Saturday, September 17, 2016

Charabens for Picky Eaters

A while back I posted about the lunch box club that my daughter and her friends wanted to start doing.  Since then I have made a few charabens, which usually always went uneaten as my daughter is a picky eater.

For those who don't know, a charaben is a lunch box meal prepared to look like a character from a popular t.v. show, movie, comic, etc. You can search charabens on Google or Youtube and find some amazing works of art. However, most of those use ingredients that my daughter won't touch, let alone eat.  So the question came up, how do I make cute bentos or charabens with ingredients that she will eat?

Here is a Totoro themed charaben I did last week. A few things to note:

The brown rice on Totoro is colored with soy sauce and not fish flakes. This means that the rice isn't very sticky and doesn't hold its shape very well. I left the Totoro pieces in the fridge for 30 minutes. However they still fell apart when I tried to piece him  together in the lunchbox.

The flowers are made out of salami. To make the flowers, simply cut a piece of salami at one end, continuing in a circle motion, until you get a really long piece. Then roll it up from the center out. It's the same technique for making fabric flowers.

The Soot Sprites are made with nori wrapped around rice balls.Then I sprinkled with white shredded cheese to give the sooty, fuzzy feeling. The eyes are American cheese.

I cut all my pieces by hand as I don't have any shape punches, but I can see how those would be really handy.  It would cut the process time down by quite a bit. So if you are interested in making Charaben regularly, I would suggest looking into and getting some tools of the trade, so to speak.

A few other Charabens I have made with picky eater approved ingredients:

The Little Mermaid

This is basically spaghetti with green beans, olives, shredded cheese and bologna. 

Sleeping Beauty

Beauty is made with bread, olives, bologna, Pepperoni and American cheese. She is resting on white rice. 
If you can get your little one to eat nori, it is much easier than cutting olives for facial features.

Have you made a charaben before? Perhaps a bento for a picky eater? I would love to see it. You can add a picture to the comments below. :)

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Hunt for Random Acts of Kindness not Pokemon

In my area, a new craze has caught on. Instead of catching Pokemon (which I'm not ashamed to say I do also), the big thing is to paint and hide rocks. Kind of like a scavenger hunt. At this point you're either thinking, "What?" or "Sweet. we play to", but hear me out. The point of this game is to spread cheer and joy within our community. You don't have to be a great artist to play and there's no age requirement. The rules are pretty simple:

  • You can paint rocks, or not
  • You can hide rocks, or not
  • You can find rocks, or not
  • You post hints to your rocks, or not
  • You can share your designs within the social media group, or not
  • If you find a rock:
    • You can keep it
    • You can take it and re-hide it somewhere
    • You can leave it
    • You can share it with others
    • You can add rocks to it
    • You can replace it with a different rock, or not
There are a lot of these groups around if you such local media for them. Type in your city and "rocks". Again, the point is to spread joy and cheer with others. In my area, people have said that this has helped them become closer as a family as they will now paint and hide and search for rocks together. Several others have also said its helped them with depression and anxiety. I know several families who have said its helping their autistic children communicate more.  And I think that's the best part. That this one simple activity by many random strangers is helping so many people in so many different ways. I am really glad and grateful to be a part of this. 

As such, I wanted to share it with all of you. Maybe you have hidden rocks or other treasures in your area. Maybe this is the first time you are hearing of it. Either way, I would love to see any rocks and/or treasures you make if you decide to play along with us in your own areas. 

Here are a few I have done and sent out into the world :)
I post more on my Instagram, check it out. :)

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Anime/ Japanese Birthday Party 2

The living room table was set up with the girls' party wear, goodie bags and the first activity.

To incorporate cosplay into the party, each girl got to pick and take home a Pokemon head band.  We felt these were fun and cute and better suited to our party than party hats.  The headbands came from the dollar tree a while back. They came in packs of 6. Right now, our dollar tree only has packs of 4, which is still a good deal, but you may be able to find a larger lot on Amazon for cheap. The ears and other Pokemon traits were made from felt I picked up on sale at JoAnns.

The goodies bags all had hand drawn anime characters on  them. The bags themselves came for the dollar tree.  I drew the characters on with a ball point pen and wrote thanks across the top of each bag in Japanese. However, you could just as easily print out an image and paste it or trace it to the front of each bag to achieve the same look.

To share her love of decora fashion with her friends, the first activity was making decora hair clips. Each girl got to paint several cabochons and then glue them to  hair clips. This activity was really cost effective. You can get sets of 6 hair clips (or 12 total) at the dollar store for medium sized clips. The cabochons we made out of hot glue and a silicon mold. You can buy hot glue at the dollar store as well. We always have hot glue around so the whole activity cost us a couple of bucks. But if you don't have a silicon mold or you don't want to make your own cabochons, you can get them on Amazon, Etsy or Ebay.

We decided not to have a formal cake. Instead each girl got to decorate their own cupcake like a soot sprite from the studio ghibli movies. We used frosting, chocolate sprinkles, pre-made eyes from chocolate (that I had made the day before) and small colored star sprinkles.

Each girl got their own set of chopsticks and silk holder for them to use and take home. It was a lot of fun watching the girls eat candy sushi and other goodies with their new chopsticks. I got a bag of 12 chopsticks and silk holders from Amazon for under 6$.  Making each set (chopsticks and holder) for just under.50 cents. The above photo shows the chopsticks in the holders at each place setting. We also put down pillows at each spot for the girls to sit on (but is not pictured)

We watched a Studio Ghibli movie with dinner and then afterwards the girls played a few sleepover and tween board games.  The biggest hits were the Sleepover Party Game and Truth or Dare, which Sere found on Pinterest. You can find your own copy at Mom of 6.  :)

Monday, April 18, 2016

Anime/Japanese Birthday Party

Over the weekend we celebrated Sere's birthday with a sleep over party. Right now Sere is really into cosplay and decora fashions as well as anime. So for her birthday party, she wanted to share these things with her friends.

We set up the food table in the kitchen. I let Sere pick the menu, which consisted of as many foods (mostly desserts) she could think of from anime/manga she has seen/read.

The above are inspired by Najika from Kitchen Princess. she makes something similar in the manga. These are cupcakes baked in ice cream cones and topped with frosting and sprinkles. The chocolate pieces were made prior (along with the eyes for the soot sprite cupcakes). They are based on some of Sere's favorite animes.

We also visited Uwajimayas, which is a rather large oriental grocery store. There we picked up some more authentic Japanese goodies, such as Ramune soda, mochi, and teriyaki crackers (some of which can be seen below).

 To incorporate the feeling of a festival or a festive atmosphere, sere wanted to incorporate edibles on a stick. So we made dipped marshmallows and dango.


We made banana trifles and strawberry shortcakes (seen below). These were based on desserts from Maid Sama and  Kitchen Princess.  We topped them with whipped cream before eating them.


And what Japanese party could be complete without sushi?  Candy sushi made from rice krispies, swedish fish and gummy sharks. The sushi rolls are rice krispies, twizzlers, sour ropes, and wrapped in fruit roll ups. I didn't think to take a picture until they had already started eating them.  We also had mini chocolate pies and muffins.

We made the paper flowers on the wall and hung up a table cloth, to add a bit more charm to atmosphere. The lanterns came from the dollar tree. We use them during the summer in the yard as they are battery powered and hang nicely. The pom ropes came from the dollar tree as well. we made little eyes and glued them on, in order to make the black poms into soot sprites.

I had been wanting some apothecary jars for a while now, so I used this as an excuse to make some. They were really simple and easy to put together. I used small bowls and candle holders I had lying around or picked up at the dollar store or freddys for super cheap. Then fit them together the way I liked and hot glued them. Easy. I think they turned out really cute.
They were used to hold candy, the marshmallow and dango sticks and the third we stuffed full of pocky. Pocky is a biscuit dipped in yogurt or frosting. You can usually find them in your local grocery store in the foreign food section.

When we first started planning this party we tried to look up ideas online for food and treats and games, but there wasn't a ton available. So I want to share what we did in hopes that it will help someone else in the future. Because of that I have broken this topic post into two posts. The first being food and second being games and activities. Stay tuned for the second post. :)

Monday, February 8, 2016

Valentine, You're Griffindorable!!

With Valentine's day fast approaching, we are hard at work making our valentines.  As we are pretty big Harry Potter fans here and with the anticipated new Harry Potter movie coming out in November (you can see a trailer for it HERE), Rini decided her valentines this year would be wands.

We printed the valentines on thick card stock and cut them out. Then punched a whole through each one and used string to tie them to the wands. You can get a set of your own awesome Harry Potter valentines at Art by STOWE.

To make your own Harry Potter wands you will need:
  • Printer paper
  • Hot glue gun
  • Hot glue sticks
  • Acrylic or craft paints (we used black and brown but you can add other colors too)
  • Marbles or gems (to add to the base- this is optional)
  • Wooden dowels (this is optional but add support to the wands and makes them more sustainable)
Begin by taking a dowel (if using them) and placing it diagonally across one corner or a piece of printer paper. Grab the corner and place it on the dowel. You can tape it here with scotch tape if you want. Now roll the paper and dowel (as tightly as you can) until you get to the end of the paper. Once there, secure paper corner to the paper wand with a bit of hot glue.

If you aren't using a dowel, you will do the same process, just without the dowel. Start at a corner of your printer paper and roll (as tightly as possible) diagonally across the paper. Once at the end, secure with hot glue.

For both wands, you will need to fill the inside of the wand with hot glue.  If using the dowel, its easier as you have less of an area to fill. Fill both ends (and middle if not using the dowel) of your wand with the hot glue. Be patient as this part can take a while. 
If you wanted to add a gem or marble ot one end, now is the time to do that.

Once your wands are filled and dried, you can use the hot glue to make designs on them. Rini wanted them to look like wood, so we made a wood fiber like pattern on all the wands. You could though build up areas and make larger 3D decorations on wands.
We found that its best to do one side of a wand before doing the other as the glue is hot and doesn't always dry as fast as we would like. 

Next comes the painting part. Take your acrylics and paint the colors and designs you want on your wands. Since we wanted ours to look like wood, Rini first painted them brown. Once the paint had dried, we made a black wash to paint over the brown. The black wash will pool up in the crevices and create a sort of rugged and aged look, making the paper to look more like actual wood.  To make a wash, simply add a little bit of paint to a cup and mix with water. Start with a little water and add more until you get the desired liquid base. For us, we used a 1:2 ratio. 

Once they were dried from the wash, we added our cards and viola,  Harry Potter wands for all.

Happy valentine's Day everyone!