Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Day 29 - Making your House your Home - It's OK to Let Go...

This is a re-post from my 31 Days of Organization series.

As you're going through your home trying to make it more 'you', you will likely find that getting rid of some of your belongings is the only thing that will give you the space or serenity you desire.  Don't keep anything just because: 

  1. It was a gift from someone you care about.  We all have objects that we don't like but keep because they are from our grandma/best friend/sister and we don't have the heart to part with them.  If a gift is hidden in your closet because you hate it, what good is it doing anyone?  Donate it to the Goodwill and let someone love it.
  2. It represents what you used to be.  The mauve dinnerware you got for your wedding in 1992 may not work for you in 2013.  It's okay.  Let it go.
  3. You think you may fit into or need it one day. The size 4 jeans from high school?  Toss them - trust me, styles have changed since 1988 and you'll want to buy a new pair when you are a size 4 again.  The baseboards you removed during your home renovation?  Donate or sell them.  You will not use them and you know it.  They are just taking up valuable space.  
Just imagine how much room we'd have to spread out if we followed these rules.

The rest of my 31 Days series is here.  

Monday, October 28, 2013

Day 28 - Making your House your Home - At the Front Door....

This is a re-post from my 31 Days of Organization Series.

Keys, phones and more.  Seems we're always looking for them.  How about this easy way to keep them from being misplaced?

This is a cutlery tray with spots for keys, phones, wallets & sunglasses.  This is a brilliant idea I got from Better Homes & Gardens.

I think I'll be looking for a cutlery tray this weekend. 

How do you keep these things from getting lost?

The rest of my 31 Days of Making your House your Home posts can be found here. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Day 27- Making your House your Home- The Party's in the Kitchen...

This is a re-post from my 31 Days of Hospitality Series.
It seems like just about every party ends up in the kitchen.  Big or small, it doesn't seem to matter.  Should it?  Does it matter to you?  Sometimes it's hard to steer the guests to another room.  Sometimes it's downright impossible.  If you want to get the group to mingle with your other rooms, try these ideas:
  • Move the drinks out of the kitchen.  Try to set up a 'drink station' in another room.  We have a wet bar in our living room area.  This is a perfect place for us to set up drinks.  You can also set up a drink station on a table in the living room or great room- just remove your usual decor from that table and set the drinks up there.  You can even add a small card table to a corner and make that your drink area.  Likewise, you can take it all outside. 
  • Move the food out of the kitchen. Same idea as moving the drinks out.  Be creative - look at your space and see how you can accommodate the food with the tables you already have.  I actually love the idea of setting food out on the coffee table.  Unless you have pets.  Yes, I learned that one the hard way.  But the dog loved the cheese dip! :)
  • When the weather is nice take the whole party outside.  Have your guests enter the yard and not the house.  Basically keep them out of the house! Sometimes this is the only way to keep the group out of the kitchen.
  • Make sure you have seating in the living room/great room/den/basement.  If your only seating is in the kitchen then people will naturally flock there.  I have been known to take the dining chairs and bar stools into the living room to encourage people to mingle in there.
And sometimes no matter what you do people will migrate to the kitchen.  I am not sure it's always a bad thing.  Especially if you need help in there...

You can find the rest of my 31 Days series here.

Day 26 - Making your House your Home - Home Management notebook...

This is a re-post from last years' 31 Days of Organization series.  

I created a notebook for our family that I call our Home Management Notebook and it's filled with all kinds of useful information we need at home.  It started out as a notebook to keep owner's manuals & warranty information after my Keurig broke and I couldn't find the info on it and hadn't registered it.  I kept most of my manuals in a plastic bin in the garage but not everything made it in there (like the Keurig info).  My husband suggested the binder - really, he did. 

I put the manual for my new Keurig in a binder and  I thought it would be nice to have phone numbers of the A/C guy, the pool guy, the yard man, the insurance agent, doctors, vet, etc.  And I went from there - adding information I often needed to access for school, bank, etc.

There are many resources out in blog land for how to put together your notebook.  One blog I particularly liked was The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking.  I got some great ideas from Kelly's site, like the post-it notes and the cork board.

And the file folder dividers:

Plain manila folders with holes punched on the sides without the tabs were placed in the notebook as dividers.  I love this idea- Kelly made hers a bit prettier than mine.  Maybe one day I'll pretty mine up.  I have tabs for my to-do list (below), phone numbers, finance/insurance, owner's manuals/warranties, school and maps.

I love this post-it note idea.  I put the notes on the to-do tab and when I'm done with the task the note can be tossed.  I usually have one note for each day of the week and one note for Saturday & Sunday.  If all my tasks don't fit on the list I don't do them.  Not really!  Sometimes I have two post-its per day.

Behind the to-do tab is a little zipper pouch that holds things like note pads and pens.  And the post-its.  I actually took the pouch out of a school days planner I had last year that I never really cared for.  You can also buy the zipper pouches at the office supply store for just a couple of dollars.  It is worth the investment to have things you need at your fingertips.

This cork board idea is brilliant!  I only added mine to the front of the notebook but Kelly added one to the back as well.  I use mine for coupons and receipts or appointment cards.  I got 12 X 12 pieces of cork at Staples and cut them down to the size of the notebook and hot glued them on to the binder.

Sheet protectors are perfect for things like school calendars and lunch menus that change monthly.  I also use plastic business card holder pages for business cards in my phone numbers section.

There are a few things I don't keep in the notebook:

  • Monthly Menus - they have their own notebook, which works for me.  I know many people put their menus in their home notebooks with much success.
  • Coupons - I keep them in the monthly menu notebook.  It makes sense for me.  I am not a huge couponer but I use some and like them with my menus.
  • Bills-I pay them as they come in so just file them in a paid file.  I'll talk about that later this month.
  • Our Budget -  I keep that on an excel spreadsheet. 
  • My Planner - I carry it around sometimes and don't want to carry my home notebook around with me so I've separated them.

  • This notebook has been life changing for me.  If we need a phone number we know exactly where it is.  If we need to see when the kids are out for Christmas break I look in the school section at the school calendar.  It makes things run a little bit more smoothly.

    The biggest thing I have found is that what works for some people doesn't work for others.  There is no one size fits all for keeping your papers in check.  You may not even need a notebook. Maybe everything will fit in your planner.  Maybe you like a bulletin or white board.  Maybe you're super tech savvy and do everything on your phone.  It took me much trial and error to get this right so don't get discouraged if the first thing you try isn't your thing.
You can find the rest of my 31 Days posts here.

Day 25- Making your House your Home - Family Calendar...


I'm not sure many of us could effectively function without some type of family calendar.  Kids' activities, work commitments, board meetings, school events; there's so much to do that most of us can't possibly keep it all in our heads.

There are so many ways to keep it all organized: on line, paper planners and wall calendars to name a few. Trial and error seems to be the best way to figure out what works best for you.  I've tried many different things and for me a planner works best for me. I wish I could keep everything on my phone and be done with it but it just doesn't work for me.

What type of family calendar do you use?

Day 24 - Making your House your Home - Getting Inspiration...

Back in the day, most of us probably got our home inspiration from magazines like Southern Living, Country Living and House Beautiful.  These days there is the internet with blogs and other home websites which means we don't have to wait for the latest issues of our magazines to get inspired.

Some of my favorite sites:

  • HGTV - While I am not as in love with the HGTV channel as I used to be I still love the website and go to it often for inspiration. 
  • Better Homes & Gardens - Another wonderful website for all kinds of home inspiration.
  • Southern Hospitality - Rhoda's blog is awesome.  And I love her Feature Friday where we get a peek inside others' homes.  
  • Jennifer Rizzo - Another favorite blog.  I love her Holiday Housewalk each year. 
Where do you find your inspiration?

My 31 Days posts can be found here.

Day 23 - Making your House your Home - Family Fun....

Fall is such a great time for have fun as a family.  Most parts of the country are enjoying beautiful weather this time of year.  It's time to get out of the house and enjoy all things fall.

Some ideas:

  • Pumpkin Patch - even in Arizona we have pumpkin patches and festivals.  It's always fun to let the kids pick out a pumpkin for carving.
  • Pumpkin Carving - Our friends have a pumpkin carving party every year, the Saturday before Halloween.  It's all about the kids and helping them carve the perfect design.  Even if you do this at home with just your kids, it's a fun activity.  Don't forget to save those pumpkin seeds for roasting.
  • Head to the Park - With the great weather this time of year, a park day is the perfect no cost family activity for a Saturday morning.
  • Take a Drive - if you're lucky enough to live where the leaves change colors now's the time to hop in the car and do some leaf peeping.
  • Take a Ride - Get out those bikes and take a little ride before it gets too cold.
It's all about getting out and enjoying the weather before it get too chilly.

My 31 Days posts can be found here

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Day 22 - Making your House your Home - A Creative Garage...


In an ideal world, the garage would be a place to park your car.  That's all.  For most of us a garage is much more. Storage Room.  Laundry Room.  Workshop.  Craft Room.  Sports Equipment Room.

We are fortunate enough to have our washer and dryer in our garage (can you hear the sarcasm?)  It's especially fun in the summer when it's over 110 degrees.  But I always think: 'it could be worse, at least I don't have to go to the laundromat.'

Our garage is also a storage area.  Our friends recently remodeled their kitchen and we were the recipient of some of the old cabinets which made a huge difference in how the garage looked and functioned.

What do you use your garage for?

My 31 Days posts can be found here.

Day 21 - Making your House your Home - Keeping Up...

Gone are the days when keeping up meant the kids were fed and the house was clean.  These days most of us are pulled in many different directions.  There's cleaning and washing and cooking and car-pooling and working and teaching and listening and.... the list goes on, right?

I remember thinking that when LM went to kindergarten I'd be all caught up. HA.  Once those little people head off to school it just gets busier with sports, dance, music lessons, volunteering.  I have considered homeschooling on occasion only if to try to keep things a little slower around here.  I'm sure that's all an illusion I have created in my head...

My husband say he always knows when I'm home because things run more smoothly: the house is cleaner, dinner is on time & everything in general is more in order. It's hard to take a day just to stay home and tend to things when you're being pulled in all those directions.  While that's usually not possible for most of us there is one way to keep up a little better: just say no.  Yep, it works for me.  I wrote a post on this a few years ago called 'A Yes is a No'. It's worth reading every now and then so I can continue to keep up.

My 31 Days posts are here.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Day 20 - Making your House your Home - To Paint or Not to Paint...

In fourteen years I've painted all of our rooms - some of them more then once.  So, I would always say 'yes' to painting.  I'm of the school that says 'it's paint, if you don't like it you can paint it again.'

Paint is probably the number one way to make your house your home, to make your home express your personality.  Your walls may be white or blue or green or beige.  Whatever color you choose, you'll be saying volumes about your personality and lifestyle.

One of my favorite blogs is Favorite Paint Colors. There are tons of different paint colors that you can actually see in use in people's homes.  It's great inspiration and just fun to look at.

This is part of my 31 Days series. The rest of the posts can be found here.

Day 19- Making your House your Home - Craft Day...

A rainy or snowy day is the perfect time for a family craft day. It's a great alternative to other indoor activities like tv or video games.  Plan ahead for those inevitable days with the following resources:

  • Spoonful - this website has tons of great craft ideas as well as recipes, holiday and party ideas.  You'll never run out of inspiration here.
  • Family Fun Magazine - This has long been a go-to craft resource for me.  I especially love this owl project. 
  • Better Homes and Gardens - Another great craft resource - for kids and adults.
  • Martha Stewart - Of course you can find really great ideas for a craft day project on her website.
  • Oriental Trading - If you want to buy craft kids for a group (say for a birthday party) this is a great resource.  Their prices are unbeatable.
This is part of my 31 Days series. All posts can be found here.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Day 18-Making your House your Home: How much is too much?


I would venture to say that most of us struggle at some time with our stuff.  Mostly thinking that maybe we have too much of it.  Do we really need the last 10 years of Country Living Magazine?  Or those size 4 pants that we haven't fit into for the past 5 years? Or those baby clothes, when we know we're done having babies?  That kind of stuff takes up space.  Lots of it.

We had new floors installed in three of our bedrooms recently.  We emptied out the bedrooms before the installers came and put everything in the garage.  The master bedroom was completed in one day and the installers realized that they didn't have enough flooring to finish the other two rooms.  So we lived without our stuff in the rooms for about a week.  We kind of got to the point that we didn't really miss any of the stuff after that week. Some of it needs to come back in the rooms - the desk in the office, for example.  But do we need two bookcases in the office?  Maybe not.

Everyone has a different tolerance for stuff so we all need to decide how full our homes will be.  But I'm pretty sure I don't need three waffle makers.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Day 17 - Making your House your Home: Spic 'n Span...

The Graphics Fairy
For most of us, cleaning isn't at the top of our list of fun things to do.  But it's a necessity. Everyone seems to have a different idea of what clean means.  Can you eat off the kitchen floor?  Or are you just as happy if there is no visible dirt in sight?  I'd guess that most of us are somewhere in between.

I have a cleaning schedule that I stick for the most part.  It changes up a bit if we're out of town but everything pretty much gets done every week.

I look to the internet for inspiration when I get in a cleaning rut.  One of my favorite blogs is Clean Mama. She will teach you how to clean everything and has some wonderful free printables.

This is part of my 31 Days series.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Day 16-Make your House your Home - Fresh Baked...

The smell of something yummy baking is always welcoming.  My most often baked recipe is banana bread.  I've always got bananas that I need to use.  After years of searching for just the right  recipe I found one in the Martha Stewart cookbook that is perfect.

You can find this yummy recipe here.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Day 15 - Making your House your Home - Favorite Things

I always love a good Favorite Things post and I know we all have things that help make our house feel like a home.  Some of mine are:

  • A nice, high thread count white sheet set. Good sheets are really important to me and well worth the money.  We all have our vices...
Pottery Barn
  • A welcoming rug in the entry way.
Ballard Designs
  • A fabulous way to make a fabulous cup of coffee. I love my Verismo and it makes a lovely cup of coffee or espresso.  Your favorite may be a Keurig, or a Nespresso or a Miele or or a french press or a Mr. Coffee but whatever your preference you can't beat a good cup of coffee.

  • A good book. Or many good books...  My current read is this one: 

It's fascinating.  Such interesting lives the members of this family have lived.
Some of my other recent favorites are:

The Things that Matter  by Nate Berkus is one that I re-read and just look at often.

This is part of my 31 Days series.  Find all of the posts here.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Day 14 - Making your House your Home - Homework Station...

Once our kids hit the school years most of us look for a quiet place for them to do homework.  As they get older homework takes longer and a designated homework spot makes sense for most of our little students. Some of us have the luxury of a separate room for a homework station.  Some of us only have the space for our kids to work at the dining room table.  Either way you can make the space workable for your family.

 The more challenging scenario is the dining room table way.  How can this work on a daily basis?

  • Keep the Dining Room Table Empty - It's hard to do anything at the dining room table if it's covered with mail and newspapers and who know's what else, right?  That's why it's so important to keep it clean.
  • Turn off the TV- Keep the homework area quiet with no distractions from the TV.
  • Have Supplies Close at Hand - Sharpened pencils, erasers, paper, crayons, glue.  Keep it all in a homework container so there's no excuse to get up mid-homework and get distracted.
We usually have a snack before we start homework but some families find a snack after homework works better.  

Find more homework station ideas here.

Find more 31 Days posts here

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Day 13 - Making your House your Home - Game Night...

Who doesn't love a game night?  It's a great way to get the family together for some fun.  Include some friends and it can be a big event. Game ideas are everywhere - the traditional board games like Monopoly, Yahtzee and Scrabble, interactive video games and Rock Band are always popular.  A Wii fit challenge is also a fun way to get moving as a family.

Some of our game night favorites:

What are your family favorites?

My 31 Days posts can be found here.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Day 12 - Making your House your Home - TV's in bedrooms?

I can make this post really short and say 'no TV's in bedrooms, ever.'  That's how I feel and I know it's controversial (is it really?  Is it similar to talking about politics or religion at a dinner party?  Sometimes I think it is.)

That being said you know where this post is headed.  I don't like TV's in bedrooms, ever.  I don't like the aesthetics of a room with a TV.  It's hard to decorate around that big box - even with the flat screens.  I don't like watching TV in bed and luckily I married someone who feels the same way.  We never ever talked about (our pre-marriage counseling never mentioned TV's in the bedroom...) whether or not we would have a TV in the bedroom, it was just a given.

LM has mentioned a few times that she would like a TV in her room.  I asked her if any of her friends had one and she rattled off the names of all of her good friends and letting me know that, yes, she was the ONLY ONE without a TV.

We don't hate TV. We watch it.  A lot of it.  Too much in fact.  We just don't do it in bed.

How about you?

Find my other 31 Days posts here.  There are hundreds of other bloggers taking part in the 31 Days challenge.  They can be found here.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Day 11- Making your House your Home - Kids' Bedrooms...

Pottery Barn Kids

When we find out we're expecting that first baby our minds go to the fabulous nursery we will create for him or her, sparing no expense obviously.  We register for the best of everything & if we're lucky we get some of it.  Everything matches - the bedding, the walls, the rug, the window treatments - everything.  Sometimes we make a compromise when we get a crib handed down from family - it might be brown instead of white but it's a family heirloom for our precious babe.  Weeks before the birth we have the room ready for our new bundle.  Baby comes home to the glorious - just for her - room.  The place we rock and feed our little one. The months and year pass, toys get added into the mix - lots of toys and that precious room changes just a wee bit.....

Real Simple
If you're like most of us your children's rooms have looked better than this and also worse (although we probably haven't taken pictures of the worse!)

What's a mom to do?  Each child has their own personality and a bedroom is the place to let that show.  But their rooms are still a part of the home that you take pride in looking nice. Here are a few of my tips to let your children make some of their own choices without risking a segment on the next Hoarders episode:

  • Set some boundaries - Make beds everyday. No food in bedrooms.  Put dirty clothes in hamper. Pick up toys after playing with them or before going to bed.  Make it work for you and your kids and keep in mind the ages of your kids.  Little ones just can't do as much as a 6th grader.
  • Make it easy - Using just a fitted sheet with a quilt or duvet makes it super easy for a little one to make their bed - no flat sheet to deal with (although I do love a good hospital corner but there's time to learn that later).  Don't put beds against the wall if possible - it's just harder to make a bed that way. Keep a hamper in the closet or next to a dresser so it's easy (in theory) to toss dirty clothes in the hamper and not on the floor. Have a toy box for all the toys and use it.
  • Let the kids have input - If you're painting give your child the choice of a couple of colors - don't give them too many options since it's just hard for them to pick if they have 15 colors they can choose from. Ask them where they'd like their bed.  Again, these choices are easier for older kids but if they feel like the room is theirs they may be more likely to want to keep it clean (again, in theory).
I will always remember something that Randy Pausch said in his Last Lecture

“Anybody out there who is a parent, if your kids want to paint their bedrooms,as a favor to me, let them do it. It'll be OK.” 

He said when he was younger he wanted to paint his room, his parents let him, and he always remembered it.  At the time of his lecture the walls of his room hadn't been changed.  When LM wants to hang something on her wall that I might not choose, or put it in a spot that isn't 'right', I remember Randy's words and let it go.  Those are the things that make her room her room, even if it means breaking the design rules.

I'm participating in The Nester's 31 Days challenge.  All of my posts can be found here.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Day 10 - Making your House your Home - Flowers

Fresh flowers are always a nice way to make your home uniquely yours.  Picking up a bouquet at the grocery store is all you need to add a nice impact in your home.  If you're lucky enough to have a garden in your yard, it makes things even easier.

I'd rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck.
~Emma Goldman

Find my other 31 Days posts here.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Day 9 - Making your House your Home - Movie Night...

It's always fun to have a family night at home and a movie night is one of our favorites.  Ours are usually pretty basic but you could go all out and make it a real party. If you want to go all out there are some fabulous ideas on Pinterest (of course!)

We usually pick out a family friendly movie, pop some popcorn and choose our favorite seats in front of the TV.  Some of our favorite family movies are:

What are some of your favorite family movies?  

With the holidays right around the corner you might want to have a few festive movies in mind for some quiet nights at home.  Check out last year's Holiday Movie Marathon post for some fun ideas.

I'm participating in The Nester's 31 Days series.  If you've missed any of my posts you can find them here.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Day 8- Making your House your Home - Feeding Them...

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

Eat dinner at the table every night.

Don't eat in front of the TV.

Buy organic.

Don't eat in the car.

We've heard all the rules about food and our families.  And they all sound good and make sense but does that mean we need to follow them to a T every single day?  That depends.  It depends on how structured your household is.  It depends on your schedule - which probably changes every day.  It depends on your budget.

We are pretty much an eat at the table every night family.  We do eat the occasional dinner in front of a football or hockey game - that breaks two rules -oops!  We are pretty structured when it comes to food and meal time.  It works for us but it may not work for everyone.  The family knows the rules and although I get some ribbing about them from time to time everyone knows what to expect.

We have at least one vegetable with every meal (not always breakfast though - usually just a fruit then).  But we usually have two vegetables at each meal.  Unless we are entertaining, we don't buy soda.  We drink water at most meals.  We cook from scratch when we can - we try to buy as little processed food as possible - it saves money most of the time and that's always a big deal for me.  So is eating whole foods which is easier to do when you cook from scratch.  Right? But sometimes we just don't have time and that's when a little processed food can come in handy.

My quickie meal for busy nights is a rotisserie chicken already cooked from the grocery store, a veg -I keep a selection of frozen veggies on hand (broccoli, green beans, etc.), rice and cut up fruit (in season or canned-peaches are a big hit around here.)  It's not perfect but way better (and tastier) then the drive-thru.

We all need to make sure our families are fed we all do it in a way that works best for our family at this particular time.  Since we all know that what works today may not work tomorrow.  Do you have food rules or meal rules?  What do you do during meals that makes your house your home?

I joining The Nester for this year's 31 Days Challenge.  Find my posts here.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Day 7 - Making your House your Home - Music...

With the popularity of Pandora and Sirius/XM, your home can really tell the story of who you are.

Longing to go back to the days of Bruce Springsteen and Prince?  Tune into the 80's channel on satellite radio.

Want to listen to Tim McGraw all day?  Make your own Tim Pandora station and you'll be able to!

Music is such a personal thing and playing your favorites in your home will really make your house your home. And these days it's easier then ever.

This is what's playing at my house quite often:

Find my other Making your House your Home posts here.  Find other bloggers' 31 Days series at Nesting Place.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Day 6 - Making your House your Home - The Backyard...

Outdoor space is an important part of a home.  It might be a small balcony, a rooftop deck, a grassy space for the kids to play or the beach.  Whatever you have, it's always nice to make it a personal space that works for you and your family.

5 Ways to Transform your Backyard Space

  1. Decide what you want your space to do. Do you want your backyard to be a place for your kids to play or do you want it to be a space for the adults to relax?  Once you decide on a purpose you're ready to move on.
  2. Make a budget. Backyard renovations can end up costing a lot if you don't budget your money wisely.  Sometimes just an inexpensive picnic table can take care of all the problems you have in your yard.  Sometimes you need an entire 'Yard Crashers' experience. (Anyone else miss Ahmed?)
  3. Think about seating. Do you just need a few chairs to place around a fire pit? Or some lounge chairs around the pool? There are so many options now for outdoor seating - and something for every budget.
  4. Add some color. Throw pillows. Billowy curtains. Colorful tablecloths.  Outdoor rugs.  All of these things are fun ways to add color to your outdoor space.
  5. Keep in natural. Even if your outdoor space is a cement patio, adding some flowers in pots will soften up the space and make it feel more welcoming.

More of my Making your House your Home series can be found here.