Entries in bento box - french bistro (9)


your perfect chaos is a perfect fit

Today is a post of odds and ends, wee tales of empowerment, quirkiness, and adorableness. Also, food.

A Tale In Which Our Heroine Gets A Sign From the Universe. Literally.

On the way to the store a few weeks ago, there was a handmade sign stapled to a lightpole saying "Go Brittney Go!" An unexpected exhortation to hurry, hurry to the store? Words of encouragement for braving the hordes in the produce section when I got there?

No, just a remnant from the Portland Marathon a few days before (the route brings participants across the bridge and down Willamette, which is the street I was on), one of many homemade signs of cheer and support along the route. This one was on neon pink posterboard and featured stars and glitter.

A little further on, another sign: "Brittney You Go Girl!" I grinned and said to myself, "Yes, Brittney, you go girl!" And then after that, "YOU ROCK BRITTNEY GO GO GO!" I nodded and pumped my fist a little, "Yes, Brittney, you do rock! Go, go, go!"

It was the most empowering trip to the grocery store I've ever had.

A Tale of What Makes This City Uniquely Fabulous

On the way home from that same trip to the store, I saw what would've been the most awesome thing that day, if I hadn't already taken the grocery store errand of champions just before.

In the bike lane on the opposite side of the street, a cyclist caught my attention from a few blocks away, which is saying something, since cyclists are ubiquitous in this city of that's a haven for bike lovers. It wasn't that he was an older man, nor that he was riding an older-style bike that forced him to sit more upright, nor even that he was wearing jeans and a flannel shirt instead of sporting the hipster-biker and/or Serious Biking Enthusiast gear that's more common. No, it wasn't any of those things, because you get used to seeing all types when bikes make up as much traffic as cars do.

What caught my eye was the white fur stole wrapped around the man's neck and shoulders. I kept staring as I got closer, trying to puzzle out this unusual fashion choice. Was it for warmth? It was a gorgeous 70 degree autumn day, so that seemed unlikely. And fur-anything is a rare sight here, the headquarters of Liberal and Vegan and Environmentally And Socially Conscious.

It wasn't until I passed him that I finally realized that it wasn't a fur at all.

It was his beard.

Parted in the middle and thrown over each shoulder.

I wish every trip to the grocery store was that awesome.

A Tale of What's Red and Black and Adorable All Over

Sister reported the following conversation between her and the Fabulous Miss M regarding favorite colors:

Miss M: And Aunt Bitty's favorite color is purple, like me!

Sister: Yes, and yellow.

Miss M: Mommy, what's Uncle Sal's favorite color?

Sister: I think he likes black. And red.

(I was impressed that she remembered that, by the way.)

Miss M: Uncle Sal is a Ladybug Man!

(And now you know why we spoil her rotten. When you're that adorable, it's a requirement.)

A Tale of Bento Catch Up

But not bento ketchup. Although that would be rad.

Super behind on posting bento pics, but there were too many good ones not to feature them here, and also, NEW BENTO BOX WOOT WOOT! In my search for non-plastic boxes, I've finally added a glasslock box called a Wean Green, which is a pyrex type of glass with a locking plastic sealed lid. This one is square and holds 490 mL, so it's a good in-between size with a nice depth. (For the locals: New Seasons sells them alongside the Lunchbots.)

10/15/12 lunch -- Ms. Bento

  • chicken noodle soup made by Chef Sal
  • carrot sticks
  • green beans
  • Cox's Orange Pippin apple with cashews as gap fillers
  • chocolate pudding

10/16/12 breakfast -- pink WeanGreen

  • molded egg
  • cashews
  • Honeycrisp apple
  • cheese cubes


10/16/12 lunch -- bento colors purple

  • King David apple with cashews as gap fillers
  • chicken teriyaki meatballs
  • steamed broccoli
  • carrot sticks with honey peanut butter for dipping


10/18/12 lunch -- pink Natural Lunch

  • chicken teriyaki meatballs
  • steamed carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower
  • molded egg half
  • Anjou pear


10/22/12 lunch -- french bistro

  • crab
  • peas and carrots
  • King David apple with cashews as gap fillers


title from "Get On the Road" by Tired Pony


our usual holiday tradition

Thanksgiving at our house was the usual, which is to say: fun, quiet, and comfortable. And delicious, of course!

It's nice having a "usual" when it comes to holidays, a personal tradition that's familiar and easy, and family (Sister, Guy, and the Fabulous Miss M) to share it with. We've got the menu and preparation down to a science, share around the tasks of cooking and baking and cleaning, and no one has to get up at the ass crack of dawn to put a turkey in the oven. There's mostly playing and relaxing and sleeping, and whole lot of mouthwatering deliciousness.

What we do not do is venture into the Black Friday melee. I mean, the stress of all those people and all those cars and all that stuff is enough to make me break out in hives, but ye gods and little fishes, it's a freaking battlefield out there these days! Pepper spray? Shootings? Trampling and riots? What could possibly be so enticing that you'd literally take your life in your hands to buy it? And don't even get me started on the poor folks who have to work on what should be their holiday, too, just so Shelly Shopper can get a good deal on a cheap waffle maker. Screw them as long as you save $20 on that XBox, eh? I obviously don't get the attraction of the annual free-for-all, and to each their own, I guess, but surely there's a better way?

lunch, French bistro:

  • beef stir fry (tip steak, peppers, onions, carrots, green beans, kale, secret sauce)
  • brown rice
  • kiwi
  • almonds
  • walnuts
  • dark chocolate-covered raisins

This lunch is the result of having cleaned out the fridge and eaten up leftovers in preparation for the feast (and the need for space), and then eaten up (most of) the leftovers from said feast, as well as being at the tail end of our last produce delivery. Which is to say, a tad short on veggies and color, but that should be remedied shortly once I get home tonight and unpack the organics bin that will be waiting on the porch.


father-daughter time

a peek of sunlight on a hidden watterfall and pool at the Japanese GardenMy dad was here for a few days last week for a short but very nice visit. He and Mo are staying at Heceta Head this month doing tours of the lighthouse there, so he came up to spend a few days.

We had such a nice time! He arrived with spectacular timing, just as I was driving up to the house on Tuesday (I went into the office for a few hours for an important meeting) and got a chance to see Sal for a bit before he had to head to work. We visited while running some errands -- which included a salt cellar refill at The Meadow, eliciting the comment, "Who knew there were so many kinds of salt?"...hee! -- and stopped for lunch at Little Big Burger, where he got to try the oh-so-delicious fries with truffle oil.

We celebrated his birthday belatedly with dinner at the school (Dad got to have ling cod for the first time), finally rolling out of there (almost literally) stuffed and pleasantly sleepy. I inflicted our new memory foam mattress topper on him that night, as well. I'd bought it with the intention to make the guest bed a bit more luxurious, but didn't get it ordered enough in advance to give it a chance to air out the vile chemically smell that the manufacturer assured me would dissipate in 24 to 72 hours. Thankfully, a combination of good food, poor olefactory function, and sheer exhaustion made the smell absolutely unnoticeable for Dad, and he reported a very good night's sleep the next morning. So, score!

We spent Wednesday at the Japanese Garden, something I'd wanted to share with him for some time, so I was glad to cross it off the list at last. You know, I've been there many times, at different times of the year, and there really isn't a bad time to visit. And the rain we'd had the day before held off all day, making for a pleasant meander through the different paths and hideaways.

Father-daughter bentos! Mine is in the Lunchbot Duo, his is in the French bistro two-tier. Leftovers, mostly, although we did do molded eggs. Unfortunately, I didn't boil them along enough so they were a bit mangled and too soft to hold the mold shapes.We ate a late lunch nearby at the Rose Garden. Lunch was the bentos we'd packed earlier, comprised of random leftovers -- though you know the magic of bento turns random leftovers into lunchtime largesse. Yes, Dad very gamely agreed to try his hand at packing a bento. No, I did not twist his arm, shut up. (His folly, you see, was expressing interest in my bento lunches after seeing pictures posted here. Everyone else knows not to do this, lest they be cornered with a a show-and-tell of all my bento gear, but he hasn't had an opportunity to learn that so he was like the crippled wildebeast on the veldt that all the other wildebeasts leave behind when the lions show up. He didn't stand a chance, really.)

He was a good sport about staying up way past his usual bed time to see Sal when he got home, and we talked each other's legs off about everything from politics to publishing, grandkids and grandcats, and everything in between. Always hard to say goodbye, but we were sure grateful to get to spend some time together.

lunch, black strawberry:

  • lemon-herb roasted chicken, risotto with mushrooms and bacon
  • green salad (romaine, mushrooms, tomato, olives, cheese, ham) with balsamic dressing on the side
  • yogurt-covered pretzels
  • dried mango
  • dark chocolate
  • dried cherries
  • orange juice in the drink bottle because I have been sick as a dog with a head cold since Thursday night, and I am mainlining Vitamin C liek whoa

daytrippin' at cape disappointment

overlook @ Beard's HollowAnother weekend and we decided it was time for another daytrip. So Sunday, we got up earlier than usual and headed west to Cape Disappointment.

Such a misleading name! It's a gorgeous state park, covering a fairly sizeable area of the southwestern tip of Washington, which makes it a great place to spend a whole day. There are two lighthouses -- each accessible only by a half mile hike -- and trails and beach fronts and overlooks and even a Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center. Even if you didn't set foot out of your vehicle (which would be a shame), the drive alone is beautiful.

I packed us each a bento, which we got to enjoy high atop a cliff overlooking the Pacific. That is something I will never tire of, being able to eat my lunch right there, watching the ocean. The ocean, you guys! That will never stop being amazing to me.

We had to leave earlier than we would've liked to get back in time for our neighborhood potluck (so fun!), but I there might have to be a weekend in Astoria in our near future so we can spend more of the day there.

(more pictures of our trip to come when I get a chance to upload them)


Sunday's picnic, Sal -- blue bunny & moons:

  • Mediterranean grilled chicken
  • orzo salad (orzo, tomatoes, kalamata olives, feta, mint)
  • celery and carrot sticks
  • apple slices and honey peanut butter for dipping

Sunday's picnic, Brittney -- black strawberry:

  • Mediterranean grilled chicken
  • tabbouleh
  • celery and carrot ticks
  • apple slices and honey peanut butter for dipping

today's breakfast, matryoshka:

  • mini blueberry pancakes
  • peach slices

today's lunch, French bistro:

  • Mediterranean grilled chicken
  • tabbouleh
  • celery and carrot sticks
  • peach and apricots slices

it's a hole-in-the-sock sort of day

My day started out behind. I extended the snooze just a little too long, fumbled the cats' food a bit necessitating some cleanup that cost me soem time, and even my hair seemed downright uncooperative. Nonetheless, I managed to mostly catch up by the time I started getting dressed.

But as I put on my black dress socks, I discovered a hole the size of Saskatchewan right smack in the middle of it. Not in the heel or toe, nor even along the top where I've put holes before from being a little too vigorous pulling them up. But right there, smack in the middle of my shin. So weird.

It was fortunate in a way, since it's in a spot that can't be seen. And anyway, I didn't have time to run upstairs and rummage for another pair (where I would've likely pulled out a pair of dark blue ones and then looked like a dork all day). But I sat there for a moment, contemplating whether it was a sign that the deck was stacked against me today and it might just be best to go back upstairs and crawl under the covers.

And that sock seems to be the metaphor for my day: everything looks fine, but underneath, something's a little bit off in a weird way. And even though I know no one else can see it, I know it's there, and it's just going to bug me all damn day until I can get home and dispose of it.

lunch, French bistro:

  • pepperoni and smoked mozzarella in a sun dried tomato wrap
  • steamed broccoli
  • corn
  • dried cherries

fleet week

guided-missile destroyer USS Shoup (DDG 86), taken at the 2009 Rose Festival; U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Maebel Tinoko [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsWith the Rose Parade on Saturday, the military and historic ships started coming in yesterday, with the really big ones coming in today. I didn't see any coming down the river yesterday although I did make it a point to go out on the porch periodically to check. But, I did see the Broadway Bridge go up, so I know there was at least one going by me when I was downtown.

The river is usually about seven feet above normal during fleet week, necessitating some bridge lifts so the bigger ships can pass. This year, however, the river is 17 feet above normal (and still rising), which has meant bridge lifts for pretty much everything, and that's been true even before the fleet started coming in. It's translated into traffic backups all over the place for the last few weeks, which is something you don't really think about until you live in a city of bridges.

I remember last year that the river was abnormally high, and some of the ships couldn't come because they couldn't clear the St. Johns Bridge (which doesn't lift).  The St. Johns Bridge sits 200+ feet above the water, so we're talking about some pretty big ships for no bigger than the Willamette River is. Anyway, the tallest one that they could get through last year just cleared the bottom of the bridge deck by four feet. (And I'll bet they sweated through every inch of that clearance until the ship was all the way through.) I'm guessing they probably had to cancel a lot more ships this year.

The St. Johns Bridge, by the way, was dedicated during the Rose Festival 80 years ago (June 13th, 1931). And that's your fun Portland bridge fact for the day!

lunch, french bistro:

  • omelet/scramble/frittata?...whatever, it's bunch of stuff cooked with egg -- spinach, mushroom, caramelized onions, green onions; a garnish of fresh spinach to eat with it
  • part of a Braeburn apple, with corn as gap filler and more fresh spinach to eat with the egg dish
  • celery pieces (cleaning out odds and ends in the fridge)
  • dark chocolate covered raisins

in these crystal spring mornings, we will fly like birds

This is the view from our kitchen door and back porch to the back patio and yard. I took it late in the morning yesterday, just after one of several heavy rains that happened throughout the day, each followed by a bright burst of sun, although it was so chilly out there I expected to see my breath while I was snapping these pics.

I've mentioned peripherally that spring this year has been totally crazycakes. And by that I mean, totally non-existent. We've had weeks -- nay, months -- of endless rain, rain to an extent that's unusual even for here. But more than that, constant cold and unrelenting gray. Day after day, for weeks and weeks at a go, with only a handful of days where the sun has even appeared, let alone been out long enough to dry things out or warm things up. Maybe not even a handful.

Now, I am completely content in this weather. I love me some spring, and I've missed not having a real spring like I've gotten used to here, but the days and days of rain haven't bothered me. But even I have noticed the just how relentless it's been, how my fellow PNWers, native or otherwise, have slowly gone bugshit as we rolled through April and now into May with it still feeling and looking like February.

More to the point, I can't help but notice how Nature herself has been in a state of suspended animation, waiting for the sun and the warmth to signal it was time to get in gear. In fact, most everything seems to be about two months behind: the lilacs have just started to bud in the last week or so, tulips are only now finishing up, and the azaleas in our rockery still haven't opened up. That is cah-razy, you guys. These are flowers that normally start blooming in March. Mid-April at the latest.

And like all the flowers and trees that seemed to explode at once at the first sign of sun and warmth, everyone seems to burst out onto the streets in manic fits of activity, as if to cram an entire season's worth of spring into a single day. All Summer In a Day, life imitating art.


lunch, french bistro:

  • Niman Ranch ham, cream cheese, and asparagus spears in a sundried tomato wrap
  • snap peas
  • golden delicious apple slices
  • murcott tangerine sections



One day every month at my workplace, we all gather in the big conference room and celebrate that month's birthdays.  There are cards handmade by one of our workmates who does such things, and there is cake and/or pie, unless it's January when everyone's on a New Year's resolution diet of some sort, in which something ostensibly healthy(ier) is served. We do a big rendition of "Happy Birthday", garbling the names of the celebrants at the "Happy Birthday, dear _____" line in a random mix of all the names -- we've never come together and settled on a single thing to say, like "Happy Birthday, dear everyone", probably because it never occurs to us that we should until we're in the middle of the song and then we realize oh crap, we're coming up on that part again.

During these gatherings, we also celebrate that month's anniversaries with a round of applause and a joke or two. Five-year anniversaries are preceded by a small (usually humorous) speech and a plaque to mark the occasion. Five-year anniversaries are few and far between, but getting more common than they used to be. A sign that we're doing better than we were, despite all the challenges in the last few years especially.

April 2nd marked my tenth anniversary at my company. Only the founder of the company has been there longer.

Today was our monthly celebration. For me, there were (purple!) balloons, a chocolate cake with raspberry filling (they know me too well), a (purple) homemade card signed by everyone...even a purple tablecloth. And instead of a plaque, I received a lovely glass sculpture to memorialize this milestone.

This isn't a job I went to school to learn to do, and like most people, it's nothing like what I thought I'd be doing. But I am very good at it, and pleased to work with the people I do, and proud of what we've been building. And on days like today, I'm reminded why I'm still here after ten years.

...and just to add a little dash of excitement to the whole affair, we had to evacuate the building not long afterward due to a suspected gas leak. It lent an air of mardi gras to the afternoon, particularly when the fire trucks showed up with sirens blaring and cars slowing by on the street to gawk. We were lucky to have a sunny, not-too-chilly day (which, considering the very cold, very wet, and very gray spring, is a minor miracle in iteslf) and giggled as we all took out our cameraphones to snap pics of the firetruck ladder going up. Because we are all secretly twelve years old. Happy Anniversary.

breakfast, matryoshka:

bento, French bistro:

  • Pad Thai (takeout leftovers from Saturday night) with chives for garnish
  • carrot sticks with a bit of rapini (aka broccoli raab)
  • Pink Lady apple, kiwi half, and more rapini
  • dark chocolate covered raisins

new boxes + family fun = happiness

There are many things to be excited about today, but two things that are bummers. Bummer the first: I was sick yesterday and still don't feel so great. Well, sick-ish. Not full-blown sick, but just kind of meh and I figured that was A Sign. I still feel sort of meh, but knew if I didn't get into the office today to at least simmer down some fires, it'd be a full blown conflagration in no time. My job title should really be "firefighter".

Bummer the second: New Seasons will stop doing grocery deliveries in a couple of weeks. This is totally a first-world, problem, I realize, so I hesitate to use such words as "devastated" to describe how I feel about it, and yet.... It's only because of New Seasons' delivery that we have had food in the house for like, the last seven years. The thought of having to somehow fit regular trips to the store into our crazy schedule just makes me want to curl up in a fetal position.

Onward to the good things! Firstly...new bento boxes! I updated the Bento Gear page so you can see all the specs on both of them. Because of no bento yesterday, and they're both smallish, I'm using them both today for a kind of early lunch/afternoon snack combo. Aren't they delightful?

lunch, french bistro:

  • ham, Cotswold cheese, in sun dried tomato wraps
  • carrots and snap peas
  • my famous potato salad -- potatoes (those small creamer potatoes from the bin), dill, oil, apple cider vinegar, with some fresh chives for garnish

snack, matryoshka:

  • two molded eggs (haven't seen those for awhile!) and a couple of snap peas for garnish
  • tangerine
  • cherry decadence trail mix
  • sea salt for the eggs in the small container

The other good thing...a wonderful, fun-filled and inspirational weekend with Sister for a Girls' Arty Weekend, in which we shopped 'til we dropped and made big messes with paint and crayons and glitter, oh my! Because we are secretly twelve, she brought her allowance, I brought my birthday money, and we proceeded to fill bags and bags with art supplies.

She came up right after work on Friday and we hightailed it over to Collage to get a headstart on the shopping. Then on to Pizza Fino, where, despite 40 minutes on the waiting list, the delicious meal that followed more than made up for the wait.

Saturday, we stopped across the street from the art store for a quick bite and coffee/hot chocolate at Caffe Umbria. Then it was on for a tour of the wonderousness of Utrecht, where I proceeded to give her a tour of all the different kinds of mediums and tools. AND! She bought her very first acrylic paints! A basic color theory set, along with a starter set of brushes, palette knife, gesso, and gel medium. (And other things, too, of course.) And later that night, we did a little tutorial on the basics of acrylics and then I just set her loose and she's officially in love with acrylics now. SCORE!

Their inventory sufficiently decimated by our shopping spree, we headed over to SCRAP. For those unfamiliar: it's a non-profit that takes in donated (mostly used) items to be used for arts and crafts and sells them for cheap, cheap, cheap. They have everything -- fabric, yarn, thread, paper (omg the paper), paints, crayons, pictures, tiles, calendars, old books, old electronics, old craft kits, glass...well, you get the idea. They take a lot of stuff that isn't even art supplies, but that artists end up turning into something really cool.) I thought poor Sister's little head would go kaplooey at all the stuff to see and look at. Many things are sold by the handful (ex. crayons are 25 cents a handful) or by the inch (old photos are 10 cents an inch, meaning how high your stack is. I get a lot of ephemera there for my mixed media collages and art journal, because I can walk out with a bag full to the brim and only have spent 5 bucks. Oh SCRAP how I adore you!

thanks to birthday money from my momSo here was my haul for the day:


  • new set of acrylic alphabet stamps (most expensive item I bought there)
  • 2" alphabet stencil pack
  • 3 gel-ly roll pens (white, purple, black)
  • 1 blue Tombo dual marker (forgot to include it in the pic)
  • 1 pink Sharpie paint marker (also forgot to include it in the pic)
  • 5 little wooden stamps (including one of a grasshopper for Miss M) that were on sale


  • a set of 4 black PITT pens with different tips, which I've wanted forever
  • a set of technical/design pencils (5B to 5H) -- for sketching, especially working on faces
  • a tube of dioxazine purple acrylic paint -- I have a good range of colors now and of course can mix purple, but I use so much of it that it's just easier to have this one as its own tube
  • a tube of alizarin crimson acrylic paint -- same as above
  • a new offset oval palette knife with a nice wooden handle -- I have my old straight palette knife but I'm doing so much work at table level rather than on an easel that having an offset knife is useful
  • a wee (like 2" high) wooden easel to use for my business cards at work :)


  • two metal printing plates from an old greeting card maker (SO COOL OMG)
  • a large acrylic stamp w/block (I don't care about the stamp, just needed the block part)
  • a partially used white pigment stamp pad
  • some random thermal set letters from an old print shop
  • a big handful of used stamps cut from envelopes (10 cents per handful!)
  • a big assortment of photos and promo cards, various sizes
  • an old slide of a lakeshore
  • a negative sheet of random photos
  • an old sheet music booklet (sonatas and concertos, mostly)
  • a vintage women's jacket and skirt set sewing pattern for collage backgrounds
  • a set of 10 transparencies from an astronomy teaching book
  • 4 random upholstery fabric swatches
  • a small bit of really pretty rainbow yarn
  • a small ball of ugly orange/yellow/brown yarn (I wanted something that I didn't care about the color, since it gets covered with paint and glue to use as texture for a collage background)
  • a small stencil with two stars on it

We spent the rest of Saturday happily creating our little hearts out in the studio, then a late night viewing of Tangled, which she hadn't seen yet (WHAT), and then when we were headed to bed, got sidetracked with more fun in the studio. Hee. After pancakes the next morning (made for us by Sal), it was time to bid her adieu. Goodbyes are never fun, but I'm so, so thankful that we get to do these weekends, and that Guy and Miss M and Sal are so accomodating to make them possible. In other news: Best. Family. Ever.