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Christmas Gift Bento and Happy News

Christmas is a week away and my to-do shopping list is just as long as it was last week. *slaps forehead* This weekend I will get it all done, seriously! Baby Girl has been getting increasingly crabby at nights because of lack of naps at school and such, which means she’s been throwing tantrums and barking at her poor mother-slave. As a result, I’ve put the Santa Threat into full gear and boy does it work.

She was pissed at me for not letting her eat a candy cane, so I said it was time for her bath, which infuriated her. When I said she wasn’t getting any gummy vitamins for throwing a fit, it infuriated her further. Eventually it escalated to the point where I couldn’t touch her without her slapping me and screaming at me. This has led me to believe that I should write a book called, “Things to Know Before Having Children”. Possible chapters include:

Chapter 1: Choosing the Right Earplugs
Chapter 2: Don’t Be Fooled, Children Can Kick Your Ass
Chapter 3: Tying Your Children Up is Bad
Chapter 4: Defense Against the Dark Ages (2+)

And so on… I’d become rich, I know it. I ended up telling her that I was leaving the bathroom to go get my phone so I could call Santa and tell him that he could leave the Barbie doll at the workshop. She starts shrieking at the top of her lungs, “HOW DO YOU EVEN KNOW HIS PHONE NUMBERRRRR…” Well, girlie, I’ve got my sources. Anyway, she calms down pretty fast. Thanks, Santa!

I was wondering if today’s theme was too obscure, but Jenn got it right away and assures me that anyone who works in an office will get it immediately. Do you know it? Guess before the jump!

I’ve been wanting to do a Christmas present bento for a while now and figured that since I might not do any more bento for the rest of the season, I should get it done today. Have you gotten it yet? It’s a white elephant gift! If you’ve never done one of these at your office party, you really should convince people to do one next year. You basically bring an unused but unwanted gift from your home, wrapped and ready to re-gift. This year I got a nice picture frame cube and a set of steak knives.

I cut out the elephant with a new set of cutters that I’ve had waiting for a while. I found them one day at Marukai Zakka and they were pretty pricey. I’ll get a photo of it during the break when I have more time. It came as a set of six and had things like a pig, a cat, the elephant, and some other animals. He’s such a cutie, I think it was worth it already!

I started by making the ribbon from egg substitute and potato starch. I wanted a dark red ribbon, so I had to add a ton of food coloring to this, but mostly because I added way too much egg to my bowl when I started. I ended up with enough egg mixture to make three omelets, which was good because the first one was too light. The second one stuck to the pan because I forgot to re-oil. (#&$^%) The third came out the best, so I used that one. The leathery texture probably looks gross to some people though.

I made the onigiri with frozen rice that I nuked in the microwave and then formed with my hands. I lined the bento box with a green leaf lettuce leaf, put the onigiri in, then added the ribbons after cutting strips off the omelet. Grandma J had made turkey croquette the other day, so I re-fried one to a golden brown, then cut it in half and placed it in at the top. I cut out the elephant and placed him in the freezer until all the food cooled down.

The broccoli and carrot sticks went in last. I topped the broccoli with grated carrot to add more color, sliced an imitation crab stick in half, then added the Rudolph pick, topped the ribbon with the elephant, and done!

Now on to the happy news part… I’ve been dropping hints like crazy about this, so I’m sure some of you already knew, but I officially get to confirm it now. Woohoo!

Earlier this year I was contacted by Quirk Books (publisher of the wildly popular Pride and Prejudice with Zombies) about doing a charaben bento book. After looking at the quality of their books and talking to an editor, I decided to do it. They paired me up with Makiko Ogawa (you may know her as luckysundae on Flickr) and in September, she vacationed in Hawaii with her family so we could do my half of the photo shoot. She’s the “bento buddy” I’ve been mentioning lately. She’s the nicest lady and I learned so much from just a few days with her.

After almost a year of planning and hard work, the book is almost ready to go to print and a few bento savvy people may have already seen the book title popping up on bookstore websites. The book will be called Yum-Yum Bento Box: Fresh Recipes for Adorable Lunches. You can see information on it in Quirk’s Spring 2010 Catalog, but the cover will be changing, as many of those lunches didn’t make it into the book. Plus, our editor noticed that none of my lunches were on it. D:

I’m gunning up the social networking engine now, so feel free to become a fan of the book on Facebook and follow our Yum-Yum Bento Twitter as well. The book is set for release sometime in the Spring, likely around early June. Stay tuned for more updates on it!