Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Itemizing, help me use this stuff!!

Somehow we're only about two months out from our move really taking control of everything.  I decided it's probably a good time to approach the problem of utilizing our excess so as not to waste anything too devastating on our way out.

My pantry is horrible.  It's just an oversized cabinet and I've always had a larger, walk-in style food storage area in the past.  This has been a tricky adjustment for me.  I tend to get caught up cooking and make a total disaster out of the thing because I can't ever find what I need.  And then because it's a disaster, I just can't find anything at all.  So I buy more than I need to - at one point I had four bottles of soy sauce and two jars of mayonnaise.  Excessive.  I still have issues like this from time to time.  Today I went through it for what seems like the millionth time and got rid of everything expiring in the next month, everything that had been opened for longer than 3 days (I'm a bug-o-phobe and living in a high-rise tower where your neighbors and their filth are all always within arms reach...  uhh, well, it just freaks me out.), and organized and itemized the rest.  Yes.  I made a list of the contents of my pantry.  I am THAT weird.  I have two and a half pages worth of pantry items to use up in the next two months.  I had thought originally that I'd share the list and see if maybe anybody would have suggestions on good recipes that would utilize these things, but really, it's a VERY long list.  Like, obnoxious.  I'm a little bit embarrassed.

And then there's my freezer.  Which I discovered today has entirely too much junk in it, too.  Aside from my faithful tub of vanilla ice cream (we have a love/hate relationship - love having it around, hate how much space it takes up in my pathetic freezer), I have three packages of pork chops, two pounds of ground turkey, a pound of ground beef, and at least three bags of frozen chicken (breasts and thighs).  Oh, and then I have some frozen tilapia, salmon, and shrimp.  And a pound of sweet Italian sausage.  What the heck is my problem??  I can't ever come up with a decent plan for dinner, but how is that possible with all this food staring me down each time I open up any of the doors in my kitchen??

So, I'm resolving that this food has got to GO.  I refuse to make an international move and leave behind THAT much stuff.  It just seems so wrong.  Plus, how is it possible that I keep complaining about being broke when I really could probably manage to get by without groceries for a month?!  There really must be something wrong with me!

I got rid of a whole garbage bag full of pantry items, repackaged a bunch of baking supplies (mostly baking chips and nuts), and I've got my faithful list glaring at me accusingly.  I'm ready.  Bring it on!  When we moved to Okinawa we only had about 30 days advanced notice, so we wound up wasting a LOT of household goods.  This time around I at least feel like I should be able to avoid that.

That's what I've been up to.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Pretty sure I just invented the most delicious breakfast ever.

I scarfed it down so fast I didn't get to snap any photos.  But it wasn't super photogenic anyway.

Raspberry Coldstone-style Yogurt Breakfast:


  • 1 single-serving sized container of Vanilla yogurt
  • 1/8 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1 tbsp white chocolate chips
  • 1 graham cracker, broken into small pieces
  1. This is super ridiculously simple:  Dump the yogurt in a bowl, then top with raspberries, chocolate chips, and graham cracker pieces.  ENJOY!
Seriously...  So good.  I know it doesn't seem like much but I think it's my favorite breakfast I've had in a long time.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Magic of Pinterest

Seriously, I am so hopelessly addicted to Pinterest it's beyond ridiculous.  I find myself searching high and low for awesome things to pin.  And, surprisingly, I actually accomplish things a lot more regularly!  Before, I'd find cool ideas and just leave the tabs open until doing the project became obsolete.  On occasion, I'd bookmark them, but my bookmark folders are basically a jungle.  (See photo at right...  Just a SMALL glimpse into the deep, dark caverns of my bookmarked pages...  Really really really chaotic, seriously.

But with Pinterest everything is organized neatly and nicely in VISUAL folders.  I can find what I am looking for by photo and customized caption.  I can't even promote this awesome website enough.

I have made the kids milk in a cup with the rim decorated in nutella and sprinkles, mini frozen banana pops, and mini banana splits (all shown here), used a delicious raspberry idea to make bento flowers (as seen here), whipped up a batch of chocolate chip cookie dough brownies, made creamy artichoke and chicken pasta for dinner one night, made caramel dip for apple slices that was seriously to die for...  Last night for dinner we had chicken and cheese lasagna roll-ups and 30-minute crusty baguettes.  Today I made some chocolate ice cubes to use in vanilla milk - use google translate to get the recipe from French to English.

I don't know what it is about Pinterest but I am so productive and really enjoying myself these days.  If you're not on there, you really should think about linking up.  I've got 352 pins (and counting) so I think I'll be busy for a while.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

So far behind!

I feel like I've been bento-ing up a storm lately but have not been keeping up with the blog side of it.  It figures, though, that if it's not one thing it's another.  The following lunches were all in the last seven days or so:

C's hot dog, carrot sticks, pesto pasta, and a "mini-banana split"

A's - same thing, but you can see her sidecar box in this photo (which was filled with diced peaches)

And the "Piéce de résistance" - Chocolate sprinkles milk!  They thought this was the greatest thing ever.
The next day we had a variation on this lunch with the leftover pasta.

Chocolate-dipped frozen banana (it has been HOT around here lately!!), carrot sticks, fruit jelly, pesto pasta and pepperoni bites.

On Sunday, M was out completing his scuba diving certification so I made the girls a bento for lunch while we waited for him to get home.

Cherries, kiwi, romaine salad with grape tomatoes and cheese stars, macaroni and cheese with hot dog crab and octopus.
And I think that about catches us up to speed.  :)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Berry Delicious

Got into Pinterest yesterday and I am officially addicted.  Find me here!  It's so fun.  I've been browsing nonstop for almost 24 hours, I think.  :)  I wish there was an iPad app because it's just the sort of thing I'd love to do on my iPad.

M was supposed to get home with lunch this afternoon (pizza) but he was late so I ended up making the girls a bento.  They were cool with that.

C's lunch
A's lunch

As usual, it's pretty much the same lunch x2.  They got baby carrot sticks, a grape tomato, raspberry flowers (stick a white chocolate chip point first into the center - so yummy!), a laughing cow cheese wedge, pineapple jelly, strawberries, and mac-n-cheese spirals with hot dogs and peas.  A had vanilla soymilk and C had chocolate soymilk.

And then M showed up with the pizza and A wished she could eat lunch twice.

Ah, to be four.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Po, the Dragon Warrior

Took the kids to see Kung Fu Panda 2 last night and they loved it.  Well, A loved it.  C behaved.  Actually she behaved SO well that at the end of the movie, I suspiciously peeked over at her and found her completely passed out.
(That makes sense.)
She stayed that way in the car all the way home.  Although when I was changing her into pajamas in her room I asked her if she liked the movie and she said she did.  ;)

At any rate we all love Jack Black and his round, black and white alter-ego.  So today when A asked for a bento I figured I should stick with the theme.  This bento stressed me out because the kids kept coming in and out of the kitchen and pestering me and so it didn't turn out perfectly but it got the point across and that was good enough for me.  I made two matching but only got a good up-close photo of A's.  C's was the same, just ever-so-slightly smaller.  A always makes sure to remind me to take a picture of her lunch. She is so funny.

They each got a Po onigiri decorated with nori, olives, and jack cheese.  They got a few Skittles (left-over from the theater), a cheese candy, and a jelly.  On the other side, they had panda-picked edamame, a couple of grape tomatoes, and "a bowl of noodles from Kung Fu Panda's daddy!"  That's what A called it so I guess it worked out - I was concerned it wouldn't get the point across.  Anyways, it's actually a silicon cup of corn with just enough noodles on top to hide them - then covered with a slice of ham cut to make a "bowl" and stuck with a couple of cocktail picks to serve as chopsticks (as a side note, in Japan it's considered bad manners to stick your chopsticks into a bowl like this.  In case you wondered!).  They were squealing with delight at their Dragon Warrior lunches.

Oh, and I'd like to introduce my newest addiction addition:

I'm calling her Aiko.  It means "Little Loved One".  Mwahahaha...  And yes, it was love at first sight.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Book Review: Something Borrowed

Book 16/25 in the 2011 Reading Challenge.  Date completed: June 3, 2011.

Something Borrowed.  Huh.  Not as disastrously horrendous as Safe Haven, but damn close.  I gave it a Goodreads rating of two stars.

My friend recommended this read to me - she enjoyed it for it's lightheartedness and simplicity.  I don't know what I was expecting, I have never read any of Emily Giffin's other books, but this was not enjoyable for me.

Something Borrowed is the story of Rachel and Darcy - long-time best friends and polar opposites.  Rachel is the typical good girl.  Good friend, good daughter, works hard, got good grades in school, average looks...  Your basic girl-next-door.  Darcy, on the other hand, was born with a silver spoon in her mouth.  She's inevitably always the prettiest girl in her social circles, skates by on her popularity and looks alone and has everything handed to her.

Rachel has just turned thirty - a couple of months before Darcy - and is feeling down because as a child she assumed she'd be married with children by age thirty.  Instead, she is unattached, living in a studio apartment, working at a job she hates, and helping Darcy plan the perfect wedding to her perfect beau of seven years, Dex.

Long story short - and I don't think this is actually a spoiler, because it's all pretty much summed up in the movie previews - Rachel winds up sleeping with Dex.

I'm no fan of infidelity (though I do subscribe to the notion that you "can't break up a happy home"), but I was less disturbed by the subject matter of this book than I was annoyed with the characters in it.  I feel like Emily Giffin must have spent a lot of time trying to make Darcy as obnoxious and insidious as possible so that the reader could justify Dex and Rachel's duplicity.

And then there's Rachel.  She is absolutely spineless.  The book's from her point-of-view, and she spends all of her monologues justifying the affair and her "ultimate betrayal", defending (and trash-talking) Dex and Darcy alternately, sneaking around, and feeling sorry for herself.  Ohhh boo hoo I am soooo in LOVE with Dex and he is stringing me along.  Waaaahhhh, I love him so much it hurts.  Darcy is so selfish!  Darcy is bridezilla!  Darcy thinks the world revolves around her!  Darcy is the most loyal friend on the planet!  Dex is so handsome.  I love Dex.  I hate Dex.  I wish Dex would call off the wedding.  I can't bear the thought of losing my friendship with Darcy.  I wish Dex was here to bang.  He is sooo sexy.  I can't believe Dex is going home to Darcy.  I can't believe he had SEX with HIS FIANCÉ!!  The nerve!!

She's absolutely insufferable.  You want to like her but at the same time she is just so extremely obnoxious and idiotic and, well, PATHETIC that you can't bear to.  Well, I couldn't anyway.

And then there's Dex.  I can't tell you very much about Dexter's character because it's almost nonexistent.  All I know about Dex is that he is handsome and good in bed.  Other than that, I've got nothing.  He's the ghosty kind of character I recall reading about here:
First off, the author creates a main character which is an empty shell. Her appearance isn't described in detail; that way, any female can slip into it and easily fantasize about being this person. I read 400 pages of that book and barely had any idea of what the main character looked like; as far as I was concerned she was a giant Lego brick.
 Dex is a douchebag.  He's having his cake and eating it too.  He's stringing along two equally stupid (though stupid in different ways) girls.  I don't know, maybe he has beer-flavored nether-parts, but I doubt it.  There doesn't seem to be anything genuinely special about his character.

This book went on forever.  I agonized over the nearly 300 pages before I hit the halfway point.  The drama of the affair between Dex and Rachel just drags on and on to the point that by the time the book finally ends you feel completely relieved.

This was a New York Times Bestseller?  And worthy of making into a movie?  Starring Kate Hudson?? (Who, by the way, in no way ACTUALLY resembles the Darcy in the book - way to stretch, Mr. Director-man.)  Definitely not impressed, and definitely won't be reading it's follow up, Something Blue - the story from Darcy's perspective.

Ok.  I'll probably watch the movie but only for the sake of comparison, and let it be known that I have very low expectations for it.  This one was just not for me.

Bento Friday :)

Yeah!  I always feel so accomplished when I manage to crank out a bento for my kids.  Especially when I do it without us having any other plans to go anywhere or do anything.  Today was one of those days.  I should really make an effort to make them a bento lunch at least every Friday - we'll see how that goes.

The table is set! :)
A's lunch
Corn, grape tomato, cheese "candy", hot dog flowers, strawberries, fruit jelly, and teddy onigiri
C's lunch
She had the same.  :)
On the side, for dessert, each girl had a matching container with Chex "Muddy Buddies" in it - a favorite snack around here.  If you haven't had these you are definitely missing out.  :)  They each had a cup of chocolate soy milk, too.  Yum!

photo credit: http://thegalwaygirl.com/
Muddy Buddies:

9 cups Chex cereal (rice, corn, wheat, or a combination - all work fine)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter (I use Simply Jif creamy)
1/4 cup margarine
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

  1. Measure cereal into a large bowl with a lid.
  2. Put chocolate chips, peanut butter, and margarine into a 1-quart microwavable bowl.  Microwave this on high for one minute, then stir.  Microwave on high for another 30 seconds, or until mixture can be stirred smooth.  Add in the vanilla and stir to combine.
  3. Pour the chocolate mixture over the cereal and fold together to coat the cereal.
  4. Measure powdered sugar on top of the coated cereal, then put the lid on your bowl (seal it carefully otherwise you'll have a powdered sugar explosion), and let your kids shake it like crazy till the powdered sugar has completely coated the cereal.
  5. Enjoy with caution - this stuff's dangerous.

Bento Lunch

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Sushi Night - Hungry for a good time?

Went super overboard last week with another sushi night.  It was fun and delicious.  I seriously VERY highly recommend sushi parties to everyone.  It seems like a lot of work, but really it is quite simple and the clean up is minimal.  Do it!  Now!

Homemade gyoza, yakitori, pan-fried chicken, sushi fixins, and shrimp tempura.  DROOL!  We also had some to-die-for egg drop soup.  My kids were in freaking HEAVEN!
Avocado, cream cheese, cucumber, crab, and shrimp.  Mmm...
Assemble and add Sriracha (rooster sauce) as desired...  (Don't actually do it like this - this puppy is WAY overloaded!  But it's pretty funny.  We dubbed this "the MAN roll")
Roll it, slice it (use a super sharp knife moistened with water), and ENJOY!  :)
One of my good friends told me she wanted to make sushi, I told her to have a party!  She's a super-mom type, so I suggested a sushi play-date.  If I had enough "play date mom" type friends, I'd do this too.  I'm actually pretty jealous that she is going to have the opportunity!

Before the party, pre-assemble sushi for the kids - PB&J "sushi" rolled sandwiches (use slices of bread rolled thin with a rolling pin), Hot Dog Sushi (from my friend Kristin @ Holy Cannoli!), veggie rolls - they make these at our commissary - super delicious, and maybe even some Rice Krispy sushi rolls for dessert.

Gather all your sushi ingredients (Sushi rice, nori, sesame seeds, cut veggie sticks, cream cheese [I stick an 8-oz package in the freezer for a couple of hours and then cut it into sticks - it's a lot easier to work with that way], crab, shrimp, soy sauce, wasabi, Sriracha, basically whatever your heart desires!) and your sushi tools (cutting boards, bamboo rolling mats, bamboo paddles, containers of water to "de-stick" everything, sharp knife [we found that the sashimi knife was the BEST], plastic wrap, paper towels, plates, chop sticks, etc.)  Have edamame available for snacking, and maybe some tempura.  You could also try making some yakisoba in case you're friends with weirdos that don't like sushi.  ;)  I fried up some won-ton wrappers and warmed a little bit of sweet and sour sauce as a snack, too.  I know it's more Chinese than Japanese but it's a favorite snack of mine so work with me!

Have the moms assemble their own sushi while the kids eat theirs and play.  I guarantee this will be a good time, sushi making is super fun and easier than you think - and it's cool when you make your own edible art piece.  Delicious!
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