Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Eat, Drink and Be Merry Holiday Hop 2014

Christmas time has always been one of my most favorite times of year from the time I was a little kid. It's taken on a different meaning now that I'm a mother of 2 little girls, though. Their excitement is my excitement, renewed. They light up the holidays and remind me what it's all about just when I think I'm about to explode from all the stress and busy-ness that surrounds it.

This year in particular, I've had to learn that it's OK if I don't bake 6 different goodies to give to teachers, neighbors and friends - that's what stores are for. My sanity is much more important. It's OK if my tree still isn't decorated. It's up, has 3/4 of the lights on them and the rest will come in time. It's OK if I have barely even thought about Christmas cards yet - they're more fun to get in January, anyway! It's OK if my house is a mess and unorganized when my family and friends come to visit. They will still love me even if it's not perfect. As long as I remember to stop and take a breath here and there and appreciate the important things in life, it's all good. :) Because in the end, it's all about the time you spend with your family and friends.

With that, this year's lunch I made for the Ho Ho Holiday Blog Hop, brought to you by my fellow Bento Bloggers and Friends, is all about simple yet fun and healthy. Here's Santa chillin' with his elves. It took all of 10 minutes to make! :)


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In this lunch:
  1. 3-D Santa sandwich made using Nature's Own 100% Whole Wheat Bread with Applegate American cheese and oven roasted turkey
  2. Utz Holiday Pretzels - made in a peanut/tree nut-free facility!
  3. Carrot Sticks with a side of Marzetti's Simply Dressed Ranch Dressing
  4. Yogurt snowman using Stonyfield Organic Smooth & Creamy Whole Milk French Vanilla Yogurt, mini Ghirardelli chocolate chips and a sliver of carrot (hope the girls will forgive me!)
  5. Dried Organic Cranberries from Trader Joe's
  6. 2 Keebler's E.L.Fudge Butter Sandwich Cookies with Fudge Creme Filling 
A very merry christmas, happy holidays and a most stellar new year from me and my family to you and yours! :)


Now hop on over Bebento-Kids to what what festive holiday lunch Ariani has created for us!


Thanks so much for stopping by and please feel free to make my day by leaving me a comment, joining my blog in the top right corner or liking my on Facebook at MyEpicureanAdventures - the more the merrier! :)

Christine, aka happyvballgirl :)

Here are some items used in this post. To see a full list of my favorite bento gear and such, just visit my "Products I Love" page! :) Any purchases made through these links earns me a little extra cash to support my bento habit, which my hubby would really appreciate. haha! So thank you!!! if you choose to use any of 'em! :)

   

My favorite Bento supplier @ All Things For Sale.  Just click on the pix to view/purchase now! :)

Japanese Bento Accessories Sauce Container set of 4 Lovely Mayo Cup  

Disclosure: Affiliate links are used on this blog. :)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

DIY Caramel Macchiato

DIY Caramel Macchiato: Tastier, better for you AND oh so goooood.

My first Starbucks love was the Caramel Macchiato. The price and the sickly sweetness kept me from making it a daily habit, but when I did, it was a total treat. Mmmmmm. This was one of the first coffee drinks I start making for myself at home using instant coffee, because yes, I was too lazy to brew a pot of coffee if the hubby hadn't already gotten to it. Brewed coffee also works great, but now with our fancy espresso machine, I can crank one of these out just as easy as ever and dare I say even tastier? :)

DIY Caramel Macchiato: Tastier, better for you AND oh so good.

Caramel Macchiato

~1 cup hot and/or frothed milk *
1 or 2 shots of espresso *
2 Tbsp vanilla syrup
Whipped Cream
Caramel Syrup

1. In a large coffee cup, add milk and stir in vanilla syrup. Heat/froth/microwave/whatever. :)
2. Add espresso.
3. Top with whipped cream.
4. Drizzle with caramel.

* The fancy frothed milk and espresso can easily be replaced by a simple cup of coffee with cream/milk in it. Stir in vanilla and top with whipped cream and caramel sauce. That just what I used to do!

Actually, I've never made this drink by adding sugar or vanilla syrup before, but today, I decided to splurge and give this recipe a try found over at: Babble's Caramel Macchiato.  And while I was at it, I made a batch of MOMables' Homemade Easy Caramel Sauce to boot!

DIY Caramel Macchiato: Tastier, better for you AND oh so goooood.

Both are made in do-ahead batches and can easily be stored in the fridge for a quick cup of heaven whenever you feel like it! :)

DIY Caramel Macchiato: Tastier, better for you AND oh so goooood.

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By the way, this cup just makes me happy. Live Simply. Love Generously. Care Deeply. Speak Kindly. Words to live by, no? I bought these for the family as an Early Christmas Gift a couple years back and loved them ever since. :)

Lastly, if you're looking try another yummy coffee drink,  you gotta try this one out: DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte recipe. Simply.Delicious.

http://www.myepicureanadventures.com/2014/12/pumpkin-spice-latte.html http://www.myepicureanadventures.com/2014/12/pumpkin-spice-latte.html

Now it's time to sit, sip and shop. :) Doing a little more online Christmas shopping with Amazon Prime! Have you tried it yet? We joined a few years back and don't know how we ever survived without it. The free two-day shipping this membership offers has saved our hides more than I can count. Treat yourself or a friend to Amazon Prime to make your holidays that much easier. Try a 30 day trial membership for free by clicking on one of the pictures below. :)


Thanks so much for stopping by and please feel free to make my day by leaving me a comment, joining my blog in the top right corner or liking my on Facebook at MyEpicureanAdventures - the more the merrier! :)

Christine, aka happyvballgirl :)

Here are some items used in this post. To see a full list of my favorite bento gear and such, just visit my "Products I Love" page! :) Any purchases made through these links earns me a little extra cash to support my bento habit, which my hubby would really appreciate. haha! So thank you!!! if you choose to use any of 'em! :)

Other Essential Tools:

 

And here's a link to the crazy espresso machine the hubby bought a few years back, if you wanna check it out for yourself: Gaggia Accademia :)

Disclosure: Affiliate links are used on this blog. :)

Monday, December 1, 2014

Pumpkin Spice Latte

DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte. Tastier, cheaper AND better for you! SOO goood!

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I first met Starbuck's Pumpkin Spice Latte a few years back and it was love at first taste. Never had I had a coffee drink that was so perfect in every way. I treated myself to them on occasion and really looked forward to it. But each time I bought one, I couldn't help but cringe a little at the cost of each cup as well as the after effects of the drink - too much sugar which undoubtedly ended up making me feel a little bit yucky. So maybe not perfect in every way.

This year, it dawned on me to actually try making my own. I can do this! So I went on my internet search and happened upon this recipe: the kitchn's How To Make Pumpkin Space Lattes. It was quite tasty, but of course, I had to make it my own and made it to fit my tastes perfectly. Since then (about 3 weeks), I believe I have indulged in at least 12 cups of heaven  - without the drain on my wallet and ache in my tummy. Yay!! Maybe you'll find it suits your tastes, too? Let me know what you think!

Pumpkin Spice Latte
adapted from the kitchn
by My Epicurean Adventures

Ingredients:
6 Tbsp pumpkin puree
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
3 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp vanilla extract

6 cups milk
6 shots espresso (~2 oz each)

Whipped cream

Directions:
  1. Mix pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice and sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat. 
  2. Stir and bring to boil and then reduce heat to low, stirring frequently for about 5 mins longer.
  3. Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla. To save for later, see below.
  4. To make 6 servings to serve now: Add milk to sauce pan and heat thoroughly WITHOUT bringing to boil.
  5. Divide milk mixture among 6 glasses and add a shot (or two) of espresso to each cup.
  6. Top each with a swirl of whipped cream and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice.
  7. Read on to make single servings
Enjoy!

Makes 6 10oz drinks

Now if you're like me and you don't want to have to go through this every time you want a pumpkin spice latte (which is like every day for me), read on. The main reason I made this recipe for 6 cups of coffee was so I could have one 6 days during the week because 7 would be over indulgent. ;)

I make the pumpkin puree mixture in advance and store it in one of my glass pyrex dishes for later use. It lasts me about a week in the fridge. Each time I want to make a cup:
  1.  I just take 2 Tbsp of the pumpkin puree and plop it into a nice sized mug. 
  2. Add 1 cup (8 oz) of milk to it and mix well. 
  3. Heat the mixture how ever you'd like weather it be on the stove (in which case you need to transfer it to a small sauce pan), in the microwave or using a frothing wand. The latter is how I've been making mine.
  4. Once the pumpkin milk is thoroughly heated to your liking, add in 1 shot of espresso (or however many you need - haha). Each shot is approximately 2 oz.
  5. Then I top the drink with a generous dousing of whipped cream and sprinkling of pumpkin pie spice for good measure. 
For you non-coffee drinkers, this tastes great sans espresso as well! Just ask my non-coffee-drinking friend Carlene who came down to visit a couple weeks back, loved it and has been so patiently waiting for me to post this recipe so she can make some herself. I'm finally getting off my butt to do this, Carlene! :)


Mmmmmmm. I think I need to make one now. :)

DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte. Tastier, cheaper AND better for you! SOO goood!


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Last week, I went a little nuts and had my pumpkin spice latte with some pumpkin bread I made using this tried and true pumpkin bread recipe from Betty Crocker.

DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte. Tastier, cheaper AND better for you! SOO goood!

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And now I shall sit here, sipping my Pumpkin Spice Latte while doing a little Cyber Monday shopping. If you're like me and prefer to avoid the Black Friday crowds and shop from the comfort of my own computer, check out some great deals on Amazon using my affiliate link.



And treat yourself or a friend to Amazon Prime to make your holidays that much easier. We joined a few years back and don't know how we ever survived without it! The free two-day shipping this membership offers has saved our hides more than I can count! Try a 30 day trial membership for free! :)


Thanks so much for stopping by and please feel free to make my day by leaving me a comment, joining my blog in the top right corner or liking my on Facebook at MyEpicureanAdventures - the more the merrier! :)

Christine, aka happyvballgirl :)

Here are some items used in this post. To see a full list of my favorite bento gear and such, just visit my "Products I Love" page! :) Any purchases made through these links earns me a little extra cash to support my bento habit, which my hubby would really appreciate. haha! So thank you!!! if you choose to use any of 'em! :)

Other Essential Tools:





And here's a link to the crazy espresso machine the hubby bought a few years back, if you wanna check it out for yourself: Gaggia Accademia :)

Disclosure: Affiliate links are used on this blog. :)

Monday, November 24, 2014

Here's Lunch #39: Bagel and Cream Cheese with Ham

I've been makin' em, but it's been a while since I've posted one, so... Heeeeeere's lunch! :)



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In this lunch:
  1. 1/2 Plain, 1/2 Sesame Seed Bagels with organic cream cheese from Trader Joe's
  2. 1 slice of rolled up Applegate Black Forest Ham, the girls' new favorite ham
  3. Organic Baby Carrots with Marzetti's Simply Dressed Ranch Dressing on the side
  4. Peeled Snacks' Organic Apple Clusters
  5. Annie's Homegrown Cheddar Bunnies
  6. Cascadian Farm's Organic Vanilla Chip Chewy Granola Bars
* "Here's Lunch" is a series of lunch posts for those days when I really don't have more to say than "Here's lunch". :)


Thanks so much for stopping by and please feel free to make my day by leaving me a comment, joining my blog in the top right corner or liking my on Facebook at MyEpicureanAdventures - the more the merrier! :)

Christine, aka happyvballgirl :)

Here are some items used in this post. To see a full list of my favorite bento gear and such, just visit my "Products I Love" page! :) Any purchases made through these links earns me a little extra cash to support my bento habit, which my hubby would really appreciate. haha! So thank you!!! if you choose to use any of 'em! :)

   

My favorite Bento supplier @ All Things For Sale.  Just click on the pix to view/purchase now! :)

Japanese Bento Accessories Sauce Container set of 4 Lovely Mayo Cup  


Disclosure: Affiliate links are used on this blog. :)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Craft Show Lunch 2014

So here I am at the:

Woke up at 6am to go set up at 7am. That's early for me! The church is about 5 mins from my house, which is one of the reasons I've been doing this show and got there at precisely 6:57am to a completely empty parking lot. I was a little perplexed because I am NEVER EVER EVER the first one to ANYTHING, but managed to not panic and then spotted the guy opening up the doors. Whew.

With that, I got my stuff moved in an set up. What do you think?


Here's a rack of miscellaneous stuff I've made over the years. My buddy Cat made the blankets on the bottom.


The mix and match EasyLunchboxes sets were super fun to set up:


And just like last year, I actually displayed a real lunch I'd make for my girls. One sweet teen asked if she could eat it. Haha.


Here's a close-up of that sample lunch and the lunch I actually made for myself to eat:


This sample lunch took me less than 10 minutes to throw together. I tell everyone it may look fancy, but it's really so simple to make and all it takes is a cool lunch box and some picks to jazz it up!


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In this lunch:
  1. Pinwheel wraps made with Applegate Black Forest Ham and American cheese, Baby spinach and tortilla roll. 
  2. Seedless red grapes
  3. Annie's Homegrown Cheddar Bunnies
  4. GoGo Squeez Apple sauce (pictured in lunchbox in a couple of pictures above)
  5. Cascadian Farm Organic Chocolate Chip Granola Bar
And mine again. This was the perfect way to show that EasyLunchboxes are not only great for kids, they're great for adults, too. This lunchbox was pretty heavy compared to the previous one!


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In this lunch:
  1. Applegate Black Forest Ham, Roast Turkey and Muenster Cheese with mayo and zesty Wickles wrapped up in a soft flower tortilla. No need for picks for me! :)
  2. Carrot sticks
  3. Peeled Snacks Cinnamon Apple Clusters
  4. Grape tomatoes
  5. Seedless red grapes
Thanks so much for stopping by and please feel free to make my day by leaving me a comment, joining my blog in the top right corner or liking my on Facebook at MyEpicureanAdventures - the more the merrier! :)

Christine, aka happyvballgirl :)

Here are some affiliate links to the products I love and use on a daily basis. Well, I don't use ALL of them everyday but I do use at least 3 every day... you know what I mean! :) Feel free to ask me about any of 'em! Any purchases made through these links earns me a little extra cash to support my bento habit, which my hubby would really appreciate. haha! So thank you!!! if you choose to use any of 'em! :)

EasyLunchboxes:

       

My favorite Bento supplier @ All Things For Sale.  Just click on the pix to view/purchase now! :)

Bento Silicone Baking Food Cup - 12 Heart Food Decorating Pick Long Pix Stix Assorted Japanese Bento Accessories Silicone Colorful Food Cup 6P

Disclosure: Affiliate links are used on this blog. :)

Salem Baptist Preschool Holiday Vendor Fair 2014

Well it's that time of year and the idiot in me signed up to do this holiday vendor fair again, in the midst of a 3-week track out followed up by a school holiday after tracking back in for all of one school, soccer madness and hosting 2 sets of friends this weekend. Aaaaaa! Don't get me wrong, this is a great holiday vendor fair: well-run fair, really close to home and pretty reasonably priced to participate. It just means I barely had any time to think about this, but luckily, I didn't have to think about it toooooo much. ;)


Here's a look at the main product I'll be selling, EasyLunchboxes sets, complete with 2 Little Dippers from EasyLunchboxes, 2 silicone cupcake molds, 2 skewers from BentoUSA and a handmade cloth napkin made by yours truly! I just have so much fun putting these together, but they are "mix and match" so you can have fun putting yours together!


So much color, so much fun. Seeing all these EasyLunchboxes just gets me all giddy. :)


Wow, the lighting is pretty nice up in my bonus room on my crafting table. ;)



I actually had 45 napkins left over from last year's vendor fair, but I just couldn't resist buying some new fabrics in addition to the ones I never got around to finishing last time. Somehow I was able to make 70+ new ones on Veteran's Day while my girls played with their friends who had slept over the night before. Genius plan to get other people's kids to keep my kids occupied. ;) Sometimes that backfires, but this time they were so busy playing with each other like ALL day, that I was able to whip these up. Thanks for being so good, girls! :)


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So if you happen to be in the area and have a little time to spare, stop by, check it out and say hi! Lots of vendors there and a great way to get a jump on your holiday shopping!

Thanks so much for stopping by and please feel free to make my day by leaving me a comment, joining my blog in the top right corner or liking my on Facebook at MyEpicureanAdventures - the more the merrier! :)

Christine, aka happyvballgirl :)

Here are some affiliate links to the products I love and use on a daily basis. Well, I don't use ALL of them everyday but I do use at least 3 every day... you know what I mean! :) Feel free to ask me about any of 'em! Any purchases made through these links earns me a little extra cash to support my bento habit, which my hubby would really appreciate. haha! So thank you!!! if you choose to use any of 'em! :)

EasyLunchboxes:

  

My favorite Bento supplier @ All Things For Sale.  Just click on the pix to view/purchase now! :)

Bento Silicone Baking Food Cup - 12 Heart Food Decorating Pick Long Pix Stix Assorted Japanese Bento Accessories Silicone Colorful Food Cup 6P

Disclosure: Affiliate links are used on this blog. :)