Trying to Make an Inviting Home

Our house is new, and fairly large (almost 3000 square feet), two things that are working against it in my quest to make it charming, cozy, and comfortable.  Now before we built this house we lived in the old cottage that came on the property, which was old, tiny, and infested with kitchen mice and attic snakes, so I am not complaining.

It was NOT charming, because it was in such disrepair, and not comfortable, because it was always cold and there was only one bathroom.  But it was cozy.  I will give it that.  Every square inch was used, and the things of life were out on display.  Cookbooks, toys, pots, homework.  When the cutting garden was in season, it seemed overflowing with flowers.  When we had guests, it felt full and bustling.  The new house is lacking that somehow.  I want to correct it.  Here is what I am trying.

1.  More things out

This goes against my very nature, as I like things put away.  But there is no need to pretend we don’t live here, and no need to exhaust oneself putting away baby toys during naps just to take them out again when she wakes up.  And “things” are proof that people live there.  Fruit, flowers (from Costco, and quite beautiful), crayons, sugar and flour canisters, a basket of potatoes and onions, even a pot on the stove. They have been invited to live on the counter or breakfast table as evidence of life.

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2. Less stuff out for kids.  

It is well known that once kids destroy a playroom with toys, they lose interest in it.  So they are being made to clean up every evening, not just because it is right, but because when their playroom is a mess they don’t use it.  Also it is more of a loft and I have to see it when I go upstairs.  Every night they pick up, and every Friday I switch out their toys to keep them interested.  If they are in the middle of making an “important store of out of magnets”, I will of course leave it alone.

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(Looks like this bookshelf needs a little help!)

3.  Keeping the dining table set

So the only picture I have of it appear to be of it not set.  But it is much more inviting with plates, place mats, cloth napkins, and silverware.  I keep it cleared off to make it easier to wipe down after lunch, and Camilla sets it after her quiet time in the afternoons.  It makes the room feel more alive.  The sun shines in the front of the house in the afternoons too, and generally cheers everyone up.

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4.  More people, more animals

Of course nothing makes a house feel more alive than actual life!  So we let the kittens in on cold days, play with the baby, and try to enjoy each other’s company.  Having guests over is always nice.  More babies too.  I now sit at the kids little kitchen table while they color.  I work on grocery lists and garden plans next to them instead of somewhere else.  We feel a little more together, and I find that the more focused attention they get, the less whining there is later.

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5.  Books, puzzles, board games

TV is so often depressing and isolating.  Why not do something that either invites a companion, or allows to you be together in comfortable silence?

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In the future, I need to work on getting curtains, getting some rooms painted in warmer, richer colors, and getting some furniture in empty feeling rooms like the dining room, master bedroom, and guest bedroom.  I will get there!

 

 

 

 


Getting Ready for Winter at Home

I find that I am ready for each season as it comes.  Halloween is over, and I was ready to say goodbye to it.  Bats, scary crows, owl candle holders and rubber spiders are already packed away, and more restrained Thanksgiving decor reigns.

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I love getting cozy in the fall, and our weather has finally turned chilly.  Hats and mittens have been brought up to the mudroom, and beach towels, sunscreen, and bug spray packed away.

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Fires in the fireplace are such a big part of winter here.  It feels like such a luxury and yet it is an economy.  Just like homemade bread and flowers from the garden.  But with that dry, radiating, wonderful heat, comes a lot of work beforehand.

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I will help stack this, but Matt does all the work splitting.

The fireplace gloves and kindling have been brought out.

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I am on the hunt for the perfect dark olive green velvet to make pillow covers for our living room throw pillows, just something to make it a little more warm and cozy.  All of our throws and quilts have been washed and folded neatly by the couch for chilly mornings before the fire gets going again.

The view is changing out the windows and off the deck.

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The tea drawer has been organized.  I need to get a tea kettle.  Going to ask my parents for a copper (coated) one for Christmas.  I love the coziness they add to a kitchen, and I am tired of boiling water in a pot for my tea like some kind of lunatic.

And we still haven’t had our first frost, so I am still picking sunflowers and tomatoes.

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My parents are coming over for dinner tonight and I am making panini with ham, cheese, and caramelized onions.  We’ll have chicken tortilla soup on the side and pumpkin sheet cake with cream cheese frosting for dessert.

Stay cozy!

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One of the best things about our house is the fireplace.  It is a wood burning, EPA certified prefabricated unit called Fireplace Xtraordinair.  EPA certified just means that it burns the wood cleanly without a lot of smoke and pollution.  This also makes it more efficient in terms of how much wood is used to generate heat.

I just learned how to use it by myself.  It used to be that when Matt came home from work he would have to go get the wood and get it started, which can be a bit of a process.  Now that I have learned, I typically start a fire very early in the morning, around 5 AM, let it die down by late morning, and then clean it out.

Thought I would share some pictures of a great way to clean the glass when it gets sooty.  I learned this from my sister in law, who heats with a wood stove with glass doors.

 

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Yuck.

First, you crumple up some old newspaper, dip it in water, and then in the (cold!) ashes.  Rub it on the glass doors to make a paste.  The lye in the ash will instantly clean off all the grime.  Some of the darker areas might require a little elbow grease.

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Scrub….Then wipe off with a damp paper towel and polish with dry newspaper.

 

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Yay!

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All scooped out, hearth swept, and ready to go!

 

 

 

Cleaning Fireplace Glass