5 Ways to Keep your Home Tidy with Kids dictated by Elise, age 6

Kid House

1. Distract the children with something tidy to do, like screen time, coloring or reading.

2. Have them help you clean whatever you are cleaning. Give them easy jobs at first, and then a bit harder and a bit harder until they can do grown-up jobs.

Lauri5 Ways to Keep your Home Tidy with Kids dictated by Elise, age 6

How I Wrote a Book with Small Children Underfoot


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

How to Hand Wash a Wool or Cashmere Sweater

Sweater Red by Terri Oda-Edit-2

Once I shrunk a favorite sweater in the washer, and I’ve been careful to hand wash sweaters ever since.

It takes less time than driving to the dry cleaners. Here’s how:

LauriHow to Hand Wash a Wool or Cashmere Sweater

Smile More Next Christmas!


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!

4 Great Ways to Keep Christmas Simple


How can we keep Christmas simple in the face of consumerism and peer pressure? How many Christmas lights are enough? How can we make the holidays festive without becoming burdensome?

Each family must answer these questions based on what works for you. Talk together about what is really important to you, and let the rest go.

Here are some principles that have helped to guide us….

Lauri4 Great Ways to Keep Christmas Simple

What to do when your washing machine smells like death.


There is really no better way to describe it. It just smells like death. Is there a rat in there or something? Gross. And this machine is supposed to be getting my clothes clean? Hmmm. Questionable at best. For a top-loading machine, the quick answer is: Run a hot empty wash load with laundry soap and a quart (or so) of bleach. Then comes the trick: after the washer is full of water, add a bucket of boiling water so that it will slosh out a bit and splash down and around those grimy undersides that are breeding the bacteria that smells like death. The bleachy water kills the offenders and you’re done. So easy! Go do it right now. I did put some towels on the floor around the washer, just in case there was any leakage. None. When it doesn’t absolutely reek (or maybe it didn’t in the first place), you can fight odors and soap residue with a regular maintenance routine using vinegar and baking soda. I try to do this about once a month: Grab a quart of vinegar and a cup of baking soda. Start your hottest cycle and add a quart of vinegar, which dissolves soap scum. Add 1 cup of baking soda, which fights odors. While the washer runs, scrub the nooks and crannies with an old toothbrush, microfiber cloth (the purple rags from the FlyLady are my favorite), and a pipe cleaner to clean around the lid. It’s amazing how much grime and junk accumulates …

LauriWhat to do when your washing machine smells like death.

Creating the Climate

Red Leaf

I’m fascinated by the subtle art (or blatant responsibility!) of influencing my environment. The climate in my home is my responsibility. I may not want that responsibility at times, but it is true that my home is whatever I make it. The weather inside my home is dependent upon my moods. The pace flows from my commitments and my demands. Any stinkin’ thinkin’ in my head rains upon the people around me. Like I was realizing with my Project List, these choices are mine! Part of me shrinks from it. I naturally want to defer to another person, to blame someone else for the hard parts of my life. But another part of me is exhilerated at the prospect of the change I can bring! Not long ago, I was in a conversation that was rather infuriating. But I just sat there, wishing the whining would end, rather than proactively shifting the conversation with good questions and encouragement. Afterwards, I had a hard talk with myself: I have the power to change the course of a conversation. With my attitude, with my encouragement, with small acts of kindness, I can relax a worried brow, or offer hope to a hurting heart. I can share a smile or a hug any time, for free! I can infuse my home with peace and make it a haven. An oasis.  You can share a smile or a hug any time, for free! Or,  I can make excuses for why I withhold smiles and hugs and kindnesses. I can bury resentment about the things in …

[email protected]Creating the Climate

13 Simple Romantic Home Date Night Ideas (& Chocolate Fondue recipe)


  Staying on the same page as a couple is paramount for us. Before kids, we took dates whenever we wanted, but now it’s a bit trickier. We try to have date night twice a month, and then set apart the opposite weeks for “Home Date Nights” after the children are in bed. We don’t need to spend a bunch of money to get us face to face conversing and having fun. We just need to get a little creative and remember that fun and connection are the goal! Here are some favorite Home Date Night ideas, hoping to appeal to both people: Board games (preferably cooperative ones like Forbidden Island, but Carcassonne and Dominion are fun too) & ice cream 1000 piece puzzle (Springbok are our favorites, and I love this “Color of Money” one. Usually, we find that puzzles filled with paraphernalia are more fun than landscapes) & popcorn Crackers with cream cheese or goat cheese and jalapeño jelly or green olives Exchange massages (with or without massage oil, consider foot rubs if this is new to you) Cook a late dinner together Netflix movie & tea Warm brie cheese with crackers and jam, maybe a glass of wine YouTube dancing lesson (which could be instructional, or just turn out to be a hilarious time!) Play Wii / video games Eat Takeout & Read/discuss a New Yorker (or other thought-provoking) article Bake dessert together Hot tubbing (if you have one; we don’t so it’s on the inexpensive date night ideas list) Luscious Velvety Chocolate Fondue (recipe …

Lauri13 Simple Romantic Home Date Night Ideas (& Chocolate Fondue recipe)

Changing Out Kids’ Seasonal Clothes

Clothing Bins

It’s finally cooling off in Nashville, just enough to want a sweatshirt in the morning, but we still have sleeveless afternoons. It’s cool enough for the children to wear pants again, and for mama to notice how short they’ve become. Twice a year, it’s time to tackle the season change and size change for the kids’ clothes. When there are multiple children, hand-me-downs can reduce the shopping list, but we all still have to assess what we have and what we still need. Unfortunately, without a bit of organization, it’s terribly easy to purchase clothing that we already own. They’re just hiding away in the attic and we just have to be able to find them when the season changes! How to find the clothes hiding in the attic I discovered that two-gallon ziploc bags are an amazingly helpful tool to organize off-season clothes. They’re air tight, transparent, and easily stacked in a labeled bin. So for each size, there is: a bag of pants, skirts & shorts a bag of shirts a bag of sweaters a bag of dresses a bag of undergarments a bag of pajamas a bag with a winter coat, mittens, hat a bag of shoes Now it’s so easy to see what we have! How to get started  Step 1: Remove Everything. This morning we began by emptying out the closet and drawers for one child. I started with the oldest, because she will need the most. Working with one child’s wardrobe at a time prevents the room from …

LauriChanging Out Kids’ Seasonal Clothes

Photo Shoot for My New Book!

Breakfast Nook

    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!