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Waste Not …

25 Aug

I must start by stating – I don’t consider myself a recycling do-gooder. I am lacking on many levels when it comes to reducing and reusing. However, I do try. We recycle the products accepted by our city each week and I’m aware and care about the amount of waste that we create and that exists all around us. Sometimes, I even feel dirty living in a “new” house when there were so many already in existence that needed loving occupants. That is a different blog post entirely though. Now that it’s off my chest – back to what this is all about – school lunches. (Yes, I just went all the way around all that stuff to get to school lunches. You just took a trip on my brain waves – weird, wild stuff and thanks for sticking around if you’re still reading.)

Yes, school lunches.

For the most part, the kids bring a packed lunch from home. (The one day they don’t is pizza day – apparently still a must buy – even if they don’t have those coveted peanut butter squares that we had as kids.) Every lunch, I would load their boxes with three throw-away plastic snack bags carrying their cheese crackers, carrots and grapes. I have plastic containers for their sandwiches but the rest felt so wasteful and pricey. Then, I spotted these at our grocery store:

Fit & Fresh Kid’s Healthy Lunch Set

They are called Fit & Fresh and I’m pretty happy with them. The kids think they are really cool too. (And so do their friends, so they tell me.) I like them because I don’t feel so wasteful and also because they come with little cool packs inside the lids. I bought the ones for dipping too so I can pack some ranch with the kids’ veggies.

I would say the only thing I don’t love about them is that they aren’t “Made in U.S.A.” Yes, I’m slowly becoming more aware of that as well. I know and understand all the reasons for it saying something else on the plastic – and it is a rarity to find labels with such print on them – but it just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy (supportive?) when it does. I did notice the little Rubbermaid containers I bought for their cheese crackers don those letters so I guess that balances out their lunch box some. I will likely buy more of those Rubbermaids though – did you see the sandwich and entrée kit?!

Reusing in the U.S.A. I’m a fan.

You don’t like the spicy?

11 Apr

I made some new “White Chicken Chili” tonight after hearing my boss talk about it and it was so spicy YUM. I didn’t have the recipe his wife made but I tried this one and it was so incredibly hot that I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to capture Andrew’s gasp-filled struggle through his one half bowl. Even I thought it was hot and I love me some inferno foods!


Getting a sip of beer to douse the flames


Bearing through the pain


Sweat was wiped next


"What did you put in this?!"


"You had to make this spicier than it said to be."


Cooling Off


"Are you taking pictures of me suffering?"


It's just so hot!

Are you too chicken to try the chicken chili? I have a feeling I’m the only one who will be eating the leftovers. Next time, I’ll go easy on the spicy.


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Science Experiment

4 Apr

That’s what Andrew calls his home brewing and now he’s teaching the kids. Not with hops and malt but with brown sugar and root beer flavor.

Andrew asked for a Mr. Root Beer kit for his birthday so he and the kids could brew together. They yummed at the smell of the packets and took turns helping pour, measure and stir their cola concoction. Once it was bottled, they had to wait a few days until it would be ready for sipping. Nia faithfully reminded Andrew to check on the bottles and was brimming with excitement when he announced it was time for floats.

To the kids, science is delicious.

Grocery Store Confession

20 Mar

That’s where it happened. It’s where I confessed to Nia what goes on after I kiss her goodnight and shut the door to her room.

It all started because I remembered we needed chocolate syrup and Nia policed me, “That’s not on the list, Mommy.” I defended myself – saying that I knew it wasn’t but we needed to make an exception because I knew we were almost out. To that, Nia wondered, “Who’s been using it?”


I fessed up that it’s my nightly treat. That once she and Nate are tucked in, I chocolate milk it up. She thought I was joking and it must have made an impression on her because hours later, as I was saying night-night, she warned me, “I’m gonna sneak out of my room and catch you making chocolate milk!”

She didn’t but she may still surprise me one of these nights. I’ll be sure to have a second glass on hand to share.


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My Cuties Sample Some Cuties

13 Mar

imageThe commercials are cute. The logo/brand character is cute. Even they are cute. Cuties certainly live up their name in those ways. They are little seedless mandarins that promise to be easy to peel so little fingers can grab one and go, all by themselves. All that is super great but what I think is even more great is that all that cuteness and kid-friendliness is working.

Nia actually requested them when we were at the store. Sure, she still requested cookies and chips but she really wanted Cuties. She told me how excited she was to take them in her school lunch. It seems other kids/families will be enjoying them too – the store had to restock the display while I was there because people wiped them out.

I took some pictures while the kids dug in to their Cuties for the first time because I wanted to see if they live up to their easy to peel and super sweet claims.  The first picture just offers you a quick cash register/amount fact to give you an idea of cost. (I got mine at Publix so sizes and prices may vary from store to store. Also, they came with a coupon and I went to the website to sign up for more dealios, since it appears these are going to be a school lunch/snack staple in our house.)

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“They don’t look like the picture.”

10 Oct

How could I say no? Nia asked if we could make a sweet treat out of her special recipe book (she still loves it, Ginger!) so that meant I needed to swallow my cookie insecurities and put on my baking face.

“Pretty Princess Puffs,” you seemed simple enough and we enjoyed the time trying to bring you to life but you still defeated me in the end. Even Nia critiqued, “They don’t look like the picture.” That’s ok, Bean. I will always be here to bake with you. I hope you don’t mind my baking blunders along the way.


Picture Perfect Here


Making them was fun.


Making the Puffs Pretty


Pearls for the Puffs




Puff went poof.


The ones that didn't make it.


This one reminds me of "Little Shop of Horrors" plant.


The ones that made it. Puffs!


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Cookie Killer

26 Sep

It’s official. I am incapable of making cookies. I endured another disheartening attempt this weekend – it was such a disaster that it prompted a “What is that?” from Nia and a fit of giggles from Andrew.

I don’t even know what I did wrong. I followed the recipe on the back of the Heath Toffee Bits bag. I did everything it said to make Oatmeal Toffee Cookies. The batter was yum and the kids and I enjoyed stealing swipes off the mixer. I was feeling good at this point.


It all looked, smelled and tasted promising during these stages.


But then … “They look like pancakes!” Andrew said as he lovingly laughed and gave me a hug.

From there – it got worse. This mound below prompted Nia to review, “It kinda looks like chicken.”

Glob and milk anyone? Anyone?

Despite their appearance, the bits actually still taste pretty good. Since I hated to waste my noncookie creation, we’ve decided to mix the globs with scoops of vanilla ice cream. Out of disaster, comes new dessert.


20 Jul


You want it with strawberries? You got it. Some melon? No problem. How ’bout some pineapple? It can add a nice touch. What really makes it yummier than any other smoothie I’ve ever had though is a splash of Sunny D, Andrew’s not-so secret ingredient.

The boy is a smoothie master, always choosing all the right fruit to mix into the non-fat yogurt. He’s made smoothie monsters out of some of our family members. In fact, they even wanted their own Magic Bullets to make the smoothies as easily as he does.

Today, I woke up to find a prepared smoothie and some coffee all ready for me. It’s better than any smoothie/coffee shop I’ve sampled. It also costs a lot less. To that I say, sip until the annoying straw noise is made.

New Year’s Eve Pizza Party

1 Jan

The kids I thought it would be fun (and yummy) to celebrate New Year’s with a new tradition – a pizza party. Here is a little video of the fun!


Sketti Twirler

17 Apr
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