that is mentioned in the recipe. I use a 3 1/2″ pan for my Swedish Pancakes.

Gluten Free and Dairy Free Swedish Pancakes

Easy, gluten free pancakes
0 from 0 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Course Breakfast
Cuisine Swedish
Servings 6 people


  • 3 eggs at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup and 2 tbsp gluten free flour
  • Cooking oil greasing the pan


  • Combine eggs, sugar, milk, salt, vanilla extract and gluten free flour in a bowl and whisk until thoroughly combined. For a quick, easy mixing process, use an immersion blender.
  • Heat a 9" pan on the stove over medium-low heat and add cooking spray. Make sure the cooking spray covers the entire base of the pan to help brown the pancake slightly, and help it from sticking.
  • Pour roughly 1/4 cup of pancake batter into the pan and tilt the pan in a circular motion to spread the batter evenly around the whole pan.
  • Cook for about 1-2 minutes on each side until browned.
  • Serve warm with your choice of toppings. Jam, preserves, fresh fruit, etc.


  • Common gluten free and dairy free toppings for Swedish pancakes are fresh berries such as raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, powdered sugar or cinnamon and sugar. 
Keyword breakfast, gluten free, pancakes, swedish
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How Long Are Leftovers Good For?

My little sister saves any kind of pancakes, waffles, etc. for about 3-4 days in the refrigerator. Microwave for roughly 30 seconds to warm the leftover pancake.

What To Eat With Swedish Pancakes

Swedish Pancakes are generally served with fresh berries such as raspberries, strawberries or blueberries. I personally add a dash of cinnamon to my pancake. Dairy free Reddi Whip is another perfect topping!

If you would like a Swedish pancake as a side or a dessert for your breakfast, try having them along with a gluten free ham and cheese quiche! A blueberry oatmeal bake is another great breakfast idea!


Grilled Honey Balsamic Chicken Breasts

This easy, grilled honey balsamic marinated chicken is the perfect way to change up your average chicken breast dinners!

My household tends to be a fan of chicken thighs due to the flavor from the fat, but breasts are a perfect way to change it up with other flavors.

Quick Instructions for Grilled Honey Balsamic Chicken

  • Combine balsamic vinegar, chicken broth, honey, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper in a bowl or gallon sized Ziploc bag.
  • Add chicken breasts to the bowl or bag for 30 minutes.
  • Grill chicken on medium heat for roughly 5 minutes, flip and grill for another 5.
  • Top with some mozzarella and enjoy!

Baking Honey Balsamic Chicken in the Oven

white top mount refrigerator beside white top mount refrigerator
Photo by cottonbro on

If you do not have a grill, maybe you’re out of propane, or just do not want to grill, you can always bake the chicken in the oven instead!

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. I would recommend oiling the cookie sheet before placing the chicken breasts as the honey will start to caramelize and stick to the pan. Bake the chicken for roughly 20 minutes or until the chickens temperature reads 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

I would recommend buying a meat or kitchen thermometer for your home. It comes in handy throughout the year. If you are making a roast or slow cooking a meat and are not sure when it will hit the right temperature, stick the thermometer in to check!

What if I Prefer Chicken Thighs Over Breasts?

I personally do not cook with chicken breasts often. My dad had leftover chicken after making fresh food for our dogs that we decided to cook for ourselves. You can substitute chicken breasts for chicken thighs in this recipe. It will actually add more flavor from the fat content in chicken thighs!

Grilled Honey Balsamic Chicken Breasts

Delicious, easy chicken with in honey balsamic marinade!
0 from 0 votes
Prep Time 45 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Course Main Course
Servings 4 people


  • 4 thin chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp natural honey
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp fresh or dried rosemary
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated mozzarella Cheese Sprinkle grated cheese onto chicken to finish


  • Combine chicken broth, garlic, honey, rosemary, salt & pepper in a medium bowl. This will become your marinade.
  • Add the 4 chicken fillets to the marinade bowl. Take the chicken and marinade and pour all into a gallon Ziploc/type bag. Press air out of the bag.
  • Refrigerate chicken 30-45 minutes. Any longer will start to breakdown the chickens proteins essentially starting the cooking process.
  • While chicken rests in marinade, grate mozarella cheese for topping.
  • Take chicken from marinade and place onto BBQ on medium heat. Cook approximately 4-5 minutes per side.
  • With 2 minutes left to cook on the second side, sprinkle mozzarella cheese onto chicken, to your liking, complete cooking.
  • Serve and Enjoy!


  • If you cannot find thin chicken breasts, I would recommend taking regular chicken breasts, cutting them in half, and pounding them flat. 
Keyword chicken, chicken dinner, food, recipes
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

How Long are Leftovers Good For?

I generally do not keep chicken in the fridge for more than 2-3 days. Leftover chicken does not get eaten at my house so I try to make just enough for everyone.

What to Eat with Grilled Honey Balsamic Chicken?

There are so many different side dishes that you can have with chicken! Try sides such as sauteed brussels sprouts!

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Sauteed Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are often the neglected vegetable that many people do not want to eat. You need to try brussels sprouts this way! This will change your mind on brussels sprouts.

By cooking the brussels sprouts at a high temperature, it caramelizes the brussels sprouts giving them a sweet glaze. It leaves them soft on the outside, and slightly crunchy on the inside giving it the perfect texture.

For about the last two years, brussels sprouts have been the perfect vegetable side dish to eat along side a deliciously seasoned chicken breast.

Why Eat Brussels Sprouts?

Brussels sprouts are a nutrient dense vegetables. They are packed with vitamin, K, C, A, manganese. They are rich in antioxidants, high in fiber and contain Omega-3 fatty acids.

green round vegetables
Photo by Public Domain Pictures on

My little sister is a picky eater when it comes to vegetables. She does not like green beans, peas, onions, mushrooms, zucchini and more, but she does eat brussels sprouts! The first time I made these brussels sprouts I asked everyone to give them a try just to humor me because I thought they were good. She liked them!

Instructions – How to Sautee Brussels Sprouts

Gather Your Ingredients

  • Brussels sprouts – These are nutrient dense vegetables.
  • Olive oil – coat the bottom of the pan generously to help create the caramelized nature of the brussels sprouts.
  • Lawry’s Seasoning Salt – I personally prefer to use this seasoning salt over normal salt because it is a combination of seasonings. It includes, salt, sugar, paprika and turmeric, onion and garlic, without giving an overpowering taste to the dish.
  • Pepper and garlic powder – Adds flavor and spice to the sprouts!

Prep and Cook

  1. Wash the brussels sprouts, cut the ends off of the sprouts and place flat side down in the pan.
  2. Fry for 10 minutes or until golden-dark brown, flip over and fry for another 10 minutes.

Sauteed Brussels Sprouts

Easy and Delicious Brussels Sprouts!
0 from 0 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Appetizer, Side Dish
Servings 4 people


  • 20 Brussels Sprouts
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Lawry's, pepper, garlic powder


  • Place the brussels sprouts in a strainer and wash under running water.
  • Place the brussels sprouts on a cutting board, cut off the white ends, and cut in half. Place flat side down in a pan.
  • Drizzle roughly 2 tablespoons of olive oil on the brussels sprouts, and sprinkle with Lawry's, pepper, and garlic powder.
  • Turn the stove on medium heat and place a lid on the pan. After roughly 10-15 minutes, flip the sprouts over to brown the other side. Place the lid back on the pan and cook for another 10-15 minutes.


  • Finish off the brussels sprouts by adding some parmesan on top while in the pan, cover for 5 minutes, and enjoy!
Keyword brussels sprouts, food, gluten free, recipes
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Finishes for Brussels Sprouts

If you are a bit timid to eat brussels sprouts this way, finish them off with some Parmesan or some balsamic vinegar to help cut back on the taste.

Leftover Brussels Sprouts

I personally like brussels sprout leftovers for lunch the next day or two. I like to eat them with sausage or pasta for my sack lunch to take to work.

What to Eat With Brussels Sprouts

There are so many different things that you can eat brussels sprouts. On a summer day, grilling up a nice sausage on the side makes for a delicious pairing. Other ideas are with some oven fried chicken or herb and garlic chicken thighs.