Sunday, August 30, 2009

Can't wait for school!

E starts up with preschool (better known down here as "Mother's Day Out" or MDO) this week and I cannot wait! It's partly because I'm excited to have a couple days to myself (thus the term, "mother's day out"), but mostly I'm just excited to use all our new bento stuff to make her lunches!

I got these little sandwich cutters that I've been dying to try. Usually, I just use mini cookie cutters, but from the picture on the packaging these appeared to be specifically for sandwiches. They even have a stamp, so that you can stamp the outside of the bread. So neat!

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Anyways, I took advantage of our trip to the aquarium last week to do a little test run. E is really really into making her own sandwiches. It takes about 20 minutes to make one sandwich, but I figure it's worth it since she actually eats the sandwich when she's done (as opposed to wasting it, which was her previous MO). She LOVED cutting out the shapes and stamping the tops. So much so, that she's been asking me to make them every day since. Of course, I wish these didn't result in so much waste since I can only get 4-5 shapes out of a full size sandwich, but for now it's a price I'm willing to pay.

So here's a picture of her lunch, packed in the cute new giraffe bento box I picked up in San Francisco last month. The box turned out to be a bit smaller on the inside than I anticipated, so I ended up having to pack the pretzel sticks in a separate baggie. That partly defeated the purpose, but I was in a hurry to get out the door. Next time I'll try to be more strategic. Stay tuned for more bento lunches!

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Birdie baby shower

I apologize for the lack of posts lately, but I have been crazy busy getting ready for a baby shower I'm hosting and I didn't want to post about anything I was working on for fear of ruining the surprise. But the shower was today and was a roaring success! I threw a bird-themed baby shower at my home for a good friend having her second little girl. She's obsessed with birds (the mom, not the fetus...yet) and is decorating the baby's room in a bird theme. So I thought why not throw a birdie shower?

I've noticed that birdie stuff is super popular lately, especially for kids and babies. I had some ideas brewing, but a simple google search brought up some really lovely ideas. I cribbed a few from this site and this one, and then it sort of grew organically from there.

I loved the idea of doing cupcakes with a "nest" of coconut on top. And I had the perfect recipe to go with it (for more on the food, check out my cooking blog). However, I had a really hard time finding the robin's egg candies that were pictured on several different sites. I'm guessing that they might have been easier around Easter time. So instead, I had to make do with Jordan almonds, which was less than ideal. In the end, I nixed the almonds and just left the cupcakes as is.

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My best friend gave me the idea to do a kind of bird garland made of felt. She even went so far as to make me a template and a few prototypes and mail them to me from out-of-state! I loved this idea, but I'm not entirely sure I executed it as well as it deserved.

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I ran out of time to put wings on all the birds, and I probably should have thought of a better way to hang them too. Ideally, a tree branch of some sort would have been perfect, but I simply did not have the time or energy to find one or chop one down from the tree in my yard. Still they were very pretty individually, and I think that they'll look nice in the baby's room.

I also picked up a few birdhouses to use as decorations, but I kind of floundered at the last minute over what to do with them. Again, I ran out of time to paint them, but they were cute as a makeshift centerpiece, especially once I paired them with a "nest" made of green excelsior and some fake eggs.

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My mother-in-law even got in on the act, and sent me this beautiful birdhouse that I put in the entryway, next to the favor bowl.

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For favors, I ordered a bunch of bird-shaped soaps from Etsy, which I then packaged in a cellophane bag with a little excelsior nest.

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Last but not least, I had a group craft. Neither the guest-of-honor nor I are much for shower games, so I thought this would be a nice little activity. I didn't want to do the typical onesie painting since this was a second baby and I knew that she already had plenty of clothes. Instead, I thought it'd be cool to do something that could go in the baby's room. So I bought some 6-inch square canvas boards and acrylic paint with the idea that everyone could decorate one small board, and then she could hang them all in some sort of grid in the baby's room.

Unfortunately, I didn't think this one entirely through before I started buying stuff. I realized that some of my guests were not going to be as thrilled with an art project as I would be and would beg off, claiming a lack of artsy-craftsy skills. I thought that perhaps making stencils would make it easier, but the more I thought about it, the less I thought that people would want to mess with paint.

Instead, I decided to have them do paper cut-outs. I recruited my wonderfully talented friend Jacki to make templates so that people could just trace, cut and paste. Then I conscripted my very patient and understanding husband to help 'prime' the canvases by painting them solid colors. This may be the only photo you will ever see of him on this blog, haha!

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Here are the finished canvases. I think they look fantastic, especially against the tablecloth, which is more or less the color of the baby's room. Now we just have to figure out how the heck we're going to hang them, haha!

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Friday, August 21, 2009


E recently decided to stop taking naps, so there's been a lot less time for crafting lately. So instead, I decided to have her help me try out some of my new bento goodies. I have a bunch of rice (onigiri) molds that I've been dying to try out. E has never been a big fan of rice (it almost makes me wonder how we're related), but she really enjoyed making these rice shapes the other day.

I realized after playing around with some of the mold the other night that most of them are going to make onigiri that are way too big for most kids to eat. But on a whim, I did pick up this cute set that makes little shapes.

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If you do a basic google search for onigiri, you'll find lots of links to recipes and how-to's. For the uninitiated, it's basically a big old ball of rice, usually vaguely triangular with something in the middle. I'm not a big fan of plain rice, or of the traditional Japanese fillings (like umeboshi), so I decided to wing it with some other stuff I had on hand. My two favorites of late? Furikake and pork sung.

I have nori furikake, which is basically bits of nori (seaweed), sesame seeds, salt & sugar. It comes in lots of flavors though, including salmon, shrimp, etc.

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So as I mentioned before, I don't often eat plain rice - usually I eat it with stir-fry, leftovers, or even as a super basic fried rice with just scrambled eggs, onion powder & sesame oil. But once in a while, I'll eat it with some furikake sprinkled on top. It's still rather bland that way though though, so I decided to add some pork sung too.

Again, for those that aren't familiar, pork sung is basically pork that's been dried with sugar, soy sauce and usually lard & MSG (hey, I didn't say this was healthy food!), and then ground up so it has sort of a fluffy, powdery consistency. There's also pork fu, which is similar, but a bit more stringy. I'll admit, it's not for everyone. T thinks it's weird and is not a huge fan, but I grew up eating it, usually with rice porridge, so it has a comfort food aspect that appeals to me.

It normally comes in a small tub, but since I'm a freak, I have the gigantor jar.
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Anyways, I mixed a bit of each with some warm white rice.
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Then I spooned rice into each of the molds, and E helped by pushing the rice down.
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Put the top on and press.
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Then flip it over and pop out the finished rice shapes out! Voila! (Excuse the crazy background - E insisted I use this plate)

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I was really surprised that E actually ate these since she's shown little interest in rice up until now. Although to be honest, she ate maybe 2 of the 4 shapes, and I ate the other two. I think she enjoyed making them more than eating them because she asks me every day now to make more. I'm going to work on coming up with some other fillings to mix in and hopefully these will become a regular fixture in her school lunches. Slight word of warning, these do dry out quickly if you leave them out, so either eat them right away or wrap them up and put them in your fridge for later.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

A quickie post/plug

Just wanted to point out my brand new logo (above), designed by my amazing & talented friend, Roberta. I heart it with a burning passion and can't wait to use it for some cards and such.

That is all.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Bento booty

Not that kind of booty (dirty minds!), I'm talking more about the treasure kind. We are finally back from our trip to California and somewhat back to normal life! While out there though, I may have gone a little bit bento crazy. Believe it or not, this isn't even all of it - I couldn't fit everything on the table when I went to take a picture.

I just couldn't help myself - between all the cute (and different things) at Daiso and Ichiban Kan, it was very very hard not to overindulge. Thankfully, most of this is NOT for E. In order to enable my shopping fix (because honestly I didn't really need very much), I offered to pick up some items for friends back in Texas. It might have gotten a wee bit out of hand. Needless to say, I have a very very understanding husband who did not even bat an eye when I told him I'd need to ship a box home because my suitcase was too full. Eek!

In any case, I know the bento supplies themselves don't have a ton to do with craftiness, but with school starting up in a few weeks, I will (hopefully) have some fun and cute lunches to post about. Last year, E was not interested in anything beyond chunks of fruit, cheese, and turkey ham. I'm hoping that her palate has evolved a bit to include bunny-shaped sandwiches and maybe rice & seaweed.


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