A Berry Easy Thanksgiving Breakfast

November 26, 2014

Berry. Berry. Easy.

1. Make your fave oatmeal.
2. Lay out blueberries row by row, in the shape of a pilgrim’s hat.
3. Cut a rectangle from toast that’s the width of the hat; spread with a hazelnut spread (preferred. always.) or peanut butter.
4. Cut a “cheek” off an apple, pear, or other white-flesh fruit. Slice so that you have a thin disc to work with. Cut a square shape, then use the tip of your knife to cut out the inner square hole.

Healthy, filling, loaded with antioxidants and fiber to combat the smorgasbord to come.

pilgrim hat oatmeal with blueberries

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Do You Want to Build a Bento?

November 24, 2014

Thankfully, my daughter is a bit too young to be obsessed with all things Frozen. But when my friends at Seoul Mom Approved asked me to review a Frozen-themed bento box, I knew I couldn’t refuse. Seoul Mom Approved is a group of American expat moms in Korea who scour the markets there for fun finds to sell to the States. Translation: These cute bentos are nowhere to be found Stateside. Yet.

When our bento kit came in the mail, my two-year-old girl offered to “help” open the box. She took one look at the bentos and screamed “MINE! Minemineminemine!”, scooping them up in her arms and hightailing it to her room. Mind you, I had never introduced her to Frozen characters, so this is the first time she laid eyes on the Ice Queen and her quirky little sister

This is the power of Frozen, my friends.

Here’s what you get: two stainless steel bento boxes, each in a removable plastic shell for insulation and durability. One has a removable and adjustable divider, meaning you can place it 1/3 of the way in on either side, or straight down the middle. It’s similar to the Steeltainer Snack box, with the same specs and features. The other box is the exact same size, but without the divider. Both have leakproof locking lids, which I love since they’re so easy for even the littlest hands to manage.

frozen bento lunch *The Sven lunch idea is one inspired by my fellow bento blogger, One Crafty Thing.

 

frozen bento set

The two stack neatly into the included insulated tote to make lunchtime easy for your diehard Elsa or Anna fan. The tote shows off the whole gang, including Olaf, Sven, and Kristoff. When it comes to picky eaters, including their favorite characters can go a long, long way in getting them excited to eat.

frozen bento in bag frozen bento bag sisters frozen bento bag kristoff frozen bento bag olaf

 

In a nutshell, here’s what I like:

  • Stainless steel construction – these will last forever, and there’s no fear of chemicals leaching or warped materials in the dishwasher
  • Boxes and lids are dishwasher-friendly (remove the boxes from the plastic shells before doing so)
  • Locking lids that are easy for even toddlers to use
  • A secure fit in the included insulated tote
  • An easy-to-hold tote handle
  • Divided sections and an adjustable divider to make a custom fit
  • Versatility of using one box or both
  • Leakproof!

And here are things to keep in mind:

  • There’s no room for an ice pack. In its defense, I like the idea of a snug fit so that food doesn’t bounce around, and keep in mind that these are made in Korea, where lunch contents are pickled and seasoned so that refrigeration isn’t necessary. If you’re bent on using an ice pack, you’ll need to use a different tote, or use one box to make room for the ice.
  • The divider will not keep leaky foods separate; i.e. yogurt will seep into the other section. The divider also comes out pretty easily, so you’ll need to take it out before washing. If you do end up losing it, though, it’s easy to buy a replacement — $1.95 for two dividers.

I don’t consider those points “cons”, but just info to be aware of so that you know what to expect.

How to get your own:

And now for the good news: Seoul Mom Approved will be selling these for $29.50 in limited quantity, which I think is a solid investment for quality, stainless steel bento boxes. The Steeltainer snack box, which is the exact same thing as the divided Frozen container, sells for $14 alone on Amazon; popular stainless steel bento containers sell for much more.

Be sure to follow Seoul Mom Approved on Facebook and Instagram for instructions on when and how to buy.

Happy lunch-packing!

Disclaimer: I received the Frozen bento box set in exchange for my honest review. All opinions, and money that I’ll clearly be spending from now on on Frozen paraphernalia, are my own.

Fill Her Up

November 22, 2014

fuel gauge oatmeal food art

There are a lot of times throughout the day–like when I’m scrubbing dried-up oatmeal off the floor, trying to keep myself calm through an epic toddler meltdown, seeing my kid-less friends’ accomplishments on Facebook–that I wonder, how’d I get here?

You know, the place where I’ve birthed three human beings out of my body and am in charge of them for a long, long time. Sometimes I still feel like a kid myself, trying to figure out who I am and what I want to be when I grow up. Other times I feel old, and tired. With a body and soul battered by the worry, fear, emotional roller coasters, marital ups and downs, and battles of wills that are part and parcel of being a parent.

Since I started having kids very young — mid-20′s– I think a lot of my parenting was driven, in part, by a need to prove myself. To prove that I could hack it, that I had it together, that I didn’t make rash choices in life. And, of course, the person I needed most desperately to convince was me. That kind of motivation may get a lot done in short spurts — the sleep-deprived adrenaline rush of being thrown into the mommy world — but after a while, it wears on you.

So three kids later, I’m at that place. Worn. Too many nights when I’m alone with the kids, I feel stripped down, thin, and threadbare.

Running on empty.

So these past few months, I’ve decided to make it a priority to feed myself. Fill up. To get myself that vanilla latte. To accept my husband’s offer to watch the kids while I go out and do nothing at all. To meet up with friends and laugh about stupid things. To tell my family I need some alone time (even if only for a few minutes) and to not feel guilty for asking. I don’t think this is the ultimate remedy, but it’s definitely part of it.

So to any of you reading this and feeling empty, I hope you give yourself permission to focus on yourself, to do things that inspire you and fill you. After all, we can’t give if we ourselves lack. We’ll be better mothers for it.

 

 

Three kids and brains

November 9, 2014

Little miss has this ritual where she likes to peel hard-boiled eggs ALL BY HERSELF. All by herself means about two seconds of honest-to-goodness effort, then complete frustration that gets taken out on poor said egg. The result: lots of casualties.

So what’s a mom to do with too many egg smithereens? The only thing you can do. Laugh.

eggs three kids

I posted this on my Instagram last week and apparently it’s made the rounds on Facebook. So if you’ve seen it on your feed, now you know the true story behind it. I would comment on all the posts and claim credit, but that just sounds like too much work for me right now. Remember. Three kids. Brains.

Last-Minute Halloween Ideas

October 29, 2014

Every year, I tell myself I’ll be way ahead of the game with Halloween costumes. And every year, I’m scrambling at the last minute to put something together that’s acceptable for the kids. Not awesome, not pin-worthy, just good enough for them to feel not embarrassed of their mother when they go out trick-or-treating.

Halloween is the day after tomorrow, and I still have nothing in the costume department. Nothing.

Halloween-y food, though? That I can do!

last minute halloween food ideas

I’m not into gory and scary, so these tame food ideas are perfect for wee ones or any kid (or, ahem, mom) with a weak stomach. Here are the deets:

1. Ghostadilla

ghost quesadilla

I let this cookie cutter from The Land of Nod do all the hard work, but you can easily free-hand a ghost shape with kitchen scissors. Cut your shapes first, then sprinkle cheese and make the quesadilla on the stove; much easier than trying to cut after cooking. The eyes and mouth were made from purple cabbage using a small hole cutter, but you could easily use olives, blueberries, or even capers for the foodiest of foodie kids.

2. Monster Green Smoothie

monster smoothie with hand

This was a happy accident; my once green-smoothie-loving toddler suddenly said that they look scary, so I ran with it. A banana slice, blueberry, and apple mouth and teeth later, she couldn’t wait to get her hands on it (as you can see). Make sure the smoothie is super thick so that your toppings don’t sink! Here’s our all-time favorite recipe:

  • 2 cups liquid of choice (we use fresh-squeezed orange juice, but have used coconut water and almond milk and both are great)
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1 cup pineapple
  • 1 cup frozen mango chunks
  • 1-2 frozen bananas
  • boosts of choice (we use hemp hearts and chia seeds)

3.  Pirate Oatmeal

pirate oatmeal

Dried apricots are humble little things. They don’t look like much, but they’re awesome in oatmeal, granola, sauces, and most importantly, pirate faces. Just slice one in half (or use two) to get the full mustache effect. A blueberry eye and plum-peel patch (or any fruit peel) cut with kitchen scissors make this a fun, five-minute breakfast.

4. Cat in the (witch) hat bento

cat witch hat bento

It’s been a while since I’ve used the cutezcute cutter (review and tutorial here), but the kitty face is perfect for a non-scary Halloween. This is a simple nutella sandwich with a purple cabbage and carrot hat cut with kitchen scissors (see a theme here? Go out and buy a pair if you don’t have one!), mixed berries, and snap peas. I served this at home, and the hat is probably too big and floppy to stay put on the go–but that’s easily remedied with a toothpick.

So there you have it. As you can tell, I’m a big fan of keeping it simple and letting the food shine through vs. constructing something elaborate.

After all, the clock is ticking and I’ve got three costumes to figure out!