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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.

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サプライズ・パーティー、というものを今まで何回やったことでしょう。10代の頃から随分な数を企画、実行したり他人に協力したりしているように思います。極端なことを言うとハロウィーンとサプライズのパーティーのアイデアは1年中私の頭にあるようです。

こういうのが好きな人もいれば、おどかすのもおどかされるの嫌い、という人もいると思います。勿論サプライズが苦手な人に強要するのは問題外ですが、うまく喜んでもらえたりすると、企画するほうも嬉しくなりつい何度も企画してしまう、ということになります。

思い出深いのは大学生の頃、親友ホセのサプライズ・バースデイです。たしかカラオケに行こうと誘い私のうちに迎えに来てもらい、部屋に入ったとたん本人の巨大似顔絵ピニャータ(手作り)と彼の写真のお面を被った友人達で迎える、というものでした。ピニャータとはメキシコなどのパーティーで使われる紙などで出来たくす玉の様な物に、お菓子等を入れておいて、棒で中身を叩きだす、という様々な形の物です。ホセのびっくりして嬉しそうな顔と、そのあと皆でピニャータからおもちゃ(セックスショップのジョーク用品)を叩きだすのに、当時彼が好きだった女の子が張り切ってボコボコにしているのを複雑そうに見る彼の表情も印象的でした。

ロイの誕生日は知り合ってから9回中3回がサプライズです。毎年やれる事ではないので、この2年くらいは普通に人を呼んでお祝いしていましたが、今年あたり。。。と目論んで周りの人と相談してみました。夏真っ盛りで友人の多くはつかまりませんでしたが、双子の弟をはじめ家族が皆大乗り気でやって来てくれて、大成功でした。今回は叔父さんと叔母さんに車でどこかへ連れて行ってもらうという計画で、実のところはそのウェスト・ヴィレッジの美しいお宅での押し掛けパーティーとなりました。

メニューもイザベルがケーキ、叔母さんがサラダ、と分業してくれたうえ、私もやきそばやミートボールのピンチョスなど簡単なものにしたので、前日までの打ち合わせや食べ物を運んだりというのはそれ程の仕事ではありませんでしたが、ロイは意味の無い質問を常々してしてくる人なので(疑い深いほうではないのですが)決行まで小さなことではらはらする会話が沢山あり神経を使いました。

ロイの両親は高齢なのですが、こういういたずらにいつも楽しそうに乗って来てくれます。彼等の嬉しそうな顔がロイにとっては一番のプレゼントになったようでした。

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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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