Part Three Bento Lunches: What to Pack 

So you have read my previous post and made a pledge to pack healthy lunches this year. (You can make an official pledge at Power Your Lunchbox for coupons, free printables and prizes!) You have purchased an awesome lunchbox and maybe some fun tools to use but now you are feeling a little lost about what to put in them (Check out my lunchbox tools post here) No worries, I have composed for you a list of my go to foods for lunches!

 Proteins

  • Deli meats
  • Canned tuna
  • Canned chicken
  • Meatballs (I always have a bag of frozen meatballs on hand)
  • Hard boiled eggs or egg salad
  • Falafel (I get these frozen at Trader Joe’s)
  • Sunbutter (or nut butter if your school allows it.)
  • Sausage links or patties
  • Veggie burgers
  • Hummus

Grains

  • Quinoa
  • Rice
  • Pasta salad (Have you seen the adorable shaped pastas that World Market carries?!)
  • Pita
  • Whole grain bread
  • Wraps
  • Bagel thins
  • Plantain chips
  • Crackers: my favorites are Annie’s Homegrown, Special K multigrain, Trader Joe’s Edamame, pita chips and pretzel thins
  • Popcorn
  • Cereal

Dairy

  • All natural sliced cheese (great for cutting into shapes!)
  • Cheese sticks
  • Babybel cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Cottage cheese

Vegetables (Raw)

  • Carrots
  • Bell Peppers and mini sweets
  • Celery
  • Green beans
  • Snap peas
  • Jicama
  • Lettuces
  • Tomatoes (grape and cherry)
  • Cucumbers
  • Avocados
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Zucchini and yellow squash

Vegetables (cooked) 

  • Carrots*
  • Bell peppers*
  • Green beans*
  • Peas*
  • Corn*
  • Edamame*
  • Succotash*
  • Butternut and acorn squash
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Broccoli*
  • Cauliflower*
  • Greens (Kale, collard, mustard)
  • Dr Praeger’s broccoli and spinach little bites (Whole Foods)

*I keep bags of these veggies frozen at all times and just pack a serving as I need them. I often just let them defrost and serve without heating, especially corn and peas!


Fruit (fresh)

  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Clementines or tangerines
  • Plums, pluots, plumcots
  • Melons
  • Berries
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Grapes
  • Cherries
  • Pineapple
  • Kiwi
  • Mangoes

Fruit (frozen)

  • Berries*
  • Peaches
  • Mangoes
  • Pineapple

*Frozen berries work great to mix in with yogurt or to make a smoothie but do not hold up in the defrosting process to serve as your main fruit!

Fruit (canned in 100% juice) 

  • Oranges
  • Pineapple
  • Peaches
  • Apricots

Treats

  • Cookies: my favorites are School house cookies and yogurt shaped stars from Trader Joe’s, Annie’s Homegrown animal crackers and Bitsy’s Brain Food Alphabet cookies (found at Target and Kroger)
  • Cookie butter (Trader Joe’s)
  • Dips: ranch, ketchup, BBQ sauce
  • Chocolate chips
  • Dried fruits

Most often when people say they can’t pack bento lunches they site two main reasons.

  1. It wastes food. The only food I waste is the crusts of bread. As do millions of moms who cut the crusts off of their children’s sandwiches! But you could even save these and make bread crumbs from them. When I cut cheese and vegetables I most often put those leftovers in my own lunch for the next day. You could easily use veggies for soups or stock and save cheese to top casseroles.
  2. It costs too much. I can just about guarantee that the lunch I packed is cheaper than buying a lunch able. And certainly healthier. However, one thing to keep in mind when you shop. Always buy in season! You will pretty much never see me pack peaches in the middle of winter unless they are frozen. Also buy small quantities of items. Yes, I may pack 3 fruits for my daughter each day between breakfast, lunch and a snack. However, when I buy bananas I only buy 3-4 at a time for the week and 1-2 apples and pack her a quarter on an apple and take the rest for myself.

What are some of your go to lunch items that you pack for yourself or your kids??? I would love to add to my own collection!

Happy Packing and come check me out on Instagram @hollyamethyst for more lunch ideas and come back here soon for some fun holiday lunch ideas!

Holly

Fig Bruschetta 

When I used to think of August only hot, sticky days with a longing for a Pumpkin Spice Latte would come to mind. Until I discovered a love of fresh figs. My co-worker had a fig tree and would bring them in for me at work. The first time she brought them I had no idea what to do with them. She suggested I make a version of this delicious bruschetta. I fell in love after that. It is sweet and salty, crunchy and creamy all at the same time. Truly just one of the most decadent but simple appetizers you can make.

Sadly, her tree did not make it through a harsh winter a few years ago and now every August I am left searching for decently priced figs.  Luckily, I have been able to find good deals at our farmer’s markets and Trader Joe’s. I am also patiently awaiting for my own little fig tree to grow from a cutting that same co-worker was able to grow from her old tree. (I work with some of the best people!)

If you have never had a fig before, give this bruschetta a try and see what you think!

  • 1 French baguette
  • One container of either blue, goat or feta cheese
  • Fresh figs
  • Honey
  • Coarse sea salt

Set oven to 350 degrees and slice baguette on a bias. Cover with cheese of your choice (my favorite is blue). Remove stems and halve your figs, slice them so they will fan out. Place bread in oven for about 5 minutes, just long enough for cheese to begin to melt.


Remove bread from the oven and switch oven to high broiler. Place one half of a fig on each slice of bread. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with sea salt. Place under broiler for 1-2 minutes, keeping your eye on them to prevent burning. Remove and try not to eat an entire baguette of bread. 

 

I hope you enjoy this delicious treat! What is your favorite way to eat figs??

-Holly (@hollyamethyst)

IG FAV @tylerhuan

Well, it’s time for another IG FAV. This time we bring to you one of my top picks of ALL TIMES… Mr. Tyler all the way from Malaysia! Here’s what his momma, Haze, has to say about this little fashion star and while we’re at it, we’ll share a few of our fav photos of him with you….

My name is Haze and I am Tyler mama , we are from sunny island Penang Malaysia . Tyler is 21 months old turn 2 in few months time , can’t believe my baby soon to be TWO, how time fly without I am realize it . I am a stay at home mom , basically I am work for my little boss Tyler , 24 hour , 7 day per weeks. I am fully enjoys every single moment with him. Tyler is a happy , cheerful and active baby , he on the move most of the time , he love outdoor activities. Tyler help mama feed and walk the dogs daily . Tyler love his furry friend , he play with them most of the time . 

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Chasing Your Dream

We all have dreamed a dream or two. You know. We dream of the nice vacation home on some exotic island or the super expensive muscle cars (yes, I love FAST cars!) or we dream of traveling the world. Experience the Seven Wonders of the World, maybe? 

But then there’s the ones of us who dream of not “working” for a living. The moms ( and dads) who want to chase their dream. Live out their passion.

And so I write about a spectacular gal, Kristian Duhon. She’s someone I have only known for a short while but at the very least she is all deserving of some recognition for chasing her dream. 

Small town gal. Momma. Soon to be wifey. (I’m putting in a good word to Parrain J for ya, lady)   Fashionista. To the max. Hustler. Beauty. These are only a few words to describe this incredible lady. 
  
She opened BeLush Boutique a little less than a year ago. Actually, around the same time we opened Paper Plane Lane, and has moved her way up into the Shopping District in Downtown Lafayette! Her customer service is superb! She’ll style you, make you feel beautiful and send you on your way! What more can you ask for?
  

This weekend is her GRAND OPENING at her NEW LOCATION! Everything is 10% off! So whether you are in the area or half way around the world, check her out on Facebook. ( click the link) and on IG @shopbelushboutique. You can order straight from her on either sites! And if that’s enough, she’s even available via text 337 288 9349.  Trust me, there is no other like her! You will NOT be disappointed. And just in case you need proof of her fashion-expertise:
   
    
    
 So do yourself a favor and check her out on FB and IG and snatch up a few divalicious pieces for this fall! 

Until we meet again,
Brandi

  

IG FAV @quincyandskylar

Quincy and his momma are Brand Reps for us over at @paperplanelaneboutique! Here’s what she has to say about her little fella:

Howdy! Quincy also know as Lil Q is 5 years old and has a personality as sweet as candy🍬. He is the oldest and big brother to his little sister Skylar and very protective of her. He loves playing soccer, basketball and video games. He will be going to kindergarten in a couple of weeks and will miss being home with mom and sister. Quincy loves to dance his favorite dance is “watch me whip watch me Nae Nae”. He is a mommas boy. He does not like any kind of bugs, getting dirty or getting scrapped knees. He also does not always like taking photos have to bribe him with letting him play a video game or something he loves to get him to at times you would think the older they getting the more willing they would be. For more photos and a little glimpse of our life follow us @quincyandskylar.

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Part One Bento Lunches: Why Pack Bento?

Can you believe it is already Back to School time??! What a better time to talk about the benefits of packing your kiddos school lunches and maybe making them fun! This will be the first in a series of posts focused on packing lunches in a fun and efficient way!


Ever since Grace was a glimmer in my eye I knew that I wanted to pack her fun lunches. I get that it is kind of my “thing” and it might not be yours. That’s okay! But let’s talk about why you might want to consider making bento lunches or just making fun lunches!

First, let’s discuss that bento is a traditional form of lunches that are popular in Japan. If you want a traditional style bento there are certain ratios of rice, veggies, proteins and the way it is set up. So I am using the term “bento” very loosely to describe my style of food art/fun food/packed lunches. Also, while I pretty much always think about making the presentation of food appealing, I don’t necessarily pack food art/theme lunches every day as you can see from Grace’s lunches. However, I do pack my daughter’s lunch EVERY. SINGLE. DAY (and breakfast and snack, too!)

Now that we have that out of the way.. Let’s discuss why we should pack our kids lunches rather than depending on our schools to provide lunches. Maybe I can convince you it isn’t quite as bad as it seems.


Why Pack a Bento?

  • It’s healthier! Have you SEEN what USDA considers healthy??! By packing a lunch I have the ability to pack in season fresh fruits and vegetables that my daughter would rarely be able to eat otherwise. I’m pretty sure I have never seen a kiwi, mango, avocado or zucchini served on a school lunch plate. Look, I GET IT! They have to serve hundreds of kids on a budget and have restricted storage space!
  • Environmentally Friendly! Did you think I was going to go through a whole post without saying something about the environment?! Maybe next time… If you use some of the lunchboxes that are out there to pack lunches for your kiddos then you can help the environment. Instead of using styrofoam plates at school or tons of plastic bags you can use a bento style container. I PROMISE YOU they will pay for themselves! Check out my post next week for my favorites 🙂
  • LEFTOVERS!! If your kiddo has access to a microwave or if you have a thermos or food that can be served cold, you can send in your leftovers from dinner, which makes packing a BREEZE.
  • You know what your kid has eaten. Maybe I am the only one that cares about this one.. But if I KNOW Grace ate all of her lunch and she only takes 2 bites at dinner, I am okay with that. If she hasn’t eaten at all the entire day I know something may be up with her. When I get her box back and half the food is in it and she asks for a snack as soon as she gets in the car, I know why.
  • Quality Control. I had a friend who was a school teacher that has told me how gross school cafeterias are. I am confident that this is not true across the board- so no shade toward you awesome school lunch workers out there! But I know exactly what is in all of the food I send in for my kiddo. I don’t have to worry about her getting moldy bread, bugs in the kitchen, mice problems, food that is undercooked, hair in the food, etc.
  • Send in a little love. I know that I need to work. I know that my daughter is well cared for at her daycare and she LOVES going. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t often think about how I wish we were together every day. Packing a cute little lunch is my way of sending my daughter a little love in the middle of the day when we have been apart for a few hours. She can open up her lunch box and it’s like a little love note from me. I’m sure she just sees a sandwich that looks like a cat, but at least she likes cats.
  • Variety. This ties in a little with the fact that it is healthier. When you pack a bento style lunch you often pack small amounts of several types of foods. That way in the event that your kiddo decided that morning that apples are the worst ever even though they ate them all day yesterday, they have other options. I will purposefully pack small amounts of things that I KNOW Grace doesn’t like and pack them over and over again in her lunch. Guess what? She has started eating her raw carrots and watermelon!
  • Creativity. This is kind of a two fold benefit. It’s fun for ME to pack fun lunches. I enjoy making Grace’s lunches cute and the challenge that I can make it. (Like my ABC lunches that have been challenging me for nearly a YEAR and I am only on “I”) There have been some EPIC fails, don’t get me wrong but I enjoy trying to get my creative juices going and seeing how amazingly creative other moms are out there. I also think that your kiddos will enjoy the creativity. Grace gets a kick out of telling me what her lunches were each day. She will look through the pictures on my phone and giggle at the different lunch themes I have made for her. It makes food fun for her too!

I hope this encourages you to start packing your kids lunches this year to give them healthy and yummy options! Come back next week and check out part two on my favorite tools to make lunch packing as quick and painless as possible. Also come check me out on Instagram @hollyamethyst for all of Grace’s lunches!

Marquee Love with the Kids

Hello, hello!  Apryl with you today to share a little Marquee Love!  Heidi Swapp has these great DIY Marquee letters available at stores like Walmart, Michaels and Hobby Lobby.  They come in A-Z, and some assorted shapes like arrows and hashtags and are around $12.  Marquees are all the rage right now in home decor and  the DIY version is perfect for those of you who want to add your own style and flair.  This DIY kit is really simple.  So simple the kids can do it.

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What it is, is a plain white letter that comes with a letter template, the lights, and the bulbs.  The sky is the limit when it comes to decorating these.  If you don’t know where to start, don’t worry.  There are Heidi Swapp Paper pads, washi tape rolls in the perfect sizes, glitter and Marquee glue to get you started.  For this letter, my daughter and I began by tracing the S (using the provided template) on to the glitter paper.  We also marked the holes.

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After cutting out the letter from the glitter paper, we punched the holes out with a hole punch.  The holes are an important detail to remember because that’s where the lights go!

We then took a roll of Heidi Swapp pink and white washi tape to cover the outside edge of the letter.  This washi tape is the perfect width and you just roll it out and smooth it along the sides, careful not to get air bubbles,  It’s easy to lift up if it takes a couple of times to get it lined up just right.

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Once the decorating is done, it’s time to get the lights in.  The bulbs simply push down into the holes and fit nice and snug.  On the backside of the letter is where the string of lights go in.                 \                                                                                            IMG_8361

Most letters will stand up on a flat surface or can easily be hung on the wall.  My daughter Sydney proudly displays her first initial masterpiece on the wall in her room.

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Hope this inspires you to create some Marquee decor of your own with your kids, or on your own.  Have fun with it and be creative!

Apryl

@adh_j