Friday, September 30, 2011

Bento: You make my world go 'ROUND!

Our kids have been asking for "cheeseballs" for months.  Our middle child is a self-professed "cheeseball", and it's a bit of a joke in our house.  A few months back, the kids saw a huge tub of cheeseballs at the store, and as always, I passed them by.  It's not something that we buy or feed our kids....until today.  It's not a new habit, but I did pick up a container when the kids saw them on our last trip to the store.  I decided to incorporate them into this lunch.  (Funny enough, although all 3 kids loved them and asked for more, once they were out of sight, none of them have mentioned them since!)  This is in the Laptop Lunch box.

  • Rice cake "peanut butter sandwiches"
  • Vanilla yogurt and raspberry jam with large black grapes
  • Tomatoes and homemade Ranch dressing
  • The infamous cheeseballs
  • I didn't have time to do anything cutesy for the theme, so I just wrote a note on his napkin to tie the theme together.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Bento-ish: You are Top Banana & Apple of My Eye

Today's lunch didn't actually go INTO a bento box of any sort.  I used some of the bento containers to hold everything and then put them in a lunch bag....
I don't remember where I found the tags.  I printed out a ton at the beginning of the school year, and I can't seem to locate the original source.  If you want them, send a message to me, and I'm happy to send you the file that I had downloaded for free.

Clockwise from the top left:
  • Aussie apple (see below for cutting "diagram" and instructions)
  • Peanut butter, honey, and a dab of Nutella for apple and rice cake dipping
  • Apple Cinnamon mini rice cakes
  • Kale chips (made the night before)
  • PB&J
  • Banana - written on with pressure only

 Aussie apples are incredibly easy, easy to transport, prevent browning, and don't even dirty a container!  Make 4 slices:
The first one is the longest and goes across the apple near the core. (Horizontal long slice at the top in the picture.)
For the 2nd cut, you can place the apple on it's now "flat side", and cut just to the side of the core. (Vertical long slice on the left side in the picture.)
For the 3rd cut, flip the apple to the newest "flat side", and cut just to the side of the core. (Horizontal short slice on the bottom right of the picture.)
Finally, flip the apple to the newest "flat side", and cut the only remaining piece away from the core. (Vertical short slice on the right.)
Reassemble the apple and place a rubberband around it.
Surprisingly, all 3 of our kids love kale chips.  I was shocked.  I love them, but my husband could take them or leave them.  You peel all of the "veins" from a fresh bunch of kale.  (I make 2 bunches at a time.)  Rinse and thoroughly dry the kale.  Drizzle with olive oil and work through with your hands.  Yes, it's a little messy, but it will make your kale crispy without burning it.  Sprinkle with sea salt.  Bake for 20-35 minutes at 350. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Bento: Something's Fishy

Today, I filled our 6 year old's Laptop Lunch lunchbox with fish.  Lots and lots of fish.
So, maybe they aren't exactly FISH, but they are fish-shaped.  I wrapped the apple box in plastic wrap and used the fish band (that we have for a different set of tiered bento boxes) around the apple container.
  • The peanut butter and spun honey sandwich on honey wheat bread is cut into fish shapes using a LunchPunch.  Some fruit leather fish surround the sandwiches; although, they're hard to see in this picture.
  • The boiled egg was made into a fish using a mold from
  • The apples were cut and then the fish shape was "punched" with a small cutter from a marine-themed package from
  • The pretzel and cheddar goldfish fill the last compartment in the Laptop Lunch system. (Get 10% off if you use the discount code: Earleyfam)
  • The additional container (from the dollar store) has vanilla yogurt mixed with strawberry jam and is covered with a piece of fruit leather and its cutouts. *same ones used for the apples.
Disclaimer: I am not paid for this blog post and I do not receive a portion of proceeds from or Dollar Store.  I do receive a portion of proceeds if you choose to purchase a LaptopLunch system with our coupon code "Earleyfam", and we donate 5% of those proceeds to local schools.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Checkerboard Lunch

Checkers anyone?

This Laptop Lunchbox is filled with interactive pieces.
Top left: grape tomatoes and ranch. 
Top right: sandwich cut in half and standing on sides covered with a carved piece of fruit leather (checkerboard) and a circle and "x" from the fruit leather pieces.  2 granola bars fill the gap.
Bottom left: Checkerboard apples (playing pieces are to the right.)
Bottom right: Yogurt & chocolate covered raisins

Update - He liked this interactive checkerboard lunch that he's asked for it multiple times since then....Just don't tell them that they can't play with their food.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


If you live in Texas, then you know that we all were afraid fall may never come.  The extreme heat combined with the worst drought we've ever had has been truly miserable.  This weekend's cooler weather inspired me to decorate for the new season that's on the horizon.  (It is September after all!)
The mirror is one that we've had for a while, and it's from Hobby Lobby, as is the old mirror that I put inside the fireplace.  The battery-operated candles (with timers) are from Target.  The new painting, "Poppies", is my newest purchase during last week's 50% off sale at Hobby Lobby.  I love the colors and knew it would be a good match for the mantle wall. 
I made the banner with burlap, twine and a paint pen.  I love that it's subtle, but still gives more depth and texture to the overall decor.  I tried to do it the "easy" way by using iron-on heat & bond.  Honestly, it would have been easier to sew the straight line on the burlap triangles.  (They were 9" wide and 12" tall when I started, and then I folded the top over the twine and trimmed the edges.)
I have some branches and leaves that I may or may not put in vases and flank the mantle.  I just haven't found vases that I love yet....

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Bento: Crinkle Cutter

Our son got a new lunchbox this year, and although it's "cool", the Laptop Lunchbox system doesn't fit as well in it as it does in last year's box.  He REALLY likes the Laptop Lunches though, so he's willing to have the old lunchbox regularly.
It's amazing what "crinkle-cut" can add to a lunch in the eyes of a child.  Today's Laptop Lunchbox (use code Earleyfam for a discount) is filled with crinkle-cut items.  (I used a crinkle cutter from Pampered Chef that's sharp enough to cut through raw carrots with ease.)
The top left compartment has grape tomatoes with a couple of pics from, light ranch dressing, and crinkle-cut carrots in a silicone cupcake "flower" from World Market.
The second compartment is the dip (or "ketchup") for the "fries."  However, I also included a spoon in case he wants to eat the Light Vanilla Yogurt and Raspberry Preserve mix by itself.
The bottom right is full of crinkle-cut apples.
The bottom left is a honey-wheat sandwich with almond butter, grape jelly, and spun honey.