Dark Side of the Force Taco Salad

Dark Side Force Taco Salad

Happy Star Wars Day! May the Fourth be with you! I made this easy lunch for my taco loving nephew.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side: Black beans mixed with a little salsa, iceberg lettuce, Mexican cheese blend

Top Right: Cherry tomatoes and black olives

Bottom Right: Blackberries

Above the Box: Mini Dippers with Taco Sauce, tortilla chips with a hint of lime

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Daffodil Lunch and Walk

daffodil lunch

This week one night after work, my niece and I took a walk to a daffodil meadow and had this themed meal (I made 2 identical bentos). We ate our dinner sitting on a log under trees. It was a perfect setting and enjoyable company.

When I shopped Sunday night at Wegmans they were out of radishes! I asked the produce person what to substitute that is white, crunchy, and can eat raw. He said daikon (Japanese radish). I never thought of them before but it is perfect for cookie cutters since they are larger than the radish I often use. But with my multitude of cookie cutters, I actually did not have a flower cookie cutter appropriate for a daffodil.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side: Daffodils – daikon (cut freehand), carrots (cut with mini cookie cutter), the daikon and carrots are held together with spaghetti, edamame in the pods, rice pilaf with vegetable broth, carrots, sauteed onion, and pistachio nuts

Top Right: Mini peanut butter cups

Bottom Right: Grapes

Powder Mills Park Daffodil Meadow


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Punched Paper Easter Egg Ornaments

Punched Paper Decorated Eggs

I am happy to say that this was the 7th year for my niece and I to make Easter Egg Ornaments. Both of our lives have changed and she is in college now so we ended up doing the craft in her dorm room. I made themed lunches for us that we enjoyed before decorating the eggs.

We started with blown-out eggs that we kept white. I attached 1/8 inch white ribbon hangers by using a very long needle. Then I used a little bit of hot glue if the hole was large and I was afraid the ribbon would fall through.

I already had two types of butterfly paper punches. I bought two mini flower punches. We used assorted blue paper that I had in my craft room. Some had patterns. We used quick drying tacky glue and put the glue on the eggs with toothpicks. Then we attached the paper cut-outs. It was relaxing to punch out the paper and glue it to the eggs. I think the result is beautiful!

Year 7 – Punched Paper

Year 6 – Diorama

Year 5 – Marble

Year 4 – Ribbons

Year 3 – Quilling

Year 2 – Simplified Ukrainian

Year 1 – Paper Cut-out

blue butterfly paper punch egg


flower cross egg ornament.jpg

Cross of Flowers

butterflies flowers paper egg ornaments blue

Butterflies and Flowers

Flower K paper decorated egg ornament

Flowers “K” (both of our names start with “K”)

butterfly and flower paper decorated egg ornament

Butterflies & Flowers with Beads

Butterfly punch decorated egg


point flower punch paper covered egg

Pointed Flowers

punched flower circle egg ornament.jpg

Flower Circle

round flower punch decorated egg

Round Flowers

We enjoyed this project and hope to enjoy these on our Easter trees for years to come. Please share if you have an Easter tree with homemade ornaments. I would love to see it!

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Easter Egg Bunny Lunches

Easter Bunny rice lunch.jpg

This year I have 2 bunny themed lunches and 1 Easter egg lunch. I made the rice lunches for my niece and myself on a day that we did our traditional Easter egg craft. I will share our craft later this week.

I gave my niece her choice of rice lunches and she picked this cute bunny.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side: Bunny – Hot cooked Nishiki rice pressed into a cookie cutter with plastic wrap, carefully remove cookie cutter, spinach details (use a straw to cut the eyes), sauteed bell peppers and green beans with vegetable broth

Top Right: Homemade Reese’s Eggs

Bottom Right: Raspberries and blackberries

Easter Egg lunch.jpg

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side: Easter Egg – Hot cooked Nishiki rice pressed into a cookie cutter with plastic wrap, carefully remove cookie cutter, spinach details (use a straw to cut the dots), sauteed bell peppers and green beans with vegetable broth

Top Right: Homemade Reese’s Eggs

Bottom Right: Raspberries and blackberries

bunny pizza lunch

When making pizza for dinner I reserved some dough to make these bunny shapes with cookie cutters. It made a fun and easy make ahead lunch.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side: Bunny pizza (cookie cutters) with mozzarella cheese

Top Right: Pineapple

Bottom Right: Salad with mini cucumber eggs (mini cutter), and carrot bunnies (cookie cutter)

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Tokyo Travel and Bento Lunch

Tokyo Bento Lunch

Today I have my last post in my 2017 Japan travel series. After Osaka / Kyoto, I took the Shinkansen to Tokyo. I stayed with language partners in Yokohama, Tsukuba, and stayed overnight at a hotel near Disneyland with another language partner.

This bento lunch is a combination of my Tokyo area experiences. I have Mount Fuji, Honey Flavored Popcorn (Disneyland), and a Panda Bear.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Top: Mount Fuji – pizza with basil pesto and mozzarella cheese, sugar snap peas

Bottom Left: Honey flavored popcorn

Bottom Right: Panda – peeled radish, black olives (held on with toothpicks so not safe for kids), sugar snap peas

Mt Fuji from Shinkansen

I took the Shinkansen from Kyoto to Yokohama. I was not on the correct side of the train because I opted not to pay extra for reserved tickets and seats on the left side of the train were full. I did get a glimpse of Mount Fuji as seen in the photo above.

Mt Tsukuba Sign.jpg

My Tsukuba language partner and I went to Mount Tsukuba.

Mt Fuji in Distance

From Tsukuba I was able to see Mt. Fuji again.

Pottery Studio Teacher.jpg

My Tsukuba language partner arranged for us to have a lesson at a pottery studio! It was my first time to use a pottery wheel. At first I was very bad but once the instructor put his hands on mine to show me how to hold my hands, I got much better. It was an amazing experience.

pottery made with wheel

These are the bowls that I made.

Cookie Cutter Heaven.jpg

I spent a day in Tokyo by myself but met another language partner for lunch. Before lunch I wandered around Kappabashi (shopping street lined with restaurant and cooking supply stores). In one store I was in cookie cutter heaven as they had many I did not already have. In that store I heard John Denver singing on the store music. So strange and memorable.

Mt Fuji Chopsticks Rest

Tokyo Disneyland Monorail

I went to Tokyo Disneyland with a language partner who traveled to meet me. It was a little cold for area people but not for me (a New Yorker) and it was wonderful to have very short lines for rides.

Tokyo Disneyland.jpg

Speciality Popcorn at Tokyo Disneyland

Tokyo Disneyland has flavored popcorn in various sections of the park. My favorite was honey – found near the Winnie the Pooh ride. We tried Milk Chocolate, Soy Sauce, and Honey popcorn.

Another view of Mt Fuji

Another view of Mount Fuji from my hotel near Tokyo Disneyland.

Panda Food Ueno Station

The train station at Ueno had a lot of cute Panda food since it is near the zoo.

Sheep dessert statue in Ueno station

Panda in Tokyo.jpg

Flag of Japan

Craft Store Yokohama.jpg

I took a craft class in this building with a sheep. I was a little slow with my craft because it was a wonderful Japanese speaking opportunity. The ladies in my class kept asking me questions about me and the United States.

Sheep in Store Window

My 2017 trip (my 6th trip to Japan) was amazing! I was able to have many authentic cultural experiences by staying with my friend and language partners across the country.

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Osaka – Kyoto Travel and Bento Lunch

Glico Sign Osaka Bento Lunch

Continuing in my 2017 Japan Travel and Bento series I have Osaka and Kyoto. After Niigata, I flew to Osaka. A language partner who lives in Ibaraki City graciously invited me to stay with her and her family for a week.

This bento lunch is my interpretation of the Glico Sign as a quesadilla. I am sorry to say that my “o” looks like an “a”. I thought about re-doing it but decided to keep it as is.

Glico Sign Osaka

preschooler Japan

Simple Japanese Garden

Name Chopsticks

My language partner gave me chopsticks with my name on them! Very special.

Tale of Genji Museum Uji

I went to the Tale of Genji museum because I went to Uji for the day and read the tale in college. The last time I was in Uji, in 1992, the museum did not exist. My favorite part about the museum was the film.

Winter Home Garden Uji

Torii near shrine Japan

River in Uji Japan

I had a quick lunch on a bench by the river in Uji.

Byodo-in Uji Japan

Byodo-in Temple in Uji

Meal at Green Earth Vegan Cafe Osaka

Vegan lunch in Osaka. My language partner was very kind to find a vegan restaurant for us to have lunch. It was delicious!

McDonalds Delivers Osaka Japan.jpg

Flower Cut Carrots.jpg

I had the opportunity to have a decorative cooking lesson from my friend’s mother. These carrots were part of the lesson. We also did eggs, shaped omelet, and lotus root.

Shrine Ibaraki City Japan

Cucumber Cutting Demonstration.jpg

My language partner’s husband did a demonstration of cutting decorative cucumber.

Koala and Penguin Bread.jpg

I love bakeries in Japan. These Koala and Penguin breads were very cute.

My next post in my Japan 2017 series will be Tokyo.



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7 Lucky Gods Tour Kyoto

7 Lucky Gods Rice Bento

This is the third in my 2017 series of travel photos and food inspired by my trip to Japan. When I looked for things to do in Kyoto in January, I found the idea to visit each temple of the 7 lucky gods intriguing. I certainly liked the idea of getting good luck for the upcoming year. In January it is popular for people to pilgrimage to the 7 locations and there are bus tours offered.

I did not make a bento but made rice shaped as each of the 7 lucky gods. For the details I used cheese, food coloring, and spinach.

7 Lucky Gods Tour Bus Kyoto

I took a bus tour – 7 hours, (I was the only foreigner on it) and traveled to all 7 temples in one day.  I was pleased that there were several Japanese woman on the tour who were traveling alone also and they befriended me. They enriched my experience. I was pretty much clueless about the gods and they answered my questions (in Japanese) and told me what to do. For example at Ebisu’s location I was told to knock on a wooden wall. I did not find out until later that it was because Ebisu was hard of hearing. Ebisu is the patron god of fair trade, fishers, sailors, wealth, sincerity and good fortune.

Daikoku god statue kyoto

This site has good explanations of the 7 lucky gods. In Japanese it is called Shichifukujin (七福神).

Daikoku temple Kyoto

Fukurokuju charms

large juzu prayer beads

Giant prayer beads.

Kyoto Japan near a shrine

Tour Guide 7 Lucky Gods Tour

At each location we had a set time to meet the group. This is my tour guide with the time we had to meet.

7 Lucky Gods Statues.jpg

Toji Temple Japan

Benten goddess kyoto japan

Ebisu temple festival

Maiko Kyoto Japan

One location had a special festival going on so there were lots of people and entertainment.

Hotei god charms

Hotei Statue

Stamps from each of 7 lucky god temples

There was an option for an addition fee to get stamps at each location or buy it stamped at the end. I decided to spend the money and wondered if I would regret not buying it. It is not my personal belief was it was an amazing experience to take the tour. Recently things in my life seem to be falling into place so maybe I did get good luck from completing the pilgrimage.

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