New York Times bestselling author, slow cooking expert and mommy blogger next door
  • Subscribe to newsletter
  • Follow me on Pinterest
  • Follow me on Twitter
  • Become a fan on Facebook
  • Follow me on Google Plus

Totally Together

saturday and sunday–the second to last of the year

December 18, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

352 & 353

I hope your day is already going well. The excitement the kids are exuding is becoming contagous—this truly is a magical time of year.

Enjoy this weekend. Soak it in. If you have things to do, get them done, but try your hardest to do so with a smile on your face.

Remember: NOTHING is perfect. NOTHING tangible (cookies, baking, wrapping paper, dishes, decorations) is worth getting mad about. Choose joy.

and then spread it.

this weekend:

gather the kids around and PROM the toys one last time. New ones are on the way. There must be something (or a bunch, if you haven’t PROMed in a while!) that another child would enjoy more than your kids currently are.

go for a walk, or drive to see lights

keep up with the Daily 7

you are all in my thoughts and prayers. thank you to everyone of you. oxox

Day 3

January 3, 2010 by · 6 Comments 


Three days into the New Year. Do you still have holiday decorations up? Many people don’t take down the holiday trimmings until the 6th of January. If that’s your family tradition, that’s absolutely fine—make sure you know where all the boxes and wrappings are to stow away the fragile items safely for next year.

If you don’t wait until the 6th to stow things away, then get as much done as you can before the new week begins. While outside taking down lights and the wreath, take the time to walk the perimeter of the house.


Make a Punch List

Walk through every room in the house. Jot down everything that needs to be done to get your house in good repair. Do the baseboards need to be painted? Pictures hung? Light bulbs changed? Drywall patched? Ignore the dust bunnies for now. We’ll get to them in due time.

When finished, walk around the perimeter of your home and write down everything that needs to be taken care of out there.
coming up tomorrow: getting reacquainted with the Daily 7.

yesterday: Avoiding Burnout

Creating a Mud Room—even if you don’t have one.

April 7, 2009 by · 37 Comments 

How to Create a Mudroom in the Hall Closet Our next house will have a mud room. Even if the kids have to live in a tent in the backyard.


I’m not a shoes-in-the-house person. I just feel more comfortable with my shoes off, and it seems that the kids prefer to be barefoot even in the middle of winter. I don’t ask that guests remove their shoes, although many do when they notice that ours are off. Our home is primarily wood flooring now, but our last 2 houses had off-white carpeting throughout, and the shoes-off policy really helped to keep the carpeting looking fresh and clean.

The challenge with this habit is shoe storage.

Most people house shoes in their closets—and we do have some in there, too— but the shoes that are kicked off at the front entry or in the garage need to go somewhere.

So we have shoe stations. I keep a basket on the front porch for shoes, we keep our everyday shoes in the hall closet, and some of the heavier outdoor shoes in the garage. The nice shoes are housed in the bedroom closets. garage-shoes

One of our other really cool things (thanks to my father-in-law!) is the garage kid sweatshirt-and-jacket rack. I was getting annoyed at how the kids would open the hall closet door and throw their sweatshirt or jacket inside then shut the door, hoping that I wouldn’t notice.

I noticed.

An easy solution would be to mount a few hooks on the back of the closet door kid-height, or to attach a wire extender thingy to the jacket hook thingy that we already have on the back of the door.

Instead, I did something even better. I asked my father-in-law to make a coat rack out of some PVC pipe at kid-height to keep in the garage. I LOVE it. The bar is 4 feet wide, and it’s 3 feet tall. For extra support, insert a wooden dowel into the pipe (Adam says it’s  3/4 inch-wide PVC). The kids now have no choice but to hang up their coats (because I’m terribly mean and make them), and I love it that since it’s in the garage the clothing can still be hung if slightly damp from fog or rain.

What do you do in your home? Are you a shoes-in-the-house person?


Make a Coat Rack out of PVC Pipe for Kid Jackets

Managing Children’s Art

March 11, 2009 by · 41 Comments 

Managing Kid Art

Kids create a lot of art. An AWFUL lot. I don’t save everything—in fact, I toss practically everything that is produced on a daily basis—but I do save and display some of the most decorative items, and the ones that show new milestones (faces with eyelashes, people with fingers, etc.).

Seasonal art is stored in the garage along with the other seasonal decorative items. It’s fun to pull out 6-year’s-worth of orange construction paper jack-o-lanterns each Halloween and hang them together.

I do keep the “newest” art on the refrigerator, but try to limit it to one or two items at a time. I prefer to use the fridge as a place to stick important papers and lists, and if it’s buried in artwork, my papers get lost.

The above picture is of a strip of corkboard surrounded by 1/4 inch round that hangs in our hallway. I put this up all by myself a year or so after we moved in, and I love it. The cork is thin, cheapy cork I got at the hardware store that was already cut in 1-foot squares. I used scissors to cut the cork 4 inches wide, and carefully nailed (with tiny finishing nails) it to the wall (use a level! seriously, use it). I trimmed up the quarter round with a hack saw (the kids were totally impressed) and nailed it on each side with more finishing nails. I then used a tiny bit of putty to fill in the holes. When the putty dried, I sanded it down and painted the wood trim white with leftover semi-gloss paint we had in How to Hang Kid Art the gargage. Any gaps between the wall and the quarter round were smoothed out with some beads of Kwik Seal (I love that stuff).

If this sounds too complicated (it’s kind of sounding that way to me this morning, and I did it), just stick up the 1-foot square cork board tiles instead. We have these in the play room over the kids’ desks, and I love them. They are easy to install using the little foamy stickers they come with (use a level), but you will need to use finishing nails in the top corners after a while; the foamies dry out, and the cork falls with the weight of too much art stuck to it. It’s up to you if you would like the cork accessible to children, or up high. My kids are good about not fussing with tacks and have fun taking the art on and off themselves, but I did install it high enough that they need assistance, and high enough to not lure  toddler visitors.

Another super easy place to hang additional art is the back of the garage door. We have an a Hang Kid Art on back of Garage Door rt area set up out there with messy crafts—painting, playdough, etc.—and I stick on the day’s work with tape. It brings a bit of life to an otherwise ugly garage door, and gives the children a sense of pride to see their work displayed.

Many decorating magazines suggest framing children’s work and displaying in matching or coordinating frames. We’ve done that, too. I love the look, but wish I was better at switching it out. These exact frames with the exact inserted art have been moved 3 times, and the art is about 4 years old. But I like it, and it is a cute arrangement on the bedroom wall. Managing Kid Art

There are lots of opportunities to recycle kid art: turn it into greeting cards, wrap presents, or send it off to grandparents. I have seen talented women scan in favorite drawings and print out the work onto fabric for an heirloom quilt.

Do not feel guilty for chucking little drawings and notes that come in daily. Save the important ones, and recycle the rest. If you kept it all, you’d be buried in paper.

What are your favorite ways to store/display kid art?

related: It’s PROM Time!

Next Page »