Thursday, November 13, 2014

Harry Potter and the Bento Blog Hop

We are huge Harry Potter fans here. We have been ever since Brick was tiny!

We first discovered Harry Potter when Brick was four. A friend mentioned that her son liked the books, and hey, did you know they just put out a movie? We bought the first book and read it to Brick and G-man (who was a tiny toddler, barely over a year old at the time) at night before bed.

We were all instantly hooked.

We went out immediately, before even finishing Sorcerer's Stone, and bought Chamber of Secrets and Prisoner of Azkahban from the bookstore. We also bought the first movie, which had just been released to DVD. It was an instant hit with all of us, and became a favorite. We blew through all three books in lightning speed, and then impatiently waited for Goblet of Fire to be released in paperback.... then bought it in hardcover, because we couldn't wait to read it!

We pre-ordered Order of the Phoenix so it was delivered fresh to our door the day it was released. I won the coin flip, so I got to read it first. I spent the next three days curled up in bed with Bean (who was brand new, just a few months old), burning through the whole book. Then waited impatiently for the Dude to finish it so I could read it again! Four year old Brick was reading the second book all by himself. Harry Potter was the first book he ever read independently.

When Half-Blood Prince came out, we took Brick, G, and Bean to their first midnight release party. Bean fell asleep on Dude's shoulder and Brick read the last few chapters of the fifth book while in line waiting to buy the sixth. G and I almost missed the unveiling because we had to potty - little fetus Lulu was playing a drum solo on my bladder in anticipation. A couple of months later Brick started first grade and the teacher didn't believe us when we told her that he had already read the entire Harry Potter series on his own.

But the best was when Deathly Hallows came out. We took Brick, G, Bean, and Lulu to a midnight release party in full costume. Lulu wasn't yet 2, and was so charming in her cloak and curls that she was featured on the front page of a local newspaper. Brick and G were old enough to really enjoy the games and fun events at the bookstore leading up to the release, and Bean had been learning to read with the specific goal of reading the series herself. It was a blast, and is still one of our favorite family memories.

We recently started reading the series to Beaker at night before bed, and seeing him fall in love with the characters the way the rest of us did is nothing short of magical.

Bean has been asking for a Harry Potter lunch for some time, and I finally got around to making her one for this hop. She was utterly thrilled (and has put in a request for a lunch from each of the books)!

This lunch is gluten free and also nut/peanut free, and is packed in a Planet Box Rover. Details:

Moaning Myrtle mini Baybel cheese
Baby carrots
Aragog's apple slices
Diary of Tom Riddle gluten free crackers
Gummy basilisk
Turkey and cheese sandwich on Udi's gluten free bread

Tom's giant snake pet is slithering around this tasty sandwich.

The (gluten free) Diary of Tom Marvalo Riddle...

...And a cheesy Moaning Myrtle.

This year Bean and Beaker were even Harry Potter characters for Halloween!

Beaker was an adorable little first year Harry Potter.

And Bean was a lovely third year Hermione Granger, complete with Time Turner necklace!

Now keep going to see what awesome Potter-ness Organized Bites has to share! And of course be sure not to miss the rest of the great posts in the hop!

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Tiger Power!

One thing I did not really anticipate about having children is that as they get older, they become interested in activities. I was more of an after-school-art-club kind of kid, not into sports. Somehow I have kids who are into sports and clubs and activities though. And that is awesome, it's a lot of fun and they have a blast! But man, is it a lot of work.

This year the two girls joined a cheer team. Between Beaker's soccer and their cheer, we had practicies five nights a week, two or more games every Saturday, plus additional team activities. Two of our kids are also in band and drama club, and the two teens have weekly appointments. It has been a busy few months! All of these mean a lot of packed meals to take on the road.

Bento boxes to the rescue! Easy Lunchboxes are especially great for these busy weeks. We have quite a few sets, so we could pack a few days worth at once and tuck them into the fridge to grab-and-go when needed. They are also sturdy and easy to hold, making them perfect for lunches eaten fast while sitting on bleachers during halftime.

Bean and Lulu cheer for the Tigers, a local football team. They both LOVE cheer. I have to admit to having some reservations at first, but both of them have really blossomed during their time on the team. They are looking forward to starting gymnastics after Christmas, and cheering again next year for the same league. Beaker had a blast with them, too - he attended nearly every practice, learning all of the cheers right along with his sisters. All three kids learned how to do sommersaults, cartwheels, handstands and more from cheer.

Since Beaker's soccer games and Bean and Lulu's cheer games were never in the same place and frequently cut it close on time when they didn't outright conflict (a lot of splitting this season - one parent would go to one sport while the other went to the other sport), a lot of lunches like these were packed over the last few months! Here are two of the lunches I packed up for the girls to take to cheer.

Details for Lulu's lunch:

Orange slices
Crackers with cheese
Carrot halves
Lemon cucumber slices
Turkey sandwich made with the CuteZCute cutter/stamper
Chocolate chip mini cookie
Packed in an Easy Lunchbox

Details for Bean's lunch:

Orange slices
Gluten free crackers with Laughing Cow cheese
Carrot halves
Lemon cucumber slices
Gluten free turkey sandwich made with Udi's gluten free bread
Gluten free chocolate chip mini cookie
Packed in an Easy Lunchbox

The two lunches are almost entirely the same, different only in that one is gluten free and the other is not. I have found that setting the lunches up assembly line style, keeping the ingredients simple and similar between them, really helps to streamline the process and make lunch packing faster and easier. Of course I adjust for dietary needs, allergies, and food preferences, but I try to keep them pretty simple to avoid wasting large amounts of time. Much more pleasant that way!

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Monday, November 3, 2014

A Day At The Pumpkin Patch

A few days before Halloween, Beaker went on his very first field trip with his kindergarten class. They went to a local pumpkin patch for a day of fun. There was a petting zoo with llamas, goats, chickens, and rabbits; a big hay bale maze and a giant hay bale pyramid to climb on; and they went on a tractor pulled hay ride out to the pumpkin fields where each kindergartener was able to choose a pumpkin to take home. Despite the wet weather, Beaker had a blast. Luckily the rain mostly stopped shortly after we arrived, leaving us with wet, muddy, soggy ground but not much falling from the sky. It worked out pretty nicely, and was mostly dry enough by the end of the morning for Beaker to be able to eat some of his lunch outside, instead of huddled in the car.

For lunch, Beaker has:

A sandwich on a Schar gluten free roll with cheese flowers
A "Jack O' Lantern" clementine
Carrot coins
Gluten free crisp crackers
Candy pumpkins

His lunch is all packed up in an Easy Lunchbox container, which is perfect for picnics. The flat construction makes it easy to hold on your lap outside, and the simple construction means that when the rain picked up again we were able to quickly snap the lid on to keep his meal dry.

Another recent pumkin/Halloween themed lunch that I forgot to post earlier...

This lunch has:

Sandwich made with summer sausage and Udi's gluten free bread
A clementine "pumpkin"
Candy pumpkins
Cheese pieces
Crispy gluten free crackers
Baby carrots
Yogurt dyed green and frozen into skull-and-bones shapes

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Sunday, November 2, 2014

Butterfly Tin

Sometimes making a meal special involves just taking tiny steps. Like putting it in a different kind of dish or cutting into fun shapes.

For this summery meal, I put Beaker's lunch into a muffin tin. They're kind of perfect for little kid lunches, actually. The small cups limit portion sizes to amounts exactly right for little bellies, and they naturally keep foods from touching (which is often important to my little guy). It's a low-effort way to put a little extra punch in lunch!

This is a loosely butterfly themed, gluten free muffin tin lunch. On the top row, Beaker has carrot discs in the first cup of the tin, EnerG allergen free pretzel rings and Enjoy Life chocolate chips (tucked into a butterfly shaped silicone cup) in the second, and mini sausages in the third. On the bottom row, he has watermelon balls, butterfly shaped apple slices, and ketchup in a silicone flower cup.

Definitely a Beaker-Approved lunch! His favorite part was the butterfly apple slices. They were pretty easy and fast to make. Just cut an apple into slices and use a mini cookie cutter to pop out the shapes, then brush with a bit of fruit juice to keep them from browning. Works like a charm and makes them just the right size and shape for little hands to hold.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Little Pandas

I am setting a personal goal to post to my blog every day in November. I started the month off with a bang by completely forgetting about that goal this morning! But mid-afternoon still counts!

Fast and easy lunch for Lulu:


Sabra hummus
Cucumber slices
Chocolate chip mini cookies
Ham and cheese rolls
Clementine half
Packed in an Easy Lunchbox

And a gluten free version of the same (with no hummus, because she isn't a fan) for Bean:


Ham and cheese rolls
Cheese wedge
Glutino pretzel crisps
Cucumber slices with pepper and sesame seeds
Packed in an Easy Lunchbox

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Pumpkin King

My favorite holiday... and my favorite movie about this holiday!

On the weekend evenings leading up to Halloween, we've been having a little movie fest. Every weekend evening (school nights we just have too much to do, between homework and dinner and cheer/soccer practice!) we all snuggle up together after dinner and watch a different Halloween themed movie. We've watched Paranorman, Hocus Pocus, and many more. All were great, some even excellent, but the number one overall family favorite was DEFINITELY Nightmare Before Christmas.

Tim Burton's Disney film is just exactly the mix of creepy, cool and cute to keep the entire family entertained. We watch this movie at least 3 times each year and will never get bored.

Bean requested a Nightmare Before Christmas lunch this week, and this is what I came up with!

This lunch is scary good. It's also gluten free, and tucked full of 'hidden' nutrients.

The sandwich is sliced ham on Udi's gluten free bread, with a grinning Jack Skellington painted on provolone cheese with food safe dye. Tucked inside is a handfull of spinach leaves - Bean's favorite!

Jack's faithful... um, dog? ghost? Ghost dog? Uh... Zero is made with cream cheese frosting spread on a chunk of gluten free chocolate zucchini cake, with some Glutino pretzels tucked in on the side.

And of course, the Pumpkin King wouldn't be complete without a pumpkin. This grinning Jack O' Lantern is actually a clementine, with a face painted on with food safe dye. There are also some crunchy sweet carrots for snacking.

Keep going! Click the button to see what tricks and treats are next on the Halloween bento trail....

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Beware the Bones

Make no bones about it, this delicious lunch was a big hit with my Halloween loving Bean!

Lunch is packed into an Easy Lunchboxes bento box and includes:

Tiny mini seedless grapes
Cucumber slices
Turkey hoagie half sandwich on a Schar gluten free roll
Mini carrot cupcake
Glutino pretzel sticks
Vanilla yogurt

The skull & bones are made with vanilla yogurt frozen into a fun shaped silicone ice cube tray. They're nestled into green sludge - also vanilla yogurt, mixed with a bit of green food dye. Fun, fast, and festive!

Speaking of fun and fast ways to make food festive, we love these little bloody bones candy decorations! They're a sweet way to add a little touch of creepy to any treat.

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Monday, October 13, 2014

Cute Little Witch

I LOVE Halloween. Out of all of the holidays, it's easily my favorite.

And I love packing cute Halloween themed lunches!

Like this cute little witch lunch I packed recently for Lulu:

This lunch includes:

Carrot slices
Watermelon pieces
Snap peas
Ranch dressing
Annie's Organic bunny grahams
Turkey and cheese sandwich
Vanilla cupcake

To make the sandwich, I used the outside cutter from the CuteZCute sandwich cutter set. It is made with turkey and cheese, with candy eyes and details drawn on with food dye. Easy, cute, and tasty!

For Bean, I packed a simple hoagie/sandwich lunch. She really loves these Schar gluten free hot dog rolls for hoagies. They are a nice, soft, fluffy bread, perfect for sandwiches!

Gluten-free turkey and cheese sub on Schar GF rolls
Gluten-free pretzel sticks
Gluten-free cupcake
Watermelon chunks
Carrots and peas with ranch

Both lunches are packed into Laptop Lunch boxes. The thing I like best about these boxes is that the individual compartments have lids that you can use to keep food where it's supposed to be, with no touching or spilling. No watermelon juice on the sandwich, and no cupcake frosting on the peas, even when the kids drop their lunchbags repeatedly. Pretty great feature!

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Friday, October 10, 2014

Simple Pinkie Pie

Simple, but delicious. Kid loved it!

Been a long week! When Lulu asked for a My Little Ponies lunch - Lulu, who barely allows me to pack her lunches at all most days because she doesn't like the attention she gets when I pack her cute lunches - I jumped on it. But I had to keep it toned down, a minimum of cute, so that she would actually eat the food without the distraction of people wanting to see.

Pinkie Pie is my favorite Pony, and I happened to have gummi 'gators on hand, so the simplicity worked out nicely.

She has crackers with cheese, orange slices, spinach wrap sandwich rolls, carrots with Sunbutter, and a gummi treat.

Gummy the gummi alligator cracked me up. I couldn't resist the one really cute-d up detail. Gummy has his party hat on and is chilling out on the graham cracker sand beach.

Lulu approved!

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Giving Tree

So, I had this lunch in mind for Shel Silverstein's day. Something exciting and awesome, celebrating two of the most amazing books I've ever read - Where the Sidewalk Ends and A Light in the Attic. These two books of poetry had a deep impact on my entire childhood. For me, the works of Shel Silverstein were full of silly wonder and deeply profound thoughts, worded in such a way that spoke to me. 

I borrowed Where the Sidewalk Ends from the library probably more than any other book ever. I've read these poems to every one of my children as infants, though they likely don't remember. Some I can still recite from heart. 

I would curl up under the covers often, letting the words flow over my young brain. "If you're a dreamer, come in..." A perfect welcome, an Invitation to wander through the pages. Most of these two books narrated my childhood years. 

But back to the present! So, I had this lunch in mind, right? I mean, a blog hop celebrating the best poet ever, I was all over that! But you know what they say about the best laid plans... Life just kind of got in the way. Got down to the wire, the last day before it needed to be done, and I woke up thinking YES! Today it WILL get done. And then my phone melted and I discovered that the rabbit hutch had been accidentally left open all night during the first heavy rainstorm of the season, resulting in a very wet and unhappy bunny, and the dishwasher started leaking, and did I mention that my freaking phone melted?! And then I had to go to work. So now it's midnight, and the super detailed, hand painted homage to my favorite books of poetry is not going to happen.

Instead of honoring my childhood, I decided at the eleventh hour (erm, 10:57, actually) to look to the present and chose a book which makes me think not of being a child, but of being a parent: The Giving Tree. The tree loves her boy so much, and she gives and gives and gives until there is literally nothing left of her, and then she gives some more. Meanwhile, the only thing the boy gives her is companionship when he wants something. But for her that is enough, because she knows that he loves her and she wants to take care of him. Seeing him happy makes her happy.

To me as a child, the take-away message from this book was that the tree was a sucker and the boy was selfish and ungrateful. How can you take-take-take like that and never give back?! As an adult, that has not changed, but at the same time... I can understand it. Sometimes, as a parent, you give and give and give and it's not because you expect anything back. You do it because you love them and you want them to be happy. Seeing their faces light up with joy is the best kind of return. Sometimes they may seem ungrateful, and they whine and fuss and complain, but you still know that they love you. And even though they don't always show it, you know they do appreciate you, and all that you do for them.

This lunch is completely gluten free and nut free, and contains:

Glutino gluten free crackers
Laughing Cow cheese
Schar gluten free shortbread cookie
tiny cup of mustard
grilled hot dog
sugar snap peas
provolone cheese

All tucked into an Easy Lunchbox container. To keep the food from shifting, I folded a napkin and tucked it in on top. If you're curious, it only took about twenty minutes to make the lunch, including grilling the hot dog and cutting up the veggies. 

There is a lot more wonder ahead!
Click the button to coninue on the hop to Beneficial Bento and see the awesomeness that is waiting for you there!

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Monday, September 22, 2014

Stache Your Lunch

Apparently mustaches are very popular amongst teen girls these days. Who knew? Bean thinks anything with a 'stache on it is immediately super awesome and silly. Finally made her a mustache lunch this week!

This super silly pair of simple sandwich halves are gluten-free, made with Udi's bread, sliced meat, and cheese. They look to me like they belong in a vaudeville show and could break into a silly song any moment!

Along with the sandwich she has Glutino gluten free pretzel crisps and celery with a soft cheese spread, cucumbers and carrot bits, half a mini orange with grapes, and a couple of curled up gummi worms.

She loved the whole lunch, but her favorite part was definitely the new lunch bag...

Besides being hilariously 'stache-tastic, this lunch box is also a bright cheery pink and the sparkly mustache lights up when the bag is tapped. It is so perfectly, ridiculously Bean  that if I had designed one specifically for her I couldn't have made it any more exactly perfect.

Lulu isn't as amused by mustaches, but did enjoy her own 'stached up lunch.

She has pretzels, organic fruit snacks, a cheese stick, grapes, turkey rolls, carrots, a mini orange half, celery, and a soft cheese wedge all tucked into a Lunchbots Trio. These boxes are small, but fit quite a bit in that compact space. Exactly the right amount for a third grade lunch!

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Friday, September 19, 2014

It's Pirate Day!

Arrr! That it be, Matey!

 It's Pirate Day - International Talk Like a Pirate Day, to be precise.

We have a deep fondness for Pirate Day here in the Chaos house. A day when everybody dresses up and acts like [the fun, PG, much cleaned up] pirates, purely for the fun of it? YAR!

I found this little bit o' treasure at a grocery store over the summer and snagged it just for such a day:

It's exactly the right size for pirate-y lunches for Beaker!

In this lunch, he has:
 a pirate isle apple
pirate pear halves
'gold dubloon' Van's Say Cheese gluten free crackers
ham and cheese, run through
mini 'mud pit' 

A spinach stem X marks the spot on this sliced apple pirate isle...

Arr! And the pair of pirate pears are happy to see ye.

But beware the bloody bones sinking in the Smudge nut free cocoa spread mud pit!

Another pirate lunch from this week, on the same fun little plate...

This lunch includes:

half a skewered min orange
gluten free multigrain crackers
ham rolls
organic fruit snacks
a cucumber X
carrot sticks with onion dressing

Beaker even took pirate treats for his kindergarten snack today, packed up neatly in a tiny Jake and the Neverland Pirates tin!

Snack box holds:
gluten free pretzels
apple slices
Schar gluten free shortbread cookies

Tween Bean was totally into the Pirate Day lunch theme too, and she took this tasty treat filled Planet Box to school for her hearty repast.

Her PlanetBox Rover contains:

gluten free pretzels
skewered salami with green olives
a checkered apple isle
10 carrot gold dubloons (get it? 10 karat/carrot? Ha. Pirate pun!)
cucumber slices
a pirate pal mini cheese wheel
and a pair of delicious Schar gluten free shortbread cookies

We here on Chaos Isle be wishing you a festive Talk Like a Pirate Day, full of festive fun!

Want to see more piratey lunches? Check out these pirate posts from years past!

Also, check out the Bento Bloggers and Friends Talk Like a Pirate Day Link-Up Party! SO many awesome, amazing pirate themed lunches!

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