Thursday, December 19, 2013

Santa Comes to Lunch and is Featured in the Blog Hop

This post contains affliate links.

Welcome to my blog. I am happy to be taking part in another Bento Bloggers & Friends Blog Hop. I love these and they FORCE me to make time to post to my blog. I pack and photograph five bentos a day, but I cannot seem to find the time to post on anything resembling a regular basis. I love the hops because I factor in time to getting around to putting my stuff up on this blog, and they give me a fantastic chance to see what ideas other people have. Please make sure you click the button at the bottom of this post so you can follow through to see what is up next in the hop so you can gather ideas too.

Lately, I have found it difficult to find fresh produce of high quality and this has affected some of my inspiration for making cute lunches. Fearful that I might not be able to find colorful fruits and vegetables for the bentos for this post, I decided I needed to have a different approach. I have been thinking for awhile about making my own bento picks and I have made a few easy, disposable ones with toothpicks and stickers or toothpicks and printed images. This time, I decided to try making picks with Shrinky Dinks.

I had some sheets of plain Shrinky Dink material so I chose some images to trace and color. I used a black Sharpie to trace the image on the Shrinky Dink sheet and then I colored the images with colored pencils. I chose images of Mickey Mouse for my son's bento because he has loved watching Mickey's Christmas Carol during the last weeks and he is becoming a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse fan. For my daughter, I chose My Little Pony images because she often requests that as a theme for lunches. All of the figures are wearing Santa hats and I did a couple of traditional Santa Claus faces also.

I was careful to round the edges when cutting the figures out because the edges of Shrinky Dinks can be pretty sharp, especially after baking. And, I decided to cut some with the long "pick" part to stick into food and others without.

Then, I placed them on a sheet of parchment on a baking pan and baked them in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Since I had my phone handy and I had to watch to see when they would be finished, I decided to take a video. It is not great quality, but if you look closely (and past my reflection), you can see Mickey start to rise up and contract as he begins to shrink. Every time I make Shrinky Dinks, I have a moment of panic when they begin to curl and flip around, but then they straighten out on their own and everything is fine.

This is a photo of the picks after they cooled. I love the way the color is intensified. And, I was pleased that I had basically guessed the correct size for the length and width of the "pick" part. I used a dab of glue to stick plastic picks onto the backs of the ones that I cut without the extended piece.

My son, who will soon be three, takes breakfast bentos to daycare in the mornings. For him, I packed two (stacked) strawberry jam Mickey and Minnie sandwiches, blackberries with a Santa Mickey pick, Cutie wedges with a Merry Christmas pick, and strawberries with a Mickey wreath pick. He also had cucumber slices and Frosted Mini Wheats stuck in the back. I had ordered the Mickey cutter and press weeks ago. Shipping was delayed, but they magically showed up the day before I planned to pack this bento :).

My daughter, who is in first grade, takes a snack bento for the morning and a lunch for midday. I used one of the Shrinky Dink Santa picks in her snack. She had Frosted Mini Wheats, strawberries, green grapes, and a "Santa's sack" full of toys (3-D Monopoly piece gummies). Look closely to find a doll house, dog, and two toy cars.

For lunch, my daughter had a mini Santa-shaped peanut butter sandwich, raspberries, grapes and cucumber slices on picks, carrots and cherry tomatoes (behind the picks), mini saltines, almonds in the little green container, and half of a Cutie tucked under the Santa and Christmas tree gummies (from Target).

I was pleased with how the picks turned out. I was a little concerned that the color might rub off, but that did not seem to be a problem even when I touched them with wet hands after washing the fruit. I did notice that the blackberries had a tendency to stain, so if I make another batch, I might opt to stick with the method of gluing on a separate plastic pick.

Last, I will share matching bentos I made for the road this past Saturday. They do not feature Santa, but I like the way the reds and greens came together. They included blueberries on red and green ornament picks, red and green tortilla chips, red sweet peppers, mini saltines, almonds, Christmas tree peanut butter sandwiches, and a few red and green M&Ms. I took a quick picture of these on the tree skirt before we headed out the door to see A Little House Christmas at our local children's theater.

Thanks for visiting my blog! Please be sure to click the image below to visit Loving Lunches and see how Santa has come to lunch over on Jackie's blog. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Batty Lunch and Other Halloween Themed Food

Today, my daughter has a bat-themed lunch. She has Goldfish in a homemade bat-shaped silicone cup, grapes on bat picks, carrots, celery, and a tomato all packed in one layer of this box. The top layer holds a sleeping bat peanut butter sandwich hanging from pretzel branches above a few spider-shaped sprinkles for a snack when the bat wakes ;). The sandwich was made with my new toy from CuteZCute. Just like earlier CuteZCute products it is very functional and a well thought out bento tool. It comes with presses for three other animals that will show in other lunches soon.

For breakfast at daycare, my son has a few Mini Wheats, sunflower seeds, grapes on a ghost pick, watermelon pressed with a Jack-o-lantern cutter, and strawberries. I also gave him a tube of yogurt.

My husband and I have matching lunches today. We have watermelon, strawberries, a salad, mini ham biscuits, and pumpkin-shaped tummies.

My daughter is getting over a cold and hasn't had a big appetite lately, so today's snack is light and packed in a small box from a set of nesting boxes. She has a green cup of sunflower seeds, apple slices, and a few frosted Mini Wheats. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Food for Monday

My daughter is getting over a cold and requested "healthy foods" :). So, for Monday's lunch she has Sunburst tomatoes on pumpkin and bat picks, cucumber slices, strawberries, honeycrisp apple slices, sunflower seeds in the yellow container, Goldfish crackers in the homemade ghost-shaped silicone cup, a couple of pumpkin-shaped gummies, and Jasmine rice molded in the shape of a pumpkin. This is packed in our Spencer box from Pottery Bard Kids.


Her morning snack is packed in a new nesting box I ordered from All Things for Sale. She has a Lucky Charms, part of a granola bar, raspberries and grapes on pig picks and a slices of Colby cheese. 

My son's breakfast for daycare is also packed in a new box which I think is super cute and just the perfect size for him. He also has Lucky Charms, a piece of granola bar, strawberries, raspberries, and grapes. I think he will be excited about his new box because he is really into trains lately.

Friday, October 18, 2013

BBF Frightful Fall Hop (And, a Return to My Blog)

Wow, it is amazing that October is well under way. The weather rapidly turned cool and the leaves changed colors marking the time for another Bento Blogger's and Friends Blog Hop. Last year's Halloween Hop was my first with the group and I am so happy to be joining in on the fun again this year.

I decided on witch-themed lunches for this post. First, I will share my daughter's. I used a cookie stamp to press a witch face onto her peanut butter sandwich and then I decorated it with food safe markers. Grapes and mandarin oranges are beside the sandwich on paper picks saved from last year. Below the fruit is a stack of cucumber slices. I used a Linzer cutter to cut a witch's hat out of red pepper and stuck it inside the top slice. The right side of the box holds sugar snap peas, carrots, tomatoes, pepper pieces, and slices of plum.

I made a few grape-flavored, bat-shaped gummies and placed those in the thin upper tray of this MyBentoMeal box. I also taped a die-cut witch on top of the box for fun.
My lunch was packed in a Planetbox. Grapes, plum slices, and mandarin oranges are in a silicone cup wrapped in a paper web with witch's boots poking out the top. Tomatoes on a witch pick, cucumbers, carrots, peas, and peppers fill the long top section. Peanut butter sandwiches shaped like a witch head and boot are included alongside chipotle lime cracker chips, with a grape bat gummy in the center section.

My husband's lunch is very similar. His includes sandwiches shaped like a witch's broom and hat. He doesn't care much for food marker so I only used it on the broom.

For fun, I added a die cut black cat to my Planetbox and a witch to my husband's. And I included a cute witch napkin in each of the three lunches.

My daughter has a morning snack each day since her class eats lunch quite late in the day. I packed grapes on a pumpkin pick, Halloween Crunch cereal in a homemade pumpkin silicone cup with a black cat pick, and oranges with a homemade Frankenstein pick. I held this box together with a decorative rubber band from Target that happened to include some Halloween colors.

My son is 2.5 and doesn't really understand Halloween yet so for his breakfast for daycare I stuck with something he does like: Sesame Street. In his Elmo "picnic box" as he calls it, I packed half of an Odwalla Chocolate Kick Kids bar, a mini cup of yogurt, mandarin oranges on an Elmo pick, oatmeal squares with a Cookie Monster ring, and grapes with a Big Bird pick.

Please be sure to click the Frightful Fall Blog hop button to make sure you continue your around the loop. I know you don't want to miss any of the incredible creativity displayed by the members of this group! Have fun preparing for Halloween!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Spooky Lunches

It has been a VERY long time since I made time for blogging, but I have been packing bentos almost daily for two years. Things have settled down a bit in my life recently and I am going to try to take time to develop my blog and use the massive backlog of photos I have. This post includes a few recent lunches, beginning with my daughter's "Spooky" bento.

She had ham pieces on pumpkin, ghost, and bat picks arranged in a spider shaped silicone cup. That layer of the box also included a Babybel cheese, carrots, sunflower seeds in the small yellow cup, and a couple of candy corn, pumpkin-shaped pretzels. The other layer held cucumbers on a pick, apple slices, tomatoes, and red pepper slices. This year, my daughter has recess directly before lunch and she has been finishing her entire lunch nearly every day.

My husband and I had leftover barbecue chicken, a fresh tasty coleslaw made following this recipe, veggies and fruit. These were packed in our Lock&Lock boxes with the barbeque in a silicone cup so that it could easily be removed for heating. I packed the bun for the sandwich separately.

My daughter's morning snack included half of an Odwalla bar, mandarin oranges, grapes on a Zoe pick, and a piece of cheese.

My son's breakfast for daycare was packed in our Dr. Sears' Nibble Tray. It held Lucky Charms, a couple of pumpkin-shaped pretzels, oranges, a few Mini Wheats, grapes, and peach yogurt. He is so happy to be having his own boxes of food to take to "school" this year. He generally eats everything.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Letter S Themed Lunches and Snacks

Hey, look at this! I am finally posting something to my blog! “Spare” time has been really hard to come by these last several months. We have been fighting with a seemingly unrelenting string of illness in our home due to all the exposure my kids have to new germs at daycare and kindergarten. Caring for sick children and dealing with my parents’ health issues with have made this year feel like a never ending marathon. I have been proud of the fact that I kept up with packing fun, nutritious lunches even though I am WAY behind on sharing them. You will see that this post includes some snacks from Halloween. 

Way back in October, when my daughter's class focused on the letter S, I packed several lunches and snacks centered around items that began with S. Since it was Halloween then, Spiders were an obvious choice. She had a spider-themed lunch that included turkey on spider picks and a cheddar-cheese shaped S above pretzels, both in black spider shaped silicone cups. She also had grapes, carrots, cucumbers, sugar snap peas, and red pepper slices. This was packed in a Fit-Fresh box because I liked the way the purple box coordinated with the orange and black.

I placed a spider die-cut on the lid of the box and included a spider napkin with the lunch.    


The next day, my daughter wanted a lunch featuring her brother because his name begins with S. I packed a peanut butter sandwich cut and decorated to look like a little boy along with pretzel Goldfish, grapes on little boy picks, cucumbers, carrots, peas, and a Milano cookie. I also spelled his name with picks, but those are not visible in the photo.

Snakes were an obvious choice for Wednesday of that week because she has long been fascinated with lizards and snakes. In our Sassy box, she had ham slices on homemade snake picks, cucumbers, peas, carrots, pretzels, animal crackers, and a row of alternating nectarine and plum slices.

Snack that day included hullless popcorn, pieces of plum, green gummies on a Sheep pick, and sunflower seeds in the green cup.

Thursday's lunch included a Snail-shaped peanut butter sandwich, a few mini Saltines, a couple of sour gummy worms, some apple slices in the pumpkin-shaped cup, cucumbers, orange pepper slices, peas, and tomatoes.

I included a note saying "I like the snail." because they were learning the sight words I, like, and the at that time. 
Snack that day was focused on Sharks. She had grapes on shark picks, a few Goldfish, peanuts in the blue box, and a few chocolate bunnies all packed in a shark-shaped box.

The last lunch of the week was a Seal lunch. She had two letter-S-shaped sandwiches, seal-shaped cheese and apples, tomatoes on seal picks, carrots, peas, cucumber sticks, as well as grapes and yellow and red pepper pieces on  homemade seal picks.

It has been so long since I packed this, I honestly don't remember what the yellow and pick cups held, but I would guess one contained sunflower seeds or peanuts and the other might have held mini M&Ms. I DO remember that she liked this lunch and she requested seal lunches at least two other times throughout the year. This was packed in a divided Sistema box.

Friday, January 25, 2013

100th Day of School

Last year, when I saw this post at BentOnBetterLunches, I knew that I wanted to do something special for the 100th day of school during my daughter's kindergarten year. So, I was very excited when my daughter's teacher asked me to make a snack for the class on the 100th day. They have been practicing counting by tens to one hundred, so I had the idea to give each student ten each of ten different items along with the number 100 made out of something edible. I wanted to package all of this in a way that the students would see the 100 items and in a manner that would be simple for my daughter's teacher to distribute and clean up. I decided to use ten well plastic art palettes. I was working on a short timeline, so I was thrilled when I found a local art store that had enough of these in stock, and happy that they were willing to give me a discount.

After obtaining the trays and deciding on food, I had to get to work counting out all of those items! I placed all the trays on a table and filled each well. I chose mostly dry foods because the weather forecasters kept mentioning the possibility of a wintry mix for the afternoon of the 100th day, which was a Friday. I would have incorporated fruits and veggies if I had not been worried about school closing on the 100th day and having to keep the food until Monday. Also, I used mostly "mini" items because I wanted to serve a reasonable amount of food to the kindergartners.

Beginning at the 12'o clock position:

1. Mini Chips Deluxe
2. Snowflake Sprinkles
3. Mini M&Ms
4. Yogurt Covered Raisins
5. Mini Cheez-Its
6. Fruit Loops
7. Mini Grahams
8. Mini Chocolate Chips
9. Cheerios
10. Mini Goldfish

The 100 in the middle was made of:

1 = a slice of apple treated with Fruit Fresh
0 = mild cheddar cheese cut with a cupcake corer
0 = strawberry Jello Jiggler formed with a mold for round ice cubes

As I neared the end of filling all of the wells, I became increasingly nervous that I would bump the table and spill everything in the floor. Luckily, that didn't happen, but the UPS guy looked at me like I was crazy when he dropped off a package! Here is a picture of the finished trays. I made 24; there are 22 students in the class and I wanted one for the teacher and one extra in case of an accident.

I covered these with Stor-It Cover Ups from the Dollar Tree. The trays fit perfectly in my square Lock&Lock bags. Twelve trays fit snugly in one bag so the food stayed in place.

For lunch on this day, I packed 100 bites of food each for my daughter and my husband, based on my inspiration from BentOnBetterLunches. My daughter's lunch was packed in our pink Lego box. She had ten bites of peanut butter sandwich created with our Funbites Cube-It, ten little crackers, ten cubes of cheese, ten yogurt-covered pretzel rings, ten peanuts, ten candy stars, ten slices of cucumber, ten sweet pepper rings, ten carrot slices, and ten blueberries.

My husband's lunch was packed in our Planetbox. He had ten blueberries, ten strawberry slices, ten cucumber slices, ten pepper rings, ten crackers, ten cheese cubes, ten peanuts, ten candy stars, nine pieces of sushi, one "piece" of wasabi, and ten pieces of gari.