Back to School Lunch Ideas with Free Printable Lunchbox Notes

I was asked by Caruseleto participatein the #SimplyNice campaign, sponsored by Walgreens. Although I have been compensated, all opinions are my own.

Back to school mean back to packing lunches and snacks. If you are anything like me, you are always trying to find things the kids will eat or ways to make lunchtime fun so that the kids will eat. And not only eat but eat well. This is the hard part, especially because most families are very busy and on the go. But I have found some things to start off this school year’s lunch packing off in a great way! Recently in Walgreens I found Nice!® products.

Nice!® products are conveniently available at Walgreens, making stocking up a snap. Plus, Nice!® foods taste great, feature better-for-you ingredients, and have transparent nutrition labelingon the front of every package, so you can feel good about buying delicious snacks from a brand you can trust! 

I let my kids go through the store and pick the items they wanted in their lunches. They only eat what tastes good to them, so they have to be the ones to choose. Luckily, I know that Nice! foods deliver uncompromised quality and taste and offer a range of healthier products that nourish the body, and delicious treats that elevate the spirits.

Nice! foods are conveniently labeled across the top of every package with nutritional information, so it is easy to see what is included in their products and also how many calories per serving. Nice! offers balanced food and beverages that tastes great and with ingredients you can feel good about. Nice! has no PHO’s, no trans fats and striving to use real ingredients and reducing artificial ingredients, they even offer organic varieties. And did I mention FOR LESS? Nice! foods are easy on your grocery budget…and even discounted with Walgreens store promotions.

We left Walgreens with a cart full of Nice! snacks such as yogurt covered pretzels, nut and trail mix, sea salt popcorn, veggie chips, beef jerky, cheese sticks, apple sauces and waters. There was so much to choose from and the kids were excited to have all this yummy food for their school lunches and snacks.

When it comes to lunch packing, I have a system down to make life easier and SAVE TIME. I make all the kid’s sandwiches at the beginning of the week and put them in individual baggies. That means I only have to make sandwiched once a week. Woo who!!! Then, i take all the snacks and sides and put them in baskets, so that the are easily accessible for the kids. Each day, they make their own lunches by grabbing one of the sandwiches I made and adding all the snacks they like to their lunches. When they are done, I double check what they packed and send them on their way.

Also, to add a little bit of fun to my kids lunchtime, I created these fun little printable lunch notes with cheesy jokes on them. Lunchtime is not their favorite time of the day…they’d rather be playing a recess than eating. So I am hoping these jokes give them something to look forward to, and the new Nice!® snack entice them to get their tummies full to feel them through their busy day.

I have included the link to these free printable lunchbox notes here for your own personal use. Just download and print!

I wish all you parents a happy Back-to-School season and happy lunch packing. I know so many parents who dread this part of back to school. Hopefully with this inspiration and some Nice!@ products, lunch packing will be a bit easier.

Easy Tomato, Egg and Hummus Breakfast Sandwiches

This is a sponsored post.

I have written about our family’s love for Bays® English Muffins before. We’ve been hooked on them, and now will only buy Bays English Muffins. They have such a great fresh taste and once toasted, they are filled with crispy edges that are so good…especially when filled with melted butter.

If you aren’t familiar with Bays English Muffins, don’t go looking for them in the bread aisle. Look in the REFRIGERATED DAIRY CASE NEXT TO THE EGGS AND MILK. There are sourdough, multi-grain and cinnamon raisin varieties of Bays English Muffins, so the options are endless.

Lately, my youngest has been demanding Bays English Muffins for every meal. So I have been trying to change things up and create new recipes to enjoy them with. They are perfect for on the go…and can be filled with anything you’d like. My last post about Bays English Muffins included a recipe for Egg Cloud English Muffins. It isn’t difficult to make, but does take some time. For this post, I wanted to share a super easy on-the-go recipe.

check this out…

Easy Tomato, Egg and Hummus Breakfast Sandwiches

We go to the farmer’s market every week and there is always fresh hummus for sale. So many different varieties, that I end up buying at least three different flavors. I am always looking for ways to use up all the hummus we buy. You can use any flavor you’d like with this recipe. We also get tomatoes at the farmer’s market which are especially tasty! Soon we will have our own ready to pick in our garden.

To make these east tomato, egg and hummus breakfast sandwiches, you will need to start by toasting and buttering one Bays English Muffin. This will make two open faced sandwiches. Not going to lie…I can eat them both!

Next, spread hummus on each half of the English Muffin. Top each half with a tomato slice or cherry tomato halves.

Cut the hard boiled eggs in half and place two halves on each English Muffin.

Finally, garnish with salt and pepper and chopped cilantro. Everyone will love them!

Trust me, Bays English Muffins are worth a try. Next time you are getting some eggs are milk, check your grocery dairy case and try a pack. You’ll have to try all the Bays English muffin varieties. While I prefer the plain, my youngest is cinnamon raisin all the way.

And in the meantime, here is the printable Easy Tomato, Egg and Hummus Breakfast Sandwich Recipe and a short video at the end.

Easy Tomato, Egg and Hummus Breakfast Sandwich Recipe

1 Bays English Muffins
2 Hard boiled egg per sandwich
2 Tomato slices or 5 cherry tomatoes sliced in half
1 Tbsp Hummus
Salt & Pepper
Chopped Cilantro
Makes 2 open faced sandwiches.

Toast and butter one Bays English Muffin. Next, spread hummus on each half of the English muffin. Top each half with a tomato slice or cherry tomato halves. Cut the hard boiled eggs in half and place two halves on each English Muffin. Garnish with salt and pepper and chopped cilantro. Enjoy!

Check out this Easy Egg Cloud English Muffin Recipe Video…the then head over here to make theses too! Egg Cloud English Muffins

{Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. }

Teaching Kids to Be Independent

This post is sponsored by CHOC Children’s

Our goal as parents is to raise our children to be independent and eventually be able to run a household of their own. But how do you do that? Are there specific things parents should be doing to ensure their children learn independence? Teaching my kids to be independent is very important to me, however I admit that I am not sure I am doing enough or even doing it right. They certainly didn’t give me a manual on how to do this when I brought my kids home from the hospital. I recently had the opportunity to chat with Dr. Katherine Williamson, a CHOC Children’s pediatrician, to discuss ways to teach children to be independent. She gave me some great advice and ideas that can help in our everyday lives in raising our kids.

When Should You Start Teaching Kids to Be Independent?

Dr. Williamson stressed to me that there is no specific age when parents should start to teach children to be independent. Teaching them independence happens naturally at a very young age. Toddlers begin learning independence simply by watching their parents and caretakers. When you see your child mimicking you, they are actually learning how to be independent, and children LOVE to learn. Make routines for the morning, like use the bathroom, get dressed and eat breakfast. And for the evening, the routine could be take a bath, brush your teeth and read a story. Finally, as soon as your child is ready, encourage independence in dressing and bathing themselves. 

Doing Chores Teaches Children Independence 

Doing chores is one of the best ways to teach children independence and how to take care of themselves, Dr. Williamson says. Chores help kids feel empowered…this is a good thing! Don’t get hung up on making kids do chores just for the sake of doing them. Make sure that the chores they are doing have a purpose and accomplish a goal. Dr. Williamson reminds parents that chores should never interfere with eating, sleeping, playtime, homework, or school.

Toddlers – they are too young to have specific chores, but they can definitely follow along as little sidekicks and help their parents or siblings. Teach them fun little songs as you are working to keep them engaged and excited. It is important to involve toddlers in the family development and let them be part of the household.

Elementary-aged kids – begin with simple tasks such as feeding the pets, picking up toys, cleaning their rooms, putting away clothes and shoes, surface cleaning – anything that is simple. Make sure the things they are helping with don’t involve items that are too heavy for them or involve chemicals. Have them help you do things like sweeping, dusting or setting the table. Make sure to have fun. You can sing songs and make tasks into games to teach kids that “working” doesn’t have to be awful.

Tweens and Teens – chores at this age should continue to be intentional. Chores can be more encompassing and increase in quantity and length. Keep in mind that they still shouldn’t interfere with eating, sleeping, school or homework.

Being a Friend Teaches Independence

Your child can start learning to be a good friend as young as 3-4 years old. They learn about sharing, empathy and also that all people act differently. As they progress into elementary age, they will experience fun times as well as arguments and hurt feelings. This is where you can teach them ways to stay calm when things don’t go their way and also tell them what they can say or do to solve the problem.

It can be tempting for parents to try to solve problems between their own kids and others by talking with the other child’s parent. But try instead to guide your child to solve problems themselves. Encourage them to do as you taught them first before getting involved. Stand close by and watch as the children solve their problem. Being close by puts the children on their best behaviors. This is how children begin to develop the confidence and skills to communicate honestly, calmly, and politely with others.

Communicating with your Child Teaches Independence 

Children feel important when adults take the time to talk with them. Try to talk often and about many things with your children. This will help them gain self-confidence. Ask about friendships and the activities that your child enjoys. Ask them about the best part and worst part of their day and tell them about yours. Let your child know that it’s OK to have and talk about negative feelings. This will teach your child that it is normal have ups and downs.

Keeping children safe is an important job for parents. So, make sure to talk to your child about safety in terms of interacting with other adults, Dr. Williamson says. They need to be careful and know what is OK and NOT OKAY for other adults to ask and do to them. Start a conversation with your child about different safety issues such as coming to you if they aren’t sure of something, that there are NO secrets, that certain parts of the body are private, and that if they get separated from you to find a security guard, police officer or another mommy to help them.

Why it is Important to Teach Children to be Independent

When your child is allowed to be independent, it enables them to gain first-hand knowledge of the consequences of their actions. This helps them to learn things efficiently because they got to learn through trial and error. Next time they will think twice and hopefully learn from their actions and give them more self-discipline.

It also gives the opportunity to choose what will make them happy, and to learn right from wrong. In order to develop their own emotional maturity, children need to practice making their own choices, Dr. Williamson says. When children are younger, you can start with giving them only a couple choices, but when they are older, give them the chance to make the entire decision for themselves, she adds.

Independence also will enhance your child’s self-esteem. They will feel empowered with their accomplishments and in turn feel proud of themselves. If they fail at something, with your guidance, they will learn to handle that failure and stress. Eventually, they will learn to deal better with those negative feelings and not be so hard on themselves.

Through independence children develop their personality, grow up strong, and are ready to take on life’s challenges, emotionally secured, and happy. Children need to experience independence to learn the ways of life! 

Finally, as parents, we want nothing but the best for our children. We often want to attend to their needs as quickly as we can; it’s how we express our love. However, it’s really important give children the opportunity to become successful in life and to teach them independence. I hope these ideas Dr. Williamson has mentioned are good tools for us parents to utilize in our everyday lives. I know that I will definitely work hard to teach my kids to be responsible independent adults and am grateful for any advice I can get to make my job as a parent successful.

Check out another post presented by CHOC Children’s
The Importance of Play in Children

Helping Children Develop Healthy Eating Habits

Fun Disney’s The Lion King Recipes with Dole

This is a sponsored post. I am an official ambassador for Dole. Dole provided me with compensation for my time. As always, all opinions expressed in this post are mine.

Who is excited for Disney’s The Lion King to come to theaters on July 19th? Over here, we definitely are! And to celebrate we made a yummy The Lion King family lunch. DOLE just recently launched some great new themed recipes inspired by Disney’s THE LION KING as part of its “Powering the Hero Within” initiative. It leverages the heroic saga of Simba and Disney’s The Lion King to help parents encourage no-worry nutrition in their families, including adopting a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables.If you have ever tried any of Dole’s themed recipes, then you know how yummy a fresh they taste! Plus, they are easy to create and the kids love them. Check out the Lion Cub Lunch I made the kids using one of the recipes.

The Lion Cub Lunch is a turkey and spinach burger on a grilled pineapple with zucchini noodles. It’s made with Dole pineapple, Dole spinach, Dole walnuts and Dole bell peppers. I just can’t take how cute they turned out. A little Simba sitting in the grass. And I loved how easy they were to make and that the kids ate them all up.

Here are some more of the Dole original, worry-free recipes inspired by Disney’s The Lion King characters. There are lots of great ones, but these ones especially caught my eye.

Banana Peel the Loaf Tonight

Nala Naan

Dole Beet & Berry Smoothie

Circle of Life Salad

Pride Rock Peanut Tofu with Tomatoes and Broccoli

Pride Lands Pancakes and Fruity Sauce

Don’t these recipes look great?!! I can’t wait to make them all. For more original recipes and other information about “Powering the Hero Within,” go to

PLUS, not only can you get all these great The Lion King themed Dole recipes, but right now you can also find DOLE® Bananas and Pineapples featuring Disney’s The Lion King in supermarkets throughout the U.S. and Canada.

My kids have even been trying to collect stickers and eat the bananas faster than I can buy them in order to get more stickers! There are eight Lion King banana sticker designs and two Lion King Pineapple tag designs.

Dole’s “No-Worry Traditions Contest”

Now through August 4, 2019, you can enter Dole’s “No-Worry Traditions Contest”! This awesome contest invites fans of Dole, Disney and Disney’s The Lion King to share their favorite family tradition by posting on social media and using the appropriate hashtags.

Five weekly winners will receive an official Disney’s The Lion King merchandise bundle that includes an official Mighty Roar Simba Interactive Plush Toy from Hasbro, plus a custom Dole hammock to relax away your tensions. The Grand Prize winner will receive a five-day, five-night family vacation in Hawaii. WOW!!! The vacation includes round-trip airfare, accommodations at a luxury resort hotel on Oahu, a choice of a tropical excursion, and a VIP experience at the Dole Planation, one of the most-visited attractions in Hawaii.

 To enter the “No-Worry Traditions Contest”, head over There you’ll find out details on entering and the official rules. There is no cost to enter!

Lion King Prize Giveaway

Excited for Disney’s The Lion King? I have a FUN giveaway to celebrate! One lucky reader win a Lion King prize bundle featuring – a Hakuna Matata Journal, 2 Theatrical Posters, Hasbro Lion King Monopoly, FurReal’s Mighty Roar Simba Interactive Plush Toy from Hasbro, and a Custom Dole Banana Hammock. (Retail value of $200)

Just enter via Rafflecopter below! Giveaway ends July 20, 2019. Open to U.S. residents only. Good luck!!! *This giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Disneyor Dole. The giveaway is solely owned, administered solicited and operated by me.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

More Dole X Disney Recipes!

Want to check out some more Dole Disney inspired recipes? Check out this post I wrote here!

Yummy Dole Recipes to Celebrate Disney Mickey Mouse’s 90th Anniversary

Fun with Kids at the Laguna Beach Festival of Arts

This week, I took the kids down to Laguna Beach to enjoy the ocean air, sights and sounds, and specifically to check out the Festival of Arts. The Festival of Arts is located in the pavilion where the Pageant of the Masters takes place. It’s a fine arts show that happens every summer, and features 140 artists from Orange County. At the festival, you can meet the artists and browse their one-of-a-kind artwork. But, there’s more! You can also participate in art demonstrations, enjoy live entertainment, food and browse the the Junior Art Exhibit. This year’s festival takes place from July 5th through August 31st.

I really enjoy showing my kids all the different types of art and explaining what techniques were used. At the Festival, the artists are often in their booths, so you can ask them the stories behind their art pieces.

It can be scary to take kids around expensive pieces of art, but the more you do it, the more they will learn and understand how they should behave in such settings. Make sure to explain to kids that they must not touch the art and should stand two steps back from it so they won’t accidentally bump into it. Toddlers should be in strollers as you don’t want to have any accidents.

Take an Art Tour

Get the most out of your visit by taking a free exhibit tour! The friendly Festival art docents will take you on a fun and informative walk through the fine art show. Offered twice a day- weekdays at 2pm and 4:30pm and weekends 11am and 4:30pm.

Free Art Workshops st the Festival of Arts

The Festival of Arts offers daily drop-in workshops in the Art Center. Printmaking and mixed media workshops are free.

We got to try ink tile painting – which the kids really enjoyed. It was fun watching them choose their colors and techniques in which to move the colors around. The ink was a totally new medium for them to try, so I really liked that they were exposed to this new technique.

Printmaking was also a new

They were very proud of the finished pieces!

If you would like to paint a pot at the ceramics workshop, prices start at $25. The helpful art instructors will walk you through each step. You can choose from glazes or marble art.

Art Classes for Kids at the Festival of Arts

Besides the free art demonstrations, the Festival also host kids art classes that are $20/$30 per child. They range from ceramics to drawing to painting and are taught by local artists. This gives parents the perfect opportunity to enjoy browsing the art exhibits while the kids are having a great time learning art skills. You must register for the art classes online.

Special Events at the Festival of Arts

On Mondays, they have a special story time and art class for kids that is included in the price of admission. Check here for the schedule of story times at the Festival of Arts. There are also special events for adults, art talks and tea, yoga, fashion shows and art nights.

There is daily live entertainment on the Festival of Arts stage. You can enjoy it while sitting on the green and grabbing a bite to eat at the food bar. It’s a great atmosphere there at the Festival!

Junior Art Exhibit at the Festival of Arts

The kids especially liked walking through the Junior Art Exhibit. This is where Orange County kids can submit their own artwork to be displayed at the Festival of Arts.

The art pieces are labeled by grades, so the kids loved seeing what kids their own ages submitted. It was really inspiring and made my kids want to do more artwork of their own.

We had such a fun time visiting the Festival of the Arts in Laguna Beach. We will definitely go back again this summer. There are a lot of fun things to do in Laguna Beach and the Festival should be on everyones list!

{ We were invited guests of the Festival of Arts. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.}