facebook-link pinterest-link twitter-link rss-link google-plus

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Brighten Up Your Lunches With Food Picks

Food picks are one of my favorite bento accessories. Many are so cute that I LOVE them myself! In fact, I've just ordered a bunch of new picks, not yet sure if it's for Nikolai's lunches or for my own viewing pleasure, lol. Lately, especially on days when my lunch packing mojo is on holiday, I've been using food picks to brighten up his lunches.

When I first started out bento-ing or packing lunches for Nikolai, one early consideration was his picky eating. Yes, he is a picky eater. I'm not one to be overly critical or assign lables, but initially I had some difficulty packing lunches that he would actually eat. I thought that cute food picks and rings might be great ways to brighten up his lunches. The first bento accessories I purchased were food picks from Bento USA (they have so many choices with reasonable prices so I purchased a huge collection).

Cute food picks and rings really are great ways to brighten up any simple lunch and I noticed that he would eat up most of his lunches when I included those cute picks or rings. We also acquired many more food picks/ rings by saving them after we devoured cupcakes at a party or just by buying them from the store. Enjoy the cupcakes and save the cute picks for later, how convenient is that! :)

I've included food picks or rings in most of Nikolai's past lunches and below are just a few.

Brighten Up Your Lunches With Food Picks

Bento lunch 1: A sandwich cut into half which I included a bee cupcake pick. Sides were organic granola bar cut into half, cheddar crackers, string cheese slices, cucumber slices and apple slices with a smaller bee pick. This lunch was packed in a leak-proof Yumbox.

Bee pick on a simple sandwich lunch

Bento lunch 2: This lunch was sent warm in our Warm and Tote bag. It was all natural chicken nuggets with cute picks and organic popcorn. He also had a side of fruits which are not in picture. This lunch was packed in a Planetbox shuttle.

Nuggets and popcorn with Donald Duck and Daisy food picks.

Bento lunch 3: This lunch was packed towards the end of last school year when I'd lost my lunch packing mojo. String cheese with a soccer ball cupcake ring, yogurt covered stars, a sandwich with a soccer ball cupcake pick, brownie for a treat and green grapes. Packed in a Planetbox rover.

Soccer pick on a simple sandwich and a soccer ring on string cheese

Bento lunch 4: I attempted to free hand cut a sweet shape from smoked Gouda cheese, topped it on a Hawaiian sweet bun. His sides were organic apple sauce with a sweet pick, yogurt covered fruits and organic baby carrots. This lunch was packed in a leak-proof Yumbox.

Sweet shaped cheese on Hawaiian bun with a cute sweet pick

Bento lunch 5: This simple lunch was packed in a Lunchbots duo and sent warm in our Warm and Tote bag. It contains chicken nuggets, a cereal bar with a star pick and cheddar crackers. Sides are fruits and veggies which are sent cold, not pictured.

Nuggets and a cereal bar with star pick

Bento lunch 6: A ladybug pick on a sandwich, a couple of flower shaped watermelon slices on green grapes, yogurt covered fruit snacks, a Babybel cheese, cheese crackers and yogurt covered star. This lunch was packed in a Planetbox rover.

Ladybug pick on a sandwich to brighten up the lunch

Here are the supplies that I used to create and pack these lunches.


Thursday, August 25, 2016

Sailor Bags Insulated Lunch Bag Review and a Sailboat Lunch

I am elated to be given the opportunity by the nice people at Sailor Bags to try out their lunch bag. For me, and perhaps many of you, the right bag can really make a difference. I have a collection of handbags like an artist has a collection of pencils. Lots of them, ask my hubby! Well, with this interest one can appreciate the difference between 'just any bag' and 'a really great bag'. In the spectrum of lunch bags, this Sailor Bag is really, REALLY great!

Sailor Bags Insulated Lunch Bag Review

The color of the Chesapeake lunch bag is very bright and very cheerful, as you can see in these photos. What's more, this lunch bag is of excellent quality and durability. It is made with a genuine sailcloth exterior of Dacron polyester, YKK marine grade zippers, corrosion-resistant metal hardware, super-tough webbing and their signature sailmaker's zig-zag stitching. I love the nautical influence and simple yet stylish design.

Sailor Bags Insulated Lunch Bag Review

The strap is adjustable and comfortable for kids and adult alike (like me, I adore this bag). The strap can even be arranged to make a backpack! The outside dimensions are about 9 inches high, 8 inches wide and 3 inches deep and the inside is insulated to keep your lunch either warm or cold. It will easily accommodate many of our lunch boxes even with an ice pack.

Sailor Bags Insulated Lunch Bag Review

I like the slim but roomy design and it holds a lot more than its great looks. It has an extra wide top opening which means it's easy to pack and easy to access. The front pocket holds a napkin and utensils.

Sailor Bags Insulated Lunch Bag Review  and a sailboat lunch

I made the sailboat shaped sandwich which is floating on a sea of blueberries below a Babybel cheese sun. Above and to the left is a school of fish going to school and to the right of them are some organic baby carrots and green seedless grapes with a life ring pick. This lunch was packed in an Easylunchbox and will make its journey to school in a Sailor Chesapeake Insulated Lunch Bag.

Sailor Bags Insulated Lunch Bag Review and a Sailboat Lunch

Below is his lunch with an ice-pack and juice in the lunch bag, ready to go!

SailorBags has, in addition to this wonderful example, a stylish collection of bags for just about any mission which you can view here. While this bag might be higher in price ($39) than many alternates, you will find few with such style, quality, and a lifetime guarantee!

Disclosure: Sailor Bags generously provided me with the product for review without cost to me. Other than receiving the product, I have not received any compensation to write this review. All opinions are my own.


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Planet Wise Reusable Snack Bags and Wet & Dry Sport Bag Review

I have become obsessed with reusable snack bags since our summer vacation! We traveled a lot this year and for us our portable snacks are a must. Often we are on a long stretch of road when someone mentions that, "a little snack would be nice about now." Other times we might be at some scenic place and a quick snack helps extend our enjoyment. If you also like the ability to take some snacks along, you can understand why I was so happy to receive these items from the nice people over at Planet Wise.

These are great go-to bags for traveling with snacks. There is no need to worry about the food going stale if the kids don't finish everything. They do not take up unnecessary space in my purse. Another part about these snack bags is once the snacks are gone, I can fold them up to a small size to put in my bag, which is something you can't do with a bulky container!

Planet Wise Reusable Snack Bags and Wet & Dry Sport Bag Review

These bags are perfect for cut fruits, veggies, nuts, pretzels, sandwiches and more. They have a waterproof lining with a zippered closure so whether your treat is crunchy, crumbly, sticky or juicy, these bags are the completely portable solution and so much nicer than using disposable bags. Not only are they great for travel but also to accompany Nikolai's school lunches. It will be great for after school activities when he requires a snack.

Planet Wise Reusable Snack Bags Review

These are high quality from the outer fabric to the lining to the zipper! The designs are cute and I find them really easy to clean. They have many cute patterns to choose from, which you can find here for the sandwich bags and here for the snack bags.

Planet Wise Reusable Snack Bags Review

The Planet Wise Sport Drawstring Bag with Waterproof Pocket shown below is such a great idea with its two sections in one bag; one for dry and another for wet clothes. Many times I've had to send an extra plastic bag with Nikolai for his wet or soiled clothes. This separate waterproof section is a most welcome alternative, and will be our go-to bag replacing those plastic bags. It would probably be easy for you to think of many things you would prefer to separate into this waterproof section. Then there is also the smaller zippered compartment for those items you want close to hand. They have many great patterns to choose from which you can find here.

Planet Wise Wet & Dry Sport Bag Review

You can see both the waterproof antimicrobial inner bag as well as the other inner bag in the photo below. Brilliant concept, simple to use, and stylish too. I love it!

Planet Wise Wet & Dry Sport Bag Review

Disclosure: Planet Wise generously provided me with the products for review without cost to me. Other than receiving the products, I have not received any compensation to write this review. All opinions are my own.


Monday, August 22, 2016

Fit & Fresh Leak Proof Lunch Set Review

The nice people at Fit & Fresh sent me a bright and beautiful collection of containers and also a really great lunch bag. The Kid's 17 Piece Healthy Lunch Set that I am featuring here is truly fabulous. Their colors are very bright and cheerful as you can see below.

Fit & Fresh Leak Proof Lunch Set Review

I believe that, because of the versatility available with these, this set is not only great for kids but for adult as well, and I'm sure to use those with the gorgeous pink lids very often. You all might know that my favorite color is pink!!

Fit & Fresh Leak Proof Lunch Set Review

But great looks alone don't make a great container, right?  Not to worry here, for these are wonderfully leak proof, BPA free, and the sizes seem just perfect for your school lunches. I say wonderfully leak proof because they are both leak proof and also easy for children to open and close.

Fit & Fresh Leak Proof Lunch Set Review

Included in the set are ice packs in three different sizes. One fits the Lunch Pod, and the two others fit the two cup and one cup containers. These ice packs are specially shaped so that they will snap securely into the lids yet don't interfere with the leak proof seal. Also for our convenience they even included volume measurement markings on the sides of the containers.

Fit & Fresh Leak Proof Lunch Set Review

This Kid's 17 Piece Lunch set comes with the Lunch Pod, which has plenty of room for a triple decker sandwich, and two each of the two cup, one cup, and half cup containers. Included, of course, are the leak proof lids for each and three ice packs to fit the Lunch Pod, the two cup, and one cup containers. All of these containers can travel from the freezer to the microwave and then to the dishwasher for ease of use.

Fit & Fresh Leak Proof Lunch Set Review. A fun and easy lunch

The lunch shown above shows some of these containers in use. The larger container holds a simple whole wheat sandwich with a baran for added cuteness. Besides, I just got some new barans and picks and am quite excited to put them to use. The two cup container holds organic baby carrots and seedless green grapes. The one cup size is filled with organic Greek yogurt topped with fresh blueberries.

Below is the Appalachian Insulated Lunch Bag also from Fit and Fresh. It is a great way to transport your lunch. It has extra thick insulation and an additional zippered pocket on the back. Also included with it is a reusable ice pack.

Fit & Fresh Lunch Bag Review.

This and other bag options can be found at their website where you can see their extensive collection of goodies. This one was among the large selection found by clicking on the Men's Lunch Bag choice found in the sub-menu under 'WORK'.

I also have their bento lunch kit and their soft touch lid meal carrier which you can see here.

Disclosure: Fit & Fresh generously provided me with the products for review without cost to me. Other than receiving the products, I have not received any compensation to write this review. All opinions are my own.

Friday, August 19, 2016

4 Winnie The Pooh Themed Lunches

It's been back to school for over one week and I am happy to share that we made it through smoothly! The drive to and from his new school wasn't as bad as we had anticipated. Nikolai is happy with his new school, which is a great start, met with some old friends, and made some new ones!

Any Winnie The Pooh fans here? I am one! Nikolai still likes Pooh but not as much as in his younger days and even hubby likes Pooh and the other characters from the hundred acre woods. I made these Pooh bear themed lunches for him last school year and it's about time that I post them. I still have a huge backlog of lunch pictures which I'll post, slowly but surely!

Bento lunch 1: A whole wheat sandwich topped with a cheddar cheese Pooh face for which I used my cutter/ stamper to create. The bee was free hand cut cheddar cheese with nori stripes, mozzarella cheese wings and I used food safe marker for the features. Alongside are organic baby carrots, ranch in the small Pooh container, fruit snacks, and seedless green and red grapes with a bee pick. This lunch was packed in his leak-proof Yumbox.

Winnie The Pooh and Bee school lunch in Yumbox

Bento lunch 2: Free hand cut Pooh face with nori features, organic fruit leather for his shirt and placed on top of a whole wheat sandwich. His sides were grapes with a Pooh cupcake ring, baby carrots, yogurt covered fruits and pineapple pieces. This lunch was packed in his Planetbox.

Winnie The Pooh kids school lunch

Bento lunch 3: Pooh mini sandwiches which I used my small cutter/stamper to create, it's so easy. Alongside are organic granola bar cut into half, fruit snacks in a bear shaped silicone cup, yogurt covered star, cucumber slices with a Pooh pick, a couple of grape tomatoes from our garden, a banana for which I used a toothpick to carve POOH lettering. This lunch was also packed in his Planetbox.

Winnie The Pooh stamped sandwiches for school lunch.

Bento lunch 4: Main compartment contains a beehive shaped sandwich with a cute bee pick. His sides were organic baby carrots, mini choc chips, seedless red grapes in a bee shaped silicone cup, seedless green grapes and blueberries with a Winnie the Pooh pick. This lunch was packed in his Planetbox.

Beehive and Pooh bear bento lunch.

Here are the supplies that I used to create and pack these lunches.


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Stasher Storage Bag Review

Our family is always interested in helping to conserve resources and protect the environment and especially with waste which presents a hazard for wildlife. Using disposable plastic bags is much more expensive than many would think, taking into account their long lived disposal problem.

Stasher Storage Bag Review

Stasher Storage Bag Review

Stasher, the maker of the self-sealing, airtight, non-plastic bags made of pure platinum silicone, has sent me one of their silicone bags. Nikolai is wildly excited about their contribution to a sustainable environment, and I am very impressed with their ease of use. These will become my go-to bags for traveling with snacks. They are very durable, which means you needn't worry about cleaning cracker crumbs from the bottom of your child's backpack. You can freeze food in them and even cook food in them. When they return from your family's adventures, you don't throw them in the trash to become a problem forever, you put them in the dishwasher or hand wash to have them ready for their next use.

Stasher Storage Bag Review. Reusable and great for snacks.

The award winning design features an airtight seal so I don't have to worry about food going stale if my son didn't finish everything. Size matters also, and these are perfect for fruits, veggies, crackers, cookies, and other treats for after school activities. In the photo below I have a breakfast for lunch and my Stasher to keep some popcorn fresh. Photos above also show organic baby carrots in the Stasher for snacks.

Stasher Storage Bag Review. Breakfast for lunch and snack in Stasher.

The Stasher bag, with its pinch-press airtight seal, can be used to store many other things as well such as makeup, vitamins, USB drives, jewelry, school supplies, and the list goes on. For more ideas and complete information please click here to visit their website.

Stasher Storage Bag Review

Disclosure: Stasher generously provided me with the product for review without cost to me. Other than receiving the product, I have not received any compensation to write this review.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

PlanetBox JetPack Backpack and Carry Bag Review

The wonderful people over at PlanetBox continue to amaze me! Recently they sent me their Jetpack Backpack and a Carry Bag. These are two great items designed to be very practical in use and made to a high standard of quality for durability.

The Jetpack is a brilliant combination of a spacious backpack, into which you might put the usual collection of school supplies, books, notebooks, laptop, and such, with a special compartment below for holding any Planetbox, or many other lunch containers, in a horizontal position. This special compartment has its own zippered access so when it is time to eat, everything else can stay put while you slide your lunch out from its hiding place.

While writing this, Planetbox generously sent me another package which contains three of their ColdKits. I put one of them to use straight away so I could share my impression of the ColdKit with y'all. Continue reading and you will get to it.

PlanetBox JetPack Backpack and Carry Bag Review

In addition to the lower lunch storage compartment of the Jetpack backpack there are seven other pockets of various sizes, four of which have zippered closures and there are also two water bottle sized pockets at the sides, which are the perfect place to securely carry your BottleRocket or any beverage container. This is a good sized bag with a base of 13 inches x 12.5 inches and a height of 17 inches. While their site, Planetbox recommends it for children over eight years old, its 30 liter capacity is very nice for older students or adults with lots to carry!

The bag is made of a recycled polyester fabric that has been independently certified to be free of phthalates, BPA, and lead. It has adjustable shoulder straps that are sturdy, well padded, and very comfortable. There is also another sturdy loop at the top.

This great bag is available in six attractive patterns. The one Nikolai chose is the one shown here and is known as the Nebula design.  

Planetbox Jetpack Backpack Review

The PlanetBox Carry Bag is a great companion for your PlanetBox Rover or Launch. This is an insulated bag that, like all their products, is of the highest quality materials and workmanship. Inside it has a TPU coating for super easy clean-up while outside there is a snack pocket and a bottle pouch which accommodates not only their attractive BottleRocket but most bottles up to three inches in diameter. The Carry Bag strap is sturdy and adjustable.

Planetbox Carrybag Review

This lunch, packed in a PlanetBox Rover includes a sandwich shaped as a car with windows, wheels, and stripe cut from Colby cheese, tires cut from nori, and a pick. In addition there is a granola bar with bunny crackers, seedless red grapes, sugar snap peas with ranch for dip in the small container and some yogurt covered raisins. A couple of fun picks were also added.

Car lunch in a Planetbox rover.

The convenient ColdKit that I mentioned earlier, which can keep your lunch cold up to eight hours, fits perfectly in the mesh pocket of the Carry Bag and will also fit their Slim Sleeve and Shuttle Carry Bag. Their ColdKit consists of an ice pack of purified water and a washable fabric sleeve. This combination is easy to use, as it can be put into the freezer with or without the sleeve, and the fabric sleeve solved the excess condensation problem that I've experienced with some other attempts to keep the lunches cold. Nikolai reported to me that indeed his lunch was kept cold till his lunch time.

Planetbox ColdKit review

I have previously published reviews of the PlanetBox RoverPlanetBox Launch, PlanetBox Shuttle and the adorable PlanetBox BottleRocket. I'm sure that like all of these, the Jetpack Backpack and the Carry Bag will also be a joy to use for many years. For information on their complete collection, and view all their wonderful designs and options, I urge you to visit their site at

Disclosure: PlanetBox generously provided me with the products for review without cost to me. Other than receiving the products, I have not received any compensation to write this review. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Back To School Lunch

We are back and I can't believe this! Time flies, I guess it's true, when you are having fun, and already it's back to school time for Nikolai! It always feels that summer passes by quicker each year and then you wonder where has this summer gone?
This year, we spent most of our summer holidays travelling, in and out of the country which was fantastic. Adventuring about is one of those activities we all really enjoy. As usual, we even tried to cram in a few last minute fun road trips.

Every year includes the back to school shopping experience. I usually get his clothing, shoes, backpack, etc. right after he gets out of school instead of just before school starts. He always asks why we get the stuff so early. I respond "so we have a free mind for when we go on vacation."

Nikolai will be starting in a new school which will require a longer drive in more traffic. We all have to adjust to a new daily routine but I believe we'll soon get used to it. Most important is that he is looking forward to this new school year with confidence and optimism!

Here is the lunch I prepared for his first day.

Back To School Notebook Bento Lunch. 1st day of school fun lunch.

In this bento lunch: A sandwich decorated as a notebook with Asiago and Colby cheese lettering, the spiral effect was accomplished with strawberry licorice string. Along side is an organic granola bar. Above are seedless green grapes, to the left are organic baby carrots with ranch in the small container. Below is an apple segment with free hand cut A+ and in the middle is a yogurt covered star. This lunch is packed in a Planetbox rover.

Here are the supplies that I used to create and pack this lunch.


Thursday, June 2, 2016

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Bento Lunch (TMNT)

One more week left for us and counting, we can't wait for our summer holidays! I am expecting this will be my last post for this school year though I may try to schedule a post or two for summer if I've extra time. I had to make a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles lunch even if it's a simple one! The main reason is because of Stephen Amell being in that movie. He's one of my favorite actors and portrays Oliver Queen / Green Arrow in the CW television show Arrow, a must watch show for me. Of course I can't wait to watch TMNT this weekend with my family!

Among the activities to which I'm looking forward this summer is a visit to Niagara Falls. Our family trips are great fun; Nikolai plans a route that includes the craziest 'spaghetti junctions' he can find, hubby wants to take any 'blue line' secondary road that he thinks might have a coffee shop along it, and I keep them making progress in the general direction of the goal....not always easy, but fun!  

Nikolai loves TMNT mainly because of the turtles. He really has a thing for turtles in general and even had a Halloween costume of Leonardo (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle) a few years ago.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Bento Lunch (TMNT)

In this bento lunch: A simple 'Ninja Turtle' sandwich made with a circle cutter with mild cheddar cheese for the mask and smile and candy eyes. Along side are a granola bar with TMNT cut from fruit leather, pineapple chunks, seedless grapes, cucumber slices and a yogurt star. This lunch was packed in our PlanetBox Rover.

Here are the supplies that I used to create and pack this lunch.


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Star Themed Lunches

I try to make at least one star themed lunch for Nikolai towards the end of every school year. It's my way of reminding him that he's our star and we are very proud of his achievements and hard work throughout the entire school year. This year it's slightly different, I made a few star themed lunches, probably because this will be his last year in elementary school. I've combined them in one post as the last week of school will be quite hectic for us with concerts, award ceremony and all.

I'll still be packing lunches till the last day of school for sure, just the last few days will be bento snacks since they only have to attend half days.

Smiley Star bento school lunch

In this bento lunch: Main compartment contains a sandwich topped with a couple of smiley stars cut out of Gouda cheese with my small star cutter, STAR lettering and an organic granola bar. Alongside are organic baby carrots, broccoli florets, strawberries, grapes and a sting cheese. This lunch was packed in a Bentology Living Box.

You Are A Star Bento Lunch

In this bento lunch: Main compartment contains a couple of star shaped sandwiches topped with stars of cheddar and Gouda cheese, a Babybel cheese which I used my small star shape cutter for the cut-out, Trader Joe's yogurt stars and an organic granola bar. Sides are strawberries, organic baby carrots and broccoli florets. This lunch was packed in our Easylunchboxes urban.

Nikolai is quite particular with the number of cheese, crackers and meat whenever I sent lunchables. If it's 8 crackers, he prefers everything else to be 8 so he can stack them. Many times I've sent lunchables without counting and he suggested that I should, LOL. The bento below has 8 of each but one cracker is hidden behind, so you'll only see 7.

Star Themed Kids DIY Homemade Lunchables

In this lunchables: Main compartment contains whole wheat crackers, star shaped cheddar cheese and nitrate free ham roll-ups. Sides are baby carrots, seedless grapes with a star pick, mini chocolate chips, a yogurt star and cheddar popcorn. This lunch was packed in a Planetbox rover.

Kids star simple bento lunch

In this bento lunch: Cheddar cheese star topped on a yummy sandwich. Alongside are kiwi slices and strawberries with a star pick. He also had a snack box and his daily water bottle which is not pictured. This lunch was packed in a Planetbox shuttle.

Here are the supplies that I used to create and pack these lunches.