Friday, October 9, 2015

'Round the Pumpkin Patch

10/23/14 - I had wanted to do a Halloweenie lunch, but couldn't find my tub of Halloween cutters and accessories. So I pounced on an inspiration from Eats Amazing and her 10 Halloween sandwich ideas using circle cutters post for a simple option!

Great Pumpkin
Gluten-free PBJ, organic carrots, organic pomegranate arils
For my older girl, the largest circle cutter I could use on gluten-free bread (it bakes smaller, since it doesn't rise as much as wheat breads.) I used the smallest triangle cutter I could find to make all the features, since the other tiny shapes just didn't look right. I also used the circle cutter to score lines near the edges to make it look more pumpkin-y. A sliver of carrot plus a leaf pick, and it's perfect!

Both my girls love pomegranate arils, so I put a bunch in a pumpkin muffin cup as a special treat.

 [This post contains affiliate links.

Pumpkin Bites
GF PBJ, organic pomegranate arils, organic carrots and tomatoes
I made mini versions for my preschooler! Same idea, but with a smaller circle cutter, and I used a tiny crescent cutter for the mouths. Little Sis also got carrots and pomegranate arils, but I added some organic baby heirloom tomatoes that looked like little watermelons!

Tools of the Trade

Friday, October 2, 2015

Toasted "Scream Cheese" Sandwich

My girls, especially the 3-year-old E, both love the Hotel Transylvania movie (even though the whole concept of having a "zing" is ridiculous and totally against all the lessons I've worked hard to teach them about relationships!) We rearranged some plans so we could see the Sensory Friendly showing of Hotel Transylvania 2 together last weekend.

So when I had this loaf of gluten-free bread with a giant hole in a bunch of the slices, I got out some eye picks and made a Hotel Transylvania-inspired "scream cheese" toasted sandwich for my 2nd grader! Totally got the idea from a lunch I saw over at Lunches With Love a while back. So fun!

[This post contains affiliate links.]

Gluten-free toasted goat cheese sandwich, organic crunchy peanut butter, organic carrots and apples
The arms and legs picks came from a Rose Art Fun Dough Monster Mania set. I choose to turn a blind eye to whether or not they're food safe plastic... They're so cute with those eye picks! I stuck another eye in with the apple slices, for good measure. I love how the muffin cup of peanut butter for her apples makes it look like her sandwich monster is losing his kibble. I was tempted to make a stream of chunky peanut butter coming out of his mouth too, but thought that that might be going a little too far...

I used an orange and black tie-dye muffin cup for her carrots to make it Halloween-y and monster-y, and used the black lid from the EasyLunchboxes Urbans set for the lunchbox.

Tools of the Trade

Check out these other fun lunches that utilize the shape of the bread - perfect for easy Halloweenie lunches too!
Another Hotel Transylvania 2 lunch using the shape of the bagel and some plastic fangs to make Vlad by What's For Lunch at Our House 
Squashed loaf T-Rex from Bent On Better Lunches
Lumpy bread bear head from What's For Lunch at Our House
Squashy bread monster face from Green Lunches, Green Kids
Kitty cat croissant from Zoe's Lunchbox
Lumpy bagel pumpkin face from Bent On Better Lunches

Thursday, October 1, 2015

IFBC Swag Giveaways! Win Some Random Swag or 5 Dozen Eggs!

It's been a busy few weeks for me since IFBC, and I've been agonizing over which swag I wanted to keep and what I wanted to include in a giveaway! Since my deal with my sister involved her getting all the gluten- and dairy-filled food items as a "thank you" for taking my kids all weekend, there aren't a lot of food items left to include! So I have a nice assortment of reusable shopping bags, recipe books, notebooks, and a few food items and kitchen gadgets!

I had a great time, not only learning some helpful stuff for food bloggers in the training sessions, but also getting info about upcoming food trends (Celiac and the Beast has a great rundown!) and meeting (or re-meeting!) blogger friends new and old! I especially enjoyed going to the Sur la Table headquarters for the optional pre-conference excursion hosted by them and KitchenAid!

Next year the conference will be July 29-31 in Sacramento, and I've already bought my ticket! Get $50 off from October 1 through December 31 with code EARLY

Disclaimer: I was given a discounted blogger rate to attend IFBC 2015 in exchange for writing 3 posts about the conference. We were given full discretion to choose our own topics. No other compensation or direction was given. 

Please note that there are TWO different giveaways. Please read the terms and conditions in each rafflecopter – they matter! These are random giveaways open to US residents only. No purchase necessary. You may enter and win either or both giveaways, if you are eligible.
I will contact each winner via email, and winners must respond within 48 hours or I will have to pick someone new. 

Random Swag Giveaway! (Giveaway 1 of 2)
  • Sur la Table canvas bag
  • Packet of Geeky Hostess "Steampunk" sprinkles (contains artificial dyes)
  • Linsday Olives bag
  • mini bottles of olive oil and vinegar
  • mini bottle of steak marinade from Sansaire
  • selfie stick
  • Krusteaz zippered cloth bag
  • Krusteaz cloth apron (with pockets!)
  • Krusteaz mini recipe booklet
  • Around the World, Chilean Haas Avocados cookbook
  • 2 lamb recipe booklets
  • Windset Farms recipe booklet
  • Gathered Table linen napkin
  • lined journal and recipe booklet from Stonyfield Farms
  • lined notebook
  • sunglasses and pouch from Wordpress

But wait, there's more!

  • Sur la Table Cauliflower Seasoning Kit (contains gluten and dairy)
  • Sur la Table Truffle Gravy Seasoning Mix (contains gluten)
  • Teavana Classic Teaball
  • Teavana tin with tea (I think it's Spiced Apple)
  • A few recipes and tips on brewing tea from Teavana
  • Coupon for free Lindsey's Olives product
  • Coupon for free Shiirataki product, plus mini recipe booklet

Bonus Davidson's Safest Choice Eggs Giveaway! 
(Giveaway 2 of 2)
I got 5 coupons for a dozen Davidson's Safest Choice Pasteurized Shell Eggs, but they aren't sold near me. Lucky you! So the only requirement to enter is to go to their Store Locator page and verify that there are stores in your zip code that carry them, then comment in the Rafflecopter entry widget! I'll pick one winner for all 5 coupons! Coupons expire 12/31/15

Giveaway values undetermined.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Planetbox Pods - We are GO for Lunch!

Planetbox just released a new line of Pods - reusable silicone cups sized perfectly for their stainless steel boxes! They kindly sent me the 4-pack sized for the Rover, but you can also get a 2-pack of Pods designed to fit the Shuttle and the Launch boxes.

 [This post contains affiliate links.

Organic popcorn, organic raspberries and grapes, Naturebox Blueberry Bite, PBJ Funagrette dressing, organic carrots, 
uncured ham, GF crackers, goat cheese
The Planetbox Pods cups are a little small, and don't create a water-tight seal with the lid, so they might not be perfect in every lunch, but they're a great set of "tools" to have on hand to add flexibility to your Planetbox packing choices! Since I would be carrying my 3-year-old's lunch into her classroom and could carry it flat, I went ahead and packed some dressing to dip her carrots, even though I knew it would leak if carried sideways (which the leftovers did, when she thoughtfully carried her lunch out of the classroom for me. Oh well!)

I had a mini heart cutter perfect for cutting goat cheese hearts to go on her crackers. They fit in the square Pods perfectly! Since my ham slices were so thin, I opted to rolls them up instead of cutting into hearts. But they also fit nicely into the square Pod!

Organic plum with strawberries, goat cheese stick, dye-free candy-covered sunflower seeds,
peanut butter, purple rice crackers, roasted kale chips
Just because you have four Pods doesn't mean you have to use them all at once! Even just one for holding some peanut butter for DIY PB Cracker Stackers is a perfect "fit" in any lunch!

This lunch was a fun lot of random stuff. Some leftover roasted kale, a homemade cheese stick made from goat cheese, half a plum left over from dinner, the last strawberry, and peanut butter and crackers! Lots of fun yummy goodies!

Tools of the Trade

Saturday, September 26, 2015

A Night at the Circus!

Growing up, we rarely went to the circus. I'm not sure if it was that the circus didn't come around as often back then, or if it was too cost-prohibitive for my parents with four kids, or if it was just too exhausting for my mom to take the four of us out in public anywhere! Hahaha! Probably a mix, especially with my brother and his sensory issues with sounds and crowds and lights (which helped prepare me for helping and understanding my own sensory kiddo!) But I remember how overwhelming the three-ring circus was, with so much going on all at once. I like this new one-ring format better, with clowns and some aerial acts to entertain us while they're setting up for the next performers.

Feld Entertainment has provided me with a 4-pack of tickets to take my family to Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Presents Built To Amaze!® in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are my own. 

This was the first time I can remember seeing protesters outside the circus. I didn't do a whole lot of research before deciding to attend, but I liked that there were mostly human acts, and I read up on Ringling Bros commitment to the health and safety of their animals. Granted, the information comes direct from them, so do your own research and make the choice that feels right to you! In the past, my kids have liked the animal acts best, but this time around, they were more excited about the performing "monkeys" [people!]

We attended opening night at the Showare Center in Kent with our 7- and 3-year-olds. I like it there because they will allow me to bring in a factory-sealed tub of dye-free cotton candy, as long as I declare it when they're checking our bags. We can buy Cracker Jacks, roasted peanuts, and bunless hot dogs at concessions, and they always have bottled water for a safe beverage option (they also had Vitamin Water and Coca-Cola in bottles, which don't contain artificial dyes or flavors either, and I don't have to worry about cross-contamination from the soda fountain nozzles!) I always bring empty EasyLunchboxes to use as lap trays, since bunless hot dogs are difficult enough to eat, especially when they're cut up for dipping in ketchup. And when we have to get the jumbo one because it'll be 25 minutes to get a regular dog that hasn't touched a bun, it's easy to pop a lid on over the leftovers and take it home! The EasyLunchboxes also make it a snap to share the peanuts and Cracker Jacks!

Dye-free tip for those of you wanting other treats or souvenirs: you can get the snow-cones in the collectable cups out at the tables, and ask for one with just ice. Then add some juice or soda (Coke and the lemon-lime ones are both safe) that you purchased from concessions for an icy treat!

I don't know if it was just opening night jitters or what, but several of the acts had some major flubs, with performers falling or tripping. But it gave me the opportunity to point out to my kids that even experts can still make mistakes, and that they got back up and tried again. And no one got hurt! Whew! Having the performers modelling perseverance and not giving up even when they'd made a mistake is a great lesson for any kid!

Both girls were delighted and awed by most of the performances. We had REALLY great seats near the front, which helped immerse and engage them better, and gave us all a great view of all the acts!

The girls liked all the aerial acts best, with the troupe doing throws and flips in midair, and the solo trapeze artist, and the ladies hanging from cloth and rings throughout various other acts. But my favorite was when the clowns tried to recreate the archer stunts with an audience volunteer. Hilarious!

We went on a school night, so the girls started getting whiny near the end. But the finale was flashy and fun enough to reel them back in. It was a great ending to an exciting night, and we got home right before bedtime!

The all-new Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Presents Built To Amaze!® plays the XFINITY Arena in Everett, WA from October 1 – 4, 2015, or check for other tour locations and dates!