Free St. Patrick’s Day Printables For You!

Hi Everyone! It’s getting close to St. Patrick’s Day so I thought I’d create a few coloring pages and games for Stella’s Boys and I thought I’d share them with you! (The links to download will be in pink text.)

Here are 3 coloring pages…

Happy Shark Patrick’s Day is for Gideon Ben since he loves sharks!

Happy Shark Patrick's Day

Happy St. Pat-trex day! is for Manny the Man since he loves dinosaurs!

Happy St. Pat-trex day!

And here’s a classic St. Patrick’s Coloring page just for fun!

Happy saint patrick’s day

Happy saint patrick's day

 

Then, I also made a few learning games for TODDLERS. These are just super easy games to help them learn to identify their colors, shapes and numbers. You can just print out the pages on plain white paper and then find some game markers or you can use small toys or Goldfish crackers, raisins or candies. Then when you’re trying to cook dinner and they’re pulling on your pants leg, pull out a game, sit them at the table, give them some game pieces and call out shapes, colors and numbers for them to identify. It might keep them busy for 5 minutes, haha! Really, Gideon Ben and I played for about 30 minutes!

1 (1) <—–(That’s the pdf )  The Nutty Numbers Game will give your toddlers practice on identifying numbers and colors. They can put a marker on the number or the color that you call out or you can call out a number and they have to put that number of game pieces on the number. Like 3 Goldfish crackers on number 3. Does that make sense?

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Jump up and down. or what I call Shape Shenanigans! Call out a shape and/or color and your toddler has to follow the instructions!

Jump up and down.

 

Shamrock Color Game is a simple game where you call out a color and your toddler puts a game piece on the correct color shamrock. Fill up the whole page and win! (It might be fun to give them a small prize for winning OR let them eat the candy game pieces!)

Shamrock Color Game

Have fun!

 

3 Real Cookbooks For Real People

There are 3 categories that I put cookbooks in:

  • Beautiful but not practical – I love these cookbooks because they have beautiful photography and they inspire me to be a better cook (in the same way Superman inspires me to be a superhero) but are not practical enough for me to really use them.
  • Interesting but not practical – These cookbooks are great because they are historical or cultural and I love to learn about people through the food they eat. While they are interesting, they probably include ingredients that are just not in the purview of my everyday. Like capers and prawns are not going to make it on my shopping list.
  • Real Cookbooks – These are cookbooks that include recipes that have ingredients I will actually buy and eat and the instructions are not outrageously complicated.

Lately, I have 3 “REAL” cookbooks that are my go-to’s when I need a nudge out of my food rut.

  1. Magnolia Table by Joanna Gaines

magnolia table

I love this cookbook because it fits my criteria for a “Real Cookbook.” There are lots of recipes when you’re craving that comfort food like Chicken Pot Pie, Scalloped Potatoes or Chocolate Chip Cookies. But be sure to make her Sour Cream Enchiladas! They have been a big hit at my house. And I’d like to add that the photographs are beautiful and so it also falls under the category of a Beautiful Cookbook.

2. The Pioneer Woman Cooks Dinnertime by Ree Drummond

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I just got this cookbook for Christmas so I haven’t made a lot of the recipes, but it’s not difficult to tell that this is a “Real Cookbook.” With recipes like Baked Ziti, French Dip Sandwiches, and Cheese Biscuits, you know this is “real.” The cookbook is loaded with photos, clear and complete instructions, and little personal notes from Ree scattered throughout. I think that the photos of her handsome husband nudge it into the category of a Beautiful Cookbook, too.

3. SkinnyTaste Fast and Slow by Gina Homolka

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I heard about this cookbook from my Weight Watcher friends and I’ve used it for several years now. I have to say that at first, I was put off because of some of the exotic sounding recipes that I didn’t feel that I would make. However, when you dig into the book you’ll find that most of the recipes are really down to earth and “real.” You also get the added benefit of a nutritional breakdown of each recipe if you need it. And there are a bunch of slow cooker recipes to help you if you have a busy schedule. You need to try her “Greek Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner,” “Slow Cooker Chicken Burrito Bowls,” and “Cauliflower Fried Rice.”

These cookbooks are nice enough to give as gifts, too. I highly recommend them!

Peace,

Jill

Bread Baking With Pam from “The Office”

If you don’t follow Jenna Fischer on Instagram, stop right now and go follow her. She is a hoot! So funny and so real. (msjennafischer)

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She’s not afraid to look totally crazy…

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and she shares a lot about what it’s like to be an actor from getting a spray tan to the struggles of picking up her kids from school on time. She shares behind the scene things from her new show, “Breaking Up Together.”

She also has an obsession with baking bread that she developed after reading Bonnie Ohara’s book, “Bread Baking For Beginners.” 

And I totally get it. Bonny owns her own cottage micro-bakery in Modesto, California called “Alchemy Bread.” She has worked with dough so intimately that she can explain the process freely and easily. It’s easy to get addicted to making the recipes in the book. Not to mention her cottage micro-bakery is the coolest and grooviest and I wish I had thought of it.

So, Jenna is making these recipes and filming it and posting it in her InstaStories. Her stressing about her dough babies is hilarious. Trying to figure out if she has time to pick up her kids from school between risings is so real I feel like she’s my best friend.

So, two things: go follow Jenna and buy “Bread Baking For Beginners.” I think you’ll like both!

Peace and Bread for the world!

Jill

Your Home As Sanctuary

I want to give you permission today. I want to give you permission to protect your home, to keep it safe and make it your sanctuary.

Sanctuary is defined as: “a place of refuge or safety.”

I grew up in a home that was not safe and it was a place of drama and trauma. I watched as people came in and out of the house and as they did they brought pain, insult and drama. They were able to change the atmosphere physically, emotionally and spiritually as they wanted. No one protected our home.

So, as an adult, I determined that I would have a home that was safe and a place of refuge for me and my family and for anyone who would respect what I was trying to achieve.

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Photo courtesy of www.thingstodowithkids.com

I have had to fight to protect my home. I have had to work hard to guard its peace.

My home is my only place. I know I am welcome at my kid’s homes, at friend’s homes, but my house is mine. It’s my place. I have the authority to make it what I want it to be.

Husband and I pay the mortgage. So, we get to say what happens in it and to it. Drama and trauma people don’t have that right. Manipulative people don’t have the right. If I invite people into my home, it is understood that they follow the rules and honor the vibe. I set the tone, they don’t.

I want to give you permission to take control of your home. Your kids, extended family, and friends don’t have permission to take over and change your home physically, emotionally or spiritually.

Your home should be a place where you can take refuge and feel safe.

Peace and safety,

Jill

 

 

Decluttering For Young Mothers: What I Wish I Knew Then

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I have a lot of young mothers in my life and I’d like to share some ideas that I have discovered as I’ve decluttered my life and well, basically, since I’ve gotten older. I think I might be able to help you a little in this area of decluttering, organizing and keeping your life simple so you can enjoy your family.

Let’s be honest, having kids, raising kids, is all very emotionally charged. Little things they give you, rocks, flowers, a piece of paper they colored means the world to you!!

The clothes they wore when they were infants, that card that great-grandma sent when she found out you were pregnant – all these things are pregnant with meaning and emotion.

If you keep every little thing that touches your heart, you will be drowning in stuff before your kids graduate high school. I know. I did.

THE CIRCLE OF LIFE (OF STUFF)…

Your kids make things. They save things. They give you things. Not long after they make, save or give, that thing is highly important! “Where’s that acorn, Mom?!” And if you threw it out their heart will be broken. From then on out, you save the acorns.

When they get a bit older, you’ll pull out that acorn and you will be all sentimental and tenderhearted about it remembering precious moments and your child will be like, “That’s just an acorn, Mom, OMG, you’re so dumb!” Then your heart will be broken.

Then when they’ve graduated and moved to college and you’re drowning in acorns, you’re ready to throw them out and your child says, “I don’t care, Mom, do what you want, it doesn’t mean anything to me.”

Then you’re at a crisis point, standing in the living room with your hands and house full of acorns not knowing what to do.

WE’RE NOT FULL CIRCLE YET…

Then your child “finds someone.” They fall in love. They want to show them their childhood and the acorns. Lucky you saved them. Their heart is bursting to share their acorns with the one they love. Hearts are happy. You’re glad you saved them.

Then they get married and start a home. “Yay!” you shout. “I can finally get these acorns out of my house.” But your child says, “I don’t want them, they’ll clutter up my house.” You’re angry. “Those stupid acorns have been cluttering up my house for years and now you don’t want them? I’m not your storage service!” There you are in the living room with your hands and house still full of acorns. You still don’t know what to do.

Then, the babies are born. You pull out the acorns and you and your child cry and take pictures of the babies with the acorns. “I’m so glad I kept them!” You sob. “I’m so glad you did, too, Mom!” Your child hugs you. Hearts are happy!

“Now you can take the acorns to your house,” you say to the new mother. “What? No. I don’t have room. Can’t you just keep them here?” SMH. Here we go again.

WHAT TO DO?

I told you a really long story to give you a short and simple solution: Save one acorn.

Actually, you have 2 choices. Save one acorn or get a plastic bin, put it in the closet and every time your kid brings, gives you or colors an acorn, put it in the bin and got through all the acorns when they’re 18.

It would have been easier and quicker if I had made the decisions as I went along. I suggest that way. Yes, you have to make emotionally charged decisions as you go along. You’ll have to choose between the painting of that blue blob or the unidentifiable clay thing. But believe me, it’s easier than drowning in tons of stuff.

Fortunately, technology is here to help you. I wish I had this when my kids were little.

SAVING YOUR KID’S ARTWORK

Thankfully, The Pioneer Woman did a blog post that gives you 4 apps that help you digitally save your kid’s artwork and then you can have them printed and bound in books. The perfect gift to give them when they leave home and/or have kids of their own when they can really appreciate it! I wish I had this! Click HERE to go to PW’s website.

SAVING YOUR KID’S CERTIFICATES AND AWARDS

I haven’t searched (and in fact, you might be able to use the same app) but you could do the same sort of thing with certificates that your child receives. In these days where kids get awards for breathing and being alive, you’ll end up with a lot of them. So, create a digital copy and discreetly dispose of the certificate. As far as actual trophies, let me segway into my next topic…

KEEPSAKES AND PRECIOUS ITEMS

For those trophies and little things that are precious that the kids give you or save or make, here’s what I did. I bought a relatively cheap curio cabinet from Ikea. A china cabinet would work, too. A curio cabinet is a cabinet with glass doors and shelves inside. Then you can put all those items on display! When the cabinet fills up, then you can make decisions about what to keep and what to get rid of. And by then, the decision may be easier because the cuteness and sweetness may have worn off. I made a rule that all that stuff HAD to fit in the cabinet. That was its place. (and my mantra is, “Everything must have a place!”) So, I made it all fit! You could also TAKE A PHOTO OF IT AND KEEP THE PHOTO!

BABY CLOTHES & TOYS

I will refer back to the acorn story. Save one or two important items. Save the dedication/christening outfit and one or two others. And only save a couple of special toys. Here are some reasons:

  • Your daughter may only have boys and your son may only have girls and you’ll end up with a bunch of clothes for nothing but just looking at once or twice.
  • Your kids won’t use them for real. It will be fun to pull out and look at take one or two photos with the babies wearing it. But believe me, your grandkids will not wear those old, out of date, dry rotted, yellowed clothes that have been in storage for 20 years to preschool. Seriously.
  • The toys will be dangerous and out-of-date. I say that with confidence because, by the year 2039, there will be more and different safety regulations and your kids WILL follow current safety trends no matter how safe you thought their toys were today.

PHOTOS AND VIDEOS

As much as it’s trendy to print out photos or have those cute canvases, tiles or books,  I am telling you, listen to one who lived through the years of rolls of film, negatives and prints and VHS tapes and the giant cameras, 8mm and the projectors – DIGITIZE YOUR PHOTOS AND VIDEOS!! I have 30+ years of videos and photos on 2 thumb drives. And I LOVE photos! So much easier and SAFER! We had a pipe burst and I almost lost all of my photos and VHS tapes- and they were the originals with no other copies!

You are probably more familiar with what is available out there. I’ve heard of several apps that might help, so look around.

HEIRLOOMS & MEMORABILIA

Heirlooms are special items that are passed down from generation to generation. Memorabilia are souvenirs, things you saved to remember a special time or event.

Let me give you a general rule of thumb: Your kids don’t want your stuff! 

However, heirlooms are important and they will get them whether they want them or not. Then I’ve done my familial duty and they can decide if they want to stop the chain and get haunted by Grandpa Jack, haha!

As far as heirlooms that originate with you, your jewelry or special items that you own, you need to decide exactly who gets it and make sure you state that in your will. (GET A WILL MADE, EVEN IF YOU THINK YOU’RE TOO YOUNG TO MAKE A WILL!) Store the item carefully, or better yet, use it and have it out so the memories of you using it will go along with the item.

About your memorabilia, your kids won’t have your memories to go along with it so it won’t mean anything to them. They might like to look at the stuff once but don’t pressure them to keep it forever. What a burden! And get rid of it before you kick the bucket so they won’t have the guilt of having to give it to Goodwill or chuck it in the trash. Do them a favor!

COMBINE SOME IDEAS

Since my kids are older, I was able to create some shadow boxes to display important items and photos all at the same time. I have one devoted to my daughter’s ballet years with her shoes, photos, newspaper clippings, etc. That way they’re protected and on display to enjoy all the time. The act of limiting the items and photos to what will fit in the display made me have to choose and eliminate thereby trimming down the number of keepsakes.

WHEN WILL YOU STOP BEING THE STORAGE SERVICE OR FAMILY MUSEUM CURATOR?

I decided that when my kids were settled in their adult lives I would stop storing their stuff. In our case, when they were married and settled in a home. It helped, too, when they had their own kids. That’s when they could see how meaningful the stuff was.

After they were settled, that’s when I said, “Come get your stuff or I’m going to get rid of it.” Then, when they didn’t take stuff that I thought they should have, I realized it meant more to me than to them. I had to decide again and I kept one acorn. So, I still have a cabinet of my favorite things that belonged to my kids. I have some shadow boxes. Of course, it’s up to you!

NOW THAT I PREDICTED YOUR FUTURE…

Let me remind you that decluttering and living that minimalist life is very difficult with kids. Your kids are their own people and it may be important to them to keep stuff. Be patient, you can have their room back in 18 years. And that goes by too quickly! You can let them have their space for now to become the people they’re meant to be.

Also, you are being financially responsible to hang on to toys and clothes that the next child can use. So, don’t get frustrated that you have to have more storage space than that cute childless couple in Simplify magazine.

Unless you spend every waking hour chasing after your child and guaranteeing that they will need counseling when they’re older, just resign yourself to the FACT that your house will be messy, dirty, crazy, CLUTTERED and unorganized most of the time. You can reel it back under control periodically, but this is your life with kids. Don’t worry, when you’re my age, you can have your minimalist dream house. But by then you’ll miss the craziness!

Do the best you can.

I wish you peace and sleep,

Jill

 

 

Interior Decor: What You Love vs. What You Can Live With

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Photo courtesy of American Vintage Home

One good thing about getting older is that you’ve had time to try out a bunch of decorating styles and you can easily pick out what you like and eliminate what you don’t. Maybe you haven’t found a name for your style, but by the time you’re in your 50’s you pretty much know what you like.

My problem is that I like all sorts of things. My taste is pretty eclectic. It took me forever to discover what I loved vs. what I could live with. I mean, I love primitives.

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Photo courtesy of Decoholic

 

And I love Colonial and Early American.

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Photo courtesy of White House

I also really, really love French Brocante.

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The problem is that I can’t live with any of those styles. The Primitive style and the French Brocante ends up looking run down and dirty to me. I mean if I had a brand new, quality house, then maybe the chipped paint, the worn and stained elements would be charming.

I can’t live with Colonial and Early American because it’s too delicate and fine. I’m really not a furniture polisher. I also want people to feel comfortable when they come to my home, not have to watch where they walk or sit.

So, I opt for the Cottage Style, the beach cottage, the easy-going, relaxed vibe. I choose fabrics that are durable and don’t show all the spills and dirt that frequent my life. I want the grandkids to be able to pull all the cushions off the couch and build forts. I don’t want collectibles and knick-knacks that might get broken. I don’t use china, I use Chinet or paper.

And I’m happy with it.

One of the perks of getting older is knowing yourself. And being okay with it.

What’s your style?

Peace,

Jill

The Emotion of Color

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I have a friend who is so laid back and we tease him about how he can just put up with anything and nothing bothers him. There’s an old joke about someone like that who they say, “sat on a nail and didn’t move. When someone asked him if it hurt and shouldn’t he get up and move he said, ‘Nah, I’ll get used to it directly.'”

Sometimes I think that there are things in our lives that we just put up with and suffer from when, with a little effort, we could be freer and happier.

That’s the way I feel about decluttering and organizing. I don’t think people realize what a burden clutter can be. It’s a mental, back-of-the-mind sort of burden. That’s the way I feel about To Do lists, too. It mentally bogs me down until I can get all the things done.

But I’m straying off topic.

I want to talk about color in our homes and how it can help or hurt us.

Husband and I heard a statistic yesterday, “Most people live in an average of 11 homes in their lifetimes.” We did the math and it’s true for us. 9 of those homes we lived in were rentals. We were very restricted to what we could do to make those homes comfortable and peaceful. We had to live in what we had.

So, I understand that, but if you have some freedom or own your own home, you can do things to create a living space that nurtures your body, soul, and spirit. Simply by addressing color. You may not realize that color is affecting your mood and your ability to concentrate or sleep unless you pay attention.

One thing you can do is to be intentional about the colors you choose for each room. You can paint the walls or if you’re not allowed to, then choose fabrics and rugs and accents to change the effect.

Think about what each room is used for and choose a color that supports that activity. You can do some research yourself online, read some articles, it’s not secret information after all. But here’s a basic introduction:

Blue .         Calming, peaceful, soothing. Good for bedrooms and bathrooms. Think of the sky and the ocean. Pair it with the color of sand or white for a relaxing, spa-like atmosphere.

Red .         Exciting, motivating, energetic. Good for rooms where you are very active. Living room, dining room, kitchen. Too much can be overwhelming. Orange is in this category, too. I think of a big glass of orange juice to give you a kick start to your day.

Yellow .     Warm, cheery, friendly. Yellow reflects light so it’s good for dim rooms. I think of daisies, bright and happy.

Green .      Natural, relaxing, welcoming. Great color for offices, living rooms, and bedrooms. I think of forests, bamboo, green fields. A great natural color.

Purple .     The color of royalty, dignity. Be careful with the shade and how much you use.

Black .      Elegance in small amounts. Of course, don’t overdo it or it will be depressing.

White .     Crisp, clean. Gives a bright, airy feel to rooms.

Tan, Beige, Sand. These natural colors pair well with almost any color. They give a soothing, relaxing effect. Think of a day on the beach in the sand.

Of course, the shade of these colors you choose can affect the mood, too. So, think carefully before you overdo it.

I know there are people out there who like wild, bold colors and lots of patterns and that’s awesome in the right setting like a studio where you want to be inspired to be creative. However, I would never be able to relax in a bedroom like that.

See, clutter, in all it’s varied colors and shapes affect us in the same way. When you have a room full of clutter, your eyes can’t stop flitting from item to item and so you’re not encouraged to rest and focus.

These are just some things to think about. I hope it helps, encourages and inspires you!

Blues and greens to you,

Jill

 

 

Christmas Treats

Maybe it’s a holdover from my teaching days. Maybe it’s just having grandkids, but I got the hankering to make some fun treats for Christmas.

So off I went to Pinterest and found the instructions for these cuties! I pinned them to my board called “Christmas Food” if you want to try them yourself.

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I love the kind of project that is quick and easy and is like already half made. Chocolate dipped Nutter Butter Reindeer and Vanilla dipped Rice Krispie Treats are right up my alley.

Merry Christmas Treats!

Jill

Making Mini Houses

Years ago, I mean years ago, I made some little houses out of an old 2×4. I don’t know what happened to them.

Recently, I saw some little ceramic houses on Instagram that caught my eye. Amanda Banham is the artist’s name and her little houses are awesome!

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They reminded me of my little 2×4 houses so I got a hankering to make some.

I had Husband cut out some houses for me because his shop is not set up yet and I knew if I didn’t have a proper workbench I’d risk cutting off my finger. So, he cut and I sanded and painted.

I gave the houses an undercoat of gray and the roofs an undercoat of black so when I distressed them the colors would show through. I wanted them to look old and worn.

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We got 16 houses out of the one 2×4 so I stuck them all over the house. I’ll probably give some to my girls if they want them.

Fun little project.

Peace,

Jill

Scottish Tattie Scones

So, I’m collecting and testing recipes that I want to include in our Christmas celebration and the days that our family will be together this year. Last year, my grandboys were just one year old and still so little, but this year the oldest two boys will be eating what we eat. I want to gather some recipes that will become our family traditions, those recipes that the grandsons will remember for the rest of their lives. I really want to include some authentic Scottish, Irish, British and Spanish foods since that is their heritage.

My first experiment was a Scottish potato scone recipe I got from Christina’s Cucina. She gives very thorough instructions and I followed them to a tee. They turned out great. Sort of bland, but she very clearly says that traditionally the scones should be fried with the bacon to absorb the flavors of the bacon.

I think these will be a great addition to our breakfasts. I think this one is a keeper!

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Peace,

Jill