DIY · have you bento my house for lunch? · Keepin' it real

Day 651: I’m not going to make it

…to midnight. There’s no way I can make it to midnight tonight. It’s 9:20 p.m. and I’m already longing for my pillow.

My kids, on the other hand, are gearing up to stay awake into 2022. They’re planning to make frozen lemonade, popcorn, mug blondies, and s’mores. Is that a good idea? Not necessarily, but I told them they can only do it if they clean the kitchen and load the dishwasher first; it was a means to an end.

So I can’t make it to midnight, but I can make my kids clean the kitchen.

Know what else I can make? Heart-shaped hard-boiled eggs, or “heart-boiled eggs” for short. I used a rice mould that came with my sushi-making set, put the egg in while it was still warm, and–voilĂ !–heart-shaped egg. Preliminary observations show that egg consumption went up 300% when I left some heart-boiled eggs out on a plate. Who doesn’t love cute food?

Image description: a clear plastic heart-shaped cup and its lid, along with two hard-boiled eggs that have been squished into a heart shape.

I also finished turning our scruffy storage ottoman into a puzzle table. I haven’t gotten around to reupholstering it yet, so it looks really cool on the inside and beat up on the outside.

In the above images, from left to right, you can see the ottoman when it’s closed; the puzzle board inside that’s revealed when the top of the ottoman is removed; and the games and puzzles that are stored below the puzzle board.

I was on the fence about what fabric to upholster it with until Mr. December handed me a torn pair of jeans to dispose of. Now the plan is to cover the ottoman in upcycled denim.

But first, the plan is to go to bed. See you in 2022.

birthing babies · family fun · have you bento my house for lunch? · Jewy goodness

Shabbat Shalom!

Ah, the secret to speedy Shabbat prep – bentos in the bath! A wooden cutting board make the perfect floating table.

The stories this bathtub could tell... births, babies, bentos...

I’m still trying, as I have been for years, to make Shabbat feel more restful and holy. Last week I managed to resist the lure of my laptop (and the internet) for the entire 25-hour day, only because just before Shabbat I shut down the computer and took it downstairs. I spent the day talking with Mr. December, playing with the kids, napping, and getting together with friends. Our Shabbat day is a work in progress, but this feels like a step in the right direction.

And speaking of progress and steps… R seems to think that she has to keep up with the other little people around here:

Up on all fours and rocking. Mummy is not ready for this!

And so, I’m shutting off my computer to spend Shabbat with the little people. I hope your Shabbat (or just plain Saturday, as the case may be) is delicious, relaxing, and happy… just like the current moment in our home.

have you bento my house for lunch? · what's cookin'

Lunches, lovely to lazy

K’s been in school for three weeks now, and so I’ve got some bentos to show you. Some are works of art (if I do say so myself); others are appealing only because of colourful produce, and still others are downright lazy and visually boring. Take a look:

Clockwise from top left: Coronation grapes, rolled up roast turkey slices with flower-cut pita on toothpick stems; grape tomatoes; corn on the cob with flower-cut carrots and circle-cut kohlrabi; deli mustard for dipping.

Clockwise from top right: soy butter and banana "maki" rolled in pita; baby carrots; dried cranberries; "triangle cheese"; Italian plums; bear-cut kohlrabi

This one was for pizza day, so it just needed to be a good accompaniment to a slice of pizza. From left: celery, yellow peppers, baby carrots, grape tomatoes, coronation grapes.

Clockwise from top left: basmati rice, sliced carrot, lentils in wine sauce, yellow pepper (mustache), red pepper (mouth), apple (cheeks/face), fusili pasta for filler.

Turkey schnitzel mountain, coronation grape ocean/sky, apple-cut boat, broccoli trees, person-cut red pepper, basmati rice path.

Ah, the visually boring. I just got too lazy to figure out different colours. Clockwise from top: Soy butter on (tiny) Italian bread, white mushrooms, "triangle cheese", homemade applesauce, baby carrots.

And I just now realized that the boring bento isn’t even fully necessary for tomorrow – it’s pizza day again and she really just needs some sides. Excuse me while I go re-pack.

have you bento my house for lunch? · Kids · lists · what's cookin'

Determined to be organized

Tomorrow is the first day of school.

K has a lunchbox and a water bottle that she chose herself. She’s got three placemats (one for each day that she’s staying for lunch). Her new pants have been shortened appropriately and her new wardrobe is stocked with complete outfits from which she can choose. Her school shoes are labeled. Her extra outfit is ready.

I’m trying so hard to get and stay organized this year. I just can’t see how we’ll manage with three kids unless everything is laid out in advance.

So now I’m trying to decide two things: 1. what to serve for breakfast tomorrow, and 2. what to pack in her bento.

First things first… breakfast. I actually really want to get a small crockpot and start making really good oatmeal overnight at least a few times a week. Stores are shut today, though, so that’s not going to happen in time for tomorrow. Maybe scrambled eggs?

And lunch? Well, there’s lots of colourful produce in our house right now, most of which is seasonal and really good. I guess she’ll be getting cherry tomatoes, coronation grapes (deep purple/blue, taste like concord but seedless), cucumber slices (or maybe cut-out shapes), and a turkey sandwich on Italian bread. Possibly half a peach, especially if I can hollow it out to make a bowl for the grapes. So in terms of colours, I’ve got red, blue, green, orange/yellow, and beige. Sounds okay… maybe I’ll add a winnie-the-pooh sandwich pick for fun.

… and that’s my brain dump for the day. Tune in tomorrow for pictures and stories of how it all actually went down.

have you bento my house for lunch? · Kids · what's cookin'

It’s almost lunchtime…

School lunchtime, that is. One of K’s big sources of excitement is that this year she’ll be staying at school for lunch and recess with her class (it’s called the extended half-day option). This means two things:

  1. I need to make her some of her own placemats.
  2. I need to brush up on my packed lunches.

Placemat-making will commence tomorrow, once K has chosen the fabric and trim that she wants. Lunch-packing has been taking place intermittently over the summer – whenever we go on an full-day outing, I pack a bento. Here are some neat ones:

Peanut-butter and banana wraps, green grapes (with a flower-cut apple), red pepper strips.

Cream cheese sandwich with flower and butterfly decoration (cut apple and honeydew), watermelon, blueberries in a house-shaped cup, cherry tomatoes, marshmallows as space filler.

Juice box, yogurt in a tube, mini bagel with soy nut butter (decorated with a Pooh Bear candle pick), edamame, watermelon balls. The tiny fork is a cocktail fork from the party supply store.

Sugar snap pea "grass", turkey sandwiches on mini sandwich thins, raspberries, blueberries on a Pooh Bear candle pick, pretzel rings.

Juice box, baby carrots, half a kiwi, mommy-and-baby-cut sandwiches, mixed berries.

So now off I go, to make a list of all the cute/miniature/colourful foods that I need to have on hand this year for lunch packing.

What do you pack for lunch?

have you bento my house for lunch?

Even the baby can bento!

It’s been a while since I’ve been motivated enough to make cute lunches, but today seemed like the perfect opportunity: warm enough for a picnic, which of course necessitates packed lunches, which in our house means… bento time!

Since N is eating solid foods by himself now, I figured it was time for his first bento.

Here they are…

This was K's lunch. Clockwise from top left: flower-cut watermelon and leaf-cut honeydew (with a chive for a stem) on a cup of berries, orange pepper strips, round pretzels, grilled cheese wedges topped with butterfly-cut orange pepper.

N's first bento ever! Clockwise from top: blueberries in a bear-shaped cup, peeled orange pepper chunks, honeydew cubes, grilled cheese wedges.

As you can see, N was loving his lunch!

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a ton of work to do before tomorrow’s post. My jigsaw awaits…

have you bento my house for lunch? · Kids · what's cookin'

Cute food

So here’s my thing… I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and I love making things pretty, and I hate doing tedious or uncreative things. Really. Sew a new blanket? Right away! Fold the laundry? Nope. Build a bed? Let me get my drill! Dust the furniture we already have? In your dreams. You get the idea.

As a mom, I have to feed my kids. It’s kind of part of the deal. I have to make some kind of lunch for K regardless of how I’m feeling about it. You can imagine how I feel, I’m sure, when most of what’s on her plate gets returned to me at the end of mealtime. It’s not that she doesn’t like the food that’s being offered. It’s that she inevitably gets distracted by something more creative or fun, and just like that she’s finished with her lunch (gee, I wonder whom she resembles? Yes, sweetheart, mummy loved sewing and was all excited about sewing you a hat, but now mummy has a jigsaw and a pocket-hole jig and really wants to do carpentry).

Anyhow, as I was saying… I needed to find a way to make lunch more fun and creative for me to make, and more fun and attractive for K to eat. As with all my other problems, I turned to Google… and discovered bento lunches. Some are simpler than others, but the idea is the same: to pack a box full of colourful (i.e. attractive and nutritious), beautifully displayed food. The food needs to be packed in such a way that if the box is shaken, dropped, or thrown, the beautiful arrangement will not be disturbed.

Armed with a few silicone muffin cups, some tiny cookie cutters, and a couple of plain-Jane plastic containers, I’ve been honing my craft. I had quite a few pictures to share with you, and then my computer died with all my photos on it. So here are some very recent bento lunches I’ve made. Enjoy!

The idea was nice, but it looks kind of boring. Soy-butter sandwich, baby carrots, red pepper slice, elephant-cut strawberry, elephant-cut kiwi, blueberries.

One of K's lunches. Homemade chicken fingers, cucumber slices, strawberry, grapes, animal-cut peppers under cucumber-and-pepper puzzle.

Just made this one tonight. Greek salad, flower-cut veggie puzzle, cucumber divider, baby corn, red kidney beans, tricolour pasta, grapes. I love how the pasta looks a bit floral.

One of Mr. December's lunches. Edamame in a red pepper, cheddar cheese cubes, wholegrain bread, blueberries, elephant-cut kiwi.

Look at all the pretty colours! Bento for Mr. December, served with a side package of ramen. Greek salad, cucumber slice divider, baby corn, broccoli, crinkle cut carrots, and grapes. Later I added a tiny little bottle of tabasco.