Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Let me start off by askin': Where the heck did October go?!!? :)

I'm ashamed to admit that after a crazy-busy 6 weeks of non-stop fun, traveling, entertaining/hosting, painting, volleyball and soccer, the only Halloween-themed lunch I've made was for the Halloween Hop like 2 weeks ago! On top of that, my girls are in the midst of their 2nd week of "track out" (ie we go to a multi-track year-round school and have 3 weeks off of school) which means I haven't had very many opportunities to make any to-go lunches. So, in an effort to squeeze in at least one more Halloween lunch, we decided to have a little Halloween lunch-making fun WITH the girls and they were so excited.

"Flatting out" the bread (cause our cookie cutters are a wee too big)

Gettin' busy

Little Sis checkin' out Big Sis' bento makin' skills
And they're all done w/ all of their bento-making accoutrements all strewn about! Big Sis made a Sunflower Seed Butter and jelly sandwich even though she can eat peanut butter (unlike Little Sis). It's tree nuts she has to avoid, but she's an extra cautious one and for whatever reason(s), she seems to have switched over to using it instead. These days, w/ all the peanut butter recalls, that's just fine by me. :) Now if I could just get Little Sis on board w/ it too! She was totally turned off by soy nut butter when we gave it a go and has declined to try the Sunflower Nut Butter because of it. Oh well.
Tada!
Doh! Just noticed that I forgot to include the Applegate Organics Turkey deli meat Little Sis used in her lunch in this photo op. Because I just love 'em so much, I gotta give 'me a little shout out of their own. :)


So, here's a close up of the final products. Big Sis' is on the left and Little Sis' is on the right. They were quite proud of their handi-work and I think they turned out pretty darn awesome! It was so fun to watch them get so excited about making their own lunches and already knew where all my bento stash was. Just used plain ol' cookie cutters I've had for years and years. If an 8 and a 5 year old can do it, so can YOU!!!! :)


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In these lunches:
  1. Big Sis' Ghost Sammie on left: Trader Joe's Sunflower Seed Butter and Smucker's Simply Fruit Seedless Strawberry Fruit Spread using Nature's Own 100% Whole Wheat Bread
  2. Little Sis' Cat Sammie on right: Applegate Organics turkey and Boar's Head Muenster Cheese sandwich on Nature's Own 100% Whole Wheat Bread
  3. Utz's Halloween Pretzels (made in a Peanut and Tree Nut-Free Facility - woo hoo!)
  4. Trader Joe's Ghoulie Gummy Tummies Pumpkins and Spiders
  5. Zachary's Mello Creme Pumpkins - made in a facility that processes nuts. It was the closest to nut-free I could find in stores and is fine for either but Little Sis didn't want to give 'em a try after a bad experience w/ "May Contain Nuts" candy corn she had 2 years ago. Big Sis thought she wanted to give 'em a go but chickened out last minute. Oh well, better safe than sorry!
  6. Carrot chips
  7. Peeled Snacks Apple Clusters (Cinnamon for Big Sis and regular for Little Sis)
After all the hard work in making their lunches, these hungry little girls were eager to dig in. They nibbled and chatted, chatted and nibbled until every last bite was gone. As a mom, this was just a joy to behold - just look at those happy faces!




These lunches were enjoyed on some Halloween place mats I made for the girls about 4 years ago. Here's a closer look:

My Epicurean Adventures: DIY Halloween Place Mats


They look pretty decent (I think), wipe off easily and work like a charm - and they are oh so easy to make. I actually made a bunch that year to give away as gifts. To make 'em, just decorate a legal size (8.5" x 14) sheet of paper however you'd like: w/ cutouts, markers, paint, glitter - but make sure that it finishes fairly flat. These were all hand drawn/hand cut from regular ol' construction paper. Then just take the decorated sheets to Kinko's or any place like that and run 'em through their legal-sized laminator. The finished result is a very professional looking, shiny, thick place mat!

Lastly, while I was snapping pix throughout our lunch-making fun, a light bulb went "Ding!" in Big Sis' head. She said, "OH, I know Mommy, you can post these pictures up on your food page and then can we read all the comments together?" :) So, with that, I'll just say that we'd all just be thrilled (especially Big Sis) if you left us a little comment telling us what you thought of the girls' lunches!

Happy Halloween everyone!! Hope you have a wonderful night of fun - stay safe and warm! :)

Check out this awesome collage that Kelly Lester of Easylunchboxes made from this post! She's the best! :)


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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 Decoration Ham Cheese Cutter Face Food Decorating Topper Party 3D Witches Hats

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

Monday, October 29, 2012

Painting w/ Nana

I am a lucky girl. I'm a lucky girl because I have a pretty awesome family that support me through thick and thin. My sweet, loving, hard-working, chiseled (hee hee) husband, code name: Sweetie, puts up w/ me (and even supports) my recent slackin'-around-the-house ways thanks to my newly found love of blogging. My girls light up my life w/ joy and pride (except when they are being extremely whiny and annoying - haha!) and, at the ages of 8 and 5, still get all bummed when I have to leave for the evening, like to go play volleyball :) My parents are incredible and would still do ANYTHING for me, my husband and my girls - especially babysit for a week at a time and stuff us full of yummy Korean food!

The rest of my family is awesome too (from Gooma & Goompa and Papa to my bro & Sweetie's sis & bro and of course my Aj & UB) but this post is all about my amazing mother-in-law, aka Nana/Mom, who is so caring and giving and has more energy than the Energizer Bunny. I love her dearly and I'm pretty sure she loves me back. :) Now how many girls can honestly say that?!? Just kidding. I know a lot of you out there can, but dang it, I'm lucky! :)

Recently, Nana decided that it was once again time to come down to help us out w/ yet another project around the house. When she asked the hubster if there were any projects we wanted to tackle, nothing came to his mind but an off-handed remark I had made to him about a month before saying "Yeah, it would be nice to *one day* paint our living room kitchen", *one day* meaning in maybe 5 years! But before I knew what had even happened, we had a date scheduled for the project and plans in place, which meant I'd better  get off my arse and figure out what the heck I wanted to do - Yikes!

Not only did her plans for this visit include painting, it also included shampooing our family room carpet, babysitting the girls so Sweetie and I could spend some "us" time in NYC and then taking them up to NYC to meet up with us for a couple days and then keepin' them up there while Sweettie and came back HOME for a few. See, I TOLD you I was lucky!! :)

We had a whole lot of crazy stuff going on around painting time, starting with a weekend visit from friends just days before P-day. These friends helped me finalize colors, suggested doing an accent wall AND one of 'em even took it upon himself to start and finish moving all of our family room furniture out of the way, despite my protestations (which quickly turned to gratitude). Did I mention I have awesome friends, too? :) Immediately following was another weekend visit from my cousin and his family the evening OF finishing up as well as a couple school conferences, chaperoning a class field trip, various appointments and 2 nights of vball in between. It was craaaaazy. BUT... I somehow managed to squeeze it all in AND get prepped for painting. Yeah!

Here are some before pix.

The Family Room: We still watched TV like this for a couple days!
Thanks Mike, for your motivation, strength and determination in moving all this crap away from the walls and out of the room entirely, even when I tried to convince you we could wait and do it later ourselves. That woulda SO sucked!

The Kitchen: That's Nana in the corner... that's her in the spot. light.... :)


Ugh! Could BARELY stand to have it this way for the good part of a day. But thanks to some fancy planning on my part, it was like this for only the good part of a day (and not 2)! :)

Painting went as smoothly and as swiftly as one could have hoped. No major spills or mishaps to report. We enjoyed catching up on family news, singing along to the oldies and even chit-chatting about this very blog! :)

And now the after...


Family room w/ new paint and cleaner carpets - wahoo!
Thanks for honing in on the main color with me, Cat, which luckily turned out to be a color I had already use in the hallway. No worries about clashing there! And thanks Mike and Amy for suggesting the accent wall and helping me pick that color out! LOVE my accent wall - it totally makes that fireplace POP (in better lighting)!

Fab new kitchen :)
Aaaaah. The kitchen is so much nicer. Actually, the color wasn't all that different from the original, but it just "felt" nicer and new, ya know what I mean? :)

And finally, thanks SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much Mom!! You are a rock star. I love you bunches and bunches and will forever be grateful for all you do for us and oh SO much more! :)

The Painters Extraordinaire! 

The End. :)



Sunday, October 28, 2012

Grilled Salmon with Tomatoes, Spinach and Capers

My dear mother-in-law (aka Nana) is a very busy Nana with boundless amounts of energy - seriously. I don't know how she does it all but she works, she babysits grandkids and just loves to spend time and play with them, she cleans like no other, she paints - ie houses and walls and stuff (teaser for upcoming post!), she travels the world, she spoils her children and their mates, she gardens, she even cans tomatoes! And that's just to name a few. :) This is a batch she brought down for me on her most recent visit. I totally hit the jackpot!!


One of my favorite recipes to make w/ Nana's tomatoes is The South Beach Diet's Grilled Salmon and Tomatoes, Spinach and Capers. It is OH SO GOOD, especially when you make them with tomatoes as fresh as these. Unfortunately, Nana doesn't like fish, so I made this for my parents when they came to visit, along with a side of grilled asparagus and white rice. Yes, WHITE rice because it is my parents' absolute staple and favorite.

This is salmon for my parents. They LOVE salmon.


 This is a tuna steak for my hubby. He hates salmon.




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And here's Aj's Grilled Asparagus Recipe that my dear aunt (aka Aj) shared w/ me years ago. It’s simple, it’s delicious and my girls LOVE it. I’ve been making it this way ever since. Thanks Aj! :)



Enjoy!! :)

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


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Halloween Hop

Welcome to the Halloween Hop!! 

My fellow Bento Bloggers and Friends and I thought what better way to get all geared up for Halloween than w/ a hop?!? :)

Hard to believe, but this is my first Halloween lunch of the season and we're already halfway into October!! Yikes!! That means I REALLY NEED to get out the Halloween stuff to decorate. Normally this is done as close to October 1st as possible, but this year w/ house painting and house guests, that's been delayed a bit. Then I gotta get some costumes in order - hubby and I are ACTUALLY dressing up this year!!! Whoa! And then there's figuring out the girls' costumes. This year I'm only making one for Little Sis: a Princess Peach from Mario and Friends. Not sure how that's gonna turn out, but we'll see. :) Big Sis wants to be a witch and wants to buy it from the store, which makes me a little sad since I've made all of their costumes from, like, the beginning of their LIVES!, but not tooooo sad because it's one less thing to do! ...ESPECIALLY since Halloween marks the beginning of a wonderful, awesomely fun, happy, exciting, crazy, hectic, busy, aaaaaah! time of year... 'cause ya know, once Halloween is over, Thanksgiving - BOOM, then CHRISTMAS... Screeeeeech! Ok, I'm puttin' on the breaks here. I'm going to enjoy each and every moment and try to do stuff earlier this year (yeah right). Should be a piece o' cake w/ both girls in school full time now, right? Right. :) 

Wish me luck and in the mean time, enjoy perusing some fancy Halloween lunches to get you in the spirit. :)


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In this lunch:
  1. Sandwiches: Applegate Ham and Cheese Sandwiches on Nature's Own 100% Whole Wheat Bread
  2. Stoneyfield Plain Yogurt w/ fruit puree made by food processing (and straining because Big Sis does not like the little seeds!!) blueberries, strawberries and raspberries together w/ some local honey from my CSA Papa Spuds.
  3. Cupcakes! (click for recipes) = MOMables Homemade Yellow Cake Recipe + Whipperberry Buttercream Recipe with Wilton's Decorator Gel and Halloween Spider Sprinkles
  4. Witches' Broom Sticks: Pretzel Sticks w Meunster Cheese and Nori tie - saw this idea on Pinterest but when I tried to click on how to make 'em, it said it was an 'unsafe' site so I just had to wing it. Here's the link dare you try to take a peek: Broomsticks on Pinterest
  5. Red seedless grapes
  6. Utz Halloween Pretzels - Made in a Nut-Free Facility - woo hoo!

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!

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 Accessory Food Pick Hat 3D food picks 8 pcs Food Decorating Topper Party 3D Witches Hats

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Pizza Lunchables

oThis lunch was inspired by my last trip to the grocery store with Big Sis who wanted to buy a "Pizza Lunchables". So once again, I deferred the purchase by telling her I'd make her one myself, which was declared acceptable. To be honest, make-your-own pizzas that are eaten cold like this just don't float my boat. My thought was - eww! but I'm not gonna let MY tastes get in the way of trying new things so I went ahead and did a trial run as a lunch-at-home one day and they, by golly, just gobbled them up! Ok! So here's my second Pizza Lunchables that went to school w/ them today:


In this lunch:
  1. Arnolds 100% Whole Wheat (High Fructose Corn Syrup-Free) Sandwich Rounds, cut in half because my girls like to make "pizza sandwiches" which are way too floppy when whole. :)
  2. My fave jarred spaghetti sauce: Bertolli's Organic Olive Oil, Basil & Garlic Sauce - yes, I use spaghetti sauce instead of pizza sauce because the pizza sauce ends up going bad before I can use it up. Same diff if you ask me. :)
  3. Sargento Shredded Mozzarella - though I'd prefer to use a thicker shred 'cause these can get messy
  4. Hormel Pepperoni Minis - still looking for Applegate's version, though. :)
  5. Mi-Del NUT-Free, Gluten-Free Arrowroot Animal Cookies. Big Sis has been asking me to find some nut-free animal cookies and this is what I found (yesterday) at Kroger. Let's see how these go over!
  6. Carrot chips w/ Ranch dressing in those cute containers
  7. GoGo Squeeze Applesauce Pouches
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And as you can see, this lunch is filled w/ LOTS of little containers to wash, but sometimes, it's worth the extra effort. :) I fully anticipate that these ELBs will come back competely empty, minus a some peps, which, let me tell ya, is a beautiful sight to behold. :)

Here are some links to my bento buddies who have created beautiful Pizza Lunchables of their own:

pizza bento lunch
Zoe's Lunchbox
mommy + me lunch box

Bento for Kidlet
Cristi M. for MOMables
Molly's Lunchbox
Healthy Eating Starts at Home
feeling a little lunchy
Keitha's Chaos
What the Girls Are Having
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! :)

         

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Homemade Mondays
Tuesday's Table
Anyonita Nibbles' - Tasty Tuesdays
What Kids Eat Wednesday
The Party Bunch

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

Friday, October 12, 2012

PB&J Uncrustables

♫♪♫ Peanut buttah and jelly. That's all I put in my belly. Just a peanut buttah and jelly...♫♪♫ Any one else remember that song from "Welcome Back Kotter"?!? I don't know how many times I've sung this since I heard it. Maybe a million!?!? :)

Hey all!

This is just a quickie post since I've been all tied up these past few days w/ painting my living room and kitchen w/ my awesome mother-in-law, but I just couldn't stay completely away so I'm sneaking this one in. :)

This is actually the first sandwich I made using the awesome "uncrustable maker" I bought from Allthingsforsale last month. This PB&J "Uncrustables" is for Big Sis but NOT Little Sis as Little Sis is severely allergic to peanuts (but not tree nuts). Big Sis is severely allergic to tree nuts (cashews, actually) but not peanuts. How crazy is that!?!?! ANYWAY, I'm happy to report this lunch was a hit w/ Big Sis: "MOMMY!! Your sandwich was just like the uncrustables they sell in school!" and not a crumb was left. I guess *sometimes* it's a good thing to look just like a school lunch?!!?


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In this lunch:
  • Fruit kebabs of blueberries, raspberries and cantaloupe on sword toothpicks I bought at Walmart
  • Veggie Sticks - Snyder's EatSmart Naturals Garden Veggie Sticks - my girls love them AND they are lower in sodium than so many of the other brands out there. LOVE these veggie sticks!!
  • Uncrustable: Nature's Own Whole Wheat Bread stuffed w/ peanut butter and Smuckers Simply Fruit Seedless Blackberry Spreadable Fruit 
  • Peeled Snacks' deliciously crunchy Apple Clusters - be sure to try Berry Crunch Apple Clusters!!
  • And HOMEMADE Cheese-Its!!!
  • Homemade chocolate chip cookies
Only thing to note is that the bread I use is a wee too small for this cutter. Phooey! But no worries, I made it still work by first lining up the bottom crust w/ the cutter guides, then did a flip-turn and lined the top crust along the guide to finish it off. Worked like a charm!
For another "Uncrustable" idea, check out this post: The Uh-mazing Uncrustables!

Shout-Outs:
  1. EasyLunchBoxes - love my ELB's & Little Dippers!!
  2. My favorite Bento supplier @ All Things For Sale. It's where I got this awesome cutter:
 Japanese Bento Accessories Sandwich Cutter New Design


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 :)

This lunch has been shared at:

Monday, October 8, 2012

Weekend of friends, food and soccer!

What an awesome weekend! It was full of spending time with awesome friends, good eats and lots of soccer! So excited that Little Sis scored her 1st, 2nd and 3rd goals of the season (all in a row) and missed 3 others by mere inches. The sleeping giant has finally awoken. :) The hubby and I loved overhearing parents on the other team calling her "the really tall fast one". :) Big Sis is getting more aggressive out on the field too and is finally starting to turn on some of her stick-legged speed. There's hope for them yet. YAY!! :)

A weekend w/ visiting friends also means a weekend of lots of cooking and eating. :) I made some of their favorite dishes and topped it off w/ an extra special dessert for an extra special friend who's b'day is coming up this week. Happy Early Birthday, Amy! :)

This first picture is of one of my all-time favorite, all-time easy crock pot meals: Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches. It was perfect for a day on-the-go and SOOO nice to still be able to come to a home cooked hot meal. Found this recipe on allrecipes.com - one of my favorite sites for finding delicious and easy recipes. I've only made this dish like 8 times since I found it last year and it's ALWAYS a hit.


In this meal:
  1. Allrecipes' Slow-cooker Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches served on Nature's Own 100% Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns along w/ baby spinach, tomato, provolone cheese and ranch dressing
  2. Sauteed Okra, onions, green peppers & red chards - veggies c/o my CSA Papa Spuds
  3. Sensible Portions Garden Veggie Straws (though I like Snyder's eatsmart naturals Garden Veggie Sticks better because they have less sodium and still taste great) :o
This second pictured "meal" is a birthday pie. The birthday girl actually prefers apple pie over cakes, so apple pie had she! I combined 2 recipes to make this one, since a little birdy told me she loved apple crumb pies and my favorite apple pie recipe is a 2-crust pie.


Pie recipes:
I took my go-to apple pie recipe: Caramel Glazed Apple Pie and used the crumb topping recipe from this one: Allrecipes Apple Crumb Pie instead of the 2nd pie crust to make the above pie. I used Fuji apples just because that's pretty much the only apple Big Sis likes and therefore what we have on hand.

It was topped off w/ some extra special extra homemade ice cream my "occasionally epicurean" hubby made. He prefers EXTRA CREAMY ice cream instead of the "ice milky" kind I made last time (well excuse me!) so he decided to take matters into his own hands to ala mode our pie w/ Ben & Jerry's Sweet Cream Base Ice Cream. And let me tell ya - it turned out FANTASTIC! I will gladly give him the title of "Ice Cream Man" in our house! :)


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I'm happy to report that the apple pie ala mode was a big hit w/ the adults - YAY!! but not my girls who don't actually like apple pie. Boo! Oh well, they did like "Daddy's Ice Cream" so all was not lost. :)

There was actually another really yummy meal the hubby took charge of: Saturday Night Surf and Turf which consisted of NY strip steaks, shrimp and scallops (I contributed mashed potatoes and roasted asparagus) that I didn't get around to taking pix of 'cause we were all too hungry! I should get that grilled shrimp recipe from him though because it was rather delish.

Ok, that's it for now. I've got a busy week ahead of me filled with lots of vball and indoor paining (worthy of a future post) and sadly won't be very bloggy this week... which may just kill me a little bit. :)

Have a wonderful week! :)

Shout outs:
EasyLunchBoxes - You know I love ya Kelly!
Allrecipes.com for so many pretty awesome recipes
Papa Spuds CSA - love their awesome produce delivered right to my doorstep!!



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

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