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School is out, yay!

Yesterdays bento was an attempt at a reindeer:

Sandwich with nori and tomato accents, shrimp, carrots, broccoli, and a babybel cheese.  Yogurt in the monkey.  I was not too happy with the antlers, I was originally going to use pretzels but when I opened the bag it was empty.  C'est la vie!


Santa onigiri, broccoli, apple shapes, babybel cheese, hot dog hearts and a milkshake candy.  I did something I have seen in Japanese bento blogs and packed it in a tin as opposed to a box:

The tin was a bit deep for B, so I lined it with some decorative foil.

As for Santa onigiri, I tried something new and am quite happy with the result.  Instead of using the food markers  to decorate it after molding the rice, I mixed some red food coloring with part of the rice and pressed it into the mold where I wanted it then proceeded to finish filling it with plain uncolored rice.  It came out nicely and was much faster!

bentosupply.com is almost ready to debut January 8th,2008! information on the endeavor is on the home page.

Two Bento's and some news!


Santa is a PB&J sandwich with nori, bell pepper, and food marker accents and shrimp hair.  He is surrounded by broccoli and rainbow fish crackers.  The hat is a plastic cake decoration my dad sent .   He got  a big bag of cake  topper  samples  and my mom sent them my way!


This was a quickie, less than ten minutes.  Woke up to snow and had to hurry to get B to school on icy roads.  Went with a star theme- star cutout PB&J, broccoli, a milkshake candy, rainbow fishies, and a babybel with a star cut in the wax.  This is in the clickety click bear onigiri box, which works well for sandwiches too!

Now for the news!  A new bento article will be posted every Tuesday.  Weekly lunch pictures will be posted on Fridays.  I will still continue to respond to comments and questions on a daily basis.  The new shop will be opening as planned.   Not only will I be selling m handmade bags and furoshiki, there will also be a collection of boxes, dividers, sauce bottles and more.  Coming spring, the book will be available in a full color print version or a PDF version, so keep our eye out for that.   It  will cover the basics such as Octodogs, chick eggs, as well as more advanced techniques.  There are sections on speed bento, theme building, and so much more!

Promised Pictures!

Here are some lunches from the past couple of weeks:

Broccoli; penguin is rice, nori, and carrot; shrimp; milkshake candy;  chick of soy sauce; tiger side container of yogurt.

Shrimp; babybel; broccoli; pepper; smokies;             
PB&J w/ nori accents                                                         


PB&J with nori & pepper accents; shrimp; broccoli Cheese;  smokies


Babybel; PB&J w. nori and peppers; shrimp;     
smokies;orange bell pepper strips                        

Meowth is an onigiri with boiled egg & nori accents;Babybel under the egg pokeball; smokies, green pepper

PB&J w/ nori, tomato, & cheese accents;        Onigiri on a bed of blue rice w/ carrot and nori accents;
Broccoli; edamame; tomato & cheese;            Soy sauce; edamame;carrots; smokes; cookie crisp; furikaki
Milkshake candy


PB& J wreath with tomato bow and candy sprinkles; broccoli; babybel; edamame; shrimp; PB& J tree with nori and tomato accents.  Yan Yans for dessert!


PB&J with nori; cheese on a cool light pick; edamame; star shaped PB&j; broccoli; smokies; peach yogurt drink.

B is addicted to shrimp right now.  He also has a bunch of fourth grade girls that insist he eat lunch at their table everyday.   This is making him the happiest first grader in the world!

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Updates, updates,updates

    It has been awhile, hasn't it?  I never expected to be gone this long!  Things have settled down finally.  One thing that kept me from returning as planned was a wonderful person decided it would be fun to hack into my Paypal account and drain it of all funds then attack my bank account as well.  Paypal has been wonderful in helping me to solve this as has my bank, but it has taken some time, a lot of phone calls, and reams of paperwork. 
    For this reason I will be closing both my Etsy and Ebay stores and opening my own storefront online.  I want to be responsible for my own online security and not have to trust any third parties anymore.  
    I had to issue several refunds due to this mess, and being unable to access my paypal did not make this any easier.  My dear husband, who took over shipping while I was away, was unaware  that paypal receipts were no longer being routed to our email but to the scammers and a cross in communication between us led to many problems with a few orders, which I apologize wholeheartedly for.     I once again have access to that paypal account and am sending out any refunds that  were not originally processed.   This is speeding up the process a lot  since I no longer have to email  paypal to check the account records then send the refunds from another account.  
    It could have been worse.  It could have been our personal bank account they got into.  They could have gotten a lot more.  A lot more of my wonderful customers could have been burned as opposed to only three, and of those all have now been refunded or received their products.   There could have been more paperwork!
   
    Bento Baby is back, and over the next few days I will be updating photo's and articles on the blog.  The new shop has a tentative launch date of January 11th, 2008.  The Bento Baby book will be available in both print and PDF versions late spring 2008.  

   

technical difficulties

Fast Food Friday will be up soon, I promise!  First I need to find my camera cord though, eep!  By  all reports, it was last seen in my two year olds possession.    All likely places have already been searched, and so far nada.  Going to give it another day before I break down and buy another one.  we all know if I buy another one I will find it!  So stay tuned for more bento goodness!

Sep. 19th, 2007

I have fallen behind the past couple days, but am finally catching up!  All recent orders will be posted tomorrow, yay! 

I will be starting a new feature on Friday, called, Fast Food Friday.  No, I will not be waxing poetic about Micky D's.  It will feature either a quick recipe, technique, or food item for bento.  I know many of the things I write about are child related, but many of the Fast Food Fridays will be helpful no matter your age. 

On another good note, I have an article on Bento's that will be published in the Dollar Stretcher in January!  You can find the online version of the publication at stretcher.com


The top two were B's lunch on Tuesday.  the bottom one was Monkey's lunch.  B had 2 onigiri in Pokemon wrappers, some One Piece furokaki, a bottle of soy sauce, an octo dog, fish shaped deviled egg, carrot flowers, edamame, and a reeses peanut butter cup.

Monkey had octodog, deviled egg, ranch, cucumbers, and a peanut butter cup.


Wednesday, B had a car boiled egg, cucumbers, carp hot dogs and cheese, a boy shaped PB&J sandwich, edamame, ranch, and a small piece of cake.

Bento tools and uses

One thing I am asked over and over again is this:
"I would love to start doing this for my kids or myself, but where do you find the time or inspiration? "

So to answer this question I am going to give a peek into my kitchen.  Keep in mind that bento's are my hobby and my job, so you are not required to have quite as much bento things as I do!   As I go through the tools i use, I will add an item using one of the tools to the bento boxes pictured.

First, you need a box.  Below you will see a few of the boxes I use.  They range from authentic Japanese bento boxes, smiley boxes from the dollar aisle at my local Rite Aid, to just plain tupperware.  Also is a collection of bags and furoshiki to carry your lunch in.


After the box, really all you need is food.  A good rule of thumb is is to follow this ratio: 4:3:2:1.  4 parts rice, 2 part protein/meat, 3 part veggie, and 1 part serving pickles (I usually substitute this with dessert or fruit).  For rice you can substitute any carb such as bread or pasta.  Don't worry about getting these ratios exact, but try to stick as close as possible to get the most healthful bang out of your box.  Also try to cover these colors in your box-red or orange, green, black or purple, and white.  For red/orange you can use fruit, bell peppers, carrots, or any orange veggie or fruit.  Green is easy with peas, edamame, grapes, kiwi, or any green veggie.  For black/purple think purple sweet potato's, eggplant, or nori/seaweed.  White can be rice, pasta, or bread.  Feel free to substitute brown rice!


Now to add more appeal, you can start collecting tools.  Many of them are probably already in your kitchen or can be substituted with things you already have.  First is the vegetable/cookie cutter.  below are some in different sizes I have collected over the years and yes, I also use them for cookies.  The tube like ones I ordered from Japan and are actual veggie cutters.  The only reason I bothered to order them though was because I really wanted the sakura (cherry blossom) shaped one.
 

The next step is food picks.  I have heart shaped ones, plastic Korean style picks found on holiday clearance at the grocery store, colored wood ones found on the relish aisle, and some Japanese flag style ones I picked up at Daiso on a trip to Seattle.  Stick edamame, small vegies, or ham and cheese on them for some bite size cuteness.   If you have small chunks of melon, they can also do duty as forks, especially the Korean style ones.  Here you can see tortilla rollups held together with picks (PB and jam) and edamame on cute picks.


 Then we have the dividers.  For dry items, ordinary cupcake liners work.  There also are nearly liquid proof liners from Japan, but you can use foil if these are not readily available.  I also picked up some small metal tart pans at Cost Plus, and they work great.  Plastic ramikans are also an easy to find item.  There are also silicone cupcake and mini cake pans, some come in shapes, or Reynolds makes foil pans in heart and star shapes.   I also have a small collection of divider strip picked up at Daiso or that came with some of my bento's.  You can fake these by using scalloped scissors to cut wax paper or foil into strips. The tart pan is perfect for holding a small piece of leftover cake.


Most of my sauce bottles I ordered, though the plastic fruit containers that sugar candy cmes in also work well.  Check out the camping section of stores like Walmart or Target, often they have small condiment containers that can be used for bento as well.  Most of my sauce cups are also from Japan, though you can find small lidded cups in the aforementioned camping aisles, or find mini tupperware type containers.  If the box isn't going to bounce a lot, wrap a ramikan in saran wrap to keep your sauce separate as well.

Then we have my collection of random tools I couldn't do without.  An exacto knife and scissors for kitchen only use, and my collection of food markers that can be purchased in the baking aisle of most grocery stores.  We have nori punches.  Mine are actually paper punches picked up at dollar stores and dollar bins at craft stores. Also pictured is a onigiri mold.  You can also use cookie cutters lined with saran wrap or your hands to form onigiri.  There is an egg mold.  Not a necessity  but definitely cute!



I hope these idea's help you get started or hone your bento skills!  The lesson here is to use what you have, that you can do this without buying lots of expensive so called authentic items.

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Fridays Bento

The stolen lunches have been solved, I purchased  a file box and a padlock for the teacher to put them in!  We had one lunch box returned, not he authentic bento, unfortunately,  but one parent noticed their child took something that wasn't theirs at least.

Here B's bento for Friday:

Pb&J sandwich, tortilla chips,banana with kiwi stars, and cucumbers with green pepper flower centers.  Ranch in the container and a box of yanyans for dessert.  Another quickie courtesy of the all purpose cookie cutter!  With B's party over (YAY!!!) I hope to get some fancier bento's out next week.

Work with what ya got

Today is a lesson in an empty fridge and making a bento quick.  B's birthday party is Saturday, and I am putting off shopping til afterwards, so their is room in the fridge for the cake and party food. 
On top with have tamago, cucumbers, green peppers and carrots.  Tamago is the easiest thing in the world.  It is a rolled Japanese sweet omelet..  A super simple recipe can be found here.  Once again, the veggies are ade more fun with a cookie cutter.  This time I stuck the green peppers  into the leftover bits of carrot I had after  I cut the stars out.  Waste not, want not!  (The  leftover bits of green pepper were mixed into the tamago.)
The bottom tier has onigiri  adorned with food marker and nori, cheese shapes on a pick, animal crackers,  a carrot full of soy sauce ad a container of ranch.  The onigiri are made with leftover rice, I just sprinkle it with a bit of water and nuke until warm!  The food markers, while seeing a bit pricey for 3.99 for four, have been invaluable for adding a quick bit of cuteness!  

On another, more annoying note, B had his empty lunch box stolen again.  That is two so far.I refuse to send him to school with his actual Japanese bento boxes until something is done about this.  I have informed the principal that if I see anyone at his school using a box like his blue bear one, I will personally haul that child to the office and I will wait until the parents show up.   I want to see the type of parents that wouldn't realize that their elementary school child was packing their lunch in a box that the parents did not purchase that has return to B written all over it.  I will not be responsible for y actions thereafter, my boy has come home in tears twice now because of this.  Hell hath no fury like this mama bear pissed off!

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I'm seeing stars!

This one took less than 10 minutes to make with the help of some cookie cutters.  We have a PB&J sandwich, carrots, cucumbers, and green peppers, and some animal crackers.  Ranch in the sauce cup.


Cookie cutters are an awesome way to make a boring lunch fun!

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I am a freelance writer and mother of two hungry boys. I am also the wife of a freelance artist, so thrift is definitely the goal in our house! Bento is a great way to have a healthy, thrifty, and most of all fun lunch.

I also sell handmade bento sets at affordable prices. Please visit my Bento Baby Etsy store.

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