Friday, September 19, 2014

Packing Lunch: Tools of the Trade

I've been posting most of my bento lunches on instagram and sometimes I get questions about where I get stuff/what you need to make your own cute lunches. I thought it would be fun to show you what I've got! My favorite place for bento supplies is Bento USA! They have a huge selection and I could browse there forever. I've also gotten stuff from Amazon, Ebay, estate sales, and we used to have an amazing store in town called Happy Japan. They even had bento classes! I wish I had gotten to take one. Also, I am so bummed that we didn't make a trip to Daiso when we were on the west coast. What was I thinking?!
Here is my bento drawer in my kitchen!
Here is my stash of food picks.
They make it really easy to make your lunch more kawaii. Just stick one of these tiny things in pretty much anything and it is automatically cuter! I love the little koalas and monkeys that hold onto things. And of course those little trees!
Part of what appeals to me about bento lunches is that there is less waste generated from packing my lunch this way. Instead of throwing away bags and napkins and utensils every day, I usually don't have any trash at all. I have a whole stack of cloth napkins I use. All the floral ones are from estate or yard sales. I think I paid 10 cents per napkin! I have about four of each pattern so I've always got some ready to go.
I take my own utensil too. I have some vintage utensils with pretty patterns. You can find that kind of stuff for really cheap at thrift stores or yard sales. The colorful forks were from an estate sale too. They are disposables but I just wash them and reuse them. The set with the chopsticks is my favorite. The little animals are so cute!
Sauce bottles are important since you don't want your salad to get soggy or your hummus to soak your chips! I have a whole variety of sizes! The little pandas are for soy sauce, and I use the apple topped ones for hot sauce. The bear is the perfect size for salad dressing and the panda/chicken/pig set are good for stuff you want to dip. The egg guy is for mayo but I don't eat mayo so I usually use that one if I'm taking a bigger salad.
The white things are onigiri molds. They are cheap and so easy to use! You can mold the rice with plastic wrap too, but then you throw that away after every use. Dividers are important in some kinds of lunches, I like the silicon grass the best! The little silicon cups are handy too. Teeny tiny cookie cutters are good for cutting up vegetables or fruit. I just ordered a little set of five with a few different shapes.
These guys are necessary but I really love them! The things on the right are for punching out nori (the seaweed that you find wrapped around sushi) to decorate the onigiri. With the molds on the left you press sushi rice into them to make the shapes. So easy! So precious!
That is what I have for now. There are so many cute things online, but I'm trying to resist. You can be sure there will be lots of bento supplies on my Christmas list this year!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Art of Packing Lunch

I try to pack my lunch for work everyday. It saves us money, and it saves me from having to wait in line to buy food since I've only got 30 minutes. I've dabbled in bento making a few times over the last few years, but I'm totally addicted right now! My department stocked Laptop Lunchboxes this year for back to school and once they went to half off I snagged one. I've had the little accessories for a while. Here is the first lunch I made in my new box:
It is Rad Rainbow Pad Thai, some rice crackers, kiwi, and dried pineapple. Pretty simple, but it makes me so happy! The little chicken has sesame seeds and hemp seeds to sprinkle on the Pad Thai! I usually spend about 15 minutes the night before packing my lunch for the next day. That is why these are all iphone photos. It is too dark to get a good shot with my camera at home when they are done. Here are some of my lunches from the past month:
This one has leftover Mediterranean pasta from a dinner training the night before. I also found a tiny flower cutter to use on the kiwi.Things like that are so easy to do, but make it that much cuter.
This one has left over pizza from the night before. I had this mental picture of slicing up the pizza and making cute little rolls but it didn't quite work out like that. Oops! It still looks cute with the little animal head picks. The pig container has some hummus in it. The little blue cat is stuck in a tiny piece of cherry pie.
Another thing I really like to make is onigiri! They are the rice shapes in the bottom box. Travis is a pro at making them, usually with broccoli in them. The piece of nori seaweed makes a kind of handle so you can pick them up easily. We both like to eat them with hot sauce, that is what is in the little apple head bottles. Yum! Travis likes these in his lunch box too because they are easy for him to eat in his truck while he is making deliveries.
Since we make onigiri so much I decided to order these two onigiri molds! Aren't they cute? The panda face one is really easy to use. The baby panda one isn't as easy, I haven't gotten it to work quite right yet, but I'm trying!
Here is my first day with the panda onigiri. Travis actually made these for me. They have broccoli in the middle. The face is made with nori, and you just use a punch to get the shapes. So easy! So kawaii! The little cat head is in a piece of strawberry and cashew cream coffee cake. It is so good!
I really delighted myself when I thought of putting the picks in the middle of the red bell pepper flowers. There are Swedish fish in the top left box, one of the few vegan mass market candies. I put some broccoli around the panda heads this time. They aren't easy to pick up and eat like the traditional triangle shape so I just mix it up with the broccoli and eat it with a fork. Yum!
The tree picks are adorable too. I usually cut a piece of cucumber to make the top. The leftover pieces of vegetables I cut just go on the bottom of the salad.
As you can see I ended up getting a second box. It makes it so I don't have to make sure my box gets washed as soon as I get home so I can pack it for the next day. This one is dishwasher safe, and you can microwave the little boxes too. Which is awesome! For a few days I was bringing leftover Chili Pasta Casserole and could heat that up without having to heat up the rest of the stuff in my box.
You might notice I use that little giraffe a lot in a container of fruit. It is not only cute, it acts as a fork to eat the fruit with!
And last but not least, this was my lunch yesterday. We had tacos the night before and I wanted to make a build your own taco lunch! It isn't the cutest (I should have made a face on the shells!) but it was really good!
I'm having a lot of fun with bentos currently. It makes it exciting to pack my lunch and the little containers make me pack a variety of stuff instead of just taking one container of one thing like I was doing before. If you want to see more ideas, I like looking at the bento tag on instagram the best for easy ideas. If you search on pinterest or google you usually get back lots of results like this or this, which are really cute but pretty hard to do! And a lot of the time don't really seem like something I really want to eat for lunch!

Friday, September 12, 2014

100 Books 2014: 63-68

More books! I'm getting so close to 100!
63. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie This novel is about a teenage American Indian who lives on a reservation and has to make choices about his future.  He is an artist and likes comics so there are drawings scattered through the book, which I really liked. It was funny and sad and interesting. I don't think I've ever read anything about modern reservation life, it was a point of view that was new to me. Sherman Alexie has written quite a few books about reservation life, I'm going to try and pick up a few more.
64. A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki My digital library lone expired while I was reading this, but it was so interesting I got back on the waiting list and finished it about 6 weeks later. The story is told by two narrators, a young Japanese girl who is writing in a diary, and a woman on an isolated island in the Pacific Northwest who finds the diary washed up on shore. The young girl, Nao, has decided to kill herself to escape bullying and her seemingly hopeless life but wants to document the life of her Buddist monk Grandmother first. The woman who finds the diary is a writer herself and is stuck on her own book. She reads the diary one day at a time and by about halfway through I was DYING for her to speed it up because I really wanted to know what happened. There are many twists and turns this book takes, the story ends up in a totally different place that you expect. I recommend this one if you like inventive fiction.
65. These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer This author was recommended to me because I like historical fiction and (interesting) love stories. I don't know if I just picked a bad one, but I wasn't into it at all. I'm not sure why I even finished it, it took me a long time. The protagonist is a foppish gentleman who is sharp tongued and it looking to get revenge on someone who wronged him a long time ago. Which sounds like something I could be into. But the wrong wasn't that bad, the punishment was way worse, and the love story was AWFUL. Basically he takes over a young girl in his charge who worships him and is a total idiot. Bleh.
66. White Oleander by Janet Fitch This book is beautifully written and very sad. Which is kind of my thing. It is about a young girl who gets shuffled through the foster system after her mother (a strange, beautiful artist) murders her boyfriend and ends up in jail. This is one I will probably reread sometime in the future.
67. Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline The premise of this was very intriguing. Orphan children from the big cities put on trains to more rural areas in hopes of getting families. And it isn't like there were background checks, the children were just lined up and people picked them out like puppies. The people picking them out could make them part of the family or use them as free labor. Some parts of it were interesting, but it is bummer that the prologue gives you an overview of the woman's life so you know what is going to happen long before you are introduced to the characters the prologue is talking about. I would like to read more about the actual orphan trains in the future. I kind of can't believe that actually happened!
68. Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer This book is a non fiction look at fundamentalist Mormon culture and history. I mentioned earlier in the year that I am completely fascinated by fundamentalist Mormons and have read several memoirs of women who have escaped the lifestyle. I recommend Escape by Carolyn Jessop if you are interested. This book is meticulously researched and I learned a lot about the roots of Mormonism, and the way the fundamentalists veered from the main church. I'm not a huge non fiction reader but this was written in a way that kept me interested (and sometimes shocked!) Jon Krakauer is most known for Into the Wild. I have added his book Into Thin Air to my want to read list.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Summer Send Off!

Sadly, summer is coming to a close. I've been having a great time this year and needed one last hurrah before it got too cold. I happened to be off this past Sunday and was able to get a pretty good group together to go to Rock Island one last time this season. It was cloudy pretty much all day, but it was still fun.
The best part is we found a new place to park that makes the trek to the swimming hole MUCH easier. There was no crying or injuries this time. I can't wait to use our new knowledge next summer! If you are in the area, park at the Twin Falls viewing area and then walk along the access trail. You still have to climb down the hill, but it isn't bad.
Here is Twin Falls. You can walk down to those rocks and check it out, but you can't swim down there. Not that I want to, it looks pretty rough!
Our little hike. We were all so stoked about the new route!
The most perfect swimming hole I've ever been too! I really wish it was closer to Nashville. It is about an hour and a half away. But worth it.
There was a lot of rock jumping. I'm still to chicken to do it. Maybe next year.
Have you seen these new seasonal Apple-ahhhh-ritas? They are really good! Kind of a mix of a cider and a margarita. Yum! And there we are pretending to lay out, even though it was cloudy. The water is FREEZING so occasionally you have to get out and warm up.
My friend Bethany brought a waterproof disposable camera and Travis took a selfie while he jumped. I can't wait to see how that one turns out! Haha!
We brought a little picnic: sandwiches and chips and oranges and PIE!
We stayed for about four hours then had to get back to Nashville. And we had to eat at Chuy's on the way home of course. It's tradition.
I'll be retiring my super noodle and packing all the summer stuff away to make room for our coats.
Goodbye for now Rock Island! We'll see you next summer!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Collection 24: Vintage Barrettes!

As much as I love vintage I don't have many pieces of vintage clothes that I can wear. It is hard to find stuff in my size and it's not practical for me to wear to work. For the past few years I've contented myself with vintage brooches (see an old post on my collection here) on my sweaters, but recently I've gotten into vintage barrettes! They are so cute and add a little touch of fun. Here is my little collection. 
These two sets are the first ones I ever found. They were at an antique mall in Pigeon Forge, TN and were still in the wrapper. I wear the whales a lot! The donkeys are super cute but they are pretty much the same color as my hair so I don't ever wear them. Look at those stubby little legs!
The cowgirl on the horse and the pair of birds were flea market finds. I've been keeping my eyes peeled but almost never see them! I wish I had a pair of the cowgirls! Or maybe a little cowboy to match! The two dog barrettes are from etsy. This shop, Rosebud Cottage has hundreds of vintage barrettes! It was really hard to narrow my selection down to two, but I had to go with a dog theme.
 I admired these barrettes from With Care Jewelry for so long before I finally decided to pull the trigger and treat myself. They are made with antique glass cabochons and are TINY and adorable. I've been wearing the snakes pretty much everyday since they came in the mail.
I hope I'll be able to find some more cute barrettes at the flea market this year. I can't get enough!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Breakfast at Khan's!

Last weekend Travis and I went to Dyersburg, TN to visit his family. I took my camera with me, but for some reason the only photos I ended up taking were us at breakfast on the way out of town. But they are cute! So I'm going to share!
The pugs were on their way to my parents house for the weekend so they were with us. We wanted to give ourselves a little treat so we went to Khan's Desserts in East Nashville. As the name implies they have amazing vegan desserts, but they also do a great breakfast! (and lunch!) And they had some outside tables for the girls and I to wait while Travis made our order.
 Phyllis sat under this plant for most of our time there. 
 Such a precious thing! She is doing MUCH better after her tumor scare.
 We both always get the disco biscuit. It is SO GOOD. Travis gets his with both vegan sausage AND bacon. The egg is some kind of tofu thing maybe? I'm not sure but it is delicious. And the biscuits!
Phyllis came out of the plants to watch us eat. They got a few little crumbs. It started to sprinkle rain about this time and Priscilla would feel the drops on her head and think I was throwing her crumbs and try to catch them! It was pretty dang cute.
Yum! That is mine with just the vegan bacon. We've tried to recreate these biscuits at home but they are never as good. We got some sandwiches to go (The Surly Bird is perfection) and then headed out of town. Here are the only other pics I took the whole weekend. Travis and our nephew Ellis, in matching outfits as always! And since we were in the middle of nowhere, I splurged and got us a room with a jacuzzi tub! You better believe I sat in that thing and read for at least an hour! It was the best!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Estate Sale Report!

Last Friday my friend Thomas went with me to a few estate sales around town. There were a couple great houses! Check out the wallpaper in this dining room!
 Close up. The colors really make it, especially that acid green.
There was a bunch of silly Christmas stuff at this house. Don't you love the fabulous eye lashes on some of those snowmen?
 I was tempted by that hanging plant. And that thing with the string and the branches inside!
The lady who lived here obviously loved crafts There was a whole room full of pom poms and pipe cleaners and beads and craft kits. Everything in there was 5 for a dollar.
There was a whole box of doll heads! We bought five and took them to another friend's nearby house. I have a key so we went in and hid the doll heads all over her living room. She found them that night and said the first one made her scream! Hahaha. We had so much fun hiding them!
The people who lived here must have had a child in the 60's, and a grandchild in the 80's. There were boxes and boxes of toys that I had when I was little! I remember the commercial for that Hot Potato in the top of the photo. The rest of the box was full of Happy Meal toys and I'm pretty sure I had all of them.
This guy was kind of creepy! Apparently he is for kids who want a toy that is a jerk to them. If you can read the box, if you pick him up he says "Put me down, you're funny looking!' Among other things.
 Nut art. And a sweet little staircase display shelf. 
 The animals on these bowls are so cute!
A cow Comet cozy. I have two of these guys, a panda and a poodle. The cow was really greasy (from sitting above the skillet probably) so she stayed behind.
 Here is what I brought home, with bonus Scampi. 
 The Bart and the little Marty McFly toy are for a friend. 
 Cute cake decorations! I need to make a cake so I can use them. Maybe tomorrow...
The owl is a magnet! The only Christmas I came home with is the starburst ornament and that knit mouse. And I love the wishbone brooch!
And you know I can't leave behind a movie tie in game. It doesn't have the instructions but I'm sure we can find them online. Home Alone party this Christmas!
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