Entries in bento box - matryoshka (8)


boom roasted

I have successfully thwarted the Universe's attempt to make me huddle in a corner out of fear and defeat. Apparently, the Universe didn't get the memo that NOBODY PUTS BABY IN THE CORNER. The memo came via a cheesy 80s dance movie so that might be why the Universe missed it.

Anyway, despite an extraordinarily stressful weekend and being very tired on top of it, life is surprisingly in order at the moment. I feel like saying "BOOM ROASTED" after every accomplishment, as in "YOU THINK YOU CAN TAKE ME DOWN UNIVERSE? BRING IT. I WILL GIVE YOU A WEDGIE AND STEAL YOUR LUNCH MONEY AND TIE YOU TO THE FLAG POLE."

The stress came in the form of a catastrophic web server failure sometime Friday, which meant The Hallway, Writer's Cramp, and all my clients' sites were down. Not only did I get everything restored LIKE A BOSS, I still managed to finish the design work for my clients' platform upgrades that I had originally planned to finish Friday, complete the rollout schedule for said upgrade, send out monthly traffic analysis to clients on schedule, and complete and send invoices. BOOM ROASTED.

Not content with website kung-fu, we still managed to stay caught up on or catch up on the various household chores on our to-do list for Saturday: dishes done, laundry folded and put away, downstairs vacuumed, GROCERIES BOUGHT, dinner made. BOOM ROASTED.

And it wasn't even all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy at our house this weekend. We fit in our first game of Pandemic since we bought it, caught up on all of our shows, fit in a day of writing and art, and read several chapters of a new book. BOOM ROASTED.

All of this despite losing an hour of time, and in fact, we got to bed at a reasonable hour TWO nights in a row, like real grownups! Also like real grownups: clothes laid out and bento packed, ready for Monday. Even the browning bananas that were at risk of going to waste got turned into delicious bread, just in time for both tonight and tomorrow when I'll be having a couple of neighbors over for tea. BOOM ROASTED.

Got anything else to throw at me, Universe?

lunch, matryoshka:

  • chicken lo mein (chicken, carrots, onions, green onions, bean sprouts, celery, noodles, secret sauce)
  • peas
  • Sir Not-Appearing-In-This-Bento: Pinova apple

brother-sister weekend ftw

This weekend was a Brother-Sister Weekend, when I was on deck to host Guy for a weekend of wacky fun. Because when people think of me, "wacky" is totally the first adjective that comes to mind.

WE HAD THE BEST TIME YOU GUYS. We unleashed Guy's inner Picasso and marathoned a TV show and stayed up WAY too late both nights playing Zombie Fluxx and Nerts and slept in ridiculously late and ate all the things and and aaaaaaaand it was pretty much the greatest. Also, there was a care package of chocolate, chocolate, and chocolate from Sister as consolation for the package lost by FedEx. Because she is a wise woman who knows that chocolate is the healer of all things.


lunch, matryoshka:

  • stir fry (chicken, broccoli, carrots, onion, collard greens, baby bok choy, garlic, secret sauce)
  • jasmine rice
  • sesame seeds for garnish

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

the sheer force of sky and the cold magnet earth

this is what the first(!) 80 degree day of an extremely cold, wet, and gray year looks likeFriday was so glorious that as soon as the workday was over (which ends early on Fridays because our company is the greatest), I jetted to a little hideaway place of mine with a book and a late afternoon lunchish/snackish bento (see below). This little spot is tucked into a niche of the Columbia River, in a place where there an island splits the river in half. I sneak out there every few weeks if the weather's nice and I've got a good book going.

taken a month and a half ago, back when the river was high at the time, but nowhere near as high as it is now; and randomly, a pirate ship that just sailed pastThe river is super high right now. Past flood stage, actually, though not currently threatening anything and no worry that it will before it finally starts to die back in a few weeks. Very thankful for that, obviously, since it seems so many others haven't been as lucky in other parts of the country. Still, it was amazing to be out there and see how noticeably different it was from the last time I was there just two or three weeks ago.

We spent Saturday with Sister, Guy, and the Fabulous Miss M at their house, us girls knocking about in the gorgeous weather while the boys brewed. Then later time spent together, just together. And food, of course, because that is what we do best. Mouthwateringly grilled steaks, with grilled asparagus and a special treat of a creamy mushroom sauce for the steak thanks to the morels that Guy picked up at the farmers' market and Sal's handy skill with cream, stock, and exquisite fungi. And later, sampling of the very special French artisan chocolates they'd bought in Montana months ago and saved just to share with us. That's love, people.

sometimes snapping a pic of Miss M is like trying to capture wind in a bottleThe weather held most of the day yesterday, but today is back to overcast and intermittent rain, but at least it's stayed a little warmer than it was. Although now that our yard has had a taste of sun and warmth, the weedy chaos is threatening to explode into overgrown catastrophe. We really need to get out there and get the place whipped into shape, but with so few nice days this spring, it's ever so much easier to go for a bike ride or ensconce onself on the porch swing with a book. Which explains why our yard is in the state it's in, and we're no closer to having it done. Sigh.

lunchish/snackish bento from Friday, Lunchbot Duo:

  • parmesan breaded chicken breast pieces on my new picks
  • string cheese
  • carrot and celery sticks
  • raspberries

sweet treat from Friday, matryoshka:

  • honey roasted mixed nuts
  • two chocolate chunk & sea salt cookies

lunch today, laptop lunch:

  • salad greens -- red leaf lettuce, spinach, sprinkling of green onion
  • salad fixins -- carrots, snap peas, radishes, celery
  • a bit of naan
  • chicken sauteed with a bit of salt, pepper, and fresh ginger (leftover from the gyoza adventure a few weeks ago)
  • raisins and honey roasted mixed nuts for the salad
  • dark chocolate covered raisins in the little condiment container
  • on the side: Sal's homemade vinaigrette


title taken from "The Lightning Strike: Daybreak" by Snow Patrol


cooking for charity

The radio silence last week was unintended, just a product of a busy week and lack of bentos, which are one of my prompts for posting. The lack of bentos was due to two different charity lunches, so no need to pack anything.

Tuesday was our team's turn for "Tasty Tuesday" (where one team volunteers to make lunch for the rest of our coworkers, who then donate money to go toward our charities). Our team opted to do a stir fry bar thing, which resulted in a heaping plate of yum. It's great fun, what we do, but each team feels obliged to one up the previous team, so it's become a challenge to come up with a plan.  We do try to do something healthy, but I suspect our next team lunch is going to involve the words "sundae" and "bar".

Thursday, I volunteered with a group of coworkers to serve lunch at the local Ronald McDonald House. (Ronald McDonald House is one of the charities our company partners with (the other being Habitat for Humanity) so we have events like this where employees can donate time, as well as organized fundraisers on their behalf.

It was fun and inspiring to see the house and all the measures they take to make it welcome and homey for the families who stay there. Every room is different because each of the rooms is "adopted" by a company or organization who can then decorate and furnish it in whatever theme they want. The Blazers have a room, of course, and both the the Ducks and the Beavers do, as well. (The Ducks room was occupied while were there, but we got to see the Beavers room.)

And they really go all out with the themes. One room was done in a Lewis and Clark Theme and it included a huge Pendleton blanket on the wall that was a map of the Oregon Territory, as well as a little built-in bench made to look like a canoe. So clever! There were lots of communal spaces to draw people out and promote the sense of community and family, and inspirational stories in every little detail. Just a really great organization all around.

Anyway, we made chicken enchiladas for the families staying at the house, along with a green salad, a fruit salad, and flan for dessert (one of my coworkers makes a killer flan). We did get to eat lunch as well as prepare it, but rather than satiate my craving, it just made me want more. Hence the enchiladas Sal and I made for dinner and the leftovers in today's lunch.

lunch, Ms. Bento:

  • enchiladas: seasoned beef, cheese, red onions, corn tortillas, mole', with some sour cream in the condiment cup
  • mixed wild greens with a bit of dressing in the sauce container
  • Murcott tangerines and part of a Pink Lady apple

I did actually have a bento for last week's Prompt workshop but forgot to post it so I'm including it here. No bento for tonight's Prompt, which is the last one. It's been a fun workshop and a good challenge -- highly recommended to anyone who's interested!

dinner (last week's Prompt), matryoshka:

  • broccoli
  • apple slices
  • carrots
  • crab




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

furry little terrorists

Our cats are going to be the death of us.

They're now 15 years old with no signs of slowing down. The only sign that they're getting older is that they've gotten increasingly needy and demanding, particularly in the last couple of years. Since Hobbes' earlier troubles with urinary tract infections a few years ago, he's learned the power of peeing ouside the box and now wields it like a weapon. Smaug has decided to become assertive in her later years, and has developed a particularly evil one-two punch of strategic peeing (heating vents) and yowling at just the right frequency to curdle both blood and milk. For hours.

Like good parents, we thought perhaps they're trying to tell us something is wrong. But vet visits thus far have yielded little. They're both ridiculously healthy -- which...I mean, obviously we're happy since neither of us can contemplate life without them...okay, one of us can't contemplate life without them -- and with the exception of the usual signs of geriatric(!) cats, tests come up clean. They eat fine and as long as they are the center of attention for the full length of time they deem necessary, are perfectly behaved.

Any change in routine or schedule is likely to result in a destruction of property of some kind, the severity depending on the length of time we're gone, how close it is to feeding time, and probably whether or not Mercury is in retrograde. For example: anything made of paper left out where Hobbes can get to it is inevitably going to suffer shredding when he's displeased about whatever. The morning I came downstairs a half hour later than usual, I was greeted by Smaug's last vet bill in a million itty bitty pieces all over the dining room floor. When I refused to let them into the studio while I was writing, I came out to find the stack of user manuals for appliances that had been temporarily stacked on the credenza now pushed on the floor, their corners systematically chewed and mangled. When Smaug decided that the canned food she'd been eating for four years suddenly wasn't up to snuff, suddenly peeing along the living room baseboard became the the new fun activity of the moment.

And the list of things that cannot be left out unattended continues to grow: blankets, pillows, clothing, shoes, fabric of any kind, loose rugs, plastic bags, dish rags/towels, loose papers, plants, glasses with any liquid, food of any kind (including dishes not completely clean of any food residue), bags, purses, anything that rolls, or magnets. And probably something else I'm forgetting.

To say that they dictate in our household would be an understatement so large it would have its own gravitational field.

lunch, lunchbot duo:

  • maple rosemary chicken breast
  • glazed sweet potatoes
  • steamed broccoli
  • orange sections

snack, matryoshka:

  • molded egg
  • carrots with peanut butter for dipping
  • orange sections
  • 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.