Giveaway: Linette’s Boredom Jar

People of earth, I bring you tidings of great joy.

If you are a reader of my comment section, you’ll recall some of us were talking about Linette Horst’s Boredom Buster Jar, and what a lifesaver it would be for the summer. After communicating with each other, Linette and I have decided to let you in on the fun.

Linette spent hours gathering more than 300 ideas for summertime activities for her own children, and one other family she loved. Then she realized other moms could benefit from her list as well. She gave a few sets as gifts, shared them with extended family, and so on.

Her activities include things like doing a chore, making a craft, playing a game, doing something outside, researching a new idea, or having fun with food. Most ideas are free, most use supplies commonly found in a household, and adult assistance is minimal. The activities are designed for ages 4-12; so obviously younger children will require more assistance than older ones for things like reading a story or making cookies. Only a few ideas are duplicated.

Linette is concerned about sending glass jars in the mail (running the risk of breaking them), and about cutting thousands of slips of paper. So what we are offering is the colorful, full-page list of ideas, for you to cut up into your own jar. However, if you know Linette personally and would like to arrange a pick-up for a filled glass jar, she would be happy to negotiate on that.

Linette is offering one package free of charge on my blog (winner chosen at random). She is selling additional packages for $10. I think that’s a great price for what the set includes:

  • Thirteen colorful pages with over 300 activities
  • A supplies list for items you might not have on hand
  • An adorable vinyl decal to put on your own jar (“Mom I’m Bored” as pictured)
  • Free shipping to anywhere in the United States

This would make a wonderful gift for a young family – perhaps for a busy mom-friend, your pastor’s wife, a secret sister, your children’s Sunday school teacher, or anyone else you’d like to bless. If you save the slips of paper, you can use them again and again.

I received a Boredom Jar as a gift from Linette and I’m so excited to let my children start using it. Plus my house will get cleaned along the way, from what I can tell…

If you would like to order a set for $10, please contact Linette Horst at Put “Boredom Jar” or something similar in the subject line, to avoid the suspicion of being a spammer. (You wouldn’t want that.)

If you would like to enter the giveaway drawing, please leave a comment below. I always like to require something of you when you enter a giveaway (nothing ventured, nothing gained) – so this time, please tell me one thing your children are good at doing on their own: something fun/ creative/ thoughtful/ skilled/ helpful/ or anything like that. If you do not have children, think of “the children for whom you intend this jar” and tell me what they’re good at.

And yes, you can wait to order your own set until you hear if you won this giveaway. {Grin.} Again, the email address for contacting Linette is

Giveaway ends in one week, at midnight on Wednesday, July 5, 2017. Open to any person with a US mailing address. Please note that neither giveaway nor purchased set includes a glass jar. Feel free to share with friends who may be interested. Winner will be chosen by

Two experiments

Confession: I’ve been meaning to organize the closets and corners of my house for weeks and weeks now. I kept scheduling it in my planner and it kept getting bumped. This couldn’t possibly be my fault… surely someone else is to blame?

With the holidays approaching and a schedule that is unrelenting, I decided to give my house an organizing once-over today and call it good.

Here were my guidelines:

  • Set a timer and spend 15 minutes per room
  • Ask “What drives me nuts here?” and work only on that
  • Keep three containers handy for
    • Trash
    • Donations
    • Items to mend or put away elsewhere
  • Keep a clipboard handy for notes: what clothing is needed, what tasks to return to later

It worked pretty well.

Except the fifteen minutes.

By then I was just getting started…! Sigh. But some rooms took only five, and so it evened out okay. I managed a serious overhaul in some trouble spots: my pantry, my hallway, and my daughter’s bedroom. I have two or three rooms to finish up tomorrow, and I feel quite happy about this.


In other news…

We have some major sibling rivalry going on in our house. Son #2 is full of ire toward his little sister. She cannot do anything right; she is small and stupid; she doesn’t even know the words to that song!

I could try to put a light spin on this and make you think I’m laughing, but I actually feel very worried and discouraged about it. We have instructed and disciplined and praised and interceded to no avail.

We are trying one thing, remembering it was a helpful analogy for him a year ago, with a school friend he was scornful and jealous of—the same one who is now his best friend! We told him a relationship is like a tree, and must be tended… that harsh words and bad attitudes are like pouring salt on the tree and snipping its leaves… that kind actions, gentle words, and a giving heart are like the rain, the sun and the fertilizer that make the tree grow. We made him a poster to illustrate this. When he is unkind to her, he must hang a withered leaf on the tree. When he is kind, he may hang a green leaf or pluck off a withered one.

regan's tree

He grumbled the whole time we cut out leaves together, but as soon as the poster hung on the fridge he was smiling and ran off to invite his sister to a peaceable game of Life.

We shall see… It seems such a small thread, but I don’t know what else to do.

How did you train your children to love each other?

Summertime Cooking Swap – 2014

Confession: This is definitely the week in the summer when everything goes downhill as far as planning, cooking, and general attitude. This is the week when I realize that I am accomplishing roughly half of what I intended, my garden is weedy again, and nobody knows any Spanish yet. This is the week when everyone says “Mom, I’m hungry” all.the.time, in every language they can think of (English, American Sign Language, Whine-n-Pout, Thievery, Pantomime, Deafening Bellow, and Swahili). This is the week when the Back to School sales start lookin prit-ty good…

(I knew I would feel guilty for saying that.)

Please tell me what to cook! I’m bored to tears with my planned menus.

Last year this time we did an idea swap, remember? Still some great ideas over there for anyone who wants to browse through them. Let’s do it again, shall we? What do you like to cook in the summer?

This summer we’ve loved

  • Homemade pizza


  • Strawberry shortcake

(Here’s our new favorite recipe—I add an egg and go easy on the salt)


  • Grilled burgers

(Gina has two winner recipes I keep using over and over: BBQ Burgers and Chili Burgers)


  • and Barbecued chicken salad.


That’s greens, tomato, avocado, beans, corn, and cheese—topped with baked or rotisserie chicken, deboned and brushed with your favorite barbecue sauce.

Your turn! What do you like to cook eat?
Keep it relatively simple. Include a recipe or a link as you wish.

Twelve fun cheap things to do in the fall

1. Take a long slow bike ride.

bike in leaves

2. Save seeds.

bachelors button seeds

bachelors button seeds

3. Dry herbs.


4. Fend off a head cold with a little saltwater.

salt water

At the first sign of a sore throat, dump a teaspoon of salt in a cup. Add hot water and stir to dissolve. Gargle and discard several sips, being careful not to swallow! Repeat several hours later as needed. The salt kills the germs before they have a chance to uh, ferment. I’ve used this trick to prevent more than one cold this fall.

5. Bake cookies.

monster cookies

6. Press some pretty leaves for one week. Hang them on your wall with sticky tack. = Instant fall décor.

pressed leaves on wall

7. Pick apples at a local orchard.

8. Photograph a child in the falling leaves.

kelly 2013

9. Visit school.

10. Craft a homemade gift for a friend.

11. Chop some veggies.

homegrown cabbage

late garden cabbage

  • After chopping five quarts of celery for a local fundraiser, I am now very good at chopping celery. You would not believe how good I am at chopping celery. It’s so nice to have this to fall back on, like if anything would happen to Ryan and I had to support myself… “I chop celery.” It would look great on a résumé.
  • I also chop cabbage. Cabbage is amazing. I like it fried lightly with some smoked sausage and hot pierogies. Heaven.

12. Spice some cider. [recipe]

spiced cider


What else is fun and cheap in the fall? Your ideas here!

Thirty days of honor

Confession: Sometimes I am not very nice to him.

Who would have guessed it, in the dreamy days when his voice on the phone was just the sound I longed to hear, nourishing a place deep inside me? Who would have guessed it, in the blissful days of leisurely picnics, happy reunions, endless hours of talk, and reams of letters? Who would have guessed that this sweet girl would turn into such a beast some days? That her admiring eyes were capable of rolling in scorn, that her tender words could someday pack a punch?

Marriage goes on, life goes on, and some things that should not be forgotten are.

Lovers really are the wisest of us all.

This spring I set myself a challenge: thirty days of honor.* I wanted to do on purpose the things that once came effortlessly, so I drew up a list of practical actions I thought would spell love and respect to him—and then tried to do one each day.

* Undoubtedly a spin-off of the Love Dare, from the movie “Fireproof.”

I’m going to show you my list. But if, as you read over it, it begins to sound like an unreachable ideal, denoting some kind of superwife going on here, please know that in between the kindnesses I was horrid to him a lot. I’m no superwife. In fact, I don’t deserve love—none of us do—and I’m learning that anytime you get close to another person you have to wade through a whole lot of alternating layers of sugar and slime, all the way down to the very core. And allow them to do the same with you.

I offer my list to you in case you want to try something similar, in case familiarity and routine have rubbed some of the charm off of marital selflessness. I tried to integrate all the facets of Ryan’s life, and all the love languages that he hears. You will need to tailor it to your own man. I learned a lot along the way—about what means a lot to him, and what doesn’t, and what things are hardest for this proud girl.

I didn’t get them all done. And some turned out very differently than I had planned. In short, this whole post is a confession—

Thirty Days of Honor

  1. Cook his favorite food.
  2. Deliver a favorite drink to his office—i.e. iced tea.
  3. Listen attentively to everything he has to say.
  4. Initiate intimacy.
  5. Kidnap him for an inexpensive date—like take-out pizza at a park.
  6. Ask questions about a work project he has going.
  7. Provide a snack for one of his ministers’ meetings.
  8. Meet him at the door with a kiss.
  9. Write a note expressing specific appreciation for something he does or is.
  10. Respond positively to one of his ideas I’m a little leery of.
  11. Allow him the space to correct the children without stepping in to “help.”
  12. Offer to give him some rejuvenate/solitude time while I keep the kids.
  13. Offer my assistance on a project—like mowing grass.
  14. Bake something for his fire hall friends.
  15. Give him a back massage.
  16. Clean his office well.
  17. Praise him in the presence of others.
  18. Wear something special to bed.
  19. Thank him throughout the day for things I notice him doing.
  20. Vacuum his vehicle.
  21. Walk hand in hand.
  22. Help the kids rehearse a skit to honor him on Father’s Day—acting out the things they like most about him.
  23. Host guests he chooses.
  24. Quietly do the project I wish he would get to—taking out the trash or changing those light bulbs.
  25. Brew him fresh coffee.
  26. Enjoy simple touch with him throughout the day.
  27. Clean his work boots.
  28. Send him off to a fire call with a smile; welcome him home with a snack that spells HERO.
  29. Buy his favorite instead of mine.
  30. Add a new shirt to his closet.

What spells love to your man?