Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Our Little Squirrel-Lovin' Girl

I'm not sure exactly how or when it started, but Pretty Little Bare Feet has become quite interested in squirrels in the last couple months.

She had been noticing squirrels outside her bedroom window, & pointing them out when we took walks in our neighborhood.

Then she was ohsodelighted when I bought her this little orange smocked squirrel bishop dress.

& her current favorite pair of "big girl" unmentionables are from Gymboree: bright orange&yellow with a little squirrel on them.

Most recently, Pretty Little Bare Feet has spent the last two afternoons narrating her own little documentary

(which I've been overhearing on the downstairs monitor),

about the little "Squirrel Mommy" that has been posted on a branch just outside her bedroom window.

Now I must admit that the Squirrel Mommy was adorable, with all her little squirrel babies nestled up on the branch with her. But good grief, the mind of a two-year-old

(aaa, she's almost three!)

never ceases to amaze me. Only the blissful freedom of youth could provide one with the awe&patience to stare at a barely-moving critter

(okay, & its barely-moving young, too)

for that amount of time. Absolutely precious...but I do hope that maybe Pretty Little Bare Feet will nap this afternoon, since our little squirrel family has apparently relocated to another branch, out of our sight.

Anyway, inspired by Pretty Little Bare Feet's latest fixation, I just thought I'd share...squirrels are cute! ;)

(via: eBay)

Apparently once upon a time, there was a Lilly Pulitzer squirrel pattern for Minnies!

Squirrel Tee in Mustard Yellow at Crazy 8

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pretty Little Bare Feet's Palate: I LOVE Lunch-Packing!

Recently, I posted on Facebook about how much I enjoy lunch-packing. I was delighted to find that several of my friends - & not all of them mamas! - are just as invested in trying to create more exciting, healthy lunches, whether for their children or for themselves.

I am (& pretty much always have been) admittedly a bit on the OCD side when it comes to


(See? I just alphabetized that list...I almost ALWAYS do that!)

So it should come as no surprise that one of my most recent projects came about from adding "lunch-packing" for Pretty Little Bare Feet to my already somewhat "over-detailed" meal-planning. I began packing lunches for Pretty Little Bare Feet last summer, when she attended camp sessions that lasted through lunch. Now I get to pack her lunch for nursery school four days a week! =)

I would be embarrassed to actually let anybody besides My Prince see my .docx for lunch-planning!

(That would really give away how neurotic I am, & I do try to limit my *many, many, many* crazy lists to my own crazy eyes. ;))

But since I was so excited to learn that so many others are at least interested in lunch-packing...

(if not also a bit off-the-deep-end detailed about it!)

...I would *LOVE* to share with y'all some of my favorite resources for creative, healthy lunchbox ideas - that are almost always well-eaten!
Pretty Little Bare Feet tends to always eat

a small breakfast,
an average-sized(?) morning snack,
a really big lunch,
a small afternoon snack,
& then a puny supper.

So I take advantage of that by putting as much "good stuff" as I can into her lunch every day (even at home!). I also realize how much she enjoys the "dining environment" of unpacking her own lunch & sharing a table with a friend in her classroom - things that motivate her to dig into whatever I pack for her.

Great Blogs, Facebook Pages, Websites, etc. for Lunchbox Ideas:
(including their blog, the Family Kitchen)

(Pretty much all of those also have Facebook pages linked from their blogs/websites.)


Brown Bag Success by Sandra K. Nissenberg
Lunch Boxes & Snacks by Annabel Karmel
Lunch Lessons by Ann Cooper
My Lunch Box by Hilary Karmilowicz

I've never really given Pretty Little Bare Feet a lot of choices when it comes to eating.

For the most part,
she eats what she's served,
or she doesn't eat again until the next meal
(or snack).

But I even enjoyed making her baby food homemade, so she's been trying different foods since she was a baby & has a pretty adventurous palate most of the time.

Pretty Little Bare Feet's Montessori nursery school also encourages "good" lunch-packing. They ask that parents pack nutritious lunches, even if there is doubt that the child is going to eat all of it. They also advise that letting children help plan their own lunches provides a good opportunity to talk with them about nutrition. We follow their guidelines of

no chocolate;
no nuts;
(we love SunButter!);
no sweets;
only 100% fruit juice;

The teachers rewrap any leftover food & put it back in the lunchbox, so I always know what Pretty Little Bare Feet does or does not eat! & her teachers are always happy to microwave lunch items for a few seconds, if requested.

(So helpful!)

I use Easy Lunchboxes bentos inside Pretty Little Bare Feet's lunchbox:

They are awesome, & they fit PERFECTLY in Pretty Little Bare Feet's adorable Stephen Joseph lunchbox:

Here are some of Pretty Little Bare Feet's recent lunches:

banana, quesadilla, tomato salsa

(To make that quesadilla, I folded a single whole wheat flour tortilla in half; added a bit of grated cheddar cheese on the bottom to act as glue against the tortilla, canned black beans [rinsed&drained], finely chopped red peppers, finely chopped purple onion, cilantro, & a bit more grated cheddar cheese on top; cooked in a dry skillet over medium-high heat until the cheese melted; & cut into wedges. I use this recipe for fresh tomato salsa.)

hummus wrap, macaroni salad, strawberries, tangerine

(To make a hummus wrap, I fill a wrap with avocado, hummus, shredded lettuce, & tomato. I use Paula Deen's recipe for macaroni salad. The strawberries are kind of hidden under the tangerine in the photo, but they were there!)

apple, quesadilla, sour cream

(To make this quesadilla, I used two whole wheat flour tortillas, filled sandwich-style with a bit of grated monterey Jack cheese on the bottom, finely chopped tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms, cooked chicken, & a bit of monterey Jack cheese on top; added a slick of olive oil to the skillet for a crispy exterior; cooked over medium-high heat until the cheese melted; & cut into wedges.)

carrots, pinto bean dip, potato salad, Stacy's simply naked pita chips

(To make healthy pinto bean dip, I puree 1/2 cup chopped kale & two tablespoons olive oil in a food processor; add a well rinsed can of pinto beans, two tablespoons tahini, zest of one lemon, & a small clove of garlic; pulse a few more times; & add salt, pepper, & two tablespoons lemon juice. I use the Barefoot Contessa's recipe for potato salad.)

broccoli & cheese sauce, fried rice, honey-glazed carrots, smoked salmon

(To make these easy honey-glazed carrots, I brought 1 1/2 quarts of water to a boil in a medium saucepan; added five cups Bolthouse Farms carrot chips; cooked for twenty minutes; drained well; placed carrots in a large bowl with three tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, two tablespoons honey, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind, & 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper; & tossed gently. I use Taste of Home recipes for broccoli with cheese sauce, & instant fried rice.)

corn & butter sauce, hummus, kiwi, Stacy's simply naked pita chips

broccoli & cheese sauce, honey-glazed carrots, SunButter & strawberry jam sandwich on Food for Life sprouted bread

corn niblets, hummus with lemon juice, pineapple, Stacy's simply naked pita chips

ham, lettuce, & tomato sandwich on Food for Life sprouted bread; Parmesan Goldfish crackers; raspberry Buddy Fruits

Campbell's double noodle soup, Parmesan Goldfish crackers, V8 V-Fusion Concord grape raspberry juice

Amy's organic minestrone soup; fruit salad with honeydew melon, pineapple, & watermelon; mayonnaise & red pepper sandwich on Food for Life sprouted bread

Baked Naturals cheese crisps, cheese cubes, inside-out caramel apple, spinach leaves, tuna

(You can find the recipe for the inside-out caramel apple here. Because I am pretty consistent about packing healthy, nutritious lunches, the teachers don't mind if I slip some caramel in with the fruit once every couple months or so. ;) I mean, they have parents sending in icky Gogurt!)

(& by the way, that is what the inside-out caramel apple looked like before I had to cut it up to fit into the bento!)

ham; oranges, pineapple, & strawberries; vegetable&oatmeal bread

(To make the *divine* vegetable&oatmeal bread, I used this Mark Bittman recipe. For this particular batch, I used raw, grated zucchini. Since Pretty Little Bare Feet's classroom is nut-free, I substitute oatmeal browned in a little bit of butter.)

& some other lunchbox "staples" we love:

barley with mushrooms&spinach

(Heat two teaspoons olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat; add one cup chopped onion, 1/2 teaspoon chopped dried rosemary, & three minced garlic cloves; sauté three minutes; add eight cups sliced mushrooms; cook eight minutes, stirring occasionally; stir in 3/4 cup uncooked quick-cooking barley & a can of fat-free less-sodium beef broth; bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, & simmer fifteen minutes; add eight cups bagged baby spinach leaves, three tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese, & 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper; cover & cook two minutes, stirring frequently.)

ice cream cone sandwiches

(recipe here)

mountains&forest sandwiches

(recipe here)

rocketship sandwiches

(recipe here)

(& yes, I do realize that I am a bit more fanatical about lunch-packing/meal-planning than is probably considered normal. ;))