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I wonder how many surprise parties I’ve ever planed, or participated on with others since my teenage. I admit the idea of Halloween and surprise parties are in my head all year ‘round.

Many people hate surprises, to either give them or to get them. And I understand that. Fortunately many people around me enjoy them. Thinking of people smiling at the surprise, motivates me to plan more.

One of my favorite memories of the perfect surprise party would be the one we had for José, my close friend from college. I made a piñata shaped as Jose’s head, and filled with all kinds of cheesy toys from a sex shop. I then photocopied a picture of his face large to make face masks and posters. I asked him to pick me up to go to a karaoke bar, along with a few friends. When he entered my living room, everyone was wearing a José mask and giant José piñata head was hanging in the middle of the room. I can’t forget the surprised look and big smile on his face. In addition, all of us took turns hitting the piñata to get the toys out, and there was a girl José was interested at that time, and he had a very memorable expression looking at her smacking his face.

This was the 3rd surprise party for Roy, since I’ve known him. We can’t surprise him every year, so I waited a few years, and contacted his family this year. His twin brother and family are usually game for my surprising Roy ideas. Its probably because Roy is usually the one to plan & manage family gatherings, and it’s fun to work on a sneaky project together! Roy’s Aunt & Uncle often give us a ride to go places, so I told Roy that we would go to their house first, before heading out to Long Island for a small dinner. Then we went up to their beautiful West Village penthouse and surprised him!

The food was not hard to set up. Isabel made a birthday cake and helped to set up the appetizer before I showed up with Roy. The main dish I made was yakisoba (fried noodle) for 12. I cooked the noodles, meat and vegetables separately and just heated and mixed everything before we ate. Besides that preparation, making up the fake story to Roy was difficult for me. He is not suspicious about things at all, but he basically asks random questions about little details. I wasn’t sure I could lie to him with every little things over last a few days.

But it worked out nicely, and my present for him this year was the excited smile his parents had.









This book just celebrated its 40th anniversary early this year, and it’s been enjoyed by people of all ages. George W. Bush, was asked in a survey to name his favorite book from childhood. He cited Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Trouble is, it wasn’t published until 1969 — the year after he graduated from Yale.

I started to make a list of my favorite books from when I was little. My older sister and I had a big collection of books growing up, because my father was a serious book lover. And a lot of them were western books translated to Japanese.

One of my favorites was “Caps for Sale”. I don’t know how many times I tried to layer on hats & caps and walk around like the peddler in this book. I’ve had so many hats, even as a child.

My bento lab started in 2006, for my husband (boyfriend, at that time) Roy.
He has been taking pictures of his bento lunch, and it motivates me to continue making them.
I was starting to get interested in cooking, and making bento was a perfect way to create with food. I grew up with my mother’s colorful & delicious food, so I always think about how it tastes and how it looks.

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