DIY Family Craft : Sharpie Bowls

Summer is here! Oh, summer… It is the time of the year during in which moms worldwide have to find more ways to keep the kids busy and entertained! I was looking for something easy and mess free to do with two boys, aged 10 and 11. I wanted something useful they could also “take away” with them and remember the moment, so I started my research and I found Sharpie Mugs.

The idea is simple! Use oil based sharpie markers (available at craft stores, I got mine at Michaels) and $1 mugs or bowls from the dollar store.  I went looking for mugs, but I didn’t find any plain white mugs so instead I did bowls and it turned out better because that way they can use their bowls for cereal or snacks.

NOTE: It won’t work with regular Sharpies, so make sure you get the oil based ones.

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Then set your ideas free! Allow the kids to use their imagination and work on their design. You can also use stencils, for more intricate designs.

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Be careful not to smudge the colored area, the drawings can’t be erased. For the boys, putting the bowl upside down was easier to handle and move around. Make sure you cover your table because the markers will stain surfaces.

After your designs are done, put the mugs or bowls in a cold oven (don’t preheat) and set the temperature to 320F for 20mins. After 20 mins turn off and leave the bowls in the oven until they cool down. Remove carefully and boom! done! Your very own custom designed cereal bowls!

NOTE: Bowls/Mugs wont be dishwasther safe. You can wash by hand and they should stand the test of time, however they wont stand the dishwasher test.

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Toxic Free Picnic, Lunch and Snack Time with EcoLunchBox :: The Eco-friendly Lunchbox

It’s officially Spring! yes! which means it’s picnic time… It also means here in Texas its high pollen allergy season but, don’t let that ruin the chance for some great outdoor picnic and on the go weekend meals.

I love the simplicity of outdoor food. A fruit salad, cucumber sandwiches, fresh lemonade or infused water. The possibilities are endless! Try to stick to organic fruits when possible, especially when it comes to apples and celery as they tend to absorb a lot of pesticides and chemicals. Also, try to stick to nonplastic containers. Plastic pollution is an issue, the more plastic we use the harder it is for our planet to deal with it.

The average time for a plastic bottle to completely degrade is at least 450 years. http://www.postconsumers.com

Plastic containers can also be toxic to humans. Yes! toxic. In 2009, consumers were on a steep learning curve to understand chemicals in plastics, such as BPA (bisphenol-A) and phthalates. BPA is the starting material for making polycarbonate plastics. Any leftover BPA that is not consumed in the reaction used to make a plastic container can leach into its contents and from there to our bodies.  BPS was later developed as a  substitute for BPA in the production of plastic. However, the alternative isn’t any better.

A 2013 study by Cheryl Watson at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston found that even picomolar concentrations (less than one part per trillion) of BPS can disrupt a cell’s normal functioning, which could potentially lead to metabolic disorders such as diabetes and obesity, asthma, birth defects or even cancer.

For more info visit: http://www.scientificamerican.com

So looking into solving this issue, I started researching for nonplastic containers. I mean if the problem for both my body and the environment is plastic per se, then why stick to it? You can use glass and stainless steel containers instead. It seems like we had it right at the beginning. The trend is not about going vintage, it is about going clean and toxic free.

I found EcoLunchBox. As a socially responsible company, ECOlunchbox’s mission is to help people reduce their use and disposal of plastic food containers by providing non-toxic, plastic-free lunchboxes that are healthy for people and the planet. Their designs are simple, practical and clean.

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-POP

I contacted them immediately and decided to try them out. ECOlunchbox sent me some of their fantastic BPA-Free, Stainless Steel containers to try out and review. Let me tell you I am in love with them! The containers look stylish (that vintage vibe) and are versatile and easy to use. You can prepare your favorite salad, sandwich, or any to-go meal and carry it without ready for when hunger strikes. I took my Solo Cube to Hispanicize conference last week, and carried my crackers, fruit, and oat bars in my bag all day*.

*note I didn’t try it with wet foods, so I can’t really tell you if they are spill proof. However, they are squish proof, sturdy and strong.

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Their stainless steel lunchboxes are responsibly made in India, Thailand and China from high quality, food-grade stainless steel.

In Thailand and China, type 304 stainless steel is used in the production of our ECOlunchbox Oval and Blue Water Bento lunchboxes. Also known as 18/8, this high-quality and food-safe steel has at least 18% chromium and 8% nickel. Our other lunchboxes, including the Three-in-OneSolo CubeSolo Rectangle and snack containers, are made in India from type 201 steel containing 17 to 19% chromium and 4 to 6% nickel.

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Picnic time is mess free with the ECOLunchbox! Size is perfect for little hands too. My son hasn’t had any issues opening or closing the containers and he loves his tasty, fresh snacks.

Overall, I see absolutely no need for plastic containers in my household. Stainless steel containers and water bottles are here to stay. I promise once you make the change yo won’t ever go back. Get rid of plastic not only for you and your family’s health but also for the environment. Reducing waste at lunchtime (small steps) is one of many eco-friendly strategies that help reduce your environmental footprint, and with ECOLunchBox this task not only becomes easier but also more stilysh.

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Check out their line of  Artisan Lunchbags and matching napkins and reduce your lunchtime waste in style!

xoxo

Jihane

Everything is Awesome! Legoland Florida

Last week we went to Florida! yes, my son and I packed our travel legos and went to the “mother house”… Legoland Florida!

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The park is far away in what seems the middle of nowhere in comparison to the Disney Empire and the Universal Parks complex. Legoland is located half way between Tampa and Orlando. The road is ok though but it takes a while to get there so make sure you pack in car entertainment for your little ones.

Parking is same price as Disney, at $17 a day. We did the two park combo (water park and general park) in two days, and I kind of wish we had done it in one day. It is possible to do it as the waterpark isn’t really that big (but fun) and in order to get to the water park you have to walk ALL the way through the general park, there is no other way around it.

The park is an awesome experience for Lego fans. You have an entire area dedicated to small cities made of Legos, it is amazing although clearly getting deteriorated by weather, some of the stuff has lost is color and looks a little meh but it is understandable. It still constitute and amazing work of art and dedication.

The rides are fun, kid friendly. A few rollercoasters, a cool laser tag and a sort of splash adventure in which you will get soaked (YOU WILL no matter what so if you don’t want to get soaked do not go to the Lego Chima ride). At the Pirate Cove there is a live action show that involves water stunts and water splashes which seems to be a favorite with kids. I mean who doesn’t like captain Brick Beard?

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There is an indoor station (PERFECT, HEAVEN for hot summer days) in which you can try all Lego video games in different platforms (PS4, Wii, Xbox) and a place in which you can built your own little race car and test “drive” it against other people. We also saw some characters there (picture time!) get those cameras ready and snap snap snap!

There are plenty of eating options and I was very pleasantly surprised with the availability of vegetarian dishes. At the Market Place main restaurant they offer an asian veggie bowl/ with rice that was quite delicious! The burger place also offers spicy bean burgers. Salads are also an option available. I was a little sad however that there was no funnel cake anywhere! I mean really? for me Florida parks and funnel cake go hand on hand.

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I also loved how all the benches in the park claim to be made of recycled materials! So this park hit all the environmentally friendly and vegan friendly marks with me. So everything is awesome! (pun intended)

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The park has many stores thought the entire place with different options of Legos and Lego related merchandise. The main shop at the entrance called “The Big Shop” is without a doubt the one with more variety. You can also find a minifig store in which you can make your own mini figures, and a brick shop in which you can buy bricks by the pound. I was sad we were unable to use or gain any Lego VIP points though, you would think that of all places this will be the place to earn points. So boo for that! The Lego store has cool stuff from Lego toy sets to clothing and Lego inspired kitchen supplies

IMG_5181The Water Park

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The water park area is a different park, so you need to purchase a separate ticket for this site if you wish to visit it. It isn’t really that big but is very fun! specially on a super hot day!. The lazy river with oversized Lego bricks floating are the best part (if you ask me, my son might differ) There is also an area for the little ones, and a much adventurous area with slides and buckets for the bigger ones.

There is a beach with a lego island in the middle, and two big slide/rides for which kids need to be at least 48″. Food options are a little limited but still available with just one restaurant in the area. Lockers can be rented for an affordable price too.

Legoland was all we expected! if you have kids ages 2-15 you and them will enjoy this park. It is a little overpriced at $89 for general entry BUT a year pass is only $10 more bucks and… there are other options like a multipass including entry to other locations in Orlando.

Until next adventure… 🙂

Summer Series: Let’s Play Outside!

I simply love outdoors, even in super hot texas. Summer is a brilliant time to get the kids (and adults) in your life to interact with nature, and away of screen time. It is not an easy task, trust me. Ive had to detach my son from his PS4, iPad and iPhone but the results are amazing.

Go outside and..

1. You don’t have to go to a park far away. Your front or backyard will do sometimes. Get some sidewalk chalk and some bubbles at your dollar store and break out the fun outside. We had lots of fun painting in the shade, drinking lemonade and blowing bubbles.

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2. If you have more time… go visit a local park. In Texas i have discovered so many amazing parks. We went to Jessie Jones Park over the weekend and it was so fun. Hiking, discovering nature and picking up leaves and stones. We also had the chance to see a bunch of beautiful turtles in their natural pond. Experiences like this you and your kids will cherish for a long time.

TIP: Make sure you take some OFF and spray yourselves before you venture into the park. At this time of year there are lots of bugs (specially mosquitoes) around so make sure you spray yourselves first. Also make sure you take some water with you.

3. Nature Scavenger Hunt – make time outdoors even more educational by doing a scavenger hunt. Hunt for different types of vegetation, spot the bird, find the stick, and many more. The possibilities are endless. Lake Houston Nature Wilderness Park organizes some of these events now and then, but if not, simply make your own.

4. Backyard Water War: if you have more than one child, you can get a few water guns at the dollar store and have your own little splash war time. It gets the kids running and keeps them active while staying fresh. This is fun for kids and adults alike.

Researches suggest that spending time outdoors helps you reduce stress, depression and anxiety. According to a study by the University of Minnesota “Being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings. Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, it contributes to your physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones.” So go outside and start enjoying the benefits of nature.

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Summer Series: Pool Snacks

Summer is here! With its hot long days and kids filled with bouncing energy. What a better day to spend a summer day but by the swimming pool. Not only is a very good activity for both little ones and adults alike but it provides a chance to soak in those precious sun rays (always wear sun screen tho) and to have some easy and refreshing food.

We like to keep it simple and fresh at the pool with things like Lemonade, Limeade, Pineapple juice or simply with water. My son doesn’t particularly like plain water so I “spicy up” for him adding lemon wedges, fresh cut strawberries and mint. We do indulge in some salted chips (I try to use the baked variety) or chips and pico de gallo for a crunchy and tasty snack. Fresh fruit such as pineapple chunks or watermelon are perfect to the pool side too! Freeze seedless grapes for a healthy alternative to popsicles, or make your own popsicles at home without the added sugar and nasty additives.

Let me share some simple ideas!

Summer drinks. 

Summer Fruity Snacks

Homemade Ice-creams and popsicles

Summer food is easy and uncomplicated. Keep it fresh, full of color and just play with it!

Make Vegetable pizzas on the grill using a Pizza Stone (see bellow) or re-vamp a classic grilled cheese sandwich by filling it with fresh cherry tomatoes and avocado! yum!

Any questions or ideas? Use the comments area and ill be happy to answer!

Xoxo

OnixJ

Summer Series: Delicious Avocado Lime Pesto

Oh Summer! finally here… time for freshness, swimming, sun bathing and fun! also time for the kids to be off school (oh dear!) So ill be working on a few family friendly recipes for summer days starting with this one.

I love avocado, but some people consider it too bland. Regardless we have discussed before why Avocado is the King of vegetables. If you are one of those not convinced yet I think you should give this recipe a try before you quit on avocado.

Avocado Lime and Coriander Pesto sauce for your pasta. You can use whole grain pasta or for an extra kick of vegetables I recommend a Vegetable based pasta. Yes veggie pasta! vegetables in disguised for those who aren’t too fond of them. We absolutely love vegetables so no need to disguised but its nice to have a healthy pasta alternative.

Recipe for two portions. You need:

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1 medium avocado (room temperature so that your sauce isn’t too cold)

1 handful of cilantro (and a few extra why not! be generous)

1/4 of an onion

2 table spoons of virgin olive oil

1/4 cup of water

salt and pepper and garlic powder to taste

1 small tomato

2 limes (juiced)

You simply add everything on a high speed blender or food processor and mix until a smooth paste. And thats it! sauce is done, no cooking required.

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Make your pasta according to package instructions. Drain. Mix with sauce. Serve with an extra portion of tomatoes and cilantro on top if desired. Super fresh, easy, creamy and healthy way to enjoy pasta this summer.

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