Hospitality and Houseguests

hospitality and houseguestsBethany and her family were in town this past weekend!  Besides my parents, who came out to help us settle in, they were our first overnight houseguests in our new house, and we made many happy memories here together.

I’ve shared about hospitality many times before, but I never talked about the having-overnight-houseguests kind because Bethany and Anna both do it so well and could write about it more eloquently and because I’m still holding out for Christina to come back and guest post for us on how she sets up her guestroom (I’ve stayed in three iterations in different houses, and every time, I was so inspired).  But I’m feeling the need this week to convince all of you to invite old friends to come visit you (or invite yourself to stay with friends–we have a guest room!).

I really do believe that for me, road trips to visit likeminded friends (my childhood best friend and a handful of our best college friends) are what keep my husband and me energized in this single income, stay-at-home mom, homeschooling life we live that is so very different from even the other families in our church.  It is not particularly convenient for people with large families and/or young children to share a small space for even a weekend, but it is still so worth it.  I’ve told before how Anna and her husband and two kids came to visit us when we lived in a one bedroom apartment in grad school.  It was such a sweet weekend, even though my husband and I were sleeping on an air mattress in our living room!  In a pinterest-and-facebook culture, it’s so easy for us to have slightly warped views of how even our dearest friends have everything together if we’re not local and stopping by to see the little lego pieces everywhere each other’s floors on a regular basis.  The Real Housewives of E2S Project is Anna’s and my online attempt at transparency in this area; we aspire to be neat, tidy, and organized, but our lives are often anything but.  When you’re in someone’s home, you see that she has legos and cheerios hiding in nooks and crannies in her house, too.

Does it sound overwhelming to have people in your home for an entire weekend?  I’m an extrovert, so it appeals to me to begin with, but I’ve also taken notes from my hospitable friends and have a plan down for hosting.  I always try to start off the weekend with a clean slate–everything is freshly swept, vacuumed, and toilets and bathtubs scoured.  Toys are organized and put away so that when a million things are inevitably pulled out, it’s fresh chaos, not chaos on top of chaos.  This is work, but it is the kind of work I should do on a weekly basis, anyway.  I try to plan ahead of time to have meals (breakfast/lunch/dinner/snacks) plotted out, something I do, anyway.  When Bethany’s family was here, I grocery shopped the day before, spent the next morning making a double batch of granola and fresh crockpot yogurt for easy breakfast options, baked my normal four-loaf batch of bread for PBJ sandwiches for lunches, and did my most time-intensive meal (homemade pizza) that first night.  The second day, we did crockpot chicken tacos that I threw in at lunchtime so all we had to do at dinnertime was make the rice and warm up the tortillas.  I assigned my husband dinner duty on the third night while Bethany and I got out by ourselves for a couple hours, and he made the yummy homemade spaghetti that we’re eating in the picture above.  During the summer, he might grill out instead.  That’s pretty much our set weekend-company-meal plan, tweaked if people have food allergies or whatever.  Bethany’s kids, like mine, cheerfully eat tons of produce, so snacks were carrot sticks, red pepper strips, and cucumber slices in the afternoons and sliced up apples, pears, and oranges in the mornings.  Easy peasy!  I’d made a large batch of pizzelle cookies for a potluck last week and saved enough for us to have those for dessert one night, and I pulled cookie dough balls out of the freezer for an easy fresh cookie treat another night.  Feeding 11 people can be expensive, but since all of our meals were from scratch, each meal was probably less than $1/person.  A meal out would have easily been over $100 for our crew, so we didn’t go out.  We ate well at home.  As far as mess goes, three extra children do pull out different toys than mine would on a given day, but we also had all the extra sets of hands helping clean up every night.  All the adults pitched in with cleaning up the kitchen and wrangling kids.  It was a very low-key weekend, overall.


Do you host out-of-town friends in your home?  Did you grow up doing that?  Do you invite yourself to out-of-town friends’ homes?  Do you feel comfortable doing that?  Malibu is a beautiful place to visit, and did I mention we have a guest room?  Just sayin’.

Posted in Friendship, Good Food, Hospitality, Practical Housekeeping | Leave a comment

Hidden Art Friday

Hello friends! It’s Friday, and I’m going to show you pictures of probably my proudest housewifely accomplishment to date–custom dying curtains for my little girls’ room!

(I thought I'd take a pinterest-ready photo of this and asked my girls to clean up their room. This is their definition of cleaned up. Sigh.)

(I thought I’d take a pinterest-ready photo of the curtaings and asked my girls to clean up their room. This is their definition of cleaned up. Sigh.  #RealHousewivesOfE2S)

I don’t know about you, but the whole world of Rit Dye-ing just overwhelms me.  It sounds so…complicated and hardcore.  I know, I bake my own bread and make my own yogurt and chicken stock, so I may seem like the hardcore type, but that normally ends in the kitchen.  But you know what, my girls asked me for pink curtains in their new room in our new house, and sheesh, pink curtains that are long enough to cover a sliding glass door cost a fortune!  I realized I’d have to try something new.

I knew from reading pinterest that I wanted my curtains hung up closer to the ceiling, not right over the window, and that limited my cheap options, because apparently only rich people know that home decorating tip, and the rest of us are buying 84 inch curtains and looking like dorks.  (I exaggerate.  Sortof.  Pinterest-y home decorating blogs can get pretty judgey.)  I ended up getting a couple sets of 96″ Ikea Vivan curtains in white because they were $9.99 for a two-pack.  Trouble is, the curtains were part polyester, and the internet tells us that we can’t dye polyester blends with a predictable measure of success.  Even the Rit site said that polyester blends require their special Dyemore formula and that they need to be boiled for half an hour in a pot on the stove and even then, it might not work.  I decided to buy four bottles of pink Dyemore formula and see if I could prove the Internet wrong.  I figured the worst I could do was discover the dye washed out and just have to convince my girls that white curtains were what they really wanted, after all.

I had four 96 inch by 48 inch curtains that I needed to be the exact same shade, so stovetop method was out.  I boiled water in every pot I owned (plus a borrowed dutch oven from the neighbor), turned up the water heater, and dumped everything (using one bottle of dye per curtain panel) into my washing machine, running the hot cycle.


The dark pink color kinda freaked me out right off the bat.  I originally wanted a lighter, carnation-type pink, not hot pink, to go with the gray walls and lighter sheets/quilts/blankies/rug.  But everything says that it looks darker wet than it does when it dries.  I used a broken off curtain rod to stir the curtains and let the washer go through the agitate cycle a few times.  I wore gloves to keep my hands from being stained from the splashing.  My parents kept water boiling upstairs and brought more down a couple times.

img_20151226_201752957.jpgSo we agitated for about 45 minutes total and then let the washer do the rest of its cycle.  According to the directions on the bottle, you add a dollop of detergent and run through a wash cycle immediately afterwards.  I found that I needed to run the rinse cycle 4 or 5 times before the water was clear of suds (detergent?  dye?).  (For those of you who have bottom-of-the-line washers like I do, I don’t have special buttons for all those cycles.  I just twist my dial around to the beginning of rinse again and again.)  They still looked pink when we pulled them out and stuck them in the dryer!  Success!

curtains upAnd dried, hemmed (they shrunk a good 4 inches, but still needed to be turned up a bit for our desired length), ironed (my mom, who is a saint, did that–I totally would have just stuck them up wrinkly and told the girls to deal), they look pretty good!  (They basically are as thin as cheesecloth, so I picked up some Ikea blackout curtains to hook behind them, which was a good call.)

IMG_3056If/when I do this again, I’ll know that the color on the Dyemore bottle is pretty accurate.  I’d originally wanted something a tad lighter, but I was afraid to use less dye or keep them in boiling water for too short a time in case it didn’t work at all.  My girls love the color, though, and it’s rich without being too icky-hot-pink (a color I dislike and my daughter adore).

It’s totally do-able!

Here’s the brief summary, if you’re inclined to try yourself.

Dye Your Own Custom Color Using Polyester-Blend Curtains!

  • Ikea Vivan curtains or something similarly cheap
  • 1 bottle of Rit Dyemore dye per curtain panel for a deep, rich color

Boil as much hot water as you possibly can.

Pour dye into hot water in the washer and stir around before adding curtains.

Keep adding very hot water until curtains are completely submerged.  Start all your pots boiling again and add more boiling water when you can.

Run the wash cycle on your washer for 30-45 minutes, poking every few minutes to make sure it’s all immersed evenly.  When the wash cycle ends, don’t let it drain and rinse–just go back to agitating again until you’ve hit the desired time.

After 45 minutes, let the washer complete its cycle, add a Tablespoon of detergent, and immediately run a full cycle again (I did it on warm/cold rather than hot/cold to give my water heater a break).  Repeat rinse part of the cycle until water is completely clear and sud-free when agitating.

Dry, iron (optional, ha), and hang before they have a chance to wrinkle. =)  Edith Schaeffer would be proud of you!

Posted in Hidden Art Fridays, Real Housewives of E2S | 2 Comments

Real Housewives of E2S: 5:19 PM

img_20160120_164943900.jpgThe ravages of homeschooling all morning, leaving for ballet class early to drop off a meal (cooked this morning) for a friend with a new baby, grocery shopping after ballet class, and getting home just as the neighbor kids were home from school, thus losing my children to the great outdoors before even noticing that they needed to clean up.  Throw in some Lightning McQueen slippers and a few stuffed animals, and we’re partyin’ in the kitchen!

About the Real Housewives of E2S Project.

Posted in Homeschooling, Real Housewives of E2S | Leave a comment

I Choose Not to Do it All

Photo Credit: Coleson Photography

Photo Credit: Coleson Photography

“I can’t do it!” My girlfriend moaned during her first week back at work, “I want to be home with my baby!” Friends had assured her it gets easier to leave the center of your universe behind while you head off to the office. But why do we want it to get easier? Of course you can work and have children—if you outsource childcare, among many other things—but you’re not really having it all.  The real issue is whether you want to make this sacrifice of time spent with your baby for your career. The world tells us that of course we do, and if we don’t, we’re lazy or unambitious. But every time my kids got to the age where my friends are ending their maternity leave, I remember gazing at their tiny faces and thinking that however much I loved my pre-children teaching jobs, there’s nothing I’d rather be doing than holding this little person who still needs me so much.

So let’s change the conversation. We are staying home not because we can’t work, but because we don’t want to sacrifice these sweet early years of childhood for a mere paycheck. Some of us have always wanted to be home, some of you only found that out when you had your own kids, and some of you would rather be at work but are staying home because you believe it’s what’s best for your kids. Instead of focusing on what we’re sacrificing by staying home (income, prestige, financial independence from our husbands), let’s focus on what we would be sacrificing by going back to work. We choose not to sacrifice seeing all the milestones ourselves, not to sacrifice the peace of a quiet day spent at home together, not to sacrifice the hugs and kisses from little people during the best hours of their day. We’re owning our desire to be the number one influence in our baby’s life. We’re actively choosing this hard work of motherhood in this season of our lives.  Being everything to someone is a beautiful privilege.  Let’s embrace it.

Posted in For New Moms, Having It All, Philosophy of Motherhood | Leave a comment
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