Do you bento?

As many of you know, Leigh of She’s Crafty is devoted to the bento concept.

This school year, I started sending bento lunches with my kids to school. Unlike Leigh, I can’t seem to get myself enough together in the morning to make lunches AND take photos. Today, however, I thought I would share a few of my methods.

I use two-tiered bento boxes for the kids. The second tier has a clear lid, should you choose to put a sandwich in it! (That lid isn't shown here.) The green and blue things are bendable muffin holders. I use them to keep food in its place.

Lettuce and cucumbers, which are in the shapes of stars and flowers. I have several veggie/fruit punchers that make food look pretty!

In the second tier, rather than a sandwich, I included grapes and ranch dressing. The ranch is for the lettuce and cucumbers.

I should mention here that these bentos fit nicely into retro standard-size lunchboxes, allowing me to include other items, like the yogurt above. On this day, the kids also each had Chef Boyardee in a thermos.

In the end, this lunchbox held a thermos of Chef Boyardee, a two-tiered bento with lettuce, cumcumbers, grapes and ranch AND a container of yogurt AND a juice box. I place the napkin on top, hoping the kids will take the hint.

This morning, I used the top tier of the bentos for roast beef sandwiches. The kids love my many sandwich cutters. This is Tootie's. The E-man had a train. I also sent yogurt, cashews & sunflower seeds and cans of V-8 Infusion Vegetable & Fruit Juice.

And that wraps things up here. Now head over to Leigh’s blog, where you can browse her weekly Bento Mondays!

My volcano runneth over

“What were you thinking?” Hubs mouthed at me as the E-man exclaimed over his last birthday present: a Star Wars volcano.

“Are you kidding? He loves it!” I said later, as we picked up the wrapping paper.

I smiled smugly.

Hubs just shook his head.

Pretty cool, no?

That night, my spouse conducted the first suggested experiment involving our new volcano. As lava spilled down the sides, the children shrieked gleefully.

“See? I told you it was a great idea,” I said.

Hubs just shook his head.

The next night, little E-man wanted to try to next experiment listed in the instruction booklet.

Hubs groaned.

“I’ll do it,” I declared. “Come on, kids.”

Within five minutes, I’d spilled baking powder all over our antique diner-style kitchen table. Then vinegar.

Undeterred, I plunged a dropper into a bottle of red food coloring.

“Oh, s**t!” I shrieked, as dye poured over the edge of the bottle, coating both of my hands.

Hubs raced over, saw the red pool spreading on the table and announced, “I’m taking this one over.”

As I scrubbed — to no avail — in the bathroom, I heard more cussing.

Hubs, it turned out, had spilled the yellow food coloring.

I held out my stained hands and did a Lady Macbeth impersonation.

He wasn’t amused.

Thus entailed a half-hour of scrubbing: the table, the kitchen floor and our hands. The table and floor cleaned up fine. I can’t say the same for our hands.

I found some success using Hubs’ facial exfoliating scrub. He tried Comet.

Despite all our efforts, we both went to work the next day with bizarrely colored hands.

“At least yours are red!” Hubs wailed. “All this yellow makes the red on mine look pink!”

Further adding to his indignity was the fact that after the “volcano incident” (as we now call it), I had put the volcano, which was leaking lava, in the shower.

So when Hubs emerged from the stall, his feet were spotted.

This morning, as he left with the kids, he turned around and thrust out a booted foot.

“Know what that is?” he asked, pointing to a yellowish-brownish splotch.

“Dog poop?”


And as the door swung shut, I heard his parting words: “I told you it was a bad idea.”

Girl Scout Cookie Drop

At 8 a.m., a semi stuffed with cookies rolled up to the Fisher Armory.

Guardsmen used a forklift to unload cookies. They deposited each pallet of cookies in a designated area.

Girl Scout leaders were assigned a cookie type. For example, I was a Do-Si-Do, which meant that I stood in the Do-Si-Do area. Whenever a pallet was deposited there, I and my fellow Do-Si-Dos arranged the cases 5 high and 10 deep.

Several kind guardsmen helped us. It was quite fun, watching them sling cases through the air.

We removed the cookies from their pallets and began stacking them.

And the stacks grow higher ...

When your husband is the photographer, you're bound to appear in some of the photos. At least he didn't shoot me from behind, bending over .

After the cookies were neatly stacked, we drew troop numbers. The first four went to their stations, armed with a list of the cookies they ordered. Then we all scurried to bring them cases of their cookies.

After the cases were signed for and loaded into vehicles, another troop would head to that station and begin filling its order.

A big thank-you here to Hubs, who came back to help me get all of the cases home. After lugging all of those cases inside, this is what my hallway looked like:


The cookies have now gone to other homes, thankfully, allowing me to reclaim my hallway.

But if you see a cute little Brownie selling cookies at a Wal-mart, Kroger or Lowe’s, make sure you buy a few boxes. Because I’m sure HER mother also would like to reclaim her home!

Mouthwatering Monday: Greek Chicken Pitas with Tzatziki

It’s been awhile since I posted one of these, but this recipe is too good not to share!

I found it at Cooking with Sugar. It takes a bit of time, but it’s totally worth it!

Greek Chicken Pitas with Tzatziki Sauce


3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons butter
2 pounds chicken breast sliced into 1-inch pieces
Tzatziki Sauce (recipe below)
6 Pita breads

Tzatziki Sauce Ingredients
1 small cucumber, diced (remove seeds or use seedless)
5 cloves of fresh garlic chopped
1 tablespoon fresh mint (optional)
2 tablespoons freshly chopped dill leaves (if you don’t have fresh, used dried)
1 container (8-ounce) sour cream or plain greek yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Chopped romaine lettuce (about 3 cups)
1 tomato, chopped
1 medium onion, thinly sliced

Tzatziki Sauce:
If you have a food processor, put garlic, cucumber, dill and mint in the processor. Pulse to chop fine and then put in medium size bowl. Add sour cream, lemon, salt and pepper. Be sure to taste to see if it needs more salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use. This can be made hours or even the day before.


In a large bowl, whisk together the first 10 ingredients for the marinade, Add the chicken and toss to coat. Cover and let marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight in the refrigerator. If you let it marinade over night leave out the lemon. You can add it right before you cook it the next day.Heat a large skillet over high heat, add butter. Remove the chicken from the marinade and add to the hot pan. Stir fry the chicken until it is browned and cooked through, about 6-8 minutes. (Note: I doubled the marinade to accommodate some monster chicken breasts!)

Grilled Pita Bread:

Spray frying pan with Pam over medium heat and add pita breads, one at a time and brown each side.

To Assemble:

Put a grilled pita onto a plate, top with some cooked chicken, lettuce, tomato, onion and some tzatziki sauce. Or just put out the ingredients and let everyone make their own.

Did they eat it?

Oh my, yes! I could eat the tzatziki all by itself and be perfectly happy. Yum. Definitely include the mint! I’m also adding Cooking with Sugar to my blog reader!

Photo by Cooking with Sugar

For more Mouthwatering Mondays, drop by A Southern Fairytale!

Babies, Brownies and Birthdays!

Oh, wow. Where to begin?

Friday, my best friend Amy gave birth to a precious little girl named Josie Mae. Yes, I have photos, not just of wee Josie, but all of those who will be described in this post, but well … it’s Sunday night. And the weekend has been so crazy-busy-wonderful, I haven’t had time download all my crazy-wonderful photos.


Little Josie arrived on Friday, the day after my own sweet girl turned 8. I must congratulate Amy on her timing. Not only are February babies the best (says the mama of two February babes), but given the age difference, Amy has ensured herself and husband Walt years of babysitting.

My Tootie is absolutely chomping at the bit to meet little Josie. I’m predicting a sweet big-girl-little-girl relationship here and now.

Saturday, my Brownie troop participated in the Girl Scouts’ annual Thinking Day, which is when we remember our fellow Girl Scouts in other countries.

Saturday night, four little girls came over to our house to celebrate Tootie’s birthday. Three spent the night. While we’ve had many a sleepover, this was our first slumber party, and I was delighted by how well it went.

Yeah, I’m suffering from a bit of sleep deprivation, but the girls got along well. There was no fighting, no midnight drama, no little girl begging me to call her mommy so that she could go home. Instead, I have some precious memories and equally precious photos, which I will share tomorrow.

Not among the pleasant memories is the one of pouring peroxide down my Aussie puppy’s throat in an effort to make her throw up after she consumed a few of the E-man’s leftover grapes — which can be toxic to dogs. (So can raisins, in case you didn’t know.) Anyway, as the girls danced to Selena Gomez, I was in the kitchen attempting to make my dog puke up grapes. Which she did (outside) after I chased her round the kitchen with peroxide.

Ah, puppies. So cute, but so troublesome!

Today (Sunday), I made my second visit to the hospital to see Amy and Walt and Josie. It was a relaxing (OK, for me) evening spent snuggling a newborn and chatting with the new parents and their family.

So yes — hectic weekend. But oh so lovely!

I promise, photos of everything I just described tomorrow!

Slipping through my fingers

Eight years ago today, I lay in a hospital bed, marveling at the tiny being next to me.

My first-born, my little girl, my love.

We were inseparable that first year. And still, even now, she loves to cuddle and snuggle and  curl herself around me.

Tomorrow, my friend Amy will give birth to a baby girl. And a few years from now, I’m sure she, too, will listen to this beautiful, poignant song and weep.

Dear Dad:

I have to admit that as a teenager, I was skeptical when you made me drive on icy snowy roads.

“You need to learn how to drive in these conditions,” you said calmly as I careened along the roadways.

At the time, I thought it odd, given that we lived in central Texas.

These days, I am profoundly grateful. Those lessons have served me well, from the year I spent in the Panhandle to the 10 I’ve been in Arkansas.

So here’s my advice to parents of teens: Get them out there and let them practice in a safe area. They will thank you later.

More snow, oh no!

This time, in anticipation of yet more snow (ugh), I’ve stocked the pantry and fridge with all the makings for comfort foods. Tonight, we’re having pot roast, mashed potatoes and rolls. Tomorrow it’s turkey, stuffing, broccoli casserole and cabbage. Also picked up a bottle of Chocovine. Am calling it my emergency ration.

As for keeping the kids entertained: Obviously, I’ll be forced at some point to play in the snow. Again, I’m the fun, summer parent. I like sunshine, hanging out at the pool and hitting our state parks. Snow? Meh. I don’t like being cold AND wet.

But I also bought their Valentine’s Day cards for school. That should keep them busy for awhile. We’ll also be making chocolate-chip cookies and drinking hot chocolate.

So — what are your plans for survival?

ice + klutz = disaster

I’m pretty paranoid when it comes to ice.

Not driving on it.

WALKING on it.

I’m not known for being a graceful person. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tripped or fallen with no easily identifiable cause.

I once went airborne on Beale Street, prompting a co-worker to holler, “What are you doing?!” as he tried to pull me off the sidewalk. Yes, I was stone-cold sober. No, there didn’t appear to be anything in my path that would have caused such a stumble.

A few years ago, worried that my elderly dog wouldn’t be able to navigate the ice on our deck, I went outside with her to help her down the stairs from our deck. She did just fine, thankyouverymuch.

I, on the other hand, shot across the deck on my stomach.

I managed to roll myself over, but couldn’t get up due to a lack of any sort of dry surface that would offer traction.

I yelled several times for Hubs, and, finally, he materialized in the doorway.

And laughed his ass off.

Hubs reached out, pulled me to the door, and hoisted me to a standing position. Quite a feat, given that the man was in hysterics.

So yeah, all this snow and ice makes me, well … antsy.

But if you were the girl who once injured a shoulder after tripping on a freaking stepping stone, you’d be just as leery, I promise.