Wednesday, October 3, 2007

I've got Bento Fever and I'm in Love

Now that Harlan goes to school in the mornings, it is up to me to pack him a lunch each day. Never mind that he only seems to like hot dogs cheese and fruit, I still need to pack these items in his super-duper lunch bag. I'm sure many of you who pack lunches are familiar with this site about bento lunches and ideas for what to put inside them. For those of you who love all things cute and Japanese, here are my latest acquisitions, all purchased under the premise that Harlan will like to eat what is inside things that are cute:

The best place I found online to get great bento boxes and accessories is ebay. There I discovered the colorful silicon baking cups that make great food holders inside larger bento boxes (or any larger plastic box). They sell a good assortment of these on amazon.

Here are good websites that carry Decole and other cute goodies. WARNING: LOCK WALLET UP BEFORE PROCEEDING: (type decole into search)

Click here to see the most amazing bento lunches ever.
My Nikon D70 SLR takes great photos but unfortunately one can only use the manual settings with a specific lens that I do not own and can not justify purchasing right now. My condo (like most structures in hot climates) is very shady. It is surrounded by dense trees and has long eaves that hang over the windows, keeping it cool but also quite dark. It's nearly impossible to get a good photo of anything on my porches or inside, but here are a few peeks. This is my trendy gnome and mushroom doormat, courtesy of Target:

This is the are in front of my front door. My mother gave me the beautiful bougainvillea, which I have always always always wanted to grow, ever since seeing them all over Florida. Anyone remember Poppy the Pig? I have filled him and a metal bucket with various succulents. I love me some succulents, ever since seeing them all over San Francisco. Now I live in a climate where they will thrive happily. The man at the gardening store warned me to bring them indoors when the temp. drops below forty. How can this be? What about all the giant ones I see on everyone else's front lawn? Does anyone know? I have many more planted out back on our deck but no photos yet.

Here's the cabinet I bought at Ikea recently to keep my fabric in. I may not have my craft room yet, but at least I don't keep it all under the bed anymore.

This is the area over our sideboard in our living room. It's what we see when we are sitting on the sofa on the opposite wall (which I will photograph when I finish making pillows for it).

Here is a close up of my Halloween chicks, purchased from Jennifer Murphy.

They're just so dang cute, and the fact that they are made in China did not deter me from buying them in the least. It's great that Jennifer had such a high demand for her products that she was able to outsource making them. One lesson I learned back when I went to that Design Sponge sponsored event for people starting their own businesses (be sure and click the link as it goes to all the files from the event) is that most buyers are interested in the design and price of items, along with the story that is behind them. Were they designed by a famous RISD grad who used to work for Martha Stewart but then dropped out of the corporate world to raise her daughter and sit around crocheting pot holders that she started selling on the street corner? Apparently most consumers are only interested in the story up to a certain point, and after that the price is an issue. Making things by hand in the U.S. is costly because the cost of living here is so high. Minimum wage is even up to $7.50 an hour in some states (still too low in my opinion but that's another discussion). If any of us expect to make a living by making things by hand then we have to charge accordingly and the question that remains is, Will people buy a bunch of Halloween pom pom chicks for $20 a chick? I wouldn't. Not because I don't respect the time that went into making it, but because right now I can't afford it (although I have found a way to justify such purchases many times in the past). Now, happily there are some people who can afford it and will shell out the big bucks for things that are locally made. These are most of the people who buy my stuff, and I'm happy they are there, but the truth is that I can only make one or two items a day and that is not enough to live off of. So, I have finally found a company in New Jersey whom I am working with to make a couple of my designs by machine. The process is not cheap, because they are in New Jersey and not China, but I want to keep my products 100% American made and charge accordingly, hoping that customers will still support me because they like the designs, the workmanship, and the fact that the products are all locally made. The one glitch I am having right now is color matching machine threads to DMC colors. We'll have to see the results when my samples get back. I hope that I can eventually have everything I design made professionally so that I can spend my own time making things for myself and designing. You get tired of embroidering or sewing the same exact design over and over by hand. Getting back to Jennifer Murphy for a moment, does anyone know where one can buy the material used to make the kind of bears she and Molly Chicken make? I would love to try making a few for gifts (gifts for myself that is) but I have never seen any place that sells that type of faux fur.

This weekend Joe and I did some iron-on transfers on t-shirts for Harlan. They came out pretty cute. Guess which two designs I found and which two Joe found. Scroll down for answer.

The two of the left are Joe's. The first is an Pogo image that is super cute. He wanted to do another one using a Love and Rockets image but we could not find any that worked on a t-shirt for a little boy. Instead he went with a good old fashioned Black Flag logo. I chose a page from Richard Scary's most beautifully illustrated book I Am a Bunny, and of course the Stray Cats logo. We have to keep Harlan old school.

I have one last question to pose for my readers. I've cancelled the business Bun Bun Babythreads with the state of NY. I need to reopen it here in Texas, but I also want to change the name so that people don't assume everything I sell is for babies (I often hear, "Oh, I don't know anyone with a baby"). I'm thinking I should keep Bun Bun as a prefix for the name but don't know what to put after it. Let me know if you have any ideas.

For good tunes, go here and listen to Petra Hayden's genius cover of Thriller and breathtaking a Capella version of God Only Knows. I heard Petra's a Capella cover of a Journey song while driving Joe to work one morning on a local radio station. The music in Austin is one of its main draws, and I'm relishing in discovering new artists to listen to now that I'm here. I don't get out to many (many being zero) shows any more, so being able to actually depend on the radio for good music is a saving grace.


Felicia said...

Your post is stuffed with beautiful things. Love those bento boxes! And those Halloween chicks are adorable :)

Average Jane Crafter said...

I love the Bento boxes! I was hoping you'd say you found them locally. I keep thinking there's got to be a place here in Austin that carries them! And I've had my eye on that gnome mat at Target for months. Every time I have a teeny bit of cash in the "fun" fund (which is almost never) they are out. Argh!

Bun Bun Superfun?


DarylE said...

How fun to see your pug made it to Austin .. did your ears ring this weekend? A bunch of us went to Cape May and you were much talked about ... come see the pix both at the Gaggle and on my blog .. and why didnt/havent you linked my blog to your's?

Huh? Huh? ;-0

Angelina said...

I haven't gone bonkers for Bento yet. They're cute but I have no actual use for them.

That whole sample making process can be tedious and expensive but I'm totally rooting for your success! That's very exciting that you're taking your business to the next level.

I don't have any ideas for the name issue yet. I still haven't canceled my business in CA yet, how crazy is that? Oy. Better get on that!

Love your deck plants.

imwithsully said...

Thank you for sharing the Bento stuff. Never heard of it before. Now, I am hooked. Loved your post!

jen said...

ack! thanks for generously posting those links - thanks for my depleted paypal account! ok, seriously, that stuff is way too cute. i have those mushroom push-pins and they make me very happy.

i have that same doormat! at first we had it at the back door b/c, you know, it's so cutesy and not manly. then the neighbor's dog thought it was breakfast but we managed to salvage it. now it's at the front door - ha!

Kim said...

I of the impulse control issues am somehow steadfastly resisting the Bento cuteness, though the temptation taunts me mercilessly. Once we have to worry about lunchboxes, though, I know I'll be a goner.