Beyond Cyber Monday

Radnor 1-1

Sometimes writing a poem is the most effective way for me to work through heavy emotions. So let’s start here.

the air turns crisp
leaves carpet the neighborhood
each day more branches are bared
more chimneys breathe out smoke
changing seasons

the baby stands
toys carpet the living room
each day more syllables are shared
more laughter evoked
changing seasons

the cells turn malignant
get-well cards carpet the bedside
each day more courage is required
more care is desired
changing seasons…

LauriBeyond Cyber Monday

Free “Love Your Leftovers” Guide

Tasty browned roast turkey

The salad is shot. The turkey is toast. The dressing is done. Now what does the resourceful chef do with this carcass on the countertop?

What if I told you that long ago, they figured out the best way to handle turkey, and I do it today and love it? Come learn the secrets of our grandparents (and probably the pilgrims!) to make the most of your Thanksgiving feast!

LauriFree “Love Your Leftovers” Guide

Simple Beautiful Handmade Cards

Leaf Pic2

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

How to Make Amazing Vegetables Every Time


I am thrilled to have found a new favorite way to cook veggies. Roasting them in a hot oven brings out a lovely caramelized flavor, slightly crisp on the edges and creamy in the middle. Even vegetables I’ve never really cared about, like cauliflower or acorn squash, are suddenly amazing. Roasting vegetables is easy and rewarding: Cut your vegetables into manageable pieces: cubes, slices florets (peel if appropriate) Toss with a bit of olive oil and salt. Roast in a hot oven 400-500 degrees F for 15-40 min (It depends on how hard the veggie is, so squash takes longer than cauliflower). Delightful flavor. Why haven’t I been doing this for the past 15 years? Here are some more specifics if you want them. Try tossing just olive oil & salt with: Acorn squash, peeled & cubed 1/2” (425* for 40 min, flip halfway) Butternut or buttercup squash, peeled & sliced 1/8” (425* for 20 min) Sweet Potatoes, peeled & sliced 1/4″ Asparagus Parsnips, peeled & sliced Try cauliflower (cut into florets) tossed with: 1 Tbsp olive oil 1 Tbsp lemon juice preferably fresh 1/4 tsp pepper 1/4 tsp onion powder a pinch of salt Roast 15 min @ 500* (stir halfway) Here’s how I did our acorn squash tonight Cut your standard acorn squash in half lengthwise Scoop out the seeds Before you cut any further, peel off all that you can Then cut in the grooves between the wedges Peel the rest (it really is so much easier if you’ve already peeled what …

LauriHow to Make Amazing Vegetables Every Time

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.

Brilliant Gift Idea: World for Lego


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

Early Reading Part 2

Reading Bob-1

This is a continuation of my Early Reading Basics entry. After working on phonemic awareness and letter learning, here’s a look at very beginning decoding (reading). WORDS Once your child knows their letters and sounds, then what?  Then we start figuring out words! I love a multi sensory approach, so here are some tools that get kids’ hands moving with their brains: TAPPING: one tool that is quite helpful for brand-new readers is “tapping”, where each finger gets a sound and is tapped on the thumb. Example: cat. Tap Index first /k/, then middle /a/, then ring finger /t/. Then tap all three and say the whole word/syllable “cat”. We tap one syllable at a time, so there are never more than 5 sounds, and even as they begin to decode longer words, we can still tap a syllable as needed. MAGNETS: Any set of letter magnets is helpful, but I do love Wilson’s color-coded Magnetic Journal LINK. All the vowels are orange, and the consonants are yellow. Also, they’re lowercase and square to make them easy to manipulate and keep straight. Memorize High Frequency words (as Sight Words): the, a, (remember to teach “the /thu/” and “a /u/” for fluency) and, to, was, is, on… Depending on the child, flash cards can work great for this. Make it a game! Some game ideas: Sometimes I’ll work the sight word cards as a drill and ask what each word is. If they get it right, they get to keep the card. …

[email protected]Early Reading Part 2

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

A Simple Ballet Birthday Party

Ballet tutu

  Fluttering pink tutus on giggly girls. Not actually my cup of tea, but when your daughter requests a ballet theme for her birthday, you make it happen! After tooling around Pinterest for a bit, I let the ideas swirl through my brain. What would be simple and worthwhile? What seemed overboard? We went with simple and elegant, and it turned out GREAT! Here’s where what we did: Decorations: Pink streamers and balloons in the dining room. Simple. Guests: Just three, plus the birthday girl and sister Activity 1: Make no-sew tutus Supplies: Elastic (I used 1/2” because that’s what I had) Tulle (we used rolls, about 25 yards per tutu) Directions: Cut tulle into about 1 yard lengths (Grandpa’s fast method: wrap it around and around a box and just cut once) Make an elastic waistband. We hand-stitched the ends overlapping to secure it, but a safety pin or knot would work. Tie tulle onto the elastic. Fold a length of tulle in half into the band, and then feed the “tails” through, so that the knot is flush against the front bottom of the elastic. Repeat until you’re satisfied. The girls needed a bit more help than I expected, but it wasn’t frustrating. They actually did pretty well and seemed to enjoy it. They were ready to be done working before the tutus were full, but partial tutus still worked great for dancing! Some moms filled them out during present opening. Activity 2: Dance in newly made tutus! Food: A white …

LauriA Simple Ballet Birthday Party