Monday, September 17, 2012

Curse You, Allergy Season!

Blech. Every year, twice per year, a plague descends upon our home. It is as predictable as the changing of the seasons. Mostly because it is caused by the changing of the seasons. When the leaves start to fall and when they start to re-appear, allergy season kicks in to full gear. The Dude and I both have airborne seasonal allergies, and unfortunately our kids all have the same. Brick is a ball of misery today and wasn't much fun yesterday either. Beaker was full on ill yesterday, with a fever and more. Bean is congested and Princess is sneezing, Dude and I both have nasty sinus headaches. So far G-man is the only one who feels halfway human, though I suspect he will be snuffling and sneezing soon, too. Hot tea, warm compresses, and Kleenex become our dear friends during this time.

Miserable allergies aside, I do love the changing of the seasons. I am a hard-core Summer lover, but I also have a soft spot for Autumn. It is the most sensory-filled season, I think. The soft noisy crunching of leaves under your feet. The cool snap in the air. The smell of coming cold, wood fires burning in chimneys, and a hint of compost in the air. The riot of colors to see. A million ways in which Nature tucks herself in for a season of sleep, and we get to watch. It's almost magical.

You know, except for the watery itchy eyes, sneezing, sinus pressure, and general feeling of misery.

Beaker's lunch on Friday was fun, and I didn't get around to posting it until today. I wanted to play with my new cupcake cookie cutter (which I did post about with the girls' lunches on Friday) and made Beaker a Sweet Treat themed lunch.

He has a watermelon sundae, made with scoops of watermelon (just use a melon baller to scoop out the watermelon) and a light toss of sprinkles all in a flower shaped silicone baking cup. Vanilla cupcake flavored Goldfish grahams swim around the base of the 'sundae'.

He also has a cupcake shaped turkey and cheese sandwich with a raspberry 'cherry' on top. The details on the sandwich are drawn on using tubes of glitter gel found on the baking aisle at the grocery store. The gels are made for decorating cookies and cakes, but aren't terribly sweet or strongly flavored, so they work out well here.

I also included some carrot sticks wtih a little cup of ranch dip and three colorful gummi bears. The ranch dip is held in a mini silicone baking cup. Beaker ate the gummi bears first, of course, and then devoured the carrots and begged for more. He wound up eating four servings of carrots! As a general rule he doesn't really eat carrots, he just likes to gnaw on them and then spit them out, so this was a nice change. He loved the way the carrot sticks were small and had their own special dip. He also ate the whole sandwich and most of the watermelon and crackers, too. Seeing him eat an entire plate of food is big. He is usually very much a grab-and-run kid and only grazes at meals, preferring to eat his food in small nibbles and bits as he runs all over. I have found that decorative bento-ish meals like this really grab his attention and keep him in one place while he eats, getting him to eat more and solving the afternoon crankies.

And they're just more fun!

Brick requested a salad for lunch today, and I was happy to oblige. He discovered recently that at his school cafeteria he can't just buy a side salad. They offer a salad bar every day, but in order to get the salad you have to buy a main entree. They are allowed unlimited salad, but it annoys him that he has to buy and waste the main entree when all he wants is the salad. So, he will bring his own!

I packed his meal in the Sistema Klip It To Go box. I love this thing, but it does hold a lot of food. Perfect for a growing 13 (almost 14!) year old to bring a good hearty salad. The salad itself is iceberg lettuce with clover sprouts, pepperjack slices, and a roll of turkey, with a small tub of ranch dressing. I also included a little container of roasted sunflower seeds, oyster crackers, and a hard-boiled egg in one of the smaller compartments. The other small compartment holds mini sausage links, red and green grapes, and a raspberry cheesecake.

The rest of the kids took leftovers for lunch. We had pancakes yesterday, and they travel well for kids who don't mind eating them cold.

G-man has pancake slices with a little tub of syrup for dipping. He also has a hard-boiled egg, a raspberry cheesecake, mini sausage links, red and green grapes, and some Goldfish crackers. This container was purchased at the Dollar Tree. I am actually very surprised at how well it works. For a buck, I was not expecting much. The container will not hold up well over time, but so far has lasted a little over a month and is still in good condition. It also came with a fork and knife tucked into special slots on the lid. Not back for $1!

Bean has a bunny lunch. I used a cookie cutter to cut leaping rabbit shapes out of a pancake, and another to cut the small flower pancake accent, and tucked in a little tub of syrup for dipping. She also has a skewer of mini sausage links, red and green grapes, a small salad, and a raspberry cheesecake. A hard-boiled egg shaped like a rabbit head and a few Annie's bunny grahams round out the theme lunch.

Princess has the same items for lunch, but in a bear theme. Bear shaped pancakes with a bear head hard-boiled egg and a little bear food pick to hold her mini sausage links. I also added a cut grape tomato to her little salad ~ she loves grape tomatoes, but Bean is not a fan. The Annie's bunny grahams don't really fit into the theme here, but I didn't have any Teddy Grahams in the pantry, so just roll with it.

Beaker wanted a special bear-y cute breakfast this morning, and I was happy that he was feeling better enough to eat. He has bear shaped pancakes with a mini silicone cup of syrup, half a banana, red and green grapes, and a cup of yogurt with a few sprinkles. Quick, easy, and so cute it caught his attention long enough for him to eat most of the food, instead of grabbing a bite or two and then pushing it all away and complaining of hunger five minutes later.

The raspberry cheesecakes I packed in for the kids lunches were made over the weekend. Brick wants to learn how to bake, so on the weekends when we have more time we are starting to teach him a few tricks in the kitchen. He chose cheesecake for last weekend and you bet your buns I leapt on that! Unfortunately, he felt too awful from allergies to really learn or do much, so I wound up baking them on my own and we'll have to teach him how to bake cheesecake another day. He was certainly happy to eat them though!

These cheesecakes are made with eggs from my chickens (so free range organic eggs), have an organic raspberry jam center, and are topped with homemade whipped cream, a fresh raspberry, and organic chocolate mint sprigs from my garden. Hello, delicious! Notice how many times I used the word "organic" in the description? That's to distract you from the billion calories each little cheesecake probably holds. I am pretending that the organic-ness of them makes them calorie and fat free and chock full of very good for you things. Now if I could just fool my hips into believing that...!

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