Thursday, October 30, 2014

Well, That Didn't End Well

     Does anyone remember when Monkey and I made an ecosystem back in June?  That thing has been growing ever since!  We lost the fish after about a month, so we opened it up to remove them, and then allowed everything else to keep growing.  It was doing great!  We had tons of grass, and the algae and water plants were thriving.  The crickets died out one by one, and we never really could see the earthworms, but overall it was a good project.  I had it placed in the window above the staircase, and I kept thinking I should take it down and take it apart, but honestly I forgot about it.  That is, until J would complain about it being in the way of the blinds every night when he would try to lower them as it got dark.  You see, the window on the staircase is in a rather awkward position.  It's almost too high for us to open and lower the blinds, yet I'm a sucker for sunlight, so every morning I lean forward over the steps and stretch out on my tip-toes to reach the cord that will raise the blinds and let the sunlight in.  Then every night, J has the hard task of stretching out over the staircase to slowly bring the blinds back down.  Since adding the ecosystem to the mix, you also have to be careful not to let the cord get wrapped around the bottle or let the blinds down too quickly to avoid knocking the ecosystem off the windowsill.  Every night I would hear J complain about the darn blinds being open, and how stupid it was for the people to design the stairs the way they did.  So, the other night to be nice (and to avoid hearing the complaints) I decided to lower the blinds myself.  I grabbed the cord, and stretched out over the staircase to begin lowering the blinds, but I forgot something.  I forgot the ecosystem.  So, as I tugged the cord and looked down to check that my feet weren't going to slip off of the stair I was standing on, I felt something rather heavy smack the top of my head. Next thing I knew I was covered in nasty, smelly, fishy water, and there by my feet was the ecosystem, leaking it's foul-smelling contents all over our staircase.  Needless to say, I'm very glad I didn't leave the dead fish in there so that Monkey could learn about decomposition.  Regardless, I immediately jumped in the shower after scrubbing the stairs to wash the dead fish remnants away.

     Not all of my attempts at doing something nice for someone else has ended in utter failure.  I think these Halloween-themed lunches I've been packing for Monkey have come out rather well.

Monday: Spider Sandwich with Monster Apples

      This box contains a ham and cheese sandwich shaped to look like a spider.  I used a round cookie cutter to cut circles out of two slices of bread, a slice of ham, and a slice of cheese.  Next I sliced 4 long pieces of carrot super thin.  When I assembled the sandwich I laid the carrot sliced across that sandwich before placing the bread on top.  I used sliced olives for the eyes, and voila!

     The second half of this was the monster apples.  I quartered and apple, and I cut wedges out of two of the quarters, and I soaked these slices in a mixture of 1TBS lemon juice and 3/4 cup water for 5 minutes to keep them from browning before lunch time.  After they had soaked, I wiped them dry, and added almond slivers for the teeth.  For the eyes, I used candy eyeballs "glued" on with Nutella.  (You could use any type of nut butter, but Nutella is the only kind my daughter will eat).

 Tuesday: Celery Mummies

      For this lunch I made my own Garden Vegetable Cream Cheese (recipe to follow), but you can use the pre-made kind.  I spread a little on each celery stick.  Next I took a slice of ham and cut it into thin strips lengthwise and wrapped those around the celery sticks.  I used bits of black olives for the eyes.  I sent these to school with some grape tomatoes, pretzels, and an orange.

Wednesday: Spooky Sandwich

      I took the easy route Wednesday by simply making a ham sandwich and then cutting it into a ghost shape with my spooky little ghost cookie cutter.  I made a little face for him using my food markers.  Next, I added a bit of celery, and a few orange "pumpkins" for dessert.  These are simply peeled Halo oranges with a bit of celery wedged in the top to resemble stems.

Thursday: Mummy Hotdogs

      Now, I normally don't do hotdogs, but every once in a while, I figure it's okay to let my kid be a kid.  This box took a bit more prep work, because you have to make the mummies the night before.  I followed the instructions on the Pillsbury website to make the mummies, adding eyes using my food markers, and then I served them with a bit of ketchup, celery, and a couple "pumpkins".

Friday: Gravestones and Ghosts Bento Box

     This box included two mini sandwiches cut to resemble gravestones (the RIP on the left headstone is spelled out with little strips of ham).  Next I added two banana "ghosts" to the box to make it look like they were coming out of the graves.  I threw in some grape tomatoes, celery, and some of that garden vegetable cream cheese for dipping, and sent Monkey on her merry little way.

 Garden Vegetable Cream Cheese  
8 oz block cream cheese
1 medium carrot, minced
1 celery stalk, minced
1/4-1/2 onion, minced (start with less and add more to taste)
1-2 cloves garlic, grated
Salt and pepper to taste

Add all ingredients into a food processor, and blend until smooth.  Let sit in the refrigerator until flavors have melded.  Serve with crackers or veggies for dipping, or use as a spread.

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