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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

8 Ways I’m Preparing For A More Organized Summer

This post is by Sarah Powers, Happiest Home contributor and Managing Editor, and blogger at Powers of Mine.

Organizing A Schedule For The Week
Last summer was anything but organized in our house. I had a still-relatively-new baby and a laughably unpredictable schedule. I wasn’t sleeping at all. I was working two editing jobs, from home, without childcare or school. Outings, adventures, and clever crafts at home seemed so far beyond my capabilities as a sleep-deprived mom of three kids five-and-under that I didn’t even bother trying.

And you know what? It turned out okay. We managed. But this year I find myself hoping for more structure and more adventures, more fun stuff for the kids and more protected time for my own work and passions, and I feel like I have the head space to be a little more intentional about it all.

So with (as my kindergartener informed me today) 12 school days left for us, here are some ways I’m laying the groundwork for a more organized summer.

Making friends with the calendar

I’m great with the minutiae of a daily schedule and a weekly calendar, but I often forget to look ahead more than a week or two. So in the next few days I’ll be printing out a hard copy of our calendar from June through August, blocking out the two trips we have planned, and getting a general feel for the rest of the summer. I won’t necessarily aim to fill up the calendar just yet (or at all), but I would like to have a picture of how the summer will look.

Updating my books-to-read list

For some reason I read more in the summertime, and it’s been a while since I visited my GoodReads to-read list and browsed their recommendations for ideas. I know that if I don’t have a book lined up – either in hard copy on my nightstand or ready to be loaded up on my iPad – I just fall out of the habit of reading altogether, so I’d like to get a good list going of 6-8 books to get me through the summer.

(Recommendations? Leave ‘em in the comments! I’ve been on a non-fiction kick lately, but would love some great novels for the summer!)

Getting some recipe inspiration

This spring our dinners slipped into a sad state of affairs (as in, more cop-out dinners than non-cop-out dinners). My husband’s travel schedule, late-afternoon swim lessons twice a week, and my own busy-ness with Meagan’s recent book launch all contributed to a disproportionate number of quesadillas. Without the school commute and lunch-packing during the summer break, I’m hoping to use my mornings to get a head start on dinner, whether it’s marinating a protein or starting something in the slow-cooker. To get inspired, I’m looking at Pinterest (of course) and dusting off a few cookbooks as well.

Purging the toys & organizing the wardrobes

It’s time for a toy purge around here – big time. We spend most of our time indoors in the summer in Arizona (think January in Michigan), so I want our playroom and all the toy bins ready for three stir-crazy kiddos. My older two have birthdays around this time of year, so there are new games, crafts, and puzzles to put away, and a bunch of baby toys my no-longer-baby (sniff!) has outgrown. 

I’m also itching to overhaul our closets a bit as we move into the summer months. Jeans are a thing of the past until November, school uniforms need to be burned the moment school lets out, and swim suits will see almost daily use pretty soon. I don’t have quite the system that Meagan does – yet – but I will definitely be switching out a few drawers and making room for bigger sizes in the next few weeks.

Tackling a few small home-repair projects

Like I said, we hunker down indoors in the summer – the opposite of many of you, I know. As a result, I really like the house to be in good shape and we often take on small indoor home projects while we’re cooped up escaping the heat. For this piece of the summer-prep I’ll be making a honey-do list and enlisting my husband to help get the house spiffed up – just enough so that we enjoy spending time in it during our long, hot hibernation. 

Researching local things to do

One of the things I struggled with last summer was wanting to do fun excursions with the kids and yet never feeling like I knew exactly where, or when, to go (see also: sleep deprivation). This year I’d like to get on top of things by making a list of our local children’s museums, libraries, indoor play areas, etc., and doing a little research on pricing, memberships, and hours of operation. I think if I have it all in one place it’ll be easier to plan our visits.

Keeping an eye on nearby getaway & staycation deals

We have two big trips planned for the first half of the summer, and then … nada. While time and money will require that we stay close to home after mid-July, I’m keeping an eye on deals at local resorts and nearby weekend destinations. We may or may not do a weekend getaway or staycation, but I’d like to stay on top of the possibilities just in case the mood strikes us.

Brushing up on my photography

I’ve been shooting in manual on my DSLR for the last year or so, and summer is a great time to practice photography (water! fireworks! vacations!). There’s a self-paced online course I got as a gift when I first got my camera and I never quite finished it, so I’ll be diving back into those videos and challenging myself to use the camera as often as possible this summer. I notice that just a little bit of nurturing of my own creative hobbies can really counteract some of the pull-my-hair-out moments that spending long days cooped up inevitably brings.

That’s it! How are your summer plans shaping up? Do you do any pre-summer organizing to prepare for the change of season?  

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