Friday, February 26, 2010

Bento Tips! Cookie Cutters, Aren't Just For Cookies...

A really quick way to spruce up a bento lunch is with cookie cutters. It's really a win, win situation. Don't go out and buy a fancy sandwich cutter for $5.00 when you can use items like cookie cutters, which most of us already have a plethora of in our home!

I cut off the crust with the larger cookie cutters I have. Today it was a bunny (my daughter's favorite animal) and a hand. I just place them in at the same time to avoid the bread from splitting open to a point where it's not savable. Voile, a really simple way to be creative.
If you take a closer look, all I did was cut up a blueberry to create a little eye for the bunny. My goodness, I might even be able to call this one cutesy. LOL!

Confession Time, Secrets of A Gaming Mom... Say What?!

Lately I've spent many days solo parenting. My husband isn't off on vacation sipping ice cold beers on the beach, he's working. Winter is busy season for a man that produces a ski movie. All of our family lives on the east coast. When J travels, I'm going it alone. Luckily the girls and I get into a groove, typically my only alone time is when they've turned in for the night. Some nights my eyes close just as fast as theirs and I'm asleep by 8:30. Did I really just admit to that?

Other nights I relish those couple of hours of alone time. Instead of folding laundry, paying bills, or unloading the dishwasher, I like to decompress. When I'm stressed or overwhelmed, I occasionally draw a bath. More times than not I call a friend. Nightly, I'm relaxed by a few rounds of Words With Friends, reading blogs, spending time on the computer, or watching television.

As of the last few weeks, I have an incredibly wonderful low calorie, heart pounding stress reliever. I'm finally ready to share my little secret. Are you ready for it, you may laugh or not believe me....

Super Mario Brothers for the Wii.

Really it seems silly to admit, that I sit up playing video games at night while my children are asleep. I have to turn down the television pretty low because my daughter and I have become Super Mario Brother playing partners, she always wants to be part of the action. Sometimes it takes me multiple tries to pass a particular round, typically a castle round at the end of the world. I have to contain myself when I pass a harder level because usually my success is followed by a loud scream of JOY!

I'm not sure if Super Mario Brothers brings back the rush of memories from my childhood (it was hands down my favorite video game, read this). I love the challenge, the discovery of new things in the Wii version and trying to remember the old secret tricks from back in the day. For example, Nintendo was kind enough to build in earning 99 Mario lives at the end of a round in World 2 just by a simple maneuver, like in the original version. I love all the updates to the Wii version which capture the wonderful evolution of gaming technology at it's finest.

Through out the day, sometimes I find myself saying, "Bah, Bah" which is a very well known part of the music through out the game. When the sound Bah, Bah is made all the characters on the screen stop and do a little dance. It's like an inside joke between the girls and I. We stop what we are doing and also do a little dance. Bah, Bah!

So yes, now you know my little secret. I laugh thinking about how much pleasure a video game can bring me after a long, hard day. How about you, have any secrets to decompressing that you want to share?


Super Mario Brothers was a gift to me as a part of my involvement with the Nintendo Enthusiast campaign. But to be very honest, this game would have been a part of my Wii collection regardless! As I've mentioned in the past, the Wii was purchased by my family.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Our Connection To The Vancouver Winter Olympics, Way To Go Hubby!!!

Today I want to take a moment to celebrate my husband's accomplishments. I've occasionally talked about my husband's job in the past, he puts his heart and soul into a feature length ski movie every year. Winter is obviously the most hectic and stressful time for him when it comes to his job, other than August when the film is being wrapped in Los Angeles.

Last year he was asked to take part in the filming of the opening ceremony for the Olympics in Vancouver. Of course he jumped at the opportunity to take part in history making and have so many millions of people see his work. One year ago he went to Canada and was sworn to secrecy, but now we can celebrate his involvement! J worked on the opening montage for the film that brought the snowboarder into the live ceremony at the arena in Vancouver. He also did some color correction work with David Atkins the producer of the entire opening ceremony. We even were delighted to find out he was given credit for his work in the official Opening Ceremony Program! We'll cherish it forever.

We are very proud of him. In the moment I felt so much excitement and anticipation.


2010 Vancouver Olympics Opening Ceremony, Encore Part 1

The best place to find the footage is on the NBC Olympics website, I apologize I can't just embed a YouTube movie, and I also apologize for my friends that use a Mac (me included) the video is on some silly Microsoft platform. User friendly, not!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Busy Mom's Real World Bento

Lately I've been fighting the notion that bentos are this overwhelming idea that just creates another thing for us as mothers to do in the morning. How in the world am I going to find time to make a beautiful artistic lunch, when I barely have time to brush my hair before the school commute?

I said it last week and I am saying it again, bentos don't have to be cutesy. I will admit bento lunch making while at it's most perfected art, is absolutely astounding. Here is a little glimpse into the bento world on Flickr. But for me, those artistic bentos are an aspiration at this point. They are incredible, but for me not realistic.

Instead I am going to share, what my bentos have been looking like lately. The reality of my bentos is they aren't that pretty. Eek. Luckily I have cute containers on my side. This morning I packed a panda bento. We were out of bread, so I made a peanut butter and jelly whole wheat tortilla roll up. Well, pb&j in a tortilla is really, really messy, so I am always certain to use a little pick for Sj to use instead of getting her hands a sticky mess. To accompany her roll up, some sharp vintage cheddar cheese, veggie booty, a plum, and always a small treat, some Smarties from the UK.

To the left is her snack, just a pear cut up with an apple corer.

Off she goes....
I had to snap a shot of panda in the bag, the egg contains a wipe for my daughter to clean her hands before, during, and after eating her lunch. As with the best part of creating bentos, no waste and always a happy empty box upon her return home. Small portions of many foods helps my daughter do a great job with her lunch!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Bentos Don't Have To Be Cutesy!

Let me paint the scene, it's an average Thursday morning in my house. My school age daughter needs to have an inhaler treatment that takes about 15 minutes before she leaves for school, she also needs to take some medicine casually hidden in a smoothie, as well as get dressed, wash up, and eat breakfast. Thank goodness gracious she's awesome about doing her homework in the afternoons. I am juggling the medicine, the waistband that is suddenly too tight, and also food duty.

I love bentos for the convenience. I can pick out a bento box, go to my drawer of silicone re-usable cupcake cups, and pull out some food and get right to it. Let me remind you, bentos aren't always cutesy and as of lately they are rarely cutesy! So take the pressure off yourself and focus more on the kind of food you are packing your children.
Chaos captured! Everything is spread out, I am being pulled in five directions, but my focus a healthy lunch and snack. Oops, sometimes I forget snack. But not today!
I ALWAYS include at least 2 fresh fruits or veges. Today it just so happened to be two fresh fruits, grapes and blueberries. It's a compromise I won't make. Yes, sometimes I need to give my daughter the back up canned fruit that is stored in fruit juice, never in a heavy syrup. If you can't find an alternative, make sure to rinse off the thick slimy mess that most can fruit is packed with. Major brands do carry a variety in 100% fruit juice, just hunt around the shelves, you'll find it.

Whole wheat tortilla quesadilla and Amy's organic ABC soup. I'm done..

Now RUN out the door, you don't want to be late!

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, His TED Wish

You'll be seeing a lot more of Jamie Oliver, he's got a show coming on ABC called Food Revolution next month. If you are new to the food movement in America, it's happening. Wonderful people are trying to change the way our children eat and the way we choose to eat as adults, the amount of processed food and chemicals we put in our bodies, Jamie Oliver just happens to be one with a bigger platform. If you have a chance, watch this video. It's the speech of Jamie's Wish from the TED conference. Let's give our children a chance to outlive us, the way we are headed it's not happening for the first time in four generations. Our children's generation is expected to have a life span 10 YEARS shorter than ours. Can you fathom that?

It starts at home people.... What are you COOKING tonight?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution

I put my children's health at the top of my list, I invest in their health with the food I choose to put in their bodies. I would rather do with out a new cute sweater or a pair of stylish jeans so they can eat whole grain, minimally processed, fresh organic foods. I believe we need to rethink food in America and I am thrilled Jamie Oliver is championing the movement as his voice is powerful.

Shower of Happiness For Renee!!!

Sitting down to write this post, I had to reflect upon my connection with Renee and in turn of course many more connections. I started reading Renee's blog, But Why Mommy back in June of 2008! Sometimes it's easy to forget and time just seems to pass, but you really do get to know someone over the years through their words, their thoughts, and how they play Words With Friends (haha!).

Renee is sitting on the cusp of one of the most exciting times of her life. Her patience is being tested beyond belief, but her will and devotion is beyond incredible. She knows in her heart her family will be growing soon and her son, Lion will be coming home to their family within the next few months. Lion is currently living in Ethiopia, but soon enough his place of birth and the first year of his life will just become part of his story. His family is waiting for him in the United States. Lion will come home to a loving mother and father, a wonderful intelligent and creative big sister Bunny.

This is my second time participating in a virtual baby shower, the first time was for MommyGeek when she was due with her second daughter back in October 2008! I love sharing in the virtual gathering and celebrating families and the happy times.

So now for a little advice for Renee. I apologize having two girls, I don't have much advice in the boy department. I did grow up with three brothers, so maybe I'll sneak in some life experience. I thought I would stick to advice for having a second child because sometimes it's hard to imagine how your going to make it all work with another child. But knowing what a great mother Renee is, I know the transition will be smooth and before long she'll be a juggling pro!

I believe Issa already passed Renee the cake and a cute hat, so with out further adieu:

To help ease the transition for Bunny, I would set aside special time for the two of you. Maybe once or twice a month have a special date or outting, maybe even tea or dinosaur playtime you two can enjoy together at home. She'll come to understand that she does have special mommy time and I'm sure you'll both look forward to it. I try to give my girls one on one time, something we can do together at least once a month.

From experience with friends' boys, I've learned that most generally speaking boys are very physical! Boys tend to have the gross motor skills on their mind from when they start moving, so get ready to move furniture and expect to find Lion on top of the refrigerator after balancing a few chairs and some countertop maneuvering. Your patience may be tested in the fine motor skill department, as it was so natural for Bunny with art, drawing, writing. Lion may just naturally be more athletic and have a harder time with a pair of scissors!

When Lion first comes home, try to ease into a routine. Don't be hard on yourself. At first all of you are going to be tired and working through adjusting with jetlag. Routine is something that will come naturally, but be kind to yourself. You don't have to do everything at once, sometimes the dishes can wait, the laundry will get done. Embrace the nurturing and let all the other things on the to do list take a back seat while you can. Also, let people help when they offer. I know it's hard, but if it makes your life easier so you can focus on the kids, I say accept all the help you are offered!

My last bit of advice is time. Take time for yourself, take the time the kids are going to need, take time to cherish the moments as your family grows. Savor the beauty of your new son Lion and how wonderful it is that he has finally come home to you.

Can't wait for his arrival. Congrats Renee, I am so happy for you!


If you would like to read the other posts that are going up for Renee today, please hop on over to Issa's Crazy World and click through some of the links!

Monday, February 15, 2010

If words would flow like emotions these days, I would've written a novel...

That may friends may be the longest title to date at Eat Play Love. Last week ended on a sour note, more sickness, more trips to the Doctor, and it just carried through the weekend. I was anticipating a nice weekend at home, my husband and I actually sharing a bed together for a night or two, and maybe even a nice homemade dinner complete with chocolate fondue on Sunday. The meals passed (I believe I ate, not sure if I could recall what exactly), there was lots of care taking, and here I sit in a state of vulnerability, pretty raw, worn down, and on the verge of tears. I'm uncharacteristically sensitive in this current emotional state and quite possibly just irritable enough to not be much fun to be around (try living with me).

That's just how it goes sometimes.

The house has fallen into disarray with the weekends events. This week shall be playing catch up, catch up on the normal day to day activities that just didn't happen. Most importantly maybe tomorrow will be the day I can catch up on the fondue eating that didn't happen. Earlier I opened the refrigerator door to see organic heavy cream and strawberries, which lead me to thoughts of sweet indulgence. You will be mine gooey chocolate sweetness, I promise.

I'll be returning phone calls and emails. I found myself missing calls and the voice mail stacking up. You know it's bad when you don't feel like talking about it anymore, the latest symptoms, the whole background of the last few weeks. I just don't have the energy to go there. Heck, I haven't even wanted to listen to my voice mail. I just hear the broken dial tone and think shit, who now. I've got nothing to say.

Tuesday shall be a new day, the start of a new week, and lots of happy energy shall be flowing back into my home. The emotions should subside, the verge of tears, the easily angered, and the desire to be around others. That's my hope.

Goodbye grumpalicous, hello old self, I'm finding my way back.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Where To Buy Bentos in New York City

During our visit to New York, my husband and I spent a two days and an evening in New York City. Of course, I had to find a couple of shops that carried bentos to bring back to Colorado. From my list of about five shops, I found two that were great resources, that I would highly recommend.

I like to take photos of what kinds of bentos and supplies a store offers because it's often difficult to gauge if a store is going to carry what I am in the market for. Obviously stores are going to switch up their stock, but this is what you may come to find if you visit these two locations!

Sunrise Mart
494 Broome Street
New York, New York 10012

Sunrise Mart is a little gem in the West Village. When you walk in the door you'll find prepared foods, full tables of people eating, some shelves of grocery items and a real hodge podge of household goods. Go upstairs and you will find a shelf containing bentos. The selection wasn't huge, but their prices were unbeatable. I think we spent less than $5 on the bentos we purchased! Score, especially for NYC!!!

Kinokuniya Bookstore
1073 Avenue of the Americas
(between 40th & 41st Sts)
New York, New York

Kinokuniya (also commonly referred to as, Kino) is directly across from Bryant Park, it can't be missed well unless you're lured in by all the fun across the street. This bookstore is a great resource for Japanese books, magazines, toys, stuffed animals, and a nice selection of bentos/houseware items. Obviously their main business is books but the selection of other items they carry is top notch! Go down the stairs to the lower level and you will find a wonderful table chock full of bentos sitting in plain view.

As far as the bento selection, their accessories are wonderful. Tons of picks, little containers, bags, elastics, and some of the nicest bentos I've seen in the states. Fair warning be prepared to pay top dollar. Their items are all Japanese imports and top of the line things, so the price matches accordingly. I went for it because bento shopping is very rare in Colorado!

Looking for more? Try Lunch In a Box, Bento Locater for shops that were submitted via readers. That's where I found these two resources, just keep in mind you may be hunting around a bit, consider it an adventure.

Friday, February 12, 2010

I Haven't Been On Vacation...

Where have I been? In the past 16 days, I've been to the Doctor's office with my girls 4 times, for lung checks and for their cough/cold/fever. I've been to Children's Hospital Urgent Care 2 times. To top off all the fun my husband was in a remote part of Canada for 10 of those days, where I had one heck of a time reaching him to make him share in my misery.

Yes, let's just say pretty much solo with two sick kids, luckily there wasn't much overlapping except for one night of surprise vomiting. Oh the joys of motherhood!

So here's a list of the things that have been going on in my world. I have to get them out and by golly, it's turning into a blog post.

Enjoy, boy I sure have.

Children's Motrin
Children's Tylenol
Pulmicort Respules
Amoxicillin 400mg
Twice a day
Every 4-6 hours, can do one treatment earlier if needed
Every 6 hours
If fever breaks through, use Tylenol but repeat motrin at 6 hours.
Urine Test
Chest X-Ray
Oxygen Monitoring
Gallons of Juice, drink, drink, drink
Ears are clear
diminished on this side no wheezing
Coughing episode
Oh yeah, lots of mucous
crackling sound
Cough, cough
I don't know maybe a few barking sounds
Spike a fever post nap
Surprise a 10pm vomit episode in case you weren't having enough fun
Pediatric mask
Temperature has broken
No school, shit I forgot to call school.
2 pharmacies
Pharmacy doesn't have medicine
Pharmacy #1 has to call pharmacy #2 to get the prescription to fill
Drive thru pharmacy
wait in line at grocery store pharmacy
You're back again.
Do you need a job?
Maybe 6-8 calls to Dr's nurse
I feel so sorry for you
Fish at the Drs office
6 hours of sleep, no cough
Lots of scribbled on paper trying to keep an underslept family properly medicated and well recorded.

Please let this be it. I promise you universe I will be a good girl and become a hermit with my children.

ps, I almost failed to mention my furnace also went out on me during this time period when my husband was out of town. It took not one, but two trips from the repairman. Fan-fricking-tastic is my life!!!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Happy New Year!!! Mulling Over Thoughts and Resolve...

Happy New Year!!! I know, I know you don't need to check your calendar. This post wasn't published a month late, this post was published right on time, Monday February 1st. Today is officially the start of my new year. WooHoo!

You see, we were in New York for New Years and then I picked up and got on a plane to London a week after I got home. All that traveling and rebounding from traveling threw off the first month of the year. So now I'm seizing resolve by the horns. January was a huge month for me and I've gained perspective going into the new year that I am excited about, which is how the new year should feel, right?

So where shall I begin...

Tightening up the belt and the wallet? I've never felt so completely ready to start budgeting my money. I'm a big talker in that department, but J and I have spent time discussing our future, so we NEED to tighten up the spending. We've set uber lofty life changing goals for us this year. First we need to address the credit card debt that hangs over my head every night, it's not insane and unmanageable, but it has reached the ultimate limit of what I feel comfortable with. So those new shoes, that cute outfit, not happening. I'm assessing in the moment if it's a momentary want or something we truly need. Baby steps, but it feels good to first be in a place to acknowledge wanting to curb our unnecessary spending. I'm content with that because we've set our sights on wonderful things.

I'm planning meals on Sundays, grocery shopping Monday mornings. This will help in so many ways, cutting out last minute take out meals saves in our wallets and having control over the quality of food we put in our bodies will ultimately help with my waistline. Hello win, win.

Speaking of waistline. This is my year to focus on my health, by working out regularly. I've got the **Wii Fit Plus, I've got beautiful sunshine in Colorado, I've got no more excuses. I feel like I would like to lose 20 pounds and really my diet isn't the culprit of the extra weight I carry, it's the lack of regular exercise. I feel ashamed I only get to the Wii Fit Plus a few times a week, I should be on it daily. Starting today, I will be.

It's really that simple, your mind tells your body and your body acts or reacts. I'm convincing mine acting is perfect for me.

Other random things to resolve:

The stuff. Have you ever just stepped into your space like an outsider and tried to look around with out all the emotional attachment? I feel like 7 years in this house has allowed us to gather and collect so much stuff. I've been on a huge mission to rid our space of all our unwanteds, outgrown clothing, baby toys, random kitchen accessories, and just the things we don't really use anymore. There's no need for us to be holding onto it, storing it for just in case. I'm craving space when I open a closet, space when I look on a book shelf, the stuff is consuming me and I am ready for it to go!!! When I have this feeling, it's so important for me to RUN with it.

Even better, I've sold some items on Craigslist and put the money on my looming credit card debt. Hello, can we cheer together- Win, Win!!!

The drive. I spend my week days commuting once a day to pick up my daughter from school. It's about 20 miles round trip. I don't spend a lot of time behind the wheel, everything is pretty close and accessible to my house. But I still have vowed to make changes for the new year. For some reason, I feel this overwhelming desire to get where I need to be as quickly as possible. Now I don't speed more than 5 mph, but still I just get anxious. I drive a lot in the left lane. I am conditioning myself to stay in the moment, slow down, drive slower, not feel so rushed to get where I need to be. I'm not an ambulance driver, I don't need to be racing across town. I always give myself plenty of time to be where I need to be. It's a work in progress. Daily I am conditioning myself to change.

Speaking of change, I NEVER text behind the wheel and I rarely chat on my phone. Life is too precious, so take the no phone zone challenge, I did and I'm proud. More info here, please take part, make the pledge to save lives. Human life is more important than an impulse to reply instantly to a text.

My roles, my abilities. I love being a mother, I love my job, but I don't really appreciate the luxury everyday. I want my girls to feel how much I love caring for them, whether it be by reading a book, helping with homework, doing a craft, or letting the phone pick up to voice mail so we can build a blanket fort. I'm working on balancing time better. I'm working on being a better wife and appreciating what my husband gives us. I'm even thinking of ironing his shirts before he gets back from his business trip. He'll be shocked. I want to get into a better groove when it comes to keeping my home in harmony and balance. Part of that directly links back to my struggle with the stuff, less stuff to wash, pick up, and put away, the happier I'll be.

Just me. My trip to London taught me many lessons, enough to write it's own post. Bottom line, it's so important to nurture yourself. If you're the family's primary care giver, have given up your career, and are always saying yes when sometimes you may want to say no, it's time to say YES to yourself. Whatever you love to do, seize the moment. Even if it's two hours on a Saturday morning. You'll be glad you did. But I promise, more to come on this.

So Happy New Year. Am I missing something major to work on? Other than juggling and balance? Please share how your new year is going, I need inspiration...

Disclosure, my **Wii Fit Plus was given to me because of my involvement in the Wii Brand Enthusiast campaign, it just happened to be a part of my story not the reason for my story. Just so you should know, the Wii console, I bought with my birthday money a year ago. Mmmkay?

PS, the photo was of me in London making a dream come true, I visited the space where Coldplay recorded Viva La Vida! Sometimes when I look at it, I can't believe I was there. Great start to Twenty-Ten!!!