When you think of the 50’s and sock hops, the poodle skirt may come to mind. The poodle was a fad, but the basic skirt style wasn’t.  Narrow at the waist with a full knee length skirt via large pleats, the swing dress showed up on the dance floors of the 1940’s. Fabric rations due to WWII limited the fullness of the skirt, but the 1950’s saw fuller skirts in fashion.

Halter topped, sleeved, peter pan collar…even sleeveless and spaghetti strapped (though not so much in the more conservative 50’s.) ribbons, flowers, solids, prints, patterns…a flash of leg as you twirl across the dance floor… what’s not to love?  These dresses flatter most body types and the variety of tops allow even bustier girls to wear them.

Vintage fashion is awesome!

Here’s a few places to find some swing dresses and other retro clothes. I’ve found some good prices (all of the dresses in the pic are less than $50) and a wide selection at these sites.

Hey Viv!

Unique Vintage

Starlets & Harlots

Pinup-Girl Clothing

Purikura, short for ‘print club’ refers to the photo-booth craze in Japan. These aren’t tiny snap and print booths either. Some are big enough to hold a small army of friends, and all offer lots of touch screen editing options from filters to frames to shapes and text.

Short of lugging around a photo-booth, you can cutify your pics on the go with purikura apps for android and iphone.

Best part of it all. They’re free!

Well, not every single one of them, but there are tons of completely free apps to chose from.  I’ve worked my favorite five into the collage above, and recommend them.  See for yourself, though, and try these and others available at GooglePlay and iTunes.

Deco Album

GirlsCamera

Decopetit

Decopic

SBY Camera

No bento can truly be complete without accessories. Sure, you can neatly pack your lunch into your bento box, but something magical occurs when you open your lunch and see a decorative arrangement of tasty treats.  When it comes to food, presentation can be a pain, or a pleasure. Make it a pleasure by accessorizing your bento with cute and practical ‘bento bling!’

So what’s that stuff in the photo? Let’s take a look, from top left:

Rice mold and furikake stencil

Furikake, in simple English terms, is rice seasoning. It comes in several spice combinations and can be applied with stencil to make cute faces!

Nori punches

Nori is the green seaweed-paper you find on sushi. Nori punches work just like hole punches to cut various shapes from a nori sheet which are then used for embellishing the bento. This is a common way to decorate food with faces. One might also experiment with decorative scrapbook punches. Make sure you designate which are for food only!

Vegetable cutters

These sturdy metal cutters slice shapes in fruit and veggies just like a cookie cutter.  They can be used on softer foods like bread, cheese, and meat, but will best serve you when used on firm fleshed fruits and veggies. Ideally what you are cutting should be slightly larger than the cutter and sliced to 1/4 inch or less. Don’t try to force veggies through the center!

Mini sauce bottles

For your soy sauce, or whatever else you like! Some come with tiny funnels to assist with filling. Other soft sided bottles can be filled by squeezing and sucking up liquids.

Food picks

These add a decorative touch, but can be used like mini forks. ^^

Deco ham and cheese cutters

Same concept as the vegetable cutters, but made of plastic.  These cutters are NOT meant for veggies, as the plastic won’t hold up. Use these cutters to make shapes in bread, and slices of lunch meat, and cheese.

Silicon divider cups

Efficient dividers for foods that you may otherwise be a little messy. Great for compartmentalizing!

Rice mold

Don’t settle for the boring round rice ball, get creative with shapes like hearts and stars! Fill mold with cooked rice and press with top of mold.  You can use plastic wrap if you just can’t seem to keep the rice from sticking.

Egg mold

The neatest thing ever.  Eggs are rather malleable when they’re warm, and egg molds take advantage of this. Hard boiled eggs should be peeled warm, inserted into the mold and immediately plunged into ice water.

Bento baran

Horizontal food dividers. Nothing tricky to these.

Deco cutter and stamp kit

Same concept as the other cutters. These will also leave an indentation ‘stamp’ that can then be further highlighted.

Gel cold pack

Keep your bento cold!

Carrying pouch

A cute lunch bag for your bento! Keeps your chopsticks and lunchbox together.

Chopsticks

Be sure to get some cute utensils to go with your cute lunch!

Bento strap

An elasticized or silicon strap used to hold the lid on your bento box should it not have any clasps.

Another carrying pouch

Some more chopsticks


All of these accessories in their various forms can be found all over the place.  Search Amazon.com for ‘bento accessories’ or go nuts at bentousa.com.

Something fishy? こいのぼり!

鯉幟 (こいのぼり) koinobori

The kanji,hirigana,and romanji all say the same thing: koi windsock!

image

These windsocks are hung in Japan in honor of Boy’s Day. It is a time to celebrate sons and wish for them to grow up well and strong. The koi is said to be a symbol of strength for its ability to swim against the stream of a river.

Now, I realize that fish aren’t necessarily something that falls into most people’s cute category. Definitely not mine, they actually kinda gross me out. Oddly enough, these don’t!  They have a wonderful cultural significance and are colorful conversation pieces.  In spite of my dislike of wide-mouthed fish, I think these windsocks are wonderful!

By now my love for amazon.com should be well known. So many vendors! So much cute stuff!

Amazon is a great place to get koinobori. I’ve seen them listed from as small as 12 inches to as large as eight feet! (I don’t think I could stare down the mouth of that one!) Because of the ease with which you can find the koinobori, I’m only listing Amazon this time. ^^

 The photo in the upper left corner is from  橋本弥喜智商店 (Wataru Hashimoto Corp.) they use traditional methods to make the streamers and hand paint them. Please take a look at their beautiful work here, here, and here.

The other images are from my visit to the Saginaw Tokoshima Friendship Garden in Saginaw, MI.

I haven’t purchased a windsock yet. _._

I’ve got my shopping cart full and am still deciding which ones I want!

I’m also trying to find a place to hang an 8ft koi…  ヾ(@°▽°@)ノ

Bento boxes: cute and functional!  First used in 5th century Japan, these sweet lunch boxes are compact, helpful with portion control, and plain fun to eat out of! Bento boxes come in a variety of designs and materials and often include a set of matching chopsticks. Traditionally, bento lunches were simple but have become more elaborate over the years. 

I adore my bento boxes and picnics are my favorite way to use them!

There are many, many places to find bento boxes. Amazon offers an easy way to compare pricing and there is a good variety.

Here are some other places:

http://www.allthingsforsale.com/

http://www.japanesestyle.com/

http://www.modes4u.com

An adorable seal that will steal your heart! I have a plush of this guy and was socked by cuteness when I looked him in the eye. 

Mamegoma is one of the San-X characters. According to their website:

“Mamegoma” is a new variety of SEAL which was found recently. They’re distinctive features from normal seal are palm-sized and friendly. You may find to house them really easy, so why don’t you bring them back home?
Isn’t it exciting to know that you can house seals, which usually meet and see at the aquarium?

I strolled around the net and found plenty of Mamegoma stuff. Plushies, stationery, bags, stickers, and charms to name a few.

Here are some places to look for Mamegoma cuteness!

http://www.hakubundo.com/

www.shopkawaii.com

and, of course, amazon.com

I received this Ecstatic Pepopanda plush as a 2012 holiday gift and I absolutely love the little guy. He’s soft, has a great expression…and most of all…is cute! His best friend is a roll of toilet paper.
A really cute roll of toilet paper.

You can find him and lots of other adorable characters on Clumsy Plush.  They’ve got a good selection of other items as well.

I received this Ecstatic Pepopanda plush as a 2012 holiday gift and I absolutely love the little guy. He’s soft, has a great expression…and most of all…is cute! His best friend is a roll of toilet paper.

A really cute roll of toilet paper.

You can find him and lots of other adorable characters on Clumsy Plush.  They’ve got a good selection of other items as well.

I love cats. There’s nothing cuter than a fuzzy kitten curled up in your arms!I have a soft spot for Pusheen because he reminds me of my own kitty, who has sadly passed.

Take a look around Hey Chickadee and get your Pusheen on!

Highlighted here is a small selection of Pusheen items available from Hey Chickadee. They offer a selection of clothing,buttons, jewelry, and patches that feature Pusheen and other characters, as well as non-characterized items.