Ask Alex: Back-to-School Tips

Alex Belt

Alex Belt

Alex Belt is a mom, business owner and all around in the know kind of gal. Friends call on her relentlessly for advice on how to plan a party and what trend is “in.” With back-to-school season just around the corner, we’re doing what everyone else does – asking Alex!

Q. Homework time is so stressful at our house, because we can never find items that we need! What are your ideas?

A. Last year, my friend Lara Bell posted a photo of a homework turntable that her daughter did, and I thought that it would be perfect for my daughters. We decided to use a pink basket with cups in it. Each cup holds markers, scissors, pens and so on. My girls had a lot of fun creating this station. We keep it out all year, and they always know where everything is. Being organized in a basket means that it can be transported to the bar or table as needed.

300-pencilsQ. My daughter is going into middle school. Where do I get a school supplies list?

A. After elementary school, you will not be able to purchase a school supply packet. Each teacher will hand out a supply list on the first day, and most teachers expect supplies to be in class the next day. This part is tricky, because everyone is purchasing the same thing at the same place at the same time, and things sell out. I purchase the things that I know the kids will need earlier in the summer when items start to go on sale. The items that I always have on hand in my homework station are lined and unlined index cards, black, blue and red pens, Sharpies, highlighters, notebook paper, printer paper, graph paper, composition notebooks, a ruler, map pencils, glue sticks, a stapler, lots of dividers, tape and pocket folders with and without brads.

Q. I get so tired of packing soup in my child’s thermos. What do you suggest?

A. I love thermoses, because they can be used for hot or cold food. My daughter Jeannette is a thermos girl. She takes a thermos to school at least three times a week. We have packed a variety of meals in them, including lo mein, hot dogs, spaghetti, Spaghetti O’s, fried rice, chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, sausage rolls, chili, stew, pizza rolls, breakfast tacos, ramen noodles, Genghis Grill leftovers, baked potatoes, chicken salad, tuna salad, cubed ham and cheese, boiled eggs and tortilla rolls.

Q. What is the right way to keep food hot in a thermos?

A. To pack a warm lunch and keep it warm until lunch break, first boil water in a kettle on the stove top. Then, pour the boiling water into the thermos. Close the lid and let the thermos sit for five to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, warm the food. Empty water from the thermos. Finally, put hot food into the thermos, and pack the thermos
in a lunch box.