Kids' Money Jars {tutorial}

As my ever-ongoing quest to be organized continues, Ben and I decided it was time for the boys to have chores & therefore earn a bit of an allowance {chore chart tutorial coming soon!}. 

Unfortunately, neither he nor I learned about finances growing up {I think it must have been a taboo subject in that generation because I hear that from a lot of friends} and we therefore have had to learn in our adult years how on earth to manage our money.

I searched online for some ideas as to how to do this and help us learn how to instill the concept into their little heads early and everything I found was ugly. Or expensive.

We did order this for them, but again...ugly. What's up with that??

So, I decided to make these "piggy banks" for each of them. They each have three jars "Save," "Spend," & "Give."

I am in LOVE with mason jars and often use them as serving glasses for parties, so I have tons waiting to be played with. 

{much less expensive to buy mason jars at the grocery store, than a craft shore. wooden box from hobby lobby}

Cute...but definitely not cute enough, so I decided to tint the clear glass of the jars.

I found this blog and this blog on how to do it, and decided to take what worked from both and apply it to my own project {the first blog's design didn't turn out very well}.

So here ya go! Hope it inspires you!


{for mason jar}
- mason jar {or other clear vessel}
- modge podge {in gloss}
- food coloring
- ramekin or small bowl
- oven

- jute, ribbon, etc.

{for box}
- wooden box or crate
- paint brush
- paint {I used a sample left over from this project - behr, porpoise 790E-3}

Mix food coloring with about a Tablespoon {T} of water. Go a lot darker than you initially think you should because it looks quite a bit lighter when it dries on the glass. The color above is very light on my jar. I went a lot darker, as I continued on with my jars.

Pour in about a T or two of Modge Podge.

Add the ramekin of color

Roll around in the jar, coating the entire thing.

Flip the jars upside down {about 30 mins} and let the extra modge podge & color run out. 

Don't freak out if yours looks like this. Remember, modge podge dries clear.

I set my oven to 200 and let the jars dry in there for an hour, turning it off when the buzzer went off and leaving them inside overnight. In the morning, they were streak free, translucent, and beautiful! Very similar to vintage mason jars. I love how each jar is a little different in color.

Ok... onto the box. Ben and I really liked the way old weathered wood looks and found this blog on how to age new wood with apple cider vinegar & steel wool! What a cool idea! Thought I'd try it out but even with multiple applications over several days, I gave up. It wasn't as quick & easy as the blog made it out to be.

{this is as weathered as i could get it to look}

Instead, I decided to use some paint I had left over from this project.

I simply dry-brushed it because I still wanted a more worn look, rather than a perfectly painted crate. 
I like seeing the wood beneath.

Here's my finished product! I found lots of fun free printable tags here, herehere, here, and here {the grey ones above are actually Christmas gift tags}

{these are Christmas gift tags, too! love.}

Now I'm just trying to figure out if I like the monochromatic look with the grey, or a pop of color {which I typically tend to be drawn toward}. Guess I'll live with them a few days and see. What do you think?


Plum Cake {recipe}

Recently, we bought a big bowl of beautiful {huge} plums. I'm not a big fan of them generally, but we're tying to branch out and have more than just bananas, apples & blueberries all the time. Since we were all skeptics and they were not getting eaten though, Anton & I decided to get on Pinterest to find something to bake with them as our inspiration!

This is the recipe Anton chose. Simple enough for the boys and I to do, and the perfect fall dessert.

Unfortunately...mine fell. on the floor.

Luckily our floor happened to be clean that evening {with 3 boys & a dog, that's rarely the case} so we enjoyed it anyway. Thankfully, Ben was there to encourage me {and clean it up}, 'cuz I was pretty bummed {and truthfully, a bit mad}.

Here's the recipe, hopefully you won't burn your hand and drop it as you take it out of the oven, like I did!

{this is how it was supposed to look. yum! thank you design sponge}

{everything is laid out so it's easy for the kids to help}

{these were the largest plums i've ever seen. gorgeous}

{anton is an excellent egg cracker & is proud that he rarely gets any shells in the bowl}

{i'm so glad my mom was the type that let me lick off the spoon. it's the best part. now my kids think so too}

I know what you're thinking. Foil? Somehow our wax/parchment paper got used up & wasn't put on the grocery list. So this was what I had to make do with. It was my 1st sign that things wouldn't end well. 

{this is my pretty version. post fall. still tasted fantastic}

Plumb Cake

   10–12 medium-sized plums - sounds like a lot, but they cook down {i used less because mine were so large}
    11 tablespoons {150g} butter, melted
    3 eggs
   1 tsp vanilla
   3/4 cup {150g} sugar plus 2 tbsp for sprinkling on top of the cake
   2 cups {250g} plain flour
   1 1/2 tsp baking powder
   1/2 cup {120ml} milk

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF/180ºC. Grease an 8 {20cm} pan with a removable bottom and then line with parchment paper. Greasing helps the paper stick.
2. Wash the plums, cut them into halves and remove the pits.
3. Whip the eggs in a bowl with the vanilla and the 3/4 cup of sugar until they are pale and fluffy. Add the flour and baking powder and mix. Whisk in the melted butter and the milk. You can do this all in a stand mixer — just don’t overmix it.
4. Put half the plums on the bottom of the pan in a nice ring, skin side down — just use as many as you need to cover the bottom — but not too tightly, as you want the cake batter to get between them and form the base of the cake.
5. Scoop all the batter on top of the plums. You can dump the rest of the plums on top of the batter, or you can arrange them neatly in slices — it’s up to you. Some will sink into the batter, but most will stay near the top and be visible once it has cooked. The plums shrink a lot, so it’s okay to err on the side of more rather than less on top.
6. Sprinkle the top with the rest of the sugar. This gives the top a yummy, crispy quality.
7. Place the cake tin on a baking sheet and then put it in the oven. Bake for an hour or until it’s a lovely golden color and a skewer comes out clean. The plums will also have caramelised a bit.
8. Take it out of the oven but let it cool for a few minutes in the tin before you remove it, and be careful of any syrupy liquid that may have formed.
{The blog I got this recipe from says to serve it with a little whip or ice cream. But since the kids were going to bed reasonably soon after eating, they didn't need that extra sugar. It was great without!}


The Thankful Tree {tutorial}

A few days ago, Ezekiel brought home a project he was to work on at home. They were asked to decorate a page with photographs, etc showing the Thanksgiving traditions in our family.

Hmmmm....this is the 1st Thanksgiving we've had together, so how on earth were we going to do this project?!

I have several blogs I'm in love with but one just posted about Thankfulness and gave me this idea {thank you jones design company}.

Today while Laith was napping, Anton & Ezekiel worked on it. What a perfect 1st tradition.

{click here for the free printable}

{i'm actually shocked how well anton did. they were all pretty straight & centered!}

{a big branch in our yard fell during the big snow a few weeks ago...perfect for our "tree"!}

{the boys of course loved being involved in cutting it the rest of the way down}

{ezekiel loved this picture so much, he asked me to print it out.  he hugged it saying, "oh mommy with all my heart"}

{we went rock hunting in the neighborhood & got a bunch of great ones to weigh down the glass base}

{couldn't help but putting this in...she's too stinkin' cute}

{seriously child. walk already! you're SO close}

{the 1st thing ezekiel wrote was being thankful for food. that makes me sad}

{anton on the other hand, said he's thankful for monster trucks. it's all about monster trucks these days}

{so many uses for this jute. glad i now have it on hand!}

{final touches}

{isn't he handsome?}

{i told them they could write 1 a day until thanksgiving. but ezekiel wanted to do 3 today}

{the other thing he wrote was "family"}

{that's supposed to read monster truck, anton}

Now Ezekiel just needs to decide which of these pics he'll include in his project, and what he's going to write about our 1st Annual Thankful Tree.

It'll be fun to keep the tags and see what were were thankful for this year and going forward. Curious to see how it changes.


They call him Daddy

Recently, our day-to-day has not been easy. Or drama free.

I've mentioned before that we are seeing a new side of Ezekiel. Generally, he is still the jovial boy that we know and love so much, but when he doesn't get his way{even the tiniest little thing}...Watch Out, because several hours of crying, pouting, and completely shutting down will probably be in the future. 

I'm going to be honest, I often don't have the patience for it. I have a hard time wrapping my mind around a big kid acting more immature than our 3 year old. Yes, he has gone through more than any child should ever go through...of COURSE he has some issues to work out. I'm glad he feels safe enough with us that he knows he can test boundaries without being afraid we're going to put him on a plane back to Africa. 

BUT...it's still not fun. At all. 

Somehow through it though, it has made me fall even deeper in love with Ben. Anyone that knows him, knows that he has very thick skin but such a heart of gold {probably because he has gone through Refiners Fire so many times in his life}.

It has been so amazing to see how he parents our children...particularly Ezekiel. He is SO patient. SO Kind. SO gentile, has such self-control. {Sound familiar?} He has shown me God's love through how he's been in the craziness that we've seen these days.

Galatians 5:22-23a
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, 
faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control"

The way that Ben keeps his cool, his even temperament, a kind and loving voice. He kneels down to their level and listens to what they say, and then explains to them why what they're doing is naughty, or disrespectful, or whatever.

Ezekiel has already begun to come out of his "losing it" times easier and faster, which is huge for the entire family. We're seeing such strides in his attitude when he's upset and he's open to talking about what had happened, once he is back in control of his emotions.

Our prayers are being answered in a big way, and He is using Ben as the vehicle to help our precious son gain boundaries while knowing how much we love him.

What a sweet side of Ben I see. Such gentleness in a man. A true guys-guy with such a kind heart.  It's such a blessing to know that we as a family {and myself as his wife} are so high on his priority list.

We've had A LOT happen in the 5 1/2 years of our marriage. 2 out of state moves {1 cross country}, 4 kids {2 adoptions}, there have been major highs and lows in job and financial stuff, and the list goes on. Stress typically draws marriages further apart. For us however, it has brought us closer together. And the chaos that we're going through with the kids right now, is somehow doing the same. I have no idea why that is, I can only credit God for that one but am thankful every day for the man our kids call Daddy.