Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I Couldn't Tell You What Is In My Daughter's Lunch Today...

Even though I could have posted a photo of a bento I packed a few weeks ago, I have decided to refrain. The title of this post isn't a joke, my husband packed lunch for our daughter this morning. Truth be told, I didn't even open her Laptop Lunch to see what was in there.

We sold our house this month and will be moving in a month. Let's just say life has become a little bit hectic and overwhelming as we are still with out a home to move into. To top off the chaos my one year old refrigerator decided to frost over in the freezer affecting the air circulation to the refrigerator. A light bulb went off in the morning when the milk in glass bottles I pulled out of the refrigerator was warm to the touch. Glass in the refrigerator is never warm to the touch.

Anyway, life does go on, but my bento packing is on hold. I am off to San Francisco for a few days and when I return my collection will have grown and I am hoping so will my inspiration.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Deal Breaker...

I believe it's the French Silk Pie that's digesting in my stomach, which is allowing me a moment to just relax. I'm lazing in my bed, the girls are asleep, and my husband is off schmoozing at a preview screening of this year's completed film. There are so many things I should be doing, but most simply put, I'm not...

In this moment I realize I naively decided to put a for sale sign up in my yard just last month. We decided it was time and of course told ourselves, it will all work out. I know in my heart it will, but in this very moment things are a bit up in the air for us. Our home sale is going through in October, but the house we were under contract on fell through.

Today we walked...

It's very odd to say, we walked on a house that we had mentally moved ourselves into. I was eyeing a new sofa for the living room, we had dinner in the neighborhood brewpup, the girls and I would drive by daily after school pickup, friends came and checked out the house with us, Sj put dibs on her room, we had grandiose plans for a party deck on the oversized garage in the backyard that had gorgeous mountain views, my parent's decided that within a couple of years we'd turn that space into an apartment for them. The schools were perfect, the location was great, and we walked.

There's deal breakers for every situation and we encountered one.

So now we move on. Chin up and embracing the old mantra, it wasn't meant to be, everything happens for a reason. What else can you tell yourself? Oh and universe hear my gentle whispers, send me that kick ass house I've been hoping would magically appear. If I can ask for a little favor, have it be empty because closing in a month would just make my life simply wonderful.

Like Father, Like Daughter....

If I'm packing one lunch, it just makes sense to pack another. I guess I got into a groove packing three lunches for a short stint. I didn't mind it at all. Even got my wheels turning a bit about something that has potential for the future. Today J is eating exactly the same lunch that Sj is. Like father, like daughter or is it vice versa?

This morning, Sj requested tuna in her lunch. I only purchase 365 Brand (whole foods private label) Tongol Tuna, if you click here you can read about their testing methods and the level of mercury found in the specific type of tuna. Tongol Tuna is not white meat tuna, but "chunk light" and a tuna that is typically found to have lower levels of mercury by nature because of it's size. I put sliced cheddar on the bread first to avoid it from becoming soggy. Grapes, strawberries, broccoli, tomato, and booty. For a special treat, I gave her a pack of Annie's organic bunny fruit snacks. The yellow container has balsamic vinaigrette for dipping her broccoli.

This is J's version. I wonder how the booty is going to go over in the kitchen at work, sitting around with the guys.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tuesday Tips: Fast and Free Way To Watermark Photos With Picnik (and other fun easy photo editing)

Have you ever clicked onto a blog post and found the author using a photo you took? Photos get picked up by google images, people search on a subject, and simply (borrow) a photo many times with out ever giving credit to the owner of the image.

An easy way to avoid that is to watermark your photo. Some people may pass on using a watermarked image, but at very least you are still being given credit where credit is due. I always try to link back to where I found an image, unless it's one of those silly photo memes where I just do a general google image link back.

If you aren't into photo editing, I have a very simple way to watermark a photo. I use Picnik. I use the premium version of Picnik (1 month, 3 month, or yearly subscription), but the majority of Picnik features are free. How I watermark this photo, is free.

Upload an image to Picnik (click on any photo to enlarge):

Click on the CREATE Tab:

Click on TEXT, add text to the text box, upper left corner, click on a font of choice:

Click and drag text to the place in the photo you want watermark. Then you can change the color of the text (default is white) in the text palette.

Important step: In text palette there is an "Advanced Blend Mode" drop down menu, click on OVERLAY. That makes the text blend into photo, even gradient for values of photo.

I chose to keep my watermark in the lower right corner of this photo. When I do bento photos, I prefer the center so people can't crop out my watermark.

Click on save and share, has options to resize at this point as well. You can share to friends on FB, twitter, Flickr as well with one easy click!

For FUN! After adding watermark, I click back on CREATE tab. Then Effects, I chose "Cross Process" which gives the photo a really fun feel. Under CREATE there is also a frame tab, so I turn it into a polaroid. Then I add some more text, a butterfly in stickers, and voile! A really fun easy photo!

Enjoy Picniking! The possibilities are endless!

Disclosure: I have been a fan of Picnik's since I made my first blog header for free back in August of 07! All follow up blog headers have been made in Picnik as well. In the spring, I was offered a free trial membership to check out premium features. I was not asked to post about my experience, I just felt the need to teach an easy way to watermark.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Easy How To Watermark Photos For Free!

I know, I know. Why in the world is a lunch packing blog talking about watermarking photos? Well every lunch creation we share is ours, in this day and age of accessibility to everyone's content it's nice to protect yourself by watermarking your photos.

Over at EatPlayLove, I have a shared the few easy steps on how to watermark a photo in a Tuesday Tips post! Enjoy.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hello Blogosphere, It's Me Denise...

I received an email today from a bloggy-friend asking me what in the world was up, where have I been, and more importantly am I okay?

Yes, I am doing just fine. The last few weeks have been a surreal whirlwind experience. My house went under contract this week, followed by a mad search to find a new home. The first night after the we sealed the deal, I got absolutely no sleep. My mind raced all night wondering where in the world we were going to live come October! Now the excitement has settled down a bit and we've come to realize that everything will work out just fine. Please tell me it will work out, right? We aren't under contract yet on the house we like, but we shall know by tomorrow.

To top off the fun of house showings in 45 minutes, PTA meetings, and school functions, my husband was out of town for two weeks. Luckily the technology exists now where you can electronically sign documents, so getting out counter proposals were a snap with us being in different locations. I am even more grateful for the last minute arrival of my parents to come help me out during J's business trip. I think I would be a weepy puddle on the floor tonight if they weren't here for 10 days.

The best part of this entire process, is imagining the possibilities. Talking about the future, riding by the house we hope to soon call home from school and relishing in the fact that it was only a 5 minute drive. We currently live 2 towns away from school and our commute is something I've never complained about because we love our daughter's school, but living 1/2 mile away is like sweet buttercream icing on the cake.

Speaking of cake, I'm off to enjoy a Sprinkles Cupcake my wonderful husband was kind enough to bring home from Beverly Hills for me. It's a tradition that makes his return much sweeter.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Food Cutters Make a Happy Bento

A cookie cutter, some Japanese cutters (great for harder vegetables), and Hello Kitty cutters that also press a cute little face into the bread. Just add a little special touch to everyone's lunch.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Feeding Friends, Because A Homemade Lunch Is Comfort Food...

Our friends have been displaced by the Four Mile Canyon fire. One of the first things that came up was that the kids needed lunch boxes, so instead of buying lunch boxes I simply offered to pack lunch for the kids until they are settled into their new living arrangements. I wouldn't have it any other way, a homemade lunch is a simple way to keep things consistent for the children while they face so much change in their lives.

Then Laptop Lunches stepped up and graciously offered to donate two Bento Kits to my friend's children. A huge thank you to them for their generosity.

So now I am packing 3 lunches in the morning! Right now it cuts into my creative side because I'm figuring things out, but I am getting more into a groove. You will see my creativity come out next week.

This is what I've packed this week:

Monday, September 6, 2010

I Left A Piece of My Heart In Four Mile Canyon...

***Please note, I live 8 miles outside of Boulder, I am not evacuated. This post is about my connection to the area.***

I should be asleep, but I can't sleep. The place I called home for 4 years is at the center of a 3,500 acre wildfire. My day has been consumed by the magnitude of the loss. A simple lunch time outing turned into a wave of emotion from the wall of smoke that formed from the canyon to the town I currently live in. I tried to wrap my brain around the exact location of fire from a distance, talking myself down from the worst case scenario, that it was Four Mile Canyon. But after a text, a search on twitter, my fears were confirmed. It was Four Mile Canyon and yes, my friends were safely evacuated. (insert expletive)....

I've seen posts of "great photos" from the fire. I know it's natural in this day in age to share media, video clips in an instant, of course the size of the fire is immense the smoke billowing. But in those great photos all I can imagine is my former neighbor's home or the house I passed day in and day out. We have friends whom have suffered great loss in this fire, friends that I have cried for and will go above and beyond to support them in this time of need. Because in a community that's what you do and I know they would do the same.

There is nothing like living in the mountains, in a small canyon. You come to be intimate with small curves and nuances of the road, give directions like take a left down the dirt road after the collection of mailboxes at the second switchback, but if you get to the Fred's propane tank on the right you've gone too far. I could give you a description of 90% of the homes I passed on my way home, 3.33 miles up Four Mile Canyon Drive. The scanners called out dozens of street names, all of which I had a picture of in my mind. Many of them I cycled numerous times, always enjoying wildflowers on the side of the road or a creek that cascaded under someone's deck. Poorman's, the road between Fourmile and Sunshine Canyon that I dreaded riding my bike on, but screamed a loud hallelujah the day I actually made it after so many attempts turning around. Gold Hill, the quaint mountain town that made me feel like I stepped back countless decades, yes it is complete with a general store. Wall Street, the rumored epicenter of the fire, a road that felt like you could just ride on forever, I loved it because it felt like it was flat compared to Fourmile Canyon Drive.

Don't let quick snippets of generalized conversation fool you, it's not all well to do people living in gorgeous homes. It's the whole spectrum of folks, like the little couple that have called the canyon home since 1963. They added on a room here and there and over the years they made it their home. Shirley was always happy to see me, when I made the hike up her driveway to borrow a cup a sugar. She probably lived the equivalent of 3 city blocks away from me, but I knew her name, her car (she always waved when we passed one another), and her smile. I didn't hesitate to go ask her for a cup of sugar or an egg because she always had a story to tell and I spent the time listening.

There are so many beautiful animals that call the canyon home. Foxes, bears, mountain lions, deer, chipmunks, lizards, hummingbirds. All of which I hope found an escape route to a safe haven, instinct giving them the drive to carry on and flea the flames.

I'm turning off the Boulder County Fire Scanner now and going to try to turn in for the night. I have three lunches to pack in the morning, doing my part to make life normal for two sweet and caring small children that may not have a home to go back to, once the roads are opened. I hope to wake in the morning to news that the fire is contained and the loss that has been suffered does not extend any further. I fear the emotion that will overwhelm me the first day I drive back into the canyon. I feel grateful thousands of lives were saved and so many honorable men and women put their own lives on the line to protect others. Special call out to the pilots of the tankers that dumped numerous loads of flame retardant. Humanity amazes me once again.

Big smiles and a tear in my eye, there will always be a special place in my heart for Four Mile Canyon...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Fruit Kabob & Turkey Baloney With Heart!

Last night I popped into Whole Foods to pick up a chicken (they put them on special on Wednesday) and while I was there I grabbed some fruit kabobs as well. So really, I didn't get all fancy this morning, I just had a kabob leftover from dinner!

Heart sandwich made with 100% whole wheat organic bread, Applegate Farms uncured turkey baloney and Cabot sharp vintage cheddar, a bit of mustard, and Sj's initials in fruit leather. Some snap peas, barbecue Pirate's Booty, left over fruit leather cut into bunnies, and a 365 brand sandwich cookie.
Disclaimer all items were purchased by my family, not a free sample or paid endorsement!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Chris Martin Performs At The Apple Keynote, Wedding Bells..

Enjoy, a new song and of course some Chris Martin wit that I always appreciate:

Adventurous 2nd Grader's Japanese Leftovers Bento

Grilled chicken, broccoli, mushrooms, udon noodles, edamame & carrot skewers sitting on some steamed spinach, teriyaki sauce, vegetable gyoza (dumplings), and a spring roll with chicken, basil, avocado, cukes, and carrots! Yum!

While I would love to take credit for this food, this is simply left overs from a quick Japanese restaurant we have in Colorado. Sometimes we order too much food, bonus our daughter can take it for leftovers and I just have to assemble it!