Tag Archives: home


Halloween Costumes: 15 Ideas You can DIY This Year

Fall is here, which means that it’s time to start thinking about Halloween! One of the best parts about Halloween is coming up with the perfect costume, but sometimes actually shopping for costumes can be exhausting and frustrating.

To make your costume hunting easier, we’ve rounded up an awesome selection of easy Halloween costumes that you can DIY (some in minutes!).  Whether you’re going as an individual, one half of a couples’ costume, or as the member of a group, you can find the perfect costume for your Halloween celebrations! Continue reading

How Smart is Your Home?

How Smart is Your Home?

Men's Journal magazine April 2012Gone are the days when robots were a distant idea. Now, there’s an automated solution for almost every home task–although we have yet to hear of a toilet-cleaning robot.

My great-grandmother had a clapper in her living room. As the sun went down each evening, she would clap once to turn the lights on. When she was ready for bed after watching the weather, she clapped twice and the lights went off for the night. Silly, yet so smart.

Home automation (home “smarts”) has come a long way since Granny’s clapper. The April issue of Men’s Journal shows us some of the latest gadgets for making our homes smarter.

Like a programmable thermostat. We have one at home that we program based on the time of day, but Men’s Journal highlights one that can be adjusted through an app on your smartphone, and it even knows when you’re not home and turns itself down to save energy. Now that’s smart!

Remember the first robot vacuums that chased the cats around the house while picking up the stray crumb here and there? They’ve come a long way, too. The newest versions are smart enough to go back over extra-dirty areas more than once if need be. There’s even a new mopping robot. I may order myself one of those before the day is up.

The feature in Men’s Journal also talks about smarter light bulbs, updated electrical wiring and locks that open at your command.

Maybe I should start with the clapper and see how I do with that first.

Real Simple magazine December 2011

How to Prepare Your Home for a Return From the Hospital

Real Simple magazine December 2011

Real Simple magazine's December 2011 issue

Blogger Summer Huggins uses guidance from Real Simple to compile a checklist for preparing her mother’s home for Mom’s return from the hospital.

My mother had a stroke on Veteran’s Day. I’m so happy to report that she is completely herself–memories, smarts and sense of humor are totally intact. She has a long road ahead of her to learn to walk and use her left hand again though.

Still in the hospital, she misses her kitties, her own bed and her comfy couch. And who can blame her? So while she focuses on feeling better and dreams of kicking the next doctor who asks her to wiggle her toes, I’m looking ahead and planning to make her house as comfortable and easy to navigate as possible for the day she gets to go home. That is going to require some keen organization. And that requires Real Simple magazine.

With inspiration from the pages of the last few issues of Real Simple, I’ve formulated the follow plan:

  1. Pick things up off of the floor. Mom is an avid reader, so seeing stacks and stacks of books and magazines under the coffee table, around her bedside table and behind the couch isn’t uncommon. I’ll use clear storage boxes and wall-mounted shelving to organize and tidy up all her reading materials, getting them off the floor for a clearer walking path. Her beautiful rug will be rolled up into a corner in the garage for a bit too.
  2. Purge the kitchen. The pantry and fridge both need to be uncluttered and filled with healthy foods. This will make things easier for her to see and reach, and the healthy foods will support her on her path to wellness again. Cookies are out–fresh fruit and veggies will be ushered in!
  3. Get rid of excess furniture, at least for now. At her house, it’s Mom, my awesome stepdad and three cats, yet their living room alone has more seating that the five of them could ever use at once. There is an oversize couch, three recliners and a beautiful wooden rocking chair. Some of those chairs have got to go. We can put them in the garage for a while. Or we could even sell the excess pieces to make money for all that healthy fruit that I plan to keep her stocked up on!

I wish I could wave a magic wand and make things better for her. But bringing her a daily vanilla latte and making sure her home is comfortable and functional are the things I really can do right now.

If you’ve ever had to organize your home or a family member’s home to help on the road to recovery, I’d love to hear your tips too!

Eduardo Xol's fiesta table

Design Tips From Eduardo Xol: Make Your Holiday Party a Holiday Experience

Eduardo Xol's fiesta table

A fiesta table from Eduardo Xol's book "Extreme Entertaining Made Simple"

Next week Magazines.com is kicking off the third installment of the “Ask an Expert” contest, in which you can ask me your most pressing home and lifestyle design questions. If I answer your question here on the blog, you win a gift card.

Meanwhile, you don’t have to do much more than to walk into a store these days to be reminded that the holiday season is approaching.  I wanted to offer my help on planning the best holiday party ever. My philosophy, which I outline in my book “Extreme Entertaining Made Simple,” is that the best entertaining encompasses all of the senses at the same time.

I strongly believe that every moment in life is an experience; any event that you plan and design should be a singular and memorable experience, especially during the holidays! I understand that for most people, looking at the bigger picture can be a bit overwhelming, so I suggest asking yourself some basic questions to get started:

  1. What is the “look” of the party? Is there a theme or event, like Halloween?
  2. What should the environment smell like? What images do you want to be conjured up in the minds of your guests by what they smell?
  3. What foods best represent your party?
  4. What do you want the soundtrack to your event to be? What will define the sound and how will the sound define your party?
  5. What will your guests be touching at your party? Do you want to have a special element that will stimulate your guest’s sense of touch?
  6. Finally, once you’ve answered all of these questions, do your choices feel cohesive? Do they all make sense together?

Armed with the answers to those questions, you should be able to turn your holiday party into a true holiday experience—a memorable one at that.

If you want more help planning a great event this holiday season, check the Magazines.com blog next week and ask me some questions! Remember, if I answer yours, you will win a gift card! How often do you get an offer like that?