EASY SCHOOL LUNCH IDEAS

easy-nut-free-school-lunch-ideas I love a fancy bento box (I wish someone would make one for me), they look so great. And I’m sure every kid who is lucky enough to get a pinterest worthy lunch everyday is jumping up and down excited to eat their lunch. I really wish I was bento box savvy lunch packer, I mean the kids lunch boxes have separators like a bento box but I don’t think I pack it fancy or very creatively. We often use a thermos for warm meals, but that also often doesn’t get eaten because it takes more work to open and my kids would rather just talk instead of doing that. So I send them with things I know they will eat (or will eat, since Harlow starts tomorrow – alll the tears), healthy things. Here are 5 of our go-to sandwich (or sandwich like) lunch ideas and a list of go-to items the kids love for sides.

avocado-BLT B.L.A.T

It really just rolls off your tongue doesn’t it? “I want a BLAT, for lunch!” . But whatever, it’s good and I didn’t make it up. Bacon, Lettuce (I sub spinach in, cause it’s better), Tomato (very thinly sliced for my kids), Avocado and Vegenaise. It’s a real winner around here and take no time. Trick is, to keep a few slices of bacon from a weekend breakfast and put them aside (that’s the hard part). And make the sandwich that morning or the avocado will get all BLAT like.

sunbutter-honey-and-banana SUNBUTTER, BANANA AND HONEY

Nuts are a big no-no in our school and probably in yours too. Peanut butter and Jam sandwiches are basically a kids lunchtime dream and mom’s too, so easy. But we found a safe school friendly substitute, Sunbutter. It’s made from Sunflower seeds, no nuts at all. I always include a little note, informing the lunch room supervisor that it’s sunbutter and it’s nut free – because it looks like nut butter and they might rush my kid off to eat in the office if they think it is. Sunbutter, sliced bananas, and drizzed raw honey. *there is also something called Wowbutter, made from soy – but we try to eat as little soy as possible around here, other than tofu every once in a while.

mini-cracker-sandwiches CRACKER SANDWICHES

Some of the lunches that get five stars, especially from King are the ones that are interactive. No they don’t move, ewww gross. But ones he has to build or take apart to eat. Cracker sandwiches are a big hit, all you need to do is send a stack of crackers, cut up slices of cheese, a veggie of choice and a sliced meat – they build and eat at lunch time. Crackers, cheese slices, spinach leafs and roast turkey.

strawberry-and-cream-cheese-wraps STRAWBERRY AND CREAM CHEESE WRAPS

Sorta like a sub in for peanut butter and jam. Cream cheese acts as the protein and sliced fresh strawberries as the jam, basically it’s sorta the same just way better. My kids prefer it in a wrap, they say it’s like sushi (but it only takes 1 min to prepare). Tortilla wrap, sliced strawberries and cream cheese.

mini-pitzas MINI PITZAS

These are a huge hit. I have been letting them kids choose their ingredients, (usually whatever we have in the fridge), and then they make them for supper one night (key word, they). We a ton and either freeze the leftovers or put the in the fridge and use them for lunches that week. I fully planned to always make my own pizza dough for this, but found these mini pitas at the grocery store and we use pasta sauce, because we usually have some of that leftover in the fridge too. Mini pita, pizza or pasta sauce, chopped veggies, and maybe chopped meat and cheeeeese.

When it comes to lunches, low prep is always a good idea in my books. I often do a small batch of healthy baking each week, so the kids have cookies or muffins in their lunches (these banana oatmeal cups are a great go-to) – again trying to make a lot and freezing. These are our go-to’s for the main portion of the lunch, but I often pack leftovers from our meal the night before depending on what it was. These black bean quesadillas are usually a hit and Quinoa Fried Rice (when I’m feeling like risking the thermos).

As far as sides, I usually pick 3 or 4. Something carby, something sweet, something veggie or fruit and something with more protein (I try to shoot for balance, try):

  • hardboiled eggs
  • edamame
  • cucumbers, baby carrots, sliced peppers, broccoli, sugar snaps, spinach leaves
  • seaweed snack or kale chips
  • nut free bar (if there is a sale)
  • cheddar bunnies
  • dried mango slices
  • fruit of seasonal choice
  • cookies or muffin
  • raisins, dried cranberries, maybe a prune (my kids love them) and some seeds
  • ants on a long (sunbutter, celery and rasins)
  • babybel cheese wheels
  • healthy chips or popcorn

For more awesome lunch ideas from around the web: 100 Day of Real Food School Roundup | 10 Nut Free School Lunches | An Entire month of nut free lunches

Do you have a great go to lunch idea? Please share!



OPTIMIST SYNDROME AND HOW TO CATCH IT

how-to-become-an-optimist It’s not actually a syndrome, but I like to think it is and I tell people I have “it” all the time. That glass is half full, my glasses are tinted a little rose and the sun is most definitely always shining – but I still see the grey clouds and the half empty glass, I’m not doozy I just try to make conscious decisions to find the positive. I haven’t always been the annoying optimist I am today, pretty sure I was an annoying argumentative pessimist at one point. Seeing the positive or seeing a positive outcome in a rough situation can help you through it, can help to teach you something and can open up new doors (when one door closes there is always another to open, or some other cheesy line like that).

Being an optimist is all about how you talk to and treat yourself. Being kind and fair to yourself and knowing that you and only you are responsible for your happiness. Positivity and optimism mean different things for everyone, but there is no doubt that there is a pretty big power in positivity (I’m crazy about the cheese in this post). This isn’t a fool-proof way to instantly change pessimism to optimism or negativity to positivity, but these are a few really good habits that anyone can easily pick up, and  that might even help you catch “eternal optimist syndrome”. It’s not contagious you have to work at it but then it can easily become second nature.

SMILE – even if you aren’t feeling optimistic or particularity even happy, most likely you will be met with smiles in return and those will add some pep in your step. Happiness is contagious, try to smile even when you just want to growl. And try to be around happy people, they will rub off on you (and you on them). Basically: smile through a bad day it will help you through it and invest your time in people who make you feel good.

DON’T COMPARE/BE CONTENT – You are not your neighbor or that beautiful IG feed – it’s just a highlight reel of another’s life, so don’t compare it to your behind the scenes junk. Find reasons why you love your small home, rather than why you dislike it. Instead of looking at your closet and being upset because you have nothing to wear, accept the challenge and try to find something new in there. Being content in your life is a huge first step towards positivity – it’s probably also the hardest one, but not impossible. Basically: Choose to be content, after a while it will catch on and become second nature.

BE KIND TO YOURSELF – often our personal internal dialogue is the worst we ever hear, no one else would ever speak to us the way we speak to ourselves. We are harder on ourselves than anyone else will ever be, it’s so important to be kind and compassionate to others but returning the favor to yourself is equally (if not even more) important. Shifting your internal dialogue to be more positive and kind when something goes wrong rather than beating yourself up for it, remember you are only human. Maybe you had an off day, maybe the task was just really hard. Same goes for when you do something well, give yourself an internal pat on the back, don’t go over analyzing and picking at your faults. Basically: Treat yourself the same way you would treat your kids, with kindness, patience and love.

THINK POSITIVELY – try and find a positive to (most) every negative, it’s there even if sometimes you really have to stretch. Try and train your brain to see the sunny side. *I know some really crappy things happen in life and seeing the sunny side isn’t always possible/easy. I’m talking about the everyday, which will hopefully help if those extremely rough 1-100 things happen in life (but hopefully they don’t ever). Basically: Be positive, smack those negative thoughts and kick them to the curb.

AT LEAST – Together these two words, when used when speaking to others and their struggles can be two of the most un-compassionate words in the English language. But when used for your own thoughts and self talk, they can be magic: “at least I have some clothes to wear” “at least it’s summer and not winter” “at least my eyes still work” (IDK, but you get the idea).

Super small changes, that over time can make a gigantic impact. We are taught about the importance of being kind to others, but often the being kind to yourself part is overlooked or forgotten about. Positivity and optimism all steam from how we treat ourselves – basically (have I said basically enough yet?) learn to be more optimist and positive and all that other happy stuff will follow.

*sorry it’s been so quiet on the blog, summer has been a crazy busy and awesome one! (I really shouldn’t apologize for that) Hope you all are having a fantastic one also! ALSO…optomist / optimist, spelling was a post long struggle.

5 iPHONE APPS WE LOVE

SUNRISE  (calendar app) – iCal on my phone used to be perfectly perfect for what it was worth. Then Apple went and did an update (many updates ago) and it just visually and otherwise didn’t work for me. The Sunrise app, it’s like a calendar dream – if you ever dream of calendars that is. The interface is clean and clear. And the functions are logical and straightforward. It syncs to your google, ical and email – also I think they have a desktop app, but don’t quote me on that. [free…i think?]

CAMERA + (camera app) – The only camera I use on my iphone. The standard one that comes with the iphone is pretty, meh. And the in app cameras, those get either a two or one thumb down. Camera+ is where it’s at, there are also many editing photo effects but the ability to focus as well choose the exposure point is a game changer. [$1.99…but its good, if you like nice photos]

YOGIFY (yoga app) – I have talked about it before, but I really do love this app. It comes with free practices, so you can test drive it first (you dont just have to take my word for it). If you dig it, you can purchase more classes from any of the 3 levels. It’s not a video, more like a slide show of images to glance at if you feel the need. It’s sorta like being in class and the teacher is walking around while they teach. You can hear them and follow their teaching cues, but you can’t see them if you get lost you can look up at someone nearby (which is sorta what the photo slideshow acts like). [free…but the additional modules cost some dollars and cents]

VSCO CAM (photo editing app) – I rarely use anything other then VSCO. I like the vast range of filters and the ability to customize each for each photo. It’s as simple or as complicated as you need it to be. [free..but the filter sets cost some doll-hairs]

HOOKED ON PHONICS (kids game/learning app) – I save Phone play time for Doctors appointments and dire situations, it’s an extra special treat that really really helps when we need it most. This hooked on phonics game/learning to read app is our current fave. [not free…each module is about $5, it’s pricey about the same as the flash cards/videos/workbooks/what-ya-ma-call-its]

What are your favorite apps? Any must haves that you use all the time?

WHAT DO YOU DO? | THOUGHTFUL CONVERSATIONS

[an outtake from a post last week. It’s me looking at you. so it works here too.]

You meet someone new or maybe you run into someone you haven’t seen in a while – usually the first question that gets shot your way “what do YOU do?” or “what are you doing now?”.  And you know they aren’t asking what you do for fun or what you do on the weekends, it’s all about what you do and where you work. I have always felt weird (but weird also isn’t really the right word) answering questions like this, half because (so I am often told) that I am humble (and charmingly awkward – I tell myself this one) but half because I have never felt like what I do defines me. Also, what I do these days is super complicated, but that’s another story all together. I have always loved what I do for work. And yet I still haven’t felt like I’m answering this common question, properly when I give an outright straight answer.

I lately answer “what do you do?” with a quick short descriptive word (lately it’s: “I freelance”) and then if they want to know more they will ask (they often don’t and that’s totally cool). Thinking back on these conversations I notice I always talk about projects, things I’m working on or things I’m working towards rather than “job title – company”. It seems to steer the conversation into a more meaningful direction (if they are into it, again cool if they aren’t) and there is often more common ground that is found and much more room for learning about the person (them learning about me and me learning more about them).

Does your day job define you? How do you feel about this question and how do you usually answer it? It’s a pretty run of the mill question, one that isn’t offensive at all (I’ve of course asked it many a time) – but I’m just thinking maybe there are better questions to ask to truly get to know someone and give a fuller picture. What do you think?

*I also find (just an odd little observation) in parent groups or when meeting new moms, this question rarely ever comes up. Maybe because we all already know what the most important job that we hold is.

On another but also sorta the same note: After I received such awesome feedback from the survey you guys did – last month, I don’t think I said it yet (seriously summer just puts my brain in a fog) but THANK YOU so much for those of you who took the time to take it and leave such thoughtful answers. I am trying to work towards flushing out some of the awesome topics you’d like to see more of. One of them a major one that came up, was that many of you are going through a career change, going back to work after kids, or trying to find yourself while at the same time becoming a parent – advice, guidance and inspiration was heavily requested. I am trying (in my foggy summertime brain) to get together a series (or a single post, just in case I’m biting off more than I can chew) that hopefully will offer different view points and maybe some inspiration around this area.  With all this being said, maybe you guys can help me…..have you gone through a career change or know someone really inspiring who has?

THE BEST MOISTURIZER FOR YOUR FACE

THE Best Moisturizer for Your Face I’m a pretty simple gal when it comes to the care and prep of my mug. I hate to admit, but for most of my life I mostly used regular old hand lotion on my face. But in my defense, I lived in really dry Alberta and nothing else seemed to fight the extreme dryness that was my skin everyday. Since then I’ve tried many a cream, but not the really pricey ones – I’m too cheap for that. I’ve used plain ol’ coconut oil for ages now, but found that sometimes it was a bit heavy for my skin and often clogged my pores. A few months ago I switched to using straight up Jojoba Oil and it’s like my skin is naturally soft and never clogged all the time. It’s the best.

THE Best Moisturizer for Your Face I just pour a tiny bit on my finger tip (or onto a cotton ball) and then rub it into my face at night-time, as I would a regular cream – or I spot apply to the dry areas only in the morning (but usually I don’t need to apply anything in the morning). There are a bunch of different oils that work really well for different reasons, but Jojoba Oil is my favorite for everyday use because it matches so closely to the oil our skin naturally produces. So basically, when we are talking about-face moisturizer, it’s OIL > CREAM over here. I really like this brand. Do you use oil on your face?

OH, AND: It also works great for dry lips in the winter (but let’s not even talk about that season) and looking for an awesome face scrub? Drea just posted a great and super simple one.

*test/try on a small spot before applying all over face, even though it is a natural product you could have a ‘surprise’ allergic reaction.

YOGA AT HOME: HOW TO MAKE IT A PRIORITY

#yoga at home: how to make it a priority #yoga at home: how to make it a priority #yoga at home: how to make it a priority #yoga at home: how to make it a priority #yoga at home: how to make it a priority During the summer months, I honesty don’t have time for much other then my family. My blogging schedule takes a hit, so does the house work, but yoga I always seem to find time for yoga. My home practice days begin to outweigh the studio days in the summer. Practicing a t home is not quite as mind clearing, focused and strengthening as practicing in the studio – since home is filled with distractions (so many cute distractions trying to jump on me while I move). I really focus on making my practice a priority, its key to keeping a consistent home practice. And there a few habits I have acquired along the way, to make sure I can’t talk myself out of practicing at home – because usually that whole ‘talking myself out of it’ is the hardest hurdle to overcome.

*These habits, work well for all other forms of home workouts too!

PREP YOUR SPACE

The night before or in the morning, lay your mat out and prep your space. That way you see your space first thing in the morning or when you walk in the room – much harder to say no when you know what awesome come from time spent on your mat. Make sure you go a step beyond laying out your mat and tidy up the space or even the room you plan to practice in. I have a hard time getting in the zone when things around me are in disarray – a quick tidy can do wonders for focus. *my mat is from Magic Carpet Yoga Mats – it is hand-painted and totally beautiful. It is perfect for my home practice (makes it that much more inviting to hit the mat), since it’s pretty slippery when covered with sweat  (basically how hot yoga goes) and I wouldn’t want to cover it with a yoga towel. (I still use and totally LOVE my Jade exclusively for vinyasa or hot classes- one does not replace the other).

PUT YOUR CLOTHES ON

Or just go ahead and put them on. For a first thing in the morning practice, I make sure I lay my clothes out the night before – less excuses. During the day I put my clothes on, and tell myself I can’t get ready for the day (no real clothes) until I practice.

CHOOSE A TIME

Set it in your head or even better, set it as an appt in your phone. This way you schedule other things around your yoga time, and there is none of that “I’ll do it later” sorta self talk.

SET UP YOUR PRACTICE

Since I rarely get a full practice in at home and always end up feeling like I’ve missed something when I’m done. I try to switch the focus of each days home practice, one day it’s more hip opening, maybe heart opening, arm balancing, etc. That way, at the end of the week or the next time I head to the studio – I feel more complete, rather than just doing the same half practice everyday feeling like I missed the same thing everyday. I use Yoga Glo and Yogify App, they both allow you to choose the type of practice you want (lot’s to choose from).

GET SNACKS AND AN ACTIVITY GOING

Because if you have kids, you just know someone is going to ask you for something as soon as you begin. It’s like when you are on the phone, no one wanted your attention until that moment when you were giving it to someone else. I plan ahead and get the kids the things they will probably need before I tuck myself away on my mat. Also, I give them the promise of doing their own yoga practice after I’m done – which for future reference is usually a Cosmic Kids video.

LOWER YOUR STANDARDS

Don’t expect to have a 75 min uninterrupted practice, cause that probably just won’t happen. Shoot for something more attainable at home, 30-45 mins heck even a 15 min practice is better than a 0 min practice.

LOOKING FOR? MY YOGA ESSENTIALS / YOGA TO FIT YOUR BUDGET / HOW TO START PRACTICING / HOT YOGA:  GOING TO YOUR FIRST CLASS