Happy February!

I’ve been meaning to share the short list of goals I’ve set for 2016 for several weeks, but January slipped away from me and now we are firmly entrenched in February. At first I was dismayed by my failure to post, but now that I’ve had some time to think about it, I’ve decided this works out pretty well. Not only do I get to share my goals for the year, but I can also post an update on how they are going!

Send More Snail Mail

Snail mail stamps

My first goal for the year has been my most successful so far: send more snail mail.  I’ve always loved to send mail to people — even when I was a little kid. And of course, I love to receive it too. (Doesn’t everybody?)

I have so many cute papers and stamps and home made envelope templates and not one but TWO typewriters and it’s all been sitting in drawers or piling up on my desk for years now.


January’s results: I’ve promised myself that I will send at least a letter or postcard per week this year and so far I’ve easily been keeping up with my goal. So far I’ve sent stuff out to aunts, cousins, friends, parents and my nephew and I’m having a ton of fun doing it, too. I love taking the time to sit down and share the details of our lives in a long typewritten letter or dashing off a quick postcard to let someone know I think they’re rad.

Raise Future Adults

A while back I read a quote that said something along the lines of “I’m not raising children, I’m raising future adults.” I’ve been mulling it over for awhile and though I don’t think I’m doing a terrible job teaching my kids to get by in the world, I do think I need to be teaching them more  practical life skills than I have been. It’s just so much easier to do stuff around the house myself than it is to nag them to do it all the time!

That attitude isn’t doing any of us any favors though, so I’m planning to teach them one new skill per month then pass that responsibility off to them FOREVER. Some of the skills I’ve already got on my to-do list include: doing their own laundry, learning to cook some simple dishes by themselves, and reading a paper map. (I’m open to hearing other ideas too!)

First up: making their own breakfast. The need for this one became glaringly apparent when I told one of my children to pour himself a bowl of cereal and he started wailing that he didn’t know how. Obviously both of my children could figure cereal-pouring out on their own if they applied even the smallest amount of effort, but since I do it for them every morning why should they bother? Sheesh, Wendy.

January’s results: Ugh. It’s going terribly! The kids can never figure out what to eat for breakfast even when all their favorites are in stock, they refuse to read the instructions on boxes, I’ve yelled at them about fruit more times than I care to admit and we’ve had to run to get them in line on the playground most days because they take so long getting something together. But I will persevere!

Prep Food in Advance

Prep food in advance

This is one of those things that addresses all sorts of problem areas in my life. When I prep fruits and veggies and other foods in advance I get all sorts of benefits from it. El Numero Uno: my entire family eats much more healthfully if we’ve got lots of fruits and veggies ready to go. It also makes packing lunches for the boys faster in the mornings and there’s always something on hand for Zach and me when we are rustling up lunch. It’s heavenly to have a dinner I can just heat up a few nights a week, too. And — come to think of it — it might also solve my yelling-at-the-children-about-fruit issue at breakfast time.

Ideally, I’d do a big shop and prep session every weekend (something like this), but since I shop during the week (a fantastic luxury that comes with a flexible schedule) I can’t always spare two or three hours all at once to clean, chop and cook. Instead, I tend to grab 10 or 20 minutes here and there to peel and chop a bunch of celery or a pepper or I’ll cook a double batch of ground turkey when I’m making dinner and save half of it for another meal later in the week.

January’s results: Pretty good! We’ve had a batch of veggie sticks and some sort of fruit in the fridge non-stop. I’ve also made a couple of big batches of rice and farro, salad dressings and pre-washed lettuce for quick salads. What else? Ice tea, big batches of soup, a bunch of roasted broccoli and a few other things I’ve probably forgotten. I also have started the transition from plastic to glass food storage by purchasing this set of containers and I love them so! They stack really easily in the fridge (waaaay better than plastic) and I adore the fact that I can reheat leftovers in the microwave without having to transfer them to another dish.

Post More Frequently to my Blog

This one is kind of self explanatory and based on the fact that my last blog post appeared in mid-December, you can see how it’s going. Phhhhht!

Part of the reason that I don’t post to this blog very often any more is that as my freelance work has picked up and my kids have gotten older, my life has gotten a lot busier. But also, as this blog has evolved over the past 9 years, I’ve felt a lot of pressure (most of it internal) to only post detailed, instructional content. I enjoy writing those types of articles quite a bit, but they are time-consuming to prepare, photograph and write and sometimes I’m just not up for that. I used to post a lot more about my family life, my non-bento crafts and projects and other things I enjoy and I’m hoping to bring back more of those low-key posts in the coming months.

January results: A big fat ZERO!

I have some other, smaller goals I’ve set for myself too:

  • More big cooking projects — so much of my cooking recently is all about practicality and just feeding hungry stomachs. A lot of the fun I used to have cooking has evaporated in the face of the day to day reality of people needing to eat dinner. Some things I’d like to try are these crazy cookies, big roasts for Sunday dinner, macarons and anything from The Great British Baking Show.
  • Play with paint — I got a set of portable watercolors for Christmas and I’ve been loving playing with them. More of that.
  • Organize craft nights for friends — my friend, Annika, mentioned the idea of grown-ups only crafty get-togethers and now I’m obsessed with the idea.

How are your New Year’s goals going?


Space Lunch in the Yumbox Espace

When my friends at Yumbox asked me to try out one of their newest designs — the Espace Blue — I was pretty excited. I’ve been using Yumbox lunch boxes for several years now and it’s no secret that their boxes are among my — and my kids’ — favorites so I was predisposed to like it. But this one is an especially good fit for my boys because it has a really cool space theme going on.

Yumbox Espace

Let’s start on the outside. This box is a beautiful, macho dark blue. This is exciting for us because the last few batches of Yumbox releases have had a lot of pastel boxes in them. They’re pretty, but my boys choose to strictly conform to gender norms so they were not an option for their lunches. And those stars on the outside? Get this: they glow in the dark! I’m not sure exactly when my kids will be eating out of a lunch box in the dark, but when they do we will be prepared! Until that day when we can see them glow those stars still stand up as a fun decoration on the outside of the box.

Yumbox Espace

And if you think the outside of the box is cute, wait until you see the inside. The tray has the signature sweet Yumbox illustrations and labels for different types of foods but when I looked closely I realized that the spacey illustrations also have a food component to them. The astronaut is floating above spaghetti! The planets? An orange and a lime! And of course the moon is made of cheese. Of course! My kids were delighted.

Space Lunch in the Yumbox Espace

I decided to christen the box with a cute space lunch when I sent it out for it’s maiden voyage. For the most part, I kept it pretty simple and quick to put together: rocket crackers with a rocket pick, chocolate star cookies, blackberries (like the darkness of space) with a robot pick, a salami sandwich, some carrot stars and a little bit of ranch dressing in the dip compartment.

Cutting carrot stars

The hardest part of this lunch was the shaped carrots, and even they were simple to make.  I cut several thin slices from the fat end of a large carrot, then cut stars in various sizes from it using some small cutters. I sliced carrot coins (planets?) from the rest of the carrot then popped the stars cut-outs on top. While I was cutting, I also used a small rocket cutter on one of the slices and added that to the top of the sandwich. Cute, but easy enough for a weekday morning.

Check out the step-by-step in this animated gif:

Space Lunch in the Yumbox Espace

The Espace Yumbox is availiable in two colors (red and blue) and two configurations (the smaller classic and the larger Panino) from Amazon or from the Yumbox website. They also just released a ridiculously cute set of pink and purple Paris themed boxes, but — alas! — my boys are not having it!

Disclosure: This post was written by me on behalf of Yumbox. I am a long-time, happy customer and Yumbox user, so it was a perfect fit. Thanks Yumbox for sponsoring Wendolonia!


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