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Thursday, October 30, 2014

MAKING YOUR CHILD'S LUNCHES SPECIAL: Packing Smiles and Making Memories.

Hi there!
Half of Gabby has moved to a new kickass website! 

Read this article, in it’s updated version, HERE.


 The page that you are on right now (www.halfofgabby.blogspot.com) is no longer posting new articles and information. Half of Gabby has moved to www.halfofgabby.com and will continue to post new material regularly! In addition, all older articles have been updated on the new site!

~~~






Today I wanted to talk about a super easy and simple way to make your children feel like they have the best mommy in the whole wide world. Yup, there's a really easy way to trick them into thinking this ;)

My little girls are both in elementary school. You know, when they still kind of like you, need you, and will still claim you. My girls bring their lunches to school every day. I tried to convince them for years to just buy but they don't want to. I'm going to admit it, it would just be so much easier for mommy if they would buy their lunches. 

When I was a kid, my mom packed my lunch everyday and I'd beg her to let me buy my lunch and she wouldn't. I don't get why my munchkins are so adamant about bringing their lunch but I figured if I was going to have to pack their lunches, I might as well make it fun. 


So I started by writing notes in their lunches.


Life goes by so fast. They are only little for just a teeny bit of time. I really want to make their childhood something that they can look back on and feel like they were loved. I had an amazing mom that did that for me. I want my kids to feel special like I did. 

If taking a little bit of extra lunchbox time in the morning (or the night before) is going to make them smile, then I'm sure as hell going do it. 


It won't be long before they're taking driving lessons, claiming their friends as their new family, and looking at me like I'm the enemy. 

Until then, I'm going to hang on to their innocence for every second I got left.

The little bit of extra time it takes for me to pack a smile into my kiddos' lunches, well... let me tell you, it's all worth it when I get a note back :)



Since the beginning, I've always written notes in their lunches but it was just a straight up note thrown in there with everything else. It has evolved over the years into something a lot more fun and I have to admit, I really love it. Well, you should probably know that other than Barnes & Noble, which is my favorite place on the planet, the craft store is a close second. So that might help you understand why I love jazzing up my girls' lunches so much.

I saw a meme the other day that made me laugh out loud because, for me, it is so damn true.


It's a good thing most husbands have no idea that the mark-up on craft items is about the same as it is on diamonds. Dang, a girl can do some damage up in that piece! Especially a girl like me. I am utterly enthralled, mesmerized, and bewitched with anything that lives in a craft store. I started a sticker collection when I was 7 years old and haven't ever stopped. I could fill a warehouse. I need help.

But please don't think this whole notes and stickers and fun lunch thing is going to cost you a fortune, it totally won't! 

Although I have a serious issue with control in craft stores, I don't buy any of my lunchbox fun goodies at the craft store. All of the fun lunch stuff I'm talking about today are things I either had at home already, bought at a Dollar Store, or bought on clearance.

When you're out at stores, check the clearance aisles (especially the party aisles). Places like Target, Wal-Mart, Ollies, Dollar stores, outlet stores, Big Lots, and even places like TJ Maxx, Marshall's, and Home Goods are great places to look for clearance lunchbox items. You can get stuff for pennies!

Okay, back to making your babies feel special and loved...and proving you're the coolest mom around. 


Okay, so what I did was I found a little container that was laying around the house (anything would do, even a shoebox if you had nothing else) and I filled it up with some markers, pens, stickers, scissors, tape, and mini note pads.



It really doesn't hold that much so of course I have a bunch of other crap (my term of endearment for super awesome craft stuff) laying around in a bin that I have in the kitchen. I guess I could make life easier for myself and just get a bigger container that would hold everything but I already had put my cute little 'LunchBox' labels on it and well... one cute container and one big messy bin is okay with me. I often ignore logical solutions.


As you can see below, I kind of went out of control with the stickers but like I said, I have a problem. One that I have no intention on fixing. And since my kids reap the benefits of my craft and sticker addiction, I'm going with it. You do not have to be an insane lunatic like me.


And of course even though I have two little girls, they could not be more different. My Gia loves all things shiny, glittery, girly, and glam. But my Jossy loves all things boy. Robots, monsters, cars, sharks, skulls, and pirates are right up her alley.

But here's the thing, it doesn't have to be expensive. 

You can find super cute stickers and even books of stickers at the Dollar Store and I usually write their notes on index cards (that I cut in half) or whatever paper I have laying around. You can get 8-10 notes out of a piece of computer paper or construction paper. We all have this stuff lying around. And you don't even need to do the sticker thing. The note is the most important thing.

I always tape the notes to the lunchbox. I learned the hard way with this. Trust me, it's just easier. If you don't, it gets lost, or falls out, and is easy to forget to even put it in the damn lunch so sometimes it doesn't even make it in there. 

The best tape to use is the clear packaging tape. I don't know why but it comes right off without damaging the lunchbox and it doesn't leave any residue. It comes off like magic. All other tapes have caused problems. I've tried them all, just trust me on this. Packaging tape is where it's at.


I also use fun napkins and sandwich bags in their lunches. I mean, they need napkins, right? It's makes the lunch so much more fun! And paired with the note and stickers, believe me, your child will feel so special. My girls look forward to opening their lunches everyday. It warms my heart :)


I ordered the owl sandwich baggies in the below pic from Oriental Trading. They were on clearance and I got a box of 500 bags for $1.99 on clearance. I bought them when my oldest was in pre-school... that was seven years ago! And I'm still using them! You can find all kinds of cute bags, stickers, napkins, and even straws for super, crazy cheap if you just check the stores you visit. I found the Toy Story snack bags for 50 cents at Ollies... and there's even a place to put your child's name on them! Or the names of the kids in the class if you were sending in a class treat. Too cute!


You can always find napkins for dirt cheap. They're always on clearance. I found these ones at Target for 32 cents! Seriously. Target is always putting their party stuff on clearance so check their birthday aisle when you're there.


Even cute novelty stuff like these shark straws are fun to throw in lunches for something different. I got these at Walmart.


Holidays are super fun! The kids just love holiday themed lunches. 

I'll usually use the holiday theme almost the whole holiday month. You can get super cheap holiday stickers and napkins AFTER the holiday. As soon as each holiday is over, I scoop up all that I can! Sometimes for as much as 90% off!




Both my girls get to bring a snack into school everyday in addition to their lunch. Gia, my oldest who is 10, just wants her snack in her lunch bag. But my youngest, Jossy, who is 7, wants her snack in a separate bag. 

I usually use the white paper bags (I get them at Walmart for cheap) so that I can write her name on it or put a sticker on it and it shows up really good. But I will also use cute little favor bags or colored bags if I find them on sale. I found the colored lunch bags at a Fun Party Store that was going out of business. I got a 100 of them for just 25 cents! Jossy loves them.


I found these monster bags at Target on clearance and was thrilled because Jossy loves monsters. But unfortunately they were on clearance because they were discontinued :( 

But look how cute they are! I found them in the birthday aisle.


Most of the time I'll seal the back of Jossy's snack bag with a sticker.


You certainly don't have to do the whole shebang for your kids' lunches everyday. I take it to this level because I truly love doing it and my kids adore it. But if you do anything at all, maybe start writing a note. Even if you don't want to mess with anything else. Just a note.

Seriously... Just a note.

It will mean so much to them and it will truly make them feel special. I can't tell you how many little friends my daughters have had over for playdates that have told me that they wished their mommies gave them notes like Gia and Jossy get. I've even had parents at birthday parties or school events mention to me that their children would talk about Gia and Jossy's lunch notes all the time and that now they too started writing notes in their kids' lunches. 

With a hurried morning and a million other things to do already, it might seem like a really big pain in the ass. 

But I promise you, it's worth the time. Your kids will remember it forever. They will only be in elementary school for a little while. 

Celebrate their childhood while you can... before they are taken over by the teenage bodysnatchers.






If you want to add a note to your child's lunch but just feel you absolutely do not have even the extra few minutes to put it together, there are tons of lunchbox notes you can buy. Here's just a few on Amazon. There are TONS to pick from.





If you liked this article, you might like these:













More family friendly ideas!








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*The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content in this article is for general information purposes only. I am not a doctor, nor am I a dietitian. Talk to your physician before making any changes in your diet or exercise regimen. The information found in this article is from various sources which include, but are not limited to, the sites listed above. I encourage you to do your own research and talk with your physician before making any changes in diet or exercise. What has worked for me may not work for you. This information in this article or on this website should never replace or serve as medical advice.

NEVER DISREGARD PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE OR DELAY SEEKING MEDICAL TREATMENT BECAUSE OF SOMETHING YOU HAVE READ ON OR HAVE ACCESSED THROUGH THIS WEB SITE.











Wednesday, October 29, 2014

ROASTED PUMPKIN SEED RECIPE: Pumpkin Carving Night Ends Up In Hysterics


Hi there!
Half of Gabby has moved to a new kickass website! 

Read this article, in it’s updated version, HERE.


 The page that you are on right now (www.halfofgabby.blogspot.com) is no longer posting new articles and information. Half of Gabby has moved to www.halfofgabby.com and will continue to post new material regularly! In addition, all older articles have been updated on the new site!

~~~






It's pumpkin carving time! 

Pumpkin carving is one of my most favorite things to do this time of year. I love the whole process. Deciding on your pumpkin design, the excitement of first lifting the lid off of your pumpkin, the smell, the yummy seeds just begging to be roasted, and yes, I even love the slimy feel of the pumpkin guts while I'm scooping that sucker out. I can't help it, I'm a hopeless Halloween weirdo.

My girls are just as bad as me. They love the whole process too, even the slimy, gooey part. We giggle as we play in the guts.

Daddy is on a little bit of a different level. Now he's goofy like the rest of us but when it comes to carving pumpkins, he gets his game face on. He takes great effort in picking the perfect design... and it's usually a design that is so beyond expert that my hands cramp up just looking at the pattern. And last night, for the 15th year running, he did not disappoint. 

Both of the girls decided to go old school and make traditional Jack-o-lanterns without using patterns and I picked a simple pattern of a skeleton pirate. 


But Daddy, oh, he picked a pattern that would've given me arthritis. His pattern had two big bats that were flying over an intricate castle which was next to an even more intricate scary tree that had around 500 branches. Okay, whatever show off. 

I couldn't help but chuckle a few times when I caught him rotating his wrist and massaging his hand a bit. That's right, that's what you get for being Mr. Awesome At Everything. Did I mention he finished before any of us? How? No idea. I'm telling you, he's a pumpkin carving freak. It's extremely impressive... and annoying. He is the best at everything. It doesn't matter what we are talking about. 

You know that kid in gym class that you wanted to bitchslap because he made you and the rest of your class look like wimpy losers? Yup, that was my husband. 

When the whole class had to run a mile and everyone was crawling and limping still so far away from the finish line, he was the one who blew past you like the road runner, knees to chest with a smile on his face...while reading a book. 

And even though he's like the manliest man you'll ever meet (power tool king, thinks he's an NFL player, deep voice, loves all things 'guy'), he's also good at everything else. In school he won first place for best penmanship and won first place in the spelling bee. I mean COME ON! Seriously people, I married a robot. The most amazingly lovable, funniest, sweetest, and the most awesome robot ever... but still a robot. He can do no wrong. Normally, I deal pretty well with it, in fact it's one of the things I love most about him. I know that no matter what, he can fix whatever it is that's broken...whether it be my phone, a dining room chair, or even my heart. 

I mean, the man made my Halloween costume this year for God's sake! 

Okay, little side-bar... bear with me, we will eventually get to the damn pumpkin seeds.

Every year we have a gigantic Halloween Scavenger Hunt Bash and we were really trying to come up with some funny costumes for this year because last year's theme was the zombie apocalypse. So since we were scary last year, we were shooting for being funny this year. We both have a deep disdain for the Elf on the Shelf. I want to throat-punch the person who came up with that damn idea. I can't tell you how many mornings my hubs or I have had to do a mad dash or army crawl because we forgot about that demonic-looking little shit. It's like the tooth fairy every friggin' night. Anyway, he found an Elf on the Shelf Costume for him. Totally hysterical. It was too small, which made it even more perfect. He reminded me of Will Ferrell in "Elf". Omg there are no words. Well he wanted me to be the girl Elf on the Shelf but there is no such costume to buy... so he made it for me! Seriously, this guy is the best. Hands off, ladies! ;)


Here's us in our costumes (Our scavenger hunt was this past weekend. This particular objective was to find adult diapers). Hehe.



LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL. Omg, are you not dying? Hahahaha

Okay, one more, just to show you that I really am married to the funniest man on the friggin' planet.


BAH HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

OMG, okay one more, I promise that's it ... but there are hundreds! Haha!

This one is my hubs Jay and my brother. Objective was to find a santa suit. Jay stayed in his 'doll character' all night in every pic. And my bro's expression! OMG, my sides split from laughing!


Okay, so as you can see, my robot, doll husband is pretty awesome but last night I have to admit. I grimaced at his perfect pumpkin.

It probably wouldn't have been so annoying if my pumpkin came out even somewhat recognizable. 

Normally I'm not horrible at carving but this year it looks like I was blindfolded... and I was forced to carve with my feet. 

My pattern was super cool. It was a skeleton pirate. It looked totally rad and I was really excited... Until I saw my finished product. In the light I still couldn't tell it was bad. I mean you really can't tell what they truly look like until you light them up and turn the lights off. The girls' pumpkins came out super cute.


This is Gia's. She is my 10 year old princess. Everything is shiny and glittery and sunshine in her life. So it was only natural her pumpkin would sport a cute hair bow.




This is Jossy's. Our Little Mouse is a tomboy and embraces anything and everything rough, tough, and icky. Her pumpkin is sporting a scary cut-up mouth that according to Josser is supposed to look like it has stitches. Lol. 


 I especially like Jossy's message on the side of her stitched pumpkin.


Two amazing little girls... who are very, VERY different. Funny how that happens. But I kind of love it that way :)


 And Jay's pumpkin, well duh... Mr. Gold Medal had a work of art sitting there glowing like a giant pumpkin prize. 

Behold Mr. Wonderful's masterpiece...



Whatevs.

Well you wanna know what mine looked like? 

A damn monkey

Not. Even. Joking. 

Nobody could even deny it to try to make me feel better. 

Everybody agreed I carved a friggin' monkey. 

Wanna see it? I know you do. It's okay to laugh.



HAHAHAHA. DEAR LORD.


Oh well, you win some and you lose some. We all ended up laughing hysterically at it. I mean really, how could you not? On the bright side maybe my monkey can climb Jay's 10 foot tall award winning tree... Next to his kingdom castle.... with the flying bats. 

But despite my slight monkey pumpkin fail (I'm being kind to myself), my most favorite part of carving pumpkins did end up a HUGE success! 

And my most favorite part is always roasting up all the yummy seeds! 

Omg I just love smelling them roast while we are all sitting at the table carving our masterpieces (or our primates). I did something a little different this year with our pumpkin seeds and they came out PERFECT!!! 


I'm so sorry it took me so long to get to this! I'm a rambler and an off-track-kind-of-person but today it's especially bad. But at least you got to see a 6'2" Elf on the Shelf, right? ... and a monkey pumpkin. That's gotta be worth something.

Pumpkins seeds are so healthy for you! Don't ever throw away all that healthy goodness away with the slime. Roast those babies up!



Great Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds 
  • Natural Anti-inflammatory
  • Prevent Osteoporosis: Due to the high zinc levels.
  • Improve Bladder Function
  • High in Magnesium: Just 1/2 cup contains 92% of daily value.
  • Prevents Kidney Stones
  • High in Protein
  • Reduces LDL Cholesterol Levels
  • Promotes Sleep
  • Helps Depression: Due to high levels of L-tryptophan.
  • Promotes a Healthy Prostrate
  • Is the Only Seed That Is Alkaline-Forming
  • Alleviates Menopausal Symptoms: Contains natural phytoestrogens.
  • Rich in Omega 3s
  • Helps Lower Blood Pressure
  • Helps Body Expel Parasites
  • Promotes Strong Bones
  • Packed with Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Phosphorus, Iron, Copper, Vitamin K, and B Vitamins
Okay seriously, need I go on? These little seeds are nutritional powerhouses! Don't throw them in the trash!

There are a kazillian ways to not only roast pumpkin seeds but to season them as well. We are pretty simple folk when it comes to our pumpkin seeds. We actually love the taste of the actual pumpkin seeds so I don't venture into any seasonings that will mask their true taste. 

But I encourage you to experiment with any spices and seasonings that your little pumpkin roastin' heart desires. 

Here's how I made them this year. This year, I did one thing different, I thoroughly cleaned the seeds before I roasted them. I've never done that before. It made a big difference. I didn't think they could taste any better than they ever did... but they did.

            Even Mr. Skeleton agreed ;)




THE PERFECT ROASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS RECIPE

*Pre-Heat oven to 300 degrees.

Step 1: Scoop out the insides of your pumpkins and put in a large bowl.





Step 2: Pick out all of the bigger chunks of the pumpkin pulp and guts.

Step 3: Put your seeds in a colander and rinse them very thoroughly. Get your hands in there and pick out the pieces of pulp that aren't rinsing out. Once done, no need to dry seeds. Just simply shake the colander as best you can. The seeds will still be wet, it's okay.



Step 4: Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. You can oil or spray the sheets as well but parchment paper is like a miracle. It works the best. Absolutely no clean up afterwards. Mama likes that.



Step 5: Spread out the seeds in a single layer on sheets and bake for 30 minutes. Do NOT season at this point. This step is to dry out the seeds only.




Step 6: Carefully take sheets out of oven and dump seeds into large bowl. Add your preferred oil and preferred spices and seasonings and stir well.



*You can use just about anything: Curry, garlic powder, garlic salt, Old Bay, Parmesan Cheese, barbecue seasonings, chili powder, cinnamon and stevia, pumpkin pie spices, cajun seasonings, or just anything you can dream up!

HERE'S WHAT I USED:




2 Teaspoons OLIVE OIL
SEASONED SALT
PEPPER
HIMALAYAN PINK SALT
(You could also use sea salt or table salt)

Other than the olive oil, I didn't measure exact amounts of the seasonings. 


After the seeds baked for the initial 30 minutes, I simply sprinkled my seasonings over the seeds, mixed them up with the oil, and then would keep taste-testing the seeds. I would keep adding various amounts of my different seasonings until I got the taste just right.

Everybody's preferences are so different, I would suggest doing the same. Just keep adding things until it's just perfect for you. Or even make a couple different batches with different flavors.

*Also, the amounts of oil and seasonings/spices are going to depend on how many seeds you have. I had seeds from four large pumpkins. 

Step 7: Once you have your seasonings and oil just right and mixed well, spread the seeds out again in single layers on your baking sheets (no need to use new parchment paper, just reuse what you already had). Bake for another 20 minutes. This really bakes the seasonings into the seeds.




Step 8: Eat up!! They are so good for you and they are delicious! Just try not to fight over them. 




HAVE A SUPER FUN NIGHT CARVING YOUR OWN PUMPKINS! AND IF YOU HAVE ANY EPIC FAILURES LIKE MY MONKEY, AT LEAST YOU CAN EAT YUMMY, HEALTHY SEEDS WHILE YOU WONDER WHERE YOU WENT WRONG :)

MAKE A FUN FAMILY NIGHT, A HEALTHY NIGHT :)

Some pics from our pumpkin carving fun. Ya I know, I'm in my jammies with no make-up. No judging ;)








                MONKEY IN THE MIDDLE ;)




Want some more healthy sweet treats?
Try these recipes!










Need some family friendly ideas!


















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FOLLOW HALF OF GABBY ON FACEBOOK FOR DAILY MOTIVATION! 

You will receive daily goodies including: HEALTH & FITNESS TIPSWORKOUTSHEALTHY RECIPESMOTIVATING ENCOURAGEMENT, as well as FAMILY FITNESSMOMMY IDEASCRAFT IDEAS, and even FUNNY STORIES & ARTICLES for some comedic relief. You get a little bit of everything in just one click :)

To follow, simply 'Like' Half of Gabby's Facebook Page. 


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*The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content in this article is for general information purposes only. I am not a doctor, nor am I a dietitian. Talk to your physician before making any changes in your diet or exercise regimen. The information found in this article is from various sources which include, but are not limited to, the sites listed above. I encourage you to do your own research and talk with your physician before making any changes in diet or exercise. What has worked for me may not work for you. This information in this article or on this website should never replace or serve as medical advice.

NEVER DISREGARD PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE OR DELAY SEEKING MEDICAL TREATMENT BECAUSE OF SOMETHING YOU HAVE READ ON OR HAVE ACCESSED THROUGH THIS WEB SITE.