My Arms!

Release your inner zombie!

Find a doorway and stand in it. Open the door first, if necessary.

Your arms should hang naturally at your sides.

Now move your hands out to your sides so that the backs of your hands press against the sides of the doorway. Your hands don’t go up or in front of you – just against the frame of the doorway.

Press as hard as you can and count to 30 all at the same time.

Then relax your arms at your sides and start to walk away. Your arms will magically rise on their own!

Well…on their own?

Tomato Soup Cake

Nope. I am not making this up.

I haven’t found this recipe in any of my cookbooks yet, but many many many others have already posted their versions of the recipe online. Go look, you’ll see.

You’re still looking at me with one raised eyebrow and thinking I’m crazy. Come on, get your apron and make this cake with me. The version below is from chef Emeril Lagasse‘s site.

2 cups sifted flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon grated nutmeg

½ teaspoon ground cloves

2 eggs OR 4 ounces egg substitute

¾ cup sugar

1 can tomato soup

½ cup chopped walnuts


1. Preheat your oven to 350 °F/175 °C. Grease a cake pan.

2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Put this mixture somewhere safe.

3. In another bowl, mix together the sugar, the tomato soup and the eggs or egg substitute. Find your flour mixture and slowly add the flour mixture to the tomato mixture. Stir in the walnuts.

4. Pour all of that into the cake pan and bake it for 25-30 minutes.

5. Decorate it any way you’d like to.

That’s it!

Play With Your Food!

You ought to show your family Carl Warner’s photography, because it’s fantastic.

But no one will ever listen to you again when you say it’s impolite to play with your food.

Warner’s landscapes are made entirely of food, so he calls them foodscapes. See below and here for examples. Then go over to Warner’s website to see bigger pictures. Select the orange box, and Foodscapes should load automatically (you’ll need Flash 6 or above to view the site, and you’ll need some patience if you have trouble moving from one picture to the next).


I Have A Dream

Kids have dreams, too, you know.

Gather blank sheets of paper and staple them together to make a basic book. Help your child think of a title (“Book of Dreams”?) and decorate the cover.

Get a special set of Dream Crayons (okay, regular crayons, but do something poof magic to them to make them special Dream Crayons), and put these along with the Book of Dreams next to your child’s bed.

The next morning before you call her out of bed to start the day, your child can draw a picture to show the dreams she had. Be with her, if you can, and help her write descriptions next to the parts of the picture. If she says she can’t remember her dreams, that’s okay. Draw a picture anyway. Drawing pictures is such a comforting way to start the day, you know.

Be sure to write the date next to the picture.

You can also….

….draw a picture of the day’s events before going to bed.

….draw a picture of the funniest thing that happened that day.

….draw a picture of what will happen tomorrow.

If you get your own set of Dream Crayons, you can draw your dreams, too.

Sleep well tonight.

Tortilla Chips

You can make these tortilla chips in about 15-20 minutes from start to finish.

Gentle suggestion: prepare them after all the other food for your meal is ready. I can almost guarantee you’ll start eating them as soon as they’re out of the oven, and just like the chips you get at Mexican restaurants, it’s really hard to stop eating them.


You need:

6-12 corn tortillas

vegetable oil (I liked mine with olive oil)

salt or other spices


1) Preheat your oven to 375 °F/190 °C.

2) Spray oil to lightly coat a baking sheet.

3) Use scissors to cut the tortillas into 6 pieces.

If fractions are too complicated or if 6 pieces look too normal, cut the tortillas into shapes you like. Spread the pieces on the baking sheet. It’s okay if the pieces touch here and there, but you don’t want them stacked on top of each other.

4) Spray the pieces with a bit more oil.

A clean unused toothbrush or a clean unused paintbrush work well if you can’t find your spray can. Lightly sprinkle salt over the pieces.

5) Bake the pieces for 10-12 minutes. Try to allow them to cool a bit before eating them (this is probably the hardest part).

Honorable Lunchbox Calories

I can’t decide which bento box I should buy. How do people choose?!

Ohhhhhh. The size of a bento box has to do with calories and other nutritional guidelines?

This was explained by Biggie, one of many who have blogs devoted to bento boxes. Her blog is just fantastic, and it’s filled tips and explanations (non-vegetarian items are mentioned, just so you know). Go take a look.

I’d always suspected but never knew for sure that there might be a formula for putting lunches together here in Japan. Essentially, your gender, age, and height determine how many calories you need to eat, and all that helps you determine which size bento box you should buy. That’s probably not explaining it well enough, so read Biggie’s explanation here, and she helpfully links to the Japanese explanation here.

This is fascinating. Back to the shops I go, because now I know what I’m looking for!

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