Easy Make Ahead Breakfast Ideas – Bento-box Style!

Anyone else besides me not a morning person? My wonderful children wake up every day at 5am. 5. A. M. Then they creep into our room and say those 3 famous words that every parent loves being woken up to…”Mom, I’m hungry”.

I’ve started making their breakfasts in advance and keeping them in the fridge. I love this because it’s better than cereal (my go-to breakfast most days because, again, not a morning person) and it buys me sleep. At this stage in life, I would pay for sleep. I would pay a lot of money for sleep.

I have found bento boxes to be the best thing since sliced bread when it comes to getting my kids to eat. I’m not sure what it is about the compartment thing, but they LOVE having their food separated. One of them doesn’t care to have her food touching each other, the other one is somewhat gross and mixes everything together, no matter what it is. I’ll let you figure out which is which…

egg muffins

Silicone muffin liners….yes yes and yes! Everyday, and in pink, of course. Whatever makes life easier, right?Screen Shot 2017-08-29 at 10.23.03 AM

This oatmeal is so yummy and only has natural sugar in it! AKA…fruit! I’ve even made the “overnight” version, which is basically putting all of the ingredients into a mason jar and let it sit in the fridge overnight to “cook”. I like actually cooking it better, but that is always an option…

oatmealScreen Shot 2017-08-29 at 10.23.11 AM

And yes, that beautiful, cute little blue egg came from one of my own Easter Eggers. I’m not getting around a dozen eggs a day from 14 chickens…and we are almost eating a dozen eggs a day as a family of 5! Does anyone want a coop tour?

I LOVE granola…and I love the way it makes the house smell when cooking! This was so easy to make! It could definitely cook longer if you like it crunchy, but I prefer it softer myself. I cannot believe I used to pay (a LOT) for my granola! This is soooooo much cheaper! It makes a ton too!

granola recipe
Screen Shot 2017-08-29 at 10.23.33 AMWell I hope this inspired you to make some goodness! I’m on a roll lately with videos and blogging so leave me a comment if there’s something in particular you’d like to see/read about! Thanks for dropping by!

The Crib-Rail Sling Bookshelf

I’ve been wanting a sling bookshelf for a while now. We go to the library at least once a week, and as much as I tell myself and my kids that we’re only getting 1 book each, somehow we always walk away with at least 10. I’m such a fan of free books!

But the drawback to having such a thirst for reading is that we usually end up with a bookshelf like this:


So to remedy this, I’ve been price shopping for sling bookshelves online for a while. I finally found one on Amazon that was only $21, but I wasn’t crazy about the bright colors (I’d prefer calm colors in my house if I can help it…because, you know, they’re calming). When a friend said she would give me a free crib rail, I knew exactly what I wanted to make! And it only cost me $10 in fabric!

IMG_3095Step 1: Start with the crib rail.

Step 2: Measure how tall you want the bookshelf to be. You will cut the back piece to fit the height you want. I wanted to be sure it fit underneath the window in my living room, so I had to make sure I didn’t cut the backing too tall or it would look weird. The back piece will be a little larger than the front piece.

IMG_3098Step 3: My front piece had 6 slats that were a little too close together to easily fit books through. I would’ve liked to have had 6 shelves, but I’ll settle for 3 that I can actually get books in and out of. I jigsawed off the 1st, 3rd, and 5th rail pieces. These actually came in quite handy later.

Step 4: Sand. And sand. And sand. I was thinking about painting this, but I’m actually digging the whole rustic/old vintage look. And I think it adds to the charm of taking an old crib and repurposing it.


IMG_3101IMG_3102Step 5: Assemble. My husband gets a real kick out of power tools and measuring angles, so he was happy to do this part. Using one of the leftover rail pieces, he measured a small top brace, and a larger bottom brace based on how far I wanted the front piece to stick out from the wall. He then doubled both of those braces to give him 2 small and 2 large braces. After sanding down the edges, he used his nail gun to attach the braces.

IMG_3108 IMG_3109 IMG_3110 IMG_3111Step 6: Now comes the fun and rather tedious part…sewing. I estimated I’d need 2 yards of material and by some miracle that was exactly how much I ended up needing. I found this cute print on sale at JoAnns in the home decorum section. It’s a sturdy canvas, which will be necessary to hold weight. (Don’t do this with any cute cotton prints….that will be a very large waste of your time). I measured the width of the bookshelf and cut all my fabric to match, leaving about an inch and a half for a seam allowance. I then measured by eye each shelf using the fabric. The top shelf will need a little less material than the bottom shelf, which is why I didn’t just cut the fabric into 3 equal pieces.

IMG_3112 IMG_3113Step 7: After cutting all my pieces, I hemmed the length of each piece by just folding over a 1/4-1/2 inch of fabric once, and the widths by folding twice. I did this because the lengths will be stitched over once I secure the fabric to the rails.


Making a finished hem on the width of the fabric.

Step 8: Starting with the back of the top row, I stitched by hand the fabric around the top back rail.

IMG_3115Step 9: I then looped the fabric around the front top rail, making sure the fabric faces out. I made this loop rather large so that you wouldn’t see the fabric interior once books are placed on the shelves. It also makes the shelf a little more sturdy for holding books and having children tug and pull at them.

IMG_3119Step 10: I repeated this process with the second and third shelves. This is the most tedious part of the whole process, especially trying to get the bookshelf into a good position to hand stitch.

IMG_3117 And voila!! The completed masterpiece! It doesn’t hold as many books something that I could buy online, but I love the way it looks so much better than anything I saw online! I’m also not a fan of owning a ton of books, simply because there’s a library full of thousands of books that we can always change out for free, so why bother? This helps to keep our book hoarding tendencies to a minimum, and also reduce the book clutter. Win-win!

One other drawback is that you kind of have to tuck the bigger books into the bottom 2 shelves. I thought this might be a problem for my 2 year old, but after showing her a few times she got the gist of how to do it.

IMG_3123Hope you enjoy! Send me a picture if you decide to try your own!


Fish Week at Preschool!

This was such a fun theme for us! Last year I did an “Ocean” week, so I already had a lot that I could pull from to do our fish week.

We started out each day with a dance to get all the wiggles out. I found this awesome YouTube channel that I’m hooked on! They have great songs and dances for just about anything!

For our craft time, I busted out the dreaded paint (it doesn’t matter how cautious you are…if you paint with a 2-year-old everything must be washed or hosed down…thus, we painted outside). I cut out some Dollar Store sponges into the shapes of fish for them to use on their paintings. I kind of wish I had used a canvas. It actually turned out kind of cool!

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Our lunches consisted mostly of tuna sandwiches and fish sticks, of course. The girls did help me make a very easy tarter sauce for the fish sticks which consisted of:

  • 1 Cup Mayonaise
  • 1 T onion powder
  • 1-2 baby gherkin pickles, chopped (or sweet relish)

They got to mix all the ingredients together, which turned into them eating mayonnaise and very little else for lunch. But hey, what are childhood memories unless they’re sticky, messy, and full of fat?

Everyday we also sang the classic fish-biting song. Why? Because it’s fun to scare children while teaching them to count to 10.

fish song

But what is fish week without getting actual fish? We recently put a small pond in our backyard, and I finally got the pH adjusted enough for some fish to survive. And did you know that goldfish cost a whopping 29 cents? So I splurged and got 4. Super-simple and cheap way to entertain the kiddos!

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But the highlight of the week was getting to visit the Virginia Aquarium! I’m pretty sure I was more excited than the kids! Before we left I made a very simple (very simple) aquarium scavenger hunt for my eldest, and was pleasantly surprised that she ended up doing it all on her own!

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The aquarium certainly did not disappoint! It was full of sharks, turtles, a sting ray petting area, hermit crabs, crocodiles, snakes, crabs, frogs, seals, and river otters. And they had a kids area for the littlest ones to play forest ranger! Between buildings was a beautiful nature trail complete with the most extensive zip course I’ve ever seen!

We ended each day with a book (or 2 or 3) about fish. We’re pretty big Rainbow Fish fans, obviously, though I think my favorite was Whale Shines. Below are 9 book ideas for your own Fish Week:

fish books

I also found this great YouTube channel that helped me to explain a little better what gills are and how fish breath underwater.

For even more fish ideas, visit my Pinterest board:

Do you have any fun fish ideas? Leave them in the comments below!

Have a great week everyone!


Preschool Week 2: Friendship Week

Week two of preschool was supposed to be farm week, but my local farmer (who is a genius) politely explained to me that unless I want my kids eaten up with ticks, I might want to postpone farm week until October sometime. He’s smart. He’s really really smart.

As I am teaching her how to have emotional intelligence, I am also learning boatloads myself. We are both students at this school.

So we did friendship week instead, which turned out to be perfect.My preschooler possesses a preschooler brain and preschool-sized emotions….a lot of them. And while I’m often quick to try to get her to behave a certain way, it is much more important to me that she understand the meaning behind behavior…and for me to understand that meaning as well.

This is after telling her not to put her feet on the table. So she didn't put her feet on the table....arrrggg....
This is after telling her not to put her feet on the table. So she didn’t put her feet on the table….arrrggg….

So I pulled some different children faces off the internet and attached emotions to them. I then put them on cardboard, cut, and laminated them into emotion cards. We went through the cards, and she pointed out what she thought each child was feeling. We name of scenarios of why they might be feeling that way, and related those experiences to recent play dates. We learned a few ASL signs this week, including friends, alike, and different, so we incorporated that into our discussion. Who looked alike? Who looked different? Who felt the same? Who felt different?

We did this for 30 minutes. And then a miracle happened! She wanted to share her new toy!

I found this gem at a local store for $2 this past week (I grabbed 3 of them, of course), and thought it would be great to make friendship bracelets with our friends. After our lesson on day 1, she grabbed her new kit and went to her friend’s house to share! It was amazing!

Our field trip of the week was going to Mommy and Me (And Daddy Too). This place is crazy busy with children everywhere! I love it! Vendors come and bring crayons and markers and crafts and bubbles. There’s always some free toy for the kids and live entertainment. Though I’m pretty sure the kids would be just fine with each other and the train playground set.

IMG_0197 IMG_0194I got this great book off craigslist for virtually nothing on face painting and decided to start prepping for Halloween. That turned out to be a bad idea when my kids decided it was their turn to paint my face…

IMG_0201Aldi has become one of my favorite places to grocery shop, and this past week I was able to pick up a preschool workbook for $5! It is now my go-to for when the printer isn’t working or I didn’t have time to prepare for a lesson. The first part is simply trying to draw a straight line. I think she really enjoyed the challenge!

IMG_0218The thing I love about Montessori teaching is how easy it is. The toddler can participate as well in her own way. This past week she found a new game of putting money into different parts of a lunch container. I think it kept her occupied for at least 10 minutes, maybe 20!

IMG_0226We ended our school week with a friendship chain, adding all our friends’ names to it and uniting us all together. My Dancing Diva thought it was beautiful!

IMG_0235Hope you guys have a wonderful weekend!
Follow ReliableRoots’s board Friendship Week – Preschool on Pinterest.

Preschool Week 1: Apple Week (and apple leather recipe)

So we kicked off our preschool curriculum this past week (you know, again…don’t judge) learning all about apples. The week before, we decided to go ahead and drive to the closest apple orchard, which was almost 2 hours from my home. But it was well worth it!


This place was at the top of a mountain in Charlottesville and was breathtakingly beautiful!! We ate peach ice cream, donuts, and apples for lunch. Don’t judge…I’m never prepared for these things. Oh and the peach cider was quite possibly the most delicious thing I’ve ever tasted. Ever.IMG_0048IMG_0054IMG_0055IMG_0060

We picked $13 worth of apples. Not sure how many pounds that was, but it was quite the challenge to keep the toddler from eating all the rotten ones off the ground. For her it was a smorgasbord!

They had a lookout area where I could experiment with my new phone on how to do a panoramic. Doesn’t do the view justice at all, but I tried!


I had so much fun learning about apples with my little preschooler! Of course a few days into it I realized I missed an important milestone that every other mother was reminding me of on Facebook. Mom fail.

IMG_0123Our “preschool” days are really only 30 minutes to an hour. And it’s incredible how long it takes me to plan for that 30 minutes to an hour! We practiced writing the letter A, learning about the lifecycle of an apple and the different parts of an apple, making apple leather and apple chips, learning about oxygenation, and did apple crafts all week. Everyday we started with some exercise and a song. It was so much fun!


It's difficult to tell, but that was supposed to be apple prints. You know...you might need to use your imagination to see it...
It’s difficult to tell, but that was supposed to be apple prints. You know…you might need to use your imagination to see it…

I’ve had some requests for the fruit leather recipe…it’s too easy and kids can help!

For more ideas on how to create your own apple-themed preschool week, check out my pinterest board!
       Follow ReliableRoots’s board Apple Week – Preschool on Pinterest.

Apple Leather
Print Recipe
Really easy, kid-friendly apple leather
Cook Time
3-12 hours
Cook Time
3-12 hours
Apple Leather
Print Recipe
Really easy, kid-friendly apple leather
Cook Time
3-12 hours
Cook Time
3-12 hours
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, then turn down to 180 degrees. If you have a gas oven that doesn't go down that low, preheat to 400, then turn off and just keep the pilot light on. This is how I made mine, and I had to keep it in the oven overnight.
  2. Lightly spray baking sheet with oil spray.
  3. Spread applesauce over baking sheet, just enough to barely cover the sheet (about 1/8th inch).
  4. Place in oven for at least 3 hours to overnight, or until you can peel off the applesauce.
  5. Peel off applesauce into a roll, cut, and enjoy!
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