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Monday, February 12, 2018

Bee Mine Valentine's Day Bento Lunch

Valentine's Day is around the corner, and love is in the air!💕 Hubby and I will also be celebrating our 18 amazing, wonderful, fantastic years together. I guess that time flies when you are having fun!

This will be my first and only Valentine's Day themed lunch for this year, you can find my previous ones HERE.

Bee Mine Valentine's Day Bento Lunch

In this bento lunch: I used a large circle cookie cutter to cut the body of the Bee, with the end of the loaf as an extra layer for the sandwich which created the bumble bee stripped effect when sliced and the pieces alternated. I used a heart shaped cutter to shape the tiny wings from Colby-Jack cheese. I used a candy eye while the mouth was made from a slice of raisin and the antennae are picks. Also included are some flatbread crackers, an apple which was decorated using two heart shaped picks and removing the outer layer carefully with a knife, and a Babybel cheese which was cut using the same cutter. This lunch is packed in our Easylunchboxes container.

Do you have any plans for this Valentine's Day?

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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

How To Pack Hot Lunches For School

Happy New Year 2018! For us it has been a week of back to school since the holidays.

If the new year for you is starting with requests for hot lunches, this post might stir your imagination.
Nikolai was always a sandwich loving kid and now he tells me that he only wants hot lunches from now on!
His latest favorites are jambalaya, red beans or black beans and rice, gumbo and chicken curry.

Here is how I prep in the mornings when I need to send him a hot meal:
  • First I fill his thermos with boiling water, close the lid, place it on the counter with the lid on and let it sit for 5 minutes or more while I'm assembling his side dishes such as fruits, veggies and a little snack. 
  • Then I pour out the hot water and fill the thermos with the hot food. 
  • Secure lid tight and it's ready to go. 
  • Don't forget to add a fork or spoon into your kids lunchbag.
Insulated containers are great for leftovers which are mainly dinner foods! We do soup, tortellini, pasta, gyoza, chicken nuggets, chili, meatballs, fried rice, fried noodles, mac & cheese, pizza (cut to fit), Jambalaya and more. I'll also have to try breakfast for lunch such as pancakes and sausages soon.

We have several insulated jars which we love, and rotate their use quite often. They are our Lunchbots Thermal, Thermos stainless steel insulated jar and U Konserve insulated food jar. We also still have our Thermos Foogo and Thermos Funtainer which Nikolai used quite often when he was younger, and we still used them occasionally. These insulated containers are perfect for such a mission.

How To Pack Hot Lunches For School

Here are just a few hot lunches of which I managed to take pictures. I always include sides which are fruits, veggies and snacks in another container as shown in the first picture. Actually, the foods looked better than in these photos since I had to quickly snap the photos. The whole idea is for the foods to be hot, and every moment I spend taking the photo is a moment the food is cooling.

How To Pack Hot Lunches For School - Jambalaya

Leftover jambalaya is in the insulated container. I heated the Jambalaya in a microwave safe plate and transferred it to his preheated insulated container. Sides are cucumber slices, orange slices, strawberries and Annie's organic crackers in our Lunchbots quad.

How To Pack Hot Lunches For School - Chicken Nuggets

Chicken nuggets from the freezer, heated them in a microwave safe dish and transferred them to his preheated insulated container for lunch.

How To Pack Hot Lunches For School - Mac & Cheese with Ham

Macaroni and cheese are a favorite of many. We sometimes use alternate varieties of cheese such as Gouda or Asiago if we make it from scratch. I made Annie's Mac & Cheese in the morning, chopped up some leftover ham, tossed it in the pot and when it was hot I quickly transferred it to the preheated container.

How To Pack Hot Lunches For School - Steak & Broccoli Cheese Rice

The evening before I sent this lunch we had some steak and broccoli cheese rice which he liked so much that he requested it for lunch the following day.

These are just a few examples of the possibilities for getting the new year warmed up. I'm sure you all have some tasty ideas for some nice hot lunches for your family. Remember, the same idea can work for your own lunch especially if you don't have convenient access to a microwave at lunchtime.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

12 Of My Favorite Christmas Holiday Lunches

This is, for me, and my family, the most wonderful time of the year! Truly everyday is wonderful for us, but this time of year it is even more special.

I've packed over 50 Christmas themed lunches over they years and I must admit, I LOVE them ALL, even the simplest ones. You know why? It's because each and every one of them were packed with love, and Nikolai appreciated and enjoyed them.

I've decided to feature twelve of my most favorite ones, let me tell you, it's not easy to pick these above the others, but it was great fun looking through all of the lunches which I've posted over the years.

12 Of My Favorite Christmas Holiday Lunches

These lunches are not in any particular order. As I mentioned earlier, I love them all!

Christmas bell JOY bento lunch

Joy to the world is one of my favorite Christmas songs. JOY on a bell themed lunch which you can find the details HERE.

Christmas Present bento lunch

I love the strawberry and marshmallow Santa in this lunch and of course the present sandwich. Details can be found HERE.

Christmas stockings bento lunch

And the stocking are hung by the chimney with care...details HERE.

Snowman bento lunch

We never get snow here in Florida but it's always fun to make a Snowman lunch. Details can be found HERE.

Gingerbread house bento lunch

It's always fun to decorate Gingerbread Houses, and here is one made of sandwich. Find the details HERE.

Winnie The Pooh Ornament Christmas bento lunch

Nikolai loves Winnie The Pooh and we have several Pooh Christmas ornaments. Of course I had to make a Pooh Bear Holiday themed lunch, details HERE.

Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer Bento Lunch

Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer is one of my favorite characters and I've made several Rudolph themed lunches over the years. You can find this one HERE.

Christmas Tree Bento Lunch

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree roll-ups. This is quite easy to make and you can find it HERE.

Santa Claus Santa Belt Christmas bento lunch

I challenged myself to make Santa's belt and I'm quite pleased with the outcome. Find the details HERE.

The Polar Express bento lunch

The Polar Express is one of our family traditions. We watch it almost every year and HERE is a themed lunch.

Snowman with earmuffs bento lunch

Nikolai was fascinated with Snowmen when he was little. HERE is one wearing ear muffs.

Christmas Tree Lunchables Style bento lunch

This is one of the easiest Christmas tree lunch I've made. I used a tree cookie cutter as separator for a lunchables style lunch. You can find the details HERE.

I wish all of you a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year and an entire holiday season of good health and good fortune.

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Monday, November 20, 2017

The Flash Superhero Lunch - Justice League

"Run, Barry, Run!" is one of my favorite lines in The Flash episodes that I watch on t.v weekly. Since we watched the movie Justice League during the weekend, I decided to make a superhero lunch for Nikolai. A while back I acquired a set of superhero cookie cutters and one of them is The Flash, one of my favorite characters.

Time has been flying by like flash especially this time of year. Thanksgiving is around the corner as well as Nikolai's birthday. Those of you who have been following along may already know that Nikolai was born on Thanksgiving day, thus, his birthday will always be around or on American Thanksgiving. It may be a little hectic, but always fun to host parties.

The Flash Bento Lunch - Justice League

For the bento lunch pictured above I made use of that Flash cutter to decorate a hero sized sandwich. With that I included some slices of apple, red grapes, Babybel cheese, organic granola bar and cheese crackers.

For those who might be celebrating perhaps Thanksgiving, a birthday, a bit of mad shopping on 'Black Friday' or just chilling for a relaxed weekend at home, I wish you a safe and enjoyable time.
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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

4 Fun Halloween School Lunch Ideas: Ghost, Jack-O-Lantern, Bats and Witch

Halloween is my favorite time of the year to pack fun lunches, not only do I enjoy making them, I also enjoy admiring those made by others.
Nikolai still isn't sure what costume he wants and I guess we have to start brainstorming soon, real soon! I'm more of a foodie than a tailor/crafter, so sewing a last minute costume is out of the question, lol.

Here are 4 fun Halloween themed lunches which are quite easy and totally doable. They are all packed in our leak-proof Yumbox.

Jack O Lantern Halloween bento lunch in Yumbox

Bento lunch 1: Main compartment contains a Jack-O-Lantern sandwich and a baby seedless cucumber. For the Jack-O-Lantern I used a two sided cutter to cut the shape of the components and then used the other side for the cut-outs only on the top slice. A bit of crust serves as a stem. I used our lettering cookie cutters to leave a faint (spooky?) BOO impression on the cucumber. In the upper right section there is a mandarin orange with a small celery stick as a pumpkin and stem and below them are some strawberries. In the center I included some fruit snacks.

Ghost Halloween bento lunch in Yumbox BOO

Bento lunch 2: For this lunch I have a sandwich topped with a mozzarella cheese ghost which I shaped with a cutter and decorated with bits of raisin, and using another small cutter, I included a tiny headstone shaped piece of crust and also a "BOO" pick. On the right side I have included some strawberries, cucumber slices, and some chunks of cheese.

Witch and broomstick Halloween bento lunch in Yumbox

Bento lunch 3: Above a bagel with creme cheese filling I put a flying witch on a broom. The witch was shaped with a cutter, the hat was made from nori, and the broom from a bread crust. For the sides I included some apple slices, some green grapes and some M&Ms.

Bats Halloween bento lunch in Yumbox

Bento lunch 4: Here are a couple of bat sandwiches which were shaped with a cutter and decorated with fruit leather eyes and mouths with a cheese stick below and a granola bar above. Above right are some apple slices and green grapes and below left are some sweet red bell pepper slices.

These were all very easy and quick to make, but most of all they were really FUN to make!

Below is a collage that I made for those who might like to pin.

4 Fun Halloween School Lunch Ideas. Bats, Jack O Lantern, Ghost, Witch

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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

U Konserve Insulated Jar and Leak Proof Containers Review

The nice people over at U Konserve generously offered us the opportunity to review some of their products, and I'm excited to bring you this post. For many of us the weather is starting to get cooler, and at this time of year we will be thinking of ways to send some warm foods for a school lunch. I believe you will be glad to learn that U Konserve has a great container which is perfect for that!

Hot chili for school lunch. U Konserve Insulated Jar and Leak Proof Containers Review

Made from stainless steel, vacuum insulated and with a silicone seal for the plastic lid, their Insulated Food Jar can keep food hot for as much as five hours, or cold foods cold for as much as eight. This is great for those, like me, who want to send soup, chili, hot pasta, or leftovers that your child loved so much the night before. It is also great for sending cold foods like yogurt, applesauce, fruit salads and more. I've quizzed our son when he returns from school and got the 'two thumbs up' report for both conditions. It can hold 12 ounces and with a diameter of 3½ inches and a height of only 5¼ inches, it should easily fit into most lunch bags.

For this lunch I packed leftover chili in the insulated jar with some shredded cheese in the small container and some red grapes in the larger. I included an ice pack for the containers of grapes and cheese, and of course a spoon for the chili, which are not shown in the photo.

Hot chili for school lunch. U Konserve Insulated Jar and Leak Proof Containers Review

The photos above show the U Konserve Insulated Jar with two other very handy containers which are also from U Konserve. These round containers have leak resistant lids which I absolutely love! On the left is their large round stainless steel container which can hold 16 ounces of fruits, veggies, pasta and other favorites. It is 4¾ inches in diameter and 2¼ inches high. The smaller one, a very nice size for some of those other things like dips, raisins, snacks, cheese and more has a capacity of 5 ounces, the same diameter as the insulated jar at 3½ inches, and has a height of 1½ inches. These other containers have plastic lids , while the top for the insulated jar is made from polypropylene and has a silicone seal, and all of these products are BPA-free, phthalate-free and lead-free, and all of these containers are made of food grade (18/8) stainless steel.

U Konserve reusable food kozy snack bag review

You may already know that I'm obsessed with reusable snack bags, which are not just for school lunches, but very handy at many other times as well. Traveling, another favorite activity, comes easily to my mind! U Konserve reusable food kozy snack bag is perfect for cut fruits, veggies, nuts, pretzels, sandwiches and more. These bags, which have a velcro closure, are the completely portable solution and so much nicer than using disposable bags. It will be great for after school activities when he requires a snack. This bag is easy to clean, dries quickly and it's 6.5" wide x 6" tall, BPA and phthalate free. Here I packed organic popcorn for Nikolai's snack.

U Konserve reusable food kozy snack bag review

Below is a collage that I made for those who might like to pin.

U Konserve Insulated Jar and Leak Proof Containers Review

We'll definitely be using U Konserve containers very often and I'll be sharing on my posts, so stop by again soon!

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

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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

10 Non-Sandwich School Lunch Ideas In Planetbox

It has been a couple of weeks since we started back to school, and it looks like we made it! We are, however, still getting used to our new sleeping schedules, waking up schedules. Nikolai has been quite cooperative open to compromise. We offered an arrangement  accepting a later bedtime but with the agreement that each grade on a report card that was less than 95%, would adjust the time earlier by half an hour.  He took the deal, and I am hopeful that it will work out well. I don't expect he would have any difficulty as he has always done better than that.

I've combines several of Nikolai's lunches packed in his Planetbox in this one post. They are non-sandwich lunches which he had enjoyed a while back.
You can see that Planetbox is one of the lunchboxes that we used quite often and it's one of our favorites. It's easy to pack, easy to wash, very durable and will last for many years to come!

10 Non-Sandwich School Lunch Ideas For Your Planetbox

I'll try to describe what we included when packing each of these lunches.

Ham and cheese kebabs in Planetbox

Bento lunch 1: Main compartment contains nitrate free ham and string cheese cut into pieces for kebabs with an organic granola bar. Sides are grapes, sugar snap peas, hummus in the small dipper, a Yogurt covered star and organic cheese crackers.

Lunchables with salami, crackers in Planetbox

Bento lunch 2: Lunchables style lunch with nitrate free pepperoni and crackers in the main compartment. Sides are apple slices, celery sticks with dip in the small container, a yogurt covered star, cheese stick above a granola bar.

Applegate salami, crackers, cheese stick lunch in Planetbox

Bento lunch 3: Another lunchables style lunch with nitrate free pepperoni, string cheese and crackers in the main compartment. Sides are Annie's organic crackers, celery sticks and baby carrots, a yogurt covered star and organic apple slices. I thought the 'eye' picks made it fun!

Bagel for lunch In Planetbox

Bento lunch 4: Main compartment contains a bagel with cream cheese and a granola bar. Sides are goldfish crackers, chocolate chips, grapes and orange slices. I'm pretty sure that this was one day that I needed to go grocery shopping.

Cream cheese mini waffles breakfast for lunch in Planetbox

Bento lunch 5: Mini waffle sandwiches with cream cheese in the main compartment. Sides are red and green grapes, baby carrots, chocolate chips and goldfish crackers.

Ham roll ups, laughing cow cheese, crackers, grapes for lunch in Planetbox

Bento lunch 6: Crackers and cheese for the main section with ham roll-ups above. In the other sections I included organic fruit snack, rice krispies bar and grapes.

Muffin face bento lunch in Planetbox

Bento lunch 7: An English muffin with eye picks and carrot mouth (a little like Hubby after too much T.V. ... Just kidding!), orange slices, chocolate chips (What a combination!), celery sticks, baby carrots, and Annie's organic crackers.

mini cream cheese waffles breakfast for lunch in Planetbox

Bento lunch 8: Main compartment contains waffle sandwiches with cream cheese. Sides are a ham kebab, orange slices, chocolate chips, organic granola bar and Annie's organic crackers.

Tortilla wraps for lunch in Planetbox

Bento lunch 9: Tortilla wrap cut into half with eye picks and an organic granola bar in the main compartment. Sides are grapes, orange slices, baby carrots, fruit snacks, Babybel cheese and crackers.

Bento lunch 10: Mac and cheese in the main compartment, Nikolai doesn't mind eating it at room for me!. Sugar snap peas with a cute bear pick, pretzels, yogurt covered raisins, cantaloupe and grapes.

Below is a collage that I made for those who might like to pin.

10 Non-Sandwich School Lunch Ideas For Your Planetbox

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Thursday, August 10, 2017

Back To School Lunch

It's that time of the year again which has always been a bittersweet time for me - Back To School! Today is the first day of school for us and Nikolai will be in Grade 7, all advance classes.
We had a blast during our summer holidays, mostly traveling, which has become our summer tradition over the years. While we were fully equipped with GPS and On Star, Nikolai is such an excellent navigator that even before I could get unpacked from the most recent trip he opened the map and started charting the next!

Lunch packing? I've no idea where to start; could I have lost my lunch packing mojo before or during the summer break? I do know when to start, and when is now. I've always found it to be great fun to make a cute lunch for him on the first day of school. This will be his first bento of this school year as I get back into groove, slowly but surely.

First Day Of Back To School Lunch. Pencil themed.

In this bento lunch:  I made a couple of sandwiches in the shape of the classic yellow No.2 pencil. Mild cheddar cheese trimmed in a zig-zag pattern covers most of it, a sandwich meat eraser part with the band made from the end of the loaf makes up one end, a bit of raisin makes the tip. Also in the main section is a granola bar. In the two other sections I included some organic baby carrots and some red and green grapes. This bento was packed in his Easylunchboxes.

I wish all of you a great start to another school year and your children great success with their studies.

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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Review: Sailor Bags Backpack, Messenger Bag and Duffel Bag

I am totally ecstatic to share my high opinion of these great bags. Sailor Bags is a maker of premiere quality bags of genuine sailcloth with that fun and fashionable nautical theme. They are excellent for conveniently transporting everything from what might be needed for a short overnight at a beach resort to taking to school.

Their bags are truly beautiful not only in appearance but also in function!

Sailor Bags Backpack, Messenger Bag and Duffel Bag Review

Now in middle school years, our son has become a backpack expert, and he has chosen the Backpack / Silver Spinnaker Daypack featured here. Hubby has forsaken his other bags and briefcase for the Tri-Sail Messenger described in this post, and I am thinking of all kinds of fun places to take the Newport Square Duffel.

Their Silver Spinnaker Daypack is just one of the designs among many in their selection of backpacks and shoulder bags. It has three large compartments which are great for books, clothing and other needed items. It even has a built-in, soft-lined laptop sleeve in one that is fully-padded and should fit any laptop computer up to 17 inch size. The front compartment has multiple interior pockets, including a zippered pocket, for organizing all of those charging cables, ear phones, stylus pens and other accessories.

Sailor Bags Backpack, Messenger Bag and Duffel Bag Review

On the sides are mesh pockets for water bottles, sun protection lotion, or flip-flops; here in Florida such features are important! Also very much appreciated are the contoured, padded shoulder straps and back panels made of ventilated, moisture-wicking mesh, which makes this bag a joy to use.

Sailor Bags Backpack, Messenger Bag and Duffel Bag Review

This bag is made from the finest materials with top of the line trim. The outer fabric is made from lightweight and durable rip-stop which is both water and stain resistant. They use YKK zippers and hardware, super tough webbing, and meticulous construction which you will appreciate forever. They are so well made that Sailor Bags confidently offer a guarantee for life.

The outside dimensions are approximately 19"H x 13"W x 5"D, but somehow the inside seems even bigger!

The Tri-Sail Messenger, shown below, fits hubby's Apple laptop like it was tailor made for it. He especially likes the wide and comfortable shoulder strap with its non slip shoulder pad and the many extra compartments of different sizes for taking along charger, portable drives and other peripherals.

Sailor Bags Backpack, Messenger Bag and Duffel Bag Review

Hubby says the zig-zag sewing is first rate and I think the bright colors have that young and sporting look. As with the backpack, construction is meticulous, and has a guarantee for life.

Sailor Bags Backpack, Messenger Bag and Duffel Bag Review

In the photos above you can see that they have one zippered pocket inside and handy hook and loop closures for the many other compartments and also the cover flap which keeps things where they belong and yet easy to access.

For me one of the true pleasures is the impromptu overnight or weekend getaway. Our whole family loves them and living in Florida provides year-round opportunities to stuff a small bag with a couple changes of clothes, toiletries, maybe a camera, and enjoy another adventure. I honestly can't remember or imagine a bag that captures the spirit and serves the function quite like this smaller Newport Square Duffel. Like the others, it is made with their genuine sailcloth exterior, marine grade zippers, corrosion-resistant metal hardware, brightly colored and tough webbing with their signature sail maker's zig-zag stitching.

Sailor Bags Backpack, Messenger Bag and Duffel Bag Review

In addition to the spacious main compartment there is a very convenient front pocket for easy access to smaller items like keys and phone.

The outside dimensions are 9 inches high by 14 inches wide and 7 inches in diameter. I like the size which is easy to carry, holds what I need to take and still has some space for souvenirs. Whether for after school activities or a fun weekend this is a bag that we will use often!

Sailor Bags Backpack, Messenger Bag and Duffel Bag Review

Bags like these, along with many other styles and sizes can be found at the Sailor Bags website. I also want to mention that almost any product you find on at their site can be personalized using their custom embroidery option.

Sailor Bags are truly well made and we especially love that they are so lightweight and great looking!

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