Monday, February 29, 2016

Weekend Veggie Wraps

Meet our weekend veggie wrap. It was delicious and it was a hubby-inspired lunch from over the weekend. He suggested it, decided what he wanted in it and chopped up the veggies while I sauteed them and made the cream cheese spread. It was the first time we've cooked together in a really long time and it was so nice! 


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Weekend Veggie Wraps
by happyvballgirl (+ hubby) @ My Epicurean Adventures
http://www.myepicureanadventures.com/2016/02/weekend-veggie-wraps.html
Printable Version

Ingredients:
4 large, soft flour tortilla wraps
1-2 Tbsp cooking oil
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup mushrooms
1/2 cup tomatoes, diced
1 avocado, sliced
handful of baby spinach
4 oz (half a block) cream cheese
2 Tbsp Wickles Pickles Hoagie and Sub Relish or any other zesty relish you prefer
1 Tbsp diced pickled jalapenos (optional)

Directions:
  1. Heat skillet, add cooking oil (I use grapeseed) and saute onions, red pepper and carrots for about 5 minutes or until onions are translucent.
  2. Add mushrooms, tomatoes and spinach (optional) and saute for an additional 3-5 minutes.
  3. While veggies are cooking, in a medium sized bowl, mix cream cheese, relish and jalapenos thoroughly and set aside. *re spinach: saute them if you wish or use them raw instead in step 5. I personally prefer to have them raw as it add some fresh texture to the wrap.
  4. Lay out 4 tortillas and spread cream cheese mixture in the middle.
  5. (Optional) Lay out raw baby spinach on top of cream cheese spread.
  6. Evenly divide sauteed veggies across 4 tortillas.
  7. Top with avocado slices.
  8. Wrap up tightly, folding the 2 ends in first and then roll it up starting from the side closest to you.
  9. Serve immediately and enjoy!
Serves 4.



It was pretty easy to throw together and went down even easier. :)


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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! :)

    

This post has been shared at:
Homemade Mondays
Tuesday's Table
What Kids Eat Wednesday
Diana Rambles' Friday Pin Me Party

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

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Lunch Box Fun 2015-16: Week #22

Well, I tried to keep last week's lunch box ideas more fun and interesting than the last one and I think I did a decent job of it. :) Each of these lunches took about 10 mins or so to make. Some a little more, some a little less but quick and easy for the most part. 'Cause that's what I like - quick and easy. :)

Lunch box ideas, school lunch ideas, lunches

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1. The first lunch of the week actually took place on a Tuesday because we had a snow day here in NC. Actually, it was more like a freezing rain day with some slush. We still got to go out and have a quick "slush ball fight", though! Little Sis requested her week to start off with her favorite pasta, bacon and parmesan cheese with butter. She also got some strawberreis, carrots with ranch, a little beef jerky for added protein, cheese puffs and some Dove chocolates. :)

Lunch box ideas, school lunch ideas, lunches, pasta

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2. Here's that bagel and cream cheese sandwich rearing it's much requested head! Served with cantaloupe (using a our new Pick Ease toothpicks that were sent to us to try), Pringles Sour cream chips, carrots and sugar snap peas, cheese and crackers and a nut-free heart cookie that Little Sis's friend brought it to celebrate her birthday. She was so grateful that her friend had thought of her by bringing in nut-free treat.

Lunch box ideas, school lunch ideas, lunches, bagel sandwich lunch

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3. Meatball sub for mama! Yup, this one is mine. Packed myself a lunch on a day I was out running errands over lunch time. In an effort to save a little money and eat healthier, I decided to pack myself a meatball sub sandwich on a hot dog bun using some leftover meatballs from a huge batch I had made using my Slow Cooker Meatballs recipe with Ragu Sauce. They were DELICIOUS along with grape tomatoes, carrots and sugar snap peas, which provided the perfect crunch!

Lunch box ideas, school lunch ideas, lunches, meatball sub lunch

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4. Mini pizzas, kiwi, grape tomatoes, cheese puffs and a protein bar.

Lunch box ideas, school lunch ideas, lunches, mini pizzas

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 5. Pizza lunchables on whole wheat english muffin with shredded mozzarella, Ragu sauce, mushrooms, strawberries, carrots & sugar snap peas with ranch, a handful of doritos and some popcorn. I was told that I needed to pack more food. :)

 Lunch box ideas, school lunch ideas, lunches, pizza lunchables

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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! :)

                

This post has been shared at:
Homemade Mondays
Tuesday's Table
What Kids Eat Wednesday
Diana Rambles' Friday Pin Me Party

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

Friday, February 19, 2016

Healthier Post-Game Team Snack Ideas (Nut-Free!)

When Big Sis first started playing competitive soccer a few years ago and then Little Sis quickly followed suit, one of the most exciting things about it was that we longer had to deal with post-game team snacks. Haha!! Never mind how much it cost to play on these competitive teams or that it turned me into the soccer mom that I had vowed never to be before having kids or even the 6-7 practices plus 2-4 games each a weekend, we were just happy WE NO LONGER HAD TO DEAL WITH TEAM SNACKS! YAY!! And, ok, they look pretty cool in their fancy uniforms. :)


I've never been a huge fan of team snacks. "Snacks" in general, had become a bad word in my book thanks to Big Sis who has always been one of those kids that asks, "Can I have a snack?" 2 minutes after *barely* finishing an hour-long ordeal meal. Add in the few tears that were shed early on over the snacks they couldn't to eat due to their peanut/tree-nut allergies and thus my disdain for them grew. Yet, I know it's become a part of what so many kids enjoy about "game day", so instead of fighting it, I tried to meet 'em in the middle by looking for healthier options. But there have been plenty of times when I just gave in completely. lol.

Now that my girls have both picked up a new rec sport to play (basketball), we have entered the post-game snack world once more...

Little Sis's very first tip-off ever. Because she was the tallest on her team. And the other team too. 

Big Sis & her use of speed & aggression in b'ball. Wish she'd use it more in soccer!

I thought it would be fun to put together this post about some healthier nut-free snack ideas. I probably should've done this years ago, as a guide for myself and friends/fellow team parents who've asked, but oh well, better late than never, right? :) It's not a comprehensive list by any means, just a compilation of nut-free snacks we've brought to games throughout the years. Some, I saw other parents bring and just thought they were really good ideas! Most of these you can find in grocery stores and stores like Target, Walmart, BJ's Warehouse, etc. but I included Amazon affiliate links so you could see the products as well as order them from the comfort of your computer, if you're lazy like me. And I'll admit, I won't mind earning a little extra change should you decide to be lazy like me. :)

Please take note that while I've found these snacks to be safe for my girls (one is very allergic to peanuts and the other to tree nuts), they may not be for other kids who may be even more sensitive. Also, these snacks aren't necessarily free of other allergens such as dairy, egg, gluten, soy, etc. So if you're concerned and in doubt, just ask the parents and remember to definitely bring the packaging so parents can decide for themselves.

One last thing to note before the list... though my tree-hugging side hates to say it, I've found that pre-packaged snacks are the best way to go for game day snacks. They're easier to hand out (especially if your kids love doling them out like mine do) and easier to read the ingredients for those dealing with food allergies. As much as I love those homemade treats, it's nearly impossible for a parent of kids with food allergies to trust that they'd be "safe".

Now on with the list...


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Snacks - "Crunchy"
  1. Annie's Homegrown Cheddar Bunnies: a great alternative to Goldfish and Cheez-Its
  2. Sensible Portions' Veggie Straws. I quite often find these very light, airy and very crunchy snacks irresistible! 
  3. Smartfood's White Cheddar Cheese Popcorn: These may be a little messy on the fingers but they sure are always a hit!
  4. Snack Factory's Pretzel Crisps: The girls love these paired with a fine cheese stick. ;)
  5. Pirate's Booty: Cheesy poofs! Gluten-free too. Baked, not fried. No artificial colors, flavors or preservatives
  6. Frito Lays Baked Chip Varieties: Sometimes the girls just want chips. These aren't so horrible. :)
  7. Cascadian Farm Granola Bars (Chocolate Chip or Vanilla Chip): One of the only granola bars I've found that are safe for my girls. And they're organic!
  8. Clif KidZ Protein Bars (In Chocolate Chip or Chocolate Mint varieties): One of the only protein bars that my girls can eat safely. They are made with wholesome ingredients, are mostly orgranic and non-GMO, to boot!
  9. Individually packaged Pringles are always a hit I've noticed... especially the sour cream ones. Kids have literally cried because we ran out of the sour cream one first. Too bad they don't sell just packs of those!
    
   

Snacks - Dairy
  1. Cheese sticks: My girls love pairing these and the next 2 cheeses with Pretzel Crisps
  2. Laughing Cow Cheese: I love these too and can easily down 2 or 3 in one sitting, though I try really hard to just stick to one wedge.
  3. Mini Babybel Cheese Wheels : Not only are they yummy, kids certainly have fun opening the wax casing, too.
  4. Squeezable Yogurts: Like Gogurts, YoSqueeze and plenty of other brands with no artificial flavors, colors, high fructose syrup and some even organic. Fun frozen, too!
  5. Smoothie drinks: Like Danimals in their cute little mini bottles. The perfect portion for kids, if you ask me.
Snacks - Fruity
  1. Freeze Dried Fruits like Brother's All-Natural which are non-GMO. Kids always seemed to be very intrigued by these, especially when you call them "astronaut fruit"! 
  2. Applesauce Pouches like GoGo Squeez. No spoons necessary!
  3. All-natural fruit snacks, fruit leathers, fruit straws, etc, like Annie's Homegrown Fruit snacks or Simply Balanced brands from Target. Who doesn't love a good fruit snack?
   

Snacks - Fruits & Veggies... In case you actually have kids that would enjoy these (unlike one of mine)
  1. Apples: small whole or pre-packaged slices
  2. Oranges: of the tangerine or Cutie variety
  3. Bananas: ooh ah ah ah!
  4. Pre-packaged single serving size veggies: Like carrots or sugar snap peas. Sure, why not?
Treats (if you must, lol.) Of course these won't necessarily be healthy, not even health-ier, but these particular brands are at least nut-free!
  1. Maplehurst Bakeries' Nut-free Cupcakes are usually found in your grocer's bakery and/or bakery freezer case. We pretty much have to avoid any grocery store bakery section cupcakes/baked goods because they just can't guarantee cross-contamination, but if you look carefully at some of the pre-packaged baked goods, you will run into the "nut-free" label. This is one particular brand that we go to quite often.
  2. Skeeter Snacks Nut-Free Chocolate Chip cookies. My girls actually like the taste of these nut-safe cookies, unlike some of the other ones.
  3. Annie's Bunny Grahams. Big Sis and I have a difference of opinion on these. I classify them as a treat, she says their not really a treat because they aren't that sweet. I'm still putting it in the treat section. lol.
  4. These pre-packaged variety of cookies have been safely consumed by my girls: Oreos, Chips Ahoy (Original), Fudge Stripes just to name a few.
Drinks
  1. Back to Nature Juice Pouches: They have a whopping 19 grams of sugar per pouch but my girls love the taste of this fruit punch (as do I), more so than any of the other all-natural/organic brands out there. These aren't organic but contain NO artificial preservatives, flavors, colors or high fructose corn syrup. Plus they are non-GMO.
  2. Honest Kids' Organic Juice Pouches: My girls aren't huge fan of these as they only have 9 gram of sugar per pouch, (punks!), but I've seen other kids chug this stuff so it can't be that bad! I just wish mine would!
  3. Horizon Milk Cartons, White or Chocolate: "Many nutritionists say that chocolate milk is one of the best post-workout recovery drinks." I lifted this quote out of my cookbook: The Best Homemade Kids' Lunches on the Planet by Laura Fuentes. There's a killer homemade chocolate syrup recipe in it for making chocolate milk. Big Sis wholeheartedly agrees with Laura and throws it in my face when I sometimes just feel like saying no. haha. 
  4. Vita Coco Kids Juice Pouches: Another low in sugar drink at 8 grams. I saw my girls drink this at a party once and they said they liked it! Need to test them out some more. :)
  5. Mini containers of water? I've seen these go over just fine before. The cute little bottles probably helped. lol.
    

So there it is! Did I miss anything? Do you have any more healthier nut-free post game snack ideas? If so, please leave a comment and I just may add 'em to this post!

For more information on food allergies, but sure to visit: FARE - Food Allergy Research & Education.


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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 :)

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! :)

This post has been shared at:
Homemade Mondays
Tuesday's Table
What Kids Eat Wednesday
Diana Rambles' Friday Pin Me Party

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

Friday, February 12, 2016

Lunch Box Fun 2015-16: Weeks #19-21

These lunches were made back in January, right after the holidays and just before they were getting ready to track out. As you can see, I was ready for a break (because the holidays, though they were fun, were not a break - lol) and just doing what I needed to get by. Well, these lunches were at least what the girls requested and took less than 10 minutes to throw together in the mornings. I don't quite remember why the were so few, because we did have a solid 3 weeks of school, but either I didn't have time to take pix in the morning, lighting was poor in the mornings (it did rain a lot during this time!) and/or I was just being lazy. haha. My guess it was just much of the same... bagels, pizzas, sandwiches. Yaaaaawwwwwwn. (omg. I just made myself yawn for real!)

My Epicurean Adventures: Lunch Box Fun 2015-16: Weeks #19-21. Lunch box ideas, school lunch ideas, lunches

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Here's what they did get:

1. Little Bambino Frozen Pizza from Trader Joe's with popcorn, pretzel crisps, a cheese stick and orange and a rolo pretzel that Auntie Cat made us.

My Epicurean Adventures: Lunch Box Fun 2015-16: Weeks #19-21. Lunch box ideas, school lunch ideas, lunches

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2. Bagel and cream cheese sandwich. Rolo pretzel thingies, strawberries, cheeze its and beef jerky in the reusable pouch.

My Epicurean Adventures: Lunch Box Fun 2015-16: Weeks #19-21. Lunch box ideas, school lunch ideas, lunches

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3. Ham and cheese sandwich with rolo pretzel thingies, sugar snap peas, strawberries and cheetos.

My Epicurean Adventures: Lunch Box Fun 2015-16: Weeks #19-21. Lunch box ideas, school lunch ideas, lunches

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4. It's Little Sis' Birthday! And guess what she requested? A bagel sandwich. lol. Of course I obliged. With strawberries, sugar snap peas, 1 rolo pretzel thingy, Fudge Stripe cookie and cheetos.

My Epicurean Adventures: Lunch Box Fun 2015-16: Weeks #19-21. Lunch box ideas, school lunch ideas, lunches

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5. Ham, salami and cheese hoagie with pretzel crisps, a cheese stick, sugar snap peas, cantaloupe and some cookies.

My Epicurean Adventures: Lunch Box Fun 2015-16: Weeks #19-21. Lunch box ideas, school lunch ideas, lunches

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6. Whoa, another bagel and cheese sandwich! Carrots, grapes, chocolate chip cookies and Sensible Portions' Veggie Chips (which look just like pringles)!

My Epicurean Adventures: Lunch Box Fun 2015-16: Weeks #19-21. Lunch box ideas, school lunch ideas, lunches

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7. And lastly, another ham, cheese and LETTUCE sandwich on hamburger bun with carrots, grapes, pringles and Fudge Stripes.

My Epicurean Adventures: Lunch Box Fun 2015-16: Weeks #19-21. Lunch box ideas, school lunch ideas, lunches

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Well, after 3 weeks of track out bliss, the girls are heading back to school on Monday. Hoping to get my mojo back and pack some more interesting lunches! Wish me luck! :)

Just made a load of these Slow Cooker Meatballs using Ragu. I think I'm gonna try to work their way into a lunch this week!


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    

This post has been shared at:
Homemade Mondays
Tuesday's Table
Anyonita Nibbles' - Tasty Tuesdays
What Kids Eat Wednesday
The Party Bunch

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

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Hallway Wall Organizers


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We are a family of four living in about a 2800 square feet which really should be more than enough space, but I find myself constantly trying to sqqquuueeeeeeeze more out of it. I admit, much of the blame is my propensity for "stuff", specifically craft stuff and kitchen stuff, yet, I long for organization and space. Well, I am working hard to live a more clutter-free life. Buy less. Get rid of more. Repeat. But some clutter is hard to avoid when you have kids who go school and participate in a variety of activities and just plain exist. lol.

One major source of clutter has been our large kitchen island. No surprise, it is a holder of all sorts of misc junk ranging from the daily mail, school papers, wallets, keys, chapsticks, just to name a few. You clean it up one day and it magically reappears the next day. Something neeeded to change.

I'd also been wanting to streamline our comings and goings for a while. Too often we'd be scrambling to find things like hats, gloves, sunglasses, keys, wallets, chargers, etc as we are heading out the door, often late. It was time to brainstorm storage ideas for our hallway. We had already put a bench there for ease of shoe putting on as we are a "no shoes inside household" which holds a minimal number of shoes and the girls' "fashionista scarves". lol.

I could have just bought one of these bench/shelf combos from the get go or one of these cool mudroom type benches but my pictures had already been hanging there for almost 10 years with no place to relocate to. So instead, next to bench, I added 2 baskets large enough to hold 2 backpacks each. The ones on the left are for the girls to share and the right one is for the hubby and me to share. Those work quite nicely, but it didn't offer any kind of storage for "out-the-door" items. Then it came to me: hanging wall baskets! Cheap and easy. They were exactly what this area needed. But the trick was finding the right kind of baskets to hang and how to hang them. You saw what I did. Here's how I did it.


Materials:
  1. Baskets (got mine at Target)
  2. 4 Wall Hooks aka "Robe hooks" (got mine from Home Depot)
  3. 2 wire coat hangers... I said YES wire coat hangers!!! ;)
  4. 4 Anchors and heavier duty screws (if you aren't screwing them directly into a stud)
  5. 1 spool of 3/8" grosgrain ribbon (not pictured) and matching thread
Tools:
  1. heavy wire cutters
  2. plyers
  3. tape measure or ruler
  4. scissors
  5. sewing machine or needle and thread
Figuring out how to hang the baskets was the tricky part. I just couldn't find the right style of basket or hook to do exactly what I had envisioned, so I made my own hooks using wire coat hangers. They did the trick and I even added some swirlage to make it look fancier than just bent up coat hangers. :)


Coat hanger hooks:
  1. Carefully straighten out the coat hanger using the plyers.
  2. Cut 8 5.5" - 6" length pieces of coat hanger. I looked for the non-coated kind in a bronze-like color, to match the baskets. I dug into the hubby's closet and snagged these. 
  3. Using the plyers, grab the very end of one of the coat hanger pieces and carefully bend it around the plyer tip. Based on the kind of plyer I used, this naturally gave me my initial 0.5" center.
  4. Keep bending until you have one full circle around your initial bend. 
  5. On the other end, measure out the length you need for the hook, in my case 1.25 inches and bend it out accordingly.
  6. Voila! They actually look like quarter notes!
Next step: ribbon. Figure out what length you need, based on your baskets.


Ribbon:
  1. Cut 4 pieces of 14" long ribbon (or however long you need them to be)
  2. Fold up ~1/2" at ends and sew across to form a loop.
  3. Fold ribbon in half and sew across at about 1/2". I wanted to make mine a tight fit over the hook so they didn't pop out easily.  
Basket hooks are ready to go!!!

Next, I enlisted the hubby to hang my hooks because I didn't feel like doing it myself. lol.


Here he is:
  1. Measuring and marking out the hook positions (not actually pictured, lol)
  2. Drilling holes for the anchors
  3. Hammering the anchors in
  4. Screwing in the hooks.
Ta da! Ok, I skipped a few steps because I was so excited to get them hung, but I think you can figure out the rest. :)


And a closeup of my swirly hooks, hooked into the hole/handle of the baskets. Look at them... hung perfectly angled for easy in and out. :)


So, even though we don't have the room for one of those fantastical mud rooms, I guess I basically turned our hallways into one, by hanging coat hooks next to our garage entry door...


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... and flanking my bench with wall baskets. Each person has their own basket to fill with whatever they see fit (mostly), like keys, wallets, sunglasses, hats, mittens, what-have-you. It's been working like a champ and has help minimize our running into to the house with our shoes on looking for forgotten stuff. Hopefully they don't look too weird. lol.


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Now my kitchen island is less cluttered thanks this and some other organizing tactics (for now). ;)


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! :)



Paper Rope Small Decorative Basket Set of 6 - Threshold, Brown
Paper Rope Small Storage Basket - Dark Brown - Threshold™

This post has been shared at:
Homemade Mondays
Tuesday's Table
Anyonita Nibbles' - Tasty Tuesdays
What Kids Eat Wednesday
The Party Bunch

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