A Cute Little Dessert

Day Eighty-nine/ Ninety:

apples and Nutella sandwiches

Checkered Granny Smith apple and heart Nutella sandwiches

After my late night math class, I rummaged through the fridge for something to eat. I grabbed a Granny Smith apple, some Nutella and bread. I sliced the apple so I could make a light grid on the skin. Using a knife I cut out squares making a checkered pattern. This would be sweet trick to use for a bento. I used a heart-shaped cutter on a slice of bread to make tiny heart sandwiches. A thin layer of Nutella was inside each of them. On a little yellow flower plate, I arranged the apples and sandwiches. A nice little night-time snack before I fell asleep from exhaustion.

My Friday was laid back. I worked on some design projects and posted in my discussions. After my busy week I was glad to say T.G.I.F.

Hunger Games…

Day Eighty-seven/ Day Eighty-eight:

The release of Hunger Games in theaters was very exciting. The commercials had definitely sparked an interest in both of us and we decided to have a movie date following our bento date yesterday. It also happened to be our 1-month anniversary. ♥

Now J-kun told me when we started dating that he would not purchase any concessions since he thinks its a waste of money (and it can be pretty expensive). Well the Hunger Games is a lengthy movie and I was a little hungry. I was going to get a small popcorn, but I only have five bucks. Surprisingly, he grabbed my hand and we headed over to a store in the mall. He found some Orbit Sweet Mint gum (his favorite flavor) and got some change. We ran back to the theater and he bought me the small popcorn. He said I should appreciate the popcorn since he NEVER buys concessions. I smiled and we headed to find a seat.

The movie was really good. We hadn’t read the books, but we understood the majority of the story. A young girl’s sister is selected to participate in the games, but in a moment of shock she volunteers herself to take her sister’s place. There’s some graphic scenes but overall the movie was amazing. I definitely thought the ending was really cool.

We also found a Subway near my house for dinner after the movie. I chuckled when my boyfriend literally put almost every item on his sandwich. The lady making it had a hard time closing the sandwich. Of course, he was the first to finish eating. And I only had a half sandwich! I must eat as slow as my grandma. >.<

If you haven’t seen the Hunger Games, and you’re a fan of romance, thriller and suspense films, I would recommend watching it soon!

Trial and Error: Making My First Bento

Day Eighty-five/ Day Eighty-six:

I’m searching through the cupboards looking for this MIA rice cooker my mom speaks of. “Its silver!” she yells from the other room. I move pots and pans and yell back, “Come look what I found!”

Pulling out a round, white and dusty rice cooker my mom looks over the appliance. She nods that this is what I have been looking for. I snap a picture and send it to my boyfriend. I guess he showed the picture to his mom and she replied, “That is really outdated. But great for American standards.” I laugh so hard I forget that there is no rice to even test this thing out. If it doesn’t work, I will be unable to make the bento tomorrow.

rice cooker

The ancient rice cooker that was hidden in my house

So we run down to the local Uwajimaya and look through the isles trying to find a bag of rice to take home and try out. Now rice usually comes in GIANT bags, like enough for probably a couple months of meals with rice. Well I’m afraid I’ll have to throw out a bunch since I’m not going to be making a bento every day since I only see him once a week. My sister points out to a relatively small bag with a label of five pounds. That should be enough, right? We head towards the check stand and once I get home I start making rice.

Now maybe you guys have a better recipe for preparing the rice before it gets thrown into the rice cooker. I wash the rice two or three times until the water is clean in the bowl. Then I drain the rice and let it sit for thirty minutes. Then I soak the rice in water for thirty minutes and place the bowl in the rice cooker. I hit the only button on my ancient rice cooker and wait for the light to turn off. I try a recipe that says to toast the rice with some soy sauce and add toasted sesame seeds. Let’s just say that didn’t turn out well. I practice with the molds that J-kun selected. The boy-shaped molds just look like ovals so I try using the bear mold which was his favorite when he bought it. Luckily, the bear turns out to be the shape of a bear even though the eyes and mouth don’t imprint well.

My mom and sister are the lucky taste testers of my batch of rice. I want to at least master making plain rice for tomorrow’s bento. I get some mixed reviews, but I decide I’ll be safe if I keep the rice just plain for tomorrow.

******

This morning I got up early to start preparing the rice and start cooking before I had to leave my house. I have a lengthy bus ride to get to the school so I’m crossing my fingers that nothing spoils. I gaze into the fridge and find some plump strawberries and grab a couple bananas. J-kun’s bento is two-tiers and mine is barely one. Seriously I can’t believe how much food I can cram into it when the white dishes fit in the palm of my hand. I start cooking the rice and frying up the potstickers. I look at the clock as I hurry along. I can’t miss my bus or I’ll miss the meeting AND our bento date. I look at the clock again and see that I have about ten minutes before I have to leave.

Quickly I arrange the food and snap a picture of the bentos together. Just in case the bananas turn a little brown or so he can see how it looks before I left. Another issue is the shaky bus. I’m hoping the food is so tightly packed that it will remain in the desired sections. I head for school and cross my fingers.

a homemade bento

Strawberries, bananas, rice and bear-shaped rice balls. I also added some Nutella heart sandwiches to mine.

After the meeting, we head towards an empty classroom. I hand him his bento and these tiny chopsticks. They’re travel chopsticks but they match the bag and his bento so he uses them without any complaint. He says grace and literally starts scarfing the food down. He pats his stomach when he finishes and gives me a quick hug. He’s also designed a rating system with evaluating how it looks, taste and the presentation. He’s a tough critic. My first bento receives a 2.5 out of 5 rating. Even with such a low rating he decides that he now wants to make a bento to see if he can do better. I’m a little nervous since he has morning classes so he’ll have to wake up even earlier to make one for me. I accept his request and give him the bento boxes.

Coffee Cake & Bento Binder

Day Eighty-three/ Day Eighty-four:

My dad was craving coffee cake so I made a small cake from the recipe he typed up when he was my age. The paper is so old and brown you would think he wrote it fifty years ago. He’s not that old. He did type it with a type writer, which I feel sorry for him. If he made a typo he couldn’t just hit the delete key. The recipe is really simple. Mix the flour, baking powder, sugar, butter, and milk together. Then sprinkle brown sugar, cinnamon, and add bits of butter on top. Oh and throw it in the oven for 25 minutes. The coffee cake turned out decent, but I didn’t put enough toppings on since some white areas of batter showed through the top crust.

I also organized my recipes into a tiny green binder my mom brought home. I didn’t think I had too many recipes, but the 0.25″ ring is so full its hard to turn the pages. Still functional though, so I’m glad. J-kun insists on having a bento date soon. He can be pretty persuasive. I guess I’m going to need to pick one of these recipes then. I’m flipping through the recipes and checking the fridge. Great, I really just have American food in the house. J-kun is Asian, so I wanted to see if I could make something he would like. Not just make a PB&J sandwich and cram it into the box.

I also would need to make rice, which is new to me since I really have only seen my family eat rice when we eat Chinese food or Uncle Ben’s rice that you boil over the stove. He asked me if I had a rice cooker. My mom had gotten one from an old co-worker a couple of years ago, but she was unsure where it was. The weekend was quickly ending and I didn’t even have a bag of rice! I definitely will have a busy day tomorrow.

A Short Speech & A Day With Him

Day Eighty-one/ Day Eighty-two:

I’m taking a public speaking class which is basically giving speeches every week in class. I find myself much more comfortable talking with the class than I was back in Week 1. The topic was a personal experience where we talked about something that really made a difference to us. Of course, the experience I chose was my idea to join a competitive swim team my senior year of high school. I haven’t been much of an athletic person, but my friends and a crush convinced me to join the team. The workouts were really intense and I almost was going to quit before the 2 months ended since I was physically and mentally exhausted. A full day of school, two hours of practice or a two hour meet, then at least two hours of homework before bed. Luckily I managed to bulk up and even compete in the first day of the championships.

Obento no nichi….translates to Bento Date 🙂

The speech went over well I think. I was able to answer any of my peers’ questions and my professor smiled on occasion as she jotted notes in the back of the class. The next day my boyfriend wanted to spend most the day with me (I had a math class later). He drove all the way to my house which was really sweet since he lives in a completely different county than I do. We went to see another discount movie which he had already seen sadly. So during the movie if I didn’t catch a part or didn’t understand Holmes’ excited expression, he’d lean over and whisper what I missed. After the movie we talked about the bento (lunch) I would be  making for him. His dream date would be a picnic bento.

He already picked out a bento box and I tried to recreate the box cover design with Adobe Illustrator. The orange of the monkey looks really neon so I’m still trying to work that out. I’m thinking of using it as a cover for the binder that will hold all these bento recipes I take down from my “research” books.

An Impossible Water Heater

Day Seventy-nine/ Day Eighty:

For Date Night this week I went to see Mission Impossible with my boyfriend. I know that its been out for a while, but college students are always trying to find a sweet deal. Near my neighborhood there is a discount theater where movie tickets are only three bucks, the popcorn might be a little salty and burnt, and the movies available have been out for weeks.

I had been known to pick chick flicks, even though I am not much of a fan of romances. I personally like comedy in the sense of poking fun at everyday things. My boyfriend loved the action scenes and who wouldn’t? Tom Cruise does all his own stunts and not many actors can say that.

Today I had to wait around for the water heater people to come check out this ancient water heater at my parent’s house. I think the heater is as old as my sister which means that the water heater was ready to die. Currently we had to run to the water heater to turn on the hot water before we took a shower, did laundry or ran the dishwasher. Unless you wanted dirty dishes, a cold load to wash clothes or a very icy shower. Well the heater was leaking and the maintenance guys gave us a sweet discount since they were already there and happened to have a new water heater in the truck.

After convincing my dad on the phone to get a new heater, they installed it quickly and I had to flush out all the faucets to make sure clean water was running through. That meant I got to see black water shoot out of three sinks plus my shower later that night. I really like the new heater since it doesn’t look outdated like most of the appliances in this house. It’s all up to code and now I don’t have to worry about turning on the hot water to take a shower. 🙂

 

Send off BBQ…Good luck Em-chan!

Day Seventy-seven/Seventy-eight:

One of my friends that I met back in middle school had been with me from 8th grade till the end of my 10th grade year. She had to move since her mom and her new step-dad needed to move closer to work. I had heard about her going to a Send off BBQ when I realized that the BBQ was for her. I really hadn’t talked with Em-chan in two years, so I felt like a really bad friend. I asked if I could go to her BBQ since it sounded like it was mainly family. She invited me and I marked the date on my calendar. I was going to make sure that I could make it.

My friend had been considering joining the Marines for a while I guess, so even though it shocked many people that she told when she was going into boot camp it wasn’t really a surprise for her family. She’s a black belt in Karate, not very tall, and very protective. When I arrived at her house, she screamed “Toko-chan!” and gave me a big hug. I spent almost the whole day with her and another friend that had came as well.

panda, tissues, stationary, Twix

Em-chan’s present. 🙂 I miss her already

The day before I went to the drugstore to get her a present. Even though she said NO GIFTS, I thought it would be nice to get her something since I hadn’t seen her in so long. I picked out a blue bag since blue was her favorite color in middle school. I found some Twix, her favorite candy bar. I found some bright colored paper, plain envelopes and a latex-free pencil. I remembered that she was allergic to latex since when she did dissections she had to wear purple latex-free gloves in Biology. And finally, I had this little panda (her favorite animal) that I had been meaning to give her, but never found a right time. Wrapping up all the items in the bag, she was really happy to see all the little gifts.

I also had some fun playing with her cousin who was five along with her half sister who the last time I saw her she was just a baby. Em-chan and I reconnected and I was sad to go, but I felt bad since my dad was waiting to take me home. He didn’t want to drive all the way home and then back to her house to pick me up and take me back. She lives pretty far, which explains why I really didn’t visit I guess. She’ll be shipping off to boot camp towards the end of this month, so I hope she’ll be able to pass all the hard Marine tests. 🙂

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