Saturday, December 31, 2011

the best use for a plastic zip-top baggie ever

The world's best use for a plastic baggie, like ever.


It's not for lunch.
It's not for leftovers.
It's not for use as a piping bag.
It's not for a makeshift icepack.

kindle in baggie for bath

The best use for a plastic zip-top baggie is to safely seal away a Kindle to read in the bathtub! 

No more soggy pages stuck together and drying into ripples that don't lay flat anymore! No more attempting to balance a heavy book out of the water while trying to relax. 

Never thought I'd appreciate a plastic baggie this much. ;-) 

I'm not sure this baggie trick will work on readers that use a swiping motion on the screen, but since the Kindle has buttons on the sides for page-turning, it works like a charm!

After a few years of being interested in a Kindle, I finally got one this Christmas. I went with the bare-bones cheapest model.  I didn't want any bells and whistles on an e-reader, I just wanted to be able to read, period.  The less fancy, the more likely my children will keep their hands off it! I still need to learn all the ins and outs of Kindling (that's a verb, right?), but so far I'm really enjoying it.  

When I'm not reading on my Kindle is chilling in this adorable cover/case I ordered from etsy. :) 

kindle elephant cover

You know, for love of elephants. :)

Coincidently, the first book I read on the Kindle was Water for Elephants. I had hesitations about reading it, because as I shared before, I really despise the circus, but the story did not attempt to make the circus endearing (nor, go out of its way to villainize it... animal circuses tend to do that well enough on their own!).  

I'd love to hear from Kindle users any tips or tricks you have! So far I know that I can get one free download a month from the Kindle Lending Library for being an Amazon Prime subscriber (I got Water for Elephants as my December freebie!).  

Just yesterday I learned of the Kindle Daily Deal, where one title is severely discounted. I got The Handmaid's Tale for $1.29 the other day, but missed The Life of Pi, which was available for only 99 cents the day before I found out about the Daily Deal! 

What are your public domain favorites? I love the bevy of free downloads in this category! I'm starting in on Pride and Prejudice (I'm embarrassed to admit I've never read it) and working my way (slowly) through Benjamin Franklin's autobiography. 

Happy reading!
Oh! And Happy New Year's Eve! Be safe out there! :)

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Beary Christmas and snowmallows lunch

We are on Winter Break from school, but we are still on the go (sigh!) and needing to eat. :)   Today we have haircuts (got to look our best for Santa tomorrow!) and last minute errands to run.

Paige's little snacky lunch for today. 

mixed Christmas bento lunch

She has a mishmash of holiday fun foods:
- grapes
- Goldfish crackers, holiday edition
- marshmallow snowmen (and snowgirl)
- deli rolls (turkey bologna and provolone)
- cucumber slices
- hard boiled egg

The marshmallows are lined up on cute bento picks to look like snowmen. :) I used my food safe markers to dot on some faces and buttons. My red marker has seen better days and their mouths look wonky as a result!

shaped egg using rice mold

The hard boiled egg is molded in a bear shape. But I didn't use the usual bear-shaped egg mold, I used an onigiri (shaped rice) mold. It is part of a 3-piece set set a sweet friend surprised me with a while back. :)   I actually can't hardly cook rice to save my life (I'm a disgrace to real bento makers worldwide!), so I repurposed it to shape eggs. :)  The bear has a little holly decoration on one ear nub, I drew on using my favorite food safe markers.

The process was the same as using a regular egg mold (see tutorial on how to make shaped eggs here), but I had to use a smaller egg and hold the pieces of the rice mold closed with rubber bands since rice molds don't clip closed.

Paige's little Beary Christmas holiday bento is packed in our leaflet tight bento box. . :)


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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

lock & lock bentos: a couple holiday lunches

Here are a couple of Ethan's recent holiday bentos. :)
Lunch from Friday, I think. 
- Wheat Thins crackers
-  grapes
- homemade granola bites (with holly sprinkles) in mini silicone cups
- turkey and cheddar cheese

I added some fun Christmas sprinkles to the granola bites to spruce them up a bit, and the cheddar cheese is cut into gingerbread man shapes with a mini cutter (from this set).

Today is our last day of school before Winter Break! Yay! Although the kids get out early, at noon, and there is no lunch period, being that Ethan's lunch time is usually at 10:30am he has a lunch-sized snack for today. He'd come home famished otherwise. :)

- sliced kiwi fruit
- organic baby carrots
- homemade granola bites (with candy cane sprinkles) mini silicone baking cups
- Goldfish crackers, holiday mix

Both these bentos are packed in a "4 square" Lock & Lock box.

Happy holidays, everyone!! :)

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Monday, December 19, 2011

trying the Goodbyn Bynto lunch box on for size

I've had this baby Goodbyn box, the Bynto, for a couple weeks (I ordered it from Amazon), but haven't had the time to do a really good review post of it yet.  But, I can say that we like it a lot!  Ethan's used it for school lunch several times and it's a big hit. The Bynto and the new Lego bento box are tied for Ethan's affections at the moment!

bynto bento box

This lunch in the Bynto consists of:
- turkey rolls
- pear wedges
- cereal bar
- crackers

Bynto bento box

The turkey rolls are secured on cute bento picks, and the pear slices are contained in a jumbo silicone muffin cup. I LOVE those jumbo muffin cups, but their size prevents them from being used in most of my bento boxes. I am so happy that they work perfectly in the new Bynto. :)

I'm hoping to get to a thorough review post of the box soon, comparing it to it's big brother box, the Goodbyn.  But I can say this: it's much smaller, it fits in a standard lunchbox, and the lid is easier to put on & take off (much!).  I'm trying to think hard to come up with something I don't like about it. But the truth is, I can't. And I'm trying to talk myself out of ordering another one. I do have four kids after all....


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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Laptop Lunches winter snowflake lunch

A wintery snowflake lunch for my little girl. 

Laptop Lunches snowflake lunch

This wintery lunch consists of:
- popcorn (leftover from the previous evening movie snack) with jumbo snowflake sprinkles
- grapes
- clementines
- mini pb&j circle sandwiches with snowflake tops

The snowflakes atop the sandwiches are made from provolone cheese. The snowflake shapes are from a set of mini Christmas cookie cutters, and the details were made using a tiny bento cutter (from this set and this set) and a teeny straw.

This lunch is packed in a Laptop Lunches box. :)

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

cute Christmas snack: How the Grinch became a Kiwi

I have been stewing over how to make a Grinchy kiwi guy for a few weeks. The thing about the Grinch, is that he's a big meanie. And kind of scary. And I haven't exactly had a lot of success trying to make food look menacing (just take the nervous jack-o-lantern sandwich, or demented frog toast, for example).

The most pressing issue I had was figuring out what to do about the Santa hat. A cupcake pick just wouldn't do. I fooled around with fashioning one out of fruit leather, but that was wonky and the color was all wrong. But then when browsing Pinterest one night, I saw some little brownie bites topped with strawberry and frosting Santa hats (link).  Strawberries! A strawberry Santa hat! Of course!! So then it on like Donkey Kong. Or, on like the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, in this case.


He's a mean one, this kiwi dude. This Grinch is a peeled kiwi fruit, topped with a strawberry and mini-marshmallow Santa hat. He is propped up in a mini silicone cup (it's actually a heart shaped cup. Don't tell the Grinch!).

Another detail I pondered beforehand was how to make his sinister eyes. Icing eyes are much too cute for the Grinch. And then as I was sorting through Halloween candy to pluck out the pieces suitable for our gingerbread houses, I saw banana Laffy Taffy. I remembered immediately how the people in one of my favorite cute cupcake idea books often sculpt their decorations from Laffy Taffy. Perfect!!

I rolled the Laffy Taffy out nice and thin, cut out the right shape, and then colored the middles with my fave food safe markers.


I'm mostly pleased with how he came out. This Grinch was definitely the hardest kiwi guy I've made so far! I had been so focused on figuring out the hat and the eyes that I didn't realize he would need that creepy curvy mouth. I gingerly carved out his mouth with a steak knife. Probably not the best tool for the job. I would have done it differently had I thought about it beforehand. As it was, I had him all done and then realized after the fact that he still needed a mouth. Whoops! :)
One of my favorite details ended up being his eyebrows. I think they helped pull off the sinister look needed to be truly Grinchy. I like how they jut up off his face.
Paige's response: "Whoa! Mama, why did you make a mean monster Santa? He's not friendly at all! What? He's the Grinch? You mean that scary guy who tried to snatch Christmas?! Mama!! That's not nice of you."
Ah, well. Can't please 'em all. :)

Kiwi guys! Get your kiwi guys here!:
Little Bunny Foo Foo Goon
Angry Birds Grandpa Pig
Kermit the Frog

Supplies used to make the kiwi Grinch:
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breakfast burrito brunch bento

This was a simple little brunch bento Paige had the other day. I had a morning appointment and my breakfast girl needed to eat on-the-go.  

breakfast burrito bento

Since she has been on an egg kick (just for the last, um, two years or so, give or take....), I made a breakfast burrito with scrambled eggs, cheese and a little ham.  I wrapped a little napkin around the burrito to help keep it rolled up while she ate.

Sides are pretzels, clementine orange (with cute panda picks) and there are raisins in the little panda cup.

Paige devoured the contents of this bento in about 2 minutes. Okay, maybe four. Maybe.
Warning: don't get between my girl and her breakfast.

Tyler's breakfast-on-the-go consisted of a (reusable) baggie of Cheerios, a banana, and a sippie cup of milk. I didn't take a picture of it. ;-)


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Monday, December 12, 2011

another Lego bento box lunch

Ethan insisted he take his new Lego bento to school today. He was absolutely giddy over it. When you can get a 10-year-old boy giddy over something like a lunch, well, you know it's something special.  I had debated holding on to the new Lego bento until Christmas, but I'm kinda glad I didn't now because the poor kid might have just exploded if he had to wait all of winter break to take it to school to show off.  This morning while eating breakfast he kept opening his lunchbox to peek inside, just to grin at the giant Lego brick and say "it's so cool!". Ha! :)

Today's Lego lunch:
Lego in a Lego bento

- a row of Wheat Thin crackers
- a mini Lego container of sunflower kernels
- turkey rolls on homemade Lego bento picks
- strawberries in a jumbo-sized silicone cup

As far as I can tell these Lego food containers come in two sizes, large (which is what our big blue bento box is) and then small, which is really pretty mini (which is what the green inner Lego container is).

For some size comparisons, I took this picture.
Lego size comparison

So the big blue one is the main bento box, which fits nicely in Ethan's regular Pottery Barn retro lunchbox (seen here), then the mini Lego container is only like 4" long, this red one is the same as the green one that I packed inside today's bento (seen above). Lastly, I placed a regular old "real" Lego just so you can see the size differences.

Most of the Lego boxes at The Container Store are toy boxes and storage boxes and some of them are really big! If you order make sure you check measurements, and the description should state if it's suitable for food (and the ones that are will also say it's dishwasher safe). Also, if the photo shows it full of Legos, then it's probably meant (and sized!) for storage. :)

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

new bento box: Lego lunch!

Hello big blue Lego brick bento box!

Lego Brick

When I found this new bento box recently I had to get one for Ethan. HAD to! The boy only lives, breathes and dreams of Lego's. And now he can eat in one too! I came across it at The Container Store. We finally had one open up not far from home and I had to venture in on my first kid-free escape I could manage. When I discovered this box there I was thrilled! I've seen them periodically online, like in stock images in various weird places, but couldn't figure out where they came from. Mystery solved!


His mega Lego brick bento box holds his usual packed lunch foods: turkey rolls, cheddar cheese, kiwi fruit, crackers and a strawberry cereal bar.

Lego Bento inside
The kiwi is chopped and in a jumbo sized silicone muffin cup with a Lego bento pick, the turkey rolls are also secured with Lego picks. 

Lego bento picks! I made those using the same easy peasy technique shared in the tutorial: how to make cute bento picks. :)

The Lego cheddar cheese was made by cutting tiny circles with a wide straw and painstakingly  placing the minuscule round nubs in place on rectangles of cheese. It was fun to surprise Ethan with the Lego'ed-to-the-max lunch, but I don't think I'll be making Lego cheese again anytime soon (or ever). It was a pain in the you-know-what. 

To say Ethan was excited about this new bento box would be an understatement. He was totally stoked. :)

I know it can be hard to get a clear idea of the size of the box. I don't think it's as massive as it appears. It fits perfectly in Ethan's Pottery Barn Kids retro lunchbox with plenty of space left for  an ice pack and drink container.

Lego in lunchbox  Lego in Lunchbox closed

Lego mania! Who else has a kid or two (or three) vying for Lego's? Ethan is psyched about the new Dino sets. And there are a lot of Star Wars sets he still pines for. Not to mention Alien Conquest (that's Owen's fave), Ninjago, Pharaoh's Quest....  So many Legos, too little dollars. Ha. :)


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Saturday, December 10, 2011

bento lunch: Elfish delights in a sandwich box

"Mama will you PLEASE make me a bento? How about a Cwissmas one? Please, please, puh-leeeeeez!"

She was relentless today, that girl child of mine. Good thing for her that #1 she's cute, and #2, I had made some boiled eggs the day before and was needing them to get eaten up.


Packed in a sandwich box, there is a boiled egg in a silicone cup, two little sealed ham and cheese sandwiches, green grapes and a clementine orange. A happy elf pick adds a little cuteness.

snowflake shaped egg

I made the boiled egg into a snowflake shape using my ice cream sandwich molds (the process is described here). I think it turned out pretty well, but you can kinda see how it is discolored towards the bottom from the yolk being close the surface. 

The sealed sandwiches were made with a Pampered Chef sandwich press. I've had that thing a really long time, but gave up on it long ago because I couldn't ever get the sandwiches to turn out well for me. I'm not sure what I was doing wrong back then for them to turn out so poorly, because just recently when I came across it I tried it again and it  all worked out just fine! Maybe it's all the years of lunch making experience I've accrued since my last attempt. Haha. 

Paige was delighted with her little lunch. We are in the throws of Elf on a Shelf excitement here, so she was tickled to find a little elf in her bento box. :)


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Friday, December 9, 2011

Bento lunches: Christmas twins

These two lunches were for my two littlest kids earlier this week. It was a big day. The day I finally got my booty Christmas shopping! I was starting to have panic attacks that I wasn't ready at all.  And now I've only got the stocking stuffs to go. Whew!

Anywho, these were the lunches I packed for Paige and Tyler, who went to the babysitting place while I stimulated the local economy.

Tyler's lunch:
gingerbread snowflake bento

Paige's lunch:
gingerbread snowflake sandwich bento girl

They are exactly the same! So much easier to pack lunches quickly that way.
Packed in Sassy boxes, they both have:
- mixed fruit: clementines, strawberries, blueberries
- pretzels
- sandwiches

I love how the sandwiches turned out! I used ice cream sandwich molds to make them. So easy! To add just a little extra touch I used a tiny diamond-like mini cutter to take out the center of the snowflake.

double bentos

Twin Christmas bentos. Aw.

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

the lunches with lousy photos

I tell ya, if it's not one thing it's another around here lately! I've moaned about my computer enough lately (it's in transit to get a new hard drive as I type!), but then yesterday morning I go to take pictures of these lunches and my camera makes a funny sound and a message pops up saying there is a bad lens connection. What?! *groan*gumble*sigh!*

I apologize in advance for the lousy photos. I took them with my phone and they came out pretty blurry.

Laptop Lunches pasta lunch

Paige's lunch was packed in a Laptop Lunches box.
- clementine oranges and blueberries
- cucumber slices
- leftover grilled chicken sausage
- pasta salad with mini cheddar cheese hearts

I kinda tried to make a snowman out of the clementines. I'm not sure if that was an appetizing idea. You know what they say about yellow snow. I'm not sure what they say about orange snow. ;-)

Tyler's lunch:
toddler nibbletray lunch

Packed in a Nibble Tray he had the same foods, minus the oranges.

These two kids are pasta fanatics. They have never met a noodle they didn't like. :)

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