Friday, January 12, 2018

More Lunchtime Inspiration

   I have a love-hate relationship with making my kids lunches.  I might actually do a happy dance when the Friday comes because I don't have to worry about it for a few days.  The reality is, I really love making the kids lunch and making sure they are eating decent food for lunch.  The kids love taking them and never once have they asked to eat the lunches the school provides.  Every once in awhile I feel kind of stumped at what to make.  Coming up with new ideas for lunches that aren't peanut butter and jelly sandwiches is exhausting, which is why I thought it was time for a new blog post with some fresh ideas. 

It's been awhile since we've talked school lunches, so I thought I would share where I stand with lunches and why I think it is so important. 

1.  Kids need to eat and when they don't eat, they get cranky.  No one wants to deal with HANGRY, especially Hangry combined with post school exhaustion.
 2.  Kids need to eat healthy, minimally processed food and packing them lunches that they will eat provides them energy and brain power to get through the school day (and maybe a few errands after school). 
3.  We use bento boxes so that everything is in front of them when they open it up.  They may not finish their lunch, but they aren't just eating a sandwich bag full of chips for lunch.  They are eating a little bit of everything, so they are getting protein and fruits and veggies. 
4.  Most often both lunches are the same, but sometimes they are different depending on what's in the fridge or if it's a dairy or non dairy option (Weston has a soy and dairy allergy). 
5.  Protein is important.  I try to pack several options for protein and limit the amount of treats.  Every now and then, I throw a treat in there, because we all need a little bit of happy.  I also believe in moderation.  But, I also know my kids. . . usually these are the first things they go for.
6.  Before trying anything new, I make it for dinner, that way I can get a feel if they actually like what they eat. 

Here is some inspiration that isn't horribly overwhelming.  Nothing looks like it walked out of a magazine.  There are no sandwiches decorated to look like dogs.  Just easy peazy meals that don't take a ton of time to prep and prepare. 
 Little smokies , apple sauce, sunchips, cheese, and a small piece of dark chocolate.

Ham and Cheese roll ups, gold fish, apple sauce, treat. 
Make your own lunchable.

 Egg salad and crackers, jello, apple sauce, yogurt and a small rice krispy treat. 

Baked ravioli with marinara sauce, blackberries, tomatoes,and a mini babel cheese

English muffin pizza with Daiya cheese shreds, peanut butter crackers, chocolate zucchini muffin, cashews,and oranges.

 Tortilla pizza cups, pretzel slims/gold fish saltines, carrots and strawberries, chocolate

 Pretzel dogs, yogurt, chips and a small piece of dark chocolate

 sausage pancakes, applesauce, cookie, and maple syrup
bean burrito, apple sauce, chips and salsa
Peanut Butter and Jelly, pop chips, apple sauce, energy bite, fruit snack


 Peanut Butter and Jelly, jellow, apple slices, cheese, crackers

turkey roll ups, yogurt pop chips, dried mango

 hard boiled egg, jello, turkey roll ups, energy bites

tortellini, ranch, carrots, jello, energy bite

egg salad sandwiches, pumpkin muffin, gold fish, dark chocolate, applesauce

 Peanut butter and pretzels, apple sauce, hard boiled egg

penne and meatballs with marinara, jello, apple sauce

And that's all I have for now.  You can find more inspiration in my instagram feed with the hashtag KLASSENLUNCHES.

The original post of Lunchtime inspiration with more simple ideas is here.

Also, our Bento boxes are easylunchboxes and you can find them on Amazon here.

Happy Reading




Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Looking ahead into 2018: some encouragement on goal setting

This week was kind of bittersweet for me.   The kids went back to school and I felt torn.  

I truly enjoy this new phase and I had a lot of fun with the kids over vacation.  We hung out all day in our pajamas watching TV and cuddling. A spontaneous adventure was so much fun with these travel bugs. And we are at that stage where they can do their thing and I can get my things done.  We really are in a sweet spot!  Weston ended up getting a really bad cold/or the flu bug (not really sure which one), but that took up the whole week and we ended up not getting to do some of the fun things I had planned (super sad face right now).

The other side of me was totally doing a happy dance.   There are things I specifically don't get to do when these kiddos are home.  One of them being a peaceful Target run where no one is hanging off the carts or insisting we go down the Lego isle.  The other being, sitting down, having a quiet lunch and focusing on my goals for 2018, uninterrupted.

So, Monday, I celebrated (just a little) by heading Hobby Lobby to spend a gift card that has been screaming "spend me!!!" and treat myself to my favorite salad at Panera and sit in peace so I could focus on the upcoming year.  I brought along my Bible Study and started with that, because I definitely seek God first before I started making any goals.  I've been reading through the study Restless, by Jennie Allen with some wonderful women at my church and this week, as I poured through the section entitled "Passions," I couldn't help but think how fitting it was as I was getting ready to contemplate 2018. 

So the first thing I did was make a list of the things that truly make my heart happy. These are the things that energize me and get me excited to crawl out of bed in the morning.  The things things that came to mind for me were:
  • Creating
  • Gathering
  • Adventuring
So, this year, as I sat there in a booth all by myself, I made goals based on these three main passions and some things that have been stirring in my heart lately. So here are my goals for 2018.
  1. Slow down.  I can't make room for creative things if I am too busy, and the past year has been a bit busy, so this year, I am going to say no to some things so I can say yes to other things.  
  2. Finish projects.  I have a list of some projects that just need to be finished.  So, this year, I am working on finishing those things and hopefully starting some new ones! 
  3. Grow.  A big thing for me is learning new things.  By slowing down I am making more time to get into Scripture and read more.  I am also going to challenge myself to learning new baking skills over the next year.  One way I'm going to attempt that is by  participating in King Arthur Flour's monthly bake-a-long (remember the star bread?  Bring on more fun things like that!).  
  4. Find adventures.  Take advantage of little get-a-ways and day trips with my people.  
  5. Gather.  Continue in getting together with my mom friends on a regular basis and creating opportunities for women in my neighborhood to get together. 
So, there they are.  Now I've done it and made them public so you have to hold me accountable.  See what I did there?  Ha ha. 

Anyways, I've set my goals and now I've got to some work done.  The slowing down one is the biggest challenge.  But, I know that when I get too busy, I stop enjoying things and we can't have that.  Busyness steals my joy and makes me cranky.  We can't have that. 

So here are some of my tips for goal making:
  • Don't make so many that you feel like you are drowning in a list.  
  • Don't make them impossible.  
  • Share them with a friend or a spouse.  Accountability is key.  Each year, my husband and I compile a list of things we want/hope to accomplish over the course of the next 12 months.  Then, we get together and share and see where ours overlap.  It is so much fun to see what happens with that list at the end of the year.  
  • Write them down in a place where you won't lose them and can see on a regular basis.  I keep mine in my journal (and obviously here!), but there's a spot for them in my planner that I filled in, too.  Type it up and post it somewhere.  If you don't check it every now and then, you will forget all about it.
  • Don't get discouraged if you don't accomplish all of them.  These are goals, not resolutions.  These are things you want to grow in, to accomplish.  They may bring about change, but they aren't there to change you. 
  • Also, remember that it takes close to a month to make something a habit.  Practice, Practice, Practice.  
  • Make a point to check back every month/quarter and see how you are doing, what you are struggling with, or if you need to revamp your list.  
  • Be flexible.  By making goals, we are not declaring this is how the year is going to go.  We can't tell the future.  Things come up and sometimes those things are unexpected.  Just keep trying.  
Did you set goals this year?  Post one of yours in the comments and let's keep each other accountable!




Friday, January 05, 2018

Saying goodbye to 2017


 

Well, hello there 2018.  I'm not completely sure where 2017 went, but it sure flew by!  I've been thinking a lot about the past year and, while not everything went exactly the way I had planned, it was a really good year.  I feel so blessed that I get to share my heart with you, my faithful readers. 
This month marks the 9th anniversary of this little space, so I am working on giving it a makeover, making it more user friendly, and just all around a better place to build community as we navigate through the crazy of being a wife, mom, and _______ .  

So, let's take a look back and see some of my favorite posts from the year.

January
I started the year with a HUGE mess, when we decided to re do our office and make it a brighter, more organized space that we actually wanted to be.  It was a lot of work, but we got through it and we absolutely loved the results.   Read about it here

Then, there was this coffee cake the combined two of my most favorite things: blueberries and almonds.  Seriously, this cake was so good, I keep going back to it!  Definitely a show stopper at your next get together!  You can find the recipe here.

February
The month started off with my youngest turning 6 and a friends party at our local California Pizza Kitchen.  I really loved how this party came out!  Read more about the details here.

February also means Valentines Day, so we made some super cute Lego Valentines this year with our Lego ice molds.  These were so much fun and a great option if you don't want to add to the candy insanity that comes with Valentines Day! Read more about it here.

March
The spring air that came with March was the perfect opportunity to take advantage of our Magnolia lined street with this easy wreath tutorial.  Check it out on the blog here. 

The schedule must have gotten busy, because I wrote a post on being overwhelmed.  Some great tips and I will definitely be revisiting that post a few times this spring! 

April
I had got creative with one of our empty flower beds with this inexpensive project.  It was a guest post over at my friend Dorothy's blog.  Click here for the link. 


I also shared my most favorite oven fries ever!  We can't get enough of these!  You should add these to your menu. . . pronto! 

May
The kitchen was clean, so I shared our kitchen redo.  We still dream of replacing the counters with something much better than yucky tile, but in the meantime, we are enjoying the finished cabinets and a few other improvements that I think really help improve it!  You can read all about it here.

June
June brought the start of summer and the Summer Pin Challenge where we chose a bunch of different pins and tried them at home! This kept us busy and focused on creating, instead of watching hours of TV.   I also wrote this post on how we survive summer . . . before you know it, it's going to be time to start our next summer challenge! 

July
The boys and I stayed pretty busy this summer with our Summer Pin Challenge, but I found time to get in a flag tutorial for you just before the 4th of July.  It was super easy and I think I made it in under an hour with fabric I had laying around the house. . . this made my hubby VERY happy!

 August

the end of summer brought the last few Summer Pin Challenge activities along with some back to school tips, but my favorite post of all this month was the one I did about coffee and friendship.  And not necessarily coffee, but anything that makes you happy where you could invite a friend, share some time and be encouraged. It really is good for your soul.  You should read it.  again.  You can find it here.

September

September marked the last big birthday party for our oldest and I think we went out with a bang!  An explosive bang, that is!  You can read more about it here.

I also made this amazing tart.  It's really all about the brown butter crust, which in all honesty is the best thing ever! I mean, brown butter and I have a thing going on (sorry Jon. . . ha ha!).  Go find the recipe and make it. . . with apples or pears or something.  Or go buy peaches from the freezer section so you can make this now. . . and then make it again this summer when you can get fresh produce.  You can find this post here. 

October
I didn't blog a bunch in October. . . I think things got really busy!  But, I did a Proverbs 31 post about your worth.  It's definitely worth a re-read, especially as we enter this new year.  Find it here.

November
Fall came in beautiful this November and so did this dairy free version of Corn Chowder.  Oh, and the leaves and gingerbread lattes.  Seriously.  It could stay like that forever and I'd be a happy camper!  You can find the recipe here.   As I type this, I know that Spring is on it's way and it's the first week of January, it only slightly depresses me. . . ha ha! 

December
This was only a few weeks ago, but it is bar far my favorite thing.  Baking bread is something that I wanted to learn, and learn well, so this past year or so, that's what I've been working on.  Honestly, this is probably one of my favorite things I've made so far.  It was really good, too!  I can't wait to post more of these King Arthur Flour Bake Along posts in the future!  You can find the recipe over here.

And that was 2017.  Crazy how much happened.  There were also some quilts, cards, more recipes, more thoughts, some meal inspiration, and so much more.  Oh and there was this recipe that was the MOST searched recipe on the blog!  I am excited to see where 2018 will lead me (and the blog).  And finally, a huge thank you for taking the time to read my blog and for sometimes leaving me a comment (seriously, the best things ever!). 

Did you create anything last year that made you so proud?  
What are some things that you would like to see on the blog in 2018
 (I'm always looking for new ideas!).  







Tuesday, December 19, 2017

King Arthur Flour Bake-Along: Star Bread

 The three weeks that fill in the time between Thanksgiving break and Christmas Vacation go by way too quickly!   Yesterday marked the first official day of vacation and we soaked it in.  We cuddled on the couch and watched a Christmas movie, we did a little bit of cleaning, we worked on our truth in the Tinsel ornaments, and we read.  It was wonderful!  Definitely loving this stage where the kids kind of do their own things and help around the house!  There is no dreading vacation here, but more anticipation of hanging out with them.  It's funny how quickly things change, so sweet moms of littles. . . there is hope.  Hang in there!  It is bittersweet as the stages change, but oh, so wonderful! 

Despite the hurry over the last three weeks to get as much stuff done possible before the kids were home all day long, I did a little baking.  I can't help it.  It's kind of something that I make room for for a few reasons.
1.  We need to eat.
2.  This one way I give myself margin.
3.  Trying a new recipe and learning something new fill my cup.   It's just how I roll. 
 I recently decided that next year, I will be joining in the fun of the King Arthur Baking Challenge.  Each month, they post a new recipe for their baking audience to try out.  They give step by step directions and even make video tutorials so you can really see what is supposed to go down with those recipe directions.  (you know the ones where you read it a bazillion times and you kind of aren't sure how the heck you are supposed to do something. . . it was like that for me and babka.).  The recipe this month inspired me and once I grabbed all the ingredients, I got to work.  
 The first step is always making the dough.  This recipe was ridiculously simple.  It has potato flakes, which at first glance is weird.  But it works.  Also, I was able to find small pouches for like a dollar and it was more than enough for this recipe.  Don't be overwhelmed by strange ingredients. Take all the ingredients and mix together.  Seriously, super easy.  After that, it just sits there and looks pretty. 
 These twists. . . this was the part that stumped me.  I ended up watching the tutorial that KAF made and I really just over complicated it.  It was two slits and twist twice in the opposite directions and pinch together.  It might looks so weird at first, but it puffs up a bit in the oven and ends up looking amazing. 

 My kids were so excited to eat this last Sunday morning.  In fact, they the biggest battle was who was claiming the middle.  I mean, the middles are the best!  I accidentally pressed too hard in my center, so it cut about 2 of the layers. . . oops!  Also, the star reminds me of the star from Tangled.
Have I left you drooling yet?  My oldest just came in and asked if I was going to make this again anytime soon.  I should.  It was easier than I thought, but it actually looks like I spent all this time on it.  You should make it and wow your friends, too!

Star Bread
adapted from King Arthur Flour

Ingredients:
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup instant mashed potato flakes
1/4 nonfat dry milk
3/4 cup to 1 cup lukewarm water
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp yeast
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 tsp salt

Directions:
Carefully add your ingredients into your your mixing bowl and knead with your dough hook, until your dough is nice and smooth.  Start with the 3/4 cup water and slowly add more until you get to the right consistency.

Lightly grease. a bowl and place your dough inside and cover.  Let it rise for at least an hour (mine rose all day). 

Divide the dough into 4 equal balls.  Place on parchment paper and let them hang out for about 15 minutes. 

While that's just hanging out, prep your filling ingredients:

  :: 1 beaten egg in a bowl
  ::  another bowl with 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tbsp cinnamon. 

Roll out each ball into a circle about 10 inches in diameter.  It doesn't have to be perfect, because you will be twisting it and baking it, and it really does hide any mistakes you might make. . . trust me!

Place first circle on baking sheet.  Brush with egg and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture. 
Cover with second circle and repeat process.
Keep doing this until you put that last circle on. . . just don't do the egg white/cinnamon sugar mixture. 

Find a round cookie cutter and gently (don't be like Jolie and cut almost all the way down.) place it in the center.  It's just there to remind you not to cut into the circle area.  Then, take a sharp knife and cut 16 strips all the way around that middle circle. 

Then take two strips that are right next to each other and twist twice in opposite directions.  Then pinch them together on the top.  Continue until all the strips are twisted.  Let it rise for about 45 more minutes and then brush with a bit of that remaining egg from earlier.  Stick in a 400 degree oven for 12-15 minutes. 

Then listen to everyone tell you how amazing you are.  Trust me.  You will wow everyone. . . just don't tell them how incredibly easy it was! 

You can go here for picture by picture of how it's done.  It helps!

Happy Baking! 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Being a blessing {Free Printable}

As a kid, I remember the mail man who had the route on our street.  He would talk to my dad at the mail box like old friends and he knew us by name.  Every year, my mom would make a batch batches of her pomegranate jelly.  She would always stick a jar in the mail box for our our mail man.  It was one of those memories that I always wanted to copy, only there are a few differences in my childhood compared to my present.  First of all, I live in a much larger town, where the person who delivers my mail could be anyone of 5 or 6 people.  Some of them more pleasant than others (as in my mail doesn't always make it to my front door and when the kids were little, they would ring the doorbell as loud as they could during naptime even though I asked them to knock), which makes it sooo hard.  I also, don't have a mail box. . . it goes directly into my house, which is a bit harder to surprise someone with. 

Until, a week or so ago (I don't remember), a friend posted on instagram this basket with goodies for their delivery guys.   It was so cool!  And totally not something hard to do either.  Just some stuff out of the pantry and a sign.  All this to say thank you to them for saving us time on our shopping (thank goodness for Amazon Prime!).  I couldn't help but copy her. . . it was such a wonderful idea!

I grabbed some snacks that I had bought for the kids, some coke minis, sparkling water (because I'm obsessed, some bottled water, granola bars and M&M's and threw them in a bin I had laying around.  Then, I quickly designed a simple little sign and stuck it outside.  Seriously the easiest thing that can make such a big difference in someone's day. 

Yesterday morning, our mail man rang the doorbell with one of our orders, and he was just so grateful for the goodies.  He said it really helps them!  I'll be honest with you, I wasn't even sure they would take anything, because I had stuck ice cold waters out during the summer for them and no takers (and our guys walk our streets delivering the mail in triple digit heat!).  But, this guy, was honestly grateful and it just made my day that he could be blessed! 

Want to join in the fun?  

You can print out your own sign here.  

 Let me know how you are using it by using the hashtag #outoftherightbrainblog.

Have a wonderful day! 






Friday, December 08, 2017

Friday Favorites {Chrismtas Shopping Edition!}

Christmas is just a few weeks away and while I've spent my week getting as much shopping done as possible before the kids get out for vacation.  With all the shopping I've been doing, I was thinking about what things that I am really loving lately.  Things that make me smile and maybe might inspire you if you are stumped on a Christmas present idea (I am. . . it's no fun!).  So, here's a list of a few things for the kids, a few things for that kitchen lover, and a crafty thing (my mind started shutting down for the night. . . so I stopped).  I hope it helps or maybe brings you some inspiration. 

Kids:
Today, I purged my kids toys because it was just time.  It was time to get rid of all those wonderful toddler and preschooler toys that have been traded in for legos and art supplies.  I'm going to preface this portion of the post, by sharing that my boys are now 9 and almost 7 (as in, I should start designing his birthday invitation soon).  These three things, aside from Legos, are what they are super excited about these days. 

Fling Shot
I had seen this at Target earlier this summer and when it went on sale before Thanksgiving, we bought it as part of their big boys bedroom transformation (Coming soon).  Friends, this game is so much fun!  It's completely magnetic and you can turn it over and play tic tac toe.  We haven't put any holes in the wall yet, so I'd say that's a win!  You can find it here at Target.

K'nex Systems

In all honesty, Legos are the main toy of choice for my kids, but we discovered K'nex this fall and they are are pretty awesome.  Ethan is really in to making things work, this roller coaster has a car that goes along the track using a clock arm.  In some ways it challenged him more than a basic Lego set does.  You can find it here

Color Alive Coloring Books
These books are super fun!  The kids like to chill in front of a movie and just color (one is doing that as we speak), so I am always looking for something fun to color.  Plus, these are great for road trips or times when we are waiting.  These are great because the illustrations that they color, they get to snap on our iphone or ipad and they come alive.  They can make Captain America sit on our couch or walk in our front door.  Technology is amazing!  You can find these here. 

Plus Plus


We discovered these this summer, when I was looking for things to fill their travel backpacks and they were such a hit that we bought them more for their stockings this year (shh! It's a secret!).  They basically are these colored plastic ++ (two plus' put together) and you build with them.  The are a lot of fun because you can build things for them, like the box above is for robots, but they are also open ended, which are my favorite toys!  I want to see where these boxes take my child's imagination and the things that they created while sitting at the airport or hanging out at our hotel before bed, was amazing. 

Kitchen:
These three kitchen things are my most used, favorite things ever.  I've talked about them before, but they are seriously the best and if you are in need of a wonderful gift for someone who loves to get creative in the kitchen, here are some of my favorites.

Microwave popcorn maker




We just bought this, and it is super cool!  These are great if you don't want to go to the store and buy microwave popcorn with all the yucky stuff or you don't want to pull out your Whirley Pop for amazing popcorn.  It is simple and works wonders!  Plus, it's dishwasher safe, so definitely a keeper! Here's the link. 

Frother:
I know I have mentioned it a few times, but this thing is amazing.  It gives that perfect frothy milk for your lattes and hot chocolates.  It also does almond milk like a star, so that's an even bigger plus! 
You can find the link on amazon here. 

Corkcicle Coffee Cup


This is a new find. . . like last weekend.  I've always wanted to bring my coffee to Bible Study (because going to that much adds up. . . a lot), but my coffee is always cold before I drop off the kiddos at school.  This basically is the best one I've tried.  The lid is wonderful, too, because we all know that it really matters.  They come in all sorts of pretty colors and manly colors. . . my husband is eyeing the charcoal black one. . . it's super sleek! 

Espresso Powder

This stuff is pretty much amazing and a really fun gift for that baker in your life.  It's kind of expensive, but it totally amps up a chocolate cake or you can make these muffins and amaze your co-workers with your culinary excellence.  It's definitely a good gift for that baker friend who likes to try new recipes. 

Crafty:
I could only come up with one, partly because this is ending up being a long post and I am tired, and also because I haven't been buying things if I don't need them.  You probably don't want to hear how much I love titanium needles for my sewing machine or stuff like that, so I will just leave this one here because it so wonderful!

Paper Pumpkin Subscription
I love getting mail, and this is one of my favorite deliveries each month!  I don't always have time to do them, but I am guaranteed to have cards for peoples birthdays throughout the year!  There are even some gift packages for giving things away, which has been wonderful for spoiling the kids teachers or my friends.  I also like it because it challenges me to try a different design or just take a few minutes to get creative during a busy week.  Getting creative fills my cup!   Each month, you get a small stamp set, ink, and everything you need to make the card.  Sometimes there is enough left over to make the cards go farther or get creative with the leftovers. 

What was something you purchased or were gifted this year that made your year rock?  
 If you have any gift ideas you would like to share, please comment or message me.  I am always looking for ideas for all the people in my life and would love to hear what things your are just swooning over these days.  Feel free to leave a comment below. . . those comments really make my day (really, they do!). 

I should also add that NOBODY paid me any money to write this post.  I get nothing.  It's just me sharing ideas with you.  No biggie.  Thanks for reading it! 





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