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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

Giving housecleaning a PR boost

Feeling cranky about sweeping, scrubbing, and folding? It might be time to put a new spin on "keeping house."

We’re liberated, educated women. We can do anything we set our minds to. So why would we want to spend our time, yuck, cleaning? Well, because we kind of have to. It’s tempting to look at mopping floors and scrubbing toilets as mindless, menial work. But what if we looked at cleaning up after ourselves as simply something that civilized people do, rather than something that’s beneath our abilities and pay grade?

Let’s face it: unless you can afford an around-the-clock cleaning service or your husband is so into housekeeping that he begs you not to involve yourself in it, the fact is that some of this work of cleaning and organizing is going to fall in your lap. So how can you face that sink full of dishes with optimism and a sense of purpose, instead of resentment and drudging duty?

  • Get inspired
    It’s easier to do almost anything if you feel good about it. Here are a couple ways to give yourself a fresh perspective on homemaking:
    • Read classic literature about hard-working women. Call it housekeeping porn: there’s something about a description of an all-day, feather-tick-emptying, cast-iron-stove blacking cleaning fest in a Little House on the Prairie title, or one of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s descriptions of immaculate pantries in the Anne of Green Gables series that gets my inner homemaker’s blood churning. Whether it’s the way good housekeeping was valued as an economically-necessary virtue (instead of menial or frivolous) in those days, or whether it’s because I’m so darn grateful not to have to turn a crank to wash my clothes, I’m not sure; but either way, I find that reading literature about bustling, busy–and yet, still happy–19th and 18th century women inspires me to do try a little harder.
    • Check out inspiring blogs about modern homemaking. Here are a few to get you started. A lot of the best ones are written from a Christian perspective, which may not be your thing; so I’ve tried to give enough variety–with descriptions–to steer you in the right direction for your preferences:
  • The New Homemaker. I’ve been a fan of this site for many years. It’s secular, with a green/natural/crunchy slant. Not as much new content as there used to be, but the archives are packed with good stuff.
  • The Urban Farmhouse This one definitely breaks the conservative Christian mold! “To show the world that someone can be a stay-at-home wife, mother and homeschooler and also be secular (even an atheist), feminist and liberal.”
  • Passionate Homemaking “Simple, natural and intentional living” from a Christian perspective
  • The Nester It’s more about decorating and design than cleaning and organizing, but this blog will definitely inspire you to put more thought into your home and surroundings.
  • Don’t Go It Alone.
    Remember my comment about how lonely cleaning can be? That’s one of my biggest obstacles. Two ways around it:
    • Team up. I loved this comment on my last post from Alison: “The one thing that has helped me the most with housework is having my sister-in-law come over….It’s so much more enjoyable to clean with someone you like.” I LOVE this example of teaming up with a good friend or family member to make cleaning more tolerable and fun for everyone. Let’s face it, ladies, we were never meant to do this stuff alone. I also find that getting another person on board makes it that much easier to tackle a big project, like organizing a closet. The moral support makes taking that first step so much less overwhelming.
    • Phone it in. True, I’ve been preaching a lot about mindfulness and doing one thing at a time lately–but I’ll never begrudge somebody who finds a social way to distract herself from mopping or scrubbing the toilet. My favorite way to zone out? Make a phone call to somebody I love chatting with, slip on a headset and start roaming around the house. Next thing I know, it’s an hour later, I’ve been having a great conversation, and the bathrooms and kitchen are sparkly clean. Win-win.
  • Use products that make you happy. I’ve got a thing for the scent of Mrs. Meyers’ Lemon Verbena-scented counter spray in my kitchen, and Method Pink Grapefruit cleaner in my bathroom. When I make my own cleaning solutions from vinegar or baking soda, I use a bit of essential oil to give them a nice scent, and have fun experimenting with new oil blends. Why would anyone want to inhale bleach or ammonia fumes while cleaning? For the record, vinegar is a proven anti-microbial, though perhaps not quite as potent–though also, not as potentially dangerous–as bleach. Lavender essential oil also contains germ-killing properties and makes that vinegar-water solution smell really nice.
  • Make a little bit of cleaning part of your daily routine. Waiting for some special day or 3-hour chunk of time to tackle basic cleaning is a recipe for being overwhelmed. I think Jennifer of Mommy Tries said it best: “The secret for me is doing a little bit each day….This bit-at-a-time method means the house is never totally clean at any given moment, but it also means it’s never a complete disaster–and I can live with that.”Me, too.

Got any great tips, resources, or ideas to share that help put a new spin on cleaning house?

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