Like magic, a girl’s faerie garden reappeared

Olivia is a science kid, into hard facts and non-fiction books. But her mom’s mom — they call her “Gramma Carrot” — likes to tell her stories about faeries and their secret world.

The garden slowly grew, bit by bit, tiny toadstool by ribbon-wrapped stick.

It was a fantasy escape for 7-year-old Olivia. In this year full of big things, the little things seem to matter even more.

Then, on a Saturday morning in August, Olivia’s mom, Rachel, walked outside and noticed the faerie garden was gone.

Someone had stolen it in the night. All of it.

“My thought,” says Rachel, a music teacher at Folwell and Churchill elementaries, “was ‘One more point for 2020; one less point for us.’”

Something, though, sparked a response.

Rachel (a classical musician) texted her dad (English major and poet) and her brother (JRR Tolkien enthusiast). The three of them started writing, well, a Medieval proclamation. In verse.

“Something rotten in the State of Slatterly,” it began.

“A family of faeries and gnomes/A garden of toadstools and jewels,” it read in part. “STOLEN! A human girl of seven years curses you! The wrath of a human mother is upon you!”

Rachel posted it on the Slatterly Park section of Nextdoor, the nationwide app with a neighborhood focus. Didn’t think any more about it.

Then came the responses.

Some were Medieval poems. Some were private messages with people’s stories about how tough this year has been. And how they wanted to help someone else out.

Then came the gnomes. The toadstools. The tiny wooden benches.

Items showed up overnight. The seashells and starfish placed around their tree. Fancy fake flowers. The tiny treasure chest.

Some people called ahead.

“Two gentlemen and a lady contacted me to see if they could drop off a few gifts,” says Rachel. “I said ‘sure.’”

The men delivered tiny faerie houses and a tiny bridge. The woman — carrying her newborn, named “Olivia” — donated items from her own garden.

The visitors didn’t know Rachel or her family.

They didn’t, it turns out, even know each other. They had met in the comments section of Rachel’s Nextdoor post.

“We spent a lovely morning chatting, watching Liv put her new garden together, and just basking in the fact that people are still good,” says Rachel.

Within a week, Olivia’s Faerie Garden was filled with tiny animals. Tiny treasure chests. A faerie house with tiny working solar panels.

A small sign that reads “Gnome sweet gnome.” A small sign that reads “Hope.”

And — now hanging in Olivia’s room — a scroll, hand-delivered by neighbors and hand-lettered “To Miss Liv, the tiny human queen of this dwelling.”

“We’ve sent you this letter/in hopes you’ll feel better,” it reads, in part. “Along with some magic to add to your garden.”

It’s signed “With all our love, The Super Secret Protection Agency Of The Magic Faerie Garden Society.”

Steve Lange is the editor of Rochester Magazine. His column appears every Tuesday.

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Kitchen Magic Design Staff and Management Awarded Leading Industry Accreditations

NAZARETH, Pa., Sept. 28, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Kitchen Magic, a Lehigh Valley-based kitchen and bath design firm with more than 40 years of experience, announced that three of its staff have attained industry excellence certifications. 

Kitchen Magic Design Staff and Management Awarded Leading Industry Accreditations

“Attaining certifications with organizations as important as the Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) and the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) further instills our commitment to excellence,” said Brett Bacho, president of Kitchen Magic. 

Suzi Dia, Kitchen Design Consultant, has achieved certification as Associate Kitchen and Bath Designer (AKBD) from NKBA. In 2019, a kitchen designed by Dia was awarded a Contractor of the Year Award for Kitchen Magic by the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI.)

J.T. Norman, Director of Business Development, Product and Design Innovation, was certified by the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID). Norman oversees all aspects of design and product development at Kitchen Magic. 

The AKBD and ASID certifications are recognized achievements in the competencies necessary for kitchen and bath design. Industry accreditations ensure precise solutions to ensure functional & beautiful results for the customer. 

“These individuals are exemplary designers and remodeling specialists that demonstrate the utmost dedication to the kitchen and bath industry and our customers,” said Bacho. He added, “This combination of experience and education ensures that our staff represents the highest qualified professionals in the kitchen and bath industry.”

ABOUT KITCHEN MAGIC: Kitchen Magic is a kitchen and bathroom remodeling company with headquarters and manufacturing facilities located in Nazareth, PA. Kitchen Magic has been family-owned and operated since 1979. Using an exclusive cabinet refacing process, Kitchen Magic has transformed nearly 60,000 kitchens. Today, Kitchen Magic serves CT, MA, NH, NJ, NY, PA and RI. Kitchen Magic is recognized by Qualified Remodeler as a top performer in kitchen remodeling nationwide, an 11-time Angie’s List Super Service Award winner, a Best of Houzz winner and an honored 8-time winner of The Morning Call’s Top Workplace Award.

For media inquiries, contact Linda Fennessy, Public Relations Manager at 800.237.0799 x4155 or email [email protected] For Kitchen Magic design and remodeling services, contact [email protected] or call 800.272.5490. 

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SOURCE Kitchen Magic, Inc.

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Photos: Magic Kingdom Prepares for Fall with Decor, Merchandise, Food and Beverage Offerings

The spooky season may have been interrupted this year, but Walt Disney World is still getting into the fall spirit with some special festive decor down Main Street U.S.A. at Magic Kingdom and a variety of special merchandise and food and beverage offerings.

  • The familiar Mickey pumpkins and fall wreaths can be found all down Main Street U.S.A. and around the hub in front of Cinderella Castle.

  • A special character cavalcade can also be enjoyed by guests, featuring Pooh and friends in their special Halloween costumes.

  • Magic Kingdom will also offer a wide variety of festive fall treats, including:
    • Mickey Cinnamon Roll (Available at Main Street Bakery) – Mickey-shaped cinnamon roll drizzled with orange and white icing
    • Cinnamon Donuts (Available at Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Café) – Served in a Hitchhiking Ghost Novelty container
    • Hades Nachos (Available at Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Café) – Black bean nacho chips with “fiery” buffalo chicken, lettuce, tomato, sour cream, salsa, and jalapeño
    • Constance’s For Better or For Worse Wedding Cake (Available at Liberty Square Market) – Citrus cake with raspberry Bavarian cream, whipped cream flowers, and a chocolate axe.
    • Pumpkin Spiced Waffle Sundae (Available at Sleepy Hollow) –Pumpkin spice-flavored waffled topped with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, caramel drizzle, and sprinkles
    • Poor Unfortunate Souls Float (Available at Storybook Treats) – Cream cheese soft-serve, black raspberry syrup, and Coke
    • Pumpkin Spice Milkshake (Available at Auntie Gravity’s Galactic Goodies) – Topped with whipped cream, caramel drizzle, sprinkles, and a Mickey-shaped marshmallow straw
    • Pumpkin Spice Soft-Serve Sundae (Available at Auntie Gravity’s Galactic Goodies) – Served as a sundae topped with whipped cream, caramel, and sprinkles raspberry Bavarian cream, whipped cream flowers, and a chocolate axe
    • Mickey Monster Mash Burger (Available at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café) – Burger with Muenster cheese, potato barrels, bacon, and sriracha aïoli
    • Headless Horseman Rides Again (Available at Sunshine Tree Terrace) – Strawberry DOLE® Whip with Fanta Strawberry and a Headless Horseman Novelty Straw
    • Not So Poison Apple Cupcake (Available at Pinocchio Village House) – A spiced apple cupcake with pecan crunch buttercream themed after a poison apple
    • Orange and Black Sugar Churros (Available at Various Churro Carts and Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Café)

  • Guests can also pick up a variety of souvenir items around the park, including:
    • Oogie Boogie Dice Novelty Glow Cubes (Available at Various Quick-Service Restaurants)
    • Jack Skellington Sipper (Available at Various Quick-Service Restaurants and Outdoor Vending Locations)
    • Oogie Boogie Premium Popcorn Bucket (Available at Various Popcorn Carts)
    • Mickey Pumpkin Premium Popcorn Bucket (Available at Various Popcorn Carts)
    • Halloween Base Popcorn Bucket (Available at Various Popcorn Carts)
    • Hitchhiking Ghost Premium Popcorn Bucket (Available at Liberty Square Popcorn Cart)
    • Hitchhiking Ghost Sipper (Available at Various Quick-Service Restaurants)
    • Madame Leota Sipper (Available at Sleepy Hollow)

  • All of these fall offerings are available now at Walt Disney World’s Magic
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Thrilling to the magic inside the house in ‘Piranesi’

Piranesi, the eponymous protagonist of Susanna Clarke’s spellbinding new novel, knows what it’s like to spend all day in the house. He’s not quarantining, exactly, there’s simply nowhere else to go. As far back as he remembers — it’s all a bit hazy — he’s been living in the House, a gargantuan Gothic labyrinth “like an infinite series of classical buildings knitted together.” To Piranesi, the terms “House” and “World” are interchangeable. Outside merely consists of courtyards and celestial bodies. At least he has a quarantine pod to keep him company, made up of thousands of stone statues, hundreds of birds, 13 skeletons (cause of death unknown), and one other living man, fittingly referred to as “The Other.” The pair’s co-working from home involves searching for a hidden “Great and Secret Knowledge” that The Other fervently believes will grant them “enormous powers” that range from immortality to transforming into eagles. In typical Clarke fashion, it only gets more fantastical from there.

In 2004, Clarke blew up the fantasy world with her sensational and sprawling debut bestseller, “Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.” That alternative history of magic set in 19th-century England runs a massive 1,000 pages populated with rival magicians, faerie kingdoms, the Napoleonic Wars, and 185 detailed footnotes. Written in sophisticated and witty, Austen-like prose, “Jonathan Strange” is an enchanting, exhausting, and wholly original story that fantasy patron saint Neil Gaiman even proclaimed “unquestionably the finest English novel of the fantastic written in the last 70 years.”

Fans have eagerly waited 16 years for Clarke’s follow-up, a delay reportedly caused by ill health — Clarke has said she suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome. News of a new book finally broke last September and the hype rocketed to literary heights, her publisher (admittedly biased) calling it a “perfectly constructed novel.” Juicy tidbits referring to a “watery labyrinth” with a “terrible truth” only fueled anticipation. Could “Piranesi” match it? I’m delighted to say it has, with Clarke’s singular wit and imagination still intact in a far more compressed yet still captivating tale you’ll want to delve into again right after you read its sublime last sentence.

Much of the pleasure of reading “Piranesi” derives from Piranesi himself, the charming if rather naive waif who narrates the novel via journal entries under an invented event-based calendar — for example, “Entry for the Seventh Day of the Fifth Month in the Year the Albatross Came to the South-Western Halls.” It was The Other who named him Piranesi — a wry wink to astute art history scholars — though he knows it can’t be his real name. Still, he’s carrying on rather well given his confined circumstances. He’s not much interested in the “Great and Secret Knowledge” — at one point he questions whether it even exists — instead spending his days joyfully exploring and cataloging the “Splendours of the World” down to the “Position, Size, and Subject” of every statue starting with the minotaurs in the First Vestibule. (Indeed, what would a labyrinth be

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Kitchen Magic

It’s amazing — some people manage to get a complete aerobic workout just while preparing dinner! Back and forth, back and forth — I get tired just watching! Today, pay attention to the way you move while you cook. How many times do you cross the length of your kitchen in one evening? Do you find yourself doing squats to get at your pans? Stretches to reach your dishes? Are you becoming a world-class hurdler, jumping over the dog’s dish every time you go from refrigerator to stove? All it takes is a few minutes to re-arrange your kitchen storage, saving you a lot of time and energy in the long run.


We all know how disgusting it is to pull an item out of the fridge, only to discover that it has mutated. However, we often mistakenly confuse NON-PERISHABLE with INDESTRUCTIBLE. Even Twinkies have an expiration date! Do yourself a favor today — go through your cabinets and toss out anything that is old, rancid, stale, or hairy. And as you purge, be sure to keep a shopping list of items you need to replace. It’s also not a bad idea to make cleaning out the kitchen a part of your regular “home maintenance” routine. You may use these food “life expectancies” as a guide — but when in doubt, trust your gut (or your nose!):

– Canned foods (2-5 years)

– Flours (3-6 months)

– Cereal (6 months)

– Grains / Legumes (1 year)

– Pasta (1 year)

– Dried Herbs (6 months)

– Spices (6-12 months)

– Condiments (1 year)


Every implement or supply that you use tends to fall into one of five categories — cleaning, food storage, cooking, food preparation, and serving. The goal is to keep your equipment nearest the appropriate center, making it easier for you to perform your kitchen duties.

– Your CLEANING station consists of the sink, dishwasher, and trashcan. Of course, soap, disinfectants, sponges, and rags should be stored in a cabinet nearby.

– The stove is central to any COOKING activities, so keep utensils, baking sheets, pots, and pans within easy reach. If you can, also move the microwave and toaster into this area.

– Your FOOD PREPARATION center should be located near a large workspace (countertop or island). You will probably want to store knives, a cutting board, mixing bowls, blender, food processor, measuring cups, and other related implements close by.

– FOOD STORAGE, on the other hand, will center on the refrigerator — and should include room for Tupperware containers, canned foods, dry goods, and fresh fruits or vegetables.

– Your SERVING center may be split between the kitchen and dining area. It is often easier to store serving dishes, linens, and candles near the table – while flatware, glasses, and plates usually work well closer to the sink (it’s easier to put them away after washing).


Now, let’s tackle your cabinets and drawers. Limit yourself …

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The Ultimate Magic Garden

Spring is the season to start planting seeds for the future. For me, the ultimate Magic Garden would be planted using the Feng Shui bagua as a guideline for the boundaries of the plot and incorporate flowers herbs and plants that correspond to each significant direction ..

The first thing I would suggest, is to mark off your garden (or balcony full of pots) as a square (or as close to a square as you can get it) and determine the directions – north, south, east and west. Then use the rough guideline below, taking into account your climate and seasons to know what to plant where to bring you health, wealth, peace, guidance, happiness and protection. You don¹t have to incorporate all the suggestions below of course – just a couple of touches here in there might do wonders.

The SOUTHERN corner of your garden governs recognition and fame. The flowers you plant there should be predominantly red in color. Red and pinks should be main theme, although there well be flowers in there included for properties besides color. Flowers that bring you fame: poppies, roses, bluebells, violets. Trees: Cherry, orange. Foilage: Holly, hazel, heather and all ferns. Herbs: Star anise, veviter. Trees: .Produce: strawberries, leeks, chili peppers. This corner also represents the Fire element so it is a good area to string up lights, put the barbeque or have a little hearth for fire.

The SOUTHWESTERN corner governs marriage prospects and marital happiness.The predominant flower color should be yellow. Flowers for emotional security: daffodils, lillies, tulips, asters, bleeding hearts, daisies, roses, gardenia, lavender, orchid, poppy, primrose, periwinkle, hyacinth, trilliums, violet, geranium. Trees: Magnolia Fig, Willow, Olive Elm, Plum, Foilage: Myrtle, rye, witch grass, juniper, chickweed. Herbs: basil, marjoram, dill, mint, rosemary, thyme. Produce: Ginger, endive, raspberries, tomatoes. This area represents Big Earth so it is a good place to put a stone statue or a large rock or boulder.

The WESTERN corner governs children and fertility. The predominant flowers should be yellow and white. Flowers: Lavender, Cyclamen, Lily of the Valley, Morning Glory Trees: Oak, olive, banana, apple pine Foilage; Hawthorne Herbs: Mustard, catnip. Produce: Beans, carrots, cucumbers, grape, mustard. This area is known as Small Metal and would benefit from some windchimes or small silvery objects that catch the sun.

The NORTHWESTERN corner governs helpful people or mentors. The predominamt flower color should be white yellow and orange. Flowers: Passion flower, sweetpea, Sunflower, Iris, carnation Trees: Lemon, peach, beech, walnut Foilage: Rowan, Myrtle, dogwod, clover Herbs: Pennyroyal, lemon balm, sage Produce: peppers, fennel, pumpkins, squash. This corner is called "Big Metal" so it is a good place to put table and chairs to invite the help into your life.

The NORTH corner governs career prospects. The flowers here should be
predominately dark purple or blue. Flowers that boost career: Camellia,
honeysuckle, jasmine, periwinkle, poppy, trillium, snapdragons, dandelion.
Trees: Orange, elder, apple, oak, maple, poplar Foilage: bromeliads, myrtle,
Irish moss (all mosses), ferns Herbs: dill, goldenseal, mint Produce: …

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The Magic House

Every time my husband and I visit our daughter and her family, we walk to the shopping area which is less than a mile away. On the way, we pass three attached houses that have a street running on both sides. The houses on both ends are in beautiful shape; fresh paint jobs, solid roofs, manicured yards and inviting entrances. The house in the middle is an entirely different story.

This visit, I stop and give it a really good look. The gray shingled roof is in surprisingly good shape as is the red brick exterior. However the windows, garage door and front door are encased in a solid wall of dirty gray concrete. Much of the house is shrouded by overgrown trees, shrubs and vines that trail over brick surfaces. Weeds are winning the fight for dominance and the brick steps that lead to street level and the area beneath them are covered with trash. Several large stones are barely visible on the overgrown lawn and once prominent plants peek through, looking in vain for a space to grow as warm weather approaches.

My granddaughter, S, stops with me. "Look at that house," I say to her. "Every time we visit, I wonder what happened to the owners and why all the windows, the garage door and the front door are cemented shut."

Her eyes grow large and I realize she is seeing the house for the first time even though she walks past it frequently. "Let's take a look at the front door," I say. I start up the front steps, watching for loose bricks. S follows me, an expression of both fear and anticipation on her eight year old face. I am having a great time, engaging her imagination.

We walk to the front door and look around, my husband shouting warnings to be careful behind us. S takes my hand and we examine the front door: definitely no way in. The cement is solid. So we turn and make our way down the steps, my husband offering a hand because there is no railing.

"Maybe the people had to leave in a hurry," S says. "Maybe someone was sick or they did not have any money." She is hopping from one foot to the other, animated and engaged in this game we are playing. All the way to the shopping area, we talk about the house and wonder why the people left. Maybe they had to leave in a hurry and couldn't come back or there was a fire in the house. Or maybe they are still in there and have a secret opening to get food and water.

On the way back, I open the mailbox and take out the one piece of mail, a card covered with dirt and cobwebs. It has been here for a while. S and I look at it: it is dated October 2015 and it is a notice to appear in court for creating a nuisance. Of course! What …

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