…somewhere between the stitches…

knit.crochet.sew.craft.cook.


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A Month’s Worth of Fun School Lunches!

The month of September was a difficult one for my kids and me. Don’t get me wrong–my boys have been having a WONDERFUL time at kindergarten, and they’re thriving, but it was definitely a month of transitions and of mommy being stretched reeeeeeeally thin, at times. My husband was traveling for work for half the month, so I had to do everything alone. This wasn’t the first time he’s traveled for work, but it was the first time I was home with SCHOOL-AGED children. Getting kids ready for school, dropping them off, picking them up–all on a strict schedule–is exhausting. Really, really exhausting. And to top it all off, all 3 of my kids have been sick at some point during my husband’s 2 weeks out of town. Figures… :-p

Anyway, one way I’ve been able to squeeze in some creative crafting time during the past month while barely managing to keep my head above water is with my boys’ school lunches. Something productive (that has to be done) and something pretty in one!

So here’s my month’s worth of fun (and easy) school lunches with brief descriptions of how I made them:

Some helpful tips about making school lunches:

  • Make a weekly schedule. It takes a bit of time to put a weekly meal schedule together, but it ends up saving time in the long run. Plus, it alleviates the stress of “WHAT AM I GOING TO PACK FOR LUNCH!!!” the night before. Here’s a free printable for planning a week’s worth of meals.
  • There are many, many tools to make your life easier such as cookie cutters, cute bento-box animal picks, rice molds, and nori cutters. Living in Korea, I have easy and inexpensive access to many of these items, but they’re also available on Amazon. For “specialty” bento box tools such as the animal picks and nori cutters, just do a quick search.
  • Prep as much as you can the night before. I usually prep fruits and vegetables the night before and stick the containers in the fridge. That just leaves rice balls and/or sandwiches for the morning. Keep in mind that some foods don’t reheat very well (such as the rice balls) so those must be prepped the morning off. Nori must also be used immediately after cutting. The humidity in the room will cause it to curl (or dry out too much) if you wait too long after cutting it to use it. This is why nori-cutters are so useful!
  • Leftovers are your friend! During the week, I specifically make a couple of dinners with leftovers for lunch in mind. Also, serve breakfast for lunch. Kids won’t mind! One of the biggest challenges for me is thinking about lunch-appropriate meals, but who says they have to eat “lunch” at lunch time? Egg mari is a popular side dish in Korean cuisine, so I make it fairly regularly for my kids. It’s basically just a sliced up omelet. I also make bacon, egg, cheese and toast muffins, which are technically a breakfast food, but the kids love it. They’ll eat it for breakfast before they go to school, then eat it again for lunch the same day. ;-)

For me, packing my kids’ lunches is something I enjoy doing. If you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it and don’t stress about not doing enough for your children! When I started posting photos of my kids’ lunches on Instagram, my friends began responding with things like “You’re making me feel like a crappy mom.” :-( First of all, my kids would be just as happy with a plain ham and cheese sandwich, a bag of chips and an apple EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. They don’t need or ask for variety. Secondly, by the time they open their lunch boxes at school, my cute little bento creations are a COMPLETE MESS. Their lunch box goes into their backpacks every morning. And every morning, they run down the stairs of our apartment building. They run from the car to their classroom. They may even fall down, roll down a hill, jump over puddles, do a few jumping jacks, or run an obstacle course on their way. I’ve joined them for lunch from time to time, and their bento boxes are utterly unrecognizable. So basically, their lunches are for photographic purposes only. ;-) I do, however, show the boys their lunches before I put their lunch boxes into their backpacks so it’s not a complete waste. Haha!

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed!

Happy Lunch-Making!


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Free Printable: Star Wars Lunchbox Notes

I’m a little bit obsessed with packing lunch for my new little kindergarteners. I think it gives me a way to channel my nervousness and anxiety about them being away from me every day. It’s hard sending my babies off to school… I used to be the single most influential person in their lives. They spent just about every waking moment (and some sleeping moments too!) with me. Now, they’re off at school for nearly 7 hours/day. I pick them up from school and drop them off at their martial arts class, and they don’t get home until almost 4pm, and with a bedtime of 7pm… I only see my sweet baby boys for 3 hours! So after they snuggle into their beds for the night, I get to work in the kitchen and spend a few moments putting together a lunch that reminds them of home, and maybe (in a gentle way) lets them know that Mommy is thinking about them as they scarf down their lunches! ;-) 

So here my little lunch creations for my Star Wars loving boys from our first week of kindergarten: 

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Star cut-out ham and cheese sandwiches with steamed carrots, apple and peach slices, pretzels, cheese stick and a couple of cookies (of course!)

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Beef bulgogi with mushrooms and carrots, heart and bear shaped rice balls, seaweed, kimchi, cherry tomatoes, grapes and Spiderman gummies!

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Lightning bolt cut-out sandwiches, fruit medley (bananas, peach, kiwi and cherry tomatoes), pretzels, cheese sticks, and a piece of chocolate chip bread

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Kimbab and a hard boiled egg with wink smiley face cut out from seaweed and flower shaped carrots and cucumbers!

 

Now that the fun, the highs and lows, the excitement and the meltdowns, and the new schedules of the first week of school have come to an end… Here are some free Star Wars lunchbox notes for your favorite little Star Wars fan’s meal away from home! 

Star Wars Lunchbox Notes

 

Click here to download the pdf: Star Wars Lunchbox Notes


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delightful. designs on Etsy!

delightful. event designs by julia (that’s me!) has opened up a new Etsy shop where you can purchase and instantly download thank you cards and posters! I’m still working on making my party designs available in the shop, but it involves quite a bit of converting and compressing of files, and well… I’m working on it! ;-) I’d love for you to stop by the shop! 

delightful. Etsy shop


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Preschool Adventures in Seoul: Outdoor Fun in Gangchon

If you’re a regular here on my blog, then you know that my sweet baby boys–who aren’t babies anymore–are about to start kindergarten. And to bid farewell to our carefree days at home and welcome in a new era of having school-aged children, we decided to take a fun-filled family trip out of Seoul! Having experienced the insanity of travel on weekends, my husband decided to take a couple days off from work, and we planned our trip for Sunday through Tuesday. That way, we could avoid the mass exodus out of Seoul on Saturday mornings and the hectic trip back to Seoul on Sundays. The last time we traveled to the Chuncheon area, what should have been a 90 minute drive took us nearly 3 hours. Lesson learned… We left Seoul on Sunday morning and made it to our destination in 90 minutes flat. The drive home was even better. Door to door in 80 minutes! How’s that for efficiency?? I found a wonderful little pension–Dabol Pension–just outside of a town that we’d driven through the last time we were in the area. We’d seen a little amusement park, another bike rail park, and lots of ATVs and bike paths, and we had promised the kids we’d take them back. The drive from the pension to the little town of Gangchon took less than 10 minutes, and the place was perfect. I specifically searched for a place with a pool, and this place delivered! The pool was perfect for my little 5 year old swimmers. The water was no deeper than 2 feet, and the slide… Well, it was endless hours of entertainment! The only downside (for parents) is that the pool water is pumped directly from the little mountain stream that runs behind the pension. Meaning it’s COLD. ICE COLD. The kids didn’t seem to care. At all. Dabol Pension Pool Dabol Pension offers several different accommodation styles from Western style rooms for couples and/or families (with lofted bedrooms, kitchens and private patios) to Korean style rooms for larger groups (up to 10 people) and caravan/campers. Our family loves to go camping, and our kids especially love “car-houses,” so we opted for the camper. It was perfect for our family of 5. Dabol Pension Camper Inside, there’s a full sized bed and a set of twin sized bunk beds, a small kitchenette with electric stove, fridge, and dining table, and a bathroom. It also has air conditioning–woohoo! The built-on patio also had a charcoal grill and a table with weather screen in case of rain. It didn’t rain while we were there, but the screen did a decent job of keeping the bugs at bay. Prices vary by time of year and day of week, but for our quiet non-weekend trip, the rates were very reasonable. 130,000W per night for 2 people, plus an additional 10,000W for each of our older children. Our youngest–who is 2.5 years old–didn’t count. ;-) The various rates are published on their website, but here are the general prices: Caravans (2 people included in rate/4 person maximum) 130,000W for weekdays/150,000W for weekends Western-style rooms (4 people included in rate/8 person maximum) 150,000W for weekdays/180,000 for weekends Korean-style rooms (10 people included in rate/10-12 person maximum) 250,000W for weekdays/300,000W for weekends) Prices for peak season are higher (peak season dates vary each year). Aside from our fun at the pension, our 3 day trip to Gangchon was filled with excitement for our little ones. We hit the bike rails first: Bike Rail ParkIf you’ve never heard of the bike rails in Gapyeong-gun, they’re an ingenious way to use old, out-of-use railroad tracks. There are 2 seaters (25,000W) and 4 seaters (35,000W), and you just pedal down the railroad tracks and enjoy the view! The last one we rode, which started at Gyeonggang Station, began and ended at the station. Halfway down the tracks, you were spun around and sent back to the station. The one we rode this time (starting at Gangchon Station) was 8.2km long and ended at Kimyookyung Station, which took about an hour and 15 minutes. From there, a shuttle bus took us back to Gangchon Station. The entire trip took about 2 hours. If you’re looking for a leisurely stroll, I would suggest taking the one at Gyeonggang Station. It was much easier! This one was definitely a work-out, especially since my 5 year olds are just a little too short to help with the pedaling! Oh, and another helpful tidbit–children up to 36 months old can be held on your lap. However, if you have a family of 4 and are able to seat your little one in a seat, do that because it’s MUCH harder to pedal with a kid sitting on your lap. Just ask my husband. After our bike rail adventure, which included going through a tunnel–complete with fluorescent lights and Gangnam Style blasting on speakers (only in Korea!!!), we ate lunch and ventured over to one of several “adventure parks” in town for some kart racing and ATV rides. Both were a HUGE hit, and really… Both were experiences that our 5 year olds AND our 2 year old would never have in the US, quite simply because of something called Safety Standards! For the kart racing, they just strapped our 2 year old in with one of the 5 year olds, told my husband that the second steering wheel that my son had control of also steers the vehicle so don’t drive too fast and sent them on their way! I was in another kart with the other 5 year old, and I had to MANHANDLE my steering wheel to keep us on the track. Kart Racing 20,000W pays for 15 minutes on the track, which was more than enough to satisfy me, but maybe not the kids… ;-) After the kart racing, we went for the ATVs. 20,000W got us the ATVs for a full hour, and like the kart racing, they weren’t too concerned about safety–haha! We strapped our 2 year old into the Ergo on my husband’s back and off we went! IMG_8935 IMG_8938 There are numerous trails around town, and all they asked is that we not go into town. All of us had an absolute blast, and my boys deemed the day THE BEST DAY EVER. What more can you ask for? Back at the pension, there was more pool-time, some hanging out on hammocks and grilling. IMG_8908 Oh, and if you thought you had to start heating up your charcoal an hour before you planned to grill your meat, then you’ve never experienced Korean grilling. This was our first day’s lighting of the charcoal. IMG_8901Day 2 got a lot more efficient. IMG_8957 Why, yes! That’s a blow torch! Our coals were red hot and ready to go in 15 minutes flat. Korean efficiency at its best. If you’re looking for a place to go with (or without) kids, I would definitely recommend this area. It’s not a far drive, there’s so much to do, and the beauty of the Korean country/mountainside never gets old.


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My Blissfully Happy, Unprepared Kindergarteners!

My baby boys start kindergarten in just 2 short weeks… Time has flown by, and I can’t believe that we’re already here. Although I have trouble remembering what my life was like before kids, I can remember being overwhelmed with feedings and diaper changes like it was just yesterday. It all happens so quickly.

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A year ago, my husband and I made the decision to not send the boys to preschool. We struggled with the decision, weighing the pros and cons, making lists, reading everything I could find on the real benefits of putting them in school at age 4 rather than at age 5. Plus, the cost of sending two kids to preschool at the same time is nothing to scoff at. When we finally decided to keep them home, the plan was for me to “teach” them the things they would have learned in preschool. At first, the kids and I did a pretty good job. We worked on our numbers and our ABCs… I planned lessons and printed out worksheets, put together craft activities and thought of creative ways for them to learn all the basics.

But after a while, I got frustrated with trying to keep my then 19 month old occupied long enough for us to make it through just one letter. A couple days would go by without me “teaching” them anything (it seemed), and I would feel guilty about it, and we’d try again to get through the letters and numbers we missed so we’d be back on track. It was a vicious cycle of frustration and guilt. Our daily lessons became more of a chore than anything else, but my friends whose kids were in preschool were already learning how to read, and my Facebook Newsfeed was full of posts about friends’ preschoolers who were academically doing so much more than my kids. Mom guilt can be unbearable.

Then I read this amazing blog post about what a 4 year old should know:

So here, I offer my list of what a 4 year old should know.

* She should know that she is loved wholly and unconditionally, all of the time.
* He should know that he is safe and he should know how to keep himself safe in public, with others, and in varied situations. He should know that he can trust his instincts about people and that he never has to do something that doesn’t feel right, no matter who is asking. He should know his personal rights and that his family will back them up.
* She should know how to laugh, act silly, be goofy and use her imagination. She should know that it is always okay to paint the sky orange and give cats 6 legs.
* He should know his own interests and be encouraged to follow them. If he couldn’t care less about learning his numbers, his parents should realize he’ll learn them accidentally soon enough and let him immerse himself instead in rocket ships, drawing, dinosaurs or playing in the mud.
* She should know that the world is magical and that so is she. She should know that she’s wonderful, brilliant, creative, compassionate and marvelous. She should know that it’s just as worthy to spend the day outside making daisy chains, mud pies and fairy houses as it is to practice phonics. Scratch that– way more worthy.

I remember feeling the guilt and stress and pressure of parenting lifting off my shoulders. All of the things I wanted for my children–right here–put into words and published by another mom. I wasn’t alone in all this!

So I stopped spending my evenings after putting the kids to bed planning out lessons and scouring the internet for teaching resources, and we stopped trying to force ABC and counting lessons while trying to prevent my daughter from eating paper and crayons and scribbling on the walls. Instead, we visited parks and playgrounds, went to museums and play parks with friends, took swim lessons and started martial arts classes. Over the past year, the boys have gone fishing and digging for clams. They’ve fed animals at petting zoos and ran around like lunatics at playgrounds. They’ve practiced riding their big boy bicycles and created masterpieces with play-dough. Their vocabulary (both Korean and English) has improved dramatically. They’ve spent time with friends and relatives and had regular lunch dates with Daddy. We attended story time at our local library and became involved in a weekly playgroup. The boys both hosted and attended their very first sleepovers. We caught tadpoles and found newly hatched baby birds inside an old mailbox. We baked cupcakes for our neighbors, took homemade cookies to Daddy’s office. They learned how to wash dishes and make their own beds (sort of), and we built forts and dressed up in full costume for epic lightsaber battles in the living room. It’s been a year of making memories with my too-quickly-growing children.

When we registered the boys for kindergarten, we were given a list of things kindergarteners SHOULD know before starting school. I scanned the list and realized that my boys are apparently completely unprepared for kindergarten because The List didn’t care that my boys learned about gravity at the Rolling Ball Museum or that they visited a working farm on the Korean countryside and saw how vegetables are harvested and prepared for sale. The List didn’t ask whether or not they understood how coal was made and used to heat homes in Korea or how clay is glazed and fired before it can be used. The List didn’t mention anything about how much they know about the lives of people like Abraham Lincoln and Amelia Earhart and Henri Matisse from books read to them before bedtime. The List didn’t know my children at all.

Our children’s experiences and memories and all the things they’ve learned along the way don’t fit on any single list. And amazingly–somehow–over the past year as we adventured through Seoul, this Type-A, always over-prepared, plan-ahead-obsessed mama has learned to let go. I tossed The List in the trash can. My boys are HAPPY. And that’s enough for now.

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Alice in Wonderland Dress

When a friend asked me to help her with her daughter’s Alice in Wonderland themed birthday party, I jumped at the chance! Alice in Wonderland is such a fantastically open-to-interpretation film that the possibilities are endless. We quickly decided on a general theme for the decor (which you can see over on the delightful. website), and I loved putting it all together, but there was something special that I just couldn’t wait to see the birthday girl dressed up in–an Alice in Wonderland dress!

I scoured the internet for other Alice in Wonderland dresses/costumes, but either they would take way more time than I had to make or they simply weren’t true to the Disney version of the dress. Mostly, my issue was with the shape of the straps on the white apron.

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Alice’s apron doesn’t have “straps” OR ruffles…

Alice-PNG-alice-in-wonderland-33922018-444-800The straps simply get wider as they get closer to the shoulder. And even though it’s a cartoon, and I know things translate differently in real life, I just love the simplicity of the Disney version of Alice’s dress. So… I had to draft my own pattern. Luckily, the birthday girl is the same size as my Penny, so I grabbed one of my daughter’s dresses and made a quick pattern for a dress.

I didn’t have too much time to work on the dress, so I really tried to keep it as simple as possible. One of the ways I toned down the complexity was to not add a waistband or shaping to the dress. It was going to be tied off at the waist anyway with the apron, so I didn’t need to create a bodice or any shaping around the midsection. For the sleeves, I hemmed the fabric while leaving enough room in the folded over fabric for 1/4 inch elastic. I made a simple Peter Pan collar for the dress, and rather than fiddling with a zipper or buttons, I just put an eye and hook closure at the back of the neckline.

IMG_8621Once the dress was finished, it was very simple to draft a pattern for the apron, especially since I could use my daughter to get the correct measurements. I simply drew the shape on a piece of paper, cut the fabric and got sewing! I searched for images of the back of Alice’s apron, but I couldn’t find anything from the back, the top of the apron is hidden by Alice’s hair. I just extended the straps and sewed the two pieces together at the back.

IMG_8622Here’s a photo of my reluctant daughter modeling the dress. She’s definitely got my-mom-sews-and-makes-me-try-on-everything-syndrome, and she hates trying stuff on for me. It usually involves tears and quite a bit of bribery. >_<

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Finally, to fill the bottom portion of the dress, I made a simple tulle skirt to be worn under the dress.

And here’s the beautiful birthday girl in all her Alice glory!

SONY DSCVisit delightful. to see more about the Alice in Wonderland party!

 

 


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More about delightful.

A few weeks ago, I announced the start of a new adventure for me–delightful. event designs by julia, and it has taken off beautifully! I’ve worked on a couple parties in the past few weeks, and I have several more lined up in the next couple months. Thank you so much to everyone for the support!

Here’s a little peek at what I’ve been doing over at delightful.

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If you’d like to see more about my event planning packages, visit me at delightful.’s new website and Facebook page!

 

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