Ko-So-A-Do

Hikari's Food/Japanophile and Other Interesting Stuff blog

WARNING: Jelly Belly BellyFlops really do have EVERY flavor!

Okay, I know I’m supposed to be finishing my Vegas post, but I had an experience last night… and it must be shared.

Everyone knows Jelly Belly, the American jelly bean company that makes some of the BEST jelly beans EVER. I say some, because there are a few other favorites, especially around Easter, but when I can go to the market and come back with a bag full of just my favorite flavor (Juicy Pear or Red Apple), well, there’s no contest.

So, this brings me to last night. Belly flops came out full force in spring, flooding shelves at discount stores like Big Lots and Grocery Outlet in 2 pound bags as well as little 5 ounce bags at the Dollar Store. What are Belly Flops? Here’s the description from Jelly Belly’s website:

belly-flops“Did you ever wonder what happens to the Jelly Belly jelly beans that are a little less perfect? Or the ones that somehow escaped the Jelly Belly logo stamper? Well, those are our beloved Belly Flops!

Belly Flops are no less flavorful, or lovable, than regular Jelly Belly jelly beans; they just come in wild shapes and sizes. You may find one that’s round, one that’s square, or you may even find a bunch stuck together. On very rare occasions, a flavor may not match a color. A red Belly Flop might taste like Blueberry, or a white one might taste like Chocolate Pudding. Crazy!

Belly Flop bags contain a lot of different assortments, and each bag is randomly packed. But you’re sure to get a good variety of flavors in each bag.”

.

I’ve bought the 2-pound bags and the little dollar ones for months with nary an odd flavor in the bag. But… thus one bag… must have gotten some Bertie Botts or Beanboozled beans.

Bertie Botts beans:

bertie botts

Have you ever tried these Harry Potter classics?

Beanboozled beans:

bean boozled

I REALLY feel sorry for the people who have to taste-test these things.

I was watching a Japanese drama, gleefully munching on my beans, when a terrible taste filled my mouth. It was hard to tell exactly what the flavor was, due to having more than one bean in there. All I know is the offending bean was dark. This was the first time I’ve ever gotten something other than a normal flavored bean. I will still buy belly flops while they’re available, but will watch what I eat a little more carefully from now on.

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How to visit Las Vegas WITHOUT breaking the bank; Part 1 (Choosing the Hotel)

This turned out to be much longer than expected, so I’m breaking it up into 2 parts.

Las Vegas has a reputation. It’s not a very savory one either. There’s a reason it’s called Sin City.

However, over the years Vegas has tried to soften its image, promoting conventions and family fun. (One of these years, I’m gonna manage to get into the CES!)

With the world in financial meltdown since 2008 and Obama’s repeated Vegas bashing (Just Google it), Vegas has been struggling. Reflected in this is how the casinos and hotels have flexed and bowed to make staying more appealing.

I will explain how you can, with a little research and schedule flexibility, find a reasonably priced casino-resort-hotel on or near the strip for cheap.

———-

But first, a story. Two years ago in the summer, Hubby and I wanted to take a vacation. We had considered doing something local (there ain’t much here, honestly!) and considered other points along the west coat that were within driving distance.

Seattle: Too expensive, not enough to do (except go visit Uwajimaya) that could justify the cost of a hotel room. I’m sure some of you are thinking, “There’s plenty to do in Seattle”, but of all the things we saw, nothing screamed at us saying “You wanna come here, like, RIGHT NOW, and do this awesome thing!” (except go visit Uwajimaya. With Daiso right next door. Yeah, I know, I have a problem.)

California, as a whole: Earthquakes, fires, smog and ridiculous traffic combined with some of the highest gas prices in the country? Why do anything there? Disneyland. ‘Nuff said. But have you seen the price of tickets??? And all the hotels around there have inflated prices.

While I was bemoaning how expensive our vacation was becoming, Hubby mentioned that he hasn’t been to Vegas in a while. Hmm, I’d never been there, but surely staying there would be expensive, right? Ha! How wrong I was!

When he was younger (and practically a completely different man) Vegas was a haven for him, and he made good money at the gambling tables. The Rio had once been like a second home to him. So, we checked out the hotel online. Hey, they have Penn & Teller! We love those guys!

Now comes the trick to finding the best prices in Vegas!

A screen-cap of their website now.

A screen-cap of their website now.

After choosing some random date within the next month, we discovered that during the week, rooms were less than what local hotels were charging! But weekends could double or quadruple the cost. Also, depending on the time of year, holiday or event happening, room prices fluctuate wildly with demand.

Then we noticed this little link:

See the area in the lower right?

See the area in the lower right?

Notice the price fluctuations for the selected dates. The Rate Calendar opens up a new realm of possibilities, including a whole month of room rates and the option to check out the price of different rooms. If you have some flexibility in your travel plans, this is an essential tool!

In our story, we poked around and selected five days with an average cost of $40 per night (similar to the first 5 days in the image). At the time, they were not charging resort fees. More on those later.

But this isn’t all. Not sure which hotel you’d like to stay? Try this:

Everything Caesar's Group owns.

Everything Caesars Group owns.

Yup, EVERYTHING this group owns in one handy drop-down. And if you click All, you get this:

Whoa, that's quite a difference in prices!

Whoa, that’s quite a difference in prices!

That’s a lot to compare! But this is just what’s owned by the Caesars Group. I do suggest being careful of the super cheap rates at the Quad. While they’ve recently been refitted, it was just the casino. The rooms are still the old ones from when it was the Imperial Palace. If all you need is a place to crash and don’t mind a room that might be a bit of dingy and possibly smelly (Seriously, check Trip Advisor), then go for it.

Want more? The MGM Group is a bit more tricky to navigate.

I’m using the MGM Grand as the example since MGM owns the attached properties. First, I clicked on “Check Rates” under Reservations.  (No pic for this, you oughta be able to figure it out.)

Then, I chose a Single Night (this helps with room availability in case they’re full one night). You can click “Search Availability” below or Check Rates on the right.

Simple system in use

Simple system in use

WARNING: MGM’s room search can sometimes be slower than molasses at the North Pole in January. Be patient. If you decided to check rates, you’ll get this:

mgm3

a two month calendar of room rates, based off their cheapest room. However, if you select “Search Availability”, you eventually get this:

Yeah, you read that price right.

Yeah, you read that price for the Skylofts right.

A list of their rooms, amenities, price difference, and in the lower right, a few of the other hotels in their group. It’s not all of them, but it’s a start.

What else does MGM own in Vegas? Aria, Bellagio, Circus Circus, Excalibur, Luxor, Mandalay Bay, Mirage, Monte Carlo, New York-New York, Vdara, etc. You can get more info on their resorts at http://www.mgmresorts.com  You can use this link instead of the actual hotel link, it eventually takes you to the same place.

There are plenty of other hotels along the strip not listed, like the Golden Nugget, Stratosphere and others. Do some research, spend some time figuring out which hotel is where (Google Maps is your friend!), most will have the rate calendars.

Once you’ve decided at which hotel you’d like to stay, start looking at promotions. This year we stayed at the New York with a 20% discount because we selected a buffet promotion. We ended up not using the buffet tickets due to a confusing credit card hold requirement, but we still got the room at the advertised discount.

Try Hotels.com as they have a tendency to apply the best rate automatically. Then you can go to the hotel’s website or call their front desk to see how to get that discount directly from them. You can reserve directly from another site if you like, but I have a severe mistrust of third parties when it comes to hotels and travel. Too many bad experiences in the past.

Okay, you’ve chosen your hotel, gotten the best deal, applied your discounts. Wait, what’s this extra daily charge? Resort fees? WTF?!? Alas, this is something that cannot be waived at this time. During winter and spring months, many hotels will offer no resort fees. But this summer? no dice. Double-check the resort fee for the hotels you’re considering, they’re anywhere between $15 – $25 per night. Too rich for your blood? Try a non-casino hotel off-strip. We found our stay at the New York, even with the fee, was still cheaper than staying at the local Comfort Inn.

Regardless of where you’re staying, I highly suggest renting a car. This makes getting away from the Strip easier so you can find off-strip food, shopping and tourism. Plus there are plenty of things to see and do besides gamble and drink. Both times we visited, I spent no more than $10 on the machines and only had one drink near the end of our stay. There’s so much to see, why waste it inebriated in front of a card table or slot machine?

Be back with more soon!

~Hikari

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Need to re-organize my blog

Hiya, all, still working on the Vegas post. In the meantime, you know you need to do something about your blog when you have trouble managing your own posts.

Now that my post count is over 50, I really need to sit down and figure out an organization system.

The problem is many of my posts deal with multiple subjects. If I go with organizational tabs, do I have to include the same post in multiple tabs?

*Sigh*

And I’m not willing to go “pro” and pay for the upgrades as this is mainly just for fun and I don’t get enough hits to monetize anything.

Hubby paid for an actual website a year ago (through WordPress), but after he let the subscription lapse (after numerous attempts to cancel the subscription) he got charged with over $100. At least he got to keep his free blog.

I’m still with GoDaddy with an actual dot-com, but it’s just sitting there and has for years. They have a free blog system, but should I switch or stick w/ WP, maybe link over from the dot-com?

Ahh, too many things to think about!

Other Bloggers: What have you done to help keep your blog organized?

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Going down to Vegas (in a car) and back again: Part 1

More pictures will be coming, I just have to dig through them to see which ones to add.

Two years ago, Hubby and I went to Vegas. The first time for me, and it had been a while for him. Since he can’t fly (medical reasons, not a phobia) we decided to drive. We rented a car to save mileage, wear and tear on ours. It actually came out pretty cheap since we planned it very carefully (More in a later post on finding the best deals).

This time around, we had a time constraint, so it cost a bit more than last time. Here is our adventure.

Okay, so the first time we went (August 2011), we used Enterprise for our rental because they included Nevada in the 5-state unlimited mileage plan (and they were the cheapest with unlimited miles). We chose a compact car, but got upgraded to an intermediate (very comfortable Corolla) due to them actually running out of cars. Because of the 5-state limit, we had to be careful of our route as the interstate goes through Utah, which was not covered in the 5-state unlimited mileage deal. This involved a careful plotting of a route straight down through Nevada at night. There was some colorful debate as to which mountains we would drive over. This is the shortest, straightest route we could decide upon.

trip1plot

Google map with the driving time estimate. We took a bit longer, but then there were multiple pit-stops.

When we lived on the East Coast, driving to Florida took almost this long, so it couldn’t be that bad, right?

With our route plotted, the days selected (5 days, no weekend), and the hotel reserved, we began our adventure mid-day. I must add I was anal-retentive enough in planning this trip I even checked road construction and delays before departure.

Driving during the day was nice, looking at cities, crossing bridges, navigating the mountain pass in Oregon, but the real trouble started after we entered Idaho and the sun set. Normally, I can drive all day, as long as the sun is out. However, with nothing to stare at but dark road I get Very Sleepy. Hubby and I had been taking turns every couple of hours, but after the sun went down, I could barely last more than about an hour, so he did as much driving as he could.

Note: Twin Falls, Idaho smells bad. I’ve seen some equate it to a farm smell, but it’s not quite that… And this was BEFORE the yogurt factory got built, so I can only imagine it’s worse now! We didn’t even get to see any of the falls it was named after as both there & back involved going through town in the middle of the night.

After making it into Nevada, the road got quite deserted, but what else should I expect from a highway going through the middle of nowhere? There were a few towns where we had to slow down as we drove through, but other than that, there was a whole lot of nothing. During most of the trip, we couldn’t even see lights from cities or even homesteads, so all we got was stars, the road and what little on either side that was illuminated by the headlights. There was even some wildlife wandering around at night, as we witnessed something with antlers crossing the road and some kind of large bird dive bombed us. (Come on, it was night time! like I’m supposed to be able to classify wildlife in the dark while driving?)

We pulled over at one straight stretch of road to enjoy the stars. With no moon or light pollution, it was beautiful!

Note: There’s a creepy town in the middle of Nevada called Ely. Maybe it was because it was middle-of-the-night deserted, but the place creeped us both out.  The highway becomes the main street so we had to slow down to 25 mph in places. If we didn’t need gas, we would have driven straight through.

After passing through Ely, navigating a mountain range and a couple of highway intersections later, we were in the home stretch. As the sky lightened pre-dawn, we were both exhausted. But we could actually start to make out the features of our surroundings, noticing the mountain ranges on either side. It was quite beautiful, seeing the rosy glow touch on golden & red rock. Sunrise found us at the intersection of Hwy 93 and 375 (the Extraterrestrial Highway). We would have gotten pictures of the sign, but we were exhausted and just wanted to get to Vegas.

This came from another blog (click picture for the link) as we never managed to get one of our own.

This came from another blog (click picture for the link) as we never managed to get one of our own.

After connecting with I-15, we could actually see Vegas in the distance. This was enough to energize me enough to make it there without falling asleep at the wheel. It’s interesting seeing a whole lot of desert and then the edge of a city rising up from the dusty flatness. We arrived at the hotel way too early to check in, so we shambled off for breakfast and some outskirts sight-seeing before they let us know a room was ready.

Our stay in Vegas was fantastic, but this will be covered in the next post.

On the way back, we got to see much of the scenery we missed on the way down. There were even some mountains with snow on them in August! Snow! in August! in Nevada! Honestly! (Pictures will arrive soon-ish) We were very grumpy when we finally arrived home.

See? That's SNOW in Nevada in August! But it was northern Nevada, on a high mountain peak

See? That’s SNOW in Nevada in August!
But it was northern Nevada, on a high mountain peak

Things I learned from our (driving) trip:

Nevada is not (entirely) a desert wasteland! There are (a few) rivers that create (some) lovely green areas, such as the Pahraganat (had to double-check spelling 3 times… it’s a mouthful) National Wildlife Refuge.

The desert is more green than I expected.

Ely is still creepy during the day.

Twin Rivers stinks (literally), at night anyway.

Nevada has some of the cheapest gasoline prices in the country.

Toyota Corolla is a very nice car to drive for long trips. We averaged about 45 miles to the gallon both ways. We missed it when we had to give it back.

Driving for 18 hours, having fun in Vegas and then driving back for another 18 hours is hell on a back. REALLY hell on a back.

Much of Nevada is a cell signal dead zone. Seriously. These are current maps, it was worse 2 years ago! Pray that nothing happens in the middle of the night, because no one will hear you scream, and the body (if there is one) won’t be found until the truck drivers start coming through in the daylight.

Seriously, double-check our route! Much of our time we had no signal!

Seriously, double-check our route! Much of our time we had no signal!

If you return a rental vehicle a day early, they do not refund the extra day. (sadface)

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Back in the saddle again (Now, with northern lights!)

Greetings, All!

Back in the blogging saddle again!

My university career has ended with a nice, new shiny degree! The vacation needed a vacation to recover from the first vacation. WHY did I decide to drive to Vegas? AGAIN? Friends sent unexpected gifts!

The above topics will have individual blogs dedicated to them, possibly out of order from when they actually happened. For now, I want to talk Geomagnetic Storms! Yeah, that’s right, Solar flares and Northern lights. Aurora Borealis, Baby!

Scientific mumbo-jumbo aside, taller lines mean more visible the further south you are.

Scientific mumbo-jumbo aside, taller lines mean it’s more visible the further south you are.

As you can see, a large amount of solar radiation wafted over the globe Friday night – Saturday morning. Having grown up in the South, I never really expected to see any of this in person, until I moved to the Northwest. Well, there was that one trip to visit family in Canada, but that faint, tiny green streak on the horizon might have been something else. Unfortunately, since moving up here, I usually either find out about such events after they’ve happened or it’s too cloudy to see squat.

Friday night was a fluke. About 11:30, we wanted ice cream. A quick trip to the local grocery had us coming home -and facing North- before midnight. At first, the green haze looked creepy, like some kind of toxic smoke across the sky. Then I saw the solar streaks. Holy Heavenly sights, Batman! Luckily, the road was mostly deserted as I took my foot off the gas and stared up at the sky. Luckier still, we were less than a minute from home.

Wouldn't you freak out after seeing this?

Wouldn’t you freak out after seeing this? Maybe Stephen King’s Tommyknockers is affecting my judgement.

After pulling into the driveway, Hubby dashed into the house to secure our frozen treats while I hung out in the yard to find the northern horizon filled with a glowing green wash. It was still quite ominous and felt closer than it should have been, like I needed to go find a gas-mask and start downing Iodine tablets. It didn’t help that there was a hill to the north, with the outline barely visible, as if the “cloud” was slowly crawling over it. But then, those lovely streaks again. First from the left, then from the brighter blob on the right. Brighter spears of light shooting straight from the glowing mass like flashlight beams.

This was in Montana, but gives you a good idea of what we saw.

This was in Montana, but gives you a good idea of what we saw.

Even Hubby said it looked wrong, as his experiences usually involved those rivers of light normally caught in photographs and video. He got bored early and went inside as the light show faded back into the green haze. I went inside a few minutes later for my ice cream and then went back outside to loiter for another half hour or so. But the streaking had ended for us, unless it picked back up later in the evening after we stopped watching. Just more of the eerie green haze.  I must say, it got my creative juices flowing, my head filled with post-apocalyptic fantasies.

Another shot from Montana, but very bright. Gotta love those HQ cameras!

Another shot from Montana, but very bright. Gotta love those HQ cameras!

I found an Android app to track the aurora and found Solarham.net, the one-stop-shop for all my solar flare needs. Maybe the next time it happens, I’ll be ready! Now if I only had a camera that could capture nighttime images.

Edit, 7/7/2013: After reading up a bit about Aurora, it seems one CAN get radiation poisoning if the solar flare is strong enough! so maybe, my paranoia wasn’t so delusional after all (re: the bit about iodine tablets).

I dug out my camera to try to see if I could capture some of the glowing beauty when the next wave got close enough to see on the night of the 5th-6th. Not much but a faint green horizon and my poor camera caught crappy photos at the highest ISO of 6400… Only slightly pretty if I scaled them down to 320×240. Without a manual hold for the shutter to hold it open longer, I’m a bit SOL. But no way am I going to buy a DSLR just for northern lights!

Just an example of the best I could get out of my poor camera.

Just an example of the best I could get out of my poor camera.

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*Alert* This blog is not about food, but books with sexiness on the inside! (Secret Shpadoinkle!)

Wow, I really did stall out for 6 weeks without updating!

Sorry, folks, it’s been… bla. I’ve got a severe case of University Senioritis and my schedule filled up much quicker than expected due to my job.

Also, I haven’t been cooking much other than easy/quick normal stuff and I really doubt you want to see a picture of a fried bologna sandwich, even if it was made with a fresh loaf of French bread. Mmmmmmm… fresh baked bread…..

Anyway, what have I been doing in my free time? Reading. What have I been reading? Modern Fantasy Sexiness, that’s what. I’ll list a rundown of my reading list so you can see what I mean.

Karen Marie Moning: Fever series. This was a wonderful adventure into modern fantasy. Our heroine is unknowingly drawn into the world of the Fae in Ireland. (Somewhat predictable but oh-so-fun!)

Kim Harrison: Hollows series. (One of my FAVORITE series!) Featuring the feisty, bad-decision-making redheaded witch, Rachel Morgan. This is an alternate-reality modern fantasy with plenty of action. (The first book was not as well written as the rest of the series, but the characters were good enough to draw me in!) Oh, and she’s a fellow WP member as well!

J.R. Ward: Black Dagger Brotherhood & Fallen Angels series. (A new favorite!) I was apprehensive at reading “yet another vampire series”, but even Hubby liked it! Completely smutty, with Both male/female perspectives! Also, there’s tons of action. Without the smut, the books would be about 1/2 the size, but still VERY readable! If you want to test the waters with a lighter smut/higher action ratio, start with the Fallen Angels, but they’re in the same world and the Angels don’t start until after book 8 of the BDB. (The BDB books are Very Hot, but the whole idea of linebacker-sized alpha-males with.. *parts*… ahem… the size of telephone poles… is a bit much.)

Charlaine Harris: Sookie Stackhouse series. I honestly have stopped watching the HBO series True Blood due to the extreme deviation from these books. (Although Lafayette and Tara are two of my fave show charas!) And I started with the TV series! I’m glad Charlaine is ending the series, because lately it hasn’t seemed like her heart was in the last couple of books. (That reminds me, I need to finish reading Dead Ever After!)

Honorable Mention: Cassandra Clare: Shadowhunter series. Yes, it’s Young Adult modern fantasy, but I WILL be going to see the City of Bones movie when it comes out! I cried like a baby at the end of Clockwork Princess. And while it’s Young Adult, there’s plenty of sexy, you just have to fill in the blanks!

~I will keep updated when the mood to do something truly interesting arises.

In the Future: post-grad trip to Vegas! Woo-hoo!

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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?

DSCN0795

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!

DSCN0796

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.

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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

 

 

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Pre-Easter Cuteness! It feels like spring when…

Alright everyone, it doesn’t matter if it’s still snowing or if the blossoms are already falling off the cherry trees where you live, or even if you’re not religious, there’s something about Easter that just screams SPRING!

Thinking of spring makes me want to wear pinks and pastels, grow green things and open the windows. Easter is the perfect landmark holiday for all things cute and cuddly, with the bunny as it’s mascot and cute little baby animals in tow.

cute-animals

So why then have so few Japanese ever really heard of it? Almost every Japanese girl I’ve befriended at University typically has had no idea. Isn’t Japan the Land of All Things CUTE? I figured that at least Sanrio would have taken this golden opportunity to push bunny-themed merchandise at them! Or maybe it’s just us Westerners that reap the seasonal benefits?

Don't tell me these are just NORMAL in Japan?

Don’t tell me these are just NORMAL in Japan?

But then there’s the CUTE candies! I know every season has its own variety of custom candy, but how much cuter can you get than chocolate bunnies, chicks and lambs?

I couldn't find lambs in any stores nearby... shame...

I couldn’t find lambs in any stores nearby… shame…

In America, Cadbury is synonymous with the “clucking” bunny, creme eggs and other chocolate goodies.

Unfortunately, sometimes marketing can take the theme a bit too far… Not only are there “egg-laying” chickens…

At least it's "laying eggs"

At least it’s “laying eggs”

But there are also little noise-making “dispensers” that… poop out the candy…

Just what a parent wants... a child hyped up on sugar, making that annoying noisy dispenser go off... repeatedly...

Just what a parent wants… a child hyped up on sugar, making that cute but annoying noise making dispenser go off… repeatedly…

At least it can be a time to stock up on some cosplay items.

I can think of at least one non-spring use for bunny ears...

I can think of at least one non-Easter use for bunny ears…

I have one of my Japanese friends coming to visit this Easter and we’ll be decorating eggs. I wonder what creative designs we’ll have to show after?

Tune in Monday for the results and to see who won my Reader Appreciation” Giveaway!

 

 

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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)

DSCN0780

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,

DSCN0786

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.

DSCN0787

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!

~Hikari

*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!

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