Parents Magazine Names the Best Toys of 2021

Parents Magazine released this year’s list of Best Toys, recognizing the 50 top new playthings for every child in 2021. Selected by the editors following a months-long research process complete with testing by kids, the list of winners is available on and in the December issue of PARENTS. Here is a list of the top three toys in each of the categories: PLAYSETS Lakeshore Learning Treasures Await! Adventure ShipHasbro Play-Doh Kitchen Creations Rising Cake Oven PlaysetPlay, iLearn Dinosaur Train Adventure Set WOW FACTOR Radio Flyer Tumble Town Foam Climbing BlocksJust Play Ryan’s World Chef Ryan’s Fridge SurpriseLEGO Minecraft: The … Continue reading

CDC Recommends Staying Home for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a holiday where people travel long distances so they can spend time with their families. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) makes it clear that staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from catching and spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. The CDC has information about Thanksgiving related activities that are “lower risk”, “moderate risk” and “higher risk”. Understanding the risk of certain activities can help you make safer choices. Lower Risk Activities Having a small dinner with only people who live in your neighborhood Preparing traditional family recipes for family and … Continue reading

Sensory-Friendly Santa – At a Mall Near You

One of the fun parts of the holiday season is a trip to visit Santa Claus at the local mall. It can be hard for many little ones to wait in line – but most manage to do it. Children who have autism, or who have difficulties coping with the bright lights, loud sounds, and big crowds that surround Santa can visit a Sensory-Friendly Santa. A Sensory-Friendly Santa might also be called a Sensitive Santa or a Caring Santa. Santa looks the same, but is able to behave differently than typical in order to accommodate for kids who have special … Continue reading

Get Your Porch Organized and Decorated for Fall

Fall is fun! There is nothing like the crisp air, the bright colors, and the last push for outdoor adventures before the cold winds of winter start bringing everyone in doors. While you can still enjoy the outside, why not get your porch organized and decorated for Fall? Fall is a great excuse for decorating, but who has the motivation when the front porch is filled with clutter and debris? This area sets the first impression whenever anyone visits your home. Start by removing everything from your porch, so you can clean the floors. Shake out those rugs, use a … Continue reading

Weird Things You Can Freeze

                            I grew up with a grandma who have a very impressive pantry. Her canning collection was enormous, although sometimes digging into it felt like an archaeological investigation. Her freezer stash was equally impressive. Little containers labelled with dates and contents: would that I were so organized. But what was most impressive was the weird things she liked to freeze. Her freezer wasn’t just full of berries – it was also full of all sorts of oddball items that would make you raise your eyebrows. In the … Continue reading

Designing Your Pantry

Yesterday we talked a little bit about why having a pantry is a good idea. But where can you put it? Pantries bring to mind big rooms full of food. Although a walk in pantry is a lovely idea, it’s not always practical. How can you make room for a pantry? 1. Declutter to create room for a pantry. Are there dish sets you’re not using, or big pots and pans that you last used a few years ago? Sell them on Craigslist, and use the money to buy some starter goodies for your new and spacious pantry! 2. Designate an … Continue reading

Ten Staples for Your Pantry

With the snow still falling in parts of the country as a blizzard sweeps across the Midwest, having a well-stocked pantry is something to think about more seriously. After all, when the weather is frightful, the last thing you want to do is go out into the storm for groceries – or go hungry. Having a well-stocked pantry is important for other reasons as well. Four years ago, I got very sick. The weather was also awful, and I couldn’t get my sick self through the storms. I had to rely on what I had prepared in the cupboards, and it … Continue reading

Bring on the Birds!

I love birds. I am somewhat less than fond of the woodpecker that’s making a loud drumming sound just outside my window, but I know that it’s just trying to advertise, letting other woodpeckers know what’s up this spring. The little winter wren that’s warbling in the tree can stay, though. Birds are beautiful, but they’re also an asset to your garden. Birds in the garden eat up bugs that eat your plants, creating ecological connections that help your garden grow. How can you attract birds to your garden? Natural Bird Feeders Natural bird food – what is it? Well, … Continue reading

In Praise of the Junk Drawer

What a mess! You look into the drawers of your desk or craft area, and what do you find? It’s a mess, but it’s a creative mess. At this time of the year, when we’re inside more often than out, how can you use your junk to spawn creativity in your home? Look in your workshop, or in the place where you put bits and pieces like nails and string. Don’t have a place like this? Make one, even if it’s just one little drawer. Your grandparents probably found this to be the most useful drawer in the house. We … Continue reading

Putting Some Spring In Your Home

It’s just about, so close, very near…can you feel it? It’s spring, and here it’s sneaking through the cracks every few days. Today was a day that was dark, damp, and sleeting, though: very winter-like. If you’re feeling the winter blues, what can you do to add some spring to your home and hopefully to your step? 1. Flowers and plants Nothing says spring like adding a few flowers to your home. My favorite is the forced bulb. It’s so easy to force bulbs to bloom. Just place a paperwhite in a pot and place it in a sunny location … Continue reading