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

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

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

Advent Resources!

I’m in a Facebook group where a mother was asking for help about celebrating Advent with kids. So, I put together a list of resources that caught my eye. Just click on the blue text to get the link.

This is a great resource from LifeWay with a free downloadable Advent guide.

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This is a list compiled by my friends who are Pastors at Faith Methodist Church in Georgia

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This is from Coffee Cups & Crayons and it gives you ideas for “24 Random Acts of Christmas Kindness.” Cool ideas for doing nice things for people during Advent.

Free printable Random Acts of Christmas Kindness calendar for 2018! December version available too! #24racks #actsofkindness #kindnesscalendar #christmasactsofkindness

 

Here’s another service-oriented Advent idea which I love! It’s from Nourishing Joy. It gives some really unique ideas for serving others during Advent.

Wanting an Advent calendar that helps your child connect to the larger purpose of celebrating Christmas? This DIY Advent Calendar provides simple ways to serve throughout the season - and can be used again throughout the year!

 

If you have time and you just need a calendar and not the readings or ideas to go with it.  AND you love Legos, how about building a Lego Advent Calendar? This is so creative and awesome from Frugal Fun 4 Boys, but I’d have to get my son to build it, haha!

Here’s one more link to Kids Can Light The World Advent Calendar from Mother’s Niche. More great daily ideas to celebrate Advent.

And one more. If you’re into sharing your family stories and want your kids to know your family history, I’ve written an Advent Celebration just for you! Yes, I’m shamelessly plugging my own book! Haha!

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I hope that helps! Enjoy the Advent season!

Peace,

Jill

 

Y’all Can Decorate The Christmas Tree Now!

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Since Thanksgiving, I have been a Christmas tornado. I’ve decorated the house and I’ve pretty much gotten all of my shopping done. What happened? This is not like me!

I usually wait until I’m at least in the month of December and take my time. I don’t know. I can’t explain it.

It’s amazing, too, because I’m in a new house in a new place.  We’ve only been in our new house in our new state for 3 months now and the fact that I can get all that done before December starts is pretty amazing – at least to me.

We were in our last home for over 20 years and in the same area for over 30. When you live in one place that long you create trails, patterns, and ruts. You don’t even have to think about how to get to a friend’s house or a store, it’s automatic. It’s nice, I kind of like that longevity. So, coming to this new place we’re having to pioneer it all over again. I have to find trails, watering holes, scout out the good places to shop and eat.

Not only that, but I can’t resort to my old holiday decorating routine. I had to get creative. That meant I had to use my mind, too, haha! When I was packing to move, I remember going through all of my holiday decor and throwing out a lot because it was worn out and I didn’t know if I was going to be able to use it in our new house, because at the time of packing I didn’t know what my house would be like.

But I did it: decorated and shopped all in record time.

Do I sound whiny? I don’t mean to. I’m just thinking that there might be someone out there in cyber world who needs someone to affirm them and say relocating to a totally different place while in your late 50’s is exciting but not easy.

It’s the little things: our doctor of many years, our friends close by, a mechanic we can trust, a neighbor we can call on, having a favorite shopping area or a familiar restaurant and having a memory for every place we pass by is gone. I looked forward to seeing the guy who played Santa every year in the grocery store. And the horrible decorations our town put on the lamp posts that looked like cobras. And our neighbor whose yard looked like Santa threw up all over it. Red and green stuff you couldn’t recognize. I could depend on them. They made the holidays for me.

Now, I have to find new places, new people, new crazies to help me get in the holiday spirit. Where are you?

With all my decorating and shopping done, I guess I have time to seek them out.

Have a great day. As Andy says, “Y’all can decorate the Christmas tree now!” A friend of mine posted that on her Facebook and I had to share.

Peace,

Jill

Birthday Party Planning

I’m going to have to be cryptic in this post.

Someone, who may or may not read my blog, is coming to my house to celebrate her birthday. So, I don’t want to give too much away.

I love it when people say, “My birthday is coming up and I would like to do such and such.” I know it’s not very thoughtful on my part to like to have the birthday person request what they want, but it gives me a direction to go in and of course, I stray.

So, this person, who will not be named, sent me a link to a blog called, “Domestic Simplicity”   and she said, “I want hot dogs.” These are two of several photos from the blog post called, “Backyard Camping.”

I knew exactly what she was looking for. We have no trees in our backyard and it’s fall, not spring or summer, so I’ll have to improvise. However, I started gathering supplies for the party this past weekend and let me just say there may or may not be a chafing dish involved.

Stay tuned for party pictures.

Peace,

Jill

 

Love Cooking Shows? I Have Netflix Recommendations For You!

I love cooking shows! Here are 5 reasons why:

  1. It’s relaxing. There’s no conflict or trauma or horror to rock my insides. It’s peaceful.

2. Usually, the photography or filmography is beautiful.

3. The dialogue is usually calming and soothing. (I don’t really like cooking competitions because they’re stressful.)

4. I’m learning something.

5. It’s creative.

Netflix is really making some great shows and movies lately. And I found a BEEE-utiful cooking series called Chef’s Table.”

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The series interviews and films several famous 5-star chefs from around the world. It shows how their style evolved and it is very, very interesting. Every episode ends by showing how each chef is working to help the environment or people. This chef, Massimo Bottura saved people with parmesan cheese. Really!

My daughter, knowing I loved “Chef’s Table,” told me about a series that I just finished last night. It was a total binge! I watched all episodes at once! It’s called “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat.” In this series, Chef Samin Nosrat explains the 4 basic elements of all cooking. She travels the world and shows the different cultures that have perfected one of the four elements.

Chef Samin is very entertaining and is “Wow-ed” by everything! It’s worth a watch.

And if you want a good laugh, check out the mockumentary on Netflix called, “Documentary Now!” Fred Armisen and Bill Hader do an amazing, amazing, amazing job of recreating and making fun of documentaries. So, they poke fun at “Chef’s Table” in Season 2, Episode 2, “Juan Likes Rice and Chicken.” You have to watch an episode of the real “Chef’s Table” first to get the humor. It is totally worth the watch!

Happy bingeing!

Peace,

Jill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Costume Success, Rosie, and a Crockpot Macaroni & Cheese Recipe

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So, the “Max” costume was a success! There were a few things, technically, that I was worried about and the crown I made was too small but the knit one I bought fit. He wasn’t interested in the crown anyway, so it was all fine.

His uncle took the photo above, which I was happy about because I couldn’t get him to stay still long enough to get a photo. He was too busy running around growling and showing his threatening claws and was just totally absorbed in being “King of the Wild Things.” This Grandma’s heart was happy!

We had a great weekend with the kids. The 4-hour drive was such a relief. I hope it stays a relief when our memories of a 13-hour drive fade.

The kids had a big, busy weekend at their church. If I haven’t told you, both of my kids started a church together along with some friends and others with like-minded hearts. So, my daughter is the worship leader, her husband is the pastor, my son is the assistant pastor and leader of the media-ops team, and his wife is over the children’s ministry. So, every Sunday, they are ALL busy!

We went up there to attend the big Sunday and to help if we could. So, we babysat and fed them. I cooked chili Saturday night after they had a day of setting up (they meet in a school so they have to set up and break down each week). Then I did a crockpot, cook ahead meal for Sunday after church.

As a mom, it still gives me pleasure to feed them and know that they are getting enough sleep, haha! As a kid, even though I didn’t get them very often, I remember Sunday-after-church- lunches lovingly made by my “adopted” grandmother, Rosie. Going to her house after church and eating what she cooked are some of my very best memories!  I want to give my Grandboys a similar experience.

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This is Rosie and Tommy in their kitchen where many a fine Sunday dinners were eaten. 

I want to tell you a Rosie story. Rosie was the mother of my sister’s husband. Even though she wasn’t technically my grandmother, but rather the grandmother of my nephews, she drew me in and loved me. I remember her as a big, jolly woman. I heard stories that she could snap on you and put you in your place but she never turned that on me. She was married to Tommy but their marriage was not the first one for either of them. So, they created a family with her kids, his kids and then they had a couple of their own. The age span of the kids was pretty big. Rosie was a mother for a long time and she had it down! On Sundays after church, she would fry chicken, make potato salad and biscuits. She’d have a pot of some kind of bean, she’d open a can of corn and there was always a cake and a pie on the Hoosier (I just learned today that’s what the cabinet is called, haha!)

I remember fighting with my nephews over who would get to sit on the red metal stepstool at the table. And I also remember being so hungry and so annoying and running in and out of the back door letting the flies into the kitchen just to see how much longer till lunch was ready. I would watch as she would put the chicken on a platter and carefully sculpt the potato salad into a lovely golden mound onto another platter and sprinkle it with paprika. My nephew thought it was cinnamon! Then she would pile the biscuits on a plate and spoon the can of corn into a bowl.

I remember watching the people start crowding into the tiny mill house. You never knew who would show up. I never really knew all of my brother-in-law’s siblings but I could tell they were Rosie’s children, they all sort of looked like her in the eyes.

The more people who crammed into the house, the hungrier I got and the more worried I became thinking that there wouldn’t be enough food. And I just had to have some potato salad! I just knew that ONE can of corn wasn’t going to feed the multitudes.

Tommy would say grace over the food and we’d all dig in. And it never failed, NEVER, that everyone ate as much as they wanted and she never ran out of food. NEVER! It really was like Jesus and the loaves and fishes. It had to be a miracle that she could feed a crowd of hungry adults and scores of children on one frying chicken and a can of corn.

I sure did love and admire Rosie. I would like to share the same kind of love and food with my family that she did with hers.

Maybe a little of that happened this weekend.

Let me share what I made with you because everyone really enjoyed it and maybe you can use it:  For Sunday lunch I wanted to make The Pioneer Woman’s Pot Luck Meatballs, but when I got there and saw the time constraint, I just bought some frozen Swedish Meatballs and made the PW’s gravy. I put the meatballs in the crockpot, quickly made the gravy and moved on. It’s a good, quick gravy recipe.

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I also made The Pioneer Woman’s Layered Salad. Delish!!

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Green beans and rolls.

I also made my sister-in-law’s crockpot Macaroni and Cheese: Here’s the recipe, it’s one of the best mac and cheese recipes!

CrockPot Macaroni & Cheese

Ingredients:

8oz. macaroni, cooked according to package

3c. sharp cheddar cheese, grated

2 eggs

1 large can evaporated milk

1 1/2 c. regular whole milk

1 stick of butter, melted

Directions: Cook macaroni and drain. Put macaroni in the slow cooker that has been sprayed with PAM. Add cheese. Add melted butter. Beat eggs with both milks and add to macaroni mixture. Stir all together well and cook on low for 3-4 hours.

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We also had Blueberry Delight for dessert.

Everyone ate as much as they wanted. And there was enough.

Peace,

Jill

 

Review of Lagom: The Swedish Art of Living a Balanced, Happy Life

In my journey toward minimalism, I came across this sweet, little book, “Lagom, The Swedish Art of Living A Balanced, Happy Life.”

(Click on the image to be taken to Amazon.)

It’s a cute book and I would recommend that you read it if you’re interested in minimalism.

The author draws on her experience living in Sweden among the Swedish people and explains the concept of Lagom as being the idea that something is “just right.”

She extends this idea that is ingrained in the Swedish psyche into everyday living to relationships to how to interact in the wider world.

It’s filled with drawings and photographs, recipes and craft ideas. It’s a great, little book.

I keep saying, “little” and “cute” because it is. It’s a small and pretty book.

Niki talks about decluttering and decorating your home, the Lagom way. “Not too little, not too much.” And she doesn’t limit the decluttered and balanced life to just the home. She gives ideas on how to bring simplicity and “Lagom” to holidays and events.

She even brings in other Swedish ideas, such as Fredagsmys or “Cozy Friday” where the family gets together after a long week doing something like watching TV and relaxing.

There’s a large part of the book devoted to following the Swedes example of getting outside and enjoying nature. Something I think we could all do more of.

So, yeah, I really recommend this book if you’re needing more balance, moderation and simplicity in your life. If you’ve made that a New Year’s resolution, then get this book to inspire you!

Peace,

Jill

#1 Grandboy’s First Birthday

I warned you about this blatant broadcasting of photos of the birthday party, so if you want to skip this you can. No hard feelings.

The first birthday,  you know it had to be a blowout. It was a 2 day affair. First day, his actual birthday, with family. Then, the second day with his church family.

It was a Sea Pals Adventure Party that started with really cute e-vites that my daughter designed with Paperless Post.

 

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This was a really cool e-vite because it had so many bells and whistles. It allowed me to rsvp and add the event to my calendar to name a few. If you are in a community of people like a church or a large family – you really need to check out this site.

My daughter had some really cute ocean-themed decorating. I made a paper whale for the front door…

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She made some paper “scales” to decorate one wall, green, plastic tablecloth “seaweed” to hang in the doorways and styrofoam bowl and ribbon “jellyfish”…

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The food table had plastic sand buckets of snacks of popcorn, cheerios and pretzels, a watermelon shark, fruit kabobs, blue punch and the ocean cake and his scaly smash cake. She also had clear balloon “bubbles” and the plasticware was wrapped in a napkin tied with twine and a lifesaver. (I think all my cake decorating practice was worth it!)

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Outside she had a tent set up with a sunscreen station and a kiddie pool of water and one with sand. They also had a water table and a sprinkler going. For the adults there were hoola hoop targets with sling shots to shoot water balls.

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It was a great day had by all, especially the birthday boy being surrounded by his friends and family and being lavished with fun and thoughtful gifts. And tasting cake for the first time….

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Next up, Grandboy #2’s First Birthday!

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