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Pardon our dust! (And, yay for changes!)

We’re doing a little spring cleaning here at The Happiest Home! Sarah’s been working hard behind the scenes to switch us to a new theme that will make it easier for you to navigate content and discover gems that have gotten buried over the years. We appreciate your patience while we roll out the new changes, and – whoops! – apologize if some older content somehow winds up in your inbox along the way. Want to stay up to date on what’s happening here amid all the changes? Fill out the box below and we’ll get in touch with you via email

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Looking for inspiration and real-life connection? Join me at the BEYOND Retreat next fall.

You know one of the biggest benefits of slowing down and doing less? When you step off of the merry-go-round of doing, doing, doing just because it seems like, well, the thing to do, you suddenly have all this “new” time and energy and brain space to pursue things that mean a lot to you. For years I’ve been dreaming of putting together an event bringing together awesome women in one place to dream, plan, recharge and get inspired. And now it’s time to make it happen. In October of 2015 I’ll be hosting a small but mighty group of women (is

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“Fun Parent” vs. “Boring Parent” – It’s Not Fair! But Is It True?

My husband made this lunch for my daughter last week. I know. I should have known it was coming when I caught him poring over Bento box tutorials on YouTube, watching a woman meticulously arrange smiley faces onto tiny rice-ball heads, then cap them off with pita-pocket hats. The very next day, Jon made a special trip to the grocery store for supplies. And that evening, he and Clara hovered over the kitchen island for a good half-hour creating The Lunch To End All Lunches.  Heart-shaped salami framed by heart-shaped cheese slices, people. A tiny little star cutout peanut-butter sandwich with honey and sprinkles

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Delegate Like Downton: A Strategy For Managing Home Helpers

Imagine this: it’s a Sunday afternoon. One child just got done shoveling the walk, and another is unloading the dishwasher. You, on the other hand, are reading a magazine, sipping a cup of tea and enjoying the calm of a neat (enough) kitchen…that you didn’t even have to tidy up yourself. Sound like a fantasy? It’s not! It’s actually how my Sunday afternoon played out…and it’s a pretty common scenario around here. It hasn’t always been this way. Earlier in marriage and motherhood, I was surrounded by mess and chaos, and bogged down by resentment. Why didn’t other family members recognize

At Home with Meagan

5 Must-Have Kitchen Tools

I’ve been wanting to do a regular video series, like, forEVER. But when I had kids home with me during the day, I found it was just too difficult to find quiet pockets of time to shoot and edit regularly. A five-minute video may not seem like it takes much time to do, but there’s a lot of set-up and production involved, even in the most “candid” vids.  Now that my days are my own, though, I’m finding that I’ve got the space and quiet to take on some of those things I’ve been wanting to do! So, here it

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Whimsical Girl’s Bedroom Ideas

We’re moving! In less than two weeks my family is relocating to Southern California and we couldn’t be more excited. Our new house is ready and waiting for us and I’m itching to get into it and start settling in. One of the biggest differences between our current house and the one we’re moving into is the flooring. We have carpet now – lots of it – and we’re moving into a house with all hardwood floors. And while the new floors are beautiful, it’s going to be awfully echo-y in there until we get some area rugs down. One problem:

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Gardening with Kids, The (Really) Easy Way

I’ve always wanted to think of myself as the kind of mom who grows herbs indoors using a DIY seed-starting kit, turning toilet-paper rolls or egg cartons into frugal mini-gardens which nurture her child’s green thumb, creativity and resourcefulness. In reality, I’m the kind of mom who intends, every year, to start seeds indoors eight weeks before the ground is warm, or start a windowsill herb garden, but always forgets to gather the supplies or set aside an afternoon for putting together a system. So this year, I decided to skip all the usual “Oh man, I can’t believe I

5 Must-Haves for Cold-Weather Dwellers

Brrr! Is it chilly where you are? If it isn’t yet, it will be soon – for most of the country anyway. This post from last winter keeps popping up in our Pinterest feed, so it must mean people are thinking about their cold-weather wardrobes! We’re revisiting it today in case you missed it the first time. Enjoy!

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I grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where winters were harsh and long and school was very, very rarely cancelled. And while I didn’t walk uphill both ways to school, I did walk about two miles round trip, almost every day, in often bitter, subzero temperatures.

Strangely, I don’t remember ever feeling chilly while growing up in such a cold climate. Winter was just a fact of life, something we dealt with and prepared for and dressed for. I wore long johns under my pants December through March; we rarely left the house without snowpants, gloves and hats during the winter months. We built fires in the evening and wore sweaters and warm socks inside.

It wasn’t until I moved downstate at the age of 12 that I started hating the winter. My theory? I got spoiled by the unpredictable, up-and-down weather in lower Michigan, and started taking the occasional warm-ish day for granted. Instead of treating every day from December through March as winter and dressing for the cold, I started feeling inconvenienced by cold days and living for warmer ones. 

At some point, I also stopped dressing appropriately for winter in the upper Midwest. I’d throw on any old shoes before going outside and eschewed scarves and gloves on all but the most frigid days.

Finally, one day I had to ask myself if I really wanted to be so miserable all winter long. Maybe there were some subtle changes I could make to the way I dressed that could help me feel more functional – and less like hiding under a down comforter – during the winter months.

So for the past several years I’ve been making changes to the way I dress, indoors and out, and I’ve found that a few simple additions to my daily wardrobe make me a lot happier. In light of the crazy-cold temps and winter weather so many of us are experiencing right now, I thought I’d share five essential pieces that are helping me stay warm – without cranking up the thermostat:

Slippers. 

I used to wear wimpy slippers that only covered the bottoms of my feet, but they didn’t accomplish much besides keeping my socks from getting wet when I walked through tracked-in snow. A few years ago I got a set of calf-high Muk Luks for Christmas and they changed the way I experience winter. Now my feet and legs are always toasty and warm, and I’ve become quite the evangelist. My sister-in-law Jenna even brings over her Muk Luks when she hangs out at my house for the evening. We midwesterners know how to stay cozy,  yo.

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My new pair of Malena Muk Luks are my favorite yet. Technically they are boots, but they are so soft and comfortable they feel like slippers, and I only wear them in the house to keep them dry and clean. (I really don’t think they would stand up to a wet Michigan winter or spring with a lot of outdoor wear, but they might work as boots in a warmer, drier climate.) I wear them more than I wear my regular boots, so they are totally worth the price tag. If you’re in the market for a less expensive pair, Jenna has – and loves – the Helga style slippers. 

Good boots.

Just like a good pair of indoor slippers, every cold-weather dweller needs a good pair of outdoor boots. I don’t mean wimpy “fashion” boots that leak when you step in a puddle and let in wind like they’re made of cheesecloth, but honest-to-goodness BOOTS that cover a decent part of your ankle (preferably also your calf), resist melting snow, and provide enough traction to keep you from falling down on hard-packed snow or ice. The first footwear I ever spent more than $100 on was a pair of suede knee-high Born boots, similar to these, seven or eight years ago. I wear them almost every day, November through March, and they still look new. 

A house sweater.

A few years ago my husband gave me a snuggly cardigan made of thick yarn from the Gap. Since it was so big and puffy it barely fit under a coat, I instead adopted it as my “house sweater.” I’m a big fan of cuddly, warm bathrobes too, but a sweater actually feels like part of an outfit instead of sleepwear, which is important when you want to feel like a productive member of society. 

I wore my original house sweater so much it started to fall apart, and since then I’ve gone through several incarnations. The best house sweaters are drapey, soft, and warm like this long, thick hooded cardigan from Amazon.

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Make a house sweater part of your winter experience. I promise, you will thank me. And if you work outside the home, keep one in your office, too.

A Lightweight Scarf. 

I was a little slow to adopt the scarf-as-fashion-accessory trend, mostly because I got confused by how to tie them (yes that is true) and thought I wouldn’t like having something around my neck. But once I tried wearing a lightweight cotton scarf around the house, I saw the great potential of scarves as more than outerwear. Lightweight scarves (Sarah and I love the ones from FashionABLE) keep my neck and chest toasty while I’m puttering around the house, and are enough to keep me warm outdoors on all but the coldest days.

Leg Warmers.

I never really got into the legwarmer craze of the 80s (I was too busy playing My Little Pony to care much about fashion at that point), and almost missed it this time around, too. But on a whim, I bought a pair at Target a year or so ago and they sat in a drawer, unused, until one particularly nippy day when I decided to pull them on before heading out into the snow. What a difference!

After a few days of toasty warm legs I went to a boutique in town and bought four more pair. Now I wear legwarmers every day, morning through evening, even slipping them back on after changing into my PJ’s at night. They are a small thing that makes a big difference and they honestly make my winter life better, so why not? Plus, they look really cute under boots. Or slippers, for that matter. I’m loving these Dahlia Cable-Knit Legwarmers.

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If you live in a cold-weather climate, what are your “must-haves” for staying warm?

note: all Amazon links are affiliates. If you click the link and make a purchase, I will receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

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