Thursday, March 14, 2024

School Lunches

 For the last few years, we’ve been buying school lunch, but the price kept rising ($8 per lunch x 4 kids, we were spending $500-$600 per month on school lunch!)  Plus, the quality of offerings had really gone downhill. (Most irritating were the days we paid $8 per lunch for “cereal bar.” Of course, it was their favorite day!) 

A few months ago, we started packing lunch but we’re in a terrible rut.  In an effort to save even more money, we’re also working on packing adult lunches since the cost of going out to eat every day for lunch was REALLY adding up. 


The team at More Than Paper set off to turn it around with school lunches and adult lunches and solve the problem. Let’s start with the kids – we know packing a healthy and appealing lunch feels like an incredibly daunting task but with these tips, maybe we all can provide our kids with nutritious meals that they will enjoy! (Though our money is on that they will always love the cereal bar.) 



San Diego Pediatricians | Children's Primary Care Medical Group » Archive »  5 EASY BENTO BOX LUNCHES FOR KIDS

Creator: VeselovaElena Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

  • Bento Box Fun. Bento boxes are a fun and versatile way to pack a variety of foods in one container. You can include a mix of fruits, veggies, proteins, and grains to ensure your child gets a well-rounded meal. Think of colorful options like cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, cheese cubes, whole grain crackers, and berries. 


  • Wrap It Up. Wrap sandwiches are a great alternative to traditional bread sandwiches and can be filled with a variety of ingredients. Use whole grain, tomato, or spinach wraps and fill them with lean proteins like turkey or grilled chicken, along with lettuce, tomato, and a spread like hummus or avocado. 


  • DIY Lunchables. The store-bought Launchable are full of sodium and sugar and you can create your own version of the popular by assembling whole grain crackers, cheese slices, lean deli meats, and some fruit or veggie sticks. Not much different than a Bento Box here, but kids really like whatever dessert option is packed. 


  • Protein-Packed Salads. Salads don't have to be boring! Create protein-packed salads by adding grilled chicken strips, hard-boiled eggs, chickpeas, or tofu to a mix of greens and veggies. Include a tasty dressing in a separate container for your child to drizzle on top. 


  • Leftover Remix. If they liked last night’s dinner, won’t they like it for lunch?  If they are temperature sensitive, find out if your school cafeteria has a microwave and if it feasible for your children to use it. If this is something your children might enjoy regularly, consider making extra for lunch when you make dinner. This sounds like the simplest of all the options to us! 


When it comes to what to put all of these good ideas into to transport lunch to school, More Than Paper has a variety of lunch bag options.  This one here is perfect for your daughter who’s a bit older and has outgrown one with a lot of designs. 

Small Lunch Cooler by CB Station (Emerald)


The sturdy canvas bag is insulated and has a zippered closure, so your lunch doesn’t fall out.  Conveniently, the bag has an outside pocket that you can store a phone or small wallet in.  The bag is personalized with embroidery using initial(s), monogram, or name. You select the font and thread colors to be used – there are endless combinations to make it yours. 


We’ve carried these lunch sacks for years and they are also a great option for kids. 


Pen At Hand Stick Figures - Lunch Sack - Annie



Healthy Taco Salad (+ meal prep tips) - Sweet Peas and Saffron

Photo used from Denise via:

Going out to lunch every day at work also adds up in a big way, so it’s cost effective to pack your lunch at the office a few days a week.  My husband and I aren’t interested in Bento boxes or Lunchables, so we went on a search for adult lunch options, too. Here’s what we found for some ideas: 


  • Grain bowl: Combine quinoa, brown rice, or farro with a variety of toppings such as roasted vegetables, grilled chicken or tofu, avocado slices, and a drizzle of tahini or vinaigrette.


  • Salad Niçoise:  Try a French-inspired salad with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, boiled potatoes, green beans, hard-boiled eggs, olives, and seared tuna or canned tuna in olive oil, drizzled with vinaigrette.


  • Stuffed Peppers: Fill halved bell peppers with a mixture of cooked quinoa or rice, ground turkey or beef, black beans, corn, salsa, and cheese. Bake until the peppers are soft and the filling is heated through. 


  • Mediterranean Platter:  Assemble hummus, tabbouleh, falafel, pita bread, olives, cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes, and feta cheese for a refreshing and satisfying lunch with a variety of flavors.


  • Taco Salad: Build a taco salad with a base of mixed greens or shredded lettuce topped with seasoned ground beef or turkey, black beans, corn, diced tomatoes, avocado slices, shredded cheese, and a dollop of Greek yogurt or salsa for a Tex-Mex twist.


  • Asian Noodle Bowl: Prepare an Asian noodle bowl with cooked soba or rice noodles, stir-fried vegetables, tofu or shrimp, and a savory soy-ginger sauce garnished with chopped scallions, sesame seeds, and a squeeze of lime for a satisfying and flavorful meal.


  • Caprese Sandwich:  Enjoy a classic Caprese sandwich with sliced fresh mozzarella, ripe tomatoes, basil leaves, and a drizzle of balsamic glaze or pesto on crusty ciabatta bread for a simple yet delicious lunch option.  Even better? We recommend putting this sandwich in the panini press (or grill) to make the version hot and melty. 


When it comes time to the lunch bag itself, we love this lunch sack available at More Than Paper made by CB Station. 

Khaki Waxed Lunch Sacks by CB Station


Made of waxed canvas, this has a rustic and masculine appearance so it’s perfect for your husband or high school son.  The lunch sack has plenty of space for food, snacks, or a soda can and can be rolled up for easy transportation when finished. (Here’s to hoping your son doesn’t lose it!)  


The sack features a water-resistant, reinforced bottom, a buckle top closure, and is USDA approved insulation for hot and cold temperatures.  Choose from personalization options such as single initials, a line of text, two initials, or a monogram, along with selecting the typestyle and thread color for the personalization to make it yours. 


We hope that your lunch time gets a little less expensive, more creative, and more exciting and that your days of paying $8 for cereal bar are gone with these tips and inspiration.  Share your comments about what successes (and failures) you have had packing school lunch here, or on our Facebook page! 


Happy Lunching!  

Monday, February 12, 2024

Valentine's Day on a Budget

Valentine’s Day is embraced by some and hated by others.  Into which camp do you fall? Often criticized as being manufactured and overly commercialized, many of the “haters” complain that they feel forced to spend money or that the money they spend can been seen as a reflection of how much they love their partner.  It doesn’t have to be that way! Here are some ways that you can honor those that you love on February 14th without breaking the bank.   By focusing on meaningful gestures and quality time, you can create a memorable and love-filled day. Let's explore some creative and budget-friendly ideas to celebrate Valentine's Day. 

Love Notes and Letters

Words have the power to convey immense love and emotions. Instead of purchasing expensive cards, opt for DIY, at-home versions using materials that you have on hand. Creating handwritten love notes or heartfelt letters will be SO well received.  Here are some tips when writing to your loved one. 

  • Start with a heartfelt greeting using their name or nickname 
  • Express your love and appreciation sincerely and specifically
  • Recall special moments that hold significance for both of you
  • Be genuine and avoid clichés, using descriptive language to express your feelings
  • Share dreams for the future as individuals and as a couple 
  • Consider adding poetic language, songs, or meaningful quotes if it resonates with your emotions 
  • Always handwrite the note (don’t type) to keep things personal 
  •  End with a loving closing like "Yours forever" or "With all my love"
  •  Proofread and revise if needed 

At More Than Paper, we love writing notes to loved ones on personalized stationery or letterhead. They make a treasured note even more sentimental. These are a great option (Classic Letterpress Correspondence Cards Letterpress Card Stationery/Thank You Notes) because you can use them for a variety of occasions. 

Stationery/Thank You Notes by Rytex - Classic Letterpress Correspondence Cards


Dinner at home 

Cliché… but awesome. What about a home-cooked candlelight dinner?

Prepare a dinner at home without the need for an expensive restaurant reservation and go all out.  Cook your partner's favorite meal or try out a new recipe together. Set the mood with candles, soft music, and a beautifully decorated table. If it sounds cliché, that’s because it is.  Seriously, when was the last time you tried it?  Here are some ideas of things to cook. 


  • ·      Italian Pasta Night: Make homemade or high-quality store-bought pasta with a flavorful sauce. Serve with salad and garlic bread.
  • ·    Seafood Feast: Prepare grilled salmon, garlic butter shrimp, or seafood paella. Enjoy with a white wine or champagne.
  • ·      Fondue Fun: Have a cheese fondue with bread, veggies, and fruits. For dessert, try a chocolate fondue with strawberries and cake.
  • ·      Sushi Night: Make your own sushi rolls with fresh fish, rice, and toppings. Grab a sushi takeout menu and explore the offerings, then copy down some ideas to create some unique rolls. 
  • ·      French Cuisine: Cook dishes like Coq au Vin, Ratatouille, or Beef Bourguignon that feel luxurious and out of the ordinary. Serve with a baguette and mashed potatoes for a comforting treat. 
  • ·      Decadent Dessert: OK, so not everyone has time or likes to cook. So consider ordering in your favorite meal but make a delicious homemade dessert. One of our favorites is a Gluten Free Chocolate Molten Lava Cake. So easy to make and yummy! We like to serve ours with powdered sugar and slice strawberries!  See recipe below.

Movie Night 

Along those lines, what about a movie night -- but amped up a little for your Valentine? 

Transform your living room into a cozy movie theater. Snuggle up on the couch with blankets, popcorn, and your favorite snacks and choose romantic comedies that everyone is sure to love. Enjoy the films together, share laughter, and create a memorable movie night experience.

There are many romantic comedy movies that have been released over the years.  We love Pretty WomanWhen Harry Met SallyThe Proposal10 Things I Hate About YouNotting HillThe Notebook & Bridget Jones's Diary


Create personalized love coupons that offer your partner special treats or acts of kindness. These can include a massage, breakfast in bed, a day off from chores, or even a romantic date night of their choice. Let your partner redeem these coupons throughout the year, extending the celebration of love beyond Valentine's Day.


Consider a scrapbook filled with memories or a memory jar.  Create a glass jar that you can drop in mementos of different trips, dinners, or activities that you do together.  The time and effort invested in creating these gifts make them truly meaningful and special.  See… it really doesn’t have to cost a lot to show someone that you love them! 

Unique Ideas 

Get outside with your Valentine!  Go for a hike, explore a local park, or visit a nearby beach. Breathe in the fresh air and connect with each other outdoors.  It’s a great way to feel grounded.  Finding a local charity or community organization to offer your time and skills can be another unique way to feel connected and spread love.  Sharing the experience of giving back to the community can deepen your bond and create a sense of fulfillment and happiness.


Valentine's Day is a perfect occasion to celebrate love and affection, and it doesn't have to come with a hefty price tag. By embracing creativity, thoughtfulness, and quality time, you can create a memorable and meaningful celebration without spending money. Remember, it's the love and effort you put into the day that truly matters. Embrace these budget-friendly ideas and make your Valentine's Day a cherished and heartfelt experience.  Above all, embrace the tradition of writing to your Valentine and write a heartfelt note following our tips. 


Share your budget friendly Valentine’s Day ideas on our Facebook page or comment here on our blog! 




Gluten-Free Chocolate Molten Lava Cake


Ingredients & Supplies
8 ounces of semisweet chocolate (1.5 cups chocolate chips)
1/4 lb butter (1 stick)

4 eggs

4 T brown sugar

2 t vanilla

1 T cocoa powder

1/8 t salt

white sugar (to coat dishes)

4  six-ounce ramekin or creme brulee dishes (small glass pyrex dessert dishes work great!)



1.      Prepare the ramekins by covering the insides with a thin film of butter, then add enough white sugar to coat the film of butter.  Remove excess sugar.

2.     Melt the chocolate and butter together either in a double boiler or in the microwave.  If using a microwave, heat in 30 second increments and stir well in between.  

3.     Whisk together all of the other ingredients in a separate bowl.  

4.     Pour the melted chocolate and butter into the mixture and whisk together.  The batter will thicken as you whisk it together.  Fill the ramekins 3/4 full, leaving enough room for the cake to rise.  Because the dessert is served straight out of the oven, refrigerate until just before you need them.

5.     Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and put ramekins on a cookie sheet or tray to bake.  You will want to under bake them so that the center stays soft.  If you've refrigerated them beforehand, it will take a little longer, about 15-20 minutes.  If you are baking them right away, 10 to 15 minutes.  TIP: If you refrigerated them, take them out at the beginning of the meal so that they can come closer to room temperature by the time you are ready to bake them.

6.     Check them every 5 minutes or so (and more often near the end) as you don't want to overcook them because then the center isn't soft and runny.

7.     To serve, gently place a plate upside down on the top of the ramekin and then flip over gently removing the ramekin.  Dust with powdered sugar and serve with cut strawberries and/or vanilla ice cream.



Thursday, January 18, 2024

Laundry Tips and Tricks

Most people think that laundry really stinks.  It doesn’t have to consume you though or be a chore that takes hours out of your day. We have a few tips to help laundry run smoother in your household. Give them a try! 


Create a Laundry Haven 

There is a trend in home decorating to create beautiful laundry spaces.  We’ve seen some laundry rooms on Pinterest with trendy artwork, elaborate tile, extensive shelving, designer wallpaper, and other designer touches that would make anyone want to become a laundry maven.  Though that might not be realistic, invest in a few things that you can add to your laundry space to make it cozier or more inviting. Think framed photos, canisters to store your detergents, baskets that make storage more inviting, or a cheery coat of paint.  We spotted this one on Pinterest.... 

ID# 103906 | – Credit | © K and Q Interiors


Increase Frequency 

How often you do laundry will depend on how many members are in your household and how often they change.  For children in sports and after-school activities requiring uniforms or a change of clothes, the laundry can really pile up quickly. Your key to success is staying on top of your laundry! Don’t wait until you have many loads to do. In our family of six people, we keep 2 laundry baskets on the floor in the laundry room. One is for lights and the other is for darks.  Our daughter uses this laundry bin in her room (and it seems to fill up quickly!) 

Hot Pink Trimmed Canvas Laundry Hampers by CB Station

It’s stylish and functional! We do at least one load per day, usually two, turning the washer / dryer on in the evening and folding in the morning. Sheets and towels are done separately and once per week. We don’t recommend waiting! Once the first basket is filled, put a load in.   Others who have less children may choose to do laundry on certain days of the week. 

Stock Up on Detergent 

There is no shortage of options when it comes to detergent. We use Tide Pods, Oxi Clean, and Downy Unstoppable Scent Boosters.  The Tide Pods do the job of cleaning the clothes, Oxi Clean is great for stains and to keep clothes looking fresh, and the scent boosters make your clothes smell amazing. Other things we can recommend:  


-       True Earth Reusable Wool Dryer Balls – these balls go in the dryer with the wet clothes and they shorten the drying time and soften clothes naturally without chemicals. 

-       Lysol Laundry Sanitizer – this works great on sports clothing (think hockey and football gear!) to remove odors. Also, it can be used as a disinfectant. To do so, pour 2 capfuls into 1 gallon of cold water and soak items for 15 minutes. Rinse thoroughly with clean water or machine wash as directed.  This is great for bed sheets during and especially after anyone in your household gets sick. 

-       The Laundress Cashmere & Wool solution for handwashing is great if you don’t want to get to the drycleaners but you need a refresh.   We also recommend their delicate wash for bras and other undergarments that should be air dried. 

-       Fels-Naptha bar – this bar is great for getting out the dirt stains especially in baseball pants!



Labeling clothes is especially important if you have a large family like ours. If your kids are in sports, school, after-school activities, or attend camp, investing in these will surely pay off in the long run. We cannot tell you how many sweatshirts and outer layers have been resurrected from lost-and-found and how much money we’ve saved overall by labeling our clothes.  Here are our labeling recommendations: 


-       A clothing marker stamp – This personalized clothing stamp is great for labeling socks and underwear, or things that are white. You can stamp directly on the fabric and the ink will usually outlast the garment. 

-       Peel & Stick Clothing Labels – These stick-on labels are super durable when placed on tags of clothing. (Wait 24 hours before washing to adhere properly and do not adhere to the clothing, just the tag.)  As a bonus, they can be used on all sorts of things like toiletries, electronics, toys, and anything that needs labeling. They come in sheets of 30 and there are a variety of styles. 

Laundry Safe Clothing Labels by Camp Stuff (Solid White)


Satisfying for some, annoying for others – folding the laundry is sometimes what takes the longest. Have you ever tried a laundry folding board to assist with the folding of your pants, shirts, sweatshirts, and other garments? Check this one out! They are abundantly available on Amazon and we highly recommend giving it a try.  Items stack up neat and tidy and are a game changer in closets! 


Put Away 

We’re guilty of leaving folded, clean clothes in baskets for days! Weeks? A long time! 

Assign the chore to children in the household who can be “the laundry assistant” and be responsible for delivering piles of laundry where they belong.  Ask everyone to put away their laundry each day.  If done daily, this never becomes overwhelming, and you truly always have clean clothes. 


Here are some interesting online laundry hacks…. 

-       Store your dryer lint in an empty tissue box. When it gets full, compost it! 

-       Use shaving cream as a spot remover on the go 

-       Lift sticky stains with ice cubes

-       Use vinegar and soak gym clothes for 30 minutes before washing to remove really tough odor


What are some of your favorite laundry hacks? Share them on our Facebook page or in comments below.  

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Little Luxuries

It’s the little things in life, isn’t that what they say? When it comes to home decorating, we find that can also ring true. Thoughtful, interesting details can really make a difference.  Crown molding, wallpaper, a well-designed faucet, an upgraded sconce – small touches give your home big character.  At More Than Paper, we have some home items that fall within the “extra” category and they are little details that go a long way.  They are small items that enhance your home and make a great impression for your guests.  Here’s a roundup of our favorite little things, plus a few things that you can do to make your guest bathroom or bedroom extra luxurious.  


Luxurious-Touches for guest rooms 

·      Have it well stocked!  In a guest bathroom for your overnight guests, provide a small basket of toiletries and needed items that may have been forgotten.  A phone charger, a new toothbrush, toothpaste, pain reliever medication, antacids, feminine products, and air-freshener are must-haves. 

·      In addition to the necessities, include items like a face mask, bath bombs, or ultra-rich moisturizer that has a spa-like feel. Make your guests feel like they are on vacation or at a retreat!  

·      You may even want to include mini-protein bars or small chocolates for any snack attacks. 

·      Include a few different types of pillows – soft, medium, hard in the closet. 

·      We love luggage racks in guest rooms! 

·      Don’t forget to include an iron or steamer for your guests, too. 

More Than Paper finds…..

Personalized Bathroom Canisters 

These clear acrylic bathroom canisters can be engraved with your custom design or monogram. They are perfectly sized and designed for cotton swabs, toothbrush, or makeup brush holders and really add an extra special touch to any guest bathroom or guest room. The clear coloring will match with any decor style – from modern to classic.  Choose from 35 different engraving designs – all to suit your own taste! 

Acrylic Bathroom Canister Pair by Three Designing Women


Linen-Like Guest Towels 

These linen-like guest towels that are monogrammed with your desired letters with 2 different typestyle options are a real treat! They are strong and absorbent, yet very soft. They feel so luxurious, you’ll almost not want to use them! We love these for a splurge at your own home, but they also make a great housewarming gift.  These are great in any guest bathroom or powder room. 

Personalized Linen-Like Guest Towels - Linen-Like Disposable Guest Towels


Engraved Soaps

Another indulgence that adds an extra special touch?  Consider monogrammed/personalized soaps in your guest bathrooms. More Than Paper has a variety of engraved soaps in different shapes, sizes, and colors. These from Carved Solutions contain a set of 6 4.5-ounce bars of soap. 

You can personalize the soap with either a single initial, a 3-initial monogram, or up to 3 short lines of text. These bars have “Aqua Mineral” scent! 

 Carved Solutions Personalized Soap Set (Eco-Luxury Inspire)


Engraved Candles 

Along those soap lines are engraved candles. We like these 100% Palm Wax Unscented Candles that are hand-poured in Vermont.  The carving illuminates as it burns down. They call this a “tunnel” burn and the candle can be yours to enjoy for years after the it burns.  You can also add an optional glass candle holder for an additional fee.  The candle is presented in gift-ready, clear, acetate box. Now this is an extra special touch! 

Personalized Candles - Name Or Phrase Palm Wax



Personalized Hand Towels 

You cannot go wrong with personalized hand towels in your bathroom. and they are sure to add a special something.  There are dozens of combination options for embroidery personalization when it comes to the typestyle, thread, and towel choice. They are high quality, thick towels, and super absorbent – very luxurious!!  At the time of writing this, you can get 25% off an 8-piece set that includes 2 bath towels, 2 hand towels, and 4 face towels! 

Ivory 8-Piece Cotton Towel Sets by CB Station 

What are some of your favorite home touches?  We’d love to hear about it on Facebook or in the comments here.  Happy home decorating and hosting!