Ok so let me make clear that I am not an expert on fancy shmancy food presentation. However, after my experience last year with my then 1st grader coming home with untouched lunch I needed a solution for this year. I browsed the internet and stumbled across something really cool. Drum roll please....Bento box lunches! I admit I've seen this stuff many times before and would pay little
attention because I just always assumed it was too complicated and time consuming and did I mention complicated? Yeah so I finally explored this idea of making bento style lunches a bit more and came to the conclusion that it's actually easy, pretty (which can be quite irresistible to picky eaters), can be quite healthy, and fun to prepare!
If you don't know what bento even means, here is a quick run down straight from a really user friendly site called Lunch In a Box:
A bento lunch is a compact, balanced, visually appealing meal packed in a box. Historically, it’s a Japanese box lunch, similar in concept to the Indian tiffin, the Korean dosirak, or the Filipino baon lunch. In Japanese, “bento” or “obento” refers to the packed meal, and “bento-bako” refers to the bento box itself.
I was really inspired by all of the info out there. I even purchased a book for just 10 bucks that seemed like an easy beginners guide for making these things. I learned that you can really pack whatever you want in a bento lunch (Any cuisine) and you can even salvage dinner leftovers in a bento lunch. There are so many possibilities! I even learned about how to make rice balls and sushi with whatever fillings I wanted. Molds for making shapes are really inexpensive and can be found on Amazon. I encourage you to check out the link above to Lunch In a Box and also find a book to help start you off. I purchased a book called Yum-Yum Bento Box just because it was inexpensive and I saw good reviews on Amazon for this. It gives a good list of supplies/accessories to use for making the various shapes and for cutting the foods. I really like that the book also gives prep times for the different lunches and lots of pictures.
FYI- I'm not getting any kind of pay or incentive for sharing this info. This is all out of my own desire to just share something that is working for me. There are a ton of other bento making books too that you can research on Amazon or just the internet in general. I just like to look at the reviews to see what other people think. As far as finding a bento box or lunch container to do this with, just check out the links above as well. As for myself, I use Planet Box. This is a really cool stainless steel (dishwasher safe!) lunch box that can serve as a bento box and my kids absolutely love it. So far (knock on wood), this whole bento adventure is a success!
Hope you like this post and give this a shot. If you have suggestions or knowledge on making bento lunches,please do share! I would love to know more so please please leave a comment! Good luck!
Here is something you can do with simple hotdogs (I used the Hebrew National brand, but you can use just about any knid). I made a face on one and the other I just wrapped some nori around. There is an even cuter way to make these...In the pic above I just cut the hot dog in half the long way then split open down the middle. From there I just slit like three lines along the bottoms for the legs...or whatever they are...lol. The idea is so that you have something that will look like an octopus. After cutting the hot dog, you can boil or lightly fry until the leggy things curl. I wrapped some fried egg around mine with nori and this could go in a bento with rice balls and whatever else you would like.
This wasn't the best explanation so here is a link that explain better:
For the octodog (hot dog octopus)
It's finally here. Summertime is in full effect. What better time than now to start getting back outdoors? Allergies are settled down, the weather is nice, and there are so many fun things to do. I've come up with some ideas for a Summer Bucket list that I will be exploring with my family this year and I thought I'd just share them in case anyone wants to entertain a few.
#1 -Almost everyone lives somewhat close to a historical landmark. If you do and haven't experienced (or if it's been a good while since you last experienced) the fun right
under your nose, go ahead and stop taking it for granted. Go walk a bridge, visit a museum, a National Park, etc. Get out and explore with the family and make a day of it. You can teach the kiddos something while you are at it. Check the internet for local landmarks near you.
#2 -Build a terrarium. A friend of mine inspired this one for me. He just learned about making terrariums and quickly became awesome at it. It is not hard at all to get started with making
terrariums. This can be fun and educational. Start out by getting a good book about how to build
terrariums and visit a local nursery for plants. How to build a terrarium.
#3 -Add a bird bath and/or bird house to your back yard. I was in an arts and crafts store the other day and saw all kinds of bird houses and baths that you could design, paint, build, or even some that were ready made. This is surprisingly really affordable (can be under 20 bucks!) and could be a lot of fun for the kids as well as educational. See what The Bird Depot shares as well as good deals- How to make a bird house.
#4 -Make cake pops for the 4th of July. There are so many great 4th of July recipes out there right now. Here is one that I think I'm going to try from Taste and Tell Blog
OR if you want something a little more fruity, try blueberry/strawberry/whipped cream cups. This can also be prepared in one big dish. Red White and Blue desserts.
#5 -Go to the library to check out some good books and then read outside somewhere.
#6 -Make a lemonade stand. You can be as creative as you want with this one as far as building a stand. Otherwise, you can always buy one that is already made. Making the lemonade could be a fun creative part as well. You could even get fancy and have different flavor lemonades. Do you know some recipes for different lemonades besides lemon and strawberry? Please share!
#7 -Create an outdoor movie theatre. Project a movie outside in the backyard- have popcorn and grill up some dinner. There are many different selections of projectors and screens. Check Amazon and Walmart for some reasonable deals. I've even just used a white sheet for a screen and that worked just fine.
#8 -Go bowling or play miniature golf. This is easy and just plain fun; especially when you are with a good crowd.
#9 -Have a water balloon toss/play in the sprinklers and add water guns to the mix. Sometimes its just so hot and this is a great way to cool off. Check out Amazon for a cool selection of water guns and water toys.
#10 -Have a yard sale- Make a party out of setting it up and tearing it down at the end of the day. Who says a yard sale cant be fun? DIY life shares How to Hold a Profitable and Fun Yard Sale
#11 -Fly a kite! Simple fun that is priceless! Everything you need to know about kites.
#12 -Go bike riding to get lunch. That way you get fun time plus exercise before and after stuffing yourself!
#13 -Go to a beach and build a sand castle. I have no idea how to build a sand castle, but I sure want to. Here is some helpful info to get you started from what you need to how to build one.
#14 -Plant a garden. Don't have a suitable area? Get a half barrel and do a small garden with summer veggies or herbs. See what Eat Close To Home says about starting a garden from scratch.
Learn from DIY Network how to make a container theme garden.
#15 -Treasure walk. Give the kids each a little bucket. Go on a walk and let them collect treasures they find along the way – leaves, rocks, flowers, bugs. Don't let those "treasures" enter the house though! See how Audra from Rediscovering Domesticity does this walk with her family.
So there you have it! Hope you try out something on this list to spread some fun into your summer this year. I would love to know more ideas that you could add. Please share in my comments section; especially ideas that can keep families within a reasonable budget.
January 1st, 2012. Woke up at 7:47am and I'm already thinking about what's for dinner. Hope everyone was safe last night...no crazy middle of the night phone calls about who's in jail or in the hospital- nice...no news is good news as far as I'm concerned. My youngest one just had her first tantrum of the year, now she's just singing to herself. I'm dreading cleaning the house, but know I must do it. Today it needs to happen. That dead tree must come down. Aw man I'm gonna have to go back to work Tuesday. I gotta prep for school...another class coming up. I need to organize my 3 girls clothes- go through SO many clothes and pull stuff that doesn't fit anymore....oh no, what happened to my calm world?
The house is halfway clean, tree is down, hubby is happy watching a game or something now, gonna have some yummy coffee, I don't even have a hangover, looking forward to mom and her beau coming over for dinner, I'm gonna make a kick a$$ roast, kids are content enjoying a movie, I think everything is gonna be okay, I'll sit down with my iPad and make a to do list and organize my calendar ...right after I change a dooky diaper and clean all the coco puffs my little monster just happily scattered all over the kitchen floor. "Sigh..." Life is good.
Got more than you anticipated dealing with in terms of all the "stuff" you've accumulated this holiday season? Well when you really put it into perspective, what a nice problem to have considering those who did not receive or are less fortunate right? This said, making room for new toys and clothes after Christmas doesn't have to be a drag. I know I thought I had prepared before Christmas for all of the extra items that I knew would be coming into my household. Don't get me wrong, I am so very thankful for all of the gifts my kids received and they got a lot of things that they really needed, however I simply don't have enough room for all of their "stuff". They still have things from last year that are in good condition. I wouldn't feel right just tossing them and they are items that I no longer have use for.
So what now? I don't want to just keep stuff and let them collect dust just because they are things in good condition. Some sorting and organizing is definitely in order here, but I need to get rid of all the extra stuff first as many of you. What's working for me is dividing the garbage from the donate-able (I totally made up that word, but you get me right?) type items and then putting all of that donate worthy stuff aside in the garage to tackle when I'm ready. I just used big garbage bags to sort stuff out in a way that I can manage. Now I'm able to get things organized inside and I'm feeling a lot less stressed and actually good about giving to others.
I think giving is a great lesson for my kids too. I want them to know that it is always good to give to those in need when you truly can as we could be in the very same situation. Nothing we have is promised. That's why I'm taking this opportunity to include them in the process. So far I've been very honest with them about what I'm doing with their old toys and they even started helping me and saying things like "Mom, I really like this doll, but I don't need it anymore and I think another little girl might really like it." Then I hear my other daughter chime in with something like "Yeah, cause it might be her only toy right?" Lets hope they don't have and regrets later from missing those toys...lol.
Sometimes it can take some effort to find the best way and place to donate your stuff. Don't let that stop you from making it happen. It'll be worth it and you will feel so glad you did it. There are even organizations that will pick stuff up that you leave on the curb right outside your home so just consider taking the time to give rather than simply dumping your stuff in the trash. As the saying goes, one family's junk is another family's treasure.
Anyway, you can totally just search the web for some local spots in your area. Also, here are some helpful resource links for you if you'd like some specific ideas for where to donate and how to make room for all of that new stuff if you want to do some giving as you make room in your home!
Happy giving and happy cleaning!
When is the last time you looked forward to your commute to work or school? Most would say that's a rare occasion. Well, I thought I would share my perspective on the matter because I know a thing or two about commuting and the energy it can easily consume innocent people of. I have been commuting for almost 15 years a round trip distance of just under 100 miles a day. Why? You ask...(because I heard you just ask that) well as I've told many people, for my kids to live in a neighborhood and attend school in a specific area that my husband (he's a commuter too) and I prefer and for them to be surrounded by other family is extremely important to us. It just so happens that my place of work is no where near that. I actually like work so am not looking for another job. Believe it or not, my work brings me joy and that's important too. So now that we've got that out of the way, let's talk drivin'...
For me, commute time is really some of the only "me" time I get all week. It's the few moments in a day that I am kind of alone. I try to find something good in that. I use to hate my commute and don't get me wrong, I still have bad days. However, that's usually because I didn't prep for my trip. Preparation is key and it takes time, but it's well worth it. Here are some commuting prep tips:
Once you get on the road then what? Here are things you can actually do while driving...with caution of course because driving does require focus and safety.
One safety reminder: Don't drive sleepy! Pull over in a safe place and even then call someone to say where you are and that you are taking a power nap. Set your phone alarm. Let them know if they don't hear from you in a certain amount of time that something is wrong (especially if they call you and you don't answer).
I'm sure there is more to add to my lists and everyone has their tips and tricks that work for them. I'd love to know some more from you! Please leave a comment and share. Hope your next commute is a positive experience! Here's some commuting fun I'd like to leave you with:
WATCH KK's Commute VIDEO!
So you wanna know the key to a happy stress free life? It's simple. Its not always simple to execute though, but it can be. Have a plan...don't just have a plan. To have the ultimate plan you gotta plan when you are gonna create that plan or the plan will never come to fruition. That's right people, I said you gotta plan to plan. You have to make time just to figure out what you are gonna do with your time if you want your time to be well spent and productive. So how does one do this? Well, it actually doesn't take a rocket scientist believe it or not. It just takes some will power and a calendar or to do list.
First thing is first though. If you want to start meeting your deadlines, you need to be organized...yeah, all things (stuff in your kitchen, room, kids rooms, closets, garage, desk, etc.) actually need to have a place of their own. That means if laundry is chillin in the basket for longer than a day or two you might want to check out whats in those closets and drawers because that impacts how clean your living room or bedroom will be which impacts how you are gonna get things clean for when Aunt Sally and Uncle Jack come over OR you just need to get your life organized because you simply can't find time to even fold up the clothes. If this is the case...you are not alone. If you need some organization in your life here are a few tips:
The list above is just a good place to start, but everyone is motivated differently. The point is to make a plan. Don't beat yourself up if it doesn't end up perfect right away (chances are it probably wont and you will backslide sometimes, but you gotta get up and keep it moving!) Even a little change is good. One step at a time.
This definitely works for me. Is life perfect now? No way, but I am so much better at keeping things tidy than I was before! My house is not insanely taken over by the kids anymore, my room is clean, bathrooms/kitchen clean, dinner is on the table, laundry is done, kids are clean, fun time happens with the kids, etc.and my hubby and I both work full time and have a long commute. Where there is a will there is a way.
This also applies to work life. An up-kept calendar does wonders. I feel the difference when this is not the case. Also, a clean office can help immensely.
Organizing to make life easier is an ongoing and exciting hobby of mine. I never thought I would say that, but what can I say; bins, sharpies, baskets, files, cabinets, shelves....they all make me happy when used in a functional way! Check out this website on Planning and Organizing Life. It's a favorite of mine.
And it would be really nice if you came back and share some tips, tricks, and success stories in my comments section! Please do!
Good luck! You can do it!