Archive for the ‘Entertaining’ Category

Having a daughter is such a mix of talking and tears, sweetness and drama, giggles and ear-piercing shrieks. Or maybe that’s just my house and my daughters? And yet I wouldn’t trade a minute of it away for any amount of peace and quiet.

Yesterday we transformed our house into a “spa” so that seventeen girls between the ages of three and twelve could come together to celebrate Elisabeth’s 10th birthday. Since we are a large-ish family and especially due to the fact that all our birthdays save my own fall between the months of February and July, my children know that they may expect a special birthday party when they turn five, and again when they turn ten.

So as you may have already guessed, Elisabeth has been plotting and planning for this party for a long time. Years, even.

We tossed around many ideas as the day drew closer. But it was my mention of “let’s ask our friend if she would be willing to do fancy hairstyles, and we could paint nails, too!” that caused her eyes to light up and sparkle. We had found our party theme.

What began with hair and nails quickly snowballed into a spa theme complete with facials, makeup, and goodie bags for each girl filled with a hair clip, lip gloss, nail polish and a bath bomb.

Yeah…it was involved.

And I didn’t mind one bit. It was a pleasure for me to plan, bake, clean, prepare and set up for this pretty, sparkly, special occasion. Elisabeth is such a help to me and has become such a delightful companion. She works hard here at home, helping with Anna and the other children, doing her chores and school work, and really just being my right hand. I can trust her to throw a last-minute meal together, help with setting up when we are entertaining, get younger children ready to leave the house, and on and on the list goes. At (almost) ten years of age, there is a dwindling list of my tasks here in our home that she has not yet mastered. And so I wanted her to know how very thankful I am that she is a part of our family!

So here are some snapshots from the day.

The picture above and below are of Martha Stewart decorations that I found at a local discount store. What would usually cost an arm and a leg was just a few dollars and definitely added color and sparkle to the day. They also happened to be just the colors of pink and blue that we were using for the party.

Beautiful tulips. Lovely and very affordable at this time of year!

If you are a “regular” here or over at my mother’s blog, you may know that we have agreed to put on a dessert reception for my brother’s wedding. For me, to take on such a momentous project involves ideas, brainstorming, and PRACTICE! Birthdays and church events have been the perfect opportunities to test my new skills, but this birthday party was my first real success. Colors, taste and technique all came together beautifully and the girls were thrilled with the results.

The cupcake wrappers are made from scrapbook paper with a die cut that fits my small Sizzix machine. The cake pops were made using a special baking pan (I am not a fan of the crumbled-cake-mixed-with-frosting-rolled-by-hand cake balls…too sweet and too much work!), dipped into colored candy melts (and a tablespoon of Crisco!), and then coated with sprinkles or drizzled with a contrasting color. To display them, I popped a half sphere of floral foam into a round tin, covered it with white tissue paper, and then stuck on a few paper flowers (the kind made for scrapbooking or card making).

Sweet Elisabeth, thoroughly enjoying her special day!

Seventeen lovely ladies, all dolled up (and sugared up too!). My husband took one look at this photo and said “Wow, that’s a lot of little girls!”

Personally, I love homemade occasions. There is an added dimension of meaning and beauty to the day that simply can’t be found at Chuckie Cheese. It’s certainly true that it’s more work, and I’m not sure I even saved much money, but there’s just something about making the house sparkle, pulling out special dishes, putting on music, arranging flowers, and setting things up “just so” for guests that satisfies something deep inside my mommy-heart. Watching Elisabeth flutter between the basket of favors, the antique ironing board which served as a buffet for the cupcakes and cake pops, and the “spa” stations, taking a moment here and there to glance up at the lovely decorations, her eyes sparkling with expectation, made every minute of preparation worth it.

Note about cake pops: I found this ragingly popular little treat to have a steep learning curve. I spent a lot of time researching the process and decorating ideas online and in a couple of books. I don’t plan to do a step-by-step blog entry on how to make cake pops, but I will share a few key tips. If you use a cake pop baking pan or appliance, make the cake batter more dense by adding an extra egg, a box of instant pudding mix, and by switching out the cup of water for 3/4 cup of milk. When placing sticks into the cake balls, dip them first into melted candy. Use a double boiler to melt candy or chocolate, a moderately small one where the top pan can be easily tilted for dipping. Mix in Crisco, about a teaspoon at a time, until the consistency is runny enough to easily drizzle but thick enough to coat. Do not use white chocolate, it is fussy and clumps easily. If you color white (vanilla) candy melts, use oil based candy coloring. Freeze pops for at least 10 minutes before decorating. When coating the pop, cover a little of the top of the stick so pop will remain secure when candy hardens. Tap stick gently against edge of pan to shake off excess candy while twirling to keep coating even. If applying decoration, allow coating to harden for a minute or so first so that the weight of the sprinkles, etc. don’t drag the coating off. A cake pop decorating stand (or two) can be very useful to allow pops to harden completely (Wilton makes a sturdy and inexpensive one). The best book I found for decorating ideas and clear instructions was “Crazy for Cake Pops” by Molly Bakes. And yes. Bakes is her actual last name. Her book was the best because it lists sources and websites for all supplies and decorations, has the best variety of shapes and styles, and had beautiful pictures for every idea listed.


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before the conference2

Though I sit at my desk writing this midst a fog of exhaustion and sickness, with a four year old near my feet tucked in to a sleeping bag and camping out in my room because she’s thrown up six times in the last four hours, the memory of the last week or more remains undimmed, shining bright and warm and continuing to bring a smile to my face.

I spent weeks preparing for my company. First my parents arrived, and we spent many happy days together, despite the gloomy and unpredictable October weather. My mother and my little girls and I joined my mother-in-law in a jaunt to a lovely tea room, bedecked with flowers and china and intricate lace and linens. We all went out as a large group on another day for a delicious steak dinner–one of those rare times when everyone enjoys what they ordered and the kids were moderately well-behaved. For a girl whose mother has always been her best friend, having mom around (especially when she lives so far away!) is always a treat.

On Thursday we were joined by the lovely and incandescent Sarah Clarkson. From our lively chat in the car on the way home from the airport and on through conversations over tea, working together in the kitchen whipping up goodies, playing with the children, stepping out for soup and quiche, having a “pajama party day” lounging around and watching British films, and all the way up to the moment the van door shut and Sarah waved goodbye as she wheeled her suitcase through the airport doors, I felt as though I was spending time with not just a friend, but the sister I never had. The similarities in the way we were raised, our ideals and convictions, our love of beauty and conversation and strong tea and thoughts and ideas…all converged to make our visit a joy and a delight.

On Saturday my mother and Sarah and I were off to a local women’s conference to hear Sarah’s mother, amongst others, speak and to be greatly encouraged in the Lord and in our calling as women. That’s us in the picture above, all prettied up and ready to go. Though I was already suffering from exhaustion and my mother struggles almost constantly with fatigue and illness as a juvenile diabetic, we had such a fun time!

And then there was the Sunday we spent together as the largest group I have ever entertained in my house overnight…our party of nine was joined by Sarah’s parents, Clay and Sally Clarkson, and her brother Joel. The pinnacle of our weeks of preparation, we were quickly at ease with one another and settled in to laughter and conversation over plates of delicious food and lemon water and sweet treats and coffee and tea. We had originally planned a trip to Old Sturbridge Village, but how happy we were to be ensconced in the big, warm eat-in kitchen as huge anomalous snowflakes circled down from the sky against a backdrop of flaming autumnal glory. Rarely was there just one conversation in progress, as we drifted from discussing one subject as a group to breaking off in twos and threes to talk some more…and more…and more.

We finally broke up the party and settled in to sleep. The  next morning, my parents were the first of my “full house” to pack up and drive off after a tearful goodbye, grandchildren clinging to them all the way out the door. A quick breakfast of quiche and fruit with the Clarksons before Clay and Sally rode off to get Joel to his morning class, and Sarah and I were left with the children for our final full day together. Already the cold symptoms were setting in, no doubt a result of little sleep and too much excitement (and sharing air with three thousand other women on Saturday)!  Worth every moment though, I assure you. As a family we were so blessed and encouraged and delighted.

Random thoughts to tie it all up…my husband deserves full credit for all the wonderful times that we had. While I was entertaining and preparing and fussing over details, he was helping with the children, running errands, staying home all day so I could attend the conference, cleaning, receiving text messages from me as I gave out orders from my seat at the conference, picking up Joel from the train station, sleeping in odd spots throughout the house as we shifted around to make “room for more”, wearing to work whatever strange combinations of somewhat-clean and almost-not-wrinkled clothing that I haphazardly threw at him. At all times he was pleasant, gracious, and helpful.

Something I noticed during Sally’s brief stay here…I always try to make my guests as comfortable as possible while they are with us, looking out for what they might want or have need of. It’s not a gift, nor does it come naturally, so don’t be impressed. It’s something I was trained in and have to give thought to, otherwise I would only ever think of myself, trust me. Anyway, as Sally was with us and would notice these little gestures, she would mention it and thank  me, giving a compliment or a piece of encouragement. I’m not sure I’ve ever been around someone with such a gift of encouragement who blesses others in such a specific way with such uplifting words of kindness. No wonder her children are so gracious and sweet!

And now? My house is a mess. I still have a runny nose and a headache. My husband needs me to give him a haircut tonight, I’m only halfway through all my laundry, I’m pretty sure my family is going to want to eat at least a couple times today, and I still have a little girl sprawled out on my bedroom floor.

But I am very, very happy.

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We are finally home from a whirlwind trip to Indiana to visit my family…I suppose any nearly 1,000 mile trip with four children in a minivan is a major event. Make that four children and one husband. Not that I care to go anywhere without him, but he does add to the mix!

In actuality, we had a wonderful trip and enjoyed many special moments together as a family, whether just the six of us (not sure if “just” and “six” really go together?) at the children’s museum or in the van playing the alphabet game (again…), or all together with my parents and brother at a favorite restaurant or the amusement park. There was of course the occasional rough patch when the children were tired and cranky, or Elisabeth’s trip to the emergency room due to contact dermatitis, or Faith’s bout with croup that had us canceling plans with friends more than once in an attempt to avoid passing along any germs. However, all in all, it was a huge success, with many hours spent catching up with friends and family.

I sat more than once in a new favorite coffee shop eating crepes and lemonberry cake with marscapone cheese filling, sipping my creme brulee latte and reflecting on the effect the cozy setting had on me. Settling in to a comfortable leather side chair, I basked in the ambience of soft lighting, gleaming hardwood floors, beautiful and interesting art work, soft rugs, and a fun array of fixtures and decor ranging from piles of old books to antique cameras and an old library catalog whose drawers now hold packets of sugar and coffee stirrers.

When I find myself in such a place, the interior designer in me is awakened and the wheels in my head start spinning madly as I imagine endless combinations of paint colors, furniture, lighting, and decorations and try to picture the result in my own home. I spent much time while I was away planning changes I’d like to make upon my return, preparing to pull out the paintbrush the moment we pulled into the driveway.

However, something happened to slow me down. (Note I didn’t use the word “stop”…just “slow”!!)

While away, we were in at least five different houses, as varied in size and style as their inhabitants were from one another in personality and family dynamic. Only one inspired me with ideas on the level of style and design, and yet this one was most lacking in warmth and life simply due to the fact that the owner lives alone and is never home, though we greatly enjoyed our visit with her.

The other homes had one or more rooms that featured shabby or outdated decor. Mismatched furniture. Peeling paint. Piles of stuff here and there. But I took away a valuable lesson from each one. Like the big farmhouse full of love and gracious speech and the smell of homemade bread as we shared a meal with a large homeschooling family. Or the small house tucked away in a quiet and friendly neighborhood on the outskirts of a city with it’s bright yellow living room, quirky restaurant booth in the kitchen, and large covered deck with funny mismatched outdoor seating where we enjoyed a relaxed meal off the grill and where my children played in a treehouse, pelting each other with water balloons before being whisked off for a ramble through the woods.

I realized two things. That my home is well-kept and nicely decorated (given limitations of time and budget), and that no matter how many improvements I make to it, the atmosphere of my home will depend most on the warmth and generosity of my family’s hospitality. Would I like to have the best of both worlds? Sure! But if I, with my well-trained eye and snooty refined tastes can be impressed by warm hospitality to such an extent that I can see past harvest gold laminate countertops and colorless walls haphazardly decked with “art” lacking in both beauty and interest, then I am certain that no measure of remodeling or redecorating, no paint color or club chair, no lighting or landscaping, will ever have as much impact on my guests as smiles and laughter and hugs and great conversation can have when offered generously without ceremony.

So tidy up a little, prepare a simple meal, and don’t stress about the tear in the couch and the pile of shoes by the door. Greet guests with a smile and extend grace to each soul that enters, for the atmosphere that you create goes so far beyond paint and pictures, and is at its best and brightest when it originates with a loving spirit, spilling over to every corner of your home. Nourishing body and soul far surpasses merely inspiring  a guest with a decorating idea. Leave that for HGTV.

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Where have I been??

Well, I had intended for my next post to be about bread, specifically Sweet Potato Knots with Maple Butter and my own versatile recipe for Whole Wheat Bread.

However, I also intended to post a picture of the rolls, and that would require me to make the rolls. And if I made the rolls, I would eat them. All of them.

I’ve not been eating much bread as of late. Instead, I’m doing nearly an hour of aerobic exercise every morning except for Sunday, and restricting my daily calorie intake to 1500 or less. You see how that doesn’t leave a lot of room for flaky, soft, steamy rolls. With maple butter.

I started doing a fun set of in-home walking videos before Christmas, which really helped to avoid that extra holiday weight. Then a few days into January, Amy at Amy’s Humble Musings posted a 12-week Challenge with a rather sizeable prize to be won for most percentage of body weight lost. I am very competitive, and had already gotten into the habit of regular exercise, so I decided to participate. I think Amy’s prize is quite safe, I haven’t made any startling progress as of yet, but I am seeing some good results in addition to the few pounds I have lost.

I feel more energetic, am able to keep up with my kids a little more, no longer have the need for that afternoon nap, am sleeping better at night, and am less prone to mood swings.

I’m also enjoying a wide range of healthy, vitamin-dense, low-calorie foods, with a few doses of healthy fats thrown in here and there. My George Foreman Grill with removable plates has become my best friend! The omelette plates are great, I can whip up one egg plus one egg white, divide the mixture between two of the wells, and load it all up with broccoli, onion, tomato, and chopped red pepper. A little salt and pepper, and a sparse sprinkling of cheese on top (after removing the omelettes!) and I have a healthy and delicious meal, perfect any time of day!

Tell you what….here’s a link to the rolls from one of the Gooseberry Patch cookbooks…imagine a beautiful pile of them heaped into a pretty basket, lined with a colorful linen napkin, with a lovely dish of the maple butter sitting beside it, in one of my glistening vintage glass condiment bowls.

Wish me well on my journey…I do feel that such measures will pay off in the long run, helping me to be a more focused and engergetic mother, wife, and child of God. I see this as a means to an end…I tread carefully in this area, as goals of health and fitness could quickly be magnified out of proportion in my life. Yet good health and a fit body could also be invaluable as I strive to serve the Lord in my home, church, and community. And habits that necessitate discipline are to be sought out and encouraged.

And so, on with the day!

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Ah…a fresh, new year. Slowing down a little from the maddening pace of the holidays. Time to forge ahead with the posts on entertaining…let’s get cooking!

I am supposedly famous for my salad. I find this very humorous, since it’s so very easy to throw together, and I really think the credit goes more to Paul Newman than to myself <grin>. However, when I bring a salad to a function and casually slip it onto the table unnoticed, I will almost always be approached later on and asked “Is that your salad??… I thought so!”

Now you too can make a “famous” salad!! Grab a cutting board, a lettuce spinner, and a good sharp knife for chopping.

First, the ingredients:

One package (qty. 3) romaine hearts, I prefer organic because there is less likelihood of the lettuce having a bitter taste.

One small package grape tomatoes, rinsed (the ones that look like football-shaped cherry tomatoes)

Crumbled gorgonzola cheese

Pecans (whole, pieces, candied, whatever you like!)

Sweetened dried cranberries

Chopped green onion (sometimes I leave this off if I know my company doesn’t care for onions)

Newman’s Own Original Olive Oil and Vinegar Salad Dressing

I take each romaine heart and cut a couple inches off from the top, where the leaves are a bit wilted and sometimes dirty. Discard. Then I chop all of the lettuce up, not too coarse and not too fine…roughly little 1″ squares. Place lettuce in a salad spinner, wash and spin dry.

Place washed, dry lettuce in a large serving bowl, preferably one that is wide and shallow. You could also use a platter with deep sides. Place desired number of tomatoes on top, spreading out evenly. Then sprinkle on cheese, pecans, cranberries, and green onion. The color combination is absolutely lovely, and the flavors are delicious!

If I am serving this at home, I carefully drizzle the salad with dressing, being careful not to use too much. I have never had a single complaint about the taste of the dressing, and I really do think it’s the Newman’s Own that makes this salad so tasty. If I am bringing the salad to an event or delivering a meal, I bring a small size bottle with me and leave it by the bowl.

Variations that I have used:

Substitute baby spinach for romaine, blue cheese for gorgonzola, and fresh sliced strawberries for the cranberries.

Substitute organic spring mix for the romaine, crumbled goat cheese for the gorgonzola, and sliced fresh pear for the cranberries (slice pear right before serving, it tends to brown easily!)

and a personal favorite…

Make croutons in your toaster oven out of cornbread. Just cut up cubes of sweet cornbread, line tray with foil sprayed with cooking spray, place bread on tray, coat lightly with cooking spray, and toast until edges are golden brown.

Use salad recipe as a base but replace gorgonzola with some shredded cheddar that you shred yourself off of a good quality block of cheese, like Cabot. Add crumbled bacon, cranberries are optional here (but I leave them on!) and top with the cornbread croutons. This pairs especially well with a meal of barbequed chicken and baked sweet potatoes.

Happy chopping! My next post will be all about bread to serve with that beautiful salad!

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You turn the calendar page from November to December and there you see it…a full schedule of parties, events, cookie swaps, and luncheons. You start to feel that nervous twitch, though excited about all the festivities that lie ahead.

You turn your attention to your shopping list, trying to recall what has already been tucked away and what still needs to be purchased. Trying to avoid that last minute dash out to the stores, fighting crowds and standing in endless lines, you make a mental checklist of each family member and friend to buy for. Your eyes are glazed over from scouring the internet for web specials. “Free shipping!” and “Enter this code at checkout!” flashes through your mind. You start to breathe heavily.

Don’t forget the extra groceries for all those holiday goodies, and make room in the schedule for the extra hours of cooking and baking. You don’t want to start in on your famous recipe two hours before the Christmas party, only to find an ingredient missing from your pantry!

Cleaning for company. Washing and pressing and ironing for that fancy company soiree. Writing Christmas cards. When are you going to wrap all the presents? Panic begins to set in…

As much as I’d like to say that this is all a bit of an exaggeration, I must confess that this has been my experience over the last two weeks. From Thanksgiving day all the way through to last night, my calender has been full to the brim with cleaning, baking, entertaining, shopping, parties, birthday celebrations, sending packages, and writing cards. Last night I went out with friends to a restaurant to celebrate my birthday…nine days after my birthday…because it was the very first night I had free to do so.

I love the Christmas season. I crave a quiet, reflective holiday experience, spent at home. Popcorn. Hot chocolate. Christmas carols. Twinkle lights. Cookies shaped like trees and snowmen and stars. Children. Snow.

But I’m a busy young mother with an early December birthday. I have church obligations, which I want to fulfill cheerfully. I host a small group. My husband has five work-related Christmas parties that I want to encourage him to participate in, accompanying him when I am able. Our homeschooling group has planned a cookie swap and as it is I spend most of the calendar year dodging field trips and special events, so I want to show up with a smile and a huge platter of homemade treats. I have four delightfully small children, and I want to make as much holiday “magic” for them as I possibly can, all the while instilling in them the true meaning of Christmas.

Sometimes simplicity is a deliberate choice that we make, to live our lives without clutter and clamor. Sometimes…simplicity must take the form of an attitude. Yes, I am busy. Yes, there are a lot of things to accomplish, a lot of places to go. I, however, will keep a quiet heart, full of joy and delight. I will see each task as one more way I can bless my family or a friend. I will chatter on endlessly with my children each day as we go about our tasks, reminding them of Why we celebrate and Who we worship.

I pray that God will help me to worship only Him this holiday season. Not the music, the lights, or the gifts. Not the sumptuous food or the company of friends.

May your homes overflow with joy these next few weeks, whether your holiday celebrations are large, boisterous and bustling or small, still and quiet, for our God can be ever-present in both.

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It’s possible that I’m a little too collage-happy as of late. Anyway, let’s get organized! I’m in quite the organizing mood after cleaning my garage and straightening up the basement today. My husband and I snagged a Diego DVD from Redbox this afternoon, buying us 120 minutes of time to get the garage ready for winter. We now have a neat, swept garage with two vehicles actually parked in it. Ten hours ago we had a storage area with a mess of beach equipment, trash, boxes, gardening supplies, and three double strollers.

Sometimes cleaning and organizing takes this form…a day where it takes two people to go through a mountain of misplaced stuff, sorting and putting away and throwing away and giving away. Hopefully, most of our organizing can fit a little better into our everyday routines. Although I have read many books on the subject and most recommend some sort of system involving a purchase of storage containers or closet organizers,etc., I have found that we become more and more organized over the course of time. A basket here, a bin there, a cool vintage metal milk crate to hold some books.

Perhaps because I’m more creative and artistic than I am organized and methodical, I am not as good at systems as I am at finding beautiful and functional ways to store things. Don’t get me wrong, I do crave order and I absolutely love all those organization magazines in the checkout line with the closet makeovers and the children’s playrooms with shelves and baskets neatly labeled. Yet in my own home I seem to be more focused on the pretty than the practical.

Because of this, most of my storage solutions involve baskets. Baskets to hold linens, diapers and wipes, books, toys, bathroom toiletries, laundry, food, art supplies, stationery…if I can hide it in a pretty basket and it can double as a decoration, you’ll find it somewhere in my house! Most of these baskets are wicker, some are “longaberger style” (most are knockoffs, though!), and some are seagrass. In my sons’ room, I use “boyish” galvanized metal tubs to store books, trains, and legos. Many of the trash baskets throughout the house are baskets that are actually quite pretty. I have a small antique picnic basket that is the perfect size to hold a box of tissues (I take them out of the box first). Not only does using baskets help to create storage throughout the house rather than overloading closets and cabinets, but since I absolutely love the look of baskets, I am decorating my house at the same time! Most of my baskets are tag sale finds or were part of a gift.

Many of my baskets are stored on shelves throughout the house, either in or on a bookshelf, a wall-mounted shelf, or the bottom of my kitchen hutch. We have six bookshelves in our house and are in need of more. I also use the upper sections of shelves to display pretty things that are out of the reach of my children. One such “top shelf” holds a lovely collection of tea things, and the top shelf of my kitchen hutch shows off some of my pretty serving baskets, bowls, and a vintage cake tin. Many of the items out on shelves or counters in my kitchen are things that I actually use, once again working in with my philosophy of beauty and practicality.

I do, of course, have cardboard boxes and rubbermaid bins. They are simply behind closed doors, in the attic, and in the basement. Some of my favorite yet less ornamental storage items include a three drawer rubbermaid cart on rollers that I use in my sons’ closet as my younger son’s dresser. We love our over-the-door plastic hanging shoe organizer…we go through about one a year, but it’s well worth the $7 to keep all the little ones’ shoes in one central location. I use a large rubbermaid bin in the basement by the walk-out door to store outside toys. We have quite an assortment of metal and plastic shelving in our basement, all hand-me-downs from family, but we put them to good use as extra pantry storage and a place for all of our tools, as well as all of our board games.

As far as organizing mail and calendars and the like, we make sure we open mail immediately and either throw it away or put it on the desk to be dealt with promptly, or it goes on our fantastic marker/cork board “control center.” A few years ago I found a combination marker board/cork board at an outlet store for just a few dollars. I bought four of them, and mounted them in a square in our hallway, putting all four marker boards in toward each other. This gave us a large surface area for tacking up coupons, pictures, and important papers and for writing down phone numbers, messages, grocery lists and to-do lists, yet it’s broken up into neat, small sections. Grocery store flyers and catalouges go into a rustic box that hangs on the opposite wall.

We use a lot of hooks for hanging coats, and I plan to put up more very soon, both in the hall (a second set under what we already have so the little ones can hang up their own coats) and along the wall of the hall closet. This way, even though we have a very small closet for a moderately large family, we can have room for all of our coats. For now, I am stuffing hats and mittens inside the arms of the kids’ coats so that they don’t get lost and for lack of a better solution.

Obviously, you will find much better advice on organizing your home in a book or magazine, but what I can tell you is that 1) I spend very little on it. 2) What’s out in plain sight is both useful and pleasing to the eye. 3) What’s behind a closet door or in the basement may not be attractive but it’s inexpensive and efficient.

Happy organizing! I may follow up in the next few days with a couple random hints and tips, but I am anxious to move on to the cooking aspect of entertaining!!

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