Monday, September 22, 2014

Laptop Lunches Feature

Last week I talked about school lunches and the different ways I keep it fresh, new and exciting.  One of the ways that makes it even easier, is to use a fabulous lunchbox!  When the folks over at Laptop Lunches offered to send me one of my own to test, how could I refuse?  Of course I want the girls to have easy, relaxed and enjoyable lunches at school.  This box is fun and colorful, and right away they both were excited by the look of it.  I learned early on that a dull, muted lunchbox was NOT what they wished for so this Laptop Lunches box in Jubilee was right up their alley!  The real test (for Mom) was how easy would it be to fill and ultimately, use?  First, my kids have been tired of squished sandwiches and we are no longer using plastic bags so the logical answer was to GO BENTO!  These Laptop Lunches bento boxes are compact, easy to clean and versatile.  They are easily stored when we aren't using them and are stackable so they can be stored in the fridge the night before.  LOVE THAT!
The compartments are versitle enough to incorporate everything my chidlren enjoy in their lunches. There are five containers that fit tightly into the lunchbox itself.  You can use all of them together or only what you need.  When my daughters aren't using all five, we typically use one with their snacks. They love that their lunch is intact and all together.  Of course these are BPA free and keeps our food fresh!  These are wonderful for both little and BIG husband wants his very own in a more "manly color".  
Learn a little more about Laptop Lunches here...

Shop now and snag a 20% off code here and free e-book with every order! 

Please note, I did receive a Laptop Lunches box to review but as always, all opinions are 100% my own! 

Life On Hold Feature and $50 Amazon Giveaway!

Life on Hold

Life on Hold A paper found. A secret revealed. A girl’s life changed forever. Myra Gibson’s life is a lie. For sixteen years her parents have kept their secret, but the adoption paper she discovers while cleaning the guesthouse tells the truth. As the past and present collide, Myra finally stands up for herself and begins a journey she may regret.   

Praise for Life on Hold All I can say is wow! Beverly Stowe McClure knocked this one out of the ballpark. The story of Myra and her search for the truth touched upon one of the fundamental needs of all children (and teens): the need for a father in their lives. Darby Karchut, author of the Griffin Series and other books for tweens, teens, and adults. McClure exhibits rare talent in this story which follows a young girl on her journey to discovery as she struggles to be true to herself in this compelling coming-of-age novel. Children’s Literary Classics Book Reviews (Silver Medal Winner 2012) Teen readers can easily relate to Myra's pain and rebellion. Part coming of age, part teen romance, "Life on Hold" is full of surprises. Peggy Tibbetts, author, editor, and associate producer.   

Excerpt:  As we drove to my house, I gazed out the car window. The moon, hazy around the edges, hung in the sky. Stars smiled down. The evening with Jeremy had been fun, like before his trouble, before KW, before I defied my mother. I tried to hold the happiness of the past hours in my mind, but a sour lump clogged my throat. Shivering, I rubbed my arms. I was as bad as Rachel, thinking only of myself, unconcerned about my mother’s feelings, ignoring the fact she’d worry if she got home before I did. “You want me to turn off the air conditioner?” Jeremy’s voice startled me. My thoughts had wandered. Lately, the past kept intruding in my life, making it difficult to concentrate on the present. I looked at Jeremy, who was looking at me, a thin wrinkle between his eyes. “What?” “You’ve got goose bumps.” I stared at my arms. Tiny bumps dotted them, yet sweat dampened my palms. “I’m okay,” I said, as okay as I could be, considering I’d hung up on my mother, considering I was with Jeremy. On the plus side, I was enjoying myself, except for the unwelcome phantom face haunting me every time I blinked ¾ KW. He would not go away. I wanted Dad to be my dad. He wasn’t, at least not my birth-dad. Since he wasn’t really my dad should I keep calling him Dad? Father? Or was Neil better? What about Stepfather? Why was it so hard to make decisions?

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 Author Beverly Stowe McClure Most of the time, you’ll find Beverly in front of her computer, writing the stories little voices whisper in her ear. When she’s not writing, she takes long walks and snaps pictures of clouds, wild flowers, birds and deer. She also enjoys visiting with her family and teaching a women’s Sunday school class at her church. To relax she plays the piano. Thank you, Mom, for making encouraging me to practice. Her cats do not appreciate good music and run when she tickles the ivories. She is affectionately known as the “Bug Lady” because she rescues butterflies, moths, walking sticks, and praying mantis from her cats. Beverly has several articles published in leading children’s magazines. Two of her stories have appeared in CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL Anthologies. She also has nine books for children and teens published, with four more under contract.
BookBlast Giveaway $50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 10/13/14 

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. 

The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Friday, September 19, 2014

School Lunches and THE BEST reusable napkins!

School lunches… Definitely a hot topic around our household! Whether or not you send your kid to school for hot lunch, homeschool and make lunches there or brown-bag it, we all want to provide our children with healthy, delicious and satisfying lunches all through the year.  It's so important that children get a well-balanced lunch that will fuel them and give them energy for the rest of the day.  I have no doubt that you've seen countless articles about how to incorporate new ideas into lunches to keep it fresh and new. Gone are the days of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every single day!  I feel like there is more of an awareness now about food and nutrition and so many of us are looking to provide our children with the best possible meals throughout their day.
I thought it would be fun to share some of our recent school lunches and talk a little more about some options for those of you who are still looking for a little bit of inspiration. I completely understand how hectic mornings can be. Sometimes it's just easiest to send your children with something that you know they will eat, and old standby sometimes the best option when you know your child has a favorite!  For my children, they love having new and different lunches every day. Of course there are repeats but they definitely enjoy having some new options and thrive on variety!

As a general rule, I try to make sure that I'm incorporating a fruit and a couple of veggies in every lunch I pack.  Even if your kid isn't a huge veggie eater, there are so many great options out there to not only include veggies into recipes but also even some convenience food like squeezable applesauce and organic crackers that that incorporate veggies right into the mix.  Still, I think it's so important to start as early as you can by introducing fruits and veggies and consistently offering them as soon as they're eating.  I would encourage you to offer fruits and veggies in their lunches every day. If they are hungry enough they will at least try them. I've also found that little containers of yogurt dip or hummus work wonders. Kids love to dip!
Here are a few examples of lunches that I have sent my kids to school with lately. My girls love salads so often times I opt to send them with a salad and a bit of chicken on the side. I think they enjoy having all the components and making their own.  I've also included some pita chips, strawberries and an apple.  I also include a reusable napkin which are eco friendly, adorable and easy!  I've used different options over the years but these from Fiber & Thread are hands down THE BEST reusable napkins I've used.  They wash well and aren't fading.  They are also durable and stain resistant!  Be sure to LIKE Fiber & Thread on Facebook here.  They are fulfilling custom orders now and this page will keep you updated when the Etsy shop launches!  Did I mention these make AMAZING holiday gifts and that they recently launched dinner napkins? Stay tuned later this Fall when I do a dedicated feature on Fiber & Thread

The next lunch is a simple hummus wrap filled with veggies, dried peas and Newmans Own Organics pretzels, strawberries and an apple.
In general, I offer my girls similar lunches on a daily basis. I just makes things easier. The sides in particular are usually the same. I used to break it down and specifically give them each item that they wanted but it just got insane!  I do, however, I feel like if I ask them what they would like for their main opponent it gives them a feeling of choice and they will have something to anticipate when they're ready to sit down and eat.  I am fortunate that my kids have healthy appetites and are eager to eat healthy foods.

Here is an example of the snacks that I send them in with. Again, I always incorporate a fruit or veggie and a lot of times I make a homemade item. This week we have pumpkin muffins and sliced mango.  Sometimes my girls are lighter eaters in the morning and the snack helps fuel them. I opt for homemade muffins they are free of preservatives. The added vitamins in the pumpkin adds to the "power "of this snack.  Did you know pumpkin is a Vitamin A superstar? The girls love them!

What kind of snacks and lunches do you send your kids with to school?  Always looking for ideas and inspiration, feel free to share! Making lunches can be tedious but it doesn't have to be!  For those times when you are in a rush and are looking for a shortcut, be sure to check out Applegate's HALF TIME kits! In fact if you head over here you can enter to win your very own lunch kit!

Have a wonderful Friday friends!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Applegate HALF TIME™ Feature and Giveaway!

True story…It takes me a ridiculous amount of time to unpack my kids backpacks and repack them for the next day.  I mean, a ridiculous amount of time. Back in the day, each kid would get a bologna and cheese sandwich or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, maybe a bag of chips and an apple. That was before the days of these super fancy Moms (I most certainly am NOT fancy - but wish I was!) who get up at the crack of dawn to roll fresh salads and sushi for their kids lunches. I'm not saying I'm sending my kids with fresh sushi, but I would say sometimes the madness of packing a lunch to meet each of my daughters needs get a little ridiculous.  Of course I want to offer them healthy, delicious foods that they will enjoy but it can get extremely time-consuming to stamp out heart shaped sandwiches and star shaped fruit salads every day of the week.  Is anyone with me here?  
If you are feeling like you could use a break every once in a while, APPLEGATE HALF TIME™ has you covered! The first NATIONALLY available natural and organic lunch kit!  That's BIG NEWS! Applegate's HALF TIME™ lunch kit recently came out onto our market and partners with some wonderful companies to offer an easy, healthy and delicious lunch kit for your kids. They are for three varieties that include healthy options that put your child in the driver seat. HALF TIME™ includes Applegate natural meats and cheeses (which have no artificial ingredients or preservatives, and are antibiotic- and hormone-free), Annie’s Homegrown crackers and snacks, and Stonyfield Organic YoKids Squeezers.
Finally! An option when you just don't have a lot of time on your hands! These kits will allow your kids to make different combos and they are all kids size so easy, portable and yummy!   This option is a lunch you can feel good about offering your children.

I'm happy to report that Applegate is offering one lucky Barefoot by the Sea reader their very own halftime lunch kit which includes all three varieties! Also included is a reusable lunch bag that your child can decorate, pack of markers, valuable Applegate coupons and a coloring book! I think you'll agree that this is a prize that's just as valuable for your kids as it will be for you :-). To enter, simply fill out the rafflecopter form below (please be patient, it may take a minute for the form to load.)  Can't wait?  Click here and snag a coupon for your very own HALF TIME™ here!
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