Week #3 Bentos

Day 1: Multi-grain Chips (the Aldi equivalent to SunChips), Blueberry Applesauce, Nyakers Pepparkakor Cookies, cheese stick, corn dog muffins, watermelon chunks.
Day 2: Multi-grain Chips, Leftover grilled chicken skewers with cucumber, cheese, 1/2 apple, celery and peanut butter.
Day 3: Blueberry applesauce, Multi-grain Chips, cheese & ham rolls, 1/2 banana, PB&J rolls using this method.
Day 4: Peanut butter on celery, grapes, sea-shaped pasta, cheese stick.
Day 5: She got to order pizza, and took some edamame and honeydew in our Goodbyn Snacks Box.

Taking pics of snacks seemed like overkill again, especially because most of the snacks this week were the Norpro Silicone Ice Pops filled with yogurt.  I always keep plain organic whole milk yogurt in the fridge so I can do with it as I wish--everything from adding it to smoothies to making tzatziki to granola parfaits.  The kids love it when I mix some plain yogurt with our homemade strawberry jam and freeze it in the silicone pop molds--and Elliott loves taking these as a snack to school.  It's like a homemade Go-Gurt. Or sometimes, if we have leftover bits of smoothie, I add them into the molds and it becomes a snack for another day.

What are your kids current favorite portable snacks?



Yesterday, I celebrated 29 trips around the sun.  I'm super-stoked to be on my 30th.  I had some grand plan to share 29 somethings...29 pieces of advice for my daughters, 29 things I love, 29 things about me... And it just never happened, probably because I have about 29 distractions per hour.

I also can't get over the irony of being 29 pounds heavier than I was a few short years ago.  Eeek.  Perhaps it's not so much a problem as it is a challenge. A challenge that I'm up for--right after my coconut birthday cake is gone.

So. I found myself celebrating with my parents, husband and kiddos last night and in the midst of the fun, Bennett, with serious face, says "You're going to die".

An uncomfortable silence fell over the table as we all looked around--did she really just say that?

I think she picked up on our discomfort because she started getting very emotional--and her face turned very serious. Her lip quivered and she bawled as she followed her previous comment up with this:

"We're all gonna die".

Now I feel like I have to tell you that this child, who turned two last month, watches PBS Kids and a handful of Netflix shows, hand-picked by yours truly.  She's aware of the scene in Frozen where the parents are on the boat and die, but beyond this, has no knowledge of sayings like "You're going to die" or "We're all gonna die".

If you'd been there, you would've been a bit freaked out, too.

But we all ate cake anyhow, and big sis consoled little sis after her ominous outbursts.  There may have been more talk of death, and it may have been something like this, through the sobs, "But we're all gonna die tomorrow, sissuh [sister]."

And a particular passage Ecclesiastes came to mind, and I thought I'd share with you a bit of what is my favorite book of the Bible.

Ecclesiastes 7: 1-4

A good name is better than fine perfume,
    and the day of death better than the day of birth.
It is better to go to a house of mourning
    than to go to a house of feasting,
for death is the destiny of everyone;
    the living should take this to heart.
Frustration is better than laughter,
    because a sad face is good for the heart.
The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
    but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure.

In the midst of our celebration of life, we were abruptly reminded that there's more in store for us--so much more than we could ever imagine.  The best days of our lives--days like these--can't even compare.

Week #2 Bentos

Week two, and I'm still enjoying packing Bento lunches.  Nice.  This week I shared some dinnertime woes, but thankfully, Elliott hasn't complained about her Bento lunches.  I'm sure I'll rant the day that happens. ; ) Consider yourself warned.
Day 1: Ham and meunster rolls, green olives, chips and salsa, grapes.
Day 2: Goldfish, plum, egg noodles with cottage cheese, hard-boiled egg, cocoa almonds
Day 3: Yogurt raisins, blueberry applesauce, pasta salad (with grilled chicken, feta, tomatoes and olives), celery with peanut butter
Day 4: Cocoa almonds, honeydew, ham and meunster sandwich, carrots and ranch
Day 5: The school orders Domino's pizza and kids can buy by the slice.  Last week, Elliott let me know in no uncertain terms that "everyone except for me" got to have pizza.  So I sent some money and a snack container of fruit and veggies to round out her lunch.  Hopefully that scores some points for me.

We kept snacks simple so I didn't bother to document.  Each day, I sent either a granola bar or yogurt for snack.  I figured that her snack should be quite light so she'll eat more of her lunch--so far this is working.

It's so funny, because some friends and I were talking last night about how we didn't get snacks as kids--and now it's some sort of obligation.  Snacks, snacks, snacks.  Two of the friends who shared in the conversation are a couple from the Caribbean (the husband from Antigua, the wife from Grenada) and they went on to share not only their lack of snacks as children, but also the unique upbringing of Islanders.  And I've thought about it all day long... our kids are so soft!  Perhaps to their benefit and not to their detriment.  I guess we'll see as time goes by.


I give them gold; they give me grief.

Every now and then, I'm plagued with delusions of adequacy.  And yes, I mean it just as I said it.  It's a phrase my husband coined (at least I think he did--or did it come from The Office?) and it comes to mind often.

I was feeling rather adequate last night when I made a mean veggie stir-fry over steamed brown rice and homemade (yes, homemade) potstickers.  On a weeknight.

Honestly, it's not entirely out of the ordinary that I put this much effort into dinner.  I cook pretty much every meal every day, but I'm going to admit that I often get discouraged when my efforts are thwarted at every turn.  Mostly by the two rugrats that I brought into this world.

As soon as the red bell peppers bit the wok and the aroma filled the air, Elliott was inspired to remind me that, she in fact, does not like bell peppers.  "Well, I forgot to buy mushrooms," I told her, subliminally letting her know that this could have been worse--much worse.  Within minutes of remembering that the kids would not be pacifists and just eat their dang dinner without complaint and that I might be in for it, James called letting me know that he'd be home late and that we should eat without him.  Well, at least he called, I told myself.

The girls and I sat down for a daddy-less dinner and immediately Bennett started putting plum pieces into her water cup.  And then pouring her water out.  (She does this so fast and under the radar, I swear.) Ultimately my kids are good eaters, so dinner was choked-down.  Bennett picked around the stir fry and ate only the carrots and broccoli, and Elliott told me at one point she didn't like vegetables and was going to throw up.  For the record, she still ate her entire meal, including a strip of red bell pepper, and I made sure to thank her for doing so.

But Moms, do you ever wish that people would just shut up, sit down, and sing your praises?  Is it too much to ask?  With as much as we do, it's often only the things we don't do or things that the family dislikes that are mentioned.  Know what I mean?  Sure you do.  Am I discouraged?  Well, today, maybe a bit.  But don't worry, just like you I'll keep trudging through and doing what's right, despite their complaints and ingratitude.

Never fear, tomorrow's a new day.  And maybe I'll just give up and thrill the kids with the culinary masterpiece that is PB&J.

QVC Back-to-School Mason Jar Challenge

I'm sure you can tell because of the Bento box posts that we're back to school full-swing over here in lovely Melbourne.  Florida schools tend to start early, especially when I consider that school usually started after Labor Day when I went to school in California.  But whether August or September, the start of school and getting back into good routines can be hard.  I'm finding it hard to believe that I have a child in kindergarten.  Kindergarten!  Goodness.

The folks at QVC invited me to a Back-to-School Mason Jar Challenge and with such fun mason jars they provided, I just couldn't resist.  Umm, who doesn't love mason jars?

The set of four mason jars looks so good together that it seems wrong to separate them, but alas, this is my plan.  I thought it'd be the perfect way to thank our teachers and staff for a great first week of school!  Back-to-school is a busy time, but especially for the men and women who are not only sending their kids back to school but getting back into the swing of work themselves (aka the teachers and staff).  It's nice to throw some love their way, right?

Smoothies prove to be a breakfast lifesaver in my home. They're quick, healthy, and loved by all.  Win, win, win.  So, I made up some recipe cards of our favorite smoothies and tags to include with the Aladdin Insulated jar tumblers.  You're welcome to copy and print them yourself, if you're so inclined, or make up some of your own.  (The images are formatted to print as a 4x6.)  I used black and white to create a blackboard effect--it had nothing to do with the fact that I only have a black and white printer. Yeah.  It's like I always say, when life gives you a black and white printer, just make it work in whatever cute way you can.  {I've never said that before. Ever.}

(Excuse my typo on the green smoothie recipe card--I do know the correct spelling of ingredients! But it will also take me a few days to get the motivation to recreate the printable from scratch which is what I'd have to to based on the way I created it.  No one's perfect, right?)

Am I cheesy for choosing "Don't Sweat" for the tags?  Maybe a little.  But insulated tumblers don't sweat, and here in humid Florida, it's a treat to enjoy a cold beverage without a water ring on your desk. The tags can be cut out with scissors, or if printed as a 4x6, a 2" circle cutter will cut them perfectly.  I know this because I tried.  And then my circle cutter fell apart and I was stuck using scissors.  Oh, the woes of a crafter.

I affixed the tags with hemp cord because I just love it so much.  And it looks like it's time for a new ball of hemp.

The smoothie recipe cards nestled down nicely inside the tumblers and made it look like a really attractive gift.

I'll tell you what, I don't know what I was thinking in turning these into gifts.  I want to keep one.  And maybe I will.  You'll never tell, will you?

Thanks to Jill for inviting me to the Back-to-School Mason Jar Challenge.  QVC’s Jill Bauer hosts the network’s popular show, You’re Home with Jill® and provides fans with simple solutions for their busy lives through innovative products, a library of stress-free DIY projects, and crowd-pleasing recipes. Fans can connect with Jill on FacebookTwitter, Pinterest, and Instagram @jillbauerqvc.

You can tune in to You’re Home with Jill® beginning Wednesday, August 20 and every Wednesday at 7pm (ET), through October.

All my best,

Disclaimer: I received these products at no cost; Tristin & Company has no relationship with QVC that could materially affect the weight consumers place on my review. 

Week #1 Bentos

We made it through the first week of school!  It was easier than I imagined, thanks to a great staff and a little girl who never ceases to amaze me.  And call me a nerd, but I totally loved packing lunches this week.  Here goes:
Day 1: DIY Lunchables. Cheddar, ham slices, crackers, oranges, edamame, watermelon, and a cookie as a treat.
Day 2: Ham and cheese sandwich, oranges, cheese stick, and a cookie.
Day 3: Egg salad and baked tortilla strips, blueberry applesauce, grapes, and cocoa almonds.
Day 4: Corndog mini muffins, cheese stick, cucumbers and ranch dip, grapes, yogurt raisins.
Day 5: Heart-shaped PB&Js, strawberry yogurt tube, cukes and dip, cocoa almonds.

Worth mentioning:  I found a 12 oz. bag of cocoa almonds at Aldi for $4.99 and they're far more wholesome than the Blue Diamond cocoa almonds that most grocery stores sell.  The Blue diamond brand contains a long ingredient list including sucralose (brand name is Splenda) which I steer clear of, while the Aldi brand has cocoa and sugar and oil added to the almonds.  Better price and better ingredients?  Thanks Aldi.  I'm impressed.

I add a small treat to each lunch as incentive to eat--and she thinks this is awesome as I really don't incentivize good and timely eating at home--it's just an expectation.  Some days she hasn't finished her lunch entirely as I'm still feeling out how much I need to pack and she's learning to eat within the time allotted at school. Our deal is that if she hasn't finished her entire lunch, it's perfectly okay, but she can wait until she gets home from school to have the treat.  So far, so good.  But we'll adapt as necessary.

I'm loving the Goodbyn snack containers.  Seriously--they're perfect for a kids' snack.

Snack 1: Strawberries and homemade chewy granola bars
Snack 2: Whole grain goldfish and watermelon
Snack 3: Watermelon and chia pudding (I repeated this snack one of the days)
Snack 4: Cracker sandwiches with nutella and yogurt raisins


Mood Pillow

I often wish I had access to the yarn store 24 hours a day.  Sometimes, inspiration strikes and yarn is needed immediately, but unfortunately, my life doesn't allow for instant yarn gratification.  In fact, even when I have time set aside for such adventures, it's far from the hours of meandering that I long for.  Usually I know I have 10 minutes before the kids lose their cool and every single trip I have to scold them for unraveling the yarn in the cart.  Ah, the joys of motherhood.  
But sometimes, I pick myself up by my bootstraps and realize that my own home is practically a small version of a yarn shop and I'm able to move forward with projects as they come to me.  Recently, I noticed small amounts of several shades of gray (all Lion Brand Vanna's Choice) in one of my yarn hoarding baskets.  Ombre starting with black and fading to white seemed to be the obvious choice so off I started crocheting a simple square, not knowing exactly where it might lead me. It came out dark and moody, and I realized how it matched my own mood on that particular day.  But I wasn't exactly thrilled about my mood and imagined a sunnier, happier contrast.  So I made one.  It was a rainbow square. (All but one of the colors is Lion Brand Vanna's Choice.)

Turns out, those bad boys were destined to become something grand--a mood pillow.  One side is stormy and ominous; the other is cheerful, bright, and practically perfect in every way.

My little man is never too far out of reach. He likes to keep an eye on his weirdo mom who, while clothed in a pool towel, drags dining room chairs out to the backyard and starts snapping photos.  It must be a confusing scene for such a logical pup.  Not to mention, he says that both sides look identical to him.  Is it really true that dogs are colorblind?  For his sake, I hope not.

I can knit! (Okay, well, sort of.)

A few years ago I referred to taking my first knitting class.  And it obviously didn't make much of an impact on my life considering it's almost 2.5 years later and I'm only now getting around to writing about knitting.

It's not that I didn't love knitting.  I think it's awesome.  I like that it uses less yarn than crochet and I think the stockinette stitch looks amazing. It's a bit classier and more refined than crochet in my opinion.

But I LOVE crochet.  Truth be told I feel a bit unfaithful to my craft when I pick up the knitting needles.  But last year I did it anyhow and knitted an afghan for my husband.

I crocheted the Lion Brand 5 1/2 Hour afghan for my mother-in-law two Christmases ago and my husband loved it so much that he declared that he needed one of his own.

I kind of thought it was the Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick and Quick yarn that drew him in because it's so rich and luxurious and cozy.  So I thought I'd one-up the previous years' afghan by making the Lion Brand Plush Throw--a knitted afghan that uses the same yarn.

It took a month of stolen moments and knitting marathons, but I finally finished the knitted afghan.  It's rich and luxurious and cozy--but it's also WAY too heavy for Floridians.  There are like 3 days a year in which this afghan would be called upon for use.  So, my one-upping really did no good.

There's no denying that it's a simple and gorgeous blanket, made with awesome yarn and love.  I'm also happy to have conquered a large knitting project.

But guys, it's just not crochet.  I'll leave you with a shirt that I totally need...


Crocheters and knitters--are you a switch hitter?  Do you do both or do you have a strong preference for one over the other?  Perhaps if I lived in a cooler climate then knitting might be more appealing for the sake of the awesome sweaters and socks, but here and now, crochet has my heart.

Bento #2 and a snack.

Number one, please excuse the wrinkles in the fabric.  It's killing my eyes, and if it's doing the same to you, well, I sincerely apologize.  It's a scrap from the Jessica Jones Outside Oslo fabric line and it's fabulous, but goodness, it needs to be ironed.  I'm playing around with formatting and styling and Bentos in general, so please bear with me.

Number two. I'm no good at food photography, but I'm letting it go because I don't want it to hold me back from just doing what I want to do.  Maybe I'll get better; maybe I won't.  Either way, I'm moving forward and I hope you'll be gracious in excusing my imperfections.

Now that's enough excuse making.  On we go.

Today's practice Bento consisted of a peanut butter and Nutella (ahhh, Nutella!) sandwich, apple slices, a hard-boiled egg and edamame.

Snack was Snap Pea Crisps (a guilty pleasure of mine--probably far from healthy even though they're made from peas and rice) and quick apple salad inspired by a side dish offered at Cheddars.  The apple salad simply consists of some diced apples, dried cranberries, a tablespoon of plain yogurt, a drizzle of honey and a dash of cinnamon. Yum. The yogurt helps to keep the apples from browning and it makes it more special for the kiddos so I'm calling it a win.

Do you have any quick snacks that are a win with your kids?  I feel like I'm going to need some new ideas soon. Lately mine have been enjoying hard-boiled eggs and smoothies.

My first bento.

I never in a million years thought I'd be one of those obsessive moms posting their kids' school lunches. For a myriad of, for instance, the fact that kids weren't necessarily a "must have" on my Bucket List.  Or, for instance, the fact that I never imagined I'd get into homemaking as much as I do.  OR that I would've thought that I'd just send a few bucks and let my kids buy lunch.   But nooo... that's not how things have gone.

Somehow, others along the way have known it.  In high school, I was nicknamed "Martha Stewart".  And I don't think it had anything to do with my love of chinos and plain oxford shirts.  I really don't consider myself in the Martha "club" as my output is definitely not of Martha quality, but nonetheless, the passion is within me.

If only, my husband would interject if he wrote here, if only your housekeeping skills were on par with Martha's.  ((Get out of my head, James.))  They're not, for the record.

But Bentos.  They've been on my mind for a while and now that my sweet Elliott is starting kindergarten, I'll be sharing some Bentos--Tristin style.  Don't get me wrong, I love all of the cute shaped stuff and special picks and stuff that the cool kids have, but I just don't have storage for more stuff. In other words, we're going to be keeping it pretty simple--but even simple is worth sharing, right?

Today, one of our "practice" Bentos consisted of buttered mini bow tie pasta, ham and cheese skewers, edamame, and oranges.  It filled the young lady up with minimal complaining, and isn't that the point?  Success.

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