Real Life and Priorities

I’m playing the great procrastination game today. I SHOULD be writing a white paper on cohort learning. I SHOULD be going through the feedback I got on something I wrote from a well-meaning, but actually micro-managing reviewer (nothing like being told how many sentences I should have). Instead, I’ve been doing bills and updating my budget and reading about entitled millennial. I don’t actually like that characterization of millennial and I don’t really agree with it. Do I think that someone who is young and immature can be kinda clueless about the world and may come across as entitled? Yup. I know I was at that age. We all laugh at that first job we got where we thought we were making SO much money and now we were going to be able to do and have so much stuff! I wince at the salary I thought made me “rich” (and let’s be real, it wasn’t a salary, it was an hourly wage) and the cruel realizations that more money and more things just means more responsibility and more bills.

Helping with bills

I remember the first time I realized you had to pay for garbage. Really? I have to PAY someone to come take the garbage? That isn’t something that the city just takes care of to make it a nicer city? Nope. How about water? It does not flow freely from our taps because it is water. We have to pay for that to happen and if we do not pay, it does not flow from the taps. Ask me how many times I learned that lesson!

How many of us blew our paychecks on a concert or clothes only to realize that meant we had no money for groceries and rent? If you were lucky enough to live near your parents, you went home to eat and brought your laundry. You might have even raided the fridge for some staples to take back to your place. This is the age where you are figuring this stuff out. This is when you are falling down as you learn what it takes to keep standing. It’s the process of maturation. Some people mature quickly and are easily independent. I was clueless and clueless for a lot longer than I deserved to be. If it hadn’t been for my mom, I would have been out on the streets several times. Some could have told me I acted entitled and they would have been correct.

I feel for the millennial today though because I think social media skews real life. When we post, we all tend to post things that are, maybe not extraordinary, but they are more-than-ordinary. A great meal out at a restaurant is a treat so we share. We get to go on a great vacation and do things that are special, so we share. Those are the things to share with each other (because, really, who wants to see my messy kitchen and piles of laundry?) but when you take a cumulative look at that picture it creates, it looks like everyone has more, and does more than we actually do and have. Someone who is just coming into adult life could easily think that those activities are the activities of everyday life for most people and not the special moments someone has because they did a lot of boring things like work day-to-day and save money. Wouldn’t you just love it if someone posted every day, “In the office by 6 again this morning and brought a PB&J for lunch.” No way. Those are the things I try not to focus on in my OWN life let alone read about you doing it too. I’d rather you share your Hawaii pictures.

So I can totally see why a millennial might believe that they should be going on Hawaiian vacations because that’s what they see on their timelines. This doesn’t mean I don’t cringe when I see an acquaintance, who I know is super broke and struggling to feed their kids or get an apartment, share their new, giant tattoo, fancy manicures, designer purses, and Disney vacations. I’m not saying they aren’t entitled to something nice now and then. I want them to have that and I know how hard they work. But I also think that we don’t do them any favors by only sharing special things on social media. I was talking to one of these acquaintances who was suddenly in the position of having no car but was also planning an expensive vacation. What would I have appreciated hearing when I was in that position? What wouldn’t make me feel foolish and small but maybe help guide me to reduce some of the struggle?

If I’d known some of the things I could do around the house myself, I could have saved myself a lot of money early in my adulthood.

We ended up having a great conversation about priorities. What brings you joy and energy for your life and what are you spending energy, time, and money on that really isn’t that important to you? If that Disney vacation is the thing that makes you happy and taking the bus everyday isn’t a big deal, then you should take that vacation. They seemed genuinely interested in some of the ways I’ve found to budget my money and time so I thought it would be interesting to share out too. Make our timelines a little more realistic.

I share a lot of adorable pictures of my dogs but the flip side someone should probably hear is that having this many dogs means I spend a significant amount of time cleaning up after them and sometimes that stuff is poop. If the poop, hair, drool, and mud is something you abhor, don’t get a lot of dogs.  I also like to nest which means I scrimped and saved to buy a house. I still don’t see movies in the theater (well, maybe 2 a year), I rarely go out (I invite people in), and I spend a lot of my time keeping the house up. Houses take a LOT of work. Just keeping them clean, repaired, and comfortable takes a significant amount of my time, energy, and money. I don’t have a lot of weekends free as they get taken up with working around the house.

Believe it or not, not everyone appreciates having dogs take over everything. I know, crazy right?

I drive an old car, I don’t buy a lot of clothes, I don’t buy designer anything. But those aren’t that important to me. I do have a lovely home that I enjoy welcoming people into and having family for holidays is really important to me.  It’s all about balancing your priorities. I don’t spend the money on things that I don’t really care about so that I do have it for the things that are important.

Priority question: fancy guest bedroom or place Coco can chill with her toys?

What are some of the things you sacrifice for the things you value?

I have kind of a thing for necklaces but I don’t want anything so expensive or precious that I would have to worry about having and wearing it. So I seek out and buy fun jewelry for under $25. This fun, kelly green, pop-bead inspiration was obtained for less than $12. Ebay and etsy are great resources for inexpensive things.

Faerie Gardens

Under the heading of “too much time on my hands” are my faerie gardens. Now, I don’t actually have too much time on my hands. This is the single most useless project on the planet. Sure, wee things are charming but seriously, even visitors to the house will spend three minutes looking at it and then be done. I kind of want to do a version for Borrowers. This was the photo I found online that sucked me in. So charming.

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

It started with my fascination with tiny plants. You can usually find them in nurseries as stepping plants because they grow between pavers and are sturdy enough to withstand foot traffic. Then I started looking online and veered off track. I couldn’t resist many of the tiny objects so my faerie gardens have a bit more “stuff.”

A couple of the plants aren’t too happy but that may be because there is no drainage in this planter.

Someone has left their wee bicycle. With a front basket!

There are little flower pots and gardening tools tucked behind furniture. That mini ivy needs a little pruning. I’m trying to train it up the trellis. Those tiny ivy leaves just reduce me to baby talk.

There is a garden outside in a large pot on the porch. It is a little crispy right now because we have been so hot and dry and I’m bad about watering plants. One of the trees bit the dust but the others seem OK.

Buying all the cute little things can get pretty expensive and I really like the look of the natural elements from the inspiration photo. Doing it again, I will probably fashion things myself. You really only want one or two items so it wouldn’t be a huge project. Some of the plants can be bought cheaply at a nursery and then you would only need to buy a tree or two from a specialty store.

They do make me smile though every time I see them so I guess they aren’t completely useless.

National Black Dog Day

Just a quick hit-and-run today. I’m writing up a post but in the meantime, I wanted to call attention to National Black Dog Day because black doggies and kitties deserve loving homes too. I’ve been lucky enough to be owned by several black dogs and black cats. I wrote up a post last year that I’ll recycle here because it is full of adorable pictures and facts about our black, furry friends who languish in shelters for some, bizarre reason.

Black Dog Syndrome

Black dogs and cats rule!

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This is Sapphire. She loved a good ear scratchy. Her muzzle is white due to age and the fact that I rubbed all the color off of it!


I had surgery yesterday. The first time I’ve ever had surgery or even been admitted in a hospital. All is good and things went remarkably well. It was a long day so I’m left with all these little moments that were surprisingly funny.

I’m parking in the morning and it’s a very confusing system. At one point, I find myself driving the wrong way in a one-way section. My brother quips, “Oh good! Let’s all have surgery today!”

Me arguing with my Mom that it wasn’t the drugs talking when I thought it was so awesome to be taken from point A to point B in a comfortable bed. I’m totally off the drugs now and I still think it was the best way to go.

Requesting tuna noodle casserole as my “recovery” food. I asked about it enough that Mom finally said, “You’re just a little too excited about tuna noodle casserole.” She’s right.

Being asked by the anesthesiologist if I had any loose teeth. Surprised, I asked, “Why? What are you planning to do?”

Trying to show my brother my little laparoscopic incisions and he just turned and ran out of the room. I’ve never seen my line-backer brother move so fast.

I’m even more excited about the tapioca pudding. Mmmm. Tapioca pudding.

Small Improvements

For all the work it was, I wish this was a more dramatic after picture. In the end, when all of the changes in the room come together, it will look different. In the meantime, I’ll be happy with small changes.

The fireplace before:


The fireplace after:


Why are my pictures always tilted? What is wrong with my head?

Cleaner and a little more updated. I’ll be so glad to get the last wall of this room done. It’s another biggish project because of the door. Not only do I need it to be a little warmer so I can leave the door open (it opens to the garage but it is still chilly in there) but I put double-sided tape on the door to discourage Oscar from scratching it when he first came to live with me. It actually did work but now the tape is kind of fused to the door and I’m not sure how it will come off. I’ll try sitting in front of it and just peeling it bit by bit but I suspect it is going to need to be sanded off.


In the meantime, it looks really good.


Most my projects I share here are all failures many times over before they are successes. Ah well. I think that is more realistic but it doesn’t always make for great reading.

In that grand tradition, this project stalled. The old kitty door was really beat up and gross looking. The doors for these exterior walls are actually pretty expensive. I thought I scored when I found one for under $70. I got the smallest one they had but it is still wildly too big. I’m not even sure what to do here. I’m not crazy about the idea of cutting a bigger hole in the wall.


So in the meantime, it looks like this.


Good, right? The best part is all the cold air it lets in.

The next two to three weeks are going to be insane at work. I don’t expect to be able to do much in the way of house projects but I do desperately need to get things cleaned up and several key areas organized so I can even function in this space. Since organizing is my super power, I’ll try to come up with something useful to share.

Either that or I’ll just start making stuff up. It will probably be a lot more interesting than what I’m really doing.


Handmade Failure

If you are going to make things, you are going to fail at it now and then. For some of us, more often than not.

Most everything I share here is a failure or at least had phases of failure before I recovered. I’m OK with sharing them because I think most of us fail at this stuff most of the time. At least until we finally get it right. Or get it less wrong.

The rock stars, the people that don’t fail that much publicly, are either not sharing all their failures or they have vastly more experience, time, or resources to help fend off failure. That’s fine. I fully support filtering that information out. It’s often more helpful to have the blueprint on how to do something rather than how things got screwed up.

I tend to think my role is the latter. My “talent” is that I’m unafraid of failure. I embrace my failures because they tend to be how I find my way. I prefer trying something I’m not comfortable with or have little experience in. That is what is fun for me but because of that, I generally have a learning curve and if I can show that messing up isn’t too bad and that the result is often worth it, I’m comfortable in that role.

A lot of people are genuinely afraid to try something because they are afraid they will fail. I’m here to show them that they probably will, and it’s OK. Not a lot of bad things happen when you fail and most of the time, you end up with something you do want.

Except that wouldn’t be these glasses. No one wants those.


Conversations II

More weird stuff that somehow goes on between me and my family and friends…

Me (holding a butter knife while balancing a plate): “Whoa, this could be dangerous”

Friend: “Careful you don’t shank anyone.”

Me (making a stabbing motion in the air and dropping the knife almost immediately): “Oh. I’m a terrible prisoner.”

The only picture I had with a knife in it.

In a kickboxing class practicing a spin kick that looks very cool

Me (under my breath): “I’m a ninja!”

Kickboxing Coach (Choke-laughing): “What did you say?”


A terrible picture I took of a pack of ninjas taking a walk together. You didn’t really expect them to be easy to photograph, did you?

Years ago after I had just earned my Master’s degree and was looking for a job

Grandpa: You should carry your resume with you in your bag at all times.

Me: That’s a really good idea Grandpa, I should do that.

Grandpa: Because you never know when you meet a man on the bus who needs a secretary.

My Nephew was watching me knit a blue and green dish cloth

Nephew: Aunt Laurie, will you knit me a sweater?

Me: Of course! What color do you want?

Nephew: Um, I think blue and green.

Me: Oh. OK. Sure, I’ll knit you a blue and green sweater.

(10 minutes later)

Nephew: Is it done yet?

The colors of the dishcloth I was knitting that night. I think it is the color combination that inspired his request.

Super-Cool Made-Up Dice Games

We played a lot of games over the holiday and many of them we made up. I have to say, between me and my nephews, we are actually pretty good at the made up games. I’m going to share them here. I know that any of you readers that are with Parker Brothers or Toll House or whoever makes games, you’ll send us our check so we can move it on up to a deluxe apartment in the sky.

Pick a Number (this one was invented by my 5-year-old nephew)

Each player has 10 dice. Each player picks a number between 1 and 6. You both start rolling. Any dice rolled in one of the selected numbers is given to the player who selected it. For example, If I chose 1 and you choose 6, any dice I roll that come up 6, I’ll give to you. Any dice I roll that come up 1, I’ll put off to the side. Any 1s you roll, you’ll give to me and I’ll put it aside with my other 1s. We both keep rolling until all of the dice have either come up a 6 or a 1 (or whatever two numbers you choose). At the end of the game, whoever has the most dice wins.


image courtesy of The Dice Place which looks like it has really pretty dice!

The Secret Math Game (I made this one up for my 8-year-old nephew to trick him into practicing math)

Each player has 10 dice and picks a number between 2 and 10. You both start rolling the dice at the same time and pick out any dice that add up to the number you have selected. For example, if I select 7, and I roll a 1, 5, 2, 3, 4, 1, 4, 3, 3, 6. I can put aside the 6 and 1, the 3 and 4, the 5 and 2, and the 3, 3, and 1. You can combine any number of dice as long as it adds up to your number. The first player to use up all their dice wins.


image courtesy of Marbles The Brain Store which sells Tenzi, the game we got this Christmas and which started all the dice playing in the first place.

Craps-ish (This is not the actual game of Craps. I made this game up to occupy my four-year-old nephew last Christmas to distract him from the endless games of War he wanted to play. I figured it was a bonus if he told his Dad that his Auntie taught him how to play Craps. You are never too old to embarrass a sibling people.)

The player has six dice. The first “round” the player rolls all the dice trying to get 1s. Each 1 gets set aside and the rest of the dice are rolled and 1s set aside until everything has come up a 1. Round two is the same thing but going for 2s and so on until the last round where the player is rolling for 6s. The bonus round is when the player rolls the dice until they get 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.


Bonus Game: Hockey Golf

Needed: two plastic golf clubs, a plastic golf ball and a hallway. Players hit the ball back and forth trying to hit the door or the wall at the opposite end of the hallway. Which ever end you are at, is your goal and you defend it.

Hockey Golf Baseball is more complicated and requires stairs. Maybe I’ll cover it another time.

I’ve picked up sets of dice before at the .99 cent store but if you can’t wait and must start playing these games soon, looks like you can pick some up on Amazon.