Living off base has been very exciting for us, though it has come with some interesting challenges.  A great example would be New Year’s Day.  In the spirit of our southern tradition, we hosted friends for some black-eyed peas (for luck) and collard greens (for money). Great idea!  It would have been a better idea if we had tried our stovetop and oven before having people over.  After an hour of deciphering the Japanese directions and pictures, we were able to figure out our convection oven. We ended up baking our ham on the cake setting, and it turned out great.  However, the stovetop was a different story, and unlike the oven, it did not come with directions. We played and played with the buttons, and two hours later, we were still unable to boil water.  Lights were working, and the pot seemed to be getting warm, but our closely watched pot refused to boil.  Dismayed, we threw out the beans and resorted to canned ones!  We needed the luck for 2011 whether we could figure out the stovetop or not.   We have since found that we were doing everything correctly, but our pots were too thick, and required special ones.  And sure enough, we found the pots at our local home store, with a picture of our stovetop on the sticker.  What a huge difference!  Equipped with new pots, we can now boil water in a little over thirty seconds!  Every day in the new house is an adventure, but we love living in a Japanese home.