Fall Themed Dinner

To celebrate the change in seasons and find an excuse to use Leaf Shaped Tortilla chips in a meal, I made a fall themed dinner for my parents and friend Carol. The meal also showed off my newly decorated for fall dining room. I am reusing some decor from my past but in general I am getting new to suit my new home. I had to get a new tablecloth since my table size / shape is different from my past. I also like any excuse to buy new beautiful tablecloths. I usually curate a large collection for my table.

Table:

  • Fall tablecloth with coordinating napkins
  • Centerpiece – Anchor Hocking Glass Pumpkin filled with artificial mini pumpkins I already had and new Martha Stewart artificial acorns I found at TJ Maxx. The glass pumpkin was sold by Dunkin Donuts in the 1980’s. I found it last summer at a thrift store. I have the glass pumpkin on my hallway floating shelves but it served beautifully as last minute table decor.

Fall Appetizer Plate: Palm Leaf Plates, cucumber squirrels cut with a cookie cutter, Trader Joes Leaf Tortilla Chips, Healthy Spinach Artichoke Dip

Individual Carrot Tarts: This recipe was my inspiration. Cut puffed pastry with a pumpkin cookie cutter, use knife to score around the edge, prick with a fork and partially bake. Roast carrots with olive oil, salt, pepper until crisp tender. Mix ricotta with garlic powder, pepper, and dried chives. Spread ricotta on each individual tart, top with roasted carrots and bake until puffed pastry is golden brown.

Candy Corn Fruit: I mostly followed this. I whipped my own cream and added vanilla but no sweetener. I bought fresh pineapple from Wegmans. It was delicious!

My critique of the meal: It was a simple meal to prepare but satisfying to eat. The Spinach Artichoke dip was a good healthy substitution for the traditional dip. The fruit was a hit since the pineapple was ripened to perfection. I love my dining room in this house. It is a beautiful place to share a meal with important people in my life.

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Mashed Potato Owl Lunch

I made this shaped mashed potato lunch for my Mom. She enjoyed it!

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side: Owl – Cheddar mashed potatoes cooled then cut with a cookie cutter, Ears – slivered almonds, Eyes – mashed potatoes with paprika, peas, Nose – pecan, Wings – pecans, peas

Top Right: Pecans

Bottom Right: Owls – cantaloupe cut with a cookie cutter

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Carrot Leaves Snack Meal

I made this easy and delicious snack meal for myself.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side: Leaves – carrot cut with cookie cutters, hummus

Top Right: Energy ball made with peanut butter, graham cracker crumbs, dry milk powder, and a little espresso powder

Bottom Right: Strawberries with goat cheese

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Savory Apple Hand Pie Meal

I made this apple themed meal for myself. It was a delicious treat.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side: Apples – (hand pies) pie crust with apple, brie, and chopped walnuts in-between the 2 crusts cut with a cookie cutter, press with fingers to seal the edges, then bake until lightly brown,

Top Right: Trader Joes Almond Butter Almonds

Bottom Right: Apples – apple cut with a cookie cutter, blueberries

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Airplane Rice Tart

I made this meal for myself. It is a basic vegetable and rice meal made fun by putting it into a mini tart pan.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side: Airplane – zucchini cut with a cookie cutter, sautéed onion, cheddar cheese, rice

Top Right: Walnuts

Bottom Right: Clouds – honeydew melon cut with a cookie cutter

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Squirrel Polenta Lunch

I made this delicious lunch for myself. The polenta and vegetables are a repeat of a recipe I tried for one of my most popular blog posts. I should make it more often.

Container: Prep Natural Glass Meal Containers

Left Side: Squirrel – homemade firm polenta cut with a cookie cutter, Polenta with Spinach and White Beans

Right Side: Pecans

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Vegetable Potato Salad Collection

This is my collection of themed vegetable potato salad. “Salad” is used loosely. Each has shapes cut with small cookie cutters, some type of potato, vegetables, cheese and a sauce or dressing.

Sauce / Dressing / Accompaniment

  • Black Bean
  • Vinaigrette
  • Pesto
  • Spinach
  • Hummus
  • Ricotta with Herbs
  • Blue Cheese Sauce

ANIMALS

Giraffe

Birds

Dragonflies

Bunnies

BEACH / OCEAN

Crabs

Fish

TREES / FLOWERS

Bamboo

Daisies

Flowers

SEASONS / HOLIDAYS

Fall Leaves

Pumpkins

Ghosts

Angels

Bells

Trees and Snowflakes

Hearts

Shamrocks

USA Stars

SPACE

Stars and Moons

MUSIC

Music Notes

WEATHER

Clouds and Thunder

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Zucchini Ravioli Dinner

Not long ago, my friend Renae came over for dinner. I asked her for a vegetable idea. She said, “zucchini”. I planned this meal around zucchini which is perfect for August. It was delicious! We ate in my newly finished dining room.

Zucchini Ravioli – I followed this recipe for how to prepare the zucchini but I added the two layers on top of each other since they were very thin. Filling – BelGioioso Ricotta con Latte, garlic powder, pepper, and Asiago cheese. Use a mini ice cream scoop to put a ball of Ricotta mixture in the middle of the zucchini, fold, put seam down in baking pan with some homemade tomato sauce. Add some tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese on top. Bake until heated and cheese lightly brown. Before serving garnish with fresh basil.

Greek Yogurt Chocolate Mousse – I used this recipe with almond extract and served with raspberries

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Whimsical Dining Room

This is my dining room. I am calling it “whimsical” since I am not sure what else to call it. It took longer to reveal it here than some of my other rooms since I had to wait for the mantel installation. It took the installers only 40 minutes but I had to wait 5 months. I am glad that the mantel is now in it’s proper place and not on the floor. I think the people in my life are happy to no longer hear me complain about the mantel. Installation day was exciting! The photos here show my summer decorating. I expect the decorations to change with the seasons / holidays. I also expect this room to frequently be featured here as the backdrop for meals.

Paint: For the wall opposite the wallpaper, I went to Sherwin Williams and color matched one of the leaves in the wallpaper.

Fireplace: I painted the brick white. It took many coats even the top which already was painted. I primed it with masonry paint and then painted with white paint. I also painted the wall adjacent to the fireplace white.

Mantel: I didn’t know what I was looking for but I knew I wanted a mantel on my fireplace. A fireplace store helped me figure out the design to suit the existing fireplace. I ordered from them. It is a cast stone shelf – 6′ tall x 66″ long x 6″ deep.

Wallpaper: Whimsy Fauna. I bought it online from Home Depot in the green colorway. A different colorway is sold by Anthropologie. It took me a long time to find wallpaper I liked for this room. I am very happy with my selection. My wonderful parents installed the wallpaper.

Floor: The room had carpet when I bought the house. My parents and I removed the carpet and my Mom cleaned and took off paint splatters that were all over the floor. I am happy with the historical hardwood floor.

Ceiling Light: There was no overhead light in this room when I bought this house. An electrician did a wonderful job adding it. I struggled with finding the right light for the room. I finally went to Tuthill Lighting in Brighton, NY. Bruce was a dream and helped me find the perfect light for me! I love it!

Outlet Plates: I painted the ones on the green and white walls. My Dad covered the remaining plates with wallpaper to blend into that wall.

Switch Plate: I bought this as part of my quest to change out all the boring outlet and switch plates in this house.

Storage Cabinets: I bought two of these on Amazon. Originally I wanted build-in cabinets in the dining room. I am still waiting for the build-in shelves in my library so I am glad I quickly bought these cabinets. Maybe someday I will change it to something else but most likely they will remain in the room.

Buffet: This is a historical family piece. I think my house is it’s 3rd family home. It looked different every time. I don’t remember it in my maternal Grandparents home since it was before my time but I remember it in my Aunt and Uncle’s home. It happened to be in storage at my family Lake House. I had trouble finding a buffet so my Mom offered this to me. My parents restored it since time had wounded it a little. My Mom painted it a green I picked out to complement the wallpaper and she cleaned up tarnish from the handles. I am delighted that the sunflower pattern happened to match the sunflowers on my wallpaper.

Mirror: I purchased from At Home.

Table: When looking for a table, I knew that I wanted one with a self-storing butterfly leaf. I bought this Braxton Solid Wood Dining Table.

Chairs: I struggled finding soft chairs for the dining room table. I didn’t want to buy online since I wanted to try them out. I went to many stores to sit on chairs. I ended up buying these at Arhaus. I got a deal on the store models.

Peony Topiaries: I found these directions. I followed them for everything except for the stem. I painted a dowel. Also I added some stones to the pot at my Mom’s suggestion. I think that these look fantastic. I bought the pots from At Home. The artificial peonies are 3 bunches from Michaels.

Hello Sign: I made this sign from letters from Michaels. I painted them a green and hot glued to string I had in my craft room.

Summer Wreath: I bought this at Michaels.

Candles: I bought this at Target online and used 2 different sized candles.

Cart: I bought this. My friend Dennis assembled it for me.

“Before” photo.

“Before” photo.

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Hurricane Pizza

I made this meal for my Dad. I thought that it did not look good so I tried another time to make hurricane pizza. I think the second time came out worse (see below). Maybe hurricanes are difficult to depict with food. Years ago I had a similar problem with hurricane noodles.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side: Hurricane – homemade pizza cut with a cookie cutter, tomato sauce, mozzarella, black olives

Top Right: Mixed Nuts

Bottom Right: Strawberries

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Zucchini Frog Rice Tart

I made this meal for myself. It is a basic vegetable and rice meal but I made it fun by putting it into a tart pan.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side: Frogs – zucchini cut with a cookie cutter, shredded carrots sautéed with cardamom, rice

Top Right: Mixed nuts

Bottom Right: Frogs – honeydew melon cut with a cookie cutter

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Ice Cream Theme Lunch

My 20 year old niece and I made her this Ice Cream themed lunch. She selected the theme.

Container: U Konserve

Contents: Ice Cream Cones – (hand pies) pie crust with tomato sauce and mozzarella in-between the 2 crusts, use fork to seal the edges, then bake until lightly brown, cooked broccoli

Container: U Konserve

Contents: Homemade Chocolate ice cream – I will not provide the recipe here since we only rated it okay.

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Camel Melon Bento Lunch

I made this fun and easy meal for myself.

Container: Cloud box from Japan (set of 3)

Large Box: Camels – cantaloupe cut with cookie cutters, Eyes – cinnamon, cottage cheese with cinnamon, blueberries underneath

Small Box: Palm Trees – zucchini cut with a cookie cutter, blueberries, Brazil nuts, shredded radish

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Camel Pancake

My Mom and my 20 year old niece made these pancakes when at my parents lake house.

Camels – Chocolate chip pancakes cut with a cookie cutters

Droppings – Chocolate chips

Ground – Whipped cream

Others in this series:

Bunny  CowDinosaurGhostMooseRaccoon, Squirrel

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Birthday at Lake

This year I celebrated my birthday a little early (last weekend) at my family Lake House with my parents and 20 year old niece. When I woke, a “birthday fairy” was there overnight. The table and fireplace were decorated and some gifts were already waiting. I received one present with breakfast, another with lunch and the rest with dessert after dinner as is my family tradition. The breakfast gift was a new idea thought of by my niece.

I had a wonderful birthday celebration with my family. My Dad made his blueberry blintzes for breakfast. I made cute hand pie bento lunches for everyone. My Mom and I went out on the jet ski. Mom, Dad, niece and I took the pontoon boat to the cove. My Mom, niece and I went swimming in the cove. Niece and Dad made a wonderful dinner.

Peach Sodas: Combine 3 peeled, sliced peaches in a saucepan with 1 TBS lemon juice and 1 cup of water. Cook until soft. Puree in blender. Strain peach mixture. Add honey to taste. Chill until ready to use. Use to flavor plain seltzer.

Sheep Shaped Risotto Balls: Start with a basic risotto recipe. My niece used 5 cups vegetable stock, 2 cups Arborio rice, vermouth, 3/4 parmesan cheese, salt. Chill. Once cold, make balls with small pieces of mozzarella inside. Carefully fry so cheese melts and balls are browned on each side. Decorate with tomato sauce, carrots (ears and noses), small pieces of olive (eyes). Serve with additional tomato sauce and parmesan cheese.

Grilled Vegetables: My Dad grilled asparagus (in a grilling basket), sliced eggplant and zucchini – he brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with salt

Sheep Cake: Box Funfetti cake mix with non-sweetened fresh whipped cream piped with a pastry bag and decorative tip, candy eyes

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Kangaroo Snack Meal

I made this snack meal for my friend’s 14 year old daughter Elizabeth. It was on a day that she helped me with some Cricut crafting. I appreciate having a crafting buddy.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side: Kangaroos – tortilla chips cut with a cookie cutter, brushed with olive oil, sprinkled with garlic – bake in 375 over for about 10 minutes, cherry tomatoes, sharp cheddar cheese

Top Right: Peanuts

Bottom Right: Strawberries

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Fox Mushroom Rice

This was my brother’s theme request when we spent time at the family Lake House. He likes mushrooms so I used some leftover mushroom gravy my niece made for a different meal.

Left Side: Fox – Niishiki rice shaped with plastic wrap in a cookie cutter, brushed with soy sauce, Eyes – dried blueberry, mushroom gravy

Top Right: Trader Joe’s trail mix

Bottom Right: Fox – Cantaloupe cut with a cookie cutter, blackberries

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Thunder Storm Potato Vegetable Salad

I made this for my Dad. When I don’t know what theme to make for him, I use weather. This is part of my on-going Vegetable Potato Salad series.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side: Clouds: white potato roasted, white Cheddar, radish, Lightning Bolts – Orange Cheddar, black bean sauce – black beans, salsa, balsamic vinegar blended in a food processor

Top Right: Red Grapes

Bottom Right: Granola bar cup

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Pink and Green Bedroom

Here is my Pink and Green bedroom with gold accents. When planning this room before I moved into the house, I knew I wanted pink walls as I had in my childhood bedroom. This pink is deliberately softer than the shade I had as a kid. This is my first time to live in a house by myself vs an apartment with limited decorating possibilities. Sometimes decorating is more difficult when I only have myself to answer to. I am happy that my parents and I removed the carpet that was previously in the house.

Here are “before” photos.

Paint: Charming Pink SW6309 from Sherwin Williams

Switch Plates and Outlet Covers: These are beautiful but a little thick. I think it makes them more distinctive and special.

Bed: I wanted an upholstered bed with wings. I was leaning towards cream. My designer suggested green velvet. I was not sure about it but took a chance. I complained and second guessed about this bed for the longest time because I thought I was going for a softer look. Months later, I am fine with it now. My Dad assembled the bed for me.

Bedding: Duvet Cover and Shams

Right Night Stand: From my childhood bedroom. It didn’t used to have a back. My Dad made a back this time. Painted it a soft green. Decoupaged the drawers. Added flower knobs, Lined the drawer with same paper I used to decoupage the outside.

Charging Station: I bought and like this.

Tissue Box Holder: I bought this to match the rose gold in the room.

Left Night Stand: My parents found this at a store with unfinished furniture. Painted it a soft green. Decoupaged the drawers. Added flower knobs, Lined the drawer with same paper I used to decoupage the outside.

Lamps on Night Stands: The lamps were my paternal Grandma’s. My parents cleaned them and my Dad added new electrical cords. I bought these lampshades.

Round White Table: (Ceramic Garden Stool). I didn’t like that my coffee cup clanked and you could see the hole in the middle of the table. My friend’s daughter Elizabeth designed the felt cover and I cut it with my Cricut machine.

Pink Chair: I can no longer find this exact chair but there are similar ones on Wayfair.

Hope Chest: This is a family historical Hope Chest that is now in my possession.

Rug: Fluffy soft rug. It was inexpensive but everyone who walks in my bedroom comments on how soft it is! I am happy that it perfectly matches the table.

Console Table: This in mint green. My Dad assembled it and added these bird knobs.

Full Length Mirror: I had this mirror in my apartment. It was silver. I spray painted it gold and hot glued gold flowers I bought.

Lamp on Green Console Table: My Mom had the lamp. I bought this shade.

Pink Planter Pot: I use this sometimes when I have potted flowers.

Line Drawing Art: This, this, and this.

Sashiko Art: I stitched these from patterns I bought in Japan. The center one has a Bamboo picture frame.

Ceramic Flower: I purchased from At Home.

Closet Labels: I like that my room has 3 distinct closets. I have one for Spring / Summer, one for Fall / Winter and one for miscellaneous. I sent the Japanese characters to my friend’s daughter Elizabeth and she formatted them for me. We printed them together on my Cricut machine. Elizabeth installed these on my closet doors. My Dad did extensive work getting these closets ready for me.

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Hope Chest Lunch

When I was a child, I loved looking inside my Grandmother’s hope chest. It held family historical items such as a baptism gown, rolling pin from her bridal shower, the sweater and one of the socks she wore when she arrived on the boat from Ireland at 12 years old. My Grandmother repeatedly told me that someday the hope chest would be mine. Over the years at times I thought she would give it to me, she didn’t. She didn’t give it to me when I got married or when my husband and I bought a house. My ex-husband told me that he once tried to find a hope chest for me but he didn’t find one. I am fine that he didn’t find one. It was the historical family hope chest that I cared about. My Grandpa bought it for my Grandmother and there was an inscription inside, “Joan from John”.

This lunch is a simple representative of this hope chest that is now in my bedroom.

Glass Container with Lid

Hope Chest: Cheese with food coloring marker details

Broccoli, cheese mashed potatoes

Round Glass Bowl with Lid

Joan from John: Food coloring marker on tortilla

Blackberries

My Grandmother marked the year on the gift plaque.

This year when I started to plan my bedroom decorating, my Mom offered the hope chest to me. She had it from when my Grandmother died. I had mixed feelings about it since my Grandmother never gave it to me. Ultimately I decided to take it. It does not matter if my Grandmother for some reason did not want to give it to me. I have it now and I am happy to have a historical family item in my room. Also it is useful to have furniture at the end of the bed to put things on.

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Dragonfly Vegetable Potato Salad

I made this meal for my Mom. The dragonfly is her cookie cutter. I made a blueberry vinaigrette but it was not popular so I need something different to represent sky and water for this type of salad.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side: Dragonflies – white potato roasted, orange Cheddar, yellow bell pepper, cut with a cookie cutter, blueberry vinaigrette

Top Right: Green grapes

Bottom Right: Granola bar cup

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Bug Snack Tortilla Chips

I made this for my 20 year old niece. My niece, my brother, and I hiked up a nearby mountain. In the photo below I asked her to hold out the snack box so I could get her back, the snack, and the gorgeous view. I love her hat! I wish that I had one like that. When I asked her for a snack theme request, she said bugs. My friend Renae made the cookie cutter with her 3D printer.

Container: LunchBots Trio

Top Left: Bugs – tortilla chips cut with a cookie cutter, brushed with olive oil, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar – bake in 375 over for about 10 minutes

Top Right: Lime tortilla chips

Bottom: Blueberries

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Crab Melon Lunch

I made this crab themed fruit and cottage cheese lunch for my Mom.

Container: U Konserve

Contents: Crabs – cantaloupe cut with a cookie cutter Eyes – mini chocolate chips, cottage cheese, cinnamon, blueberries, brazil nuts

Container: U Konserve

Contents: Cheddar goldfish crackers

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Fish Vegetable Potato Salad

I made this for my friend Yuko’s husband when he and Yuko visited my family Lake House. Because he was a guest, I gave him a choice of sauces: blueberry vinaigrette that I had planned for this fish theme, or the black bean sauce I had planned for 2 other lunches that day. I didn’t give my Mom a choice and she got the blueberry. She wished she had the black bean. I guess I need to find a better sauce idea when I want it to look like water or sky.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side: Fish: white potato roasted, orange Cheddar, yellow bell pepper, orange bell pepper, black bean sauce – black beans, salsa, balsamic vinegar blended in a food processor

Top Right: Cashews

Bottom Right: Cheddar goldfish crackers

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Pirate Rice Lunch

I made this meal for my Dad on a day that I made rice themed lunches for many people. I did not take enough time making this one. The other people felt that this was my best looking lunch of the day. It surprised me. I made this village and these cats the same day. Nobody knew what theme this lunch was supposed to be. My Mom guessed fisherman and fisherwoman. I tried to copy from a Japanese bento book but used spinach instead of seaweed (see photo below). This would be a craft fail. These are supposed to be pirates. I put soy sauce on top for flavor. I found it difficult to cut out the eye patch from spinach so I used the stem.

Container: LunchBots Trio

Top Left: Pirate – cooked Nishiki rice shaped by hand with plastic wrap, soy sauce, Hair – spinach (softened for a few seconds in the microwave), Eyes – spinach cut with a straw, Nose – carrot cut by hand, mustache – spinach cut by hand, lettuce, raspberries

Top Right: Pirate – cooked Nishiki rice shaped by hand with plastic wrap, soy sauce, Hair – spinach (softened for a few seconds in the microwave), Eye – spinach cut with a straw, Eye Patch – spinach cut with a straw, spinach stem Nose (but looks like a mouth) – carrot cut by hand, lettuce, raspberries

Bottom: Fish – radish cut with a cookie cutter, Eyes – paprika, blueberries

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Skunk Rice and Beans

My friend Dennis came over for dinner and helped me with a few items around my house. When I asked for theme and food suggestions, he said rice and beans skunk. I was happy to make it!

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side: Skunk – mashed black beans and garlic powder pushed into a cookie cutter, Tail – ricotta cheese piped with a plastic ziplock bag, spinach, Rice and Beans (I added cumin and served with cheese and salsa)

Top Right: Pistachios

Bottom Right: Flowers – watermelon cut with a cookie cutter, blueberries attached with spaghetti

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Boat Pizza

My 20 year old niece and I made this themed pizza for her.

Boat: Pizza dough cut with a cookie cutter, tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese

Hull: Black olives

Water: Blueberries

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French Horn Focaccia Lunch

I made this lunch for my friend Yuko’s husband. When I asked Yuko for a theme idea, she said French horn. I was happy to revisit a theme I have only done once before.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side: French Horn – Cheddar cheese freehand cut with knife, Focaccia bread

Top Right: Music Note – cut hard boiled egg with a cookie cutter

Bottom Right: Blue Cheese Walnut Grapes – I didn’t use the parsley

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11 Year Blogiversary

Today is my 11 year blogiversary! This is my 1,304th post! The traditional gift for an 11 year anniversary is steel. I decided to serve this simple meal in a metal box.

Container: LunchBots Trio

Left Side: 11 – Raspberries, cottage cheese

Right Side: Years – Carrot cut with a cookie cutter, rice

Bottom: Trader Joes Trail Mix

I continue to enjoy creating content and sharing it here. A few years ago, I started compilation posts to keep together a collection of all my creations in a particular theme. This year I created a Theme Archive page so it is easy to find all of those collected themes. It also encourages me to create more theme collections. I have 11 years of content!

I am happy to have this place that encourages me to continue to create. Thank you for joining me on this long journey.

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Music Vegetable Potato Salad

I made this for my friend Yuko at the family Lake House.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side: Music Notes: white potato roasted, orange Cheddar, yellow bell pepper, light colored carrot cut with a cookie cutter, black bean sauce – black beans, salsa, balsamic vinegar blended in a food processor

Top Right: Cashews

Bottom Right: Grapes

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Travel Themed Home Office

This is my travel themed home office. I spend a lot of time in this room since I currently work from home. The last photo shows my favorite neighbor. I completed my home office decorating (minus the padded part of the Camel saddle) months ago. I am finally getting around to sharing the photos here. Painting this room was memorable since I had bad paint for the first coat. The store said it froze and they were not responsible. I know I did not damage the paint. Anyway, after I bought good paint, it went easy.

Paint: I started out with Sassafras Tea from Valspar but after I had a batch of bad paint and the store would not refund, I had it color matched at Sherwin Williams. This paint issue is also memorable for me since the same day that I painted the first bad coat, I had a first date with a man who happened to be a contractor. He insisted that 95% of the time it is not the paint, it is the painter. I did not bother telling him the next day when the store admitted the paint was the problem. The date and I were not compatible and there would not be a second date.

Carpet: Existing, it was too much doing everything else so I kept this carpet. Purple is not my favorite color but it seems to keep finding me. I once had a purple house. The carpet was in good shape except for a small issue, My Dad took some carpet from the closet and made a patch.

Earth Border Ribbon: I wanted something to hide the paint transition between wall and ceiling. I came up with this idea. I rough estimated when ordering the ribbon and I was right! I hot glued the ribbon to the wall. My hand was sore and I got a hot glue injury. But I am pleased with the result in the room.

Compass Decal: My friend’s 14 year old daughter designed, cut with my Cricut machine, and installed it for me. When people tour this room, they often ask if the directions are correct. Yes they are!

World Landmarks Decal: This is a beautiful but very detailed decal. I like the idea of the whole world together in one skyline. My friend’s 14 year old daughter helped me install it. For some of the taller buildings we also used help from the 16 year old daughter.

Ceiling Light: You can see in the before photos that the old fan had only 1 light. My Dad installed a new fan.

Airplane Pull

Outlet Plates: I decoupaged paper maps on the outlet plates. Most of them have special meaning to me: town my Grandmother was born in Ireland, places I have traveled, etc..

Switch Plates: I decoupaged paper maps on the switch plates. Iceland, and Kyoto, Japan (in Japanese).

Desks: My Dad assembled the desks. This one, and this one.

Desk Chair: I had it in my apartment before buying this house.

Printer Stand and Files: My Dad assembled it.

Travel Chair: This was my paternal Grandma’s chair. My parents renovated it with this fabric I bought from Walmart online.

Bookcases: I actually bought them in person at Target. My Dad assembled them.

Japanese Snow Monkey Art: I bought the frame from Walmart online.

Thailand Elephant Art: I bought the frame from Walmart online.

Vintage Shelves: These were my maternal Grandparents but I ended up with them when I was in my 20’s. I often renovate them for different living situations. This time we spray painted the metal gold and covered the shelves with map wrapping paper and clear contact paper.

Ancestor Countries Art: I found these free pintables online but can’t find them anymore. I printed out the countries my ancestors were born. I reused frames I had for an Herb gallery wall in my apartment.

Camel Saddle: My maternal Grandpa was a Flight Engineer for TWA. He brought this camel saddle back from Egypt when my Mom was a kid. It was in her childhood bedroom. I remember it in my Grandparents home when I was a kid. I thought the saddle would be perfect for my travel themed office. I need to replace the padded part. I intend to sew it myself at some point.

Foreign Coins Tissue Box: I repurposed an old wooden tissue box. Painted it black, used E6000 glue to attach foreign coins to make this travel themed tissue box.

Paris Trash Can

7 Lucky Gods Stamps – In 2017, I did a pilgrimage tour to the temples of the 7 Lucky Gods in Kyoto. I was frugal and did not buy the souvenir stamps from each location. In 2019, when a friend visited from Japan, she brought this for me.

Round North America Map: I purchased it in person from At Home.

Small Knob for Little Door: The door had a gold knob, my Mom found this online. I was able to find it in the store at Hobby Lobby.

Baskets with Lids: This, this, this, this.

Kokeshi: This traditional wooden doll was a gift from a college roommates parents. My roommate, Tomoko complained that it was heavy to bring to me.

Map Basket: My friend Deborah’s Mom made this out of maps a long time ago. It fits perfect in my travel themed office!

Little Camel: It was always on my maternal Grandmother’s dresser. She put rings in the little saddlebag. I need to sew it but didn’t yet.

Ceramic Bowls: I made these myself in Japan in 2017.

This is the “before” photo looking into the room.

This is the “before” photo standing by the window looking towards the hallway.

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Little Green Man Meal

I made this meal for my friend Dennis at his request. My friend Renae used her 3D printer to make the alien and UFO cookie cutters.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side: Little Green Man – Cheddar mashed potatoes cooled then cut with a cookie cutter, frosted with homemade pesto, Eyes – paprika, star carrots cut with a cookie cutter, green peas

Top Right: Cashews

Bottom Right: UFO – Cinnamon Tortilla Chip – tortilla chips cut with a cookie cutter, brushed with olive oil, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar – bake in 375 over for about 10 minutes, grapes

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Fun Ravioli Collection

This is my collection of cute shaped ravioli. As with my other collections, I will update when I create something new.

FLOWERS

Flower Ravioli

Rose Ravioli

Tulip Ravioli

ANIMALS

Swan Ravioli

HOLIDAYS

Pumpkin Ravioli

Bell Ravioli

Heart Ravioli

Groundhog Ravioli

Shamrock Ravioli

Easter Egg Ravioli

Red, White, and Blue Ravioli

Star Ravioli

NATURE

Tree Ravioli

BUILDING

House Ravioli

EXTINCT

Dinosaur Ravioli

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Piano Lunch

I made this lunch for my friend Yuko. When I asked for her desired theme, she said piano. I was happy to revisit a theme I have only done once before.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Top Left:  Carrot Apple Slaw with Pistachios

Bottom Left: Music Notes – carrot cut with a mini cutter, celery with Lemon Garlic hummus

Right Side: Piano – Focaccia bread, Kit Kat

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July 4 Appetizer and Pizza Dinner

One of my Japanese language partners actually lives in Philadelphia. Over 4th of July weekend, she and her husband visited me and my parents at our family Lake House. We all had a wonderful time!

USA Theme Individual Appetizer Plate

  • Palm Leaf Plates
  • Ranch Dip in Flag Muffin Liner – Hidden Valley Ranch Dip packet with sour cream
  • Radish
  • Cauliflower
  • Homemade blue potato chips
  • Statue of Liberty salted tortilla chip –  tortilla cut with a cookie cutter, brush with olive oil, sprinkled with salt – bake in 375 over for about 10 minutes
  • Cheesecake Strawberry
  • Red and Blue Mini M&M’s
  • Cherry tomato, star cucumber (cut with a cookie cutter) black olive on a wooden skewer
  • Freeze dried strawberries and blueberries

Caprese Pizza with Balsamic Drizzle

USA Red White Blue Dessert

  • USA Cookie – sugar cookie with red, white, blue sanding sugar
  • Strawberry Ice Cream

My critique of the meal: I really enjoyed designing and creating the individual vegetarian charcuterie boards. We all enjoyed eating the appetizers. The pizza and dessert were easy and delicious. I made and froze the cookies a week before the party.

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Watermelon Fireworks Lunch

I made this cottage cheese and fruit lunch for myself. It was refreshing and fun.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side: Fireworks – watermelon cut and stamped with a cookie cutter, cottage cheese, blueberries, cinnamon

Top Right: Hummus with smoked paprika

Bottom Right: USA – carrot cut with cookie cutter, cauliflower

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Bald Eagle Mashed Potato

I made this Eagle mashed potato lunch for my Dad. They sometimes see Bald Eagles at their Lake House.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side: Bald Eagle – cheese mashed potato, smoked paprika, Eye – dried blueberry, Beak – Cashew, peas

Top Right: Cashews

Bottom Right: Fish – apple cut with a cookie cutter, sliced strawberries

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Cactus Pizza Lunch

These are supposed to be cactus in pots pizza. My Mom ate them on a day I made 6 different themed pizzas for family at my parent’s Lake House.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side: Cactus – pizza cut with cookie cutter, mozzarella, pesto

Top Right: Virginia Peanut Squares

Bottom Right: Cactus – rainbow carrot cut with cookie cutter, sugar snap peas

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Village Rice Lunch

I pressed my sister-in-law for an unusual theme and she said New England Village. I enjoy trying out new themes.

Glass Container with Lid

Houses: carrot and radish cut with cookie cutter

Church: cheese cut with cookie cutter

Tree: Zucchini cut with a cookie cutter

Green behind village: spinach

Road: pistachio nuts

Buttered rice with salt

Round Glass Bowl with Lid

Sliced strawberries

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Individual Fresh Watermelon Cake

I enjoy revisiting the same theme to do something different. Over the years, I have made many melon cakes. This is my first time making an individual one. It was easy to make and a delight to eat.

I used a round ring for stacking food. Then, I topped it with cottage cheese, sliced almonds and a blueberry. I was inspired by this but I used cottage cheese instead of whipped cream.

My Past Fresh Melon Cakes

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Giraffe Pizza Lunch

I made this giraffe themed pizza lunch for my sister-in-law while we were at my family Lake House.

Left Side: Giraffes – pizza dough cut with a cookie cutter, orange cheddar cheese, pesto

Top Right: Pistachios

Bottom Right: Giraffes – white carrot cut with cookie cutter, food coloring marker, sugar snap pea

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Rice Cats Lunch

My 20 year old niece and I made this fun cat lunch.

Container: Wooden box purchased in Kyoto at Bento&co.

Mouse: Watermelon cut with cookie cutter, mini chocolate chip

Cats: Cooked Nishiki rice shaped with a rice mold, eyes & mouth – spinach cut with rice mold set, nose – carrot

Background: Scrambled eggs

Small Metal Container with Lid:

Flavor Blasted Cheddar Goldfish crackers

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Bear Pizza Lunch

I made this lunch for my brother when we were at the family Lake House. I served additional bear pizza on a plate.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Top Left: Pistachios

Top Middle: Cooked broccoli

Top Right: Blueberries

Bottom: Bear Pizza Top – mozzarella, black olives, Bear Pizza Underneath – mozzarella, black olives, tomato sauce, Bear Chocolate Cookie

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Flag Day Rice

For Flag Day, I made this rice American flag for my Dad.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side: Cooked Niishiki rice shaped with plastic wrap, Butterfly pea powder, cheddar cut with mini star cutter, roasted pepper, romaine

Top Right: Pistachios

Bottom Right: Strawberries and blueberries

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Squirrels Eating Peaches Pancakes

My Mom and my now 20 year old niece made these pancakes when at my parents lake house. She was 19 when she made them.

Peach Tree – Chocolate chip pancakes cut with a cookie cutter, peach Jell-O

Squirrels – Chocolate chip pancakes cut with a cookie cutter

Peaches – Peach Jell-O

Droppings – Mini chocolate chips

Ground – Whipped cream lightly dyed green

Others in this series:

Bunny  Cows, DinosaursGhosts, MooseRaccoon

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Niece 20th Birthday Party

My parents and I celebrated my niece’s 20th birthday a little early with her this year. I am posting this today since it is her actual birthday. It was special to be able to celebrate her birthday with her.

Decorations: My mom bought various decorations and we had fun assembling them.

Favor: Flower shaped chocolates placed on paper doilies

Napkin Rings: clear with flower holders and small flowers. I already had these. I used them for my birthday party. The price has increased a lot since last year!

Tablecloth and napkins: floral

Watermelon Flower Centerpiece: My Dad and I made the watermelon centerpiece. We cut watermelon with a flower cookie cutter, attached with toothpicks and added dried cherry centers.

Menu:

  • Strawberry Sodas – seltzer with strawberry syrup (my niece made mine without sugar – it was delicious) We served them with pink straws and the antique glasses my Grandparents received as a wedding gift.
  • Flower Shaped Mashed Potatoes – My mom made the mashed potatoes and I used a rice mold to shape them
  • Mushroom Gravy – my niece made it
  • Broccoli
  • Chicken (for meat eaters) I had some delicious lasagna my niece made.
  • Individual Flower Shaped Ice Cream Cakes – cut chocolate or non-chocolate ice cream with flower cookie cutter, put in freezer, added gummy bears or crushed mint chocolate cookies in the middle, another flower shaped ice cream, whipped cream and sanding sugar on top.
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Memorial Day 2022

Here are some photos from memorial day at my family lake house. 6 family members were together this year. I think this is actually my first time to create a Memorial Day themed post. My Dad did the grilling, my 19 year old niece made the cupcakes. I baked the bread.

Favors – Ghirardelli chocolate squares (milk chocolate caramel, dark chocolate raspberry) in little bags made from flag paper

Grilled peppers, asparagus, eggplant with olive oil and garlic powder

Grilled homemade crusty sourdough bread with olive oil

Grilled Corn with Basil butter

Funfetti Cupcakes (Pillsbury) – piped unsweetened whipped cream, red, white and blue sprinkles

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Dinosaur Ravioli

I enjoyed this meal with my friend Renae. When I was a kid, I drew sheep. Renae drew dinosaurs. I thought it was fun to make dinosaur ravioli. I made and froze the ravioli several weeks before the meal. It became a somewhat quick workday lunch. I was happy that she was able to come over and join me for lunch.

Dinosaur Ravioli – I used my favorite pasta dough, and added some spinach powder to the dough, filling – Ricotta, Asiago, salt and pepper

Garlic Cream Sauce

Roasted Asparagus – toss with a little olive oil and salt. Bake at 410 degrees for about 12 minutes.

Cherry Tomatoes

Dino Dessert – Apple cut with a cookie cutter, plain Greek yogurt, maple syrup

Critique of the meal – The garlic cream sauce was delicious and I plan to make it again. I always like my ravioli. Yogurt based desserts are simple, healthy and delicious. I love my new dining room. It is fun to entertain in it.

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Dragonfly Pesto Pizza

I made this fun meal for my Mom. It may not look like much but I am told it was delicious.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side: Dragonflies – pesto, pizza crust cut with cookie cutter than baked

Top Right: Macadamia nuts

Bottom Right: Strawberries and mango

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Llama Mashed Potatoes

I made this llama meal for my Mom. The carrots were a hit from Easter. In my haste of making this meal I added twice the amount of pepper by accident. They were spicy!

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side: Llama – garlic mashed potatoes cooled then cut with a cookie cutter, Eye – dried blueberry, Garlic and Herb Roasted Carrots

Top Right: Macadamia nuts

Bottom Right: Flowers – apple cut with a cookie cutter and dipped in water with lemon, strawberries

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