The Good Stuff Jar: Parenting Ideas

My kids know when I reprimand them that they've done something wrong. But do they know how much good they do? Use a good stuff jar to bring the best out in your family.

My kids know when I reprimand them that they've done something wrong. But do they know how much good they do? Use a good stuff jar to bring the best out in your family.

Parenting is tough stuff. No surprise there.

"Stop teasing your sister."

"Get away from your brother. Can't you two just spend some time apart?"

"Would you please pick up your dirty clothes? All of them."

Dialogue, or I suppose more like monologue, like this happens all the time in our house. As a mom, I feel like it's my job to prevent battles, to maintain some kind of order, and to foster loving relationships. We express a lot of emotions in our house, and I try earnestly to say and to show my children how much I love them.

But.

There are still those times. The witching hours, the frayed nerves, the tight schedules, the incessant teasing. And my parenting focus becomes more "do no harm" rather than "love real big."

One night, after a particularly taxing parenting day, I noticed my daughter, crying softly on her bed (she is typically a dramatic crier, so I knew something was really bothering her). I took a deep breath and went over to sit next to her. "Mommy, I've done so many things wrong today. I don't know what I'm going to do." And in her sincere, seven-year old angst, she looked down with a sigh.

Oh, man. I glanced over at her soft, little hands, and I replayed my commentary to her throughout the day. I had declared nearly a chapter's worth of to do's, reminders, reprimands, declarations, insistences, and warnings.

My kids know when I reprimand them that they've done something wrong. But do they know how much good they do? Use a good stuff jar to bring the best out in your family.

My kids know when I reprimand them that they've done something wrong. But do they know how much good they do? Use a good stuff jar to bring the best out in your family.

But, that's not what hit me (thank God) at that moment. My daughter had done SO many good things that day - from speaking gently to her little brother who needed some assistance with his drawing, to setting the table without being asked, to singing and dancing throughout the house and lightening our moods, to asking her sister how her day was.

Blech. She had forgotten all of that and now felt reduced to her actions that I corrected.

That's not the kind of parent I want to be. That's not the kind of human I want to be.

Because for every mistake or failing, there are at least double if not triple the amount of goodnesses occurring every single day.

Even the rough ones.

I counted.

So working from a very concrete level, where we sometimes need to with ourselves and young children, I developed the Good Stuff jar. It sits right by our front door, near our only staircase, right in the center of our home. My three kids fill it with their goodness. By this I mean, every time they see one another or we see them spreading goodness, they put in a gem (our name for the colorful glass beads). Once the jar is full, we all get to decide on how we want to use this goodness - special time together? something special for someone we know? something for our home?

And I've loved that they are seeing just how GOOD they are.

A few things about the Good Stuff jar:

  • It's not a behavior system. It has not eliminated poor choices or bad behavior in our family. It wasn't intended to do so.
  • It's used only to show goodness. We don't take beads out when the teasing starts up or the hitting ensues. The Good Stuff jar is not a score-keeping tool.
  • It's an all-for-one system...so that when the 5-year old is kind, we all benefit (because we really do), and if he does great things ten times today and the 10-year old is in a mood and feeling like she needs her time away, than it's all good. No one "wins" for having the most gems in the jar.
  • The celebration for a full jar of goodness is decided as a family and enjoyed as a family.

But it has made all of us (me included) aware of all the many, many ways children are sweet, humble, generous, and delightful. I need to remember that and celebrate that. And I want my children to see it in themselves and all the other people they encounter.

Because that's just the kind of parent I want to be. And that's exactly the kind of human I want to be.

Would you consider a Good Stuff jar at your house?

xoxo, MJ


Just Because Cake

Some days deserve cake - make these Just Because cakes! Using cans you can create a multi-layer mini cake that celebrate any (and every) occasion.

Some days deserve cake - make these Just Because cakes! Using cans you can create a multi-layer mini cake that celebrate any (and every) occasion.

Hooray! Celebrate! I'm so excited. Happy Cakentine's Day!!

Wait, what? You may need to Google this one. You've never heard of Cakentine's Day?

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That's likely because we made it up.

Cakentine's Day began when Melissa of Lulu the Baker wished me a happy Valentine's day, and Instagram autocorrected to Cakentine's. Melissa is all kinds of talented so I figured she had the inside scoop on a new holiday, and I began Googling. PJ (A Girl Named PJ) quickly noticed the new word, and ridiculous banter back and forth followed until we decided that we would go ahead and celebrate Cakentine's Day.

Melissa created a gorgeous Everyday Citrus Cake (which means we can eat it everyday, right?), and PJ has an amazing tutorial on how to frost a cake like a pro.

The taste of spring and summer come together in this scrumptious Everyday Citrus Cake by Lulu the Baker.

The taste of spring and summer come together in this scrumptious Everyday Citrus Cake by Lulu the Baker.

Step by step instruction on how to frost a cake like a pro with A Girl Named PJ.

Step by step instruction on how to frost a cake like a pro with A Girl Named PJ.

I'm home today with my daughter, sick with strep, so we created these Just Because cakes. I think we'll BOTH be needing them by day's end . . . just because. They are perfect for any and every occasion or no occasion at all.

Every since I saw Jordan's post on mini cakes back in 2012, I've wondered what baking in cans would look like. I love the idea of a cake just for you so I thought we'd give it a try. Turns out it's really easy. Like silly easy.

For our Just Because cakes, we used our favorite boxed mix and frosting. If I'm going to whip up a cake just because, it needs to be easy and fun to no original recipes on this one.

One box can make three mini cakes.

1. Rinse and clean three cans well. I used cans that once held our beloved mandarin oranges.

 

2. Create cake mix according to recipe. Be sure to grease/flour. Ladel batter into cans until they are slight more than halfway full.

3. Place in oven and bake. Our recipe called for 40 minutes at 325. I wasn't sure how to time the final baking so I began checking the cakes at 30 minutes. As you can see in the photo above, they bubbled over a bit.

4. Using a wet knife (a great tip from Jordan that I never knew), carefully loosen the cake from the can all the way around the perimeter. Go ahead and make the circle around the can a few times to ensure that the cake lifts off the can easily. Shimmy, shake, and encourage that cake out of the can. This may take a bit of patience.

Use a can to shape a unique and fun way to serve cake! Super simple.

Use a can to shape a unique and fun way to serve cake! Super simple.

5. Once removed, cut the rounded top off of the cake. And then cut in half and then half again for four round slices/layers of cake.

6. Carefully frost each layer. I recommend piping it on and then using the wet knife to spread. No need to be fancy here, I used a Ziploc bag with the corner end snipped off as my pastry bag.

Happy toppers on these Just Because cake let you know you're loved. Use a skewer to poke all the way through the layers and add stability.

Happy toppers on these Just Because cake let you know you're loved. Use a skewer to poke all the way through the layers and add stability.

7. Add a happy flag on a skewer, poked through the layers, will add stability and smiles.

Happy baking and caking on this first annual Cakenstine's Day!! Enjoy a laugh with friends on us.

xoxo, MJ

5 Ways to DIY: Wood Trays

It's a great week, friends! We're kicking it off with a fun new series. I'm teaming up with four makers to show you how to DIY the same object five different ways. And we want to see how you'd create one, too, through a fantastic giveaway!

Here's our team:

  • Laurel from A Bubbly Life always brings the party with her, and it was her crafty mind that brought all of us together. She did a great wood burned love message on her tray, and I'm itching to give wood burning a try. Have you ever done it?
  • Sarah of Sarah Hearts put together a signature polka dot tray that bursts with cheer. Sarah's projects are always filled with color and vibrancy. Click over to see how she created her tray (and check out her studio door that coordinates oh so nicely).
  • Jeran from Oleander and Palm chose a rich stain to color her tray and then she added a modern touch with her handles and triangle design. Her styling is global and sleek and kind of transformative for a simple wood tray.
  • Rachel of The Crafted Life covered her tray in vibrant fabric. In her style, she made a big impact with process that we can all give a try! I love how she makes the most beautiful projects approachable and awesome.
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For my wood tray, I wanted something white and patterned. The final product is a white washed, hand-drawn patterned bedside tray. The process is foolproof (perfect for me) and quick to complete.

All you need is a small can of whitewash stain and an oil-based gold marker. I used a fine tip gold Sharpie. Paint the entire tray with the whitewash. Let it dry overnight and add a second coat.

Create an easy patterned tray with oil-based permanent markers and this simple geometric design. #5waystoDIY

Create an easy patterned tray with oil-based permanent markers and this simple geometric design. #5waystoDIY

Once the second coat is dry, you can begin drawing on the tray. For this pattern, I drew the vertical lines first and then quickly added in the diagonals. Don't fuss too much with perfection and let yourself just doodle and enjoy the repetitive motion back and forth. Hand-drawn patterns have become a favorite of mine, and they're totally on trend right now!

Paint markers can add a gilded finish to a simple wood tray. #5waystoDIY

Paint markers can add a gilded finish to a simple wood tray. #5waystoDIY

To finish off the tray, I painted the interior of the handles with the gold Sharpie and called it complete. I love working with the fine tip paint marker, the flow is consistent and precise, and the shimmer of the gold is just enough.

Be sure to click on through all the ways to recreate a wood tray, AND enter below to make your own. I'll be teaming up again with these great ladies (Luck-y me!!!) for another #5WaystoDIY so look for the hashtag and let us know what we should take on next!

And thanks for joining in the fun!!

xoxo, MJ


8 Ways to Bring Spring into Your Home today

Spring is here, but it might not look or feel like it where you are. 8 easy ways to bring spring into your home today!

Spring is here, but it might not look or feel like it where you are. 8 easy ways to bring spring into your home today!

The snow has melted, and our house is surrounded by a lovely lawn of brown grass and bare branches. Spring is here, but it seems that winter is still trying to steal the show. I find myself looking for green buds and soft breezes that are not yet ready to arrive. Here are 8 simple ways to bring spring into your life:

1. Plant some Easter grass

The fun of seeing grass grow in the middle of your living space is such a thrill! Yes, I just admitted that I enjoy watching grass grow. For us it's going to be many months before our lawn can provide the green lush feel. And with wheat grass, you can quickly see the natural process develop over a period of days. Your grocery or bulk store likely has the seed, and any bright or unexpected container will add to the fun!

2. Add colorful touches to your interior

Now is the perfect time to prep your spaces for spring with burst of color in pillows, throws, tablecloths, and more! You might even feel ready to make something beautiful like these yarn art pieces from Oleander and Palm. I love these flower votives from This Heart of Mine to make any meal feel like a special garden party.

3. Fill your home with favorite natural scents

Hyancinths say "you've made it through another winter" to me! And I adore them for it. I pick one up from the store this time of year to add that irresistible scent to our space. I'm also really excited about lavender and citrus aromas so I often keep some on simmer while we're working and playing around the kitchen. It's a simple way that I convince my brain that spring freshness is here.

Bring the glam to Easter eggs with some silver leafing! Way easier than you think it might be.

Bring the glam to Easter eggs with some silver leafing! Way easier than you think it might be.

4. Get outside

Even if it's still cold or snowy or gray or drizzly (or any of the other excuses I provide) put on your coat and gloves and get outside. The ground is getting softer, the birds are tuning their voices, and the smells are changing. My children know I love the aroma of fresh, brown dirt, and in turn

5. Add color back into your wardrobe

Sometimes winter inspires (!) me to wear a lot of gray, accented with brown or black. I know, not the most interesting look. Come March, I'm ready to break out the floral head scarves, brightly colored flats, and prints that contain more than one tone. If the blooms are quite ready to break ground yet, go ahead and coax them out with your own shades of awesome. Joy's selections for spring are right up my alley, and I'm going to try my hand at some color blocking nails, too!

Bring the glam to Easter eggs with some silver leafing! Way easier than you think it might be.

Bring the glam to Easter eggs with some silver leafing! Way easier than you think it might be.

6. Force some flowering branches

This is one you can do even as the frost is around. Spring bouquets filled with branches of wisteria, dogwood, and more are a gift of early spring. Steph has some wonderful tips on how and when to cut these so that you get the most flowering for interior spaces.

7. Change up your station

It's a great time to change up your playlist and pop on the tunes that make you feel lighter, happier, and give you an extra kick to your step. Pretty soon we'll be in the heat of summer, windows down and music blaring. But for now, we welcome in spring with optimistic flavor and music!

8. Make silver leafed eggs

Here's what we're up to right now to bring spring to our home - silver leafing eggs! I love the effect of leafing - whether it's gold, silver, or copper - and Easter eggs go to the next level when wearing a little extra bling. I used a bag of artificial colored eggs from the craft store, some leafing medium (an adhesive ready for the job), and the silver leafing. The metal comes in super thin sheets and is ultra delicate so if you want to apply a lot of leafing, be sure to use tweezers to tear your sheets. I wanted the leafing to allow color to peak in and out of the surface tones so I applied the adhesive in random wiggly patterns. Using my fingers, I patted one inch sections on to the egg and carefully removed excess along the way. Once all the leafing was applied, I went back with the adhesive to make sure edges were smoothed down. These eggs glisten all on their own!

Are you as ready for spring as I am? How do you change over to the new season in yoru home?

xoxo, MJ

Simple Easter Placecards

Make simple paper bunny ears, attach to toothpicks, and create quick and easy Easter brunch place cards.

Make simple paper bunny ears, attach to toothpicks, and create quick and easy Easter brunch place cards.

Easter is on its way! For us that means a gathering of family, a backyard Easter egg hunt, some special time in Church, and a great meal together. I'm always on the lookout for a ideas to spruce up our dining table that won't take a ton of time or space.

Bunnies, bunnies, bunnies! They're multiplying.

Bunnies, bunnies, bunnies! They're multiplying.

These fruity place cards can be a part of your meal as well as a helpful seating guide. Made from copy paper and pink construction paper, these ears are affixed to tooth picks with a small strip of adhesive tape. Be sure to leave about an inch of the stick free to pierce the orange.

Orange you glad you know what you're using for place cards this Easter?

Orange you glad you know what you're using for place cards this Easter?

Use a permanent marker or a strong ballpoint pen to write guest's names. These would also make cute lunchbox treats over the next few weeks as we lead up to Easter. You might find yourself giving your lemons, potatoes, even avocados a new set of bunny ears just for the fun of it!

And if you want to put some bunny tails up in your home, don't forget to grab your free printable to create a Bunny Pom Pom Garland.

xoxo, MJ

DIY Bunny Pom Pom Garland

DIY Bunny Pom Pom Garland. Quick craft for Easter, to do with or without the kids!

DIY Bunny Pom Pom Garland. Quick craft for Easter, to do with or without the kids!

Hippity, hoppity Easter's on its way. Yesterday was our first real taste of spring with temperatures reaching into the 70s. Glorious. And I have spring fever. Bring on the bunny crafts! This week is packed with the first posts of spring - super easy ways to take your space into the next holiday season.

White paper, the medium of my childhood, is full of so much potential! I've used it for crafts that I love like our current color blocked wreath and our daffodil wreath (that I hang all year in our guest room), and now I'm back to it with Easter bunnies.

Pom poms make the cutest bunny tails. Make a bunny garland for Easter to add to your mantle or holiday celebration!

Pom poms make the cutest bunny tails. Make a bunny garland for Easter to add to your mantle or holiday celebration!

To make the string of bunnies, I used our roll of white paper (from IKEA) so that I could extend the length to as long as I wanted. Fold the paper back and forth, accordion-style and trace out the half of your bunny. If you want to use the same pattern, you can download my template here.

Add a bunny garland to a special Easter gift! Who needs ribbon?

Add a bunny garland to a special Easter gift! Who needs ribbon?

Unfold and flatten the chain of bunnies. Add on pom poms with glue. These garlands make a colorful addition to any and every space! And we love how they look as a present topper to a special Easter present.

Folded paper and some pom poms! Peter Cottontail made modern.

Folded paper and some pom poms! Peter Cottontail made modern.

The Bunny Pom Pom Garlands could make a great starting line for your eager Easter egg hunt participants. Or make them extra small and transform them into a spring cake topper! Cut out just one to finish off a cupcake.

Bunnies are the new paper dolls! An easy way to bring the Easter season to your home. And the pom poms!!

Bunnies are the new paper dolls! An easy way to bring the Easter season to your home. And the pom poms!!

Happy crafting, friends!

xoxo, MJ

Printable Thank You Cards

This post is sponsored by Munchkin. Ideas and musings all from me. Thanks for supporting our sponsors.

A good party deserves great gestures of gratitude! And the rockstar of the show, Miss Amy Christie of This Heart of Mine has outdone herself.  Jen, Melissa, Ali, and I and the good people at Munchkin have loved showering on the goodies this week. Jen kicked it off with gorgeous welcome ribbon chandelier DIY, and Melissa brought the ultimate buffet with gourmet PB & J bar,  and we tossed around some multi-use table decor using colorful baby gear.

And now we have these sweet printable (free!) thank you notes from Amy! She's created them in three different palettes so they're good for any occasion.

She also has a photo of her little pipsqueak that you have to check out. So so sweet!

xoxo, MJ

 

Munchkin rids the world of the mundane by developing clever, innovative solutions that make family life safe, easier, and more fun. You can find their products at Munchkin.com, Target, Babies’R’Us, Walmart, and Amazon. It’s the little things!

Welcome Baby Party Decorations

This post is sponsored by Munchkin. Ideas and musings all from me. Thanks for supporting our sponsors.

Throwing a baby shower or a party for a new mom? Use toys and gear as a part of the decorations for a bright surprise that a new mom can put right to use!

Throwing a baby shower or a party for a new mom? Use toys and gear as a part of the decorations for a bright surprise that a new mom can put right to use!

All this week we're Celebrating the Little Things in a fabulous party for new mom, Amy Christie, creator of This Heart of Mine. Amy is so talented and funny (what a whit!), and a fabulous mom of three now. Even more than a baby shower, we wanted to say congratulations momma on a job well done!! Let's celebrate life.

Jen decked out the present table with the sweetest ribbon chandelier where visitors and guests can leave their well wishes for the new baby. Melissa prepared a gourmet PB&J buffet that is positively amazing (I'm a huge peanut butter and jelly fan).

I'm bringing the party supplies! I was inspired by the cool gadgets and toys of Munchkin to make our own decor from items that Amy can use long after the party ends.

Add vinyl letters to basic balloons to say exactly what you want. Love these colors.

Add vinyl letters to basic balloons to say exactly what you want. Love these colors.

I love adding simple white letters (stickers or vinyl) to plain balloons! To hold the balloons in place, I put simple glasses on top of the string and added colorful yarn pom poms.

The kids can get involved in party prep with simple garlands like the one below. My kids created these for the party in a few minutes from some white thread and cut colored paper. These act like mobiles and add movement and playfulness.

Get the siblings involved in making the party! These simple banners are made from paper rectangles taped onto white thread. Color infusion!!

Get the siblings involved in making the party! These simple banners are made from paper rectangles taped onto white thread. Color infusion!!

Grippy dots for the tub or coasters that stay right where you want them? I loved putting these out for a fun table runner down the table. My children have also loved pretending with the grippy dots - they been pancakes at our imaginary pancake food truck (what a great idea, huh?) and a masterful indoor hopscotch pattern in the hallway.

Bath letters were calling my name for a special message. Amy's children have given her newborn the nickname, Pipsqueak. So cute! Using some floral wire, I attached these bathtub letters together to shower on the love. The wire leaves only small holes in the sides of the letters, and they're ready to be used in big sister's or big brother's bath.

Grippy dots for the tub turn into table runners and coasters. Letters for the bath tub become the special messages you want to send!

Grippy dots for the tub turn into table runners and coasters. Letters for the bath tub become the special messages you want to send!

Decorating the tables, the Miracle Cups decked out in dots! We are big fans of these cups that don't spill and can be used from any side. They are the hippest water bottles for my 7- and 10-year olds in their bright shades. For the party, we removed the lid, and slid in a glass to hold the flowers and keep the sippy clean. The dots were added for the party but can be easily removed for washing and further use!

Add dot stickers or vinyl circles to these bright cups and they become fun floral centerpieces.

Add dot stickers or vinyl circles to these bright cups and they become fun floral centerpieces.

We're over on Munchkin's Instagram feed this week, too, showing how we cherish the little things in our lives and celebrate parenthood! Stop on over and say hi.

Congratulations Amy on Pipsqueak's arrival! We love him already.

xoxo, MJ

 

Munchkin rids the world of the mundane by developing clever, innovative solutions that make family life safe, easier, and more fun. You can find their products at Munchkin.com, Target, Babies’R’Us, Walmart, and Amazon. It’s the little things!

Gourmet PB & J Bar

This post is sponsored by Munchkin. Ideas and musings all from me. Thanks for supporting our sponsors.

Such a fun buffet for a baby shower! Lulu the Baker knows how to dress up peanut butter and jelly.

Such a fun buffet for a baby shower! Lulu the Baker knows how to dress up peanut butter and jelly.

I like mine with butter, peanut butter, raspberry jelly, and raisins. Many of us grew up on peanut butter and jelly, and I for one still love it! That's why I was so excited to hear that Melissa was making us a gourmet PB & J buffet for Amy's Celebrate the Little Things party.

I might have to change my mind about my favorite combinations! Take a look at some of her choices of breads, spreads, and drinks. I can't resist the signs and banners either. She paired some cute and colorful Munchkin plates to take us all back to our childhoods.

Head on over to Lulu the Baker to see all the details! I'll be adding to the party tomorrow with some party decor that will delight moms and kids alike.

Munchkin rids the world of the mundane by developing clever, innovative solutions that make family life safe, easier, and more fun. You can find their products at Munchkin.comTargetBabies’R’UsWalmart, and Amazon. It’s the little things!

Celebrate the Little Things: Party for a New Mom

This post is sponsored by Munchkin. Ideas and musings all from me. Thanks for supporting our sponsors.

Send all your wishes for a new mom on this fun ribbon chandelier! Beautiful just about anywhere.

Send all your wishes for a new mom on this fun ribbon chandelier! Beautiful just about anywhere.

There's a new babe in town! My friend, Amy Christie, gave birth to her beautiful pipsqueak last week, and he is the cutest (go check him out).

Amy is now a momma of three, like moi, and although a baby shower is awesome to restock and to resupply the necessities, we wanted to celebrate her and all the little things that make becoming a momma again so special.

Join me and some amazing ladies with a week of celebrations and easy gifts you can give a new momma. We'll be posting on our blogs as well as taking over the Munchkin Instagram accounts. Come join in the fun!!

Jen is kicking off the party today with a Welcome Ribbon Chandelier. So bright and bold! If you're having a party, hang it over the gift table. It’s suuuuuper easy, and I think it's a fabulous idea for any kind of celebration. Each guest or visitor writes a sweet little note to the mama, papa and/or baby to pin to the ribbons that they can save for their scrapbook later.

Send all your wishes for a new mom on this fun ribbon chandelier! Beautiful just about anywhere.

Send all your wishes for a new mom on this fun ribbon chandelier! Beautiful just about anywhere.

Melissa of Lulu the Baker is bringing an amazing spread tomorrow! Can't wait to show you.

xoxo, MJ

Munchkin rids the world of the mundane by developing clever, innovative solutions that make family life safe, easier, and more fun. You can find their products at Munchkin.com, Target, Babies’R’Us, Walmart, and Amazon. It’s the little things!

Color blocked spring wreath

A wreath to take your home from winter to spring made from paper leaves!

A wreath to take your home from winter to spring made from paper leaves!

Who says that St. Patrick's Day has to be all kelly green and rainbows? I've been endlessly inspired by a pack of gold cardstock I received. We've created four-leaf clovers, leprechaun treat boxes, and now this color blocked wreath for the season!

Our front door is currently green so I didn't want to create something for March that would clash with the tones of our house. What to do? Go gold. But all gold was a little more Vegas than I wanted. I cut out (using my Cricut Explore) about 40 gold leaves. I folded them down the middle to mimic the veining of a real leaf. As I was playing around with the folds, I found myself liking how the front and back of the paper looked together, the shine of the gold against the matte of the white.

A wreath to take your home from winter to spring made from paper leaves!

A wreath to take your home from winter to spring made from paper leaves!

I used a wire hanger, my go to for wreath making, and bent it into a circle. I clumped the leaves into two and threes with glue, trying to keep their folded nature for dimensional quality.

A wreath to take your home from winter to spring made from paper leaves!

A wreath to take your home from winter to spring made from paper leaves!

And now we're set for the pots of gold that the leprechaun might leave us as well as the first blossoms of spring.

I can't believe that gold has won me over! I used to be such a platinum/silver kind of girl. Do you find yourself attracted to one metallic over another?

xoxo, MJ

17 Leprechaun Pranks for St. Patrick's Day

If a leprechaun visits your house on St. Patrick's Day, here are 17 silly tricks he might leave in his path!

If a leprechaun visits your house on St. Patrick's Day, here are 17 silly tricks he might leave in his path!

For the last several years, we've had a peculiar visitor to our house on the eve of St. Patrick's Day. A tiny leprechaun pranks us with his mischief but always leaves a few treats behind for good luck.

As a young mom, I knew that we'd have visits from Santa and the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. But I was surprised when my kindergartener's classroom was turned upside down from a leprechaun! She had worked with her classmates to create traps from recycled materials to catch the little guy. They came up empty handed.

Don't make the mistake I made of thinking the leprechaun only visits schools! If the leprechaun needs to make a visit to your home, here are 17 pranks he might play:

1. Turning the toilet water green. This one seems to happen a lot and always brings on a bad case of the giggles.

2. Making plants and bushes bloom marshmallows. You'll see he often borrows from April Fool's Day pranks. :) Take a look at Jodi's idea over at Meaningful Mama.

Leprechauns have the power to make plants and bushes bloom marshmallows... because why not?

Leprechauns have the power to make plants and bushes bloom marshmallows... because why not?

3. Turning furniture upside down. We've seen this one on a smaller scale with dining and desk chairs but some leprechauns go big and turn over couches or shelves.

4. Leaving various objects in the shape of a shamrock. We've had all of our shoes arranged in a big clover, but also watch out for utensils, straws, crayons, and more.

5. Adding googly eyes to everything on your child's breakfast plate/bowl. This meal is really well done.

6. Sometimes leprechauns leave behind green droppings.

Leprechauns leave the smallest of notes like these from A Bit of Bees Knees

Leprechauns leave the smallest of notes like these from A Bit of Bees Knees

7. Messaging on the smallest of papers.

8. Turning the milk for cereal green.

9. Rainbows are a go-to for leprechauns. We've had some colorful fruit plates, and this jello would be perfect, too.

10. Beware, they often leave a lot of these green footprints around your house.

11. Replacing light bulbs with green bulbs so that the early morning action of turning on the lights feels totally different.

12. Writing taunting messages on chalkboards, whiteboards, or right on your floor.

 

13. Crafting these adorable leprechaun images with your photos and paper plates.

14. Rocking the party with a bucket of these golden nuggets that might be more like painted rocks.

15. Planting this rainbow scavenger hunt all over your house. These free and fantastic printables might make your want to do this all year round.

16. Gifting with these special golden treat boxes filled with favorite rainbow candy.

17. The best leprechauns leave behind a bit of their treasure, and we always have a share of the pot of gold hidden somewhere in our house. Chocolate gold coins for everyone!

Hoping you've kissed a bit of the blarney stone this year, and you receive some of these silly pranks at your house! Happy St. Patrick's Day.

xoxo, MJ

 

 

 

 

Create 3D Four leaf clovers

Create three-dimensional four leaf clovers! An easy tutorial to give anyone a stroke of good luck.

Create three-dimensional four leaf clovers! An easy tutorial to give anyone a stroke of good luck.

We know that a four-leaf clover is good luck. How about an entire wall full of three-dimensional, four-leaf clovers? It's a virtual stroke of good luck.

Smile. I can't help it.

I'm Irish. From both sides. And many St. Patrick's Days have been spent watching parades, dressed in greens, and singing O Danny Boy. So when I saw these amazing 3D hearts from Jessica, I knew I wanted to make them into shamrocks.

Create three-dimensional four leaf clovers! An easy tutorial to give anyone a stroke of good luck.

Create three-dimensional four leaf clovers! An easy tutorial to give anyone a stroke of good luck.

From her fabulous heart template, I created this PDF of the various sizes of hearts that I wanted to use. I uploaded this vector file for my Cricut machine that you're welcome to use if you have a machine.

Once you have a heart cut out, using the slit in the middle, fold down a small flap on each side, and glue together. I used hot glue to make sure the heavier paper stayed together, but any strong craft glue will do. In order to give the heart petals some space, I glued each petal to a small square of the same paper. Make sure that each point is equally spaced on the square for balance. And to finish it off, cut out a simple curved stem and attach it to the square behind the petals.

Create three-dimensional four leaf clovers! An easy tutorial to give anyone a stroke of good luck.

Create three-dimensional four leaf clovers! An easy tutorial to give anyone a stroke of good luck.

My daughter is taking standardized tests this week, and with those comes a bit of anxiety for her. To distract her, I covered her wall in a stroke of good luck, these many golden four-leaf clovers. It was a fun surprise to let her know she's got this.

Create three-dimensional four leaf clovers! An easy tutorial to give anyone a stroke of good luck.

Create three-dimensional four leaf clovers! An easy tutorial to give anyone a stroke of good luck.

Let's go create some good luck!

xoxo, MJ

4 Ways to celebrate Tortilla Chip Day

Tortilla chips in four different recipes that will have you celebrating. I think we can have them at every meal!

Tortilla chips in four different recipes that will have you celebrating. I think we can have them at every meal!

Happy times! Today is Tortilla Chip Day. And a festivity such as this deserves a little indulgence, no? I've got four fun recipes for you to make, super simple and quick, for a sweet or savory version of the classic chip.

In the first year of Pars Caeli, I posted my favorite recipes including this one for a roasted corn guacamole. I renamed it salsamole because depending on your focus, tomatoes or avacados, you can lean more salsa or more guacamole. Check it out here and feel welcome to make comments on my struggling food photography (we're all friends here).

Who can turn down a seven-layer dip? Not this lady. Imagine that dip taken to the next level with your own portion of awesome. These cups would make a great addition to a buffet, and they'd help me cut myself off from eating more tortilla chips than I need.

I couldn't resist showing off these shamrock tortilla chips. My brain is on St. Patrick's Day overload right now, and these are a quick transformation with spinach tortillas.

And finally, something sweet and fruity. Do you like your tortilla chips sweet? I'm all for the cinnamon and sugar and this recipe that brings in a fruit salsa. Yes to the yes.

Whether you observe the official holiday or sneak a few chips in on the side, have a fabulous Tuesday.

xoxo, MJ

Printable Oscars Ballot for the Red Carpet

Are you ready for the Oscars red carpet? Here's your free printable for tracking your favorite gowns. Perfect for family viewing time.

Are you ready for the Oscars red carpet? Here's your free printable for tracking your favorite gowns. Perfect for family viewing time.

I've created an Oscars ballot printable for you! The Academy Awards air this weekend, and we are avid fans. As a working mom of three, I don't see that many movies. In fact, I couldn't tell you the names of all the films that are nominated. But the red carpet event before the show is one of my favorite fashion runways.

We've always watched the red carpet together. Like all five of us. We make a celebration of it, dressing up in our own "gowns" and ties, pretending to interview one another, and discussing the fashions of the night. It's light and frivolous.

Are you ready for the Oscars red carpet? Here's your free printable for tracking your favorite gowns. Perfect for family viewing time.

Are you ready for the Oscars red carpet? Here's your free printable for tracking your favorite gowns. Perfect for family viewing time.

Download your Printable Oscars Ballot here.

Recently, after reading about more and more actresses talking about the inequality of the red carpet, I've been wondering if I'm inadvertently supporting the wrong side. Am I continuing stereotypes by having my little girls see these amazingly talented women judged for their designer gowns and jewelry?

For me, fashion is art. The fabric, the cut, the fit are all a thing of beauty. Much like taking my family to a museum to learn and to observe, I want them to experience high-end fashion (as they may not do so first-hand), and I want them to know themselves and what they find beautiful. Always respected the human being wearing the gown or the tux as well as the artist who created the garment and accessories.

So this ballot printable is out of the ordinary. If you're someone who watches the Oscars with your children, you can use this tool as a way to hear their thoughts and see their creativity at work. Every moment can be a teachable moment.

 

Who would you take to the Oscars?

What color would you wear on the red carpet?

Pick your three favorite dresses.

And then you get to be the designer: show us what your look would be

 
Are you ready for the Oscars red carpet? Here's your free printable for tracking your favorite gowns. Perfect for family viewing time.

Are you ready for the Oscars red carpet? Here's your free printable for tracking your favorite gowns. Perfect for family viewing time.

I'm interested to see which dresses will be their favorites! A little daydreaming might be in order.

Will you be tuning in for the Oscars and/or the red carpet?

Are you ready for the Oscars red carpet? Here's your free printable for tracking your favorite gowns. Perfect for family viewing time.

Are you ready for the Oscars red carpet? Here's your free printable for tracking your favorite gowns. Perfect for family viewing time.

xoxo, MJ

New Printables Section

The obvious sometimes evades me. For example, I'm a graphic designer, and I create printables for other sites including Modern Parents Messy Kids, Classic Play, and now Kids Stuff World. 

A printable here on Pars Caeli is rare . . . Until now.

Printables for holidays and everydays on Pars Caeli!

Printables for holidays and everydays on Pars Caeli!

I'm delighted to add to our menu of possibility the free printable section! Every day I'm creating and printing signs, labels, banners, and more for myself and my family. Maybe you do, too! Or maybe you just don't have the time this week or the creative spark to get that card/invite/organizational helper/motivational that you really wanted.

Voila. Hop on over as we add to the great menu of free printables!

I'll also be teaming up with my friend Jeran, of Oleander and Palm, to offer a memory verse of Scripture every month! Jeran has been creating these for a while, and she's been kind enough to let me butt in to the process, and I'm delighted to show you the psalm that I have ready for March! It's one of my favorites, and one that I want my children to know by heart.

I'm so excited to have this offering for you lovely people who come back again and again! Share these with all your pals looking for another printable resource! Head on over to the printables page to see what we have so far.

Are you searching for a printable you just can't find? Leave a note in the comments, and we'll put it in the que for development.

xoxo, MJ

Yes Day for your family

What if you answered, "Yes!" all day! Our annual tradition of Yes Day is one that we all enjoy. Consider these 5 reasons to try saying yes again and again.

What if you answered, "Yes!" all day! Our annual tradition of Yes Day is one that we all enjoy. Consider these 5 reasons to try saying yes again and again.

Before you say, "No!", hear me out. Yes Day is a family (made-up) holiday that can bring a lot of laughter and fun experiences to your home.

My children (10, 7, and 5) might even that say “Yes Day” is one of their favorite days of the year. Four years ago when we started the celebration, we thought that Mardi Gras, the day before Lent begins, would be the perfect time to splurge and give in to all the requests of our children. Of course, there are ground rules that we set (and add to) every year, but they love to see the possibilities that come from the power of Yes.

Willing to give it a go? Consider reading the picture book Yes Day and begin brainstorming what would be in your Yes Day.

 

5 Reasons to Try a Yes Day with Your Children

1. Do you remember the feeling of childhood and lack of opportunity to make your own decisions? Much of the day is dictated to you. Getting up at a certain time, running errands, chores, homework, bath schedules. Yes Day gives your children the chance to see what it's like to make the decisions. And, if they're anything like our kids, they learn that eating donuts, candy, and cookies at all three meals really does make you feel miserable. The natural consequences that come from Yes Day ideas are fabulous teachers themselves.

2. Set the limits and make great choices. Our ground rules are that no one can choose anything that would be harmful to themselves or others. And school is non-negotiable. We have gone out for bowling and movies, watched a lot of TV, and eaten some really strange combinations. And also said off limits to jumping off of the top bunk. Some things deserve the grand "No."

3. Let your kids see you relax and take part. Perhaps your children have this scenario worked out in their heads that Mom and Dad would freak if we... or I can't even imagine Mom and Dad letting us... This is likely my favorite part of Yes Day, seeing the surprises on their faces. Guess what? Mom doesn't like to get out of her pajamas either. And Dad could be convinced to relish a doughnut dinner. Just sayin'.

4. It makes for great sibling fun. With our three children, about two years apart in age, they have had a great time in the weeks and days before Yes Day, scheming what would be the best question to ask. It gets the 10-year old asking the 5-year old (and really listening to him) what he wants to do. Because, guess what? 5-year olds are really in touch with their silly side in ways that even 10-year olds have forgotten how to do!

5. Sometimes you see just how reasonable your children really are. No, Yes Days are not full of awesome for the parents. Kids get out of control. Tantrums happen. But they happen on all the other days, too, so why not have one really memorable day in the mix? Every year I brace myself for the dramatic requests that our three will pose. But, I've found, year after year, that our children know our means (and what cool things we're saving for), they have a decent sense of what could be harmful, and their dreams are delightfully (at this age at least) simple. Perhaps I should be this tuned in more often. Maybe I could actually say yes to things that are beyond my patience level at the time in order to see the Yes joy that they receive from the experience.

This year, Yes Day includes donuts for breakfast, staying in together the whole night, and lobster/crab eating while watching TV. And that's not even my Yes Day (though it's pretty darn close if I had to choose myself).

Would you do it? Have you celebrated a Yes Day?

xoxo, MJ

14 Silly Ways to Celebrate Valentine's

Tired of the usual celebrations? Here's 14 ways to celebrate silly for Valentine's Day.

Tired of the usual celebrations? Here's 14 ways to celebrate silly for Valentine's Day.

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. One, twoo, fhree. Valentine's Day is all about the deep and meaningful love languages as well as the sappy and silly gestures that show you care.

This year we're going all in silly for Valentine's Day, and I wanted to share our fourteen favorite ideas for bringing some fun to February 14!

  1. Eat only heart-shaped foods for dinner. Here's how you create a few items in that beloved shape: fruits, bacon, veggies, and more.
  2. Wear as much red as you can. Accessories are worth two points. The winner gets red velvet cake or blood oranges (which are actually red).
  3. Write a simple poem using words that rhyme with love (above, dove, shove, of, glove) .
  4. Say love in a three new languages. For example: die liebe (German)
    and upendo (Swahili). Find even more here.
  5. Watch a great episode of Hart to Hart on YouTube. 
  6. Draw hearts with your initials and an arrow through them on a car window or in the snow/sand.
  7. Sing every song from the soundtrack to Love Actually at the top of your lungs.
  8. Redo your worst date but make it the best experience ever.
  9. Put your phone above your head, turn up the volume really high, and play In Your Eyes.
  10. Make chains of paper hearts and string them along your bathroom mirror.
  11. Recite (or memorize!) a sonnet from Shakespeare.
  12. Toast to love in the sappiest way you can. Accents are encouraged. Try this drink or this one to celebrate.
  13. Get your heart pumping with 14 jumping jacks for your love, but make your body into the shape of Xs and Os. (I said they were silly)
  14. Apply the perfect shade of red lipstick and add your smack to mirrors, windows, and the cheeks of those you love.

     

Tell me, tell me! What would you add to the list? Happy Valentine's Day, you wonderful person, you. Catch you this weekend for some of my favorite links.

xoxo, MJ

Printable Eraser Valentines

This week we're sharing all the easy. Yesterday's bubble messages were round one. Enter the eraser ring as round two! We gave these to C's Brownie troop, and they were a huge hit.

These printable tags make ring candy or ring erasers the coolest valentine! Because easy valentines are the best kind.

These printable tags make ring candy or ring erasers the coolest valentine! Because easy valentines are the best kind.

This is completely not a sponsored post, but, let's be real here, Target has the best finds. For $3 we found this 24-pack of glamorous and geometric rings. They are jumbo-sized, you know, just in case you have a bunch of grown-ups who might delight in a fancy eraser ring. Ahem.

We wanted to make something super tiny, similar to a price tag to add onto the rings. The smallest Valentine you might send is right here for you in our printable. And you know I can't resist the pun whenever possible. And so we present,

No doubt about it Valentine, you're a gem.

Grab a hole punch, some ribbon, twine, or yarn. We've grouped a lot of tags on one page to save you paper, too! Valentine's Day was never so girly and easy peasy.

These printable tags make ring candy or ring erasers the coolest valentine! Because easy valentines are the best kind.

These printable tags make ring candy or ring erasers the coolest valentine! Because easy valentines are the best kind.

Keep the love going! And have a fabulous Valentine's Day.

xoxo, MJ

Bubble Valentine Printable

Maybe I saw you at the store this weekend. What that you in Target, too? The mad dash for Valentines, after receiving the note from teachers on details for this week's celebrations, was a real deal for many parents. We spent a few more minutes than most, circling the aisles, trying to find something perfect for boys and girls, with a definite fun factor.

Easy and cute way to personalize bubbles for classroom Valentines! Print now and assemble in five minutes.

Easy and cute way to personalize bubbles for classroom Valentines! Print now and assemble in five minutes.

We settled upon these cute bubble blowers in assorted colors! My daughter and I both loved the design and colors, but we needed to create a personal element.

Easy and cute way to personalize bubbles for classroom Valentines! Print now and assemble in five minutes.

Easy and cute way to personalize bubbles for classroom Valentines! Print now and assemble in five minutes.

She and I made this printable together. She's a big fan of the smiling hearts, drawn in all the colors of the bubble wands, and I like that the card expresses friendship and good wishes without going over the top into mushy, gushy love messages for 7- and 8-year olds.

Easy and cute way to personalize bubbles for classroom Valentines! Print now and assemble in five minutes.

Easy and cute way to personalize bubbles for classroom Valentines! Print now and assemble in five minutes.

With a bit of Valentine washi tape, we attached the strip of paper to the bubble vile. From there, we wrapped the message around until we came to end of the message. She secured the rolled message with a Valentine heart sticker for an extra sweet ending.

Easy and cute way to personalize bubbles for classroom Valentines! Print now and assemble in five minutes.

Easy and cute way to personalize bubbles for classroom Valentines! Print now and assemble in five minutes.

Click here to print a full page of Valentines! Enjoy a little more happy togetherness tonight, now that your stack of Valentines are ready to go!

Happy crafting!

xoxo, MJ