My Favorite Things: Back to School Edition! I’m sharing how I keep my family organized, the BEST lunchboxes and backpacks, some fun new makeup finds, a great exercise bike, and more!
Our kids are back at school already(!), so we’re on week 2(!!!!!!) of settling into our new school-year routine. (We’re in a modified year-round schedule, so we start extra early, but we love the extra long spring/winter/fall breaks, which makes this shorter summer feel worth it.)
While it definitely still FEELS like summer, we’ve got school on the brain, so this month’s faves are centered around a back-to-school vibe. Here are a few things we’re loving lately for the school year, fresh starts, and keeping everyone organized…
THE BEST LUNCH BOXES
You wouldn’t believe how many questions I’ve gotten about our lunchboxes in the last year! Our favorite are these Omie Lunch Boxes. They’re bright and colorful and really durable. I love that there is a large center compartment that has a removable thermos insert. The thermos can be used for hot or cold items and comes with an easy-to-twist-off lid that Milo could easily manage as a kindergartener.
Without the thermos insert, the center easily holds a sandwich, a few muffins, or whatever main dish you have in mind. The side has a removable/adjustable divider you can use to your liking, and the top compartment is air-tight (great for anything juicy or anything you want to keep crispy).
They’re a little pricier than some boxes, but we used ours every single school day last year and they look brand (like BRAND) new. I think we’ll get at least another year or two (or three) out of them.
If you need a less expensive option, we really like these Easy Lunchboxes, which we used for years before getting our Omie boxes last year. Michael still uses them daily for lunch. They’re a great, budget friendly option!
PS – Get LOTS of Healthy Lunch Ideas HERE
OUR FAVORITE KIDS’ BACKPACKS
Pottery Barn makes GREAT kids’ backpacks. We got them last year and this year, and I’ve been SO impressed with the quality. If you’re able to score them on sale, the price is comparable to Target backpacks, but I think the quality is another step up. My kids love the free patch options, and for a small fee (I think it’s like $5) you can get them embroidered with your child’s name. (We haven’t done that yet)
PS – We also like their lunchboxes (which fit the Omie containers!)
WHAT TO EAT MEAL PLANNER
The back-to-school transition always gets me in planning and organization mode, and my “What to Eat” Meal Planner pad just ran out. I’ve used these for the last 3-4 years and love them. The magnetic strip makes it easy to keep on the side of the refrigerator and they just came out with a cute new mint/aqua option I’m LOVING.
WEEKLY PLANNING DESK PAD
Similarly, keeping one of these little planning desk pads on my desk helps me have a quick snapshot of the week and jot down little notes (what’s for dinner, what appointments or classes or practices we have going on, etc.) I like mine for keeping my most important tasks organized for the next day.
PS – See a bit more about how I stay organized/my morning routine HERE.
A TRICK FOR BETTER BROWS
New brows, who dis? Ok, not really, but I’m REALLY into this brow flick pen. I use the brown color (I have pretty dark brows) and it’s a great match for naturally filling in any sparse areas. I can essentially draw (or flick) on a few thin, natural-looking strokes in any sparse spots, then I do any other filling in with my usual taupe pencil.
A PRETTY BLUSH
Another GREAT new make-up product I’m loving. This creamy blush goes on with a dewy (but NOT greasy!) finish that’s lasted for me, even through this SWEATY hot weather. Plus, it’s hypoallergenic and made without parabens. Win!
I’ve been wearing the Beam color–a soft, peachy, coral pink, but there are lots of pretty colors to choose from. I love that you can see how each color looks on a variety of skin tones.
A tiny dot is plenty, and you can build the intensity if you want a more or less dramatic look. (Start SMALL and you can always add more later!)
PS – If you like it, you can get the duo and save $6 on 2.
Laugh all you want, but I feel like I’ve answered a TON of questions about dishwashing gloves this month! I mentioned using them when I clean up my giant video-making kitchen messes, and I’m not alone in loving them. So many of you do, too!
I think that wearing gloves speeds up my cleaning–I don’t have to rinse goop or food off my hands, don’t have to dry my hands to load things into the dishwasher or put things away, and I can handle hotter temperatures and protect my fingernails and skin at the same time. Win all around.
My husband even wears them now!
SHOP OUR PICKS:
OUR EXERCISE BIKE
During the summer, my big goal was to SLOW DOWN. That meant slow down in basically all areas to just give myself a bit of time and space to feel caught up. We didn’t go on any big trips (we’re saving for some BIG ones next year!). I worked way ahead so I didn’t have much to keep up on during the summer. I even slowed down my exercise routine.
We went on morning walks as a family almost every day this summer, and it was AWESOME. (Like, THE perk of having super early bird kids who are still up before 6am most days). The kids would ride bikes or scooters and Michael and I would walk. I miss it already!
Now that our monsoon humidity is setting in, the mornings are SWEATY and hot, so we got one of these little exercise bikes so we could workout inside. It’s not made for high intensity spin classes or anything, and it’s as straightforward as it gets.
- SUPER affordable with GREAT reviews. We read a ton of reviews and I loved that this has a small footprint on the floor and has SO many positive reviews. (4.3 stars with 6,200 reviews)
- You can adjust the seat height up and down. Michael is 6 feet tall, I’m 5’2″, and we can both use it easily and comfortably.
- It has adjustable resistance for a more intense workout.
- Other than a “click” when you adjust the resistance knob, the bike is completely silent. No beeps, no plugging it in, etc. I can ride it while the kids are asleep without waking anyone up or one of us can ride it during a movie or show without needing to turn the tv up.
- It’s foldable and super lightweight. I can easily move it by myself (there are wheels under the front rest that make it a cinch on hard floor) and it’s easy to store.
- Great for intense or gentle workouts. I have been able to work up a good sweat if I want, or I can just ride slowly while I read a book.
- There aren’t a lot of bells and whistles. This isn’t the bike if you want to watch a screen showing you a view around the world or want to jump into a live spin class online with a built-in screen.
- No rest for a phone/tablet/book. We’re looking for one to strap on to the handlebars (several other reviewers have done this), but for now, I just listen to a podcast/audiobook and put my phone in the little holder in the center.
MORE THAN ENOUGH
I’m sure I’m not alone in loving Miranda Anderson. She’s a fun blogger/creator who takes on ALL kinds of projects, from fixer-upper homes, to raising chickens, to teaching classes, to podcasting, to a print shop, doing sewing projects, and more.
She recently released a book about the year where she and her family stopped buying “stuff” and shifted their focus from consuming more to spending their money on experiences, replacing worn-out items, buying essentials, etc.
The goal wasn’t even truly financial in nature. Instead, it was more about “Less Stuff, More Adventure,” as Miranda says. It was using their time, money, and resources on experiences that mattered to them, cultivating appreciation for what they have, and mindfully using their resources moving forward.
Her writing is great, and it’s full of stories and practical advice. A great book for new beginnings!