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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

Want to feel better about your house? Invite somebody over.

Last Monday Meagan shared a simple way to plan a better week: Get up 5 minutes earlier. Since many of you are looking for small, specific ways to improve your home lives, we thought we’d make a habit of it, and take turns sharing these types of tips at the start of each week. -Sarah

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“The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Last weekend we realized rather late in the game that we had almost no plans. A good thing, in general, because we protect our weekends pretty fiercely from over-scheduling, but this one was particularly empty. So with very little notice we invited some friends to come over Sunday afternoon to let the kids play and have a casual dinner all together.

Hosting these friends is not a “clean the entire house from top to bottom” event. We see them often and they’ve seen our house in various stages of put-togetherness and disarray. And yet, in the 20 minutes before they arrived, I busied myself with the following:

  • wiped down surfaces in the downstairs bathroom, closed the half-open shower curtain that hides the tub where I keep my stash of dirty kitchen linens until I carry them upstairs to the laundry
  • collected a stash of papers that had taken over THE ENTIRE bar counter separating the kitchen and dining room, stacked them and put them in the office, and closed the office door
  • removed the heap of dirty kids’ clothes from the bottom stair and put it in a laundry basket upstairs
  • hung up backpacks, put the throw pillows back on the couch (in the spots where I like them), and turned on the table lamps in our entryway
  • dug through some photos I’d had printed weeks ago, and put pictures into two new frames – frames that had been sitting on a shelf for weeks with the stock photos still in them, and yet in less than five minutes now sported cute photos of my kids

Was it a thorough housecleaning? Oh heck no. There was a fair amount of hasty scooping-up and stashing junk away to spots unseen. But when the doorbell rang the house was picked up, well-lit, and ready to be played in, laughed in, and eaten in by 4 adults and 6 kids. And when our friends left, there were more dishes in the sink and toys on the floor, yes, but some fruits of my quick cleanup labor remained: a paperless counter, a cleaner bathroom, and nary a dirty sock on the stairs.

And the house felt good. It felt imperfect and chaotic and lived in, but it didn’t feel sloppy and uncared for anymore.

If you are starting this week with unfinished chores, piles that are gathering dust, or just a general feeling of blahness about your living space, try this: invite someone over.

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It doesn’t have to be a four-course dinner party or a visit from your overly critical great-aunt. Any small way to open your home to people you enjoy can have this effect. Such as:

  • when you run into the elderly neighbor lady who adores your baby, ask her to come over for a cup of tea later
  • when you and the cool-seeming mom from preschool say (for the 27th time) that it would be fun to get the kids together, set a date and invite them over
  • instead of meeting your girlfriends for a glass of wine at a restaurant, plan to have them over after the kids are in bed
  • ask a former work colleague to drop by at lunch or at the end of the day to catch up

Here’s what will happen. You’ll look forward to the visit, you’ll put a little extra attention and care into what your home looks like (even if it’s at the verylastminute), you’ll at the very least look around and see if anyone’s dirty underwear is on the floor, and I promise you: you’ll feel better as a result.

If your kids are small and your house is more often a disappointment than a showcase, take heart. I really believe that welcoming guests is one small way to give yourself a (loving, gentle) kick in the rear end when it comes to basic, good-enough housekeeping. Your house may still need a good scrubbing and the hidden piles will need to be tackled at some point, but in the meantime, isn’t it nice to break bread with friends and enjoy your home in a spiffed-up state?

So tell me: Who can you invite over this week? Do you scurry around hiding piles at the last minute? What’s your 20-minute guest-ready housecleaning routine?

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