Hikari's Food/Japanophile and Other Interesting Stuff blog

Shpadoinkle! – Aladdin Drinking Bottle Love!

Yes, I know, Shpadoinkle! was supposed to be weekly… but I don’t have the cash to go buy something cool all the time and my cabinets are already full of shtuff… So from now on, it’s just occasionally.

I know I’ve posted before about trying to find a good drinking bottle. I don’t like the metal ones and the glass ones are just trouble waiting to happen. Thus, I tend to rely on plastic. However, I don’t like paying exorbitant amounts of cash on said water bottle. What’s too much for me? Usually anything over 10-15 bucks. Yeah, I know, I’m a cheapskate.

I also don’t like my water bottles to leak. This is a problem as most of the cheapo water bottles out there DO leak. I’m not even gonna get started on the sanitation issue of the ones with the folding straws… Eww…

But most of my prayers were answered a couple of weeks ago during a trip to Wally World, AKA Wal-Mart. What did I find?


This beauty, for only $5 and in a variety of colors! I was actually torn between blue and purple.  It’s only 18 ounces and is much larger than a normal water bottle of that capacity, but it’s nice and thick, so it can take a pounding. Also, the removable top part is EXCELLENT!


Pouring anything in there is super easy and I can freeze a cupful of juice for a giant ice cube. There’s a nice rubber seal around the top part that prevents it from leaking and the top cap is also excellent.

I also think these would be great for tumbler bento, which have been popping up here and there.

Hmmm… maybe I should go back and get that purple one after all…

Shpadoinkle! 4 out of 5 baked potatoes… only because it holds 18 oz. considering its size. Woulda gotten 5 otherwise… Sorry no graphic, my pix are on a computer currently undergoing surgery.


Post-Easter egging and the Giveaway Winner!

Hello, all! First off, let’s see what my Japanese friend and I came up with during our Easter egg-decorating spree!

Not one, but TWO sets of double yolks!

Not one, but TWO sets of double yolks!

After I share not one, but TWO double yolks with breakfast the other day. Lucky!

Can you tell which were mine and which were hers?

Now on to the Giveaway Winner!

We had 4 entries, and the winner is:

Lucky Number Four!

Lucky Number Four!

Eclectic Lamb! Congratulations! Remember there will be all sorts of extras packed in as well.

I will send you an email to iron out shipping specifics. I will go pick out your brand new Furoshiki tomorrow, based on the bento preferences in your blog! Talk to you soon, ~Hikari




Creative Bento Strap: Repurposing hair ties (and a Reader Appreciation Spring Giveaway!)

Hi all, long time no post! At least not a real one. Well to make up for it, we have a two-fer.

First, the bento strap: You know what these look like, they’re those elastic, rubber or silicone straps that cost way too much and hold your lunch together.

The usual suspects

The usual suspects

My solution: Has anyone else seen this done? I poked around on the internet, but since most search engines are practically useless, I rely on you, the readers.

I can't believe no one's thought of this yet! Or at least posted it on the internet.

I can’t believe no one’s thought of this yet! Or at least posted it on the internet.

Here we go, easy bento strap with those hair ties called pom-poms or whatever. (You could also maybe use those rubber bracelets? (the thin round ones, not the wide inspirational kind)


I thought of this a while ago, as I had an enormous package of hair elastics and made a rope of them. Then I wondered: how can I link them together to form a big circle? This led to the bento strap idea, as I had considered making some nice ones for my bentos. You know, with wide elastic and maybe some cute character made of felt. But I digress.

I had remembered seeing many of those ball-and-elastic type hair ties just a few years ago, so they shouldn’t be that hard to find, right? Wrong. Dollar tree, no. Wal-mart, no. (Although a friend told me I was looking in the wrong spot) Rite-aid or Walgreen’s, no. grumpyno Luckily, I stopped by a family owned dollar store and found these! Woot! My star ones were there too, but I already have pix of those.

Multiple colors, and even butterflies? I wonder how well the fuzzy ones would work...

Multiple colors, and even butterflies? I wonder how well the fuzzy ones would work…

So, how do you actually make it work? Well, if you’ve never made one of these chains, here’s the scoop.

tying it1

Just pull one tie through another, loop it through itself and pull!

tying it 2

When it’s long enough, just loop the hair tie through, wrap the whole thing around the bento and attach! You can stop here,


Or pull the second bauble up to loop around the first. What’s great is they slide on the elastic, so they don’t have to get in each other’s way.


I like this because it’s completely adjustable. Too big, remove one. Too small? add one! I also found this idea for decoration using a brooch.

Any kind of large enough pin, brooch or button will do!

Now, on to part 2!

It’s spring, I’ve got a week before having to go back to classes for my last quarter in University. I’d like to give my readers some appreciation, as my blog has been relatively steady in it’s viewership. What shall I do? How about a nice giveaway? Would you like one of my hair-tie bento straps? How about a bento start-up kit?

I’m giving away one starry hair-tie set, you pick the color: Orange, Clear or Blue. It will come with four clean, unused, matching color hair ties, like in the picture. I will also include a starter bento kit with all you see here: (plus some other small things like a small box I forgot to take a picture of, maybe some miso paste if you like that, or some candy, whatever I feel like throwing in there towards the end, when the package is being put together.) (^_^)

We have: some picks, some cups, a couple of sauce containers, silicone and paper side-dish cups.

We have: some picks, some cups, a couple of sauce containers, silicone and paper side-dish (cupcake) cups.

PLUS!: One furishiki (Bandana size) for wrapping your lunch. I don’t know what it will look like as I will be buying it after the winner is chosen because I don’t want to give someone a used cloth (seems kinda rude). If you like you can tell me your preferences and I’ll keep it in mind when picking one from what’s available.

What to do: Just comment below, note the star color preference, what kind of cloth you’d like, and… what’s your favorite thing to have for lunch? You can also comment on Facebook and that will count as an entry as well.

On Monday, April 1st, (NO April’s Fools joke!) I will use a random number generator to decide the winner. The winner will be contacted via email for shipping details.

Good luck everyone, thanks for reading, and feel free to share!


*Edit update – Just to let you know: If you’re a blogger, your posts will help me choose the proper cloth to send you. For instance, if you have a favorite box or if you absolutely adore cute things, that will be taken into account when I pick one out.

*Winner Update!: The official Winner was #4, Eclectic Lamb. Congratulations!


“Salad Burger with Chicken” -or how to pack a salad in a burger shaped bento box-

Yeah, I know, not one of my most creative titles, but it can’t be my worst, right?

This was actually from last week, but I couldn’t find time for a mid-week post.

It’s the return of the Burger Bento! This time, I wanted a salad.

It was interesting seeing how much lettuce would fit in the lower part and still be able to clamp it all together.

It was interesting seeing how much lettuce would fit in the lower part and still be able to clamp it all together.

This was quite simple and I was able to use all the layers in my container. Sliced chicken in the “meat” section, bagged salad in the “bun” and some carrot sticks and grape tomatoes for color over in the “lettuce”. I had a package of ranch dressing, but I added some homemade shiso dressing in that little carrot container as well for a vinegary kick.

Poor Mr. Chickie, he had to ride solo on this adventure, at least until lunchtime. Then he met his friends again!

Poor Mr. Chickie, he had to ride solo on this adventure, at least until lunchtime. Then he met his friends again!

Hey, what’s that extra chicken doing in there? Yup, been craving boiled eggs, decided to make a few and this is how I tell them apart in the fridge. It’s easy with some markers.

One problem, though… He didn’t fit! I ended up carrying this guy separate or he would have cracked under the pressure.

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Return of the American Bento, Part 4 (Dollar madness)

So I put lots of hard work into my American Bento series, looking at the options, considering the cost, etc. But it’s a new year and I just can’t ignore some of the new additions that my local dollar store has to offer! Don’t worry, boys and girls, this is a national chain, so if you live in the USA, you should be able to find these too!

(Pardon my pictures, I used my phone.)

First, here are the seasonal offerings:

These cute boxes are small enough to fit into a bento. They are similarly sized to the Christmas gum cases I found except much deeper..

Valentine Heart Boxes

Valentine Heart Boxes

I have seen a couple of grocery stores offer different varieties of these, including a see-thru red. Feel free to shop around!

Another lovely seasonal offering: this cupcake set with the reusable plastic picks serves two purposes: Side dish segregation and food picks! (or you can just make cute cupcakes, your option!)

More than just cupcakes!

More than just cupcakes!

There were some Easter items already out, but not much interested me except for the Easter eggs, which included the bunny-eggs from a previous post.

Now, we’ll move on to the new offerings that are not holiday-specific. A whole load of colorful offerings came in at the beginning of the year!

Cute, small and colorful icy goodness

Cute, small and colorful icy goodness

These have been in stock before, but I haven’t seen them in a while. I got the fruit-shaped kind and I think the orange slice and grape shapes are just right to squeeze in between items to help keep them cold!

Lots of lovely shapes!

Lots of lovely shapes!

I normally like to eat my sandwich with the crust on, but these cutters can help make your lunch more shapely!


Containers, containers and more containers! of almost every shape and size! Above: The dip container comes with a color-matching lid, the snack containers have a locking lid, and the square container has a cooler pack built right into the lid! (That’s why there’s cardboard in there, to keep the pack from falling out during shipping. It actually snaps in pretty tight.)


Sorry for the blurry shot!

These containers all have locking lids. I got the sandwich sized one for myself, but the other containers are deep enough for using as a lunch box!

Drink and snack all-in-one!

Drink and snack all-in-one!

I thought this water bottle was just awesome for someone who just needs a drink and a snack on the go. The folding spout helps prevent spills and the snacks hide in the bottom! I like hidden compartments!

While that’s all for the newest offerings, there’s still more! Next, onto the Disney section!

disney combo

Yes, they own Marvel now, too!


Remember, sandwich cases don’t need to be for sammiches! crackers and cheese, trail mix, fruit, even a couple of onigiri can be stored in there for later. Maybe even throw in a couple of those ice cubes, too!

If you’re looking for cute but not Disney themed, look no further:

Lotsa Colorful Critters!

Lotsa Colorful Critters!

These containers are great for a small lunch and a snack! the small double packs on the left can be found in all the animals the lidded containers can be found in, as well as the plates.


If you like the portable utensils but don’t want to flash a brand around, try these. I bet that case can even hold an Oshibori! They also have lots of cute Magic Washcloths too!

Speaking of oshibori, I found a good deal on some toothbrush holders that should fit a full-size washcloth just fine.


Just as long as you don’t mind the toothbrushes that go with them!

I've seen other styles available, but these are C.U.T.E.

I’ve seen other styles available, but these are C.U.T.E.

Don’t want to use little ice cubes to keep your lunch cold? Consider these packs that were meant to soothe boo-boos! (No, not Honey BooBoo!)

Last but not least, you need something to carry your lunch in, right?


This has a carry handle, is insulated, and can hold an entire six-pack. I think it might hold your lunch!


Warm Noodles on a Cold Day

Yesterday, I had an extra long period in between classes, so I was able to take a lunch that required some preparation. Since it has been so cold, I thought a nice soup would be good.

Udon w/ chicken & bok choy

Udon w/ chicken & bok choy

The container should look familiar, it’s the hamburger shaped one I reviewed a while back.

The udon was provided by the local grocery store that had it on sale before Christmas. I like these packages where it’s soft and almost ready to eat so that you can have them on the go.

Since udon is quite plain just by itself with the provided soup mix, I added some sliced chicken breast and some simmered bok choy. Everything was easy to prepare ahead of time and I’m thinking of having a salad with the rest of the chicken. The chicken slices fit nicely into the “meat” section of my bento.

I kept the noodles in their package until time to eat, heated up the chicken & bok choy and got some hot water from the cafeteria (I love their constant supply of hot water that’s supposed to be for tea!). Then I added the noodles to the bowl, sprinkled about half the seasoning in, added the water and covered for a couple of minutes to give everything time to mix. I also sprinkled a bit of the soup mix onto my chicken because I didn’t season it during cooking.

When the noodles looked ready, I added the extras and dug in (There’s more vegetable at the bottom of the bowl). My sides included carrot sticks, a mandarin orange and some donut holes. The carrots were victims of grazing while waiting on the noodles, so there aren’t very many left in the picture.

One thing I noticed is that the noodles took up much more room in the bowl than originally expected. This meant less water and thus less of the seasoning packet. I didn’t want to finish a very salty broth at the end, so only seasoned enough for my taste. The udon was also difficult to fit into the bowl as it wanted to retain its square shape from the package.

This lunch had to be easy to clean up because the cafeteria doesn’t really have any place to rinse off dishes except the bathroom. This meant I had to drink all of my broth and use napkins to keep the empty container from dripping afterwards. I’m hoping my salad will be less of a pain in the cleanup category.

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End/Beginning of Year Giveaway (Closed) & an Unexpected Christmas Find.

Hi, Everyone!

Did you have a good Christmas? Are you ready for the New Year?

Just figured I’d let you in on a new giveaway being hosted by our Japanese friends on YouTube: Sandwich press/cutters!

This is just Cooking With Dog’s video, there are SIX OTHERS and all you have to do is follow the instructions for each to get a chance to win these cute, handy sandwich makers. You have until January 4th to get all your entries in. Good Luck!

I’ll go ahead and post all the addresses here:

megwin: http://youtu.be/6lXQ9ofrB9Q
sasakiasahi: http://youtu.be/fK1UifLk_mI
ochikeron: http://youtu.be/ClOpEYk5zV8
MarimoMarshmallow: http://youtu.be/m0eI8J4eM4Y
mosogourmet: http://youtu.be/vx_m6hQ5ALs
kazuch0924: http://youtu.be/x75hd4B1G7Y
cookingwithdog: http://youtu.be/bRl80S0n_yY
Play All 連続再生: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bRl80S0n_yY&list=PLOSl0zcwU0DPjjeae9WXNn9a…

In other news, I found something cute to use for sauce containers in bento.

Cute, lidded sauce containers from something that used to hold gum!

Cute, lidded sauce containers from something that used to hold gum!

I was visiting a friend after Christmas when I noticed these cute things lying around. When I asked about them, it turned out they had originally held gum. They came in a six-pack from the dollar store! When I expressed my interest in them, she said I could have the empty ones and that she was just going to throw them away. While the stickers on top won’t really last past a washing, they can be peeled off/replaced with something else, and I think they’ll make perfect mayo/sauce cups for my bentos! Just keep in mind they’re not meant to be used for thin liquids like soy sauce as the lids aren’t very tight, but would be great for mayo, ketchup or thick dressings & sauces.

Here they are in one of my larger boxes.

Here they are in one of my larger boxes.

How did I miss these?! I’ve been to the dollar store at least half a dozen times in the past couple of months! I know it’s a bit late to find these now, but Valentine’s and Easter are just around the corner, so if you’re interested keep your eyes open for something similar with a different holiday theme!

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Mexican-Style Bento and Easy Guacamole

Finally caught up with everything for now, thought I’d share a lunch with y’all.

Sorry the cheese kind of obscures everything…

First of all, here is a simple bento made with leftovers from Taco Night. The three sections are: A mix of black and pinto beans, seasoned beef & Spanish rice.

The rice was made using a cheater method similar to the Guacamole recipe below.

Sections were separated with torn flour tortillas and everything was covered in shredded cheese. Yes, I know, my lunch looks rather brown. Not pictured are the salsa, guacamole and tortilla chips in another container. Red and Green!

My box was just a simple plastic container with a relatively tight lid.

So, how to make lazy Guacamole:

The container in the middle has lemon juice, by the way.

First, get a good, ripe avocado (or get one that’s still a bit firm and wait a couple of days).

It doesn’t have to be pretty, it’s all turning into mush anyway.

Then, cut it open and remove the pit. Mine was VERY ripe and the pit flew out onto the floor…

Next, scoop out the avocado insides into a bowl.

There were a few brown spots I had to dig out. Waited too long on this one.

The next few steps can happen in any order:

I mash mine first then add salsa.

Add a couple spoonfuls of salsa, lemon juice, pepper, whatever you like to season it. I also use some premade lemon salt/pepper.

I love the tartness of lemony salt and pepper!

Mash with a fork until it reaches a consistency you like.

Taste it. Does it need more seasoning?

Want to make one avocado spread farther? Turn it into a dip? Add some sour cream or mayo as filler.

Beautiful, easy guacamole. One avocado is supposed to be two servings, but who can stop when it tastes so darn good?

Now it’s ready for eating!

*Note: too much red salsa can make your guacamole a bit unappetizing as it changes the color. You can use salsa verde if you like lots of salsa in your guac.

Want to make lazy Spanish rice?

Start with some cooked rice, leftovers work great because the grains can absorb more juice.

Place however much you want into a pot or microwavable bowl, we’ll just be heating it up, not cooking it.

Stir in enough salsa to make it an orange color (feel free to add more salsa if you like after warming, just don’t let it get runny). Warm it up and you’re done! You can add some fresh cilantro or throw in vegetables such as peas, corn, etc. but technically it won’t be Spanish rice anymore, more like succotash.

There you go, two of my lazy fixes that help me avoid actual cooking. I’ve found that salsa’s premade combo of tomato, onion, garlic and other spices make it a great way to diversify my pantry without having to keep tons of extra foods on hand that I rarely use.

Hope you enjoy!

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(closed) Cooking With Dog: Cute Cutter Giveaway!

(I had to edit this since the giveaway is now closed. but if you haven’t seen Cooking With Dog, you should!)

One of my favorite YouTubers is giving away cute cutters.


The name: Cooking With Dog, has nothing to do with eating dog.

The dog is the narrator while Chef creates her wonderfully delicious-looking dishes.

I was surprised when I noticed the giveaway and had to submit my reply immediately.

Just figured I’d share! If you’ve never seen this show, it’s a great tutorial of numerous Japanese foods!

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*sigh* another posting delay…

Let’s see… 3 tests in 1 week, 4 papers due within 10 days…

What a world!

But I just have to make it ’til December!

Anyway, I’m not leaving you high and dry, I’m just a bit distracted. I had high hopes for my most recent posts, too!

Anyway, here’s a bento for ya.

Lovely autumn themed bento

This features my nice purple rice made by mixing in just a little black/forbidden/Emperor’s… whatever it’s called rice, umeboshi and nori leaves. I found a paperpunch on sale, and yes, I know, that can be dangerous. But I’ve used it twice, and only for my lunches. If I’m the only one who gets sick, then it’s my fault.

The other side features steamed veggies with leaf-shaped baked tofu, another recipe that needs to be added to this blog…, but time is short.

I also made some easy pickles with sliced cucumber & carrot sticks with Italian dressing mix, hold the vinegar, add salt, nice and tangy!

Pear slices round it out with sweetness.

Enjoy your week, everyone!

I’m going to try to survive mine!

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