Saturday, January 21, 2012

Chinese New Year

I've been busy puttering around, making a few odd crafts here and there for the past few weeks . . . a baby blanket, a new necklace . . . . and working on a new quiet book (which is taking longer than I thought - or I'm just slower than I used to be).

But among all the busyness, I decided it would be fun to celebrate the Chinese New Year with my little family. I feel a little experienced in this area since I did get to spend some time (not nearly enough!) in China a year and a half ago. I can't believe it has been that long ago now. And there have been so many great ideas floating through blogland that I just couldn't resist. We celebrated today (or as son #2 has taken to saying: We "partied down" today - Chinese New Year style).

So amongst an excellent Chinese dinner at a great restaurant a fair distance from our house (that we rarely ever take the time to drive to) - and having to drive home in a nice winter snow storm, we did a few fun crafty things. I thought I would post the links here so that I can find them again in future years.

#1 - Dragon masks: it is the year of the dragon. Skip to my Lou, guest posting at Alphamom, made these super cute dragon masks. The boys loved to color them and wear them all over the house tonight.

#2 - Red envelopes: it is traditional to give money to others as a gift or a wish for good luck in a red envelope. While I ended up finding the "real thing" at a local Asian market that recently opened, the Silly Pearl has these super cute ones to make yourself. We made these too. The boys each got $1 in their envelopes. Son #1 instantly decided it should go to the bank to be deposited in his college fund. Son #2 had other ideas but reluctantly gave in to "brother-pressure" (otherwise known as peer pressure) and gave his bill to dad to deposit at the bank.

Other things we found at the local Asian market - super cute dragon ornaments that the boys have hanging with their other good luck charms I brought them back from China, and also some Chinese zodiac charms. They were born in the year of the dog and the rat so they have these charms in their rooms now too. Oh - and of course, these super touristy but fun little hats with the long braid running down the backs. They've hardly taken them off their heads today. I couldn't let them go in the Chinese restaurant with them on - - - and they were very disappointed.
But the Japanese "Pokey" sticks (cookie sticks dipped in chocolate) I bought at the Asian market seemed to make up for it and ended our night perfectly! Happy New Year!

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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Creative Kid Lunches

My boys are both in school full-time now. And that has meant packing lunches for them . . . I hate the pressure of this task! My philosophy is that lunches should be something healthy that they will actually eat. And I firmly believe that the lunches should include a variety of foods - not the same thing every day. My older son is the pickier eater of the two, however I still have it pretty good - he's not that picky. After a few months of lunchables pretty much every day, I finally found a fabulous blog called Another Lunch. Melissa uses Bento-style lunches and snacks with her kids and then blogs about them. I have been inspired . . . and my boys are finally happy with their lunches! And I no longer dread having to make lunches!!!

I have been using just some basic Ziplock style divided "boxes" which had been working very well. Then Melissa posted one day about these super cute Lego boxes that were food safe. I couldn't resist and went straight to the Container Store (online of course, since I'm not lucky enough to have a real Container Store near me) and ordered them in a couple of sizes. I have also picked up some egg molds (how cool are those things - seriously!!) and a wide variety of cute food picks.

I actually enjoy coming up with lunches now and I know my boys are enjoying their lunches more. My favorite treat idea from the blog has been the "deconstructed s'mores" - I've been known to make a little handful of that delightful treat just for me from time to time. But mini cookie cutters for cheese, bread shapes for sandwiches, and creative ways to present fruits and veggies have totally revolutionized lunchtime for us. Next up for me - homemade granola bites . . . I just have to find myself some mini silicone cups.

Here is a quick picture of our Lego lunches. These fit just perfectly inside my kid's lunch bags from Target. The smaller Lego boxes open up for a treat or whatever I needed to keep separate from the rest of the food.
Here is a close up - a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (made with my new pampered chef sandwich maker, silicone cups with whole grain fish crackers and grapes. And inside this particular small Lego box he will find some chocolate and graham cookies.
And this is my husband's lunch for tomorrow. He's out of the office tomorrow and working in a place where he will not have access to a frig or a microwave. This is one of my 3-compartment Ziplock containers that have also been great. You'll see some crackers and slices from a mozzarella/prosciutto/basil roll. Then I tossed in some baby carrots and peeled clementines. There's also a silicone cup with sunflower seeds ( I wrapped that cup in some good, sticky clear wrap before I was finished to keep it from spilling). We'll see if that worked.
Truly, this has changed my lunch-making routine. I almost, kind-of, sort-of look forward to making lunches.

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