Monday, April 21, 2014

Planet Box Rover Review


I love this box.

I received a Rover set from PlanetBox to review, and loved it so much that I bought another set just a few days later!

Not only does it look pretty - all shiny steel and separated sections - but it's also a great size for carrying lunch! 



The Rover complete set comes with all you see above, plus coordinating magnets for decoration in your choice of style. There is the main Rover container, a Big Dipper dish for messy/wet side foods, a Little Dipper sealed side dish for dips or very small loose items, the carrying bag, and the decorative magnets. 

As a food-allergy parent, I'm always looking for ways to keep my kiddo from feeling singled out. A lot of the time in our culture, events include food. You get together for a party, there is food. Playdates? Food. Soccer games, afternoon at the park, day at the indoor gym? Yep, food. A lot of our culture revolves around the serving and consuming of food. I'm not knocking that ~ I'm a big fan of food! Especially special party and get together foods; you know, the kinds of things that are yummy, but really too indulgent to eat or serve on a regular day. The kind of deliciousness you save for special occasions are among my favorites!

But that kind of makes things tough for a kid who is allergic to so many common food ingredients! My Beaker can't have anything with wheat, soy, garlic, hazelnuts, or shellfish, and dairy and egg are both only okay for him on a limited basis. Soy and garlic especially are difficult to avoid, and he is very sensitive to them, so we have to carefully avoid even trace amounts of cross contamination. Which means we bring food for him every time we go anywhere, just in case. That goes double for playdates and other special events!

To give the PlanetBox a real trial, I recently packed up a lunch for Beaker to take on a playdate with friends. We were spending the day at a local indoor playground we had never been to before. They have a cafe on site with a pretty extensive menu, but I couldn't trust that anything would be safe for Beaker. This is a pretty standard precaution when we go new places; if we don't know for sure that something safe will be available, food comes with us. And it was a good thing I packed for him; even though the cafe has plenty of organic options, and a pretty decent gluten-free and vegan menu, the only thing they had that Beaker could actually eat was applesauce. Even the apples weren't considered safe, because they slice them in a shared space. I was glad I had packed up the PlanetBox!


And the PlanetBox was awesome! Not only does it hold a perfect amount of food for a long afternoon for a little guy, it's also beautiful. We received many compliments and comments on Beaker's lunch and container while he was eating. Parents walking past our table kept stopping to ask about the box, and I was happy to share the word. It's a pretty fantastic box!


Even the apple hippo loves PlanetBox! The biggest section of the box has plenty of space for a main dish, or a fun larger side. I've used this bento box to pack lunch for the older kids as well, to check for size. I've even packed lunches for myself, and it held plenty! The separated sections are a good reminder to pack up a little something from each of the food groups, and there is a tiny section in the center that is just the right size for a small dessert treat.


PlanetBox is one of the pricier bento boxes, but it's also worth the cost. It is sturdy, dependable, and very well made. PlanetBoxes are built to last. They are designed to hold up over time, and the high quality stainless steel is engineered for longevity.

They're also pretty. That wasn't the top factor for me, but I can't deny that the shininess held some sway!


Beaker's lunch is entirely gluten free. It is also free of soy, peanuts, tree nuts, garlic, and dairy. Not to mention beautiful and delicious!.


He has half of a turkey sandwich, some carrots and cucumbers, an apple hippo with marshmallow teeth, an Enjoy Life allergy free granola bar cut into bits, some EnerG gluten free pretzel rings, and a Surf Sweets fruit gummy ring for dessert.

Obviously even the best bento boxes can't make the food for you, and they're not going to cure your food allergies. But a pretty, functional, and sturdy box like PlanetBox does help make packing up meals easier, and a lot more pleasant. They look so nice that my Beaker never feels like he is being singled out or left out when I bring one with him to a get together, and that is something big. Instead of feeling like he has to bring his food everywhere, he feels like he gets to bring his food ~ the distinction is subtle, but to me (and many other food allergy parents) it is an important one. Beaker loves his PlanetBox almost as much as I do, and that makes handling his allergies just a little bit easier for me.

You can buy PlanetBox bento gear at their website, http://planetbox.com/, or click the affiliate link below to purchase from Amazon.


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Want to see another great apple hippo bento lunch? Check out Becoming a Bentoholic here for a little hippo made from apple and watermelon, and his tortilla and ham friend!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Love Makes the World Go Round

This is my little Beaker:


Beaker is a fun and fabulous four year old boy. He has soft and wavy hair that he likes long, and lovely hazel eyes. Beaker's favorite TV shows are Jake and the Neverland Pirates, My Little Ponies: Friendship is Magic, Ninjago, and Strawberry Shortcake. He loves to play Minecraft and Barbies, likes to color, draw, and practice writing letters. He loves to cuddle and be read to - his favorite books are Green Eggs and Ham and Fancy Nancy. He loves the movie Frozen right now, and also The Lego Movie, and he spends all day long singing the songs from both.

I have been criticized for keeping his hair long (his choice). For painting his nails (he loves the pretty colors). For letting him watch "girl shows" like Strawberry Shortcake and My Little Ponies (his first choices during TV time in the evening). For buying him the pink twirly tutu that he begged for at the store, and sparkly silver flats to match. All of these criticisms, because he is a boy. My girls were encouraged by strangers to like these things.

I'm not naive enough to think that we can raise our children to be entirely gender neutral in the current society, but I am darn sure going to try. My children, regardless of their gender or sex, can love anything and anyone they choose. I will, again and again, stand up for their rights to do so, and to not face harassment for their choices.

For the BBF Anti-Bullying Blog Hop, I am re-running one of Beaker's favorites, the Strawberry Shortcake lunch I made for him:


He adored this lunch, just as he loves the show. And why shouldn't he? Because he is a boy? Ridiculous notion!

The sandwich is gluten free bread with spinach, turkey, bologna, sweet red pepper strips, and with strawberries tucked in the side, all served in an Easy Lunchbox.


Click the button below to follow the hop to see all of the wonderful messages of love and acceptance the BBF community has put together to share!



Bullying has always been a problem, but lately there has been a slow, steady increase in awareness of the problem. Victims are gaining support and schools are putting policies in place to discourage bullying and protect the children in their care. The issue is being address with a rising amount of seriousness by many.

However, the mark is still frequently being missed.

When the victim is being blamed; when children are being told that in order to avoid bullying they should conform to fit in and repress their own selves; when kids are being punished for not being feminine or masculine enough... This is a problem. This is not okay. This tells us that we, as a society, have a very long way yet to go.

I would like to say that things have improved since I was a child. When I was a kid, especially in middle school, I was bullied. I was a kid who did not fit into the mold. I was very into books and sketching - my favorite things to do in the world was to escape the world, either into art or a good novel. I was completely oblivious to fashion, never cared about makeup or hair. I would read anything I could get my hands on, and all of my notebooks were full of sketches and doodles. A sketchpad, colored pencils, and my library card were the greatest things in my world. They were magic.

There were those who clearly did not like me, and they set out to make my life difficult. I couldn't really say why, except that I was different and to some, different is bad. I responded by attempting to blend in to the background, never doing or saying anything that would make me stand out. By the time I was halfway through high school I had ditched that idea and had found a niche among other bookish and art-loving kids. Now, as a grown adult? I am happy to say that I like who I am, and I am not at all afraid to show it.

One of my main goals as a parent is to help my children find their place in life without the struggle. To help them to be who they want to be, and not wait 30 years to get there. And to instill in them a strong sense of kindness and love for those around them. It is very important to me that my children accept and love people for who they are, and that they also accept and love themselves. We are all a work in progress, but I think we are getting there.

I would like to say that things have improved since I was a child, and they have, in some ways... but not enough. We still have a very long way to go as a society. Inequality is still a current issue. Bullying is still a major problem. We need to work on loving each other, being accepting and tolerant of our differences, and celebrating the diversity that makes each of us so special and wonderful.

Love makes the world go 'round. So let's send more of it out into the world!

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Caps For Sale


Caps For Sale 
A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys, and Their Monkey Business
Written and Illustrated by Esphyr Slobodkina



Caps For Sale is a story about a cap-seller who settles in to rest under a tree, and wakes up to an unusual surprise. A bunch of silly monkeys have stolen his hats and won't give them back!

What is a salesman to do when monkeys get up to their business? You'll have to read it to find out!


"Caps! Caps for sale. Fifty cents a cap."


Monkey see? Monkey do!


I made this lunch for Beaker to celebrate National Reading Month. The sandwich is UDI's Gluten Free bread with lunchmeat and a vegan, soy-free mayonnaise (his favorite!). On top is a slice of cheese with the tired peddler painted on, using food-safe dyes and a toothpick. The leaves on the tree he rests against are made with cucumber peels.

Also tucked into the lunch are cucumber slices, snap peas, and baby sweet peppers. Peeking out of the cucumbers is a silly little monkey and the cap he stole away from the peddler. Another monkey and cap are hiding in a Halo orange with raisins. Rounding out the lunch are a handful of Van's Natural gluten free crackers and a little tub of Enjoy Life allergy-free chocolate chips.

The whole lunch is packed neatly in our Laptop Lunchbox. These boxes are great for packing several different items securely in one box. Everything stays together, right where it's supposed to be! Very convenient, and easy enough to use that Beaker can open them himself.



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Sunday, March 2, 2014

It's National Read Across America Day!


The Chaos household is full of big book fans. The walls in nearly every room of our house are lined with shelves of various sizes, all overflowing with books. So of course we can't let Read Across America day go by without notice!


Green Eggs and Ham is Beaker's very favorite book right now. He loves to curl up together on the couch to read with me, and he almost has this one memorized now. I don't know whether it's because he likes the rhythm of the rhymes, or if because NO is pretty much his favorite word, but either way he dearly loves this story. And I am happy to read it with him!



Green Eggs and Ham is about Sam-I-Am and his unnamed friend, and how sometimes even if you're absolutely certain you won't like something you should give it a try, because you just might be surprised.


To celebrate Read Across America day, and the anniversary of the birth of one of the greatest authors, I made Beaker a special lunch based on his very favorite book. Of course, it needed to be made safe for his allergies. This lunch is completely dairy, egg, soy, wheat/gluten, nut, peanut, and garlic free.


This pair of green eggs are actually egg free - and free of dairy and soy, too! They are made with plain coconut milk yogurt and an avocado, which makes a pretty tasty Beaker-safe guacamole when mixed together. Perfect for dipping carrot slices!



Curls of ham (peppered Canadian bacon, actually) rest on a bed of mixed greens.


Sam's stubborn friend is sketched with food safe dye on slightly crisped corn tortillas, great for smearing with that guacamole. Tucked into the side is a handful of diced sweet red bell pepper.


To round out the lunch, he has some green grapes and peeled Cutie orange segments, and also a scoop of delicious Enjoy Life allergy safe chocolate mini chips.



So what is your favorite book?


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Eats Amazing World Book Day Linkies

Monday, February 3, 2014

My (Other) Favorite Love Story

Remember last year, when I said that my favorite love story is The Princess Bride? Well, recently I was reminded of my other favorite love story.

It is a love as true and deep as the sea. A love that withstood the tests of time and trouble. A love unparalleled. A pair that you just know will be together forever, whatever life may throw at them.

JD and Turk, besties forever!


I love Scrubs. It is still one of the greatest shows ever made! My favorite episode is "My Way Home", but "My Musical" is second on my list for sure.  

It's February, and that means its time for love-themed lunches. I'm kicking it off with my first Valentine's lunch of the year by paying homage to the best couple on TV.

Caesar salad in a Sistema Cube, topped with parmesan cheese and cracked black pepper, with chicken and dressing on the side.

Also included are some carrots, a heart-shaped silicone cup full of croutons, and small red grapes.


Also, Zach Braff's fabulous hair. And a chocolate bear. Because Turk is JD's Chocolate Bear, of course!




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