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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

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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

Give your week a boost: plan to spend time outside

We’ve started dedicating Monday mornings to a single tip or simple idea to get your week off to a better start. Enjoy! -Meagan

plan a better week

Yesterday was a lovely day here in Southwest Michigan. The sun shone brightly, the birds sang. The kids biked up and down our alley frantically, as though trying to expel four months’ worth of pent-up energy. 

Which, to a certain extent, I guess they were. Luckily my boys get a decent opportunity to burn off steam between school recess, gym, walking to and from school, sports, etc; but there’s no doubt that we’ve been way more sedentary this winter than we usually are. And poor Clara has hardly been outside at all. I guess at some point, when it became too difficult to maneuver our ice- and snow-covered yard and we were on the 30th below-freezing day in a row and I hadn’t seen the sun in at least a week, I just gave up on the outdoors.

If you also live in one of the regions hard-hit by this year’s winter, maybe you can relate. And hopefully, you are now seeing signs of life, like I am: Sun. Birds. Grass (brown and dead though it may be.)

If so, it’s definitely time to go soak up some of that vitamin D-boosting sunshine, smell the spring air and get the kind of mental boost only those first warm early spring days can deliver.

But if you’re like me, maybe you’ve also gotten a little…out of habit when it comes to going outside. Maybe it almost feels like you’ve forgotten how! If so, here are some ideas to get you back in the spring mentality:

One of my favorite old pictures of William and Owen on a springtime trip to Lake Michigan.

One of my favorite old pictures of William and Owen on a springtime trip to Lake Michigan.

  • Plan a summer-like outing. Throw on a sweatshirt and roll up your jeans, and a trip to the beach is a perfectly appropriate excursion for a cool spring day. Botanical gardens, hiking trails, and zoos can also offer a unique (and often not very crowded) early-spring experience. 
  • Eat outdoors. The first thing I want to do when the weather gets nice is haul out the grill! You can totally pull off an outdoor meal at the last minute by planning a simple meal of brats or hot dogs, or just reimagine one of the meals you might have made this week for the grill. (Got chicken breasts? Check out this great recipe for Santa Fe foil-pack grilled chicken.) Or if your grill and/or outdoor seating area aren’t quite in working order yet, pack up a bag of sandwiches and take them to the park.
  • Walk somewhere. I’m big on the aimless meander around the block, but I also find that sometimes having a destination in mind helps me go from thinking about taking a walk to actually walking. Some ideas: walk the kids to school or the bus stop, or to the post office or grocery store. If you live too far away, you can always drive into town but park a few blocks away from your destination to encourage more movement!
  • Organize the garage and take stock. Before you know it, it’ll be warm enough to haul out the sprinklers and even start putting plants in the ground, so this is a great time to analyze your garden inventory, check bike tires, and find all the summer stuff you put away all those months ago. (If you’re in the market for organizing products, check out the post I wrote last year about our Gladiator garage system.) 
  • Put it on the calendar. If you’re out of the habit of playing or working outside, you might have to remind yourself for a while. Set an alert on your phone or put it on the calendar. Maybe you can create an “outdoors hour” each evening where you and the family will spend time purposefully getting your yard and garage in shape. 

If you’re in an area where spring hasn’t quite sprung yet – or if your “welcome to spring” weather is mostly rain – I really feel for you. It can’t be much longer now, right? For the rest of us, let’s not waste one second taking this sunshine for granted! Plan a better week by reacquainting yourself with the outdoors.

Want more ideas from our Plan a Better Week series? You can get them all right here:

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