Conversation clovers

We love our conversation starters in our family so we decided to come up with some holiday themed ones for St Patrick’s Day. We had a blast sitting our the dinner table one evening coming up with these and answering them as we went and we now look forward to re-answering them with grandparents tomorrow on the 17th!

I printed ours on green paper but it would also be fun to let kids color them if you have little ones. There are 2 blank ones you can fill in with your own questions if you’d like.

Have fun!

xo,
Brown family

Lucky Leprechaun Scavenger Hunt

We love a good scavenger hunt, especially on St Patrick’s Day. Cambryn and I decided to have our leprechaun come early his year since we’re going to be gone on the 17th and we figured why not share it…for FREE! First, here are some pictures from our hunt and below each pic is a link to items I used or where I got it if there is no direct link. Only the last clue talks about a treat so the rest can be just a hunt trying to see/catch him or you can have a couple treats along the way if you choose. Not every location had a little something for us but there were a couple along the way.

The clue that lead to the largest bedroom of the house took them to our master where a pair of socks for each kid was hidden behind a pillow along with the next clue. Socks are from the $1/$3 section of Target.

Climbing on counters, looking in drawers and cabinets, under tables….no place was off limits with our leprechaun.

The bathroom had some St Patrick’s themed temporary tattoos from HERE which the kids immediately put on and then came downstairs to show them off.

So we didn’t catch him again this year but he did leave a final treat on the doorstep which was awfully nice of him ☺️. I got the mini pots of gold HERE and filled them with Rolos and rainbow M&Ms (Skittles would be super fun too!) I love how small they are, they don’t need a ton of candy every holiday but it was fun to have a little treat.

Here is the free scavenger hunt ready for you to print, cut and do.

Happy hunting! Have fun!

xo,
Jenny

PS As an Amazon affiliate, we may receive a small percentage from any purchases made from links on this post at no extra cost to you. We do not advertise any product we do not use ourselves and enjoy.

Frozen Birthday Party!

I want to start this post by quickly explaining what type of birthday parties you will find on this blog. As a mother of 6, I throw a lot of parties. Some are bigger than others but what I have learned over the years is that the “middle tier” birthdays are the BEST! You are hear the explanation of “kids don’t care about their party, they just want friends and presents” and maybe that is true for some kids but I will respectfully disagree when it comes to my family. Our kids look back at their birthdays and although they were just as appreciative as the parties where we just had friends, pizza and a movie night, the parties that they talk about with childlike excitement and want to watch home videos from our the bigger parties. With all that being said, we have years its just not in the cards to do a big birthday, and we have years where we have fun with themes and make the most of it but I have definitely learned over the years that there is ALWAYS more you can do. Ways you can make it bigger and better and I just work hard to find the balance of making them fun, but they don’t have to be perfect and they don’t have to be extravagant. With that being said…here is our Frozen 2 (which is really just a Frozen) party.

They have some amazing cake ideas on Pinterest with Frozen themes but we went with cupcakes because I wasn’t about to not let my 5 year old blow out a candle but I was trying to be respectful of others’ fears of germs. We went with store bought chocolate cake mix, the BEST homemade vanilla frosting (which we dyed blue) and some white glitter sprinkles and THESE frozen cupcake toppers. Easy peasy but goes with the theme and had Zoey all heart eyes with her cupcake stand.

The night before her party, just as I was falling asleep mind you, I had the thought that snowflakes hanging down from the ceiling would look cute. So first thing the next morning I printed out 8 copies of a snowflake that I found online that looked it would be easy to cut out and I got to cutting. It would be super cute to make a bunch of unique snowflakes to hang but again….middle tier parties. 😉 In between the snowflakes the big girls made long blue ribbon curls to hang to mimic icicles. We’re pretty happy with how it turned out. Didn’t cost us any extra money and took us about half an hour to put together.

Next up…GAMES! I made some “snowballs” with white yarn (see pic below) and then we grabbed some buckets and put points on them and had the kids toss the snowballs in trying to be the one with the most points.

We also played the classic game of pin the nose on Olaf which I got HERE, She did a great job at making it easy to print, tape together, hang and play. THAT is a middle tier party 5 star find…it looks like I put in so much effort for my daughter’s party but really I got it FOR FREE and took minimal effort on my part. Thank you, The Purple Pumpkin Blog!

Last but not least we played Frozen 2 Bingo which I got from One Creative Mommy. Again, easy for me but SO cute and fun for kids. We used m&ms to cover our characters as we called them out because…yum!

Of course we can’t forget about the thing every kid looks forward to at a party…the goodie bag! I like getting our kids involved on this part and have them help put the bags together so they learn it’s actually not ALL about them, it’s about thanking our friends for another year of friendship as well! The tags for our “glacier juice” and the “do you want to build a snowman” tags I found HERE (her post has a lot of great stuff for a fun Frozen party so read all of it!) and “Thanks for coming” tags from HERE and the Frozen make a face stickers were another Amazon find of course, as were the Frozen temporary tattoos (not pictured).

In case you’re wondering about these bags…yes, you can indeed make a snowman(ish) with the kit. We put 3 regular size marshmallows, an orange regular M&M, 5 brown mini M&Ms (eyes and buttons), 2 mini pretzel sticks, 2 toothpicks to help hold together and 2 mini marshmallows for the feet. As you can see in my daughter attempting to put it together we actually needed to add more toothpicks to hold the feet in place. So if you’re really wanting to have them be able to make a snowman that’s a little more Olaf-ish you can make it 4 toothpicks.

Frozen funny faces

We bought plates, napkins, table cloths, goodie bags (I used the mini bags in the gift bag section) and balloons all from Walmart; including the big 5 balloon which she later wrote her hopes for the next year on and we set it free (all other balloons we popped and properly disposed over thanks to big fearless brother)

I struggled to get a picture of her with her eyes open because she too busy concentrating on her wish which I realized was actually adorable and I’m glad we captured that. I just love this little girls to pieces and can’t wait to see all she’s going to accomplish and learn this next year! Happy Birthday, Zoey dear!

teaching our kids table manners

We may not use proper etiquette at all times in our kitchen but I certainly wanted our kids to at least have some decent table manners to apply both in our home and when they are in others’ homes. We would talk about a couple things here and there with the kids but once we started homeschool I knew I wanted to do a more proper “lesson” as part of our home ec class.

We started our lesson/discussion by learning about setting the table properly. I printed out a place setting for reference as we discussed it. (we used the #4 template. it’s simple and that’s all we need) Then we learned about some of the table etiquette:

  • wait for everyone to receive their food – we talked in a little more detail about what this would look like in different settings such as at home, a friend’s house or out to eat somewhere. We also talked about how you would handle some of the food at a restaurant coming and some not having their food yet. Of course we also talked about the WHY behind we why we wait
  • include everyone in the conversation – we went through some topics that are inclusive as well as how to steer the conversation back to being an open conversation. Again, we talked about the WHY behind the importance of including everyone in the converstaion
  • be open to trying new things – this has always been a rule in our house. You don’t have to like it and you don’t have to finish it, but we encourage you to try it. With that all being said, we talked during his discussion about what that looks like when you are in someone else’s house. Using phrases like, “I’ll try a little please” or “no thank you, but I’m excited to eat this____” and name another dish they are serving. We also stressed the fact that if there is nothing you like there you just wait to come home to eat, you DO NOT ask them to make something that is not at the table.
  • no elbows on the table and have good posture – this had been discussed around the table before so we just touched more on the WHY behind it
  • always say please and thank you – this didn’t take long to discuss since they are already rockstars with this habit
  • put your fork down between bites – ok this is less manners and more just a healthier way to eat. I do think that it is polite too because you are less likely to inhale your food or talk with your mouth full amongst other reasons. We did talk about the health benefits of it as well: being able to take the time to listen to your body and know when it is time to stop eating or when to ask for more.
  • help with clean up – we talked about this being after a meal, after a church activity or following a party. Look for opportunities to help clean up and see it as a way to SHOW your gratitude to your host.
  • compliment the host – thank them for the meal, thank them for having you over. We also talked about when you have been served a meal that you maybe didn’t love. You can keep it simple with, “Thank you for having me over.” or, “Thank you for dinner” and just keep it at that but if there was something you loved at dinner then call it out! What host or hostess doesn’t love to hear that someone loved something they prepared?!
  • depart with gratitude – “Thank you for having me” or if you someone is coming over to pick up their child from our house, “Thank you for letting them come over and play.” At risk of sounding like a broken record, we also talked about the WHY behind it. Parents take their time out of their busy days to make sure we set up playdates and run kids around and we’re happy to do it, but it’s also nice to hear appreciation for it.

There were a handful of questions and topics that came up while we discussed but I didn’t write them down. We had fun with it though and gave different scenarios of situations they may find themselves in and how they could handle it. We also had fun acting out good posture, being proper and the opposites of both. The next morning we set up the table for a nice family breakfast (which seriously never happens…we’re usually a cold cereal family so the kids were thrilled) and the kids put their table setting abilities and table manners to the test.

I patterned this lesson after what I found HERE along with what I remember being ingrained in me growing up. 🙂 We have great, well mannered kids and it was fun to see them get into it even more following this lesson. I’m all about allowing kids to be kids, it is a HUGE reason why we started homeschool but I’m also very determined to have our children look very young what it looks like to have good manners and be polite and considerate of others. Discussions and lessons like this help us achieve that.

xoxo,
Jenny

wood bead garland

NEW product in our Etsy shop today! This wood bead garland is the perfect finishing touch for your tiered tray, table tray display or bookshelf! Also pictured is a MINI PLANT I got off of Amazon and a sign I also got off of Amazon but that was back in 2019 and I can no longer find it. I did find THIS cute one though and I love it, so next time you see a picture of my tiered tray it will probably be there, just added it to my cart. 🙂

Hope you have a great day!

xo,
Jenny

Stripping sheets

We wash our sheets once a week but every so often we strip our sheets to rid them of any build up from laundry detergent, minerals from hard water, oils from our skin etc. It never ceases to amaze what comes out of sheets I wash regularly. I will say, ours has never looked as bad as I have seen from some recent tik tok videos so I take some comfort in that. Our detergent must not be doing too bad of a job. What you need to strip your sheets: Tide powder, washing soda (you can make your own if you would like by following directions HERE. I have done this in the past but choose to just buy it at the store now), Borax powder and a tub (or a sink or large bucket if you don’t have a tub in your house). I put links to Amazon on here but you can also usually buy these items at your local grocer although I have struggled to find washing soda at some of our local stores.

When you are ready to strip your sheets, fill your tub with hot water. I put my on as hot as I can get it. As it is filling I do once scoop of each of the 3 powders.

I like to then swirl the water around a bit and funny enough our son’s plastic sword is the perfect sturdiness and size so that is what I use each time. Of course you can always use your hand if you would like.

This is what the water looks like after it is filled but before adding any sheets or towels.

It’s not completely clear but definitely light and clear. The picture makes it look darker than it was but what can you do? Then add your sheets, or towels, keeping in mind that you want to add what can fit into your machine after the stripping process is done. I do one set of sheets and pillowcases at a time for the bigger beds and two sets for the kids.

Once I have added the sheets I use the sword to push everything down and move it around a bit. You can leave it like this for 4-5 hours (use the temp of the water as a way to know if it has been long enough, if the water is still warm I would let it soak longer) or you can occasionally go in there and give it a bit of a stir to make sure everywhere is really covered and has a chance to soak. Once the temperature of the water is cool I usually drain it, squeeze the water out of the items and then go put it through the rinse cycle of the washing machine. For the sake of this post I took the sheets out before draining so that you can see the water.

I always have such mixed feelings. Part of me thinks 🤢 yet another part is 🙌🏼 and 😃. It feels so good to sleep in sheets knowing all that build up is gone! I have no idea what the suggested time is between stripping but I only do this once a year. It’s a great spring cleaning item and even then I have certainly missed years. I only recently did it on our towels for the first time and didn’t get as much results from it. We also don’t hang on to towels forever though so I’m not all that surprised by that one.

Make sure you only strip items that are ok to be washed in hot water and NO delicates. With that being said, happy spring cleaning and feeling so fresh and so clean, clean! 🎶 (I still sing that song every time I start spring cleaning. old habits die hard)

xo,
Jenny

Kitchen upgrade

We did a large kitchen makeover awhile back but this weekend we made a small kitchen upgrade but we are SO excited about it. Sometimes the smallest detail really can add such a great effect. The change we made can only be seen when the lights are out and it’s dark outside…

We love the look of lights under your cabinets but when we did phase 1 our big kitchen remodel (when we painted the cabinets, got new countertops, added a backsplash, new sink and faucet and framed out the window) we just couldn’t find a lighting system that was worth the money for us. We had used some of the lights you stick under the cabinets that you need a remote to turn on in our last house and we didn’t really want to go that route again but we also didn’t want to invest the money and time into anything that needed a switch either. Well recently I heard that there was outlet plates that had lights in them that turn on when it’s dark that are popular in bathrooms so I figured we would try them out in the kitchen too. We love it! We didn’t replace all of our all of our outlet plates with these because I wanted to save some for the kids’ bathrooms and that worked out well anyway because I don’t think we need more than the 4 we put in there. You can find the outlet plates HERE. We are an Amazon affiliate so if you do make a purchase from that link we earn a small percentage. We only post items that we ourselves use and love and want to share with others. Thank you for your support and we hope you love these as much as we do!

xoxo,
Jenny

PS We are in the middle of phase 2 of our remodel. If you look closely in the picture you will see that our floor is just concrete, and not pretty stained concrete. We have a couple of projects in the works and will be posting soon with progress pictures so if you are interested in following home remodels follow along and join in on the journey!

Find rest in Him

Christ has said to us, “Come unto me…and ye shall find rest unto your soul” (Matthew 11;28-29.  How amazing does that sound?!  Not just to find rest but for your SOUL to find rest.  Sign me up for that kind of rest and peace.

But who does this apply to?  The beginning of verse 28 reads, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden” so is it just for those who are REALLY suffering? Those who are really weighed down with burdens?  I know I have been in that situation before where I yearn to feel Him close and to get further guidance but I hesitate to ask for much because what I’m in need of seems so silly compared to others.  How can He be so aware of me and my “minor” problems when there are so many out there that are suffering more than me?  I’m not really heavy laden, I’m just exhausted.  Or lonely.  Or confused.  

Well there is a reason that in the above picture I made I took out the part that said, “all ye that labour and are heavy laden”.  I think sometimes we read that and misinterpret it.  We think we can only ask for rest for our souls when we are REALLY struggling and our burdens are SO heavy that we just can’t possibly do this on our own anymore, otherwise, we should be able to handle things mostly independently and just leave Him to worry about others.  How wrong that train of thought is!  Thomas S. Monson said, “We were not placed on this earth to walk alone”.  None of us are expected to walk alone.  He WANTS to walk with us, to help us, to be near us.  He didn’t suffer for us so that we can come to Him only when we’re desperate, He died for us because of His unconditional love and it is for that same reason that He wants us to always yearn to have Him close.  He wants to help us ALL get back to our heavenly home and He wasn’t just willing to provide a way to make it happen but He’s also willing to continue to stay with us as we take the journey home.  That is how much He loves us.  That is unconditional love.

Unconditional love does not mean that He will force us to allow Him near though.  It means He loves us enough to allow us to choose.  We get to choose to invite Him in.  Dieter F. Uchtdorf taught us, “God is not waiting to love you until you have overcome your weaknesses and bad habits.  He loves you today with a full understanding of your struggles,”  Isn’t that a beautiful reminder?  He already knows our shortcomings and failures and He STILL wants us to ask Him in. He STILL wants to help us, to give us rest, to allow our souls to be at peace and feel Him near.

So we know He wants to help us all and we know that it doesn’t even matter our circumstances, but now what do we DO about it?  HOW do we draw nearer to Him and feel that peace in our souls that we are promised?  Here are 3 things that have helped me draw closer to Him.  All three steps take a little work, practice and diligence but the more you do them, the stronger you feel the spirit and the easier it gets to feel Him near. 

  1. study AND REFLECT the scriptures as often as you can.  Obviously the goal here is daily because it really does make a difference but God knows our intentions and if you are really giving it your best and trying to make time for this as frequently as you can, He knows that and He’s not going to hold missing some days against you.  now I emphasize the “reflect” part because just reading the scriptures is great but it’s during the reflecting on what you’ve read and how it applies to you where you can often times feel the spirit strongest.  Consider being more intentional with what you are studying and how well you are studying it rather than on how quickly you can get through a book or how much time you spend per study session. Also, figure out what works best for you.  Some people do better listening to audio and taking notes as they do.  For some it is reading straight from the scriptures, others it may be doing study groups where possible and for people like me, we do best with a combination of study manuals, scriptures and journaling. Play around with options until you feel like it really “clicks” for you and you notice you feel inspiration coming more frequently doing it that way, then you know you’ve found your ticket!
  2. Meditate frequently.  We “must take time to meditate, to sweep the cobwebs from [our] mind” as Ezra Taft Benson put it so eloquently.  Meditation has the power to do just that, clear the clutter and stress in our mind and help us recenter on what is most important.  Some of the times I feel inspiration and promptings come to me the most clearly are during times of meditation as I take the time to quiet the worlds expectations and consider what MY priorities are, what He would have me do.  This one takes a little more practice and diligence to get the hang of it but once you do, you will realize how easily you can feel closer to the Godhead and angels around you.
  3. Pray and ASK for the spirit to be with you.  Sometimes you just need to ask.  Now, I know Heavenly Father likes to see action and it’s important to not just go live your life however you please and then come to Him and be like, “ok, I’m done partying now give me the Spirit.”  There is a difference between demanding and seeking/asking.  Sometimes we feel like we’re doing the best we can here.  “Heavenly Father, I’m trying to do what I know I should and I’m giving it my all and I’m still struggling to feel you as close as I would like.  Please give me comfort at this time.  I need it.”  It’s ok that sometimes we feel exhausted and that we can’t imagine doing more than we are right now but man do I need to feel some relief right now.  So ask!  Think of your child coming to you and saying, “Mom or Dad, I’m struggling today and I just need a hug.  I”m trying to be good and I’m just feeling so depleted from all the effort and I just want a hug from you and to have you tell me you love me”  Would you be like, “how dare you ask me, do better!”  NOOOOO!  You would run to that child and scoop them up in your arms and assure them that you love them and you see all their effort and you’re so proud of them for it!  He yearns to do that!  He wants us to humble ourselves and ask for help…He’s waiting!  You aren’t weak for asking/needing more, you are faithful.  The part I love about this one is how I have received my answers.  Sometimes I am immediately filled with reassurance, other times I go to bed and have a dream that brings me peace.  Many times I wake the next morning simply with a renewed energy to fulfill the work ahead of me and I know where that bout of energy and courage to face another day has come from. He heard me.

My hope is that strengthening these 3 steps/areas will help you draw a little closer to our Savior just as it has helped me.  I promise that as you do these things and work on having a closer relationship with Him that you WILL find peace and rest…even to the extent of your whole body and soul feeling at ease.  You will be able to think clearer, know the best next steps to take and be confident with where you are headed.  He is the anchor of our souls, He is the calm during the storms and He wants to help you as much as you will allow Him to. 

xoxo,

Jenny

PS If you really want to go the extra mile to feel the Spirit so strong in your home, play religious music more frequently in your home.  We used to play “church music” only on Sundays and since we have upped how often we listen to it, we have noticed a difference in the feeling of our home.  Sometimes I will watch my daughter come home from school after a rough day and go in her room and turn some church music on and I can see the transformation by the time she comes out again, her burden has been lightened and she feels peace again.  I know I have experienced this myself many times as well.  It’s beautiful what music can do for us!

Conversation {starter} Hearts

All the crafts, treats, valentines and love that is passed around on Valentine’s Day is great but the best part of the holiday is spending time with your loved ones and making sure they feel loved, seen and heard. What better way then to round out the day than to do some conversation starters around the dinner table to get to know each other a little better.

The download at the bottom of the page has two pages of conversation heart questions/discussion starters and one page of blank hearts for any additional questions you come up with!

You can have each family member pick a heart out of a jar/bowl and only they answer it or you can have someone read question but everyone takes a turn answering. Whatever works best for your family, have fun with it and get creative or keep it simple.

Hope you enjoy a special day with your loved ones and go to bed feeling extra loved and appreciated!

xoxo,
Jenny

sewing class – basics

The kids have been DYING to do sewing with the machine since “school” started in July and this past week their wish finally came true. First up was learning the basics of the machine. How to set it up, thread it and basics of using it. That didn’t take long so we moved on to our project…pillowcases. We followed the tutorial by Mary Martha Mama. There was one part she does differently than I have ever seen before but her directions were easy to follow and it worked out great, so I now know a new approach to making a pillowcase!

Zoey isn’t quite ready for the machine yet but she still got to pick out some material and I used hers as our example. We would read the directions, they would follow it piece it together for me and then I would do the actual sewing with hers so I could show them what to do. Then when it came time for them to do their pillows they could do it all with very little input from me.

When it was Parker and Andi’s turn, I had them stay close by as they worked on theirs. Parker would do a step and then Andi would, Parker would do the next step, and then Andi would. This allowed them to learn from each other’s mistakes and successes and meant I wasn’t repeating my tips and tricks as many times.

Their finished products!

Rylee and I worked on hers later that night and I helped with the ironing at times and she had a more simplified lesson but she still did all of the machine work herself.

I had saved this project for this time of year thinking it would be fun for them to get cute valentines day themed material but all of them choice differently. Oh well, they LOVED what they picked and that’s what it was all about. I’m super impressed with their ability to sew a straight line and they only jammed up my machine once so…HOORAY! I think they are ready for the next step which is pajama pants, then they will have to follow an actual pattern. Wish us luck, I’m not great with patterns myself so this might get interesting. 😂

If you are wanting to do a very basic sewing project for your kids, grandkids, class or for yourself, this is a great place to start so go check out Mary Martha Mama today!

xoxo,
Jenny