Summer Reading Update

11 Jul

The little one didn’t read very much last week.  :(

Just a few library books and one of her favorite books from home, Everyday Bento by Wendy Thorpe Copley.

We both just love that book and Camryn reads it all the time. In fact, she’s been reading it every night for the past few days. I think she has some ideas from the book marked for me to reproduce which is great because my brain is still fried from the school year.

Everyday Bento is a great book for anyone who wants to get started packing bentos but isn’t interested in anything super complicated or time-consuming.

Also, if you’ve never been to Wendy’s site, finish up this post and then go check it out!

Here’s what Camryn read last week:

 

 

 

 

8 Jul

cuddle palz

 

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you already know how much I love CuteZCute products. The Animal Friends and the Animal Palz have been featured many times because they’re cute, easy to use, easy to clean, practically indestructible, and most importantly – they’re affordable!

That’s why I’m super excited to be able to share the newest addition to the CuteZCute family with you today, Cuddle Palz!

 

Cuddle Palz

 

Cuddle Palz can be used to cut or stamp bread, meats, cheeses, fondant, cookie dough, pie dough, fruits, veggies, fruit leather, tortillas, and so many other things.  You can mix and match the cutters and stamps to create over forty different combinations!

And when you’re done, Cuddle Palz can be washed on the top rack of your dishwasher. Hooray for easy clean up!

There’s so much you can do with this set. I just love it.

I used the koala cutter to make Cam’s lunch today. I showed her the handy dandy combination guide (that can be downloaded and printed out from the Cuddle Palz web page) and let her choose what she wanted. She asked if her koala could be doing a hand stand just like the one pictured and I was happy to oblige because the body cutter makes it so easy.

We used the cute koala pick in her bento today as a food pick but it can also be used to help you remove the small cut-outs from the cutters. We like multitaskers!

Camryn was even able to use our new Cuddle Palz sandwich cutters to make her dad a tiger sandwich. She had a little trouble getting the edges of the bread nice and smooth at first, but once I showed her the “push and wiggle trick” she was good to go and now she’s pretty much a pro. ;)

So if you’re looking for a fun way to spruce up your kids’ lunches in a hurry, I highly recommend Cuddle Palz.

I also think Cuddle Palz would make a great gift as well as a fun party or play date activity for little ones.

Want to learn more about Cuddle Palz? No problem. Just click here.

Want to see Cuddle Palz in action? Here you go.

Cuddle Palz and other CuteZCute products are available on amazon.com and from my favorite bento goodies website, allthingsforsale.com.

 

 

 

5 Jul

 

Up until just a few days ago, I had never in all my thirty-something years, eaten a fresh apricot.

I know. Crazy.

I’ve had the little dried ones that come in a snack mix of this sort or the other, but I’ve never, for whatever reason, eaten a fresh one.

There is an awesome family run produce store just across the street from us that has lots of local and organic produce and they arrange it in such a lovely way that you can’t help but walk out of that place with bags filled to the brim with produce even if you only went in for a tomato.

As I was shopping last week I came across a pretty wicker basket full of apricots.

Apricots were most definitely not on my list but they looked so cute piled high in that basket that I soon found myself tossing four of them into my giant long-handled wheely basket which I never should have had in the first place because I only needed a few things.

I’m ridiculous.

Fast forward about half an hour or so and I’m back in my kitchen soaking berries in vinegar water and cutting up produce for the week when I remembered my four little apricots.

Since I hadn’t made any plans for what to do with them, I figured I’d just eat them as they were. Maybe later I’d cut them up and add them to my fruit salad or maybe I’d freeze some for smoothies. I was optimistic. The sky was the limit!

Yeah, no.

Apricots are mealy, ya’ll.

What I mean is, the texture isn’t great.

Maybe I got a bad one or it wasn’t ripe enough. I have no idea but I tried it and it was not for me.

However, I’m not one to back down from a challenge and I hate throwing food away so I left the other three in my crisper until I could figure out how to use them in a way that didn’t gross me out.

It took a few days but the conclusion I finally came to was to halve them, sprinkle sugar on them, throw them in the oven, and roast them until dark and caramelized on top.

Much better.

Those roasted apricots made a darn fine parfait and I’d imagine they’d make an even better ice cream topping. They’d also be great on top of cottage cheese, with brie on toasted bread, or with a little whipped cream.

Here are the handy instructions in case you find yourself with some apricots or other lackluster stone fruit that you need to use up. ♥

 

Roasted Apricot Parfait w/ Chai Spiced Almonds

For the chai spiced almonds:

12 oz. raw almonds

3 tbsp granulated sugar

3 tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ginger

pinch of cloves

1 large egg white

1/2 tsp vanilla

sea salt

First, you’ll need to make the almonds because they need to hang out in the oven for a bit. Speaking of your oven, go ahead and preheat that thing to 300° F and spray a baking sheet with non stick spray or line it with parchment or a silicone liner.

In a large bowl, combine the sugars, spices, and a good pinch of sea salt. Once your spice blend is well combined, go ahead and taste a bit. Not spicy enough? Add a little more cinnamon and/or ginger. Not sweet enough? Add a little more sugar. Be careful though, a little can go a long way here so add in small increments until your spice blend is just right.

You could also add ground cardamom, coriander, white pepper, and/or nutmeg. Seriously, go nuts. Just remember to taste and make sure your spice blend is just right before you move on from this point.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg white until it forms very soft peaks (white and super frothy) and add the vanilla. Whisk again to combine.

Pour the egg/vanilla mixture over the nuts and toss lightly to coat. Add the spices and toss again to coat.

Once all the nuts are coated, spread them out evenly on the baking sheet and pop them in the oven for 15 minutes, stir, and then put them back in the oven for another 10 minutes. Let the nuts cool completely and then bag them up. Or chop up a handful and toss them into a parfait!

For the roasted apricots:

Halve and pit 2-3 apricots per parfait. Place on a roasting pan pit-side up. Sprinkle with granulated sugar and slide into the oven once the broiler is nice and hot.

Once the tops begin to bubble and turn brown, remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Chop into bite sized pieces when cool enough to handle.

Now, just layer a little yogurt, a little granola, some chopped roasted apricots, and the chai spiced nuts into a bowl or glass and you’re good to go!

 

 

 

 

Summer Reading Update

22 Jun

Hi all!

Just popping in to share what Camryn read over this past week.

She is still reading The Cabin Faced West which is the very last book on her Mensa Excellence in Reading Challenge list but since it isn’t finished, I didn’t include it here.

I’ll be so glad when she is finished with that book, it’s not a very exciting read. She has twelve pages to go so I’m hoping she finishes it up tonight so we can all move on with our lives.

Here are the eight library books that Camryn read last week:

 

Her favorite of this group was The Terrible Plop. She said it was pretty funny and thinks that your kids might like it too.

Summer Reading Update

16 Jun

We’ve been on summer break since June 4th, which means that we’ve been sleeping in, hanging out in stretchy pants (okay, so that’s mostly me doing that) going to various parks in our area, and having one on one lunch dates with the kids.

I haven’t made a single cutesy lunch and frankly, I’m good with it.

Towards the end of every school year I tend to get what I like to call ‘bento burn out’ and my brain  just cannot come up with one more cute thing to put into a lunch box.

Even Cam’s last day of school lunch was pretty lame to say the least. I’m pretty sure that I just tossed in whatever leftovers we had hanging out in the fridge that needed to be used up.

All that being said, I don’t have any cute lunches to share. :(

However, as far as our reading challenge goes, I can report that so far Camryn has read the following 12 books:

 

In no particular order of importance

1. Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater

2. Horrid Henry’s Joke Book by Francesca Simon

3. My Mama Says There Aren’t Any Zombies, Ghosts, Vampires, Creatures,  Demons, Monsters, Fiends, Goblins, or Things by Judith Viorst

4. Leo Geo by Jon Chad

5. Ripley’s Believe It or Not Animal Antics by Ripley Publishing

6. Millions, Billions, and Trillions Understanding Big Numbers by David A. Adler

7. Really, Really Big Questions: About Life, The Universe, and Everything by Dr. Stephen Law

8. Open This Little Book by Jesse Klausmeier

9. Tib & Tumtum #2: My Amazing Dinosaur by Grimaldi

10. Bone by Bone: Comparing Animal Skeletons by Sara Levine

11. Wow! I Didn’t Know That: Surprising Facts About Animals

12. The Great Lollipop Caper by Dan Krall

 

 

 

 

Her favorite books out of those 12 were: Tib & Tumtum, Open This Little Book, and Bone by Bone. She highly recommends those three.

What about your kids? Have they read any good books lately?

If so, feel free to share. We always like getting book recommendations.

 

 

 

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