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…

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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…

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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!

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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 End of Summer…the beginning of YouTube!

I’m so excited about both of these things! Summers are not my favorite, and this year has been no exception. It’s been hot and sometimes miserable, and the ever-present excitement of the new school year has been looming over my head…in a very good way. Kindergarten starts this year for my 5-year-old, and so our first year of “real” homeschooling begins!

And because that’s not challenging enough, I’ve decided to start a YouTube channel…mostly because I’ve been inside all summer thanks to the heat watching DIY videos, and I’m pretty super-inspired. And fall is on the way and so is school and fun and fun and fun…and yes, I’m pretty excited!!!!

So school is starting for us tomorrow! After testing the water for 2 years of preschool, I’ve determined that in order to homeschool we’re going to have to be year-round people. AKA…mama needs a break every 4-6 weeks, so we’re just going to shoot for small goals and go from there. I’m notorious for trying to pack WAY too much into our school time, something that I’ve had to learn the hard way this past year while trying to do school with a new baby. 4-6 time slots give me just enough time to cram in a whole lot, while giving myself a breather to rest and recharge. I’m pumped!

So a good ending to summer was a trip to a Sunflower Festival…pick as many free sunflowers as you’d like! It was wonderful! And while I know that we still have a solid 6 weeks left of summer, my planting guide is telling me to go ahead and plant some kale and broccoli, and the craft stores already have out their fall spread. So I’m calling it…goodbye summer, HELLO PUMPKIN SPICE!

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What’s New in the Garden

This spring thus far has been full of energy…and pollen. Lots and lots and lots of pollen. As I write this, I’m scratching my nose and holding off a sneeze…but I digress…

The hubs and I have gotten back into the yard and are making some great strides. After being in an RV for 3  years, the one thing I really missed more than anything else was having a yard, or more specifically, a garden. Last year’s garden kind of did terrible, mostly because I just couldn’t keep up with it like I should’ve once my pregnancy reached a certain point. This year I have all new energy and I’m ready to give it another go!

I’m a huge fan of Mel Bartholomew’s Square Foot Garden. His soil plan is basically 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 compost mixture, and 1/3 vermiculite. The upfront cost is kind of a lot (for dirt), but year after year all you need to do is add more compost to revitalize the soil. I love how this mixture drains so nicely during times of heavy rain.

My garden last year consisted of this mixture (kind of…my own version of it which doesn’t require measuring), but it didn’t have the boxed beds. Basically I piled up little beds that were 4×4 with the mixture. And as soon as it rained, my nice expensive soil went everywhere. So this year the hubs fixed that and I love it! It’s so much easier!

The garden is located in the foundation of what used to be a greenhouse. When we first moved in, the area was so overgrown we didn’t even know that the foundation was there! The good thing is that the soil was somewhat good…the bad thing is that it was a glass greenhouse and I’m pretty sure I’ll be finding shards of glass in the soil for the next 50 years or so.

It’s so much fun digging around in a 80 year old garden…you never know what you’re going to find! I’m still looking for a cannon ball from the civil war….who knows? Maybe I’ll find it!

Every year I look forward to the surprises my compost pile will bring. I have a pile for compost, and when I’m on top of my game, I’ll load up my compost tumbler, tumble it daily for a few weeks or a month and have fresh compost. Full disclosure…I’ve never been on top of my game. So thus, my pile for compost grows larger than my tumbler can keep up with, and I always end up with “surprises” at springtime. Last year it was pumpkins, this year it’s sweet potato and onion.

I think the thing I’m most excited about is my fig tree. I almost dug it up because I was so sure it was dead. But alas! It was just the very last thing to make a comeback! And I’m so glad! Of all the plants in the yard, this one is actually sentimental to me. It is a clipping from my grandparents’ fig tree, something I requested when my grandmother sold her house that I practically grew up in. I’m not sure how long it’s going to take before I actually get some figs from it, but I’m just glad it made it through it’s first winter in zone 7.

Thus far I’ve planted pumpkin, watermelon, corn (yes I’m way early on all of those, but with 3 small kids, if I don’t get it in the ground when I can I may not be able to ever get it in the ground, so I’ll risk it) beets, buttercrunch lettuce, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, herbs, strawberries, tomatoes, radishes, cucumbers, peas, and companion flowers to attract pollinators. That’s just in 2 beds…I still have 64 square feet to plant!! Oh the veggies!

I found this wonderful (and FREE) gardening planner at Gardeners.com for those who do square foot gardening! It’s wonderful because it tells you just how many seeds/plants you should plant per square foot! Check it out!

Happy Earth Day!! #sharetheharvest

Beating the summer heat….while pregnant

Pardon the serious lack of blogging, but there is a serious lack of motivation on my end right now. It seems that every time I sit down to write a blog or do anything creative, all I can seem to do it think about the heat. That and sweat. And sweat some more. And I’m usually a positive, optimistic person….but I’m pretty sure this heat is frying my brain. I’m glad to know it’s not just me, as this seems to be the hottest summer on record…ever. Of course it’s the hottest summer ever…because I’m pregnant and the AC unit is out. It’s quite fitting, actually.

And I’m sorry to say that the garden is taking the worst of it. I have now harvested my pumpkin…in August. It is likely to be one of maybe 2 pumpkins that I get as of right now. It was supposed to be a full-size jack-o’-lantern…it ripened as a pie pumpkin 🙁 As this is my first year of having pumpkins, I was sure I was doing something wrong. But then after talking to a local farmer, I realized that everyone is having a hard time this year. That makes me feel a little better about my own green thumb, though I’m kind of dreading a fall season with a serious lack of pumpkins 🙁 There is still time, I believe, to get some pumpkins going if the heat and humidity drop, so I’m still hopeful.

This is a female flower...which blooms beautifully and creates a pumpkin in normal weather. I have seen many, many of these this year! And I have seen many, many of them shrivel up and die before ever even opening up :(
This is a female flower…which blooms beautifully and creates a pumpkin in normal weather. I have seen many, many of these this year! And I have seen many, many of them shrivel up and die before ever even opening up 🙁
A pollinated female flower! Notice the growing pumpkin?! Exciting, right! Too bad the heat killed it off a few days later :(
A pollinated female flower! Notice the growing pumpkin?! Exciting, right! Too bad the heat killed it off a few days later 🙁
And finally...my pride and joy! Unfortunately this little fella is already turning orange and not getting much bigger, but I suppose I should be happy with something!
And finally…my pride and joy! Unfortunately this little fella is already turning orange and not getting much bigger, but I suppose I should be happy with something!

And in really good news….the new AC unit is going in as I type!! Hip hip hooray! These fellas are my heroes! Did I mention that we’ve been camping out in the living room in front of the window unit since it went out? Which has been somewhat fun if you like sleeping on the couch while pregnant….which I don’t. This is actually my ideal setup:

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Yes, I have absolutely confiscated every decent pillow in the house….unashamedly. Husband gets one. Children share one. I get the rest…I think my normal count is 6 or 7 now…

But I digress…back to my sure-fire way to beat the summer blues (and heat). It’s simple really….start working on fall! And winter! Harvesting a pumpkin already actually helped with this process! And yesterday we had some fabulous chocolate chip pumpkin muffins! These things were totally worth turning the oven on in this heat, though I probably could have cooked them on my deck.

I’ve also already finished Halloween costume #1 (this might be a bit early for most, but since baby #3 is due in October and I’m pretty certain I will be busier than ever, I thought I’d knock this one out now)! And on that note, this is probably the last “Simplicity” pattern I’ll ever attempt. The name is super-deceptive. It should be called “Super-Difficult And Will Take You Weeks And Cost You Twice As Much In Fabric Than If You Were To Buy It At The Store” pattern. And as excited as my child is for her new costume, there is always that very real possibility of her seeing another costume around Halloween time and becoming completely ungrateful for all my time and effort. I’m trying to prepare myself mentally for that now because I’m so sure it will come, despite the fact that I’ve already threatened to eat all her candy if she so much as longingly stares too long at another costume. I’m a somewhat jealous seamstress…

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Another thing we’ve been doing is youtubing fall/winter DIY videos and recipes. Most of the videos that I have been watching have been made by….teenagers. Yes, I am now officially old. And they are ridiculously young and freakishly talented with their video skills….and their recipes aren’t half bad either! And I’m old enough to be their young, hip mom. In my defense I’ve tried looking up grown-up mommy youtube DIY channels…and they’re very boring and feature a lot of Martha Stewart. Youtube is such a weird world.

You gotta admit those are cute videos! And I swear they make the house feel cooler!

Anyway…the forecast is starting to look reasonable next week, so there is hope in our future! Yay! Don’t give up! Cardigans and pumpkin spice everything is right around the corner!!

 

Rainy Days, Birthday Interviews, and Chickens

Being that I am chronically behind on things, I’m just now getting around to my 4-year-old’s birthday interview. Her birthday was in February. Don’t judge. It’s rude.
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The Toddler’s 2-Year Birthday Interview
Nicknames: Almond
How old are you? 3! (for the record, she’s 2)
Favorite Color: Mommy
Favorite Toy: Phone
Favorite Fruit: Raaawwwberries (Strawberries)
Favorite TV Show: Mim-Mim (Actually it’s either Daniel Tiger or Dora)
Favorite thing to eat for lunch: Snack
Favorite Outfit: Sophia
Favorite Game: Sophia
Favorite Snack: Juit! (fruit)
Favorite Animal: Horsies
Favorite Song: Twinkle Tinkle
Favorite Book: Dance McDuffin Book(Doc McStuffins)
Best Friend: Daniel Tiger
Favorite Cereal: Mommy!
Favorite thing to do outside: Mommy Mommy Mommy
Favorite Drink: Hmmm…Water
Favorite Holiday: Hi
What do you like to take to bed with you at night: I wanna sleep with Mommy
Favorite thing to eat for breakfast: Cereal
What do you want to be when you grow up? I wanna watch Jake (and the Neverland Pirates)
Favorite season of the year: Nothin
Favorite movie: Nothin
(I think by this point the 2 year old was done with questions)
The Preschooler’s 4-Year Birthday Interview
Nicknames: LaVera
How old are you? 4
Favorite Color: Pink
Favorite Toy: The Kitchen
Favorite Fruit: Apple
Favorite TV Show: Octonauts
Favorite thing to eat for lunch: Macaroni and Cheese
Favorite Outfit: Dresses
Favorite Game: Hide and Seek
Favorite Snack: Goldfish
Favorite Animal: Horses
Favorite Song: Twinkle
Favorite Book: Sophia
Best Friend: Brooklyn
Favorite Cereal: the circle one
Favorite thing to do outside: ball
Favorite Drink: juice
Favorite Holiday: Thanksgiving
What do you like to take to bed with you at night: a book
Favorite thing to eat for breakfast: pancakes
What do you want to be when you grow up? Be a Princess
Favorite season of the year: Winter
Favorite movie: Brave
Here in Virginia it’s been raining lately. Like…a lot! My poor garden is currently drowning, and I’m harvesting just as fast as I can eat my romaine and spinach before the slugs set it. I think at this point even they are drowning.
A few weeks ago, before the rain set in, I had a few days of crazy nesting energy. Our back yard has a creek in it, that looks much more like a ditch. It always has a flow of water in it, but by and large the water looked like a a black abyss that I certainly didn’t want my children playing in or around. At some point in the history of this almost 80-year-old home, someone decided to dump a large amount of trash around said creek. I have spent months slowly picking up piles and piles, and there’s still much to be cleaned up. But in those few days, I decided to do some digging. So I dug and dug and dug and dug out the ditch in order to help it flow a little better. I tried clearing some of the trash that was obstructing it (some of the trash includes rather large concrete slabs, which apparently pregnant women shouldn’t be trying to lift). A remarkable thing happened almost instantly after digging up part of the stream…the upstream cleaned itself the very next rainfall! I didn’t even have to dig! Just by clearing up some of the obstructions downstream, the rest of the stream flowed faster and easier. Sediment from upstream piled into the deep dark holes that I was previously very cautious about, and suddenly, apart from the remaining trash that still needs to be removed downstream, my ugly ditch turned overnight into a rather beautiful creek! I love mother nature! Giver her a little nurture and she’ll always do her part!
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Speaking of other things mother nature, we recently took a cast iron tub (one of the pieces of trash on our property) and created a pond out of it. I’ve been fiddling with the pH of the water for weeks now, trying to get it right before adding fish. I finally got it right enough to get some goldfish! Here’s the irony…I got them on Thursday, and on Friday I go to check on them and discover this:
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Overnight…the day after I got the fish, hundreds and hundred of tadpoles hatched. It’s ironic since I’m pretty sure the goldfish are currently snacking on them. If not, they’re starving, because they haven’t been to the surface for food since I got them. Regardless of the bad timing, I’m so excited to watch this tiny environment unfold. It’s so cool! And it’s a wonderful opportunity for the girls to learn all about nature.DSC_0700
And in chicken news, we still have 11! I’m rethinking letting them free-range, though. I don’t mind the poop nearly as much as I do them eating my blueberry bushes. I told them that. They weren’t too happy about it. And we all know who rules to the roost in this family.
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Have a great Sunday!