How To Reuse a Bubble Wrap Mailer / Envelope (Video)

Living in Japan, I send many packages and letters to my friends and family back home. In this video, I show you how you can reuse Bubble Wrap mailers.

Reusing Bubble Wrap Mailers:

  • Saves you money! These mailers are about $1.50 each to buy new.
  • One less item for you to have to carry to the curb.
  • Is lots of fun – why not add some stickers for decoration?
  • Do you have tips for reducing, reusing or recycling? Please share them in the comments :)

    December Giveaway: Winter Blues and Things to Do


    Winter is beautiful.

    Colorful birds, Christmas lights and conifers are contrasted by a bright white canvas. Snowfall brings a natural, muted calm to the busyness of the season. Aromas like spicy cinnamon, pine and cookies made from grandma’s handed-down secret recipe bring back warm memories of parties past and being asked to read the story of Jesus’ birth from an enormous family Bible.

    Winter is also harsh.

    Snowy wind and freezing temperatures can be too bitter for little ones to play outside for long, and icy roads cause terrible things like church and playgroup cancellations.

    On especially snowy days, when ever last piece of snow gear was soaked, my mom would bring out a big roll of newsprint and we’d make beautiful snowflakes to hang on the windows. Mom would carefully fold the paper to make more realistic, six-sided snowflakes, and would cut detailed diamonds, hearts and moon shapes. One year, we sprayed the paper snowflakes with gold paint and used them to decorate our Christmas tree. It looked amazing.

    Finding fun things to do on bad-weather days is one of the many responsibilities that come with the territory of parenthood.

    This month’s giveaway (sorry it’s late… went on a mini vacation to Tokyo by myself for a few days… thanks again, love!) is designed to make beating the winter blues a little easier. I’ve never seen origami paper so cool, and I had to share the crafty goodness with my readers.

    What is your favorite creative way to spend bad-weather days as a family?

    Maybe it’s using a calligraphy pen to write beautiful verses or poems over children’s watercolor paintings to frame and give as presents, turning household books into a library by using scrap paper date cards, rubber stamps and Polaroid photo ID library cards, or ordering from your children at their plastic food restaurant (my brother reminded me the other day that ours was called “McDonaking”) …I’d like to know!

    Please share your best family-friendly activity tip in the comments of this post to be eligible to win this 11-piece origami prize pack:


    (Click photo to enlarge)

    Eight packs of Japanese origami paper:

  • Glow in the dark paper
  • Japanese floral print (3 variations)
  • Japanese fighting beetle printed paper
  • Waterproof boat making paper
  • Animal print (zebra, giraffe, tiger and more!)
  • Dinosaur skin-print paper
  • Two-toned paper for more dramatic origami
  • Colorful fish themed origami paper
  • Two origami folding instruction books

  • Easy “Level 1” book
  • Intricate “Level 6” book
  • One, 400 sheet capacity origami paper carrying to help make your creativity portable.

    From the list of comments (and yes, you have to leave a pertinent comment in order to qualify!) my children will draw the winning name.

    My hope is that this giveaway will bring some sunshine to the winter doldrums and inspire parents to help their children have fun, and make some happy life-time lasting memories together in the process.

    BONUS: If you mention this giveaway in your blog (send me a “proof” link) or Tweet (via @mrsalbrecht), you will get ONE extra entry. (C’mon! I know some of you get a little carried away with this stuff and I can’t keep track of THAT many tiny pieces of paper!!) PLEASE do me a small favor and post a “proof link” or copy of Tweet so I’m sure to not to miss your extra-entry qualification. (Thanks!)

    Please leave your comment by 9PM EST, January 8, 2010.

    The winner will need to provide their mother’s maiden name, social security number, and a valid US credit card number + three digit secret code. JUST KIDDING! I will, however, need their name and mailing address which will be kept strictly confidential.

    If they’re agreeable, I’d like to interview the winner and feature them in a future post. I would consider including links in the post to the winner’s blog, favorite cause, home business, etc.

    Winning contestants may not enter my subsequent monthly giveaway contests for a year following their win. In other words, if you win in January, 2010, you cannot enter again until January, 2011.

    Origami, Snowflakes and Other Paper-Related Pleasures:

    Origami USA

    Origami Club (English version)

    Origami Resource Center

    Robert J. Lang – Origami Artist

    How to Make a 3D Snowflake

    Paper Snowflakes

    Enchanted Learning : Paper Crafts

    Paper Crafts from Family Fun

    Photo Credit: Winter Cardinal by JMitaStudios via Flickr

    Clean Bunny

    Leah's bunny played with her in the mud puddle. Now, Usagi-chan is clean.

    Leah’s Usagi-chan involuntarily played in a mud puddle yesterday.

    She’s all cleaned up and, hopefully, will be dry before Leah’s bedtime tonight…. or else I’m in a heap of trouble!

    Tamago: Eggs in Japan

    In a grocery store where seasoned dried fish bites eclipse potato chips on the snack food aisle, familiar food is always comforting.

    The egg, a.k.a. tamago, is one such item.

    Eggs are easy to prepare, versatile and healthy to eat.

    More importantly, though, eggs are identifiable to this American mom without having to break out the katakana and hiragana charts. (Unlike trying to discern the regular milk from the “yogurt milk,” which are sold side by side in nearly identical cartons, and will alarm taste buds if one accidentally buys the latter and pours it unsuspectingly on breakfast cereal).

    Japan utilizes the metric system. The application to egg storage and sales are no eggception ;) (Couldn’t resist!) Eggs in are sold in clear plastic cartons in quantities of ten instead of twelve, unless you purchase them on a military base, where a little Japanese grandma in a back room unpacks Japanese eggs repacks them by the dozen in gray cardboard cartons and finally breaks even when she’s filled 120 cartons. (Kidding!)

    Eggs are sold in a variety of sizes, and in a Japanese grocery store ten small eggs will cost about 150 ¥, 160 ¥ for medium eggs and 170 ¥ for large eggs.


    Because hard boiled eggs store easily, they are a popular bento appetizer. Just about every store has an aisle dedicated to making bento beautiful. At “The Great Superstore” we discovered florescent plastic egg molds that turn the ordinary egg into an extraordinary lunchtime creature pal. Simply place the hard boiled egg into the clamshell creature mold, latch the mold shut, and throw it back into boiling water for a few minutes and presto! The once-oval chicken egg pops out looking like a kawaii (cute) sakana (fish)!


    One of our favorite ramen shops at the Elm Mall in Goshogowara serves an oversized bowl of shell-on boiled eggs to enjoy with table shio (salt) while waiting for the delicious main course.

    Other restaurants, such as the Sukiya, an inexpensive Japanese-style curry chain, serve a raw egg to crack open and add as a condiment to gyudon. (After dining at the previously mentioned ramen shop, it should be noted that two of our children (with my uninformed blessing) ordered the raw egg from Sukiya’s ala carte picture menu and quickly discovered that they were not the hard boiled eggs they were craving, resulting in two very large globs of egg goo on our table. It may be a while until we go back again. Just sayin’! )

    Here are a few eggcellent Japanese tamago dishes everyone should try. Please note that I’ve linked to episodes of my favorite Japanese cooking show in English, “Cooking With Dog,” wherever possible :

    Omurice (Chicken Rice Wrapped with Fried Egg)

    Okonomiyaki (Japanese Assorted Pancake) (Similar to egg foo young, but grilled instead of fried)

    Tamagoyaki and Tamago Nigiri

    Katsudon (Tonkatsu Deep Fried Pork and Egg Bowl)

    Moroccan Spiced Salmon

    Do you want to eat more fish, but are tired of salmon with lemon and dill? Please try this delicious alternative that may inspire an entire Moroccan themed meal!

    The cumin and cinnamon flavor combination is uncommon and unforgettably delicious. The rub is rounded by ginger and all-spice, heated by a pinch of cayenne pepper, sweetened with a tad of sugar, and balanced by a squirt of lime.

    Moroccan Spiced Salmon

  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon mustard powder (Can be omitted)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 teaspoons white sugar
  • 2 pounds (1-inch thick) boneless, skin-on salmon fillets (or, side-of-salmon)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • Directions:

    1. In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon, cumin, salt, ginger, mustard, nutmeg, cayenne, allspice, and sugar; set aside.
    2. Line a baking sheet with foil, then spray with nonstick cooking spray. Rinse the salmon with cold water and pat dry. Lightly sprinkle the skin with the spice mix, then place the salmon skin-side down on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle the remaining spice mix evenly over the salmon. Allow the salmon to come to room temperature, 30 to 40 minutes.
    3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
    4. Sprinkle the salmon with lime juice and roast in the oven for 12 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. The salmon will still be rare when removed from the oven, but will continue to cook as it rests. After 15 minutes, wrap the fish tightly with foil and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

    Serve with couscous, roasted veggies (broccoli drizzled with olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper is easy!)


  • The salmon is refreshing cold and comforting served hot. We’ve eaten it both ways depending on the weather.
  • Leftovers are great for breakfast!
  • The salmon can be broiled if you do not have an oven for roasting. Broil it on a wire rack (so the spices don’t stick to a pan) skin side up for a few minutes, until the skin is crispy. Then, flip and broil for a few more minutes spiced-meat side up until the meat is tender and flaky. The flavor quality was NOT lost by broiling vs. baking.
  • If you serve the dish on a warm day, consider pairing with a cold side of couscous or rice salad (a wheat-free alternative!). Couscous and Cucumber Salad and my friend Beth’s Summer Rice Salad are great options.
  • Drizzle some Persian Cucumber Yogurt over the fish and cold couscous or rice salad to bind the flavors together on your plate!
  • Couscous with salt, pepper, butter and simple fresh herbs is delicious – but in a pinch, Near East seasoned couscous (even the herbed chicken flavor works, as it’s not too “chickeny”) is a perfectly acceptable time saver. I have found all of their products to be fantastic in quality, consistency and taste. Their website also has an inspiring “Dining With Style” that I’d highly recommend if you are looking for a few easy ideas to brighten your table.