Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Mini Meat Pies!

Pinterest has taken over! It is filled with mini foods that are perfect for bentos. It inspired me to make some mini meat pies to go with the girls' Annie's O's. I made up the recipe but it's fairly straightforward so it's probably a copy of one that's out there somewhere. The filling is made up of the following: lean grass fed ground beef, onion, garlic, potato, sweet potato, diced tomato, butter and some Worcestershire sauce as well as some Penzeys 4/S seasoning salt. If you've never heard of Penzeys spices, then you're missing my addiction! I love their store! So, I made enough meat pies for dinner last night and their lunches today too. For sides I added some crabapples and mushrooms. Nissa says she doesn't like the apples or the meat pies (even though she ate both yesterday, ha!) so we'll see how lunch goes. Oh and Happy St. Lucia Day! Can't wait for the little fest we planned for Friday. Hope the kids will have fun!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Gingerbread Men!

Leftover spaghetti with cheddar men and a tin of kiwi slices on one side, cucumber slices stuffed with kamaboko (pressed fish cake) men and real little gingerbread men on the other. Here's where their lunches part, one gets preserved plum and the other a sesame stick, two guesses as to who gets which. Oh okay, it's Annie who loves preserved plums! Christmas is quickly coming and I'm loving every minute of it.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


The colors in these bentos are so muted that it made me think winter. Mandarin oranges and kiwi, bison sausage and roasted mashed squash, and sesame sticks with a cup of roasted soy nuts fill out their lunches. They ate pretty much everything in this one, foods to remember!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Three Little Bears

My bentos haven't had much flourish lately and in large part that's because of THE sickness in the house that won't leave us alone. I get a little stressed trying to put together well organized and decorated lunches when the wee one cries for me, poor baby. So there is some decoration and some planning to these but mostly, they are what I hurriedly put together amidst the cries of Oskar in Norby's arms saying, "mama, please stop what you're doing and come put me to sleep!" Nissa sat, or rather stood, next to me and made a snack bento all on her own which she gobbled up before I finished, funny girl.

So in these matching bentos, the left side has quail eggs, orange slices and a bear faced apple - little bear number one. The right side has two containers of puréed dill cauliflower with carrot flowers, sesame udon noodles with shrimp and a couple of cheesy bear faces, havarti cheese that is - little bears two and three!

After I took the picture, I peeled Nissa's eggs for her per her request. She says they don't have enough time to eat let alone peel eggs. This is true, they have very short lunches indeed. Kind of wish they had enough time to eat their whole lunches and milk. Even if they rush, the girls rarely have time to finish. Conferences are on Wednesday, I could mention something then but for now, I hope they enjoy the three little bears.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Mini This and Mini That

These bentos are all about the mini versions of just about everything you see. The top tier has the mini apple pies Norby made with the girls yesterday (Annie is remembering how much she used to like to cook) and super mini oranges. The middle tier has two mini sized servings of mashed cauliflower and soba noodle salad each, one with a tiny quail egg and the other with a carrot leaf. They are each accompanied by a mini sweet pepper stuffed with a chipotle dill ricotta chicken salad. The bottom tier isn't really too mini but the veggie dumplings are rather small as are the carrot leaves. I gave Annie a second mini pepper in her bottom tier, no real reason, I just did. That's it for the minis bentos!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

All's well that... Well almost all well

She did it, Nissa got well enough to finally return to school yesterday! She really had me worried there for a little bit. On our way into the building Nissa said, "It feels like the first day of school all over again." Then she saw one of her friends and the two of them grinned the largest grins at each other and just giggled and giggled. It was so nice to see Nissa so happy again. Anyway...

It's bentos for both girls again. I think a lot of the items in here are recognizable but just for the heck of it, I'll explain it all. They both have basically the same items; mini fresh mozzarella balls, dill tomogoyaki (japanese omelet), carrots, sugar snap peas, kiwi and mini orange slices. Annie has the addition of kalamata olives. I also put a princess pick into Nissa's but for some reason I didn't take a picture... my brain is kind of mush after all this sickness. Oh, another little Nissa tidbit, this morning she grabbed her lunch box and looked hard at it and then at me and said hopefully, "did you make me a halloween bento?" She's back!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Creatures of the Night

My niece Ani made all of the creatures you see in Annie's bento (yep, Nissa is still too sick to go to school and, of course, now Oskar has the hacking cough, poor baby) for our Halloween Party last night. She made it a beautifully spooky party and I got to spend the whole day with her. Of course, my house was full of sick people (Norby caught the flu part too) which made it much harder for me to get the halloween happy juices flowing but Ani sure made it happen. With all her super yummy and cool treats, there were even enough left over for an instant and yet one of the best creature bento's Annie has ever had. There is a cinnamon apple jack-o-lantern tart, owl cupcake, meringue ghosts and probably the funniest of all, the mutant frog (candy covered strawberry... hmmm, I never asked what kind of candy... maybe white chocolate died green? I'll have to check). Along with those are a few cheddar bunnies, some orange/yellow tomatoes and the last of the "bat poop" banana bread bites. Annie loved it and gobbled the last of the halloween bento's all up. I think Nissa will be back at school tomorrow, she's getting tired of being at home and misses her friends. If her coughing is under control, then off she'll go (hey, that rhymed, hehe).

Monday, October 31, 2011

Hello Jack

Happy Halloween!!

Norby made up a big batch of pizza crust dough and we all made individual pizzas for dinner. I made an extra ghosty one for Annie's lunch. It has bison sausage and kalamata olives on it and a cheesy ghost with an olive face trying to scare but is kind of cute. Yellow grape tomatoes and another olive round out that tier. The other has, what we decided to call "bat poop" in the corners (home made banana bread plops in mini bat muffin wrappers), mini jack-o-lantern oranges, some sugar snap peas and a few more orange grape tomatoes. Annie loved it and I have to admit, it was really fun to do an actual bento again. With all the sickness in our house, I've been off bentos.

Character Parade Day at school, a tragic story of Nissa.

Nissa didn't get a bento today because she is now home sick with the flu and a cold on top of it. Poor kid tried so hard to make it to school last Friday but thank goodness it panned out as it did. When we arrived, she tried to go in with Annie but felt sick so we left. Half way home, she said she thought she felt well enough to try to go back. Since it was her first character parade day, I rushed back so she could try. As soon as we got there, she said her tummy was feeling yucky again but she got out of the car (this is the thank goodness part). Suddenly the cries got more urgent and as I came around the back of the van, she lost it, poor sweet pea. Needless to say, she didn't get to be a part of the character parade. It was actually harder on me than her, she was too sick to really care after tossing her cookies. She just wanted to be home and I couldn't blame her, poor muffin. So she missed the character parade, has been sick all weekend and is still sick today, Halloween. Hopefully, we can get her to do some trick-or-treating. Then, all this sickness really needs to go away!

Friday, October 7, 2011


I have a shortcut option that I've taken a lot this year already. It's called a thermos! Yes, I know, they've been around forever but I've only used them for Annie when absolutely necessary. However, having been so sick this past week, I realized that their thermoses are my friends. I also love Annie's (the company, not the kid) ravioli, bunnie Os and Mac & Cheese for the easiest shortcuts ever. The girls love it too as a change. So, I couldn't just send them off with a thermos without some sort of side item too so here it is! You might not be able to tell from the picture but those are mini pears, about the size of plums. I put them in my Onigiri bento box and they fit perfectly. The bottom container are some sliced cucumbers and carrot hearts. It was really a quick lunch but not as quick as when I just add an apple and milk to the bag. Those are my easiest days of all.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Bao to the Cauliflower

A few of favorites of both girls in this bento. Every few weeks, I like to go to United Noodle and pick up some frozen items that make lunches a lot easier. Maybe someday, I'll make and freeze them myself but for now and the foreseeable future, these are great. In this bento is a large meat and vegetable bao (stuffed bun), some mini fresh mozzarella balls with a few tomatoes, and one of their current favorites, mashed cauliflower and garlic with dill (it's kind of stinky but they don't seem to mind). This went together very quickly this morning so I'll probably repeat it again soon. On to Halloween and hopefully a few halloween bentos! That is, after the big Colorado trip. We're meeting Norby after his man week and taking the grandparents and kids to a ranch in the mountains for a few days. I can not wait! Hopefully all this sickness will be done and I'll have a voice again. On the other hand, the whole husky voice is kind of working for me, lol.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Yay! My favorite time of year is finally really here, except for the return to summer we are having this week temp wise. The leaves are half way turned and just beautiful. And on October 1st, the kids and I lugged out the Halloween decorations and put them up. Annie put on her thigh high halloween socks and black accompanying outfit and Nissa went through about three or four costumes during the whole process but for some reason, I never snapped a picture... so unlike me.

The fall halloweeny theme made it's way to the Bentos today. The bottom tier has some shrimp shumai (dumplings) surrounded by carrot leaves. The middle tier is chicken fried rice with more carrot leaves and finally the top tier has mini plums and kiwi. Papa is gone for his man week and so far we're getting along pretty well, despite the backed up kitchen sink (now cleared), fallen closet rod (still fallen) and lost tv remote (which is actually kind of a good thing). We miss him but hope it's a fun trip to the mountains too.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


I just like the colors in here and couldn't think of a name so I went with "pretty". Nissa went back to school but we skipped "after school activities" since I'm still on the tail - long, long, tail end of this cold/flu like thing. Annie has, thankfully, missed most of it and Norby was only mildly hit. So to the bento(s). The top tier has kiwi and apple slices decorated with cheese flowers and a few small cups of grapes. The bottom tier has pieces of grilled pork decorated with cheese flowers, edamame, and a few slices of corn on the cob topped with carrot flowers. We had a hot day here in the Midwest on our way to fall. On a side note, I've created a leaf monster in Nissa; every time we head out for a walk, she gathers more beautiful leaves to bring home. I like that kind of monster :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Octopus Attack!

So, I'd sworn never to do the hotdog octopus but look at me now, three in each bento, crazy! I admit, it's kind of fun. My aversion was because they aren't really the healthiest of foods but these ones are at least all whole chicken meat and like I said, it was fun. In the top tier, there are also some sautéed bananas and figs while the bottom has some zipper beans (edamame or soy). I'll see what Nissa does with the fruit, should be interesting. We kept her home today to get rid of that cough she has had and so she doesn't share it with her friends. She missed being at school, that's a good thing :)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Chef Nissa

Last night, Nissa sat next to me in the kitchen and did at least half, if not more, the work of making lasagna. She absolutely loves cooking and, get this, washing dishes! She's a keeper. So, in this (these) bento is the Nissa made lasagna decorated with cheese decorations and a container of poofs (Pirate Booty). The bottom part has decorated apple wedges and orange slices. On a side note, Oskar is now healthy but Nissa doesn't sound too hot and I'm getting groggy again. This is a crazy long illness. I wish it would get better or worse. This long drawn out in between stuff is un-fun!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Baked Hearts

First let me start by saying Oskar and I have been very sick these past few days but today his fever broke and now, at bedtime, I'm finally feeling pretty good. We made it through his first fever quite unscathed, yay! Norby took over lunch duty and, as you can see by the previous post, made bentos too. Yesterday, I couldn't get myself out of bed to take a picture so I've no idea what they had, but I'm sure it was yum. In this bento, I tried something new, baked tofu. I bought extra firm tofu, sliced it in half, cut out heart shapes, marinated them in soy sauce/sesame oil and baked it for about an hour and 20 minutes. An hour ten would have probably been better, but the girls don't mind the crunchy edges. Along the edge of the baked hearts are some mashed potatoes and stuffed tomatoes (that rhymed, hehe) with some herb and cheese garnish with nori decorations. A word on the nori: don't use the teriyaki flavored ones for punching, they're too sticky! The girls prefer the plain ones anyway. The top tier has mini wine grapes, a few ground cherries and a whole bunch of little bits of string cheese. I hope it's enough of the foods they'll eat, another wait and see.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Papa Bento

I was exhausted last night after a day at the Renaissance Festival and just couldn't get it in gear to do the girls lunches so Norby took over and made them this morning. I don't know why, but it made me giggle with glee to see he was making bentos instead of sandwiches. I added the ground cherries and the picks but the rest was all him. Dumplings on the bottom, mini plums and mini wine grapes in the middle, and oranges, quail eggs and grape tomatoes for Annie with the ground cherries for Nissa on the top. Way to go papa!!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Why Not?

As predicted, Annie was worn out after fencing and just went straight to bed not, however, until she told me about her amazing new fencing partner. "Was she new?" I naively asked. "It was a boy and I've never seen him but he was good so he must have fenced before," said her glowing face. The wheels turned quickly in my head, "Oh and was he cute?". Her eyes twinkled and she said, "yep!". "Well that always makes it more fun doesn't it?" I said as my eyes twinkled back, hehe. Somehow, Norby's eyes weren't twinkling quite as much when I told him, lol.

I meant to just quickly throw these together since Annie wasn't working with me but in the end threw on some decorations... Why Not? :). Both have spaghetti with cheese and nori decorations (I really do love those girls), oranges, apples, grapes and mint. In the small containers, both have packets of seaweed snacks but Annie has more figs (Nissa's sideways thumb must have turned down, she didn't eat the ones I made yesterday) and Nissa has a fruitabu snacky thing. Well it's fun to watch Annie grow up and just as fun to have Nissa still at age 5. They are so much alike and yet light years apart!

Gettin' Figgy With It!

Yeah, I had to say that in the title, haha.  Annie sat with me again and put together her own bento, I'm really liking this new habit! The entire time, she told me all about the graphic novel she's written in her head and has just begun to put to paper. I might be biased (you know, being her mom and all), but it's incredibly creative and very unique. I hope she finishes it.

So the figgy title is for the figs in the top tier. They are surrounded by chocolate mint leaves and orange slices. I wonder if my mint survived last nights frost advisory? The middle tier has four slices of Scandinavian tomagoyaki (a savory dill version of the japanese omelet), some carrots, sugar snap peas, mushrooms and two quail eggs.  As per Annie's request, I didn't peel them, not sure how Nissa will take to that but we'll see. The bottom tier has cucumber wedges and potatoes in Nissa's with the addition of grape tomatoes in Annie's and of course some oregano flowers to decorate. I'm sure the frost has killed them off but they were nearly gone anyway. Maybe Annie will join me again tonight but since it's a fencing night, it might not happen. Oh well, I'll take it when I can :)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Annie's Art

I picked up another of the metal bento like lunch box. Somehow it's just easier to design one bento for two girls and substitute the foods one doesn't like for something else. This time, Annie sat with me and made her's as I made Nissa's, how fun! She kept asking for tips and how to do things, she just may be making her own blog here soon.

In this one there are pork and chicken dumplings accompanied with cauliflower cooked a little in some soy sauce and some more oregano leaves. In the small tins are the last of the soba noodles with soy sauce/sesame oil dressing decorated with some carrot and cucumber circles. The bottom tier has a heart cup of dried blueberries, alternating slices of oranges and apples, and a whole slew of grapes.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Flighty as a Butterfly

Quickest bentos ever! We went out to dinner after taekwondo, great idea in theory but time wise? Not so smart. Poor Nissa was stretched beyond her limit and even little Oskar was over sleepy. I guess summer is finally and officially over. Back to schedules it is, but not tonight. Hence the super quick flighty dighty butterfly Bentos. Nissa has the blue one and Annie the black. Both have tea eggs (hard boiled eggs that are cracked and then soaked in a hot tea, soy sauce and herb mixture... a little like heaven), sugar snap peas, carrot butterflies, sesame oil/soy sauce dressed soba noodles, cucumber butterflies, a couple mozzarella balls and grapes. Annie's also has some ground cherries and a cheese butterfly. Nissa was so tired that she was tearfully saying she no longer likes tea eggs when she checked in with me. I'll have to see again in the morning after she has had some rest. Off to bed it is for me now too!

And Piglet Too

Nissa woke up more easily than Annie today but really, that shouldn't surprise me too much. 1. She loves school and 2. Like her papa, she's a morning person. Annie, however, takes after me and needs a lot of just sitting time in the morning. It should be interesting to see how this pans out throughout the school year! Anyway, Nissa's bento has piggy carrots, star fruit, a piggy cucumber over cucumber bites all with some sugar snap peas strewn about (not sure I like that look a whole lot but there it is). The other side has corn bread, grapes with a carrot piggy, chicken with a cucumber piggy, and some more sugar snap peas all around. Third day of kindergarten today and I think she's becoming a pro!

A Few Leaves

Leaves are beginning to fall so I threw a few fall leaves in this lunch to celebrate and I'm going to ignore the 91 degrees predicted for today, lol. The top tier has star fruit, grapes, grape tomatoes (tons of green ones still on the vines, hope they turn red sometime soon), chicken and some gouda cheese leaves. The bottom tier has some corn cakes, sugar snap peas, carrot leaves, cucumber wedges and a container of herbed cream cheese for dipping. Second week of school is now underway!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Khaki and Color

So Annie mentioned that sometimes, the kids at lunch try to guess the different foods in her lunch. Well, this one might stump them. In the top tier are ground cherries. Norby saw them at the co-op and said, "let's try them out" to which I said, "sure". They are amazingly yummy, taste just like a caramel apple in my book. Annie loves them and Nissa gives them a sideways thumb for now. So, we'll see who guesses what those paper covered fruits are! In that tier is also a carved apple wedge, some strawberries and a sprig of chocolate mint. I told the girls to eat a leaf after lunch to freshen their breath, we'll see if they do. In the other tier, there are two mini nori punched decorated mozzarella balls, four chicken/pork dumplings, a bunch of carrot flowers and a few more grape tomatoes from the garden. Annie was a great big sister and didn't want to leave Nissa but knew she had to get to her own class. Very proud of my great girls who are now happy and worn out. Yep, schools in session!

Hello Flowers

I learned that Nissa does not, in fact, like olives at all. She says they're sour. Here I've been giving them to her for years because I thought she liked them. I'm guessing a big sister, who would eat olives for every meal, must have "helped" Nissa with hers, lol. So, no olives in this bento. The right tier has a few nori punched decorated mini mozzarella balls, three chicken and pork dumplings and a whole lot of carrot flowers. The other one has some sliced apple topped with halved strawberries and apple flowers all flanked by orange slices and some chocolate mint leaves. On to the second day of kindergarten! The first day started off with some tears but Nissa informed me that tomorrow, when I leave, she will not need to hold on to me. Such a cute kid.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Kindergarten Princess

It's finally arrived, the big day! Nissa starts kindergarten and I'm excited, happy and sad all at the same time. She also requested the panda bento for her first day, knew I should have bought two of them. Nissa's bentos are going to add a new challenge since she is a bit more particular about what she eats. Most everything in this one, however, are foods she likes. We'll see! On the red princess tier, there is a teddy bear container of sugar snap peas and olives with a second teddy bear container of nori decorated fresh mini mozzarella balls. The princess has speared a kalamata olive and hearted mozz ball. Hiding in the corner is what every princess has, a pet (quail egg) mouse. They are resting on a bed of soy sauce/sesame oil dressed soba noodles and adorned with oregano flowers. The blue princess tier is lined with orange slices that are topped with fanned strawberries and adorned with fresh chocolate mint from the front yard. There are also two teddy bear cups of chopped strawberries covered with smoked Gouda nori decorated bears. I can't believe it's time and will so miss the crazy and creative kid called Nissa being with me every day. Love you Nunu!

For The Birds

Third day back tomorrow and I'm guessing the homework will return, boo (not really, I know it's good and reinforces what was taught in the classroom but it seriously cuts into our family fun time). Lots of color in this one. Top tier is sliced oranges and fanned strawberries. Middle tier has two birds nests of 100% soba noodles dressed with a sesame oil/soy sauce mix. In one nest are two quail egg chicks and in the other are three multi-colored carrot owls. Apparently, the purple carrot owl is camera shy and will only keep his back to us, crazy bird. The bottom tier is a separated caprese kalamata olive salad garnished with oregano flowers. Happy happy happy birdie chirpy day to you, to you (darn singing gnome birthday card has that song stuck in my head!). Now, on to Nissa's!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


My mom's favorite animal is a pig, or at least she said that once. I think there's something sort of Americana about them or else they make me wish I lived on a farm, with a Wilbur. I digress... In this bento there are olives, sugar snap peas, grape tomatoes and a couple of smoked gouda pigs with sesame seed eyes. The bottom tier has a pile of kamaboko (a pressed fish like imitation crab meat) with a couple more piggies on top. On one side are carrots adorned with oregano flowers and chives while the other side has dried figs (yeah, Annie loves them). Also, I snuck a packet of snacking seaweed in the cover for her. Finally, for the record, Annie loved the first day of school, can't wait for tomorrow but is even more excited for Thursday when Nissa starts.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Back to School Grade Five

I am seriously trying not to freak out. Back to school is a time I relish for Annie but not so much for me. I admit that I love being back on bento duty but I am one of those moms who really misses her kids when they're in school. Nissa starts Kindergarten on Thursday and to prepare, Norby took the day off from work to support both Nissa and me. So, Annie requested the panda bento and here it is! This one has press shaped eggs with nori decorations, grape tomatoes from the garden stuffed with cream cheese and chives, also from the garden. There are two little bear cups of olives covered with smoked Gouda bears also decorated with nori and all those little flowers are from my completely gone wild oregano plant. Annie says she's not sure she'll eat them buy will at least try one. The other tier has a handful of grapes and some carrot flowers along with a smoked Gouda flower both decorated with nori and finally, a little cute monster kind of face is sticking out. It's a pick in case Annie doesn't want to use her fingers :). Happy fifth grade year big girl!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Final Fence

Today was the last day of camp and Norby surprised Annie by taking off work to come see her fence. It was a great surprise. Annie won first place in her epee tournament and was really fun to watch. She's ready to start in august and, to be honest, so are Norby and I! I tried something new in this bento by giving myself a blank slate to just decorate. In this case, the slate is a slice of provolone over cut up pieces of chicken. The decorations are made with organic American cheese (or as it's known in our house, Pirates Cheese) and nori. In the red cups are nori decorated melon balls and of course, none other than the fully in bloom from the garden must be picked before they are gone, black raspberries! Here's to a great week of camps and a happy 10 year old about to start a new adventure!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Things That Go Hop

Fourth day of fencing camp and I've been informed that Annie and Kasia have a secret hideout (otherwise known as the girls locker room, lol). It's so fun to see Annie so excited and loving it. More watermelon with frogs that go hop and some black raspberries (of course) are in the top tier. In the bottom one is an antipasto with a couple provolone bunnies that go hop, apparently for real since Annie found one had hopped under the salad when she opened it! Sneaky little buggers!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Fencing Food

I liked Monday's bento so much, I revived it today, the third day of fencing, in a slightly new arrangement and with the addition of a strawberry. Since these are all snack Bentos, I've only been using two tiers of the three tiered boxes. This is probably my favorite box, even if it's only part of it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Seeing Double

Second day of fencing camp and Annie is well on her way to becoming a fencer, she loves it. She has made a new good friend named Kasia. Annie said she knew they'd be friends when she learned they were both left handed. The double Bentos below each have half a bunny egg and half a bear egg. Each also has two bear cups of strawberries and more black raspberries. Nissa at hers as soon as we dropped of Annie and as we were on our way to get grandma and grandpa to buy them the long promised birch tree. She wasn't waiting until snack time!

Garden Snack

Annie has fencing camp this week which requires a snack, Bento Time! And yes, Nissa requested one too so, of course, there are two. Our black raspberries are loving the fact that we cut down the mulberry trees and are subsequently, loaded with berries. Here, they are surrounding some nori hearted watermelon. The other half has rolled slices of sopressata Italian hard sausage adorned with a provolone flower garden and a few nori centers. Linda, the fencing coach, worked the kids hard in a fun and exciting way, good thing Annie brought a snack!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Last Bento

The last bento of the year and the last time I'll do a single one for school! We stopped at United Noodles so Annie could get a snack to bring to school tomorrow and lo and behold, the star fruit were out! When we cut it open, I reminded the family that it can be a number of colors but it was still surprising to see white. I like how it reflects the sesamed leftover rice from our dinner at Obento-Ya. With the rice is a leftover chicken skewer and some cream cheese and chive blossom stuffed tomatoes. I also have leftover Japanese potato salad with a few stemmed chive flowers and grape grapes with the dragon fruit. Ah, and so life marches on as my kids get older. Funny thing is, I don't!! ;)

Perfect Score

Nissa took the preschool screening test today and didn't miss a single question, got 20/20 vision and perfect hearing. Yep, she's ready for school! To celebrate, we ate asian food twice today, she got a new bike helmet as well as a new bell for her bike and I made her a bento of her own. She picked the chive blossoms herself. There is a mini rice ball (onigiri) leftover from dinner at Obento-ya, some pickles, grape grapes and some of the beloved dragon fruit. I love watching this precocious kid grow.

Satsuki and Mei

A My Neighbor Totoro reference. Can you tell which box is Satsuki Annie's and which is Mei Nissa's? I forget to show the closed boxes so from time to time, I'm trying to include a picture here and there.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

T-Minus 2

Second to last bento and then I'll have a fifth grader and a brand new kindergartener! There are three mini sandwiches made of cream cheese, meat, and cheese. Each one is adorned with a nori decoration in accordance to its shape. I threw in some chopped tomatoes to be eaten with the sandwiches and a whole variety of herby garnishes. Finally, I threw in some more cherries and grape grapes. This time, I'll include a cliff bar and a water bottle since it's track and field day too. And just for the record, we could get down into the 50's tonight! Looking forward to summer but not really having it be the last one with Nissa home. Oh well, she's beyond excited to be in school so I am too.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Beat the Heat!

It officially hit 103 degrees today and we did everything possible to stay cool including keeping Annie home from her non air conditioned windowless classroom school. Of course, it takes almost nothing for me to keep her home since I miss her when she's gone. I'm always one step away from home schooling but as long as she's still happy, I'll keep her out there. It's supposed to be much nicer tomorrow so I made a bento, similar to my last but more easily eaten with fingers. I used the fresh oregano and the chive flowers from my garden again to make cream cheese tomato flowers. This time, threw in a couple of hard boiled quail eggs with nori flowers on them too. The other side has a container of grape grapes (who knew there are still grape colored grapes out there) flanked by cherries. In the cover, I slipped in a couple packages of snacking seaweed and I'll probably throw in a z-bar. After all these years, I'm still trying to get the right amount of food in each lunch but with her constantly changing appetite, it's usually just a guess!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Almost Summer

One week left of school which means I'll be cutting back a lot on bento making for the summer. It's a tough week to feel motivated for all of us but we'll make it through. This weekend was our first weekend of the year to really feel like summer, even the chives have blossomed. I decided to stuff Annie's lunch with them since 1. They're pretty; 2. They're tasty, and; 3.They are a sure sign it's summer! With the chives are tomato flowers stuffed with an oregano leaf, cream cheese and a single petal of the chive flowers as well as a grilled pork loin adorned with fresh oregano. I love that my garden herbs are full and ready to eat without me having to lift a finger! They grow like weeds... which, I guess, they are. The other side has a tin of fresh blueberries along with a dried pineapple, goji berry and granola mixture. You know, I kind of really want to keep this lunch for me!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Annie's Academic Bento

Today are Academic Performances at Annie's school. She left the one sheet of paper she needed to study at school. So, after a frantic email to her teacher for help, with a bit of a scolding and "is this becoming a habit?" tone, we got the paragraph she needed to memorize: 穆罕默德在公元年,出生在阿拉伯半岛的麦加。在他四十岁的时候,穆罕默德自称他在洞穴中默想时遇见了天使长加百列,他说加百列启示:他要他自创一个宗教,也就是我们现在所知道的伊斯兰教,穆罕默德被称为是神的先。追随他的人叫做穆斯林。Of course, I am totally unable to read it but Annie was relieved. Poor Annie, we've been so busy this spring that all of us are losing any sense of normalcy. Oh well, only one more week! So in Annie's bento, I swapped out pickles for tomatoes (last of the mini heirlooms) and went solo in making this one. We're off in a couple of hours to see her performance and then have a bit of a chat with Lin Laoshi to see what's up with Annie (by we, I mean me. Norby is busy with work and tennis and can't make it :( )

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Happy Helper

Nissa is going to be a chef sooner or later, and head chef at that. When we make Bentos together, it's definitely a collaboration and more often than not, her ideas turn out better than what I had planned. In this bento, she wanted faces on the tamagoyaki or no nori decorations at all. She also said the dividers had to be a part of her bento and she chose every piece of food that went in it. It's fun and very different than when I make Bentos with Annie. So we have nori decorated tamagoyaki (Japanese omelette) and kamaboko (pressed fish, like imitation crab meat) in one tier, carrots and dill pickles with an elephant kawaii divider peeking out and finally, a sliced apple with a flower kawaii divider adding a little decor. Designed mostly by Nunu.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Rice Ball

Lately, we've been watching Fruits Basket, an anime series that we all love. There is reference to the main character being an onigiri, a rice ball. It had been a while since we had made any, so we decided we'd all give it a try. In the past, Norby had really been the only one to have much success. Well, this time, Annie made one she deemed perfect. And being Annie, she wanted to save it. Unfortunately, she saved it a bit too long and it turned rancid. If you know Annie, you know she was in tears at losing her favorite onigiri ever and even though it was rancid and stinky, she did not want to part with it. Instead of keeping it, I took a picture so she could always remember it. She makes me smile.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Night Owl II, The Sequel

So here's Annie's bento that I made as I made Nissa's. Almost the same description except for the addition of tiny tomato and cheese skewers. It was hard not to gobble them up myself!

Night Owl

Nissa asked if I'd make her a bento as I was making Annie's. Her last one she actually did save for lunch so I thought maybe she wanted this one for lunch too, nope! She's my night owl! Chicken and olives in one side with strawberries and blackberries in the other. To finish it off are a couple of cheddar owls with sesame eyes. She's downstairs watching Howl's Moving Castle right now and I'm guessing this bento is long gone by now!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Easy Peasy

Leftover chicken and brown rice with a handful of goat cheddar flowers. A few more flowers on grapes flanked by kiwi halves. All done in the midst of an oncoming headache possibly of the migraine quality. Off to bed with me!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Puppy Love

Even Belle and Cinderella love puppies, especially when they are made from aged goat cheddar cheese with nori features. One puppy rests on a bed of olives, tomatoes and more cheese while the other rests on the bean and rice dish I cooked up for dinner using the first of the backyard herbs! Yay for herbs and yay for it almost being gardening time. We just have to make it through this weekend of ballet and our lives should (barring all the unforeseens that seem to always pop up) slow down and I can find time to garden! Only a few more weeks of school lunches and I'll be "off" bentos for a while. Then comes Nissa's! Am I ready for that yet? We'll see.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


The sun has returned to the Midwest which forced me to make a super sunny colored bento, well... that and the fact that the food I had available just happened to be super sunny colored. The top tier is a container of sour cream and onion bunnies with leftover, "E's kumquat, ramp and sun dried tomato burger casserole" (can you say, cleaning-out-the-cupboards meal?) which was surprisingly yummy!! On top of that is a cheddar cheese person enjoying the sun. The bottom tier has sunny slices of grapefruit and grassy green kiwi with little flavor burst bites of kumquats. I've never used them before and didn't know if Annie would like them but she does! They're kind of like the strongest sour head you've ever tasted, right up her alley. And finally, a couple of sunny bear picks to round out the whole sunfilled thing. Okay, so I'm tired and a bit over the top in my description, even for me! :) Ah, well, what can I say?