Friday, August 29, 2014

Bento: Camping themed lunch box

With the long weekend ahead of us, camping inspired lunches seemed appropriate.  These are the Arctic Zone containers with the small Laptop Lunch containers for dipping sauce.
Sandwiches are decorated with apple fruit leather "tents", broccoli "trees", Colby Jack "fire", and pretzel "logs."  Carrot & celery sticks fill the bottom left container, and if you're camping, fishing is included, right?  So Goldfish fill the remaining container.
Happy Labor Day weekend!

School Lunch Ideas: Star Wars, Hello Kitty, & Back to School

If you have been following my blog for any length of time, you know that I LOVE the Laptop Lunch systems.  You'll notice that we have a ton of different bento containers, and although we use them for different purposes, I feel like the Laptop Lunch system is the best fit for our needs.
This week's lunches use a combination of Laptop Lunch and Arctic Zone Ultra containers.
Most of the picks, baran, and other d├ęcor items come from  The silicone cups are from grocery stores and World Market.
When packing lunches, it's important that you consider your "wet" and "dry" components and the containers you select for each so that your kids don't find soggy pretzels or crumb-filled applesauce.
These lunches are mostly the same, but the kids have slightly different preferences and allergies, so you may notice some inconsistencies.  It's on purpose.  They are all nut-free.
Lunch 1 - Star Wars & Hello Kitty
Top left: Dried and yogurt covered fruit with a light saber or Hello Kitty pick
Left: pretzels
Top Right: Tortillas with Wowbutter, honey, sliced bananas, and chopped apples (halved so they fit) with a Darth Vader ring or Hello Kitty
Fresh pear
Bottom Right: diced pineapple with a drone ring or Hello Kitty pick.
Bottom: String Cheese

Lunch 2 Apple / Back to School Theme
(Looking at the first lunch on the left)
Aussie apple (check here for instructions)
Top left orange silicone: Picante plantains with a chalkboard pick
Top right green silicone: animal crackers
Bottom left green silicone: grape tomatoes
Bottom right orange silicone: dried bananas with alphabet pick
Apple pick in the center of the container.
Gogurt, String cheese, granola bar.

Lunch on far right also contains a sandwich (using the inverted container to trim the crust) with a letter pick and hand-drawn apple using Wilton Food Writers.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Recipe: My Favorite Blueberry Muffins

My kids often ask for these on the weekends, and they are so yummy fresh out of the oven.  Recently, I started making them as mini-muffins and taking them camping with us.  I serve them with some fruit the last morning that we're there so that as we're packing up, there are no additional dishes to wash; they're so easy to grab and go!  I know that it's not traditional "camp food," but by the time we've been camping for 4 days, easy with no clean up sounds perfect to me. 
My Favorite Blueberry Muffins
12 T (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temp.                   
1 ½ C sugar
3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature                                  
1 ½ t pure vanilla extract
8 oz (about 1 cup) sour cream                                    
1/4 C milk
2 1/2 C all-purpose flour                                            
2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda                                                        
1/2 t kosher salt
1 pint fresh blueberries, picked through for stems

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place 16 paper liners in muffin pans.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla, sour cream, and milk. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low speed add the flour mixture to the batter and beat until just mixed. Fold in the blueberries with a spatula and be sure the batter is completely mixed.

Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pans, filling each cup just over the top, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the muffins are lightly browned on top and a cake tester comes out clean.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Elf on the Shelf: Back-To-School Suprise Visit

Whoa!  Is that who I think it is?  It's AUGUST!  Why on earth would your Elf on the Shelf show up in AUGUST?
Well, I'll tell you why I think he did it.  He's trying to help this mom out.  For the past 4 years, we have had 1 kid with homework.  School started yesterday, and we now have 3 school aged kids with homework.  The Kindergarteners were supposed to practice writing their name for "homework."  One of them did great and far exceeded expectations, while the other one had a full-on-meltdown.  Buddy Kringle knows that I don't "do bribes."  (Reinforcement, yes, but this is considered a bribe in my house.)  So...he came to help me out and offer some extra incentive for a smooth homework time this afternoon.  Thanks, Buddy!  I owe you one.  (His suitcase is a jewelry box with a piece of silver pipe cleaner as the "handle.")
By all means share this, pin it, print it, blog about it, but link back to this page and not directly to the printable links.
Check out our other Elf on the Shelf ideas and printables here!
You can also purchase all of my Elf on the Shelf printables for easy and immediate download in the store to the right.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Chalkboard Placemats / Chalkboard 1st Day of School Signs

I made chalkboard placemats out of black out fabric and chalkboard paint, and they were perfect for the kids' 1st Day of School signs. 
They are super easy to make!  I bought the black out fabric (usually used for drapes) at JoAnn Fabric, and I had the chalkboard paint mixed at a local home improvement store.  I painted a huge piece of the fabric, let it dry, and then I cut it with a rotary cutter down to the sizes I wanted.  Voila!  I've washed them in the washing machine on "Delicates" and air dried them so far with no issues, too.
I've used printables in the past, but I like having the date, their names, and their new teachers' names on them.  In the afternoon, we could easily change the teachers' names to "I loved __________" to share their favorite part of their first day.  The best part is that we can use these again and again, and they take up VERY little space.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Ready for school!

It has come.  It is really here.  Our youngest children, twins, start Kindergarten tomorrow.  I don't know if I will cry or rejoice...or both.  Probably both.
I love the Laptop Lunch systems, but as we start the kids to school,  I want to be fully confident that all of the pieces will come home.  So these lunches are in the containers that came with the lunch boxes.
Inside, we have...
Sandwiches colored with Foodoodlers,  fruit leather cut into shapes, yogurt covered pretzels,  Fuji apples with cinnamon with food picks, and note bananas.
Clothes are ready for the week for all 3 kids. (The oldest already put them in order in his closet - so no photo.) 
Hang in there, moms and dads. We can do this.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Teacher Questionnaire - FREE Printable

As homeroom mom for a few years now, I mentioned to our PTO President at the end of last year that a standard "get to know you" info sheet from each teacher would be incredible - not just about them, their kids and pets, and their favorite color, but what about the best teacher gift they've ever received?

Here's the FREE printable download I've created for my kids this year.  I searched and looked at many of the printables that are out there, and this combines what I loved about each as well as few pieces of my own. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

School Lunch!

It is so hard to believe that our kids will be headed back to school in only a couple of weeks. Today I'm packing lunches and getting back in the habit. 
These are packed in Arctic Zone Ultra lunch boxes with sandwiches, fruit leather hearts, goldfish, dried cherries, raisins, and applesauce cups.