Getting Ready for Back to School

It’s that time of year again. Summer is coming to a close, and a lot of you are getting ready to go back to school. I was one of those dorky kids that loved to go back-to-school shopping with my Mom. It meant new clothes, shoes, backpack, haircut, school supplies (Lisa Frank anyone?) and snacks! Getting ready for back-to-school was fun! One of my favorite parts was organizing my school supplies and picking out my first day of school outfit. The one outfit that stands out in my mind was my outfit for the first day of 8th grade. I wore a long sleeve purple tent dress with teal polka-dots, bright color tights, lace-up boots and I even had a hat. I was trying to channel my style icon at the time, Blossom. Stop snickering! She was cool and yes, I also went through a hat phase.
Back to School Fruit Cocktail - #thatsmykid @jcpenney #ad #jcpambassador
Through the years, styles change and technologies change, but one thing stays the same, kids get pretty excited about heading back to school. If they are anything like me it’s not because they’re eager to get back to math or history, but because they get to see their friends, show off their new threads and enter into serious lunch swap negotiations. As part of getting ready for back to school, I’m going to help you with two of those things: seriously cool threads and mad lunch-swap clout. When it came to clothes shopping for back-to-school, my mom would always take us to JCPenney because of the awesome sales for her and the cool clothes for me and my sister.  One of my favorite lines at JCPenney was Arizona Jean Co. They always had great jeans (of course) and cute tops. Even today when I shop at JCPenney I snag a few things here from Arizona Jean Co. Below are just some of my favorite looks for back-to-school this Fall. I love this outfit! It looks so comfortable! A little tomboyish, but still feminine because of the lace sleeve tee and floral scarf. (See more Junior’s looks below)
This guy looks like he is ready to trek the mountains of coolness. Love the layering of the plaid shirt, hoodie and vest! And, if you look closely you will notice that the vest is camo on the inside. I bet you can turn it inside-out and get a whole other look.
Would it be weird to steal this little girl’s adorable fox sweater? I love this look because it has an element of preppy with the collar shirt under the sweater, but still funky because of the fox and the polka-dot pants. It’s like I am serious, but not too serious.
I love this look! It reminds me of my nephews. Fun outgoing, sporty kids who still want to be styling. A polo always makes you look put together, but the distressed number makes it fun. I also love these pants because of their smaller camo print.
This look reminds me of a modern version of Punky Brewster. Remember her?! I just adore the floral hoodie over the graphic tee with the nerdy kitty cat. Again, another look that is perfect for the tomboy that still wants to be a girl.
Finally, we have this kid with his light jeans, plaid shirt and graphic tee saying I’m cool, but I don’t even know it. He makes me think of my husband who was a band geek and a jock. I love how Arizona Jean Co. caters to everyone’s unique and individual style. Tomboy, outdoorsman, sporty, artsy whatever! They have something for everyone! Bonus it’s also easy on the pocketbook!
We all know that lunch rooms work on a bartering system. You know my pudding cup for your pizza kind-of-thing. So, now that your kid is looking cool let’s talk about lunch room currency in the form of a homemade fruit cup. This isn’t just any fruit cup. These fruit cups are made of whatever fruit is in season packed in a light honey and mint syrup and still cold when ready to eat. Back to School Fruit Cocktail - #thatsmykid @jcpenney #ad #jcpambassador Still, to this day I love a chilled fruit cup. They are just a little sweet and very refreshing. I like them so much I started making my own, and they make the perfect addition to a lunch box. This recipe yields 24 4-oz cups! That is almost five weeks worth of school lunches for one kid! They are made with fresh fruit and less sugar than your average fruit cup with no high-fructose corn syrup anywhere in sight. They can easily be changed up to make them your own. Back to School Fruit Cocktail - #thatsmykid @jcpenney #ad #jcpambassador The trick to these little treats is the mint infused syrup and freezer canning. Infusing the mint into the syrup gives it a more refreshing flavor. By freezer canning, your are preserving the fruit and by lunch time it thaws out but remains cool. Make sure your kid brings the jar home, and you can get ready to gear up to make more. Seriously, your kid will be getting three pudding cups for one of these gems. And, yes it’s ok to swipe some for your lunch bag. Now your kid is the best-dressed kid in school with mad lunch room currency.
Getting Ready for Back to School
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Easy homemade fruit cups with honey and mint infused syrup. Great for lunches and snacks! (Adapted from Ball Recipes)
Serves: 24 Jars
  • 4 cups cubed pitted peeled peaches, about 5 large (see notes)
  • 3 cups cubed cored peeled pears, about 5 medium (see notes)
  • 2 cups blueberries
  • 2 cups Mandarin orange segments, packed in juice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup liquid honey
  • 24 fresh mint leaves
  • 24 4 oz glass freezer saft preserving jars with lids and bands
  1. Clean all your jars, lids and rings in hot soapy water. Set aside to air dry.
  2. Combine water, sugar and honey in a large stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally.
  3. Combine all fruit in a large bowl, stir until well combined.
  4. Place 1 mint leaf in each jar. Ladle ¼ cup of fruit into each jar and just enough hot syrup to cover the fruit and leave ¼ inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot syrup. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band until fit is fingertip tight. Freeze fruit jars.
Treat pears and peaches - Use Fruit-Fresh Produce Protector to keep from browning. 2 teaspoons powder to 3 tablespoons water for 4 cups of fruit.

Peeling Peaches - Heat a pot of water over high heat, cover to bring to a boil. Score the bottom of the peaches with an X and prepare an ice water bath. As soon as water comes to a boil set to low and add peaches to hot water. The peaches should be fully submerged. After about 40 seconds or when the skin begins to slightly pull away on the scored ends, remove the peaches with a slotted spoon or skimmer. Drop in ice bath and let them cool, about 10 - 20 seconds. Peel skin

Jars - Make sure that jars are freezer safe. You can also use small plastic containers.

Freezing - If your freezer has a power freeze setting use it! Rapid freezing helps create smaller ice crystals maintaining the natural color and texture of the fruit. It also helps for the foods to thaw more evenly.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 4 oz

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  1. Nicole says

    My favorite memory was going back-to-school shopping with my mom. She took each of my siblings and I out separately to make it special.

  2. Thomas Murphy says

    My favorite back to school memory was the first day of 6th grade because I was so excited to go to a new big school.

  3. Tabathia B says

    I actually went through the MC Hammer pants phase and I loved going to Rose’s department store with my mother and picking out school supplies

    tbarrettno1 at gmail dot com

  4. Stacey b says

    I didn’t go through a hat phase, but I can always remember having my outfit all picked out and ready to go for the first day of school. By the end of the school year I was waking up last minute and almost blindly picking something out so I wasn’t late for school!

  5. Susan P. says

    My favorite back-to-school memory is my brother and I going in to 1st grade together – all dressed up in our special school clothes.

  6. Gina M says

    My favorite memory was going shopping with my mom in August for everything back to school related. We would make a fun day out of it!

    Thanks for the chance to win!
    wildorchid985 at gmail dot com

  7. Janice Cooper says

    My favorite back to school memory is when my grandmother would take me school shopping for clothes at the mall and we would stop to eat at Coney Island.

  8. Kimmy Ripley says

    I used to love shopping for school supplies! I know I was a nerd. lol. I loved having fresh supplies and picking out everything myself. I thought it was fun.

  9. Denise L says

    I love all the new school supplies…still, even as an adult! And my birthday always fell right around the first day of school.

  10. Becky says

    One thing I liked about going back to school was covering my books with brown paper and then decorating them.

  11. Chris says

    I loved shopping for school supplies. I’m an organization nut and I love all the binders and folders. Actually, I still love hitting the school supplies aisle at this time of year. The stuff they have now is WAY cooler than what I had 30 years ago.

  12. Jessie C. says

    My favorite memory of back-to-school time was the school supply shopping process. It was always a thrill to pick popular cartoon icon supplies.
    tcarolinep at gmail dot com

  13. Rebecca says

    A favorite memory it’s coming home from school to find that my mom had baked my favorite cookies!

  14. Dandi D says

    My favorite back to school memory was getting some brand new black boots that I’d been wanting all year.

  15. Kerry says

    My favorite memory was always laying out my new outfits for the first week! I had the entire first week planned out way in advance.

  16. says

    I just loved going back and learning, I know I was kind of a geek and still am. I loved going to school and couldn’t wait for suggested reading lists and the like.

  17. D SCHMIDT says

    My favorite back to school memory was when I came back from a big vacation and was desperate to tell my friends.

  18. courtney b says

    i remember being so nervous for back to school. we would set out our clothes and not be able to sleep the day before!! so glad it’s all over!

  19. says

    Homemade fruit cups…. Awesome! I actually really like those fruit cups from the stores but I avoid them at all costs so making my own would be so ideal!

  20. Natalie Yarbrough says

    I really never liked hats, so I did not go through that phase. My best memory was stepping onto my first school bus in first grade!

  21. heather says

    I loved going back to school shopping with my mom when I was a kid one of my best memories.

  22. Kelly D says

    I remember buying the clothing with the neon gel writing on it for back to school one year, oh and the neon laces, which I loved too!

  23. Nicole Dz says

    My favorite back to school time was picture day! I always loved getting ready and all dolled up.

  24. says

    I used to eat fruit cups all the time growing up but never thought of making my own! Looks like such an easy recipe.

  25. says

    Ah, the scent of a brand new notebook and pencil shavings… Now that I’m a grownup it means so much more to me – Means the kids are back in school getting their learn on! I love these homemade fruit cups – Genius!

  26. Mami2jcn says

    I always enjoyed decorating my locker and my trapper keeper when the new school year would start.

  27. Susan says

    My favorite back-to-school memory was when the new books would arrive. I loved the smell of books!

  28. says

    I still love back to school season – the crisp autumn air, the excitement of starting a new year and all the things yet to learn!
    Thanks for the recipe :)