Picnic Dinners Are the One Thing I’m Keeping From Last Year

There’s a lot from the last year that I am ready to toss to the wayside: Zoom birthday parties? No thanks. Remote learning? Never again—please! My house slippers? I’m planning a bonfire. One of the few things I’m keeping? Picnic dinners. While I am del…

There’s a lot from the last year that I am ready to toss to the wayside: Zoom birthday parties? No thanks. Remote learning? Never again—please! My house slippers? I’m planning a bonfire. One of the few things I’m keeping? Picnic dinners. While I am delighted to be patronizing our favourite taco spot and dosa shop again, I’m definitely not giving up the casual outdoor meal tradition my family came to discover—and love.

Last spring, when the weather turned warm enough to eat outside (or to be honest, while it was still a tad too cool), my husband, my son, and I started packing up meals to eat outdoors. It was a way to escape the confines of our relatively small home and also a necessity on days when we’d planned a hike or beach trip and we couldn’t pop into a restaurant. Al fresco lunches had always been a part of our routine—and frankly, expected—but picnic dinners were new—and they were a revelation.

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15 Beach Bag Essentials: Family Edition

I am a beach person to my core. I grew up near the water where my family would spend entire days. In my early 20s living in New York, I took the A train all the way to the Rockaways just to catch some waves.

Luckily (or rather strategically) I married…

I am a beach person to my core. I grew up near the water where my family would spend entire days. In my early 20s living in New York, I took the A train all the way to the Rockaways just to catch some waves.

Luckily (or rather strategically) I married a beach person, so it was inevitable that we’d start a family that spends a lot of time together on the sand. However, I quickly learned that things get more complicated with little ones in the picture. Gone were the days of reading on the beach and packing light. As a mom, I had to worry about my son wandering off into the waves, eating sand, and making “soup” out of washed-up jellyfish.

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15 Very Doable Tweaks to Reduce Kitchen Waste

A Full Plate is a column about family life and the home by contributing writer Laura Fenton, who explores the intersection of sustainable living and home design through a mother’s eyes.

Quick, where’s the biggest garbage can inside your home? Bet yo…

A Full Plate is a column about family life and the home by contributing writer Laura Fenton, who explores the intersection of sustainable living and home design through a mother’s eyes.


Quick, where’s the biggest garbage can inside your home? Bet you said the kitchen, right? Our kitchens are the source of so much of the waste that flows into—and out of—our homes. From food packaging to forgotten leftovers, the trash fills up quickly.

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We Love This Low-Stress Decluttering Challenge

It’s rare that a new decluttering or organizing method comes along that feels like something new. But Christine Platt, the author of the forthcoming book The Afrominimalist’s Guide to Living With Less and the person behind @afrominimalist on Instagram,…

It’s rare that a new decluttering or organizing method comes along that feels like something new. But Christine Platt, the author of the forthcoming book The Afrominimalist’s Guide to Living With Less and the person behind @afrominimalist on Instagram, has our attention with her slow-and-steady decluttering challenge. Christine’s brand of minimalism looks very different from the one in our popular imagination—that of white rooms filled with the bare minimum of furnishings. It looks a lot more like what I’d call real life: In her home you’ll find colorful textiles, plenty of books, personal photos, and a cute (but small) collection of coffee mugs.

Christine Platt, aka, the Afrominimalist

Christine’s approach to decluttering is also radical in its simplicity. Two years ago, she dreamed up the #1thing1day1year challenge. The idea came about after hearing from so many people who said they wanted to live a more minimalist lifestyle, but couldn't do it. Christine says, “I thought if it's just one thing a day, it would be a nice way to have people ease into it. Making it just one thing keeps it low-pressure.” But she also knows the infectious nature of clearing space out would get people to say goodbye to more than just one thing on some days.

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11 Expert Tips for Thrift Shopping (Secondhand Treasures Await!)

A Full Plate is a column about family life and the home by contributing writer Laura Fenton, who explores the intersection of thoughtful living and home design through a mother’s eyes.

When I was pregnant with my son, a college friend told me, “I ha…

A Full Plate is a column about family life and the home by contributing writer Laura Fenton, who explores the intersection of thoughtful living and home design through a mother’s eyes.


When I was pregnant with my son, a college friend told me, “I have one piece of advice for you: Don’t buy anything new.” He was a dad of two by then and knew how quickly kids grow out of things, and how short a time we’d actually use our baby gear. I was already a flea market shopper, but I took his advice to heart as we added to our home to accommodate a child: buying a vintage rocker and dresser to furnish our son’s nursery and saying yes to all the hand-me-downs. Six years later, this “nothing new” mindset extends to almost every purchase I make.

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16 Spring Cleaning To-Dos You Can Tackle in 5 Minutes (or Less)

Welcome to Your No-Sweat Guide to Spring Cleaning, a month-long series that puts the fun (yep, for real!) back into cleaning. We’re talking spruce-ups that take less than five minutes, why-didn’t-I-think-of-that hacks, and hands-off cleaning tasks that…

Welcome to Your No-Sweat Guide to Spring Cleaning, a month-long series that puts the fun (yep, for real!) back into cleaning. We’re talking spruce-ups that take less than five minutes, why-didn’t-I-think-of-that hacks, and hands-off cleaning tasks that basically…do themselves—plus our trustiest tools and helpers. The goal: clean less, go outside more.


When we think of spring cleaning, we imagine a full-day affair of vacuuming, mopping, dusting, and the like, but sometimes a little burst of cleaning or tidying can be almost as satisfying as a deep clean. And oftentimes, even after a full-force cleaning day there are little pockets of our home that escaped the scouring frenzy. As part of Home52’s spring cleaning efforts, I gathered up a host of cleaning tasks you can do in five minutes or less (yes, really!). These are low-impact, high-reward projects that will make your home feel fresh—and some of them may even surprise you!

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10 Ways to Conquer Your Fear of Color at Home

Lately, I’ve been craving a little more color in my world. If you look through my pins on Pinterest or my saves on Instagram, you’ll find a world of colorful interiors. Open the door to my apartment, however, and you’ll find a pretty limited palette of…

Lately, I’ve been craving a little more color in my world. If you look through my pins on Pinterest or my saves on Instagram, you’ll find a world of colorful interiors. Open the door to my apartment, however, and you’ll find a pretty limited palette of white, black, neutrals, and some touches of blue.

Research shows that color makes us happy. How exactly it does is still a mystery, and you’ll find conflicting advice from various studies that try to explain how specific colors make us feel. When I interviewed Ingrid Fetell Lee, the author of Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness last year, she shared a study that found that we tend to feel happiest in a place that provides a medium range of stimulation—an idea which struck a chord with me. According to the study, a neutral environment quickly becomes very unstimulating; bolder colors start off as more stimulating, but will even out to that medium level of stimulation that will bring us more lasting joy.

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7 Simple, Soothing Ideas for Bringing Japanese Minimalism Home

You’re probably familiar with Yumiko Sekine’s designs even if Sekine’s name and that of her brand, Fog Linen Work, are unfamiliar to you. Sekine’s signature linens are carried in home stores across the world. Fans love the laid back-but-luxurious vibe …

You’re probably familiar with Yumiko Sekine’s designs even if Sekine’s name and that of her brand, Fog Linen Work, are unfamiliar to you. Sekine’s signature linens are carried in home stores across the world. Fans love the laid back-but-luxurious vibe of high-quality materials paired with the simplest designs, and Fog Linen Work’s unfussy style has made them a favorite amongst homemakers with tastes ranging from minimalist to modern farmhouse (I myself own some Fog Linen Work towels).

Sekine also just debuted her first book Simplicity at Home: Japanese Rituals, Recipes, and Arrangements for Thoughtful Living, and it is a lovely tribute to what its author describes as “joyful minimalism.” In the book, Sekine spells out her philosophy that when you live with less you can find greater enjoyments in what you do have. And she walks the walk: Her home, which appears in many of the photographs is simple (sometimes in the extreme), but it is also filled with handmade and homespun touches that keep it from feeling cold.

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Craving Better Sleep? These Home Set-Up Tips Will Help.

A Full Plate is a column about family life and the home by contributing writer Laura Fenton, who explores the intersection of sustainable living and home design through a mother’s eyes.

As a parent, I’ve had my fair share of sleepless nights, but it…

A Full Plate is a column about family life and the home by contributing writer Laura Fenton, who explores the intersection of sustainable living and home design through a mother’s eyes.


As a parent, I’ve had my fair share of sleepless nights, but it wasn’t until this past year that I experienced actual bouts of insomnia (thanks, COVID). I suspect I’m not alone in this struggle. But we all know that a lack of sleep can negatively impact just about everything, so I want to share a few things that are helping me sleep better: Chief among them, I have found that my physical surroundings can make a real and positive difference in how well I rest.

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How I’m Getting My Home Ready for the New Year

A Full Plate is a column about family life and the home by contributing writer Laura Fenton, who explores the intersection of sustainable living and home design through a mother’s eyes.

I think we are all ready to say goodbye to 2020. As we head int…

A Full Plate is a column about family life and the home by contributing writer Laura Fenton, who explores the intersection of sustainable living and home design through a mother’s eyes.


I think we are all ready to say goodbye to 2020. As we head into the holidays, I am merrily wrapping presents and baking cookies, but I’m also running a covert operation to kick this year out of my home. With a long winter ahead, it feels more important than ever to take care of my home as a way to support my family’s wellbeing. Little by little I’m working to make my home more orderly and ready for a fresh start in 2021. Here’s how:

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