Monthly Archives: December 2014

Bento Box

The Bento Box Product Review

You have asked a lot of questions the past few weeks. Here is everything you want to know about the Bento Box!

Everything you want to know about the Bento Box! 

Below you will find:

  • What the Bento Box is!
  • Which Bento Box I like!
  • Where you can buy one!
  • Meal Ideas for Green and Clean eating on the Go with a Bento Box!
  • How I save TONS of money using the Bento Box!

Many of my viewers have asked me how to prepare healthy and fast lunches for kids. My favorite solution is the Bento Box. The Japanese culture has initiated this portable, easy, and beautiful way to carry the healthy food we love everywhere we go. (source)

If you have never heard of the Bento Box, do not be intimidated! This is just a simple and effective way to transport your (or your child’s) favorite foods! There are Bento Boxes for all ages, professionals, children, and styles. Truly, this is a container that every human being can use!

Beginners: If you are just starting out, keep it as simple as you like. Just pack a variety of healthy foods you enjoy, in the cleverly sectioned compartments. You can even place healthy dinner left overs right inside your Bento Box. My Bento Box saves us tons of money.

Seasoned: As you learn more about the beautiful modern arts of Bento Box, you will find all sorts of ways to make lunch packing fun. It is not difficult! For example, check out this post, where I make in a few minutes, a simple Heart Shaped Hard Boiled Egg for a Bento Box surprise! It is SIMPLE! I didn’t even buy any molds, although they do sell them in all shapes and sizes. I just did mine DIY 🙂 and I will show you how too!

My FAVORITE part about switching to Bento Box Lunches is NO MORE buying tons of Tupperware or glass storage and searching for the right lids. Each of my kids has their own Bento Box and they are responsible for cleaning it out every day, and packing their new healthy lunch for the morning. (Need help with kid chore organization? Here you go!) Anyways, I honestly would not wait another day. Once you go Bento Box, you never go back! It makes our lives, healthy eating, and clean up, SO MUCH EASIER! You can discover and purchase them from my site below! 

How to Start: I did the majority of the work for you. I have sorted through dozens of Bento Boxes, including unbiased product reviews on Bento Boxes for San Diego Family Magazine (subscribe to SDFM!) After trying many Bento Boxes myself, I picked some for you here. They had to withstand both our family healthy eating needs, be well made, and serve their purpose well. You just pick one out, and it’s all fun and healthy eating from there!

(affiliate links) While I do use affiliate links that you can purchase on my blog, I ONLY recommend products that I use or would recommend my best friend. Here’s what I am using right now:

For Kids and Adults:

 For an all inclusive kit, including ice and carry case, this is a great option (my older daughter uses this one):

There is even a Bento Box for people who are looking for stainless steel.

Ready to make them fun? Here you go! I have included ones that I have actually bought and used myself! (affiliate links)

This letter set I LOVE! I bought this exact item in the store but found it on sale below for half the price that I paid!  I save money by using them for Bento Boxes and DIY baking.

 I LOVE these condiment containers as well!


Need some condiment ideas: For healthy condiments, we use Raw Organic Local Honey instead of syrup for breakfast Bento Box creations. We use raw Homemade natural yogurt in place of sugary lunch dips. For salad dressings we mix citrus with coconut or avocado oil. What is your favorite healthy condiment swap? 

Honestly, to pack healthy lunches for a family of 5, I do not know what we did before Bento Box living. If you haven’t started it, you will LOVE it!! My kids never complain about packing their own lunches anymore. We avoid processed foods and can eat green and clean. We save money by using left overs, buying in bulk, and portioning out healthy meals for the whole family. I am a REAL MOM, not a company. I ONLY Product Review things that make me say WOW and can keep my family living as healthy, green, and naturally as possible- with joy!

I hope this answers most of my viewers questions, and if you have any more, just ask! I will keep updating you on any new Bento Box bargains I find.

Yours truly ~ Joy

WOW reviews

How to make a Heart Shaped Egg

How to make a Heart Shaped Egg

by Joy Brownlee

 Heart Shaped Egg Tutorial

Ok. This has got to be one of the coolest things that I have ever done, that I had no idea I could even do. HA! Honestly. There are SO many things in this life that we can try, so many things that we can do, so many possibilities to explore that I find myself saying- “OK, what else can I discover?!” I am FOREVER curious. I suppose that is why I have 2 and almost 3 college degrees- because I cannot stop learning!! I wake up every day and say- “There is a WHOLE bunch of things I do not know- so let’s see how much I can learn about today!” It leads to a lot of (my husband will attest) PROJECTS and EXPERIMENTS. Trials, errors, learning lessons, and some absolutely wonderful DIY Inventions. Well, this is one DIY tutorial I had SO MUCH FUN experimenting with and now I can tell you how EASY it is to do!!

Why did I want to make a Heart Shaped Egg?

Well, my forever curious heart has been researching Bento Boxes! I learned about their origination in Japanese culture including how and why Bento Boxes began. I learned the modern reasons that Bento Boxes are now thriving and how the Bento Box lifestyle is a portable method of healthy eating and personal expression. There is SO much in this world to learn and explore. I read about the beautiful Japanese artistic techniques.

Then I saw Japanese egg molds. What?!

“What are these?!” I exclaimed.

Check this egg out:

Egg heart white frame WMIsn’t that just SO COOL?!

When the hard boiled egg is still warm, it is very mold-able, and can easily be adapted to the shape you want. I started reading more about this. The Bento Box history of Japanese culture is so beautiful. I had to try it. I found tons of different shaped molds that are sold online but I wanted to create a DIY Bento Box Heart Shaped Egg. SO, here’s what I did!

I figured, a heart has only 2 real points of contact that need to be shaped. The Point at the Bottom, and the Curve at the Top. Simple. Here’s how I did it, step by step. I’m serious it took about 2 minutes to actually do, once I figured out a good technique. Now, that the experimenting is done (my favorite part actually)- you can make it in your home in a few fast minutes. Perfect for any day you want to put a HUGE and I mean HUGE smile on someone’s face 🙂

Heart Shaped Egg Tutorial Sequence

Supplies Needed:

  • 1 Egg 
  • 1 Sturdy Glass or Hard Plastic Straw (a small dowel rod, or even a chopstick would work too!)
  • Sharp Scissors
  • 1 Sturdy Paper Plate
  • 1 piece of thin cardboard or cardstock (I used a cereal box that I grabbed off the table;)
  • All cooking & cutting should be done by an adult

Step 1: Gather your eggs

Egg 1 PM

Step 2: Hard Boil the eggs per stove / directions (mine took about 15 minutes)

Egg 2 PM

Step 3: Prepare the DIY Mold-ing. I used 1 sturdy paperplate that had a waxy waterproof exterior. Fold sturdy paper plate in half. Make a crisp crease. Cut off the top section so the remaining bottom of the plate is about the height of the egg. Discard the top of the plate.

Egg 5 PM

Step 4: Crack and Peel the egg carefully (by an adult only, while it’s still very warm but safe to handle, and please be careful, so that you don’t burn yourself and then sue me for money that I don’t have, HA! Thanks a bunch 🙂

Egg 6 PM

Step 5: Immediately place the egg into the DIY mold (your creased plate) while the egg is still warm and mold-able. I placed the crease of the plate where the bottom tip of the heart should be, and gently creased the plate again holding the bottom tip of the egg inside. This will mold the bottom tip of the heart. See photo, it’s self explanatory.

Egg 7 PM

Step 6: While holding the plate molding in place around the egg, I then grabbed my glass straw (a hard plastic would work too -but not a soft / bendy plastic). I positioned the hard straw on the top of the heart, dividing it into two curves, as the picture shows. This will mold the top curves of the heart.

Egg 8 PM

TIP: I grabbed a piece of sturdy cardboard, creased it, and placed it around the paper plate for extra support. I secured the straw in place with an elastic band (rubberband would work also). The band has to go over both ends of the straw so it holds downward tension over the egg. I used a clip to create more tension on my elastic, until the mold was securely in place. Then I immediately placed the mold into the refrigerator to harden. Egg secured in molding

Clip on the egg mold


Step 8: When I removed the molding 30 minutes later (I am sure I could have done this sooner, but in between I was chasing kids around!), I simply cut the egg in half, and this is what I got:


Real time it took: Seconds!! I finished making my heart molded egg before my toddlers had even finished peeling their first egg, it was that easy. Just get your supplies ready and crease your plate before the eggs are done boiling.

SO CUTE! And I did not spend any money making it. Perfect. Ideas on how you can use it:

  • In your child’s Bento Box
  • Serve it at home with special occasion fruit & oatmeal breakfast
  • Make a really cute touch to a home delivery meal for a neighbor suffering from a loss or sickness
  • Serve it to a special someone with breakfast in bed on Mother’s day or any special day

Do you want to see what I am going to do with it? For that, you will have to stay tuned! More FUN, healthy, and allergy friendly snacks @


don’t Forget to subscribe to San Diego Family Magazine!

In case you are wondering why I would even do a fun heart shaped egg like this…..Here’s my true story why.

Lots of love,





 Love enough today, not to repeat the history of yesterday, nor to create a new regret for tomorrow. 

 Is that Daddy?!

fam photo black and white

I was looking through the news reports this morning when my 4.5 year old  daughter saw a picture of a man, a man with dark skin, a man with dark skin who happens to be in the news right now because he was unarmed, believed to be making a wrong choice, and strangled to death by a banned choke hold, while saying, “I can’t breathe”. She was not shown the video but saw a picture of him.

“Is that daddy?!” She asked.

Just those words made me tear up..

“No baby girl, that’s not daddy. But it is someone’s daddy.” 

“Ohh.” She said. Her green eyes looked up at me and her smile went to a serious expression. A softness formed on her lips and she started to speak, then stopped.

“It’s ok. What do you want to say?” 

“Mom, dad went to college, right?”

 “Yes, baby! Daddy went to college, then graduate school and now he’s in graduate school again!”

 She cautiously smiled. “That’s good mom. But mom, sometimes before, dark skin people and light skin people couldn’t be in the same place or be married.”

 “That’s right,” I said. Surprised we were having such a deep conversation, on an ordinary day, before breakfast. But maybe because it was in the safety of my room, in my arms, that she did want to have this talk. 

She went on, cautiously. “Sometimes dark skinned people would even be hurt. But not my daddy. He went to college.” I really was speechless, and just lost in her green eyes and her innocent lips. “But what about people not in my family, mom? What about people farther away from us? Would people hurt them?”

At this point, thinking of history, and all that as a Mom I had to tell her about, tears rolled down my face, and I just snuggled her to my chest.

Words felt insufficient, and I couldn’t grasp them, they were drowning beneath my throat, in the sea of emotions. Before I even had a chance to say anything, she said this:

“Because if people are being hurt, even if they’re far away, we should help. Because, in our family, nobody gets hurt, so then…. we can be the ones to help, right?”

I wanted so badly to tell her yes. To tell her we can all make a real and positive change. That we can be a voice, a light, a help.

 But can we?

What does one little voice do? What can one little person who has hope accomplish in a world that’s full of twisted darkness, patterns, crime, and dark times of hate? Not just of the treatment based on skin color, but on anything  that can divide, or harm, or hurt another life?

How does one person help?

 “Well,” I said. “Yes. We can help. We can make sure that we each become the best person we can become. That doesn’t mean the strongest or richest. It means we build up the most LOVE that we can. And we use that love to help others when we see something hurtful, we speak up and we do what we can to help. We learn everything we can. Even ask questions that take courage to ask. Everybody makes mistakes, everybody. But no person who is born, is a mistake. So we’ve got to learn how to treat each other, with real LOVE.

 She may, grasp something from what I said.

 But I will be forever changed, by what she said. 

the ones to help

The position her voice took was not one that had anything to do with race, or prejudice, or even justice. It had to do with one thing: Love. Thinking how she would want to be helped, or treated, or cared for, and then doing the same for another human being.

This is not a post about who did something right or wrong. This is not a post about the legal system or a political stance. This is not a post about civil rights past or present. This is not a post voicing my opinion about who is right or wrong in the case concerning the man who could not breathe that prompted the conversation. This is a post about the truth I am repeatedly shown through the words of my children. This is a post about LOVE.

When I am faced with the choice to sit back and watch someone, grateful that it is not me – or – to love with all my heart, and allow that love to spur me into loving action, then, (lest history repeat itself again, across so many people and nations) – I pray I remember the truth in my daughter’s voice as I make my choice.

I pray that I will choose LOVE.

I believe the strength we ALL have, in unlimited resource, is LOVE.

  Love enough today, not to repeat the history of yesterday, nor to create a new regret for tomorrow. 

Love enough today