Family Game Night: Battle Sheep By Blue Orange

By Summer

Games have changed since I was a child. I’m sure you think the same thing. But have they really? I think it’s just that options have changed from the typical Uno, Yahtzee, Chutes and Ladders, and Candyland. My favorite “new generation” game maker is Blue Orange.


Our families owns their games like Spot It, YamSlam and TellTale. Now Blue Orange has a new game out, and it’s not just for kids, Battle Sheep. This is a game of strategy and we’ve played with our children for family game night and we’d played with only adult friends during a weekend getaway. The game is simple enough to be enjoyed by all, but it’s all about the strategy:



Battle Sheep is a designed for ages 7+ though we played with our 5 and 7 year old. I can tell that our 5 year old has no clue what he’s doing, but our 7 year old gets the game’s tactic. My husband and I don’t let our boys win, but we find ourselves trying to out whit one another and also trying to block our 7 year old from a win; in turn our 5 year old has managed to school all of us.


Not only is this game a fun challenge … but it’s cute! LOOK AT THOSE FACES!


Blue Orange knows how to make games that are appealing to children with their graphic and simple instructions, and adults because of their strategy.

Each game doesn’t take too long and is dependent upon players thought time to strategize.


From our family of four, Battle Sheep get eight thumbs up! You can get Blue Orange’s Battle Sheep at your local gaming shop or score great deals on Amazon. In fact, the price is around $30 depending on your retailer, so this is a great NEW game to add to your shopping list for birthdays and dare I say it … CHRISTMAS!


Pot Sized Golden Grain Pasta

(samples received)

I love to cook, so I have a lot of different pots. I use to have a trusty “spaghetti pot” but really I never used it for spaghetti. There are several reasons for that, the number one probably being pure laziness. I didn’t want to wait to fill that big of a pot with water and then wait for the water to boil; especially with the amount of pasta I was making for my family of four. Then I find myself doing one of two things with the awkwardly long spaghetti noodles: 1. Sticking them in the pot and letting the ends hang out until I can force the noodles to bend into the pot (and hope they don’t burn because I have my flame set too high). 2. Break all the hard spaghetti noodles in “half” causing fragments to fly across my kitchen where I’ll find them under the fridge when digging out the next matchbox car with my yardstick.

Let’s be real, why isn’t spaghetti smaller? Not every meal is a reenactment of “Lady and the Tramp”. It’s not going to change the flavor. So come on noodle companies, get with it! Well, Golden Grain has taken a hint from every parents’ secret strange desires and has created new Pot-Sized pasta to their product line. That’s right, they just fit into your pot. Open box, chose amount, stick in pot! BAM! Dinner. Everyone loves a short cut!


Golden Grains has other ways to help you in the kitchen by offering products that matter to your family like Hidden Veggies pasta and 100% Whole Grain pasta on top of their line of traditional pastas and egg noodles. What a great way to gather around the table for a family dinner.

What are your kitchen short cuts, tips, and tricks? We all have them and it’s brilliant to share either things we’ve learned over the years or the tips grandma passed along. My favorite short cut is making quesadillas. Here are my short cuts to this kid’s favorite:

– Use one whole tortilla as the bottom and one whole tortilla for the top. I use to bend mine in half, but that a pain if it doesn’t match up right and the cheese is all gooey and melting everywhere. Make a full circle.

MY NUMBER ONE TIP: Shredding cheese can require a lot of cleaning either in my Cuisinart or via my hand shredder. I’m making quesadilla because I’m looking for an easy way out of dinner. I skip the shredding and grab my peeler, which I clean in the dishwasher. A peeler also makes the cheese thin, easy to melt slices, AND the slices are even.

– When it’s done cooking, I cut the slices with my pizza cutter and serve.

This Mom Start tip is on the Golden Grain Facebook page. Vote for Mom Start in Golden Grain’s “Show Your Short Cut” contest for our peeler quesadilla tip and you’ll be eligible to win a weekly $100 American Express gift card; one entry daily, so VOTE every day! Or try for your own shot to win $500 by entering your own tip or short cut.

If you’re looking for some easy pasta dinners, Golden Grain has you covered with a personal recipe box.

Bento Box Monday Pork Chops

By Summer:


(clockwise): pork chop with sautéed peppers and onions, granola bar, carrots, yogurt in the cup, strawberries and grapes

Many times I’ll give my husband or children a bento with leftovers. Why not? ESPECIALLY if my kid liked it! However, this one is my husband’s bento.

In this box the granola bars are meant to be crusted onto of the yogurt. The yogurt won’t fit inside the Bento, so this was an extra thing my husband had to pack into his work backpack along with his bento.

Bento Box Monday: Simple Solutions

By Summer:

(clockwise): slices of ham, Colby-Jack cheese sticks, yellow carrot sticks, cucumber medallions, chocolate chip cookie


My ham is from a bone in smoked (using naturally occurring nitrates) ham from a local butcher. I like to chop it into chunks and eat as breakfast or in lunches. My family loves ham!

These cheese sticks are cut from a block. I buy Tillamook which is a local-ish cheese; I live in the Seattle area and the cheese is made in Oregon. We love cheese and I purchase blocks at Costco. If you don’t enjoy cheese as quickly as my family but are interested in purchasing blocks to make your own cheese sticks, know that cheese freezes easily. Adding frozen cheese to a bento will allow the cheese to defrost by lunch time and still be cool to the touch.

The yellow carrot sticks almost look white in this picture. I love to try and interest my family in “new” vegetables. My 5YO is so pick about vegetables but he loves regular carrots, so I’ve tried interesting him in different colored carrots which, mind you, taste the same. My favorite are purple carrots; they just look cool and when you cut them they are still orange in the middle.

These are my homemade no refined sugar chocolate chip cookies.

Bento Box Monday: Featuring Sun Maid Raisins

By Summer:

(clockwise): apple slices (with a spoon), yogurt with honey, raisins


This is only ½ of an apple.

This yogurt is a local yogurt and is made with honey to sweeten its bitterness instead of refined sugar. My family does enjoy it. One of my children doesn’t like flavored yogurts, but for other family members I muddle fruit into the yogurt or add jam as a stir in. The jam I use is homemade.

Bento Box Monday Featuring Mac & Cheese and Trader Joe’s Plantain Chips

By Summer:

(clockwise): globe grapes, macaroni and cheese, Trader Joe’s plantain chips




I like to purchase globe grapes because they have the seed in them. We don’t always eat the seeds, but I love that they’re not GMO. If you’re eating seedless grapes their make-up is modified; how would a species survive without seeds?

This is another attempt at homemade macaroni and cheese. My family still prefers the box to my attempts. But I keep trying! This particular sauce is made with cheese, milk, butter, a pureed orange carrot, paprika, garlic powder, and dry mustard. I’ve been trying to find the right recipe since my research on macaroni and cheese (April 20, 2011).

Bento Box Monday Featuring Trader Joe’s Just Mango

By Summer:

(clockwise): Trader Joe’s Just Mango, Muscat grapes, yogurt covered pretzels


If you’ve never been to Trader Joe’s you need to find out if there is one in your area. I love their “Just” line which is dried fruit that is just the fruit. No added sugar of any kind and not dried using sulfate (which some people are allergic to).

Muscat grapes are my FAVORITE grape! YUM! They taste just like the wine they create. I was introduced to Muscat grapes in France and when I find them, I’m completed to purchase them. I got mine at PCC, my local coop. If you’re in the Seattle area too and don’t know about PCC you should check it out. You don’t need to be a member to shop there, but if you join (which is a one-time fee) you get 10% coupons plus bonus 5% off days.

I also got the yogurt covered pretzels from PCC. Most yogurt covered any things are made with partially hydrogenated oil. But PCC’s aren’t! Be sure to check the labels of the food you purchase. Some foods may not be as healthy as you think.

Bento Box Monday: Featuring Innobaby Containers Pancakes & Meatballs

By Summer:

(clockwise): orange slices, maple syrup in the innobaby container, silver dollar pancakes, meatballs


I love innobaby containers. I have a pair of small ones like the one you see here and they’re just so handy to have a REALLY small container. Innobaby is a mom owned small business; I love that. I also love that their plastic products are BPA free. Innobaby now also offers a bento line of containers.

Bento Box Monday Featuring Trader Joe’s “Savory Thin Mini Edamame Crackers”

By Summer:

(clockwise): Muscat grapes, mozzarella string cheese, Trader Joe’s freeze dried mango slices, Trader Joe’s “Savory Thin Mini Edamame Crackers”



Again, Muscat grapes; if you don’t see me raving about them last time you should check out Bento #6.

Again with the Trader Joe’s too! If you’ve never been there, most of their packaged foods are their own line/brand.

Freeze dried are different than dehydrated. Both contain no moisture, but hydrated foods need to soak to regain their plumpness. Freeze dried foods absorb liquids quickly and easily. In large freeze dried food packages, such as the mangos package from Trader Joe’s, you’ll find one of those “do not eat” moisture packages. Make sure you pull out that package if giving the bag to your children.

Bento Box Monday Featuring Trade Joe’s Plantain Chips

By Summer:

(clockwise): apple slices, egg slices, chunks of ham, Trade Joe’s plantain chips



These egg slices are from an egg pancake, refer to Bento #4, and the ham is from my butcher, refer to Bento #2.

If you’ve never enjoyed Trader Joe’s plantain chips beware, they’re addictive! These chips are a SALTY snack. The packaging is a purple bag with monkeys, so my children and their friends fondly call them “Monkey Chips”.