Fun Finds For Mom

Packed lunch ideas (and why I’m in love with Planetboxes)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

LUNCHES

 

I used to HATE packing lunches, but that has all changed. I really should get a job as a spokesperson for these Planetboxes, because they’ve changed my life (or at least the time I spend packing lunches in the morning). I think the biggest pre-Planetbox frustration was digging through our cabinet of jumbled plastic containers and never finding the right size or the matching lid. Plus, I was using hundreds of plastic baggies and spending plenty of money on single serve applesauce pouches, cheese crackers, etc.

Now, I open up these stainless steel Planetboxes, fill up the compartments, and pop them into their adorable containers with an ice pack. The kids seem to like them too, because the lunch boxes usually come home empty or nearly empty. I imagine they keep the food in better shape since everything isn’t getting smooshed. Then I pop off the magnets that go on the outside of the box, and put them in the dishwasher. Easy peasy.

You can buy them directly from PlanetBox, on Amazon or from Pottery Barn Kids. I bought mine from PBK because I liked the designs a lot better. I had been admiring these for years, but went ahead and bought them when they went on sale (which they still are — so I recommend getting them now before the sale ends!). For me, these are well worth the price (and I’ll probably end up saving as much since I no longer buy the single serve lunch items, and won’t be tearing through boxes of Ziplocks on a regular basis.) I am packing healthier lunches now too, and even better — the kids are eating them!

I added photos and descriptions of many packed Planetbox lunches on my Facebook page. (Yes, my kids think I am crazy for taking a photo of their lunch every day.) Check it out, and I invite you to share your packed lunch photos too!

Here’s what the Planetboxes look like on the outside:

planetboxdot planetboxshark

Follow me on Facebook or subscribe (up in the top right corner) for more PlanetBox lunch photos!

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Bento Lunchboxes

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Bento graphic

If you’re in the market for a bento lunchbox, I say “Right on, sister!” As you may or may not know, I am a PlanetBox fan, and have not tested all these bentos myself. However, the reviews on Amazon are plentiful, so hopefully you will find one that suits your needs.

These are some of the bento boxes my readers have been buying:

Bentology Lunch Box ($20)

EasyLunchboxes 3-Compartment Bento Lunch Box Containers, Set of 4 ($14)

PlanetBox ($70)

Fit and Fresh Kids Bento Lunch Kit with Insulated Bag and Ice Packs ($20)

Yumbox Leakproof Bento Lunch Box Container ($20)

ChefLand 3-Compartment Microwave Safe Food Container with Lid/Divided Plate/Bento Box/Lunch Tray with Cover, Black, 10-Pack

Here’s what I would look for in a bento box:

Ease of cleaning

Is it dishwasher-safe? Because if it’s not, let’s be honest. It’s going to sit in your sink waiting until you can’t stand to look at it any longer. And the last thing you want to do is to have to hand-wash a lunchbox in the morning. Or the evening. Or the afternoon.

Leakproof

Read the reviews and find out if it is really and truly leakproof. In three years, I have never had a problem with my PlanetBoxes leaking (knock on formica.) It’s nice to have the flexibility to pack sauces, fruit that may leak a little juice, or dressings.

Quality materials

Personally, I like metal. It’s durable. It doesn’t “leak” chemicals. It takes a licking and keeps on ticking. Thankfully many of today’s plastics  are free of BPA, phthalates, and other junk that was so prevalent when my kids were babies. Check the product description to make sure. And they are certainly more budget-friendly, which brings me to…

Cost

Thankfully, bento boxes now come in all budget categories. Some are so inexpensive, you don’t have to worry if they fall into the school lost and found vortex, lost amidst dirty socks and moldy water bottles forever. Others are a significant investment, but you’ll use them until your kids go to college.

Cool factor

Make sure your kids like their lunchboxes. If they are embarrassed to have a lunchbox that is different from everyone else, it’s a hard sell. My almost-12 year old is at that point. I told him I like packing my bento boxes, but if he wants to pack his own lunch in a “regular” lunchbox, have at it. Part of the problem is that he doesn’t love the idea of me taking pictures of his lunch and posting them on my Facebook page. Sorry bud. A mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do.

Like what you see? Connect with me on Facebook and Twitter!

 

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Boom Chicka Bites

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

bitesBagLineup

I recently had the opportunity to try the new Boom Chicka Bites. They’re sweet popcorn snacks that come in all the yummy flavors you see here: fruit and nut, sweet and salty nut, tropical mix and mixed berry. If you like popcorn and have a sweet tooth, you will love these treats. The taste reminded me of the candy-coated popcorn that was such a huge trend when I was a kid.

These little guys aren’t just popcorn. They have “ancient grains” like popped sorghum and puffed amaranth — and if gluten is an issue, you’ll be happy to know they are gluten free. They are not sugar-free, however, so I mixed a little of these Boom Chicka Bites in with plain popcorn to cut the sugar. Plus, I like a good sweet-salty combo. Here are a few pics of these popcorn treats in the kids lunchbox:

combined

You can buy Boom Chicka Bites at Target, where they’re part of the handpicked Target “Made to Matter” snack selections. What are you snacking on this summer? Share your latest snacking obsession in the comments!

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Minted Valentine’s Day Giveaway

Monday, January 26, 2015

Scattered Hearts Classroom Valentine's Day Cards

Only a few more weeks until one of my favorite holidays — Valentine’s Day!

Did you know you can order adorable kids classroom Valentines from Minted? Save yourself the hassle of running out to the store, and order one of Minted’s many indie designs from the comfort of your own home! They start at $14 for 15. You can also get fancy and add a photo or order matching stickers for envelopes or treat bags.

To share a little love this Valentine season, Minted is offering two of you a $75 credit to use any way you like at Minted. Use them on Valentine cards, gorgeous art, party decor, or even fabric by the yard designed by independent artists.

Here are some of my favorite Minted classroom Valentine designs.

Layered Paper Heart Classroom Valentine's Day Cards

You're a Hit Classroom Valentine's Day Cards

Orange Juice Glad Classroom Valentine's Day Cards

Puppy Love Classroom Valentine's Day Cards

King Of The Jungle Classroom Valentine's Day Cards

King Of The Jungle Custom Stickers

 

And if you’re throwing a Valentines Day party, be sure to check out all of the fun party decor on Minted. Here’s a peek:

To enter, just leave one comment on this post by midnight on Friday, January 30. I’ll then randomly select the two winners of the $75 credit for Minted. Good luck!

Congratulations to Andrea and Sara, who were randomly selected as the winners of the Minted giveaway!

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Juby True 3-Day Juice Cleanse Giveaway

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Juby True Front

If you live in Phoenix, you’re probably familiar with the many amazing Fox Restaurant Concept spots like Flower Child, True Foods, The Henry, North and Olive & Ivy. Their latest and greatest concept is Juby True, an organic cold pressed juice joint. There are now three locations, and the newest is right around the corner from me at 40th Street and Camelback.

Juby True Inside

I stopped in for a green smoothie to check it out, and all I have to say is if you like fresh pressed juice, you will love this place. And if you want to start off the new year with a juice cleanse, well then you’ll have to enter my giveaway! Juby True is generously giving one Fun Finds For Mom reader a 3-day juice cleanse. (You have to be in the Phoenix area to redeem your prize.) Detoxification, here you come! To enter, just leave a comment on this post. But first, let me give you a quick tour.

Juby True Cases

Inside Juby True, you’ll find cases of beautiful juices ready to grab and go. They also offer infused waters and fruity coconut waters called “hydrators,” organic salads, almond “mylk” blends, snacks and sweets and coffee and tea. I didn’t try any of the food, so maybe that will need to be the subject of a future post!

Juby True Crew

I got an invitation to take a peek behind the swinging door to see where the magic happens, and I gotta say it’s quite an operation. This is the location that supplies all the Fox restaurants with juice, so this crew is busy.

Juby True Green Juice

Apparently the “Basillion” is quite popular as there were rows of this green juice all lined up and ready to go. It’s made with green apple, spinach, basil, lime, chlorophyll and cayenne. Sounds tasty. It’s also $9 for a bottle, so I think I’d sip it very slowly. Word to the wise: cold pressed juices are not cheap!

Juby True Girls

Like all Fox concepts, the people who work there are super smiley and friendly. My son and I still giggle when we think of the cashier at Flower Child who kept calling me “Girly Girl!”

Okay — now down to business. To enter the Juby True 3-day juice cleanse giveaway, leave one comment on this post by midnight on Tuesday, January 20. I will randomly select one lucky winner!  Congratulations to Brigette who was randomly selected as the winner of the Juby True 3-Day Cleanse Giveaway!

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Kick off the New Year with Healthy Eating + a Sprouts $100 Giveaway!

Monday, January 5, 2015

sprouts pic

 

Happy New Year! I am so excited to start a brand new year with a blank slate. This year is about loving, nurturing, friendship and adventure. And of course, as always, I’m also ready to blast off the holiday bulge. No more noshing on leftovers, cheese and cracker trays, cookies and chocolate. More green smoothies, turkey sammies and thinly sliced Fuji apples bathed in lemon or lime juice.  More yoga, hiking and running. Less sedentary hibernating. For the kids, it’s back to the healthy packed lunch boxes. Hooray for 2015!

If you follow me on Facebook, or are coming from the Sprouts website you may know that I am “starring” in four videos that are part of the Sprouts Every Meal is a Choice Sweepstakes, where you can enter to win a year’s worth of free groceries. I spent an afternoon being followed around by a few kind gents from Sprouts as I shopped, shared some of my favorite products and reasons why I shop at Sprouts, and invited them (and all of you) into my kitchen for a peek into my healthy lunch boxes and packed snacks.

You can see all the videos and enter the Sweepstakes here: https://www.sprouts.com/choosehealthy

Congratulations to Krissie who was randomly selected as the winner of the Sprouts $100 Giveaway!

And you can enter to win a $100 Sprouts gift card by leaving a comment on this post by midnight MST Wednesday, January 7.

If you’re new to Fun Finds For Mom, I invite you to check out the following posts:

http://www.funfindsformom.com/blog/green-smoothie-cleanse

http://www.funfindsformom.com/blog/grab-and-go-snack-ideas

http://www.funfindsformom.com/?s=lunch+box

 

P.S. If you’d like to receive the Fun Finds For Mom guide to packing healthy lunch boxes, just enter your email address in the “Get Updates” box in the top right corner of this page. And follow me on Facebook for more healthy lunch box pics and other fun finds!

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Top 6 Kids’ Real Tool Sets

Friday, December 12, 2014

Back by popular demand, I’m happy to share my picks for this year’s top 6 real tool sets for kids. These tool sets are for parents looking for tools for their kids that aren’t pretend plastic tools, but real tools they can actually use to fix and build. We got our kids real tool sets a few years ago, and not only did they use them, but they looked pretty darn cute wearing their kid tool belts and safety goggles. So here they are… this year’s top real tool sets for kids.

1. Great Neck 21046 Essentials 32 Piece Around the House Tool Set

 

($29, Amazon.com)

2. Grizzly H3044 Junior Working Too Length 12-Piece Set

Grizzly

 

($30, Amazon.com)

3. Wooden Child-Sized Real Tools by Constructive Playthings

 

($39.99, Amazon.com)

4. Red Tool Box 10-Piece Tool Set

 

($44 at Amazon.com)

5. Real 5-piece Red tool set and toolbelt with multiple pockets

RED 5 piece

 

($28, Amazon.com)

6. Moulin Roty Les Valises Small Tool Box Set

Moulin Roty tools

 

($33, Amazon.com)

 

 

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The Little Spark: 30 Ways to Ignite Your Creativity Book Review + Giveaway

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Little Spark

Are you looking for a holiday gift for your mom/sister/babysitter/teacher or gift exchange? Well then I’m glad you’re reading this. You see, my wonderfully creative, talented and kind friend Carrie just wrote a book called The Little Spark: 30 Ways to Ignite Your Creativity. It’s filled with a variety of bite sized nuggets that will shift your perspective and juice up your creativity.

One of my favorites is Spark #11: stashing a jar of markers within reach. This is something I learned from Carrie years ago. In addition to the jar of markers that is usually on my dining room table, I also have a glass jar filled with colorful Sharpies in my office and it makes me happy every time I look at it — just the creative possibility that it represents.

markers

The book has simple exercises that help you tap into the creativity that came so naturally when we were kids, and highlights activities you can do alone or with your friends — like getting together to create vision boards and soul boxes (What’s a soul box, you ask? You must read the book!) Here’s Carrie’s beautiful mom holding up a vision board collage:

vision board

Carrie also highlights the creative endeavors of so many friends and visionaries in our community — Chris Bianco, her neighbor Scotty from the Gin Blossoms, her yoga teacher Anton, the mother-daughter duo behind locally-owned Kaleidoscope Juice and her friend Logan, who designs and makes these gorgeous Silver and Sage malas:

malas

I am so excited to be giving away a copy of The Little Spark: 30 Ways to Ignite Your Creativity.I suggest you buy one for yourself and enter the contest to try to win one for a friend. You can find them on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or if you’re here in Phoenix, you can pick one up at La Grande Orange.

To enter, simply leave a comment on this post by midnight MST on Friday, Dec. 12. The winner will be randomly selected. Watch this video to see The Little Spark brought to life!

Congratulations to Sarita who was randomly selected as the winnter of The Little Spark book!

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Stay safe on winter roads with Bridgestone Blizzak Tires

Friday, November 21, 2014

driving

What’s an Arizona girl doing writing about winter tires? Well, would you believe I know a thing or two about tires? I’ve attended three tire press events over the past few years, and written several articles about tires for SheKnows. This year, I was invited to Denver by Bridgestone and Tire Rack to learn about Bridgestone’s Blizzak tires and how they can keep you safe on winter roads. Fortunately for this desert driver, we weren’t testing tires on the open road. Instead, we headed to Denver’s Pepsi Center where we compared Blizzak winter tires with all weather tires on an ice rink!

Before getting behind the wheel, we visited the Denver Zoo, where we learned how Bridgestone used “biomimicry” to develop the technology for their winter tires. They took the properties of polar bear’s grippy paws, geckos’ feet (that can stick to any non-wet surface) and clinging mussels to design the rubber compound and tread design of Blizzak tires.

It’s amazing how much technology goes into not only the materials that the tires are made from, but the actual design of the tires themselves. The angle of the grooves, for example, makes a big difference in the tire’s ability to disperse water, enabling the tire to maintain contact with the road instead of slipping on a thin layer of water or ice. The Blizzaks also have channels in them that act like sponges to “soak up” the water — think of them as water-wicking fitness clothes for your car — but with a much more important job than keeping you sweat-free.

biomimicry

Okay, so how did the Blizzaks perform on the ice, compared with the all-weather tires? As expected, the acceleration was faster, and the stopping distance was shorter. And when you’re slipping on an icy road, every inch counts. After testing the acceleration and stopping ourselves, we got to take a spin as a passenger with a professional driver who showed us just how scary it is to take a turn on ice. Thankfully, the Blizzaks delivered noticeably more control while the all-weathers had us knocking down cones every time.

Blizzak

I was surprised to learn that only 25% of people who live in the Snowbelt will put winter tires on their car this year. From what I experienced, the safety and control that come from winter tires is well worth the investment. If you’re in the market, Tire Rack is an easy way to order your tires online. You can sort by vehicle, tire type, tire size and more. Plus, they conduct their own testing and provide in-depth reviews that help you choose the best tire for your driving conditions. Learn more about Bridgestone Blizzak tires and winter driving at ConquertheCold.com.

Bridgestone and Tire Rack paid for the travel to the event. All opinions are my own

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Quick Bread in a Jar

Sunday, November 16, 2014

This post is an oldie but goodie…

I tore this Quick Bread in a Jar recipe out of Sunset magazine a while back, and put it in my recipe/ideas/mishmash binder. I haven’t made these yet, but I think it’s a great idea for a thoughtful holiday gift. (Thinking about the holidays takes my mind off the 100+ degree weather.)

You basically get a milk bottle or mason jar (these jars would be perfect) and layer all the ingredients, then stick a cute label on (and a label on the back with the recipe instructions). The link to the Sunset recipe is here, but in case they take it off their site, I’ll paste it below too:

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Quick Bread

1. In a large bowl, mix the contents of this bottle: 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 cup rolled oats, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, and 1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips.

2. In a small bowl, beat 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, 2 large eggs, and 1/4 cup melted butter.

3. Stir wet mixture into dry ingredients just until evenly moistened (batter will be lumpy).

4. Scrape into a buttered and floured 9- by 5-inch loaf pan (with a 9-cup capacity), and bake in a 350° oven until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes.

photo and recipe from Sunset magazine

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Minted Holiday Cards + a $150 Minted Giveaway

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Tis the season for holiday cards, right? As you may know, I am a huge Minted fan. Their selection of cards is amazing, and best of all, Minted supports the many individual artists who create all the original designs.

Okay — let’s get to it. I’m giving away one $150 Minted gift card to a lucky Fun Finds For Mom reader. Wheeee! To enter, just leave a comment on this post. But first, take a peek at some of this year’s Minted designs.

luggage tag

bejoyful

Happy Everything Holiday Photo Cards

Gorgeous, yes? And just imagine how much better they’ll look with pictures of your cuties in them. Minted also now offers cards with bedazzling real foil — AND they will print addressed envelopes for no charge. Unbelievable, right? If you’re just not a card person, they also have beautiful custom stationery, notebooks, calendars and more. Leave a comment on this post to enter for a chance to win $150 to spend at Minted, or go straight to Minted.com right now and place your order! Update: You can also get an extra entry by liking and/or sharing the contest post on Facebook! (Please send me a note to elaina (at) funfindsformom (dot) com to let me know if you liked or shared!)

This contest is now closed. Congratulations to Deborah Gardner who was randomly selected as the winner of the $150 Minted gift card.

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