4 Steps to a Better Packed Lunch


One of the biggest complaints about packed lunches is the lack of variety. Yes, some kids are picky and want a PB & J five days a week, but most will tire of the same meal. By mixing it up, you’ll help to ensure that the lunch is actually eaten rather than tossed.

Here’s how I make a better packed lunch in 4 easy steps:

1. Start with protein

Adding protein helps tummies feel full longer. Any of these are good options:

  • Hard boiled or deviled eggs
  • Cheese cubes
  • Lunch meats (in a sandwich or rolled slices)
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Beans
  • Nuts  (whole pieces or butters)
  • Tofu
  • Chicken strips

2. Pick Produce

Ideally, a packed lunch will contain both fruit and veggies for maximum nutrition. Incorporating produce is important for vitamins and fiber—something most kids lack—but only choose the ones you know they’ll like.

  • Carrot/celery sticks
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Bananas
  • Pears
  • Cut-up veggies like broccoli, peppers, etc. (Include dip on the side for best results!)
  • Dried fruit (raisins and apricots are most popular in my family)
  • Salad (not liked universally, but if your kids eat it, by all means, pack it)

3. Energizing Carbs

White bread doesn’t fill them up or add anything but empty calories to their diet. Anything with whole grains is a better choice.

  • Multi-grain crackers
  • 100% whole wheat bread, wraps, or tortillas
  • Rice cakes
  • Quinoa
  • Brown Rice

4. Healthy Fats

Including a healthy fat is not only safe, but preferred. Just make sure to practice moderation.

  • Guacamole or avocado slices
  • Hummus
  • Mayo
  • Olive oil

Pay attention to the size of food as well. Kids love anything mini and I try to make nibblers that don’t require utensils.

  • Tomato & Cheese Stacks (Layer thin slices of tomato and cheese with mayo in between)
  • Apple Stacks (Cut an apple horizontally into 4 pieces. Layer peanut butter between the stacks and reassemble)
  • Cucumber Rolls (Peel a cuke, then slice super thin. Spread with hummus and roll up like sushi)
  • Turkey Stacks (Cubes or slices of meat sandwiched between crackers instead of bread)
  • Waffle Stacker (Toast frozen waffles and cool completely. Add yogurt and sliced berries, stack with another plain waffle on top)


I know some moms will protest that their kids only want drink boxes and Lunchables and will refuse all of the above. If a child is especially resistant to healthy foods, I don’t think it’s wrong to add a treat as an incentive. A Hershey’s kiss, a mini cookie, or a tiny bag of chips helps, and if they won’t eat their broccoli any other way, be realistic and choose your battles. I am for 80% healthy, 20% junky stuff, which is very doable.

When a Friend is Diagnosed with Cancer

The past two days have been very grueling—not because of anything going on in my own life, surprisingly, but because a friend was just diagnosed with cancer. The news hit me hard, much harder than I expected it would and honestly, I feel devastated.

This friend is someone who lives on the West coast. Because we live across the country from each other, we mainly keep in contact through email and phone calls. Even though we don’t have in-person visits, our connection is strong and I have gotten so much support from her over the years. Unlike me, she is extremely positive and happy and I love talking to her because she always makes everything seem better.

I had called her to talk about nothing in particular and was complaining about my disappointing Sukkot. As always, she listened intently and commiserated. When I finally paused and asked how she was, imagine my horror when the reply was: “Pretty bad. I have breast cancer.”

Immediately, I started crying. I was worried for her, I was so sorry for her, and I was also ashamed of myself for complaining about my own trivial problems when she was dealing with an actual crisis.

As many of my readers know, I struggle with a sleep disorder, chronic pain, and chronic infections. These problems have severely effected my quality of life, but none are fatal (for which I am grateful!). My health problems do bring me down often and sometimes they seem insurmountable. But nothing I deal with can ever compare to cancer! I may feel rotten most of the time, but I am not dying.

My beloved friend, however, truly is in a life or death situation. That is scary for anyone, but much, much worse for a 38-year-old single mother of 3 young kids without any family support. She is now faced with chemotherapy, a mastectomy, and the possibility neither will keep her alive. Hearing her break down and sob, wondering who will raise her children if she dies, is heartbreaking.

I want so badly to help her—to drive her to the doctor, be there for her surgery, nurse her back to good health. I want to take all of her pain and fear and uncertainty away. I want to assure her that she will recover and live into her 90’s. But I can’t do that; nobody can.

Breast cancer is treatable and many women go on to survive for decades. I am hoping beyond hope that will be the case for my friend, but we have no way of knowing what the future holds. All I can do is listen, and comfort, and pray, and be there for her anyway she asks. I wish I could do more.

Those of us who consider ourselves “fixers” understand this feeling. We love to take charge and find solutions. I certainly do! Yet in this particular instance there is no quick fix and that’s hard for me to accept. I wish I could make it go away.

Instead, I’m trying to focus on reality. I’m helping her research specialists, hospitals, and childcare options. I’m paying attention to her needs instead of my own. I’m doing the best I can, and still it seems like so little…

I HATE cancer!


If you’ve ever dealt with a similar situation, please give me some tips on how to support a cancer patient. I feel so incompetent!

Fall Sale at Gehman’s Country Fabrics


I am so excited that my favorite fabric and modest clothing company, Gehman’s Country Fabrics, is having a Fall Sale! To help us get ready for colder weather, they have reduced the price on many fabrics—perfect for any upcoming sewing projects.

Denims and flannels are discounted 10%, as well as the 100% polyester prints from Mook, Tropical Breeze, Country Rose and Fabrics Atlanta. I especially love the pink crepe from the Country Rose collection. Just darling! Oh, and did I mention that it’s washable, fade-resistant and needs NO ironing? Love that.


For those who don’t sew and prefer ready-made items, women’s and girl’s knee high socks and girls tights are also on sale. Living in New England, I can never have enough sock/tights on hand for my family, and it’s wonderful to stock up on something that actually keeps me warm but never itches.


Every item from Gehman’s Country Fabrics is carefully selected to meet high standards of quality, durability, beauty, and low maintenance. I’ve gotten to know the owners, Delmas and Esther Mae, and they are every bit as amazing as the product! Their customer service is top notch and their attention to detail is incredible.


Ordering is very easy and can be done through their catalog or website. Plus, they now offer Login to Pay with Amazon for your convenience! This allows you to simply pay using the payment information you have stored in your Amazon account.

Check out the Fall Sale and let the Gehman Family serve your needs. I’m sure you’ll be happy you did!

The Sukkah that Wasn’t


I’m always amazed at how opposite men and women think. Seriously, it’s like trying to communicate with an alien sometimes! Around here, our latest conflict involved Sukkot, specifically about building a Sukkah.

Never, in my entire life, have I had my own Sukkah and I’ve always thought it would be a fun family project. Since fully-made kits are available online that snap together in mere minutes, it wouldn’t even be that difficult. When I ran this idea by Hungry Bear, he was not only enthusiastic, he wanted to kick it up a notch: buying wood and supplies at Home Depot and building it from scratch.

Having known him for many years, I’m familiar with how handy he is and I know his motivation level when it comes to starting projects around the house. (Ask me about the 10 others that still aren’t done.) I’d define his skills as average. He, however, would insist he’s a pro—based upon the amount of tools he’s bought at Sears, owning a Black & Decker repair manual, and having watched endless hours of Home Improvement reruns.

Deep in my heart, I just knew it would be a disaster…

On Labor Day, he actually bought everything, stacked it neatly in the garage and said he’d start building the weekend before Sukkot. Fair enough, right? So I said nothing and the time went by until it became last minute. The day before the holiday started, he hadn’t hammered even one nail!

My snap together kit, which he claimed “lacked imagination” could’ve been assembled quickly; his custom job would’ve taken hours—hours he wasn’t willing to put in and I certainly can’t build anything on my own.

The vision I had in my mind, of a pretty structure I could string lights on, and decorate with fruit and flowers, was dashed. The nice foods we could eat inside a Sukkah wouldn’t be possible. The warm family memories we would’ve created were not to be.

The end result? NOTHING, except harsh words and tears. I guess you can call it “The Sukkah that wasn’t…”