Reading instead of Writing

Librarian

Right now, this is what my kitchen table looks like, completely covered in books. Fiction, mostly, with some poems and horses thrown in for good measure. You may notice many sequels, and a few new series’ starters…

Someone recently asked me what it’s like to have finished writing my book. The answer is that it’s a bit anti-climactic. I gathered all my energy and effort and focus pouring into a gigantic goal. And now it is done. So I’m taking a break from writing for a bit, both from books and blogging.

Instead, I’m pouring myself into curating a child’s reading experience.

LauriReading instead of Writing

3 Great Ways to Revitalize your Creative Zest

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Whether or not you’d call yourself a creative-type there is a frustration to feeling stuck in a rut. I’m always looking for inspiration to dig deeper into creative pursuits. But sometimes I just feel dry.

What do you do when you’re dry? Dry spiritually and creatively? It’s easier to escape into a new iPhone game than to engage in refreshing activities —or even genuine rest. Rest is a conversation for another day, but let’s talk about refreshing activities.

Lauri3 Great Ways to Revitalize your Creative Zest

How I Wrote a Book with Small Children Underfoot

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Kitchen Rescue for the Not-So-Organized is here!

It was one of those projects that incubated for several years without me even realizing it was growing. But once I saw the need to actually write a book about my organizing process, I suddenly had laser focus.

It’s funny to say that I had laser focus, because that is almost never true of me. With three or more small children constantly underfoot, there is the unending stream of cares to tend.

Fortunately, we were on break from homeschooling when the inspiration hit, and the timing was perfect! No structure to maintain. No lessons to prepare. No assignments to oversee. So…

LauriHow I Wrote a Book with Small Children Underfoot

Smile More Next Christmas!

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As I’ve been simplifying my home and possessions, some items remain difficult to purge: a weird metal symbol from my (deceased) dad’s fraternity. My daughter’s first sewing project. You know, things that are tough to part with! These items are sentimental, and take up little space. But I don’t want them to live forever in an old shoebox in the attic. Not long ago, I saw an idea on Pinterest transforming children’s favorite toys into Christmas ornaments. Brilliant! This was an excellent solution for my treasures too.  Now each year we’ll smile more as we decorate the tree. Left to right: 1. A mother doll a friend brought me from Guatemala. I love how it has a baby on the back AND carrying one too! 2. Stained glass cattle skull my aunt made me as a bolo tie long ago. 3. Quilter’s Guild name tag and tiny quilt. 4. My dad’s fraternity symbol (I think!) from approximately 1968. 5. My daughter’s first sewing project. 6. A carved camel from my husband’s college roommate. 7. Hand-written tree-round place cards from my sister’s wedding. There is one for each person in our family, and she made one for our unborn (at the time) baby too. Now each one is a wonderful ornament that means far more to us than a colored glass bulb. So before you tuck those boxes of Christmas decorations back into the attic, take a minute to attach a ribbon loop or a hook onto your sentimental items and slip …

LauriSmile More Next Christmas!

Simple Beautiful Handmade Cards

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It’s so fun to send a beautiful handmade card. And it’s even more fun to make them yourself and to know that you are also being resourceful! My stationery stash was getting low, so I made a mental note to make some cards when I had a minute and a touch of inspiration. The plan is to make cards at the very beginning of each season, so that I will have autumn cards to enjoy from September until Thanksgiving. Then, of course, Christmas Cards until January. I don’t usually make very many winter cards, because come February, it’s more fun to make Valentines, and then March is spring in my head (even though it’s 2/3 winter!). All you need is card stock invitation size (4 3/8 x 5 3/4”) envelopes leftover crafting supplies seasonal beauty: autumn leaves, pressed flowers One of the few craft supplies that I buy these days is card stock. If I have a ream of card stock, everything else can be recycled, created, invented, reused. But it helps to have white (or ivory) card stock as a base. Just cut them in half and fold into a card. For years, I’d take my stack of card stock to an office store (Office Depot, FedEx Office) and use the paper cutter there. Then someone gave me a paper cutter, which I use regularly. Realizing that seasonal cards are delightful, I purged and sorted my cache of collaging papers into seasons. Each gallon ziploc bag has the colors …

LauriSimple Beautiful Handmade Cards

Brilliant Gift Idea: World for Lego

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We were recently invited to a Lego themed birthday party, fun! What’s a good gift for a kid who is really into Lego? My oldest invented a land for Lego. We’re always needing space to play with the completed sets. So we set out to make some land for our friend’s Lego world. We started with a small pizza box. Cut the lid into a 10″ square (using a cutting mat to protect both table and sharp edge). Then we covered the logo with plain white paper, and wrapped grassy-looking fabric around the whole thing gluing it securely on the back side. (Shown here on our infamous “art board”, which regularly protects our table from the brunt of creative attacks.) I cut the corner to be a mitered edge, so it would lay flat and clean. Matte ModPodge is usually my glue of choice for paper and fabric projects, applied with an old paint brush. Once I’ve glued down the edge, I also paint glue over the top of the edge to seal it and prevent fraying. I didn’t glue under the front, because I didn’t want the “grass” to buckle. Then we began to add various elements. Here we have sand (mottled tan fabric), and we’re about to add water (blue felt). We considered having a river run all the way through it, but felt it took up too much real estate unless one had a lego boat. So we settled on more beach and less water. Lego Friends’ Olivia is trying out the beach. …

LauriBrilliant Gift Idea: World for Lego

How My 5yo Bought Her Own Violin

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  Last spring, my oldest daughter realized that she wanted to play the violin. I’m not even sure what sparked it; perhaps that Violet of The Boxcar Children learned to play one in Surprise Island? She doesn’t even remember what made her first interested, but somehow the seed began to grow. We heartily encourage our children in musical pursuits, and soon will require each of them to learn several instruments as part of a well-rounded education: piano and one of their choice (read about our beginning piano lessons here and here). It’s wonderful for discipline as well as a creative outlet once you can really make music, not just plunk out notes. So we were delighted that she latched onto an instrument of interest, and we became increasingly amazed at her tenacity in pursuing it. Over the course of the summer, she began to work to earn money to buy her own violin. It’s an interesting thing as a parent to figure out when to provide something for a child, and when to encourage them in their pursuit of gaining it themselves. At first, we figured that we’d match what she earned in order to aid the process, but as time went on, we saw that she was motivated and might just be able to to it herself! She’s a little entrepreneur, and started a lemonade stand when she was four. Once she latched onto the goal of earning money for a violin, she got serious about the lemonade stand. …

LauriHow My 5yo Bought Her Own Violin

Photo Shoot for My New Book!

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    My first book, Kitchen Rescue for the Not-So-Organized, is coming together. I’ll let you know when we have an official launch date! For the moment, though, I’ll share a glimpse of our photo shoot for it. Teaming up with photographer Kellie Mueller was a great idea. Before we got started, I shared with her an inspiration board of photographs that captured my vision for the book. It apparently communicated well, because when we got in there, we worked together seamlessly. I got to play creative director and stylist, while she clicked away. So fun! We had limited time to be in this classic kitchen, which meant there was no time to fool around. We were cordially all business. A huge thanks to the Farnsworth family for inviting us into their kitchen. It was the perfect setting. I’ve been toying with shooting some full-scale before and after kitchens, but I think that may be a follow-up to the book. Maybe yours would be one!

LauriPhoto Shoot for My New Book!

Who made this Project List, anyway?

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  As I learn to focus on what matters (and explore minimalism), I’m frequently asking myself “What is important?”. It starts off being about physical stuff: how can I cut back on the amount of possessions I have or think I need? What is essential? Along the way I’ve begun to ask myself what is essential and important in other areas of life too: time commitments, projects, books-to-read, emotional investments. My project and task lists seem to be never ending, as I’m sure yours are. But then I asked myself, “Who made this list?” “Who decided these projects should be in queue?” I may have literally looked over my shoulder to see if I could pass the buck anywhere else, but alas! They fall squarely on me. I choose these projects. I seem to think they need to be done in my slivers of free time. Some of them fall into the mandatory category of “keep our living space livable”, but what about discretionary projects? Things like: Assemble a baby book for each of my three children (of which I have exactly two pages of one book completed. My oldest is nearly six). Sew Christmas stockings. (Really? Is this important? I don’t even believe in Santa Claus!) Make a baby quilt for the third baby. Hem the awesome jeans my super-tall-model-sister passed along to me. Repair an antique quilt handed down from my grandma. Mending, mending, mending. Of course, the list goes on and on (and that brief list doesn’t …

LauriWho made this Project List, anyway?

“Uncatering”

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My friend Stacey loves to cook and to serve, and she has stumbled into a fun business I like to call “Uncatering”.  The other night, she hired me and another friend to help her at a wedding where she managed the food.  The food itself was provided by a fabulous local restaurant that “caters”, but really that means that the restaurant provides a large quantity of food for the event.  

So Stacey delivers the food to the location, and sets up everything beautifully, and attends the buffet.  The drinks stay replenished, the buffet filled, the cake is cut, and leftovers wrangled.  That way, the family and friends of the happy couple could enjoy the reception and not stress about the food.

Lauri“Uncatering”