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Staying home

11986101h34155031_4  Less clubbing. More chili nights, potluck dinners, even Wii parties at home. That's what one writer says she and her friends are up to these days.

  "My friends and I are turning our homes into the new hangouts," writes Jenee Osterheldt in a commentary piece on page C2 in today's Home & Style section.

   Not that book clubs, game nights and scrapbooking parties are anything new. But, as Osterheldt suggests: "The uncertainties of a slowing economy seem to have forced us all to slow down, think about what's important in life and reintroduce ourselves to quality time."

Are you getting together with friends at home more often? Do you have a special night set aside for movies, cards or crafts? Please share your thoughts and ideas with readers.

Of parades and pumpkin pie

11980221h46907831    I have great childhood memories of watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade -- and every year I still watch it.

  It's mandatory, I tell my family, as I scoot back and forth between the kitchen and the den, where the TV is.

Now, there's a Web site that tells you all about it -- parade lineup, how the floats and balloons are made, regulations (parade-goers are asked to leave folding chairs at home!).

Check it all out at

Don't erase this

Chalkboard paint has been around for quite some time now, but I am seeing it more and more in  publications -- and not just in playrooms.

How about on the walls of a galley kitchen? Or even in a contemporary dining room?

I'm seeing it in real life, too. A cousin of mine used it in a vestibule, for example.

For those unfamiliar with chalkboard paint, it's just what you think. You apply it to walls, closet doors, toy chests, etc. and the dried surface enables you to use it like a chalkboard.

Tick-tack-toe, anyone?

I'm getting the itch to try this stuff -- for our 9-year-old daughter, of course.

Has anyone had some fun with chalkboard paint? Any tips or ideas?

Flannel discussion

11950382h46880971 The other day at Target I got into a brief conversation with a woman about flannel sheets.

"They're wonderful," she said, pointing out the nearby packages for sale.

We've never slept on them at our house, but as winter approaches and people fear high utility bills, I can understand their appeal.

Then, again, some people say they don't like them. They're sticky, one woman told me in my story on flannel sheets in today's Home & Style section.

Love them or not, it's time to take some sort of cover for the chilly nights ahead.

A down comforter does the trick for us. What about you?

A messy Election Day

I wanted to make Election Day morning an exciting one for our 9-year-old. First, she went along with me at 7 a.m. to vote. Then we went out to breakfast together before I dropped her off at school.

But a clear sign that it's very difficult to think about anything BUT the election today happened as we left the coffee shop: I placed my coffee and her leftover strawberry smoothie -- which I planned to finish off -- on top of the car while I unlocked the door.

The coffee made it into the car; the smoothie did not.

"What was THAT?" I said to her, after hearing an odd thump and crunch outside the car as we exited the parking lot.

"My SMOOTHIE!" she screamed.

(So that was what the man walking his dog was pointing at as we drove by him. And I thought he was waving.)

I was thinking about the election, I told our daughter who was now laughing hysterically.

I turned the car around, picked up the smashed cup and tossed it into a nearby trash can.

Get the feeling today is going to be a very, long day?