Alpha Mom » Wendy Copley http://alphamom.com parenting and pregnancy opinions and information Wed, 17 Dec 2014 19:33:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 Woodland Monogram Ornaments http://alphamom.com/family-fun/holidays/woodland-monogram-ornaments/ http://alphamom.com/family-fun/holidays/woodland-monogram-ornaments/#comments Thu, 11 Dec 2014 14:15:40 +0000 http://alphamom.com/?p=35603

Bring a little of the outdoors inside with these cute woodsy monogram ornaments. To make them pull wood sticks from your yard or pick them up from the ground in a neighborhood park then pair them with a few items from the craft store.

Woodland Monogram Ornaments by Wendy Copley for Alphamom.com

Supplies to make these ornaments you will need:

  • 3-4 inch wood or chipboard letters
  • wood glue — I used this because it was what I had on hand; I’m guessing Elmer’s school glue would probably work fine. Be sure to choose glue that dries clear.
  • thin sticks, no more than about 1/4 inch in diameter
  • ribbon
  • cute, dimensional stickers — candy canes, snowmen, snowflakes, animals, etc.
  • decorative moss

Woodland Monogram Ornaments by Wendy Copley for Alphamom.com

Tutorial for making wood ornaments:
Begin by poking holes in your letters so that you can string ribbon through them for hanging. This is a job that is better for grown-ups to do.

Next, break the sticks into short lengths of approximately the same width as the letters. This is a great task for kids! You can just break them by bending them, or if you want to be a little more precise you can cut the sticks part way with a pair of scissors and break them apart the rest of the way.  I found it was helpful to break a bunch of sticks all at once so we had a nice pile with different lengths to choose from when we started the gluing.

Woodland Monogram Ornaments by Wendy Copley for Alphamom.com

Add a thick layer of glue to a small section of the letter. Don’t cover the hole you punched!

Woodland Monogram Ornaments by Wendy Copley for Alphamom.com

Add pieces of sticks the same width as the letter to cover the glue. Press the sticks into the glue for a few seconds to make sure they’re really stuck to the letter. If a bit of glue squeezes up into the space between the sticks that’s OK. It will help secure the sticks in place and it will dry clear so it won’t be noticeable.

 

Woodland Monogram Ornaments by Wendy Copley for Alphamom.com

Continue attaching sticks until the entire letter is covered. A few tips:

  • Be careful not to cover the hole that you’ll put the string through when you’re adding sticks because it will be very hard — if not impossible — to get the ribbon through once it has dried. Ask me how I know!
  • I think the letters look good when the sticks overhang the outer edges of the letter a little, but be careful the keep the sticks flush with the inner edges. Even a slight overhang can end up obscuring the holes in the middle of letters (A, B, G, R, etc.).
  • Placing the sticks on the letters horizontally generally works much better than placing them vertically. Smaller sticks tend to attach to the flat surface of the letter better and it’s also easier to cut them down to the right length.

Woodland Monogram Ornaments by Wendy Copley for Alphamom.com

You’ll find that some sticks don’t nestle together as well as others which can result in gaps that allow the base letter to show through. Tuck small pieces of decorative moss into these spaces to cover them up. Make sure they are connecting to the glue on the base so they’ll stay put!

Woodland Monogram Ornaments by Wendy Copley for Alphamom.com

Allow the letters to sit for a few hours until the glue has dried completely.

Woodland Monogram Ornaments by Wendy Copley for Alphamom.com

Cut a piece of ribbon about 6-7 inches long. Thread it through the hole in the top of the letter and tie it to create a loop for hanging.

Woodland Monogram Ornaments by Wendy Copley for Alphamom.com

Add stickers to decorate the letter.

Woodland Monogram Ornaments by Wendy Copley for Alphamom.com

Hang the ornaments on a Christmas tree, in a window or use them as a super fancy tag on a gift.

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Turkey Sandwich Food Craft for Thanksgiving http://alphamom.com/family-fun/holidays/turkey-sandwich-food-craft-for-thanksgiving/ http://alphamom.com/family-fun/holidays/turkey-sandwich-food-craft-for-thanksgiving/#comments Fri, 14 Nov 2014 15:56:29 +0000 http://alphamom.com/?p=35231

Help get your kids excited for Thanksgiving with this cute and healthy sandwich that looks like a turkey. Fill it with  PB&J or whatever else your child likes, or with leftovers from the feast.

To get started you’ll need:

  • red and yellow bell peppers
  • sandwich bread and sandwich fillings
  • carrot
  • red bell pepper or tomato
  • icing googly eyes

You’ll also need this equipment:

  • a small leaf-shaped cookie cutter
  • a large, round cookie or biscuit cutter

Turkey Sandwich Fun Food Craft by Wendy Copley for Alphamom.com #Thanksgiving

Start by cutting the bell pepper into wide strips, then use the leaf cutter to cut eight pieces of orange pepper and four pieces of yellow pepper. If you don’t have a leaf cutter, you can just cut these pieces from the pepper with a knife.

Tip: peel off the tough outer skin of the bell peppers with a vegetable peeler. This will make it easier to cut through the peppers with the cookie cutter and I’ve found most kids are much more likely to eat bell peppers when the skin is removed.

Turkey Sandwich Fun Food Craft by Wendy Copley for Alphamom.com #Thanksgiving

Arrange three pieces of the orange pepper at the top of the plate. Add a row of the yellow bell peppers below that, and then finish the turkey’s tail by adding the remaining orange pepper pieces.

Cut two circles of bread with the large, round cutter and fill the sandwich with whatever fillings you are using. I used ham and cheese when I made this sandwich, but if you have leftovers from Thanksgiving turkey slices and cranberry sauce are kind of a no-brainer for this sandwich. Add the sandwich to the bottom of the plate so that the peppers are tucked under it a bit.

Cut a slice of carrot about an inch wide and two inches long. I cut a baby carrot in half length-wise and it worked perfectly.

Turkey Sandwich Fun Food Craft by Wendy Copley for Alphamom.com #Thanksgiving

Now give the turkey a face. I used icing googly eyes and a couple of small triangles cut from the yellow bell pepper scraps for the beak. The turkey’s wattle was made by cutting two small pieces of red bell out with the end of a drinking straw.

Turkey Sandwich Fun Food Craft by Wendy Copley for Alphamom.com #Thanksgiving

And now you have an adorable sandwich they’ll gobble up! (See what I did there?)

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Doodled Mandalas http://alphamom.com/family-fun/crafts/how-to-draw-mandalas/ http://alphamom.com/family-fun/crafts/how-to-draw-mandalas/#comments Thu, 04 Sep 2014 12:43:19 +0000 http://alphamom.com/?p=34316

 

My kids and I love to draw and doodle together. At least once per week I try to shut my laptop, ignore the chores and sit down at the table with them to sketch. Sometimes I give them challenges, other times we all make our drawings of the the same object and sometimes we do our own thing, but we always enjoy talking and creating together.

Earlier this year I started doodling a mandala in my sketchbook and when the kids noticed they started making their own versions. “Mandala” is a Sanskrit word describing a circle or disc. In the Hindu religion a mandala is a detailed geometric figure that represents wholeness or unity. While the mandalas we draw are not particularly spiritual in nature, I’ve found that they are soothing and relaxing to draw. They also end up being a lot of fun to make and they look great taped to the fridge.

Here’s how we do it:

Start by gathering a few materials. The only things you absolutely need are paper and something to draw with — a pencil, pen, colored pencils, marker, whatever. It’s also helpful to have something round to trace and if you or your kids like things extra neat a ruler can come in handy.

How to Draw Mandalas by Wendy Copley for Alphamom.com

I like to dive in and start drawing my mandalas freehand, but I’ve found that I can save a lot of frustration for my boys if I set them up with a basic circle structure they can build on before handing them a piece of paper. I usually trace around a cup or a bowl, but you could use a compass or draw it freehand too.

How to Draw Mandalas by Wendy Copley for Alphamom.com

I also like to divide my circle into quarters because this makes it a little easier to create patterns.

How to Draw Mandalas by Wendy Copley for Alphamom.com

 

I like to work inward from my initial circle and fill in the circle with geometric designs, then work outward from the edge of the circle drawing shapes and patterns in layers until it covers a great deal of the paper.

How to Draw Mandalas by Wendy Copley for Alphamom.com

Here are some ideas for patterns, shapes and lines you can add to the mandala if you get stuck:

  • triangles
  • circles
  • ovals
  • arches
  • scalloped lines
  • zig-zags
  • wavy lines
  • checkerboards
  • spirals
  • flowers
  • diamonds
  • stars
  • curlicues

And these are some examples of mandalas my kids and I have drawn:

How to Draw Mandalas by Wendy Copley for Alphamom.com

Sometimes we are precise. Sometimes we’re loosey-goosey. We often like to add color to our mandalas, either by using colored pens or pencils when we are initially sketching or by coloring in the patterns and shapes we’ve made when we are done. One time we made a mandala entirely out of stickers. And sometimes when I draw the circle and hand it over to my kids they go in a completely different direction by drawing monsters or drummers in a flaming circle. That’s OK too.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Bento Box Lunch http://alphamom.com/family-fun/food-home/teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles-bento-box-lunch/ http://alphamom.com/family-fun/food-home/teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles-bento-box-lunch/#comments Thu, 31 Jul 2014 12:55:32 +0000 http://alphamom.com/?p=33806

This post is sponsored by Target. More Turtles, More Bold and Daring Fun: Blur the lines of fantasy and reality with your favorite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles at Target.

If I were to pick the over-arching theme of my nine-year-old’s summer it would have to be comics. He wakes up early in the morning to read comics in the quiet house before the rest of the family gets up. He pulls something out of his dad’s enormous comic book collection every day. He checks out big, fat comic compendiums when we visit the library and he sketches his own stick figure comic strips in a notebook he keeps under his bed. He loves both reading and drawing and comic books are a perfect mash up of the two.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Bento Box by Wendy Copley for Alphamom.com

One of his favorite activities is riding his scooter to the comic book store a few blocks from our house and spending some time browsing. He always comes back from these excursions excited to tell me about the cool things he’s spotted. Sometimes it’s a new installment of a super hero comic book, other times it’s a new issue from Disney or the Simpsons. I do my best to keep up my end of these conversations but I’m not always as well-versed in the comic-of-the-day as he would like.

Recently he came home with news of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. “Mom, did you know there are Ninja Turtle comics? It’s not just a movie.” Yes! I did know that! Finally I could hold my own. “Actually, the Ninja Turtles started as a comic,” I told him. “All the other stuff came later.” He was suitably impressed by this bit of knowledge so I regaled him with all the TMNT trivia I picked up babysitting my younger cousin in the 80’s and scored some cool mom points in the process.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Bento Box by Wendy Copley for Alphamom.com

Was I going to let my comic book cred die out after one conversation? Oh no, I wasn’t! I wanted to milk it for all it was worth! The next morning I grabbed a few groceries for a special lunch during a trip to Target and since there was Ninja Turtles stuff everywhere, I may have picked up a few other TMNT treats while I was there too.

When we got home, Wyatt helped me brainstorm ideas for a Ninja Turtles lunch and we made it together. (OK, OK! I’ll admit that I did most of the work. He got bored after brainstorming and started to read his comic.)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Bento Box by Wendy Copley for Alphamom.com

Supplies for a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Bento Box Lunch

Ingredients

  • 2 slices of sandwich bread
  • 1 slice of cheddar cheese
  • sliced deli meat such as ham or turkey (optional)
  • mayonnaise or any other desired condiments
  • honeydew melon
  • cantaloupe
  • pizza flavored crackers
  • cucumber
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fruit snacks

Equipment

How to make a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Bento Box Lunch

How to Make a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Bento Box by Wendy Copley for Alphamom.com

Begin by cutting two large circles from two slices of sandwich bread. You can use a large cookie cutter for this, or you can use a big drinking glass or bowl — anything that’s about the same size as your bread. I used a stainless steel food storage container. Next trim a little bit of bread from the edges of the circles so the bread is a bit pointy at the top and thus more turtle-shaped. I stacked the two slices on top of each other before trimming so the shapes would match up.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Bento Box by Wendy Copley for Alphamom.com

Next, cut a mask and a smile shape from the cheese. I like to lay the cheese on top of the bread and score the basic shape I’m going for with the tip of a knife to get an idea of how it should look. You can get fancy and cut an extra bow shape on the end of the mask if you like, or if you want to keep it simple, just cut a strip that’s about an inch wide and trim it to fit on your bread. I used a large drinking straw to cut round eye holes in the mask but you can do those with the tip of your knife too.

How to Make a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Bento Box by Wendy Copley for Alphamom.com

Next I made custom TMNT food picks. I found some cool picks with large circles on the end at Target that were just begging to be customized. I used a 1 inch circle punch to cut the Ninja Turtle faces from a thank you card (also found in the party aisle at Target), then I affixed them to each side of a couple picks with double-sided tape. You’ll see how I use the picks down below.

How to Make a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Bento Box by Wendy Copley for Alphamom.com

Use a melon baller to scoop pieces out of a honeydew melon and place them in one of the side dish areas of the bento box. I don’t have a melon baller, so I used a set of metal measuring spoons to do my scooping. This is a great job for a kid. Wyatt and I thought the melon balls looked kind of like turtle shells. Do you see it?

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Bento Box by Wendy Copley for Alphamom.com

Next, cut a slice of cantaloupe about a half inch thick. Use small alphabet cutters to cut “TMNT” from the melon slice. If the melon gets stuck in the cutters, ease it out by gently pressing on the edges of the letters with the blunt end of a toothpick.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Bento Box by Wendy Copley for Alphamom.com

Thread the letters onto one of the customized picks then add it to the box on top of the green melon balls.

How to Make a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Bento Box by Wendy Copley for Alphamom.com

No Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles lunch box would be complete without some form of pizza, right? I took the easy route and added a handful of pizza flavored Goldfish crackers. I tucked the second customized pick into the section with the crackers. Finally, I stacked a few slices of cucumber in the smallest section of the bento box. Again we thought they looked a little like turtle shells.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Bento Box by Wendy Copley for Alphamom.com

Fill a water bottle and tuck it in the lunch bag with the bento box, some TMNT fruit snacks and a TMNT napkin. If you slip a comic book in the bag too, you’ll be all set for a scooter ride to the comic shop.

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This post is sponsored by Target. More Turtles, More Bold and Daring Fun: Blur the lines of fantasy and reality with your favorite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles at Target.

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Do-It-Yourself Robot Snacks for Kids http://alphamom.com/family-fun/food-home/diy-robot-snacks-for-kids/ http://alphamom.com/family-fun/food-home/diy-robot-snacks-for-kids/#comments Thu, 17 Jul 2014 17:28:33 +0000 http://alphamom.com/?p=33641

Do your kids ask you for snacks 200 times per day? Mine do. They ask me for a snack while I’m fixing their breakfast, before they go to bed, and when they are in the bath tub. Sometimes they ask me for a snack while they’re clearing the dishes off the table from the snack they just ate. I don’t want them to be hungry, of course, but I suspect that these requests are prompted by boredom almost as often as they are prompted by hunger pangs so I decided to make make snack time more entertaining by combining a craft and food with these do-it-yourself robot snacks.

DIY Robot Snacks by Wendy Copley for Alphamom.com

I began by setting out a variety of different foods to create with. The first step was to make a couple peanut butter sandwiches and cut them into rectangular shapes that could be used for the heads and bodies of the robots. Then I pulled little bits of this and that out of the fridge. My main goal was to provide the kids with a variety of shapes — sticks for arms and legs, circles for wheels, and smaller items for details — but I also used this as an opportunity to finish off the last of the blueberries and use up the remaining celery sticks before they went rubbery.

I ended up with blueberries, ranch dip, sliced olives, celery, carrots and radish slices. Some ideas for ingredients:

  • Sticks — carrots, celery, sugar snap peas, bell pepper strips, green beans, string cheese or pretzels
  • Circles — sliced radishes or cucumbers, bananas, carrot coins, cherries, berries, cherry tomatoes or grapes
  • Details — olives, blueberries, edamame, peas or corn

DIY Robot Snacks by Wendy Copley for Alphamom.com

Then I set the kids to work. I started my boys off by giving them each a couple sandwich pieces to use as the base but it didn’t take long at all for them to get into the nitty gritty of creating their robots. Honestly, I thought they would slap arms and legs on the plate and start eating in under two minutes, but they spent quite a bit of time adding joints, control panels and other details.

DIY Robot Snacks by Wendy Copley for Alphamom.com

They were both quite proud of their creations when they were finished and they even asked me to take photos and text them to their dad before they ate them.

When it was time to eat, the boys chowed down on their sandwiches and most of the fruits and veggies on their plates and they ate all the leftover ingredients I’d set out for them too. There may have been a few pieces of celery and quite a few olives leftover, but that’s cool because they didn’t ask me for another snack for at least another 30 minutes.

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Transformers Outdoor Celebration: Becoming Kindergartners http://alphamom.com/family-fun/party-play/transformers-outdoor-party/ http://alphamom.com/family-fun/party-play/transformers-outdoor-party/#comments Fri, 27 Jun 2014 14:53:31 +0000 http://alphamom.com/?p=33227

This post is sponsored by Target. More Transformers, More Than Meets the Eye: Blur the lines of fantasy and reality with your favorite Transformers at Target.


In August, my five-year old son Augie will be leaving his preschool and heading off into the big world of kindergarten. He has attended his tiny little school for the last three years and the seven kids in the pre-K program are a close-knit group. When they go to kindergarten in a few weeks their little group will not be moving on together. They’ll be spread across four or five different schools. We’ll be able to arrange occasional playdates with his friends, of course, but the daily games of tag and Lego building sessions will come to an end before they know it.

I wanted to give Augie and his preschool buddies one last big, fun, super playdate before summer comes to an end. A chance to run around, laugh, shout and really cut loose together as only a group of five-year-olds can.  I wasn’t going for a full-on party, but I was hoping to pull together a small celebration, something beyond an everyday run around our backyard. The goal was to make it easy and low-stress so I emailed his friends’ parents inviting them to join us shortly after preschool pick-up at a park that’s just a couple blocks from the school so people could walk over or stop by on their way home.

Transformers Party

I picked up all my supplies at Target on the day of the super-playdate. The kids are all ga-ga for Transformers and they’re transforming into kindergartners, so I started with that theme and ran with it. I grabbed red and blue tableware (to match Optimus Prime), a few bags of popcorn, fruit snacks that looked like wheels and a big bag of apples. My kid is always starving after school, so I knew snacks would be crucial but I kept it light because I didn’t want to be the mom who ruined everyone’s dinner, either.

Transformers Party

Also crucial: a cooler full of drinks on a warm summer afternoon — organic juice boxes for the kids, sparkly mango water for the parents. (Though I would have been totally fine with grown-ups drinking the juice boxes and kids chugging sparkling water. I’m cool like that.)

Transformers Party

I also grabbed a bunch of small Transformers toys to decorate the table and so the kids could each have one to play with and take home in lieu of a gift bag.

Transformers Party

Augie helped my set up by arranging them down the length of the picnic table we’d staked out. Bonus: they kept the table cloth from blowing away. More than meets the eye, indeed!

Transformers Party

My big splurge was a stack of Transformers t-shirts — one for each preschooler and for the little brothers and sisters who came along too. The kids were thrilled to have matching shirts. They loved picking which color shirt to wear and as they ran around they looked like a little club. Hopefully it will serve as a memento of their time together in preschool and the kindergarten adventure that waits ahead.

Transformers Party

Have you noticed how many times I’ve mentioned running? It’s because that’s what they did for almost the entire time they were together. As each boy arrived my older son helped him choose a Transformer from the table and helped him get situated with a t-shirt. And then they took off! They ran all over the park, back and forth across the soccer field, around the play structure, in between picnic tables. For a full half hour, the other parents and I marveled at their stamina.

Transformers Party

When we noticed that they were getting pretty hot, we insisted they take a break for some juice and a cool down in the shade.

Transformers Party

I broke out a box of chalk and they all got down on the ground and drew their favorite Transformers.

Transformers Party

I thought this likeness of Chase, the police Transformer was particularly good.

I had initially planned to have the kids do a craft project, but as I was walking the aisles of Target, I realized that getting a group of young kids to sit still at a playground was going to be nearly impossible.

Transformers Party

I decided that pool noodles would be great for the kids to use as robot arms. They were a little long to manage easily, so I cut them in half before bringing them to the park. I was surprised that the boys didn’t notice the giant bin of noodles until I pointed them out, but once they did they were all over them.

Transformers Party

At first they were content to wave them around and yell, but pretty soon they realized they are super fun for bonking your friends with. Yup, an instant crowd pleaser for the kindergarten-set.

Transformers Party

Even more fun? Chasing the big brother in attendance and bonking him with pool noodles!

See? More running.

Transformers Party

The kids ran and played. The parents chatted. Clean-up took 5 minutes.  And a group of good buddies who are transforming before my eyes had a celebratory last playdate together.

This post is sponsored by Target. More Transformers, More Than Meets the Eye: Blur the lines of fantasy and reality with your favorite Transformers at Target.

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Transformers Bento Box Lunch for the Rising Kindergartner http://alphamom.com/family-fun/transformers-bento-box-lunch/ http://alphamom.com/family-fun/transformers-bento-box-lunch/#comments Wed, 25 Jun 2014 15:58:46 +0000 http://alphamom.com/?p=33101

This post is sponsored by Target. More Transformers, More Than Meets the Eye: Blur the lines of fantasy and reality with your favorite Transformers at Target.

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My five-year-old son is starting kindergarten this fall and it’s so exciting! Exciting for me, at least. For him, it’s a humongous source of worry. He is worried that when he goes to elementary school he’ll get lost in the big building, that his teacher will be mean and  that they will give him the same homework that his 4th-grader brother did last year. He is also worried about leaving his beloved preschool behind, along with all his friends and his very best buddy who was born almost on the same day as him. My Augie is a worrier, and so we’ve been talking a lot about what kindergarten will be like. We’ve peeked in his classroom window. I’ve told him kindergarten teachers are the nicest teachers of all and I’ve assured him that his homework will be just right for a kid his age. We’ve also talked about how changes are scary sometimes but that they can also be really great — like when a caterpillar changes to a butterfly. “Caterpillars are nice,” I said, “but a butterfly is even better.” And then my son, who had been watching Transformers: Rescue Bots earlier in the day  made another connection: “Cars are nice, but robots are better, right Mom?” Yes! Exactly! Changing from a preschooler to a kindergarten is like changing from a car to a robot! Transformers Bento Box Lunch by Wendy Copley for Alphamom.com I loved that he made this particular connection because it’s one I know I can run with to encourage him through the weeks leading up to the start of school. Butterflies? Fine. Transformers? Perfect for a kid who has been enamored of cars and robots since he was a toddler! To reinforce this idea, we made a quick trip to Target where he picked out an Optimus Prime toy that he could use when he wanted to play “kindergarten.” And then while we were there, we bought a new Transformers lunch bag and water bottle that he could use for snack time next fall (and also because his Mom has a bit of an obsession with lunch gear…ahem). And then I got the brilliant idea to make him a Transformers lunch, because that would reinforce the Transformers metaphor even more. And now I’m going to show you how to make a Transformers bento box lunch for your little Optimus Prime or Bumblebee: Transformers Bento Box Lunch by Wendy Copley for Alphamom.com

What you’ll need to make a Transformers Bento Box Lunch

Ingredients

  • 2 slices of whole wheat bread
  • 2 slices of cheese
  • sliced deli meat such as ham or turkey (optional)
  • mayonnaise and any other desired condiments
  • strawberries
  • cucumber
  • grapes

Equipment

How to put the Transformers Bento Box Lunch together

I used three special techniques to make this lunch look Transformers-y: a sandwich shaped and decorated with cheese to look like the Autobots symbol (those are the good guys in case you didn’t know), cucumbers cut to look like gears, and a home made pick with a picture of Optimus Prime on it (the leader of the good guys). Let’s start with the sandwich: Transformers Bento Box Lunch by Wendy Copley for Alphamom.com The first step is to cut your bread into the basic shape of the Autobots symbol. I did a quick Google search to find an image I could use as a reference while I was cutting and I recommend you do the same. Start by stacking two pieces of bread on top of each other so you can cut through both slices at once. This will save you time and it will also ensure that the pieces end up the same shape. Use the paring knife to cut the bottom crust off the bread in a straight line. Make two small horizontal cuts on each edge of the top of the bread and then connect them by cutting an arch. If you follow the curve of the bread crust this is pretty easy. Make two vertical cuts, angling them slightly toward the middle of the bread and then cut the bottom corners off each side of the bread at an angle. When you’re done cutting you should have something that looks like this: Transformers Bento Box Lunch by Wendy Copley for Alphamom.com You’ll notice that you have a bunch of bread scraps leftover when you’re done cutting. I put my bread scraps in a zip top bag and store them in the freezer to use for making bread crumbs so they don’t go to waste. Transformers Bento Box Lunch by Wendy Copley for Alphamom.com Now we’re going to cut a slice of cheese to look like the Autobots symbol and use it to decorate the top of the sandwich. This is the fussiest part of this lunch, but I promise that if you take it one step at a time it’s not too hard.  If you mess up and cut in the wrong place, don’t sweat it! You can just push the cheese back together and no one will be the wiser. Also, you are making a cheese Transformer for your kid’s lunch, for Pete’s sake! He’ll be thrilled even if it’s not 100% perfect. Start by centering a bread slice on two slices of cheese. Cut around the edge of the bread to make the basic Autobots symbol. Set one of the cheese slices aside and then cut the other slice into pieces with the tip of your paring knife following the step by step photos up above. Again, it’s helpful to have a photo of the Autobots symbol nearby for this part. I left a few of the details off the symbol to make it a bit easier. Transformers Bento Box Lunch by Wendy Copley for Alphamom.com Now it’s time to assemble the sandwich. Start by placing the slice of cheese you’ve reserved on one of the pieces of bread. If you’d like to add some deli meat such as ham or turkey, trim that to fit inside the sandwich the same way you did with the cheese and add it, tucking any scraps on top. Add mayo and any other condiments you’d like to the second piece of bread and close the sandwich. Assemble the pieces of cheese you’ve cut to decorate the sandwich on top of the bread. I spread a little mayo on the back of each one to sort of glue them down. This will help to keep them in place when the lunch is being transported to school or camp. When your sandwich is decorated, add it to the lunch box. Transformers Bento Box Lunch by Wendy Copley for Alphamom.com Now we’ll make some gears from a cucumber. I used a small Persian cucumber for this lunch, but a larger cucumber works just as well and you won’t have to cut as many slices which will save a little time. Cut a chunk of cucumber that’s about an inch thick, give or take. (The one in my photo is longer than an inch, but you won’t make that mistake now that I’ve given you this good advice.) Make about 12 shallow cuts around the diameter of the cucumber. You can do more or less, but you want to make sure you make an even number of cuts. Transformers Bento Box Lunch by Wendy Copley for Alphamom.com When you’re finished scoring the skin of the cucumber, cut it into slices about 1/4 inch thick. You should be able to see the cuts you made through the skin going all the way around the cukes. Use the tip of the paring knife to cut out a chunk of skin between every other cut. This will give you the effect of gears.  Cut enough gears to lay flat in a single layer of the space where you’ll be placing the cucumbers. Transformers Bento Box Lunch by Wendy Copley for Alphamom.com Cut regular slices of cucumber and layer them in the box. Use the ones you’ve cut to look like gears for the top layer. Transformers Bento Box Lunch by Wendy Copley for Alphamom.com The last fun addition to this lunch is a home made pick that we used to decorate the strawberries. I particularly like this one because my son is the one who thought it up! I wanted to add just a little more Transformer-y goodness to the lunch so I asked Augie if he had any ideas. He suggested we cut pictures out of the packaging that his new Optimus Prime toy came in and put those in the lunch. Clever boy! Transformers Bento Box Lunch by Wendy Copley for Alphamom.com I thought his idea was a good one, but I decided it would be more practical if the picture was turned into a pick so I cut a piece out of the packaging and cut Optimus Prime’s face out with a circle punch that I use for crafting. If you’re going to try this, turn the punch upside down and center the piece of packaging in the hole so you can see exactly what you’re going to get before you punch it. Transformers Bento Box Lunch by Wendy Copley for Alphamom.com Tape a toothpick to the back of the punched shape. Transformers Bento Box Lunch by Wendy Copley for Alphamom.com Then add the strawberries to the lunch box and poke the fancy pick you just mad into one of the strawberries. The last thing I did was fill in the empty spaces around the sandwich with some grapes. Not only did this look a little nicer and add an extra serving of fruit to the lunch, but it also will help keep the sandwich from moving around when it’s in transit. Transformers Bento Box Lunch by Wendy Copley for Alphamom.com Ta-da! When you’re done you’ll have a lunch any Transformers lover will be thrilled to eat as he changes from a preschooler to a kindergartener.

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This post is sponsored by Target. More Transformers, More Than Meets the Eye: Blur the lines of fantasy and reality with your favorite Transformers at Target.

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Lemony Rainbow Popsicle Recipe http://alphamom.com/family-fun/food-home/healthy-popsicle-recipe-lemony-rainbow/ http://alphamom.com/family-fun/food-home/healthy-popsicle-recipe-lemony-rainbow/#comments Thu, 12 Jun 2014 19:04:17 +0000 http://alphamom.com/?p=32958

This is my kids’ first week of summer vacation and we are all so excited! Never mind the fact that the temperature in the San Francisco Bay area hasn’t topped 70 degrees even once in these first few days — we are determined to do all the summery things we can as soon as we can. So far we’ve visited the beach, the pool, and the library and we tie-dyed t-shirts in the back yard. But the #1 thing on my boys’ summer list of activities was to stock the freezer with popsicles.

Healthy Lemony Rainbow Popsicles by Wendy Copley for Alphamom.com

They want to eat ice pop after ice pop as they run from the kitchen to the back yard and back again. I want to teach them to make healthy food choices. We’re both happy with these Lemony Rainbow Popsicles.

These pops are colorful, tasty and they’re made almost entirely of fruit so they’re completely free of mom-guilt. You can use fresh fruit if you like, but this recipe (below) already has a lot of steps with the pureeing and the layering and the waiting for the popsicles to freeze so I opted to save a little time by just buying bags of frozen fruit.

Healthy Lemony Rainbow Popsicles by Wendy Copley for Alphamom.com

What You’ll Need:

12 oz. frozen raspberries
12 oz. frozen mango chunks
12 oz frozen pineapple chunks
3/4 cup lemonade, divided
1-2 tablespoons sugar (optional)

How to Make Them:

The first thing you need to do is make some room in your freezer for the popsicle molds. If you have space already that’s great, but my freezer is small and always pretty crowded, so I had to do a bit of rearranging to get them in.

Next, thaw the frozen raspberries slightly. You can let them sit out on the counter for awhile, or microwave them for a minute or so. They don’t have to be room temperature — mostly you just want them to be soft enough to blend easily. Put the berries in a food processor with 1/4 cup of lemonade and puree until smooth. If the mixture is too tart, you can add 1 or 2 tablespoons of sugar and give it another quick spin to combine it.  The puree will have a lot of seeds in it. If you want to remove some of them, push the mixture through a mesh strainer with the back of a spoon. If you prefer you can just leave the seeds in. No harm in getting a bit more roughage into your family’s diets, right?

Transfer the raspberry puree into a bowl and give the food processor a quick rinse.

Make the mango puree, following the same steps you used for the raspberries: thaw, combine with 1/4 cup lemonade and blend until smooth. No need to strain this mixture.

And finally, make the pineapple puree. Same steps here too: thaw, combine with 1/4 cup lemonade and blend.

Now it’s time to assemble the popsicles. You can add the purees in whatever order you like, of course, but I chose to do them in rainbow order — red, orange, yellow or raspberry, mango, pineapple. Begin by filling about 1/3 of each mold with the raspberry puree, then pop the molds into the freezer for about 15 minutes or so to let them set up a bit. The reason for this is that if you add the second batch of puree when the first one is still liquid they will mix together and you won’t get the nice stripey rainbow effect. When the raspberry layer is firm enough, gently add the mango puree to the next third of the mold. Let it set up for an additional 15 minutes, then fill the rest of the way with the pineapple puree. Add the sticks, then freeze 3 or 4 hours (or longer) until the popsicles are frozen all the way through.

Healthy Lemony Rainbow Popsicles by Wendy Copley for Alphamom.com

This recipe will make approximately twelve 3 oz. popsicles. If you have some puree leftover when you’re done assembling the pops, all three flavors are delicious mixed into a glass of lemonade. Enjoy!

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