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

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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)

Fall Fashion

As we put away our shorts and sun hats and say farewell to the Summer, we welcome Fall! A new season brings new opportunities, new weather, and let’s not forget about the NEW clothing trends! Because yes, even in California the weather gets a bit chillier come Season change!

Small shops are beginning to showcase their Fall/Winter lines with us and I can’t wait to share a few of my favorites with YOU all! From comfy and cute to warm and unique, here is a list and sneak peek into a few shops’ Fall/Winter lines! This will give you an idea on where to get the ‘it’ clothing for your little’s this coming season! Take notes, there may be discount codes involved!

Brunsters_Ink
This shop always has stood out to me with its fun and quirky designs, and their Fall/Winter line is NO exception! I’m so excited to see some Halloween movie inspired pieces in this shop’s Fall 2015 drop! Check out what they have to offer for our kiddo’s this Fall season! Use code: FIFTEEN for 15% off!

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Chazing Arrows
This particular shop I know by their oh-so comfy harem shorts and exciting pattern designs, BUT that is not all they offer! They have pulled out all of the stops and also offering leggings, shirts, rompers, and more! Their pieces are at the top of my list for comfort and quality alike! This is just a taste of what they will have to offer this coming season! Use code: FREESHIP15 for FREE shipping valid until 8/23!
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Radical Kid Co.

I first knew this shop from the amazing infinity scarves they offer, but they have SOO much more now! I’m happy to see a shop come out with stylish and super comfortable sweats! These are a definite necessity for the up and coming Fall season! Check them out and use code: INSTAGRAM for 10% off!

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Now that you have read into and seen a small glimpse into each shops Fall/Winter collection, you have but one thing left to do- SHOP! Happy shopping friends!

A Night in New Orleans

I was pretty lucky this past weekend…I got to spend 2 whole nights in New Orleans! I was going for a concert, but I’ll take any opportunity there to eat, drink, and eat some more. (Thanks mom for the early birthday present!!) Unfortunately 2 days isn’t enough to go to all of my favorite places. I settled for a couple and the rest were more out of convenience, but it was still a great trip!

Our first mission was day drinking but avoiding Bourbon Street. So we went to Poydras and settled on Happy’s Irish Pub then Walk-Ons once we needed some food. Both have a decent beer selection and the cheese fries from Walk-Ons are pretty yummy. So I had a couple of Angry Orchards and a Blue Moon.

Next up was dinner. I’m a fan of any John Besh restaurant, so we headed to Lüke. The best time to go there is during the winter months when oysters are in season, but the food was still amazing as always. I wasn’t too hungry so I went with corn and crab bisque (delicious!) and the Salad Lüke. Both were great choices. Cocktail wise I started with a French 75 then ended with Prosecco.
After dinner we headed back to the hotel and stopped at the Sazerac Bar inside the beautiful Roosevelt Hotel. And of course we ordered Sazeracs!

Thanks to my alcohol consumption the previous day I wasn’t in the best shape Sunday morning. But I put my big girl pants on and kept going. I skipped breakfast and by lunch I was starving!! After walking around for a bit and not being able to decide where to go (go figure) we stumbled upon a small restaurant called Saint Lawrence on North Peters. I’ve probably passed this place tons of times while in NOLA and just never noticed it. But it’s worth the stop. I ordered the Smothered and Covered; house cut fries smothered in Tasso-chicken gravy with melted sharp cheddar! It was amazing and just what my stomach needed at that point. They also have a great craft beer selection and make a frozen Pimm’s Cup daiquiri. Not to mention their staff was really friendly which is always a plus.

Next was rest time! I needed the nap, but the concert was later on and we knew we’d need to eat an early dinner. The rain was starting so we decided to eat in the hotel. We were at the Hyatt Regency and they have quite a few restaurant options. We went with Vitascope Hall. It is basically a nicer version of a sports bar with a good variety of food. They have seafood, burgers, po-boys, and even a full sushi menu. I wanted something lighter and went with a spicy tuna roll and cucumber salad. I decided to lay off the alcohol so I could last through the concert.

The concert was AMAZING! Deftones and Incubus and neither disappointed. It was super hot and it rained and I had to stand in a giant crowd for 6 hours…but worth it!!

I had planned to drive straight home the next morning, but when you’re in NOLA you HAVE to stop at Sucré. Trust me! You will not be disappointed. Their chocolates are to die for. Any of their desserts are amazing. But you must get their macarons. They have their original flavors like chocolate, pistachio, strawberry, hazelnut, and few more; but they also have seasonal flavors! My favorite are the king cake ones, but since it’s not Mardi Gras I settled for their summer ones. This summer it’s apple pie, watermelon, blackberry lemon, and peaches & cream. Apple pie was definitely my favorite. And after spending more money on macarons than I did for any one meal in two days, I needed to get out of there!!

Overall it was a great trip. Next time I go I’ll be sure to plan my meals a bit better and try some new places…but I’ll survive! I have my big box of macarons to hold me over.

First beer of the trip at Happy’s

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Lüke- corn and crab bisque, French 75, Prosecco

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Sazerac Bar

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Smothered and Covered from Saint Lawrence

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Vitascope Hall’s spicy tuna roll and cucumber salad

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Way too many macarons from Sucre

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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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Part Two Bento Lunches: Supplies

So you read my last post about WHY we should pack lunches and you’re considering starting to make bento lunches. Now it is time to figure out what supplies or #momtoys work best. First and foremost, I feel the need to say that this post is not sponsored. I am a brand representative for FunBites but other than that I have purchased (or been gifted!) all of the tools and supplies that I recommend. 🙂

Boxes:

Yumbox: This is my go to for efficient packing that still looks good. Yumboxes are leakproof, portion controlled boxes created for kids. You can put applesauce in a container and not worry about your crackers getting soggy!! GENIUS! It also keeps apples, bananas and avocados from browning. For real. It really works. Promise. I literally cannot say one bad thing about my Yumbox. It was the first bento supply I purchased for Grace and I still use it a few times a week and it remains in great shape. They have released a new style (the Panino) that has room for a full sandwich or small salad that is a little better portioned for adults. I am able to pack a Yumbox in no time. 

 Easy Lunchboxes: I also use my Easy Lunchboxes all the time. These are priced so well and the size is bigger. I use Easy Lunchboxes for my own lunch about 3 days out of the week. The containers are not leakproof so you don’t want to pack wet items like yogurt or applesauce in there unless you KNOW it is not going to get turned upside down. Grace is still young enough that I carry her lunch bag to the kitchen in her day care and it goes directly in the fridge so I am able to worry about that a little less. I like Easy Lunchboxes because they are a little bigger and when I want to do more food art type sandwiches or lunch themes I have a little room. 

 Other popular bento boxes are Bentgo Fresh and Planetboxes. I have heard great things about both and see them in use A LOT but have never used them myself.

Cutters:

Cute Z Cute Animal Cutters: These are probably my most used set of sandwich cutters. It is a kit that comes with a frog, panda, pig and cat. You can make an adorable sandwich in no time. I do use low calorie bread and have found that it does not always come out as neatly as I would like.

FunBites: As a brand rep, I do receive their cutters. However, I can honestly say, I love this thing. It is super cute to make a quick sandwich and is very versatile in what you can create with the shapes. Currently, they have a heart shaped, squares and triangles option. It is pretty sturdy and dishwasher safe, too. 

 Wilton’s Cookie Cutters: If you are looking to get a great variety for holidays and all seasons on the cheap, I would recommend the 101 cookie cutter set from Wilton. This is going to give you numbers, letters, shapes and tons of seasonal options. You get what you pay for with this set. They are not very thick or sturdy but will be fine to use on bread or thinly sliced cheese.

Biscuit Cutters: I also have a set of 5 round biscuit cutters that I use to make a lot of my sandwiches and then add my own details. These are very versatile as we use them pretty regularly for cooking.

Fondant Cutters/Vegetable cutters: For all the details or small pieces that you see in my lunches I will use fondant or vegetable cutters. I am on the lookout every holiday for sets at places like Hobby Lobby, Michael’s, Marshall’s and TJ Maxx. My favorite to use was my ABC set that I sadly lost some time ago and can’t find ANYWHERE in my kitchen. (Don’t ask me about bento organization, I clearly have none 😦 )

Miscellaneous:

Silicone molds: Silicone molds are fun to add details to lunches. Be on the lookout for the different shaped silicone ice cube trays or candy molds. These are also found in the holiday sections of stores and with cake and candy decorations. I like to put canned pumpkin in my pumpkin molds, freeze it and pop one out to add to yogurt or oatmeal in the fall.

Silicone cups: A must if you are going to pack a bento that would have both warm and cold foods. If I am packing Grace a Yumbox and pack her leftover chicken and also grapes I will put the chicken in a silicone cupcake mold in the compartment of the box so her daycare can just pop the silicone cup in the microwave. These also come in tons of different colors and shapes to add a pop of color or add on to your theme.

Food Picks: I do not personally use food picks yet. This is ONLY because 1. I don’t think they will come back home from day care and 2. I don’t want Grace to poke her playmate with a food pick at the lunch table or worry one of her friends will take them and poke HER (or themselves, or their eye..) with one 🙂 I am planning on getting some for home though because food picks are hands down the quickest way to make a boring lunch cute. Packing some slices of turkey? Just roll it up and put it on a cute panda bear food pick and it INSTANTLY looks more fun with almost no effort. You can also start saving all of those cupcake ring toppers that you get on birthday cupcakes. You could have a Jake and the Neverland Pirate lunch in no time if you went to a party with this as the theme!

Tweezers! Sounds crazy, right? But so helpful for detail work. 

Sprinkles! Because they are awesome.. And pretty. 

  
I would recommend going to Amazon or All Things for Sale (a bento and baking supply company) to check out tons of adorable and dangerously affordable fondant/veggie cutters, molds and food picks.

Come back soon for my next post in this series that will give you some great ideas for what to pack in those boxes now that you have them. Also,come find me on Instagram @hollyamethyst to see all of my lunch creations (and my adorable daughter 😉 )

Do you have any bento or lunch supplies that you can’t live without???

Taking Flight…

Hi there guys…this is Stacy, from Paper Plane Lane, and I am going to tell you a little story!  My husband and I have a deep and ever growing love for anything creative.  For me, that included, design and fashion (although you wouldn’t know it by seeing the way I dress…hahaha!).  My children, however, are ALWAYS on FLEEK!  I have been trying, by the hardest, to incorporate the coolest of slang into my daily jargon!

Anyway…because of this ever growing love for design and fashion, my dream is to design kids clothing.  I have always wanted to have a boutique filled with the latest kids fashion trends that are not produced in mass by department stores!  Sure you can go to Gap, Old Navy, Crew Cuts, and Target to find some cute looks.  However, it is shopping and purchasing various pieces from several different stores that create a outfit that is “on fleek”.

When I was pregnant with my second child, Breaker Miles (check out his fabulous style here – IG @mattjlandry), many of our friends and acquaintances kept telling us “you dress your little girl so CUTE, but you will have a hard time finding cute clothes for little dudes.”  I was always shocked when people would tell me this…I had been waiting for a little dapper dude for so long.  I just knew that he was gonna be the BEST Dressed!!! This is when I became obsessed with finding the latest handmade, cute kids fashion from some RAD Instagram Shops.  I began to discuss my desire for this dream to become a reality with my cousin, Brandi.  We had talked about creating a collective online children’s fashion boutique, focus on dapper dudes, but never really went forward with it.  One day after Brandi, got off of her 8-5pm corporate accounting job, she came to our house and she went on and on about how she didn’t enjoy punching a clock anymore and wanted more freedom.  This is when…my dream started to be come a reality.

Ok, so…let’s talk about how we came up with the name Paper Plane Lane.  My husband, Matt, had been obsessed with paper planes for quite some time! He was determined to have them as part of the theme for Breaker’s Nursery…and as you can see from the images of Breaker’s Nursery below………paper planes were a huge part of our inspiration.  The creation of his room is one the fondest memories I have with my husband and our besties (Heather and Heathe of @banannieabands).  Breaker’s Nursery was featured in On to Baby…Children’s Online Blog. Come fly through Breaker’s Nursery:

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Once we decided that this online children’s fashion boutique was going to happen…we started to contemplate what the name should be.  My husband, Matt, all the while knew he wanted paper planes to be part of the theme.  One day while we were sitting on the couch looking at Pinterest, he kept showing me logos created with planes.  We saw some amazing designs and thats when we knew that paper planes would definitely be a part of this new journey.  We were so EXCITED….and yes this is corny…we live on Chicago LANE.  I shouted, “Paper Plane Lane” out loud cause we live on Chicago Lane…an the name was BORN!

You’re JUST PLANE AWESOME!!!

Stacy Landry