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Making Your Home
I've often thought about what makes a home. I've concluded that thetrue measure of home is not about the past or the future. Home isabout making the most of your life and your family's life every day.In the midst of finishing this book and starting others, I often thinkof the hard lessons I've learned through the years as my family and Imake our home. The most importantone I've learned is to create a home anda life that you and your family enjoy. Ithink of planning, organizing, cleaning,cooking, and maintaining as the toolsto making the home we want.
I've researched and written Makinga Home because home is the mostimportant place in the world. Mypremise for the book is as simple asthe tabbed, ringbound format—awell-organized, clean, and safe homecreates a peaceful, comfortableenvironment for you and your family. Mygoal for Making a Home is to provide accurate, current, conciseinformation to help you safely and economically organize, furnish,clean, maintain, and enjoy your home.
There are no magic solutions, but with some thought and practice,you can make a home that nurtures you and your family. Last night,for instance, I worked until 6:30 and had dinner on the dining tablefor my youngest son, Forrest, and me by 7:15. (My husband Stevewas working late.) We had a pork loin roasted slowly in a crockerycooker all day, fresh asparagus that Forrest sautéed in olive oil, andadmittedly instant (but garlic-roasted) potatoes from the pantry. Weput on a new Eric Clapton compact disc and looked up a painter welike in an art book.
Every day doesn't go this smoothly. It certainly didn't whenForrest and his older brother Dallas were small. But through theyears, I've made my home and familymy priority, and I've found thatthinking ahead, planning, stocking, andsetting reasonable routines andexpectations for children do work. I'vedevoted a chapter and a number of tipboxes in Making a Home to settingup time-saving routines thatincorporate my experiences.
House and home have been aspecial interest of mine since I was achild. I grew up in the house wheremy mother was born, the house mygrandmother lived in from the day shemarried until the day she died 72 years later. When I think of what itmeans to make a home, I think first of this rambling old house, witha big front porch where we still take family snapshots.
I learned through the years that home is more than a house, nomatter how filled it is with memories. Home is where you live yourlife every day. In our years of marriage, Steve and I have lived in fivehouses in three states. Twenty years ago, we married under aflowering pear tree in the backyard of the small house I rented. Assoon as we could, we bought our first house, a post-World War IIbox on the affordable side of town.
That house, with floor-lengthwindows in the living room, facedwest so we planted a fast-growingtulip poplar tree in the front yard toblock the afternoon sun. When welived in this house, we and ourfriends, mostly reporters like us onthe daily newspapers, were only afew years out of college. We hadbaby and wedding showers,backyard barbeques, and welcomeback and goodbye parties for ourmobile friends. For several years, afriend arrived by Model-T Ford in aSanta Claus suit for our annualchildren's Christmas cookies party.
When our boys were small, we movedto a bigger city so I could work at amagazine and Steve at a university—betterhours for parents than dailynewspapers. My new boss told us abouta neighborhood of affordable houses andgood public schools.
The house we bought on a quiet circlewas a few years older, $20,000 moreexpensive, and minus the carport of our first house. Our budget wastight so we became dedicated do-it-yourselfers, and I was forced tobecome an organized working mother. We hung a porch swing theweek we moved in. We redid the kitchen ourselves by painting thecabinets white and putting in a new vinyl floor. We even refinishedthe wood floors in the other rooms. With two small, active boys andseveral pets, I could have used the cleaning tips I've learned as Iresearched Making a Home.
Through the years, we painted every room at least once. I chose asalmon pink for the exterior (it had been dark red).The change was so dramatic thatForrest didn't think it was hishouse—and refused to get out ofthe car—when he came home fromhis day at nursery school.
In this little house, I refined thecleaning, shopping, cooking, andlaundry routines that still work forme and that I adapted for Making aHome. We do the laundry onThursday night and clean the houseon Saturday. Saturday afternoon Iplan our meals for the week and dothe grocery shopping. Through the years, I learned to do some ofthe cooking for the next week in advance and to use a crockerycooker. I found the week goes much smoother if we start eachMonday with a clean house, fresh laundry, meals and food for theweek ahead, and up-to-date paperwork.
Such cleaning and organizing are important parts of Making aHome, but savoring life at home is the heart of the book. That's whyI've included sections on children's books, the family library,birthday parties, wedding and baby showers, summer cookouts, andovernight guests, all the enjoyable andhappy things I remember from ourlittle pink house.
Eventually we moved a few milesaway in the same school district. Thissprawling split-level ranch neededTLC. It suffered from dated carpetand an overgrown but lushly plantedback garden. We painted the openliving and dining room a month afterwe moved in, right before we hostedmy office Christmas party.
We finally had space for biggerparties. On a very hot summer afternoon, we called guests at thelast minute to tell them to wear shorts when our air-conditionerbroke before an engagement party. Because I like to entertain andhave always had time and budget constraints, I've included fun,easy, and simple entertaining ideas in Making a Home.
We moved across the country after Dallas graduated from highschool. A smaller house suited ourlifestyle and college-strapped budget.We like walkable neighborhoods andfound one with brick cottages,including our little house that wasbuilt in 1941. The house has an atticbedroom, a screen porch, and abasketball hoop. When it's warm,the porch is our living room. I readthere by lamp light on summernights, as does Dallas when hecomes home from college. Forrestsets up his easel and paints. Someday I want a house with porches on all foursides and a big dining room for our extended family. Until then, I'llmake my home in this cottage or wherever life takes us.
I hope Making a Home will be useful to you and your life athome. And I hope that the information, advice, and sources inMaking a Home will help you save time and money and create asafe and comfortable haven of calm and order inyour life. You can make the home you want foryourself and your family. Making a home isn't theeasiest thing you'll ever do, but I promise it is themost worthwhile. Please call or e-mail me if youhave any comments or suggestions.
Linda Hallam, editor, Making a Home, email@example.com
Excerpted from Making a Home by . Copyright © 2001 by Meredith Corporation. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Posted September 5, 2002
Who'd have thought that cleaning and organizing your life could be so fullfilling and take so little of your time. Since following the good advice in this book I've made my home more enjoyable and had more time for my family. There are dozens of little tricks that really work! There are also ways that kids can help to. Since I've started these tricks and routines, I've found myself less edgy about company and more willing to entertain. No more crash cleaning for me!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 23, 2001
What a great resource this book is! The editors of Better Homes and Gardens have done a superb job of compiling everything you need to know about setting up and maintaining an orderly home. Well organized with tabs for quick reference, MAKING A HOME covers cleaning, house systems, home environment, entertaining and etiquette, records, and of course ...... organization. Whether you're organizationally challenged or think you've got it together,I predict that MAKING A HOME will become your cookbook of organizing.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.