Thursday, July 31, 2014

Back to School Bento Basics & Blooming Bento

If you asked me for a tip about packing bento lunches, I'd probably tell you ...
You don't need to spend a lot on bento tools & accessories - spend some time playing around with what you have on hand first! You may discover you already have more bento-worthy tools than you thought - and the most important tools - your creativity & ingenuity - are free ♥ 

But I know you want the fun bento stuff anyways, so be sure to do the Bento Bloggers & Friends Bento Basics Giveaway Blog Hop! 

I skipped the bento picks & went back to basics to make this simple flower-filled EasyLunchboxes bento. I made the cheese sandwich flowers with a cookie cutter from the Wilton 101 Cookie Cutters set I've had since I began making bento.  I've gotten so much use from this set! It has the complete alphabet, numbers, animals, vehicles, sports, seasonal & holiday shapes, flowers, hearts, stars, & more... a little of everything. I also cut some carrot blossoms, arranged grapes in a flower design, & filled a Tupperware Smidget with candy-coated chocolate sunflower seeds for a colourful treat:

The small blossoms are organic rainbow carrots! They came in a bundle with the usual orange carrots, plus yellow & purple ones (which have gold centers!) They're so pretty  They all taste pretty much the same to me though, I don't think I'd be able to tell them apart in a taste test :) To make the carrot blossoms, I sliced a couple of rounds from the end of each carrot & cut it into a flower shape with a vegetable cutter.


To make the grape flower I arranged a few on their sides in a silicone baking cup, nestled one in the center of them, & filled the surrounding space with grapes of another colour. Cherry or grape tomatoes work well too :)

Before I put the lid on the EasyLunchbox, I added a colourful cloth napkin to the main compartment. Tip: use a cloth napkin to fill space & keep food from shifting. Lastly, I tucked in colourful Lunchbox Love note, to brighten my sproutlet's lunch & day :) And I did remember to put the lid on the Smidget!

Most of the stuff I used to make this lunch: 


So, going back to my beginner to bento tip...  to help you get started building your bento toolbox from what's already in your kitchen, I've made a list of items that come to mind :)

Bento Tools & Accessories Already In Your Kitchen!
  • A sharp paring knife is all you need to make striped cucumbers, checkered apples, & carrot stars.
  • Drinking straws can be used to cut out tiny circles, ovals, & crescents for details & features.
  • Tweezers are handy for placing tiny details where they go. 
  • Cookie cutters can be used to cut sandwiches, cheese, lunch meat, & some fruits & veggies.
  • Cookie stamps can be used to make impressions in bread, and even some fruits, like watermelon.
  • Cupcake picks make awesome bento decorations! Save some from all the parties you give & go to :)
  • A melon baller makes fun fruit shapes, & tiny rice balls (onigiri).
  • Vegetable crinkle cutters can be used for more than veggies :)
  • An empanada (dumpling) press makes fun filled mini-sandwiches.
  • Cocktail picks & drink stirrers make great skewers.
  • Bottle caps & medicine cups do double duty as circle cutters.
  • Play dough cutters & accessories make brilliant bento tools! 

I'm sure there are more I'm forgetting, too. So while all those cute bento picks & themed cutter sets are fun to collect & use, you can take your time acquiring them while you use what you have. As you develop your skills & discover your style, it'll be easier to decide which items you really want  :)


And hey, maybe you'll be a winner in the Bento Bloggers & Friends Back To School Bento Basics Giveaway ... the Grand Prize is a $70 gift voucher to BentoUSA ... what a bento shopping spree that would be!

Even if you don't win a prize, you'll get valuable tips from the Bento Bloggers & Friends that will make the blog hop worth your while - it'll be a bento learning experience :) Now, pay attention, here's how to enter: 

Take note of the letter & number on the blackboard puzzle piece below. Next, click the button beside it to hop to Lunches Fit for A Kid to see what tips Astrid has for you & get the next piece in the puzzle. Keep hopping & collecting puzzle pieces until you get to the Bento Bloggers & Friends blog, where you can enter the Giveaway! You'll need to put all your puzzle pieces in numerical order to spell the answer to a mandatory question in the Rafflecopter widget, then follow the instructions there to get more entries. Good luck!

Take note of the letter & number!    
More details about prizes & stuff in the Bento Bloggers & Friends blog post. Now go! Hop!

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Angels Have The Lunch Box

Pickle's ABA tutor comes to our house for a few hours a day, and one of the ways they work on appropriate play & social skills is by playing games.  This week they've been playing Yahtzee, the Doctor Who Edition!  While Pickle was poking through my sandwich & cookie cutters choosing one for his daily peanut butter sandwich, he spotted my TARDIS cutter and asked why I never make him a Doctor Who lunch.  So I did.  Don't blink!

If you're unfamiliar with the reference,  it's a Doctor Who thing :)  
I made Bella a Whovian bento as well,  and I had a little more fun with hers...  She also got a TARDIS & Weeping Angel sandwich,  plus baby carrots,  Rainier cherries,  honeydew melon with alphabet picks,  jelly babies,  & a jammie dodger biscuit,  packed in EasyLunchboxes:

 I've been saving this Lunchbox Love note for just such a lunch :)

I used my TARDIS & Weeping Angel cookie cutter set from the exclusive Doctor Who range at Lakeland in the UK, which also includes Cyberman & K-9 and Dalek & Sontaran sets :)  If you're in the US you can find a similar cookie cutter set at ThinkGeek:

There's no Weeping Angel in the ThinkGeek set, but it has Eleven's sonic screwdriver. And perhaps that's for the best, since they say the image of an Angel becomes an Angel... which is why as soon as Bella opened her EasyLunchbox, she snatched up the Angel sandwich and bit it's head off :)

36 days until the Doctor Who Series 8 Premiere!


Stuff used to make these lunches:

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Poolside Flip Flop Bento

We've been having some sweet summer weather here on Whidbey Island! I set up an inflatable pool on our deck for the sproutlets to cool off in. They love being in it so much, they don't even want to come in for lunch! So today I made bentos in their EasyLunchboxes & let them eat poolside :)

Our EasyLunchboxes are great for letting the sproutlets eat out in the back yard. If they don't want to stop playing, they can eat some, put the lid on & go for a swing, then come back & eat some more. If someone splashes from the pool or a hungry ant comes by, their lunch will be safe! And if they take their lunch with them to the swings, I don't have to worry about breakage :)

These flip-flop sandwiches are so cute, & were easy to make. I first saw them on this spa party platter, with strips of bell pepper for the straps, then my bento buddy Dina of What the Girls Are Having made some with red licorice strings, clever. I used the cut off crusts for mine :) I only decided to make them as I was putting the lunches together, and I didn't have those other things. Cheese would also have worked well, or fruit leather, but I had plenty of crusts!

Here's our hungry pool monster! He won't be pleased about all those veggies! Lucky for him, that's his big sister's bento, not his :)

Here's our pool monster's peanut butter sandwich flip-flops:

The pool monster is pleased :)

Bento Accessory Tip:  Little plastic bookmark clips can easily be turned into bento picks with a couple of snips with utility scissors. These ones were cupcake decorations meant to be bookmark souvenirs: 


Stuff I used to make this bento:

Eats Amazing Fun Food Friday   Bento Lunch

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Bats Amore!

Eeek! Today is a special day for my blog, it's the day one of my bentos is part of Wendolonia's series,  3 Tools, 4 Lunches, in which 4 different bloggers are challenged to make a lunch using the same 3 tools :) This week's tools are the CuteZcute Animal Palz Mini Sandwich & Egg Press,  alphabet bento picks,  & the PlanetBox Rover lunch box to pack them in. This is what I came up with:

Of the 4 Animal Palz that can be created with the sandwich & egg press, I love the bat the most, so I went with that for a theme. "Bats Amore!"  But Bella didn't get my pun. Oh well, I chuckled at it :) And I even found a bat fact Lunchbox Love note.  For lunch details and to see what the other 3 bloggers did with the same stuff, visit the post at Wendolonia!

It's not just being part of this bento challenge that makes this a special day for my blog, it's having one of my lunches on Wendolonia, period! Wendy's blog was one of the ones that inspired me to try my hand at both bento & blogging almost 3 years ago! So it's pretty thrilling to be featured on there :)

Some of the stuff I used to make this bento:

Disclosure: My posts contain affiliate links to products & services I've used & approve of  :)  If you make a purchase after clicking one of those links, I earn a small commission. Thank you!

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