March 25, 2011
I made these speedy bentos for the girls today. Not much cuteness factor but they were happy to see the little tomato ladybugs. I must admit you, results are not so good when you are in a hurry…
Thanks everyone who had asked about our flu/cough/sickness. We really appreciated the well wishes ^^. Girls are much better, coughing once and a while, so I (almost) consider them all healthy again.
As we got better, I could finally go out and check the fruits and veggies nearby. Happy to find good clementines… they were juicy and sweet… my last purchase was a total failure (dry with that yuck-flavor). Looking forward to Spring and the fresh produce it brings…
The contents of the boxes: chicken stir fry with mixed vegetables and noodles (I usually put a handful of cashew nuts but I forgot this time :/. Pikkusiili is a huge fan of nuts ^_^ ), lettuce, raw baby-carrots, cherry tomato ladybugs with nori details, dark grapes and clementines.
AHA! So you thought I don´t “obento” anymore ;). I can surprise you sometimes :P.
Talking about bentos…
As I mentioned before, me and my friends in the bento community all over the world have come together to establish a fundraising event for the Japanese quake victims, what we call “Bento4Japan“.
In 9 days of its operations we managed to raise $2000 (so far), which makes me extremely happy and thankful to all people involved. Contributions and bids on our bento auctions have been exceptionally good and we still keep going on. For european friends who cannot bid for the gorgeous bento gear offered on ebay, we have a raffle available for you to participate. Please take a look if you have time ^^.
Actually… it is a favor I ask. Everyone knows I´ve been following the news about the earthquake in Japan and the devastating results that came after it.
I try to get as much information as I can, reading news mostly (I am not much a tv-person anyways) and I noticed there have been many absurd articles, here and there. Some texts tend to emphasize topics in such way that lead to terrible misunderstandings.
Maki from Just Hungry/Just Bento wrote a very good message to the bento community, pointing out ways how we can help Japan, not only by donating… but also, by keeping our minds open for learning and educating ourselves. I explain… with so much doubtful perspectives and sensationalism, it is quite easy to fall on hysteria and misinformation.
Please head to her blog and read the message. It serves not only to the bento community, but for everyone. We need to keep rational (and reasonable, right?) ;)
March 22, 2011
… keeping in mind everyone (including myself) needs something to make us smile and uplifted.
Last year I was complaining (as usually) on twitter about how difficult is to find cute patterned cellophane bags here in Finland. Well, correct me if I am wrong (any Finnish friends reading there?), but it is difficult to find normal cellophane bags too, so think about the patterned ones…
A very kind friend of mine offered me to send me some ^_^! I got her adorable package in the beginning of the year and she not only sent me cello bags, she also included her oh-so-famous honey chocolate bread among other things. They are a-ma-zing!
(Hey… and I must say, she is so amazing she is responsible for the cute sweets of the First Hello Kitty Cafe in the Americas. How cool is that? Aaw)
I decided to send a little something back, to thank for her kindness of sending me all these wonderful stuff.
As I can´t beat her on chocolate making I crafted mini sweet felt food to her :). I assembled two little mobile charms (using beads etc) with the mini food. All are handmade by me with my own patterns :).
(Snack time! ^_^ )
Si! Obrigada pela sua gentileza! Um beijo grande da Mame ^__^!
The Bento4Japan eBay auctions and the European Raffle are still on. Check it out when you have an opportunity! Remembering that all the proceeds go to Japan Disaster Relief. We appreciate your support.
March 18, 2011
As part of our ongoing efforts for bento4Japan , a fundraising campaign page was created on JustGiving to raise money for the disaster relief efforts. Our nominated charity is the British Red Cross, which is rallying resources to help the people in Japan.
Note that if you are a UK taxpayer, JustGiving will reclaim 28% of your total donation and the Red Cross will end up with 123% of what you donated.
(JustGiving & FirstGiving takes 5% off all donations to help pay for continuous innovation in online fundraising to help more charities raise funds online)
In an attempt to boost our JustGiving collections and offer an opportunity for people in the UK and the rest of EU to participate, me and my friend Mils have joined forces to set up a teeny raffle! We have four items up for grabs for anyone who donates, no matter how small the amount.
- 1 onigiri mold, Pikachu shape
- onigiri mold set : faces ( bear, girl and boy)
- oshibori and case (little towel with a case)
- pack of small animal forks
- pack of small animal spoons
- Chinese Zodiac animals picks
- Animal themed baran
- 2 sauce containers, pig shaped
(All items are new and from Japan)
- a Thermal bento set! It has two inner containers, the bigger holds 300ml and the other 220ml. The smaller one has a permanent compartment division.
(I opened the box for photo purposes. It is new and unused )
- 1 double-layer bento box (cars design)
- 1 pack of oversized picks
- 3 nori punches – bunny, car & bear shape
- 3 sauce containers – pig-shape,bottle-shape & tomato cover
- 1 mini-cutter – butterfly
- 2 blue silicon food cups – heart and star
(all of the above are new and have been sourced by my friend Mils on a variety of bentogear shopping trips)
Bonus prize (x2)
- Oversized food picks
Anyone can donate, being necessary a debit or credit card to do so – or paypal account. The donation are in sterling pounds (the British currency), but the transaction will be automatically conversed from Euros by your credit card service.
We will randomly select 4 recipients (using http://www.random.org/) from the list of people who donate on bento4Japan‘s Justgiving site before April 3rd 2011 (2359h GMT). The first person can choose between my set or Mils‘; the second will get the other set and the third and fourth person will receive a packet of picks each.
We hope that this will boost numbers a little and make the event worthwhile. We will announce the winners on our blogs, on bento4Japan HQ and obviously email the winners as well.
Please note that whilst we are not allowed to publicise this raffle on the bento4Japan JustGiving page (as we are bound by terms and conditions).
Anyone who donates will be eligible for this raffle. In order for us to contact you, it is important to make sure your email address is available to us on the JustGiving fundraising page.
Thank you for your help and please dig deep and give as much as you can. Please also spread the word around, the success of this fundraising event relies on our collective effort.
P.S: The fundraising page will be active till 2016, but only donors who contributed to this page before April 3rd 2011 (2359h GMT) will be considered for the raffle. The reason is to encourage as many people to donate soon as the relief efforts are ongoing and urgently needed. Please donate here!
To find out more about why are we doing this and to check out other ways to help, please visit our bento4Japan HQ.
March 16, 2011
Today´s simple bentos were an attempt to encourage my daughters to eat a bit better. With this flu, their appetite have been quite poor… oldest daughter practically stopped eating since weekend and just drank juices and tea.
I also decided to spend more time with them today (instead of staring the computer for news). Dedicating time to the girls, cuddling them and making these meals affected me positively. I need to get well too so I can be a good mother for them.
Contents of the boxes: “Hinomaru” onigiri with an umeboshi portion (I didn’t have smaller umeboshi), spinach tamagoyaki, chicken meatballs, steamed broccoli, romanesco and cauliflower, carrot flowers, mini plum tomato, orange and grapes.
Although the portions were tiny (the onigiri is quite small), Luonnonvoima left quite a lot untouched. She ate the fruits and the omelet but couldn’t eat all the rice. I think it was enough for now ^^.
I made the onigiri in this shape on purpose. I took the idea from the “Hinomaru bento”, a very simple bento consisted of plain white rice with an umeboshi in the centre. “Hinomaru” is the Japanese flag.
My friends in the bento community all over the world have come together to establish a fundraising event for the Japanese quake victims, what we call “Bento4Japan“.
There are auctions in this theme already listed on eBay. All the proceeds go to GlobalGiving’s Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief effort. Use the search term “Bento4Japan” to find the auctions for bento boxes, incredible books, accessories and bento kits.
Encourage your friends and family to bid to help raise money! You satisfy your bento shopping and help a good cause at the same time ^_^!
March 15, 2011
It has been hard not to think all the time about the tragedy that struck Japan. I´ve been following the news since Friday, glued to the computer screen. I watch the NHK streaming online but my Japanese language skills are limited to understand everything (wishing I could be with my mother and my father, they would help me out with that)
So I kept my streaming on and read @makiwi updates on twitter to know the news. Makiko Itoh is the owner of Just Bento and Just Hungry, an extraordinary person who has been translating non-stop the Japanese news for us. She says doing that helps her to cope with the situation, but I say, her efforts help us in another bigger dimension we wouldn’t be capable to describe and to thank her in any way.
My warm thoughts are still for people in Japan. Be brave. It will be a long journey to rebuild the country and heal the deep wounds. We are still thinking of you. Friends, hang in there, know we wish you the best, from our ♥’s.
I´ve been trying to write a post about subjects this blog is about. It doesn’t feel right somehow. It doesn’t feel right to mention we are sick here for almost three weeks in a row (3yo, 5yo and I with flu, fever and cough). It is so small problem, can´t be compared to what´s going on.
I had a long talk with my mother yesterday. Seeing her (via skype) and chatting with her brought peace to my heart. She also reaffirmed our relatives are fine and safe in Japan. She made me see how blessed we are and how we must value the precious things in life, no matter how smallest they might look like.
Quite comforting and cheering up thoughts .
So.. there is one thing I want to share today. It is small. But it cheered me up and brought me a smile.
I got a message on Friday from a friend who lives in Brazil. She wanted to let me know that at least one thing was good amongst that chaotic sad day: a gift I sent her far ago finally reached the destination.
It was a handmade gift, with a story. Last year I sent this friend a package of goodies, including an amigurumi bear. I crafted it thinking about her, a big fan of Japanese sweets.
Anyways, this exact bear never arrived there. My package did… very spoiled. It was a rainy season in Brazil and there were floods here and there. Still, can’t justify the condition the package was delivered her: wet, full of mold, with worms. Sealed in a
trash plastic bag. Yes, to cry. I got extremely sad. Some things could be saved but she never found the bear I made her.
I promised myself I would craft a copy of that bear and send it again. It was taking long to hear from her about the mail. I can’t be that unlucky, can I?
So there he is, the bear. Actually, it is the bear I made the first time. I made pictures of the new one, but I forgot to put memory in my camera when doing so. Yes, laugh, I can be absentminded sometimes too. :/
The new bear was assembled as a keychain. This one, was a mobile charm. I tried to make them exactly the same, so there aren’t much differences from this one in the picture.
I know is silly it enlightened my day.
March 12, 2011
My best thoughts and my wishes for strength go out to the people of Japan and other countries that are affected by this disaster.
Family and friends in Japan, stay safe. I am thinking of you and praying you are all well and hope from the heart this chaos will be soon over.
For those wondering, all my family (except dad, mom, sister and lovely niece) live in Japan. Fortunately they are located in places less affected by this tragic disaster. Still, we are all worries.
If you want to help, I suggest you to check the Red Cross organization nearest you (I think it is the most reliable channel to offer your contribution)
To donate in Finland, please check the official Finnish Red Cross site:
And to donate online (for Finnish people):
I have no affiliation with this organization nor do I benefit from any contributions.
But help if you can .
March 8, 2011
Traditionally in Finland, Shrove Tuesday or “Laskiainen” (in Finnish) is the day kids go out to play with their pulk (pulkka, similar to a sled) downhill. Going to slide on the hill is what they call “pulkkamäki”.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t go pulkkamäki this year because my Pikkusiili is still sick. A huge disappointment for my other daughter, Luonnonvoima.
To make the day less boring, I offered her some Laskiaispulla and hot chocolate ^__^.
Laskiaispulla is a sweet cardamon-spiced bun served (and baked) on Shrove Tuesday. It is filled with strawberry jam (or raspberry) and whipped cream. Another version, common in Sweden, has almond paste inside instead of jam.
It serves the original purpose of Shrove Tuesday, the last festive day to eat “heavy” and prepare for Lent. Besides laskiaispulla, pea soup (hernekeitto) is often eaten too.
Laskiaispulla – Shrove Tuesday sweet buns
one recipe of traditional pulla (cardamon-spiced bun), strawberry jam and whipped cream
yields 20 small buns
adapted from here
- 2,5 dl milk
- 1 dl sugar (85g)
- 1 egg
- 2 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 packet dry yeast
- about 7 dl special baking flour (I used erikoisvehnäjauho) – 1dl = 65g flour
- 100 g unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
Warm up the milk to 42 °C (to activate the dry yeast), mix sugar, salt and cardamom.
Lightly beat the egg and divide it in two portions (save the other to wash the buns before baking). Add one portion to the milk mixture, beating carefully.
Mix the dry yeast to part of the flour (about 1-2 dl ) and start pouring to the liquids, whisking to incorporate.
Add slowly the remaining flour (more or less, depending on the dough consistency. Too much flour and the buns will be hard). At last, add the melted butter.
Knead until dough is uniform, smooth and soft.
Place the dough in a large bowl and cover with a damp teacloth. Leave in a warm spot for about 40 minutes until the dough has doubled its size.
When raised enough, remove the dough from the bowl, knead it on a flour-dusted surface, “punching it down” (removes the gas formed during the fermentation). Divide the dough into 20 equal pieces.
Roll the pieces to form balls and place them on baking sheets (I use parchment paper). Let the little buns rise again covered in a warm place for 30 minutes.
Heat oven to 225 °C ( I bake in 220°C)
Brush the buns with egg and sprinkle sugar flakes on top (optional).
Bake in center of oven for 10-15 minutes (till golden brown), remove and let cool on a rack.
To assemble the Laskiaispulla:
Cut the tops of the buns (a “lid”) and using a spoon scoop a bit from inside the bun. Fill the cavity with a spoonful of jam, the crumbs and top with the whipped cream. Close with the “lid”. Dust with icing sugar if desired.
Serve with coffee or hot chocolate ^_^.
This picture is from last year´s Shrove Tuesday. It was taken in a playground nearby and what you see in the middle (kids surrounding it) is called “napakelkka“. Napakelkka is some sort of merry-go-round with a box (or sled) connected to a log of wood that slides in circles when you push it. I am not sure, but it also belongs to the tradition of the Laskiainen.
March 3, 2011
It is bizarre but it seems I always have trouble during this time of the year. I still remember the 2010 Hinamatsuri day… we were going through a very delicate situation here and I was so uninspired I tried hard to make an effort and come up with a Girls´day bento (ah, yea, forgive me the terrible
picture everything) to my little ones.
After all, they ALWAYS deserve a celebration ^__^ ! My girls are usually the main reason I actually do something instead of complaining all the time :P.
Explaining the Hinamatsuri: it is held on every 3rd of March in Japan. Originally it is the “Doll Festival” (hina is doll) but it is also called “Girls´Day”.
The doll set displayed during the event represents the Japanese Imperial House and there are very traditional food to be served in this particular day too (I have none here. Wish I could get some arare.. :P).
Inside the boxes: lettuce, mini plum tomatoes, mini carrots, steamed carrots, edamame, spinach tamagoyaki, grapes, cucumber slices, apple wedges. “Emperor and empress” mini onigiris made with mixed cereal rice, spinach and paprika soy wraps. Details with nori, cucumber and carrot. I had a turkey ham flower that I forgot to put in the bento …
The greeting card you see in the pictures was sent by a precious friend of mine. Written behind, she wishes health, success and prosperity to my little ones. I wish the same to all girls out there too! Happy Girls´Day!