No Bake Lemon Macaroons


IMG_7820 These little power balls, made with a bevy of awesome ingredients, are floating all over the internet and Instagram. After many of us stashed protein bars in our cars and purses for so long, we’re looking for an alternative that provides the same benefits of protein bars – filling, yummy and convenient – but without all the questionable ingredients. Lindsey shared her Carrot Cake Energy Bites a few months ago, and now a new version; No-Bake Lemon Macaroon Power Balls.  IMG_7636 I had to tweak with the recipe just a bit, but for the most part, these came together fairly quickly. Once you have a good understanding of what ingredients you need to make these little delights stick together; usually shredded coconut and some sort of nut flour or oats, you can then tinker with ingredients and come up with a variety of versions. These are light and refreshing,  but satisfy a sweet craving just as well as a cupcake, and they’re a nutritious little snack to have in the morning with some tea or in the afternoon when you need a pick-me-up.  IMG_7638 For these, you can use almond flour or hazelnut meal, but almond flour is much cheaper. Most health food markets, even Sprouts, sells almond meal/flour in the bulk bins, but you can make your own by just pulsing raw almonds in a blender or food processor until very fine. I suggest you start with the zest of 2 lemons, taste, and then add more zest if you want it tangier. I find that lemons range quite a bit in levels of tartness, and people’s preference differ as well. I personally love the extra tang, so if you’re like me, be bold and just start with 3 lemons.  IMG_7623 IMG_7642 You’re looking for a consistency that stays together easily when you smash it together with a fork. If it seems too gooey, simply add a bit more coconut or almond flour. Your hands will still get messy either way, so don’t be afraid to roll away, and maybe keep a dish towel on hand for the occasional hand wipe. IMG_7653 IMG_7666 Depending on how much you love coconut, you can roll these babies around in some more shreds, or not. My favorite brand of coconut is Let’s Do Organic Shredded, Unsweetened Coconut , as the taste of coconut is very faint, so it adds a hint of sweetness to recipes, without being overpowering like the fake stuff you get in the grocery store, which is too sweet and too strong. I may just buy it in bulk, as I use it so much in smoothies, power balls, my Nutty Baked Granola, and all sorts of baked goods. IMG_7664 , as the taste of coconut is very faint, so it adds a hint of sweetness to recipes, without being overpowering like the fake stuff you get in the grocery store, which is too sweet and too strong. I may just buy it in bulk, as I use it so much in smoothies, power balls, my Nutty Baked Granola, and all sorts of baked goods.

You can certainly pop these in your mouth right away, or put them in the fridge to firm up for about 30 minutes or so, and I personally think they taste even better. These hold up in the fridge, stored in a covered container, for at lesat a week or two, but guaranteed they won’t last that long.

All photos by the lovely Claire Paice. 

No Bake Lemon Macaroons
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
No bake lemon macaroons
Recipe type: Snack
Serves: 4
  • 1 cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut
  • ½ cup almond flour
  • 3 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • zest of 2-3 lemons
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • ¼ tsp vanilla
  • ⅛ tsp sea salt
  1. Combine all ingredients in bowl, and work into small 1.5 inch size balls. Roll in a shallow bowl of unsweetened shredded coconut if desired. Place on parchment lined baking sheet and freeze or refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Week In Review


swim-team-1 When I was a freshman in high school, I sort of became a bit of a wanderer. Trying to make new friends, seemingly falling into a group that my dad in particular, did not approve of. Nothing bad was going on, I was just in that typical teenage stage; moody, angsty, wannabe punk rocker. My dad sat me down one day and told me to find an extracurricular activity, or else. So I started trying out for sports, one after another. I had never done anything in all my youth, besides try ballet for a few weeks, and gymnastics ended with a fake injury.. I still remember my poor mom sitting with me in the ER for hours, waiting to get my elbow checked out, only to find that there was absolutely nothing wrong with me – I could have told them that. I was young and any time I got out of my comfort zone, felt like I couldn’t do something just right, or got to missing my mom during class, I would cry that I wanted to quit, and my mom gave in. I was never guided, or pushed into anything, therefore I never got good at anything.

So when high school came and I tried out in succession for all the sports, I inevitably failed miserably. My genetics gave me height, but I couldn’t shoot a basket to save my life, hated how much the ball stung my hand when I would set up a play in volleyball, and my swing in softball was pathetic. My best friend Rachel, who had committed herself to dance since we were 5 years old, was light years ahead of me, and I couldn’t pull off a split, so my hopes of getting involved in a different extracurricular activity besides sports, were dashed. As we went through the school year, with me trying out for each sport as the season came up, I had still not “found something.” Until Spring came and after failing to make the softball team, I tried out in the only sport that was left: track & field. While by no means was I a natural, I had long legs, and I could run, and so I did.

By my Senior year, I was no Marion Jones, but I could hold my own in my league, and I met a ton of friends, both guys and girls, and had built up a ton of confidence, running for student body office and getting involved in other clubs and activities at school. I was happy, and because of that, my parents were happy. By all accounts, I was a well-adjusted teen, with a good group of friends and too busy with sports and activities to get in trouble. While I hated my dad that day he sat me down and told me to find something, thereby subjecting me to countless hours of humiliating try-outs, I was happy in the end, that he had done that. If only they had pushed me more before, who knows?

We’re given so many mixed messages as parents today, aren’t we? Keep the kids active because they’re in front of the screen too much; don’t over-schedule, kids need time to be bored; don’t push them; we here in America push too much. It’s confusing and annoying and, unless you live in a vacuum, even the most steadfast of parents can sometimes question their course if they let in too much of the noise. In the beginning of this parenting thing, partly due to the parenting circles I was running in at the time, I fell into a little bit of the mindset of not pushing, letting the kids guide themselves, allowing them plenty of time to just be bored. Of course I understand all of that, and through those countless hours of doing nothing, I think we’ve turned out some fairly creative kids, but there comes a point when we you just have to follow your gut and know what’s best for your kid. swim-team-2

This week Taylor began a new swim team. It’s somewhat demanding, at least a big jump from her previous team, and requires 2, 2 hour practices each week, each with 1 hour of swim practice and 1 hour of “conditioning” on the beach, which includes running drills, sit-ups and push-ups.

After the first day of practice, she wept the whole way to the car, moaned the whole way home, and continued to cry off and on till bed time. Lots of talking was involved, most super positive, with just a tinge of annoyance, and at one point talk of the Navy Seals was brought up, along with discussions of personal sacrifice and dedication. Let’s just say, it was a long night.

The bottom line, we’re making Taylor stick with it, and mainly because I think she would greatly benefit, as most kids would, from the hard work, and the good feelings that come along with the dedication it takes in becoming good at something. I don’t want her to be the best at swimming, or go after Olympic dreams. She’s already a great little swimmer, and if she gets better, has fun, and learns a little bit about the work that goes into reaching the next level, I can’t help but think she’ll turn out better for it. And by the second day, she was already admitting that her new swim team wasn’t all that bad. swim-team-3

This new schedule has us out of the house more than before, and while we will still be home in time for dinner, the act of making dinner definitely needs to be done in advance, or else we’ll all be eating at 8 o’clock at night.

Enter the slow cooker. Ours we’ve had for a whopping 16 years, and it’s still going strong, although I secretly wish it would die because it’s the ugliest crock pot ever made. This resurgence in crock-pot cooking made me reach for some new cookbooks. I already own Fix and Forget It, which is totally traditional crock-pot fare. I recently thumbed through it, hoping to find some recipes that would help me out, but also follow the general guidelines of our new way of healthy eating. Let’s just say, some vegetarian recipes called for chicken or beef stock, and many, many recipes call for condensed soup.

I had America’s Test Kitchen’s Slow Cooker Revolutioncookbook a while ago, but it got ruined when a bottle of water got dumped on it. From what I remember of that book, all the recipes were delicious, as ATK takes painstaking measures to ensure all their recipes are top notch, but they involved LOADS of prep-work, which sort of defeats the whole purpose of the slow cooker. So I set out to find some new cookbooks last week, and these are the ones I ordered:

Slow Cooker Revolution Volume 2: The Easy Prep Edition This version promises to take much of the extra prep work out of the recipes, with prep work guaranteed to be 15 minutes or less. If this is true, I know this will be a winner, because anything the AMT does is amazing, and usually pretty “healthy”. So excited for this one!

Where Slow Food and Whole Food Meet To be honest I’m a little nervous about this one, since there aren’t any reviews, but I figured I’d at least thumb through it and return if it doesn’t look awesome, although it does sound right up my alley, so hopefully it will be a good one.

The New Slow Cooker I actually picked this up at Barnes & Noble yesterday, as I had gift cards from Christmas to spend and it really caught my eye. The recipes, like the original AMT slow cooker revolution, do require prep-work, but they all look and sound so good, I thought I’d try it for the days when I had a little more time. This is more of a “specialty” cookbook, not because the recipes themselves are overly complex, but many of them call for fancy, although yummy sounding, relishes and side dishes. Their whole angle with this book is that slow cookers do a great job at adding convenience to our lives, but sometimes the meat or veggies look a little sad. They offer advice in here on how to fix that; with certain techniques and by adding those “fancy” side dishes. I already have put 2 recipes on the menu for this week and will let you know how they turn out.

There are a few others I was eyeing, but I think I need to stop here, as there is no way I’ll ever be able to cook everything out of all the cookbooks I already own! But by all means, please share any other good ones you’ve tried or have heard about, as I’m sure we can all benefit from more books to add to our wish list ;)

Shopping For Real Food At Costco


IMG_7326 I can’t help but think of one of our favorite, supremely stupidly funny movies, Idiocracy, whenever I shop at Costco. It’s that en mass, everything in bulk warehouse idea, that conjures up images of flats of Coke and huge boxes of Doritos and other junk foods. But I love Costco all around; for their affordability, their awesome company values, including paying a living wage and staying closed on turkey day, and the fact that for the most part, they listen to their customers. They also keenly watch trends in the marketplace, and for the past couple of years, before I even began to pay much attention, they started bringing in more and more organically grown produce, natural products and even grass-fed meat. Even though I make it a point to try and support local farmers and farmer’s markets as much as possible, Costco, especially for a family of 5, is a fantastic way to shop and save money, and as it turns out, even a great place to shop for real food.

I definitely have a method to how I shop Costco now, and although my cart looks a lot different than it did a couple of years ago, I still manage to spend about the same amount of money there. Each time I post a photo of my cart on Instagram, readers are amazed at what the offering is. So today I thought I’d share some tips on how I shop, what I look for and what I generally tend to buy only at Costco.

Most Cosctos are generally arranged the same way, with the somewhat non-perishables on the outer perimeter, refrigerated items including meats and frozen items in the center, as well as snacks and clothing, books, and other novelty items.

The first thing I do when I enter our Costco, which is in Cypress, California by the way, is walk the outer perimeter, starting with the bread section. I buy either Dave’s Killer Bread or Alpine Valley. Next to the bread section at my Costco, are the bulk chips and snack bags of chips, so I will see what’s new and usually either get Skinny Pop, Angie’s Popcorn, or Kettle brand organic potato chips. And fine, I also pick up some wine and a case of beer too, since alcohol is right next to the chips at my Costco. IMG_7333

I then make my way towards the meat and refrigerated section. Items I always buy here are cheddar cheese, either Kerrygold or Tillamook, and I only buy our Kerrygold grass-fed butter here, as it is hands down the cheapest place to buy. I’ll see what they have in terms of fish that day, and if they have something wild and from the US, I’ll pick some up. Depending on my current inventory at home, and if I’ll be making it to another market soon, I may or may not pick up the organic chicken breasts they sell there, as they’re perfect for making chicken nuggets. But most of my chicken comes from either local places or Mary’s. I used to buy the grass-fed ground beef there too, but since I belong to a beef CSA now, I have plenty of local grass-fed beef. These organic chicken sausages were awesome and contained no added sugars, although I haven’t seen them back since buying them last month. And the Kirkland wild caught smoked salmon is so good! IMG_7335

Next to our refrigerated section, is our produce. I don’t buy a ton of produce at Costco, since we have great farmer’s markets and belong to a CSA, but I do love certain things from there and I swear they are the best. Watermelons, grapes, and cantaloupes are always perfectly sweet. They usually have some organic boxed greens I’ll pick up, and their organic 10 lb bag of carrots is a great deal, although since we got rid of our 2nd fridge, I can no longer fit them in our single fridge. The great thing about Costco is their produce is not only marked country of origin, as required by law, but because it all comes packaged, the farms and cities are usually noted on their labels as well. When produce is in season, I’ll notice that the majority of it always comes from somewhat local, California farms, so I happily purchase. Once fruits and veggies move past their season, then I’ll start noticing their origin is usually out of state or out of country, then I’ll usually skip it, unless it’s something like bananas, which you can only get out of country. The whole shopping local thing is all personal, but just wanted to share how I try to stay mindful of this, even when shopping at someplace like Costco.

Next to the produce section I visit the frozen section and if we are low, I pick up bagged organic berries, perfect for smoothie making, and a great deal. They also sometimes have things like frozen wild caught salmon, frozen organic brown rice, and a few other novelty items, but the prices on those aren’t particularly stellar, so I try not to waste valuable fridge and freezer space on those bulk items.

Drinks border our freezer and refrigerated section, so I’ll see what they have. My husband has grown addicted to Honest Tea, in his quest to kick soda, so if it’s on special I’ll pick up a case. I buy a case of organic drink boxes every few months for when we have play-dates and to put in the kid’s lunches on occasion, but mainly we just send them with water. I noticed last time that they even began carrying organic lemonade made with organic cane sugar, and it was a great price. The kids loved it. IMG_7322

The bulk foods section is where I really do some damage. There are several items in this section that I only buy at Costco, including organic maple syrup, organic olive oil, organic peanut butter and some organic grains. I always browse up and down these aisles to see what’s new, and will almost always find new or old grains to try, including quinoa and rice, oatmeal, pastas and even flaxseed meal. Since I make my own stock now, I no longer buy the Kirkland organic chicken stock, but when I did, it was always great and a good value.

Before I head out to check-out, I visit the snacks section. This is where the best ever baked apple chips are located, which only have 2 ingredients; apples and cinnamon. I occasionally buy other little packaged organic snacks, and also get Taylor the packages of seaweed, but for the most part, stick with simple. When I bring anything into the house that comes in a little package, the kids go nuts for it and I practically have to lock it up.

If you skimmed through this list, the main things I only buy at Costco include Kirkland organic maple syrup, which we use as a sugar replacement in most recipes now, Kerrygold grass-fed butter, Alpine Valley organic bread, Kirkland organic peanut butter, and Kirkland organic olive oil. These products are all great and very affordable in bulk in comparison to purchasing at a regular store.

My main advice at Costco is to not get overwhelmed, walk the perimeters and get familar with the store, and if oyu don’t see enough orgnaic or natural food options at your Costco, speak to your store manager.

Nutty Baked Granola


Nutty Baked Vegan Granola

I’ve been making Gwyneth’s simple 3 ingredient granola for over a year now, and interchanging quinoa and oats on a rotating basis. The kids love the simplicity of the oats version, and I love the earthiness of the quinoa version, and while the age old motto “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” usually runs true, I did feel like adding a little something-something to our typical plain granola, and so made this one. Plus, it seems that the plain granola goes a lot quicker, and having some add-ins helps to stretch the quantity out much more.

Truth be told I haven’t tasted a whole big chunk of this lovely stuff yet, since it does have sugar, but I did taste a pepita just to make sure it baked up well, and the little nibble I got was amazing. The kids are loving it too, and have been serving it for breakfast, as well as packing it in lunches alongside a little dipper of yogurt.
Nutty Baked Vegan Granola
To get nice big chunks, follow the same method I use for the quinoa granola, and gently press it together and down on the baking sheet, so that it forms together in one big piece. Then, when done baking, you simply break off big chunks. Of course some chunks will crumble into little pieces, but that’s okay.

Since many granola is made with butter, which requires an additional step of melting on the stove, I decided I wanted to stick with the idea from It’s All Good, of using olive oil in place of butter, which can easily be whisked with your sweetener, requiring no additional heating steps. One less thing to do is always nice in my book. Plus, using olive oil instead of butter makes it perfect for vegans, or those trying to watch their animal product intake.

Can’t wait to dig into a big bowl of this stuff soon! Baked Granola

Nutty Baked Granola
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A versatile recipe that can be made using a variety of add-ins, is vegan friendly, and can be gluten-free. Recipe adapted from 100 Days Of Real Food.
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Serves: 8
  • 3 cups rolled oats or quinoa flakes, if sensitive to oats
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • ½ cup raw pepitas
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • sea salt
  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. Mix all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl
  3. Whisk olive oil, maple syrup and vanilla in a separate bowl
  4. Combine the olive oil mixture with the dry ingredients and stir to combine
  5. Spread onto the baking sheet, pressing down so that the granola sticks together
  6. Bake for 60 to 75 minutes
  7. Allow to cool, and break granola into small and large chunks.


DIY Geometric Necklace


Geometric necklace DIY

In the summer heat I always find it a bit of a challenge to accessorize. Daunting a scarf is no-go in 101-degree temperatures. Bulky jewelry also starts to feel heavy and uncomfortable. For this summer I wanted to craft a couple quick and easy pieces of jewelry that I could wear with lots of outfits so I made this DIY geometric necklace that was so light-weight I forgot I was wearing it! It’s also very fashionable, neutral, and just overall very cool.

What you will need:

Geometric necklace DIY

– 1″ to 3/4″ wood blocks

– a drill with a drill bit big enough to fit the end of your necklace through it

– painters tape

– craft paint and a paint brush

– a necklace chain

Geometric necklace DIY

Step 1: The first step is to turn those cute little wooden blocks into beads. To drill a hole, I firmly held the block against a piece of scrap wood and drilled a hole completely through the block. For each of the blocks I drilled the hole in at a different angle so that each bead hangs at a different angle on the necklace.

Geometric necklace DIY

Step 2: Next, I wanted to add some simple details to each bead. I taped off sections of the bead at funky angles using painters tape.

Geometric necklace DIY

Geometric necklace DIY

Step 3: Then, with craft paint, I painted the taped off sections of the bead. A couple coats of paints did the trick.

Geometric necklace DIY


Step 4: Once the paint completely dried I removed all the tape, revealing clean geometric lines that make each bead unique and interesting.

Geometric necklace DIY

Geometric necklace DIY

Step 5: For the final step I simply strung the beads on my necklace chain!

Geometric necklace DIY

Geometric necklace DIY

Daily Style Holding Onto Summer


IMG_7518 Skirt – Anthropologie; Classic Button-up – J. Crew; Sandals – Red Valentino; Necklace – Anthropologie

Those who live outside of Southern California, brace yourselves for a lot of complaining from those of us who do reside here. September is when Summer really starts around here, and while some parts of upstate New York can expect to receive some snow flurries this week, we will be sweating it out in 105 degree heat. The official first day of Fall is September 23rd, but we won’t see leaves fall until at least late October. IMG_7516 IMG_7521 This means, you may still see me in some short skirts and light sundresses for a few more weeks. Consider it some outfit inspiration for next Summer.
IMG_7535 Hope you all had a great weekend, no matter what your current weather condition may be.

Week In Review


cooking-in-the-kitchen The past couple of weeks have been a turning point for me, and I finally feel like things are settling down, and I’m catching up. You don’t really grasp how different things were, until they have changed, and to see my progress in health, reduction of stress, and increase of sleep over the last couple of weeks has been awesome. I’ve been writing more extensively about what’s been going on with me, over on my Babble column, so below I share some of my most recent posts where I’ve shared my struggles and accomplishments recently. And apologies if it sounds like I’m being overly-dramatic or as someone else noted, even self-congratulatory, but I think we all struggle more with a various number of things than we ever let on in social media, and when we’ve finally turned a corner, we tend to get a little pumped.

With that being said, one of the first big steps I took towards slowing down my mind, and becoming a bit more productive, was to take Twitter and Facebook off my phone. Please note, the original title of the article was 5 Ways My Life Improved When I Took Facebook & Twitter Off My Phone. My editor changed it to I Took Facebook and Twitter Off My Phone, and I’m a Better Mom For It. Wildly different meanings and insinuations don’t you think? I was a little miffed, as the last thing this was about was making me a better mom, and the last thing I want to do is spark more mommy wars. Rest assured ladies, I’m still a flawed, imperfect, sometimes shitty mom, I just happen to be getting a few more things done these days. Consequently, I think the click-baiting title helped it to get picked up by ABC News, so what do I know about online journalism?!?

When I realized that my constant fatigue wasn’t just a case of being a mom, and how I sought to get some help.

How I Changed My Life In 14 Days. Besides taking Twitter and Facebook off my phone, I’ve done a few other small/big things that add up to big results, and I’m truly feeling better as a result of all them. Please note, my life is essentially the same, I’m just more rested and less stressed, which is I guess, sort of life-changing. Would any of these help you?

Lastly, Is The Homemade Dinner An Obsolete Concept? A recent study somewhat suggests so, but is it really time to give up the struggle to get dinner on the table? Or do we just need to find a better way?

Speaking of finding a better way, does anyone have an recommendations for a good cookbook or site that offers healthy, read no canned condensed soup, crockpot recipes? Next week, our schedules change quite a bit since Taylor will be starting swim practice and meets 3 days a week. It’s a big jump for our family and I’m thinking crockpot meals will help. Thanks in advance!

I read a lot of news articles this week, but didn’t find anything particularly juicy to share with you, but I did love this: Celebrities Read the Mean Tweets You Write. Now, if only we could all laugh out our own critics!

On my wishlist this week are 2 new books: 100 Days of Real Food and another cookbook, Danielle Walker’s Against All Grain: Meals Made Simple

In case you missed it this week, details of the 21 day cleanse I’m currently doing, on day 12 and going strong and truly feeling so much better!

Lunchbox review and questions answered, as well as plenty of ideas for healthy kid’s lunches.

Novica giveaway, 2 winners will each win a $75 Novica store credit!

Alright, back to finishing up my weekend project, switching out all the hangers in my closet to matching ones. I picked up these Real Simple” target=”_blank”>Real Simple ones from Bed, Bath and Beyond, and I looooove them! My organized inner-self is so happy!

Potato Nachos Plus A Novica Giveaway


Novica1 A few months ago, Novica reached out to me to see if I could write a few pieces for their blog, to help promote their product offering. I jumped at the opportunity because I tremendously respect what they’re doing, and the items they sell are truly beautiful. You can read in detail about Novica’s mission here, but basically, they help connect artisans from around the world, pair them a fair price for their goods, and in turn help connect them with the global marketplace. Not only does their business model help support and foster sustainable local economies around the world, but they also help to preserve artistic traditions so they don’t get buried in the sands of time. Truly awesome, awesome stuff. I was more than honored to share some of their goods with you today, and at the bottom, there will be a giveaway you can enter. And yes, Novica is affiliated with National Geographic, so even more reason to love them.

In return for my time in writing and creating posts for Novica, they gifted me a shop credit, which I was excited to apply towards some serving ware, and the clutch you saw in yesterday’s post.  I chose these beautiful dipped pieces from an artist named Victor Hugo Lopez, who specializes in hand-carved wood serving pieces. You can read each artists’ profile when you are browsing their site, and learn more about their craft, their hometown and even their family. Each piece is lovingly wrapped with care when it arrives, along with a personalized tag that tells you about each piece. Truly amazing thought and details that goes into these orders. Novica3

When my serving pieces arrived, I immediately thought “Mexican” for dinner! And so I made some potato nachos, which are really making me hungry right now considering I’m two weeks away from being able to devour this deliciousness!  Novica4

Making the potato nachos are relatively easier and somewhat healthier since you’re not using fried chips. I sliced my potatoes perfectly in an food processor which made my life a lot easier, but you can cut these into steak wedges and they would work just as well. Simply toss with some olive oil, salt and pepper, and then bake at 400 for about 15 minutes. I like to set the broiler on high and let them brown up just a bit, for about 2-3 minutes, being careful not to burn them. Novica5

Serve alongside standard nachos toppings like lettuce, tomato, cheese and salsa for a meatless Monday version, or add some sliced chicken or ground beef to make this a heartier meal, but really the vegetarian option is plenty filling on account of the potatoes. Novica6 The generous people at Novica are offering my readers a giveaway. 2 winners will receive a gift credit to Novica, valued at $75 each. To enter, simply follow the prompts below, and I’ll announce the winner next Friday September 19th. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Daily Style – 20th High School Reunion


IMG_7385 Dress – Nordstrom; Shoes – Shoemint Faith; Clutch – Novica

A few weeks ago I attended my 20th class reunion. I wasn’t entirely sure what to wear since it wasn’t going to be much more than a cocktail hour, and wanted to look nice but didn’t want to overdress, or look like I was trying too hard. So I landed on this dress I got a few months ago for my birthday and felt just fine. I think it was a good sign of maturity that I didn’t feel the need to buy something new, even though I did try on a few things, nothing was cute enough to justify a purchase of another dress when I already had this cute one at home. IMG_7393 IMG_7409 I styled it a bit differntly with newish heels and a clutch I received from Novica last month. I love the clutch and the concept of Novica and what they’re doing over there. I’ll share more tomorrow about this division of National Geographic, as well as a recipe and giveaway, so please visit back tomorrow. IMG_7394 Happy Wednesday, it feels good to be back here again on a regular basis. Three posts already this week, who am I?!? IMG_7404

The Great Lunchbox Debate


lunch-6 I’m convinced that finding the “perfect” lunchbox for kid’s school lunches is the same as finding the perfect stroller; perfect doesn’t exist so you just try to find the best one out there. I embarrassingly spent a lot of time this summer reviewing several different lunchbox systems before I took the plunge and invested in a Planetbox. Before doing so, we had been using Ziploc bags for a couple of years, and then last year we used the Easy Lunchboxes and the Goodbyn. I wanted more of a bento style system though, so my search began. If you want a quick breakdown of all the most widely used systems by weight, size, and how much each holds, visit Wendolonia’s site, as that’s the first thing I did. For a breakdown of how each works though, with the positives and negatives, read on.

We have 3 systems, and all are great, with the Planetbox leading the pack, followed by Easy Lunchboxes and then the Goodbyn. I try to keep the kid’s lunches simple each day and don’t do elaborate animal faces and other food art, but do go for variety, as I notice the kids eat more and better with a nice variety. No doubt about it, the food just looks more appealing to their senses than a smooshed up sandwich in a bag, even though they may taste the same. I feel like these kids are like pampered royalty sometimes, considering the lunches I grew up with, but since they don’t buy lunch, never have and have zero interest in it, I figure I may as well make the best of the situation. Read on for a review and breakdown of each system.

Planetbox Rover
The creme de la creme of lunchboxes, I’ll start with the positives before I give the honest downsides of this behemoth.
Positives: Made of stainless steel so it lasts for years as confirmed by countless reviews, has no questionable plastics, for those still concerned about non-BPA plastic, essentially good for the planet all around. Compartments are a great portion size for preschool through elementary kids, and larger compartment containers allow for bigger servings for adults, as I found the lunch I packed for myself to be a bit small. The lid pretty much locks everything into place so food doesn’t jumble together, although it makes no claims to be leak-proof. Still, food stays pretty well intact and therefore remains looking nice and fresh, and appealing to kids. I can confirm that my own kids are eating more of their lunches than they ever did before just because the foods don’t touch (Syd has a real issue with this), and they remain looking pretty! Several compartments also means you can offer a lot of variety, which also has a lot to do with why kids tend to eat more. For the most part, the flat and long ice pack sold separately work quite well at keeping the Planetbox nice and cold, and the lunchbox carrier, also sold separately, is pretty slim lined and fits inside both my kid’s small and larger size backpacks. lunch-3

Negatives: The Planetbox is definitely an investment, as it’s pricey. Once you buy the lunch holder and ice pack, you’re in about $60. I tried 3 other standard size lunch pails we have here at home, and none of them fit the odd size of the Planetbox. I’m sure you can search high and low, and find one, but it would probably be large and bulky, so I shelled out the additional $10 for the lunch pail. The thing is heavy too, so if you’ve got really little ones, they may have some trouble transporting the thing! It weighs almost 4 pounds with the food and ice pack inside, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but for little kids it packs a punch. I just had to order Taylor a rolling backpack because in 4th grade she is so bogged down with books she couldn’t carry it all ha! As far as size goes, it is slim lined so they fit into one of our drawers stacked on top of each other, but if space is an issue, this might be a hindrance. The bit and little dippers the Rover comes with are great for separating out foods and limiting “cross contamination” for the really picky kids, but they are awkward and a pain to open, I fumble with them continuously. And they each come with a silicone ring to help keep them somewhat leak proof, and they always manage to fall into the kids food, or I can’t get the dang thing out of the little one especially. If it falls into Syd’s applesauce or hummus, he’s done, won’t touch it, but Taylor doesn’t care. IMG_7688

Overall Review:
While the Planetbox is expensive and bulky, if you can swing it, it’s a great investment, as I have noticed a remarkable difference in how much food my kids eat, and the variety. Clean up, despite the annoying little dipper, is a breeze, and I’m amazed at how cool the food stays, since my kid’s lunches sit outside until lunch time. However, if you’re concerned about cost and price, read below for a couple of other good options. lunch1

Similar to the Ziploc containers, these are a bit more slim lined and come with different colored lids to help keep track of kid’s lunches, I’ve been very happy with our Easy Lunchboxes and was surprised to see them hold up so well over the school year last year. lunch-9

Positives: First off, these containers are affordable, making them a huge plus in my book! I love that these containers are stackable, therefore great if you’ve got limited space. The lids are color-coded, which if you’re packing several kid’s lunches at once, and they all have something different, you can easily keep track of them. There’s not a lot of little compartments, but the one large compartment can easily be modified with inserting silicone baking cups, or the EasyLunchboxes “Mini-Dippers” , which at 2.5 ounces, hold a good amount of liquid or a few berries/raisins, etc. The whole system is leak-proof, including the small little dippers, and the lids are really easy to remove, although don’t pop off easily. Because these containers are plastic, I find that they don’t stay quite as cold as I’d like them to, even with an ice pack, so foods like string cheese wither pretty quickly, even in cooler weather, but overall they do okay for regular sandwiches and produce items. Because of the one large compartment, these are also good for adult lunches, making them a nice system for the whole family to share. And as I said above, ours are over a year old and still going strong. Also, all parts are machine washable, top rack only, and they fit into most standard lunch pails.IMG_7691 , which at 2.5 ounces, hold a good amount of liquid or a few berries/raisins, etc. The whole system is leak-proof, including the small little dippers, and the lids are really easy to remove, although don’t pop off easily. Because these containers are plastic, I find that they don’t stay quite as cold as I’d like them to, even with an ice pack, so foods like string cheese wither pretty quickly, even in cooler weather, but overall they do okay for regular sandwiches and produce items. Because of the one large compartment, these are also good for adult lunches, making them a nice system for the whole family to share. And as I said above, ours are over a year old and still going strong. Also, all parts are machine washable, top rack only, and they fit into most standard lunch pails. lunch-8

Negatives: While made of BPA free plastic, some may still have some concerns about the plastic breaking down over time, and the plastic can hold the scent of strong smelling foods for a period of time. The only other real drawback for me and these lunchboxes, is that the main compartment is too large, so if I want to pack more of a variety, I have to use a couple of more containers, which is more stuff to wash, but it’s not the end of the world.  lunch-4

Overall Review:
I would say if you’re interested in trying out more bento style lunches, and need some new containers for the family, this is a good place to start, as you can test the waters for not a lot of dough. Make sure to get a set of the EasyLunchboxes “Mini-Dippers” though.

Goodbyn Bynto Food Container

Positives: Brightly colored and made of really sturdy BPA plastic, these are affordable lunch box options for both kids and adults, as the 3 compartment system holds plenty of food. They also sell little Goodbyn Stickers
to help customize each lunchbox, and recently started selling insert containers to make these more of a bento style lunch box. They’ve held up nicely over the last year, although we admittedly don’t use them as much as our other lunch box systems. These are pretty leak-proof, the foods don’t touch and stay in place, and these are dishwasher safe, top rack only. lunch-7 lunch-5

Negatives: The individual containers are pretty large, holding too much food for my kids really. I’ve solved this problem by using separate inserts and such, but it adds up to a lot of washing of little parts. The lids are sort of cumbersome, as they’re hard to really get on good, you need to give them a good push on all sides to get them to pop close. The containers, while they fit into one another, don’t collapse down as you can see, so they aren’t great for saving space, as 2 Goodbyns are taller than 4 Easy Lunchboxes. They are also somewhat big, and while they do fit into our Garnet Hill lunch pails, it’s a tight fit and we can’t squeeze anything else in there, so they may not fit into all lunch pails. I really wanted to love these ones, but I just don’t. IMG_7692

Overall Review:
While many people love this container, it’s not our favorite, but is certainly a sturdy and affordable option, especially for older kids who naturally eat a lot more and don’t care much about a variety of pretty foods all separated in neat little containers.

There’s a myriad of other options out there. The Yumbox Leakproof Bento Lunch Box Container looks amazing! The original bento style system is affordable, compact and leak-proof, holding a variety of foods for young kids. It holds less than the Planetbox, making it ideal for younger children, but I’ve ordered one just to try it out. Their new Panino system looks great for older kids though.

Overall, the kids love their Planetbox, I just wish it wasn’t so dang heavy and expensive. If you know your kids will love this kind of lunch and have had your eye on the system but have been hesitant, I would say go for it; it’s an investment but it really does make packing lunches kind of fun, if that’s even possible. And the kids actually take a greater interest in packing it than they ever did with our other lunch boxes.

But, if you’re not sure if it would get much use, try a less expensive option like the Easy Lunchboxes or the Yumbox Leakproof Bento Lunch Box Container
. My kids only eat lunch from home, and have never even bought at school, nor do they want to, so we’re in this thing for the long haul, might as well make it fun and as easy as possible.

I hope this review helps and answers a lot of questions, if I’ve missed one, leave a comment and I’ll add it in!