Got a Petrol Engine? Try the Total Quartz Engine Oil

I still don’t know much about cars, in spite of owning one for over a year now. There are a few things you must know though, like what important liquids it needs: engine oil, ATF, fuel and wiper fluid. You should check them every day, but I never did. Sometimes I’d go for a week or two, and all I did was top up my fuel weekly (I’d fill my tank). Which is why when my engine oil was leaking, I never noticed and had to push my car off the road when it stalled. Embarrassing? No. I look at it like an adventure.

This is why I want an electric car. No fluids, period. No hood full of  sputtering liquids and complicated wiring. But that is a wish for another day.

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In a quest to find the perfect engine oil (which is important for lubrication of the moving engine parts as well as keeping it clean). You can get oil which you change after every 10,000Kms or every 20,000Kms. If you cover long distances daily, then you should choose the 20,000 Kms one.

Regularly servicing your car will improve your engine efficiency so you burn less fuel per kilometer. Before, I was quite indiscriminate on where I serviced the car, but after that embarrassing episode, I serviced it at a reliable mechanic’s and also got Total Quartz Engine Oil. There’s a smoother feel afterwards, but I don’t know about fuel consumption, I didn’t measure it.

So today I am checking out what others say about this engine oil, is it any different from what they used previously? All the reviews on Amazon are good, 4 or 5 stars (17 out of 22 reviewers gave it 5 stars). Here’s another review from a motorhead. The engine is an integral part of your car, and every day, scientists are trying to create the best products for it. If you want more out of your car, you have to take good care of it!

So have you tried the Total Quartz Engine Oil? If you have, please share your experience!

 

 

Okonomiyaki – My Favorite Japanese Dish

Every time I do a post on Japan, I will find a way to talk about food! Yep, I love food. The eating part, the cooking not so much. I have tried many Japanese dishes, although I am yet to try the seafood delicacies that are served on special occasions like New Years  Eve/Day (Christmas is not that big of deal in Japan, but it is somewhat celebrated). They include delicacies like Octopus and crab. Someday I shall try them.

Japanese food for New Years's Day

Japanese food for New Years’s Day

For now, my favorite dish is okonomiyaki. In Japanese, that is お好み焼き. And there is this restaurant where I have been to twice, they let you make your own. Fear not, it takes about 10 minutes to cook once they bring you the ingredients. It is a dish that’s pan-cake/pizza-like. It has various meats and veges inside, and then it’s cooked on a special pan.

The end result is then decorated by a soy-like sauce, fish-dressing (can’t remember the name), sometimes mayonnaise and it should look like this:

Okonomiyaki.. delicious

Okonomiyaki.. delicious

The restaurant we went to is just 2 minutes walk from where I stay. It’s called 古川, which means Old River. They give you a menu and you get to choose what ingredients you want in your okonomiyaki.

Ingredients for okonomiyaki

Ingredients for okonomiyaki

Friends mixing up the ingredients before the cooking begins

Friends mixing up the ingredients before the cooking begins

Pour everything onto the hot plate, already oiled, and watch it cook

Pour everything onto the hot plate, already oiled, and watch it cook

Flip it over and decorate

Flip it over and decorate

The end result? Does it look like anything in the first picture? Hmm.. close enough.

Was it delicious? Totally. おいしいですよ!

The end result

The end result

Washed down with a beer, it’s the perfect Friday night meal with friends!

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The movie adapted from the book was released in November of 2013. I am glad to say I haven’t watched the movie, but it is finally in my laptop and I plan to watch it soon. I am sure I will not enjoy it as much as the book, same as The Fault in Our Stars book/movie. The girl did an awesome job, the boy in the movie, Augustus, didn’t quite live up to the boy in the book. Just my opinion!

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Anyway, The Book Thief is set in Germany during the second world war. It is narrated by death. Death has its way around words, I can tell you that. The words are beautifully woven to create scenes and images that stick around long after the book is finished, like warmth in a hearth long after the cooking is finished. The story’s timeliness might be confusing, as it goes back and forth from present to future, to past and back to present again. The chapters can also be brief and at the beginning of the chapter, there is a little introduction and for the obsessive like me, you will spend quite some time trying to decipher what is ahead.

For all that, it was a well written book about a girl called Liesel. She loves reading, even if at first she is not quite good at it. War being the terrible time that it is, and she being a poor girl living in foster care, books are a precious commodity. She didn’t so much steal her first book as she neglected to give it back to the owner who had dropped it. The story starts with her being in a carriage headed to Munich, with her brother and her mother. Her brother never makes it, and she never sees her mother again (at least not in the scope of the book). That is shortly before the war breaks out.

We get to watch the war unfold and its effects on ordinary Germans, including Liesel who is at the center of this story. I don’t want to give away too much, but I would re-read this book in perhaps another year. And as I said before, if I can re-read a book, then that’s my definition of a good book.

The Noto Peninsula Trip

This post is long overdue!

I know Japan is a series of islands, but I only got to see the sea the Saturday before last. After landing in Osaka, I took the train to Kanazawa, my current city, and since then I have spent most of my time exploring it and its residents. There is always something interesting, from class parties to snow falling early in December (isn’t it beautiful), to meeting Kenyans and having my hair plaited, to cooking various gourmet meals (as the solo consumer, I can tell you they are delicious), to sampling various wines and finally learning the difference between Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Moscato, to going to church for the first time in 5 years (my mother would be so happy) to trips various places. Follow me on Instagram already!

It's cold but beautiful snow is the compensation. This is the path to school, formerly in autumn colours, now all white.

It’s cold but beautiful snow is the compensation. This is the path to school, formerly in autumn colours, now all white.

On Saturday 29th, the International House where I stay organized a trip to Noto Peninsula for its residents. Chartered tour bus with a guide, doesn’t matter the guided tour was in Japanese. We had a translator who did a pretty good job while we dozed in the heated bus. We were served coffee in the bus, and were welcomed into it with juice/water/tea/milk tea.. whatever you wanted. It took about 2 hours by bus from Kanazawa to Peninsula but the view of the ocean was worth it. It was like the last day of autumn, that Saturday. It was rainy in the morning but later in the afternoon, the sun shone and it was quite warm.

Noto peninsula

Noto peninsula

The first stop was Kiriko Lantern Museum. During summer festivals, they (the Japanese) will walk with these lamps through the streets. Inside the museum, the lights are low and the lamps are lit, and it was breath-taking. There were various lamps on display and their history was also explained, mostly in Japanese.

I captured a few bad pictures, so they cannot do the place justice!

Kiriko Lantern Museum

Kiriko Lantern Museum

Kiriko Lantern Museum

Kiriko Lantern Museum

Kiriko Lantern Museum

Kiriko Lantern Museum

Kiriko Lantern Museum

Kiriko Lantern Museum

We then had an early lunch, and for the Japanese (and many other societies), a meal is not just about the taste but the presentation is also important. Observe. Wonder. Proceed to dig in. おいしい。 The beautiful container down-left contains the rice.

Lunch at Noto Peninsula

Lunch at Noto Peninsula

Lunch at Noto Peninsula

Lunch at Noto Peninsula

Lunch at Noto Peninsula

Lunch at Noto Peninsula

Lunch at Noto Peninsula

Lunch at Noto Peninsula

Lunch swiftly dealt with, we went to the rice fields of Noto where they still use traditional cultivation methods as the fields are too small for machine use.  The sea is always beautiful no matter where you look at it from, large, ominous, goes on forever..

The sea goes on forever

The sea goes on forever

The sea goes on forever

The sea goes on forever. The rice fields at Noto Peninsula

The sea goes on forever

The sea goes on forever

The last stop of the day was a traditional tie and dye workshop where we got to make our own handkerchiefs. Once white, now permanently coloured in various patterns.

The white is before, the blue and the rest is what we aspire to make

The white is before, the blue and the rest is what we aspire to make

Boiling the handkerchiefs in the dye

Boiling the handkerchiefs in the dye

Boiling the dye

Boiling the dye

The end result

The end result

As we made our way back, we stopped by Noto Airport, a small airport where we watched a plane land. I have watched planes take off but never the landing, it was exciting! After that, we waved at disembarking passengers, I am sure they were wondering if we were nuts! Well, in our defense we had seen some other Japanese waving too, but probably to their families!

X marks the spot where it will land. Well, not x exactly.

X marks the spot where it will land. Well, not x exactly.

It was a day well spent. I look forward to the lantern festival in the summer.

For now, the focus is on staying warm. And learning Japanese. So don’t worry if you don’t read a post from me in a week, a lot is happening in a relatively quiet city, but there is no time to put it all in writing.

じゃ、またね!

The Holidays are Here… and January Bills Will Be Here Soon Too!

December, the Christmas month, is finally here with us. I always look forward to December, being the holiday month that is. Signifying the end of what is sometimes a long year, sometimes a good year (which would feel short). This will be the first time I will be spending Christmas away from my family 🙁 (大変)

Anyway, I woke up this morning to the beginnings of snow and the coldest temperatures I have ever experienced. It wasn’t so bad, but of course this is only the beginning. By February the winter will be at its coldest so I should reserve my judgement until then. Still, the landscape is beautiful.

Snow at the Kanazawa University campus

Snow at the Kanazawa University campus

That being said, in December, you will indulge in all manner of excesses: shopping, eating and drinking. By January, almost everyone is broke. I am going to Tokyo for the Christmas break and Tokyo is quite expensive (perhaps the world’s most expensive city) and I am contemplating leaving my ATM card behind! Of course I must first set aside the money for January survival!

Anyway, if you are in Kenya, there is a way to clear your January bills early through OLX, bearing in mind you can sell everything and anything on that site. You can also raise money for December debauchery 😀 Start early, make an ad that stands out. Sell anything (except the illegal stuff) and everything. Go through your inventory for the year, find clothes and shoes you haven’t worn in 2014, books you might never read again, random electronics gathering dust on shelves, furniture crowding your apartment, quails that failed as a business.. the platform to sell everything is there, so use it. Create ads that stand out, here are some tips to do that. Good luck in raising the money! Let’s enjoy the holidays, but stay safe. Long live December!