Happy Homemaking!


Welcome to the official website of authors Elyssa Andrus and Natalie Hollingshead, and their book, Happy Homemaking: An LDS Girl’s Guide.

On this site we’ll share tips and tricks to make homemaking fun and doable. We’ll post our favorite recipes, cutest crafts, best home decor ideas and inspirations, time-saving shortcuts, and secrets for a fabulous home and life.

Find out more…

Clear the Clutter Challenge

Courtesy FreeDigitalPhotos.net






I interviewed professional organizer, author and speaker Cris Evatt for the organizing chapter of our book,  “Happy Homemaking: An LDS Girl’s Guide.” She told me that the thing that complicates life most is clutter, and, after recently moving, I completely agree.

Sometimes, though, it’s hard to figure out what to do with all the junk we acquire. Buying a bunch of cute containers to organize said junk can help, but at the end of the day even that action just brings more stuff into your life. The important thing is to get rid of unnecessary items that don’t bring you joy or enrich your life.

These last few weeks before school starts are a great time to get organized and ready for the coming school year. If the thought of going through your house is overwhelming, take Evatt’s advice and start small. Pick any room and fill a shopping bag with items that you no longer want or need. Then donate these items to a community thrift store. Hopefully, this simple exercise will motivate you to do a more thorough inventory of your living space and life. If you are ready to get rid of enough things to fill several shopping bags — or the back of a Suburban — all the better. Happy organizing!

Recipe: Beach Street Chicken Linguine

My point-and-shoot camera doesn't do this dish justice. Delicious, fresh and easy!

Summer meal planning is tricky — at least in my opinion. I tire quickly of typical BBQ fare but can’t get excited about turning on the oven, either. I also crave lighter dishes and the fresher food tastes, the better.

This is a recipe that I make all the time but is especially great in the summertime. The marinade gives the dish so much flavor without requiring much time. I’ve shared it with many friends and neighbors who have loved it, too. In fact, I like this recipe so much that we included it in the cooking chapter of our soon-to-be-released book, “Happy Homemaking: An LDS Girl’s Guide.”

I found this recipe a few years ago on the Deals to Meals blog. And I’ve made it at least once a month since then. (Fun fact: Shandra Madsen, owner of Deals to Meals, was one of the expert sources interviewed for the food storage chapter in our book.)


Beach Street Lemon Chicken Linguini
1 pound linguini
2 tablespoon olive oil
Zest from one lemon
Juice from one lemon
½ cup chopped green onion
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

½ cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, whole
2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons minced parsley
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 chicken breasts, sliced (you could add one or two more breasts for a meatier entree)

Combine the marinade ingredients in a Ziploc bag. Slice thawed chicken. Pat dry and toss in marinade to coat. Refrigerate 1-12 hours. Cook marinated chicken with the marinade sauce in a large saute pan on medium heat until chicken is cooked.

Cook linguini in boiling salted water until done. Drain well and rinse noodles. Combine juice of one lemon, zest, olive oil, green onions and fresh parsley together in large bowl. Add hot pasta into bowl and toss well. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add chicken with marinade into the large pasta bowl. Toss in parmesan cheese to taste and serve warm.

– Recipe from DealstoMeals.blogspot.com

Giveaway: Like Us on Facebook!

The release of our book, “Happy Homemaking: An LDS Girl’s Guide” is less than a month away! It comes out August 14, and to celebrate we are having a launch party at the BYU Bookstore that day from 3 until 6:30 p.m.

We’ll be giving more details about the launch party and info on other book signings we are doing on our Facebook page. And that’s where you — and this cute apron — come in. “Like” us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/HappyHomemaking. Once we reach 100 “likes”, we’ll pick a winner at random and send them this darling black-and-white apron. Good luck!

Cranberry, Bacon and Mozzarella Salad

This Cranberry, Bacon and Mozzarella Salad is one my favorite salads to bring to potlucks and family gatherings. I particularly love the sweet, tangy dressing, which is made from red onion and red wine vinegar. In the picture above, I left out the chicken, but the original recipe (from a friend of a friend) does call for it. Enjoy.


Romaine lettuce

Crumbled bacon

Chopped chicken


Sliced, sugared almonds

Shredded mozzarella cheese

Mix all ingredients, then add dressing below.


½ cup red wine vinegar

½ medium red onion

2 teaspoons dry mustard

1 cup of sugar

½ a teaspoon of salt

Mix all of above ingredients, then add 1 cup of oil.

—     Recipe courtesy Brooke Neeley

Citrus Bars

I love the tart flavors of lemon and lime, and this recipe for Citrus Bars marries both for a tasty end result. This is a great summer dessert, perfect for making ahead of time and toting to a BBQ, potluck or party. The recipe utilizes two of my favorite and most well-used kitchen tools: a microplane rasp grater and juicer.  It’s also very adaptable; use more lemons or more limes depending on what flavor you prefer (or, if you’re like me, what you have on hand). Enjoy!


For the crust:

1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 cups flour

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

For the filling:

6 large eggs at room temperature

3 cups granulate sugar

2 tablespoons grated lemon and lime zest

1 cup freshly squeezed lemon and lime juice

1 cup flour


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Combine the flour and salt, and add to the butter until just mixed. Dump the dough onto a well-floured counter and gather into a ball. Flatten and press dough into a 9- by 13-inch baking sheet, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides. Chill. Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack while preparing filling.

For the filling, whisk together eggs, sugar, zest, juice and flour. Pour over crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature before cutting into squares. Dust with confectioners’ sugar.

-Adapted from recipe by Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa Cookbook


How To: Easy Homemade Puff Paint

It’s July, and the mercury is starting to climb. I love my kids to play outside and soak up summer fun as much as possible. But when it’s too hot, staying outdoors for hours isn’t possible (or, really, safe).

That’s when summer art projects become indispensable. Because my kids are young and have relatively short attention spans, I like projects that are come together quickly, are generally self directed (they can do them without me hovering over their shoulders) and are easy to clean up. This microwaveable puffy paint recipe fits the bill. Happy painting!

Microwavable Puff Paint


1 tablespoon flour

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon water

Food coloring, a few drops per batch

Mix ingredients together to form a paste. Paint on cardstock using q-tips or foam brushes. To set, microwave for 20 seconds. If paint still isn’t dry, microwave an additional 10 seconds. Viola!

Tips: Have kids wear aprons so the food coloring doesn’t dye their clothes. If you are preparing more than one color, wait to summon your helpers until the last color. That way they aren’t sitting around waiting “patiently” for you to be done.

Soak up Summer: Five Fun Things to do With Your Kids

Lily gets covered in mud hiking in American Fork Canyon.

There’s nothing as wonderful as summer in Utah County, but when you have young children, individual days may seem to drag on forever. Here are five quick ways to keep little ones occupied. (They are specific to the area where I live, but the ideas could be adapted for any location.) These are things I can easily manage with a 7-, 4- and 1-year-old:

Discover a new park: We love playing at parks because they are free, but as temperatures climb going to the park is miserable unless you find one with water or shade. I love Cedar Hills’s Heritage Park, 4450 W. Cedar Hills Dr., because it has both. Huge, leafy trees shade the banks of a small riverbed, and there is just enough water in the river for children to wade. If Cedar Hills is too far away, resolve to discover a new, shady park in your area of the county.

Make a splash: There are several great splash parks in Utah Valley. I don’t feel safe taking three little kids to a public swimming pool by myself. But at a splash pad we can all get wet — for free — without me constantly worrying that someone is going to drown. In Provo, I like the small splash pad at the Shops at the Riverwoods, 4801 N. University Ave. My favorite Utah County splash pad is in Highland, located in the park north of City Hall at 5400 W. Civic Center Dr. (about 10800 North).

Take a hike: Another way to escape the valley heat is to head up to cooler mountain air. There are a number of kid-friendly hikes in Utah Valley, most of them in either American Fork Canyon or Provo Canyon. We recently hiked the first mile of the wooded Timpooneke Trail in American Fork Canyon. (There is a minimum $6 fee to access the canyon.) Although it’s not a true hike, we also like to walk the paved trail in Provo Canyon from Vivian Park to the Bridal Veil Falls waterfall. The path is shaded most of the way, and the base of the waterfall is a nice place to cool off on a hot day.

Engage the mind: In between the park and the pool, I try and do a couple of things each week that focus on education. We visit the library every Tuesday, and part of our summer-morning chores involve reading and writing. I also love museums for the air-conditioned comfort they offer. You can excite your little scientist with the impressive collection of dinosaur fossils and artifacts at Thanksgiving Point’s Museum of Ancient Life, 3003 N. Thanksgiving Way in Lehi ($10 adults, $8 children). Or, at the opposite end of the valley, the Springville Museum of Art, 126 E. 400 South in Springville, is a free way to inspire your child’s inner artist. Even something as simple as a lemonade stand can teach children about math and economics.

Crash a party: Whether your own city celebration is upcoming or long over, there is no rule saying an Orem resident can’t attend Steel Days, or a Lehi resident can’t enjoy Onion Days. One of the best parts of summer in Utah Valley is the round-the-clock partying that takes place — there are always fireworks and a carnival somewhere in the valley. For a complete list of city celebrations and dates, visit http://www.heraldextra.com/lifestyles/leisure/summer-smorgasbord-take-a-stroll-into-the-city-to-enjoy/article_f3e39c56-622c-56f5-966d-e0eb5cceefc9.html.

Fun To Go: Staying Organized This Summer

A big part of what makes summer special is spontaneous outings. I try to keep our schedules flexible enough so we can fit in unplanned trips to the pool, last-minute picnics and barbecues, and the like. But I find I am more willing to go with the flow when I’ve done a bit of prep work ahead of time. Enter the grab-and-go summer swim bag.

This is hardly a revolutionary concept, but it is an organizational tool that saves me time and stress. I store everything we need for trips to pool in this well-loved bag. No need to rush about the house trying to locate gear at the last minute.

The bag is always kept in the same place — under the sink in our main-level powder bath. The bathroom is right next to the garage door, so it’s easy to grab on the way out the door. Larger swim toys, such as kickboards, are stored there, too.

Here is what you’ll find in the bag:

-Beach towels
-Cover ups for the kids
-Sunscreen (Never leaves this bag! I buy multiple tubes at the beginning of the summer to keep in the bag, house and cars)
-Sunglasses (A cheap pair bought to trash at the pool)
-Water shoes
-Inflatable water toys
-Pool passes (Kept in an zippered pocket)
I don’t keep snacks in the bag because the pools we frequent don’t allow outside food. But, they do allow sealed water bottles so I usually grab a few of those on the way out.
I am vigilant about making sure nothing leaves the bag unless we are at the pool or doing laundry. That way I always know where things are when I need them. I also have grab-and-go-bags for church (stored in hall closet) and for doctor visits or other appointments (kept in the car).


An Explosively Good Dessert: Raspberry Bread Pudding

This is a recipe for the best dessert I have ever tasted, given to me by my friend Noelle. It’s also the reason I started writing “Happy Homemaking” (coming out in August!). A couple of years ago, I made a pan of this raspberry bread pudding to take to my in-law’s house for Christmas Eve dinner. When I pulled the glass pan out of the oven, I absentmindedly set it on a hot stove burner. I turned my back for a second, only to hear it explode. The explosion sent shards of glass and raspberries clear into my living room. It was my worst culinary disaster to date.

After the Bread Pudding Incident, I figured I had better learn a bit more about cooking, and baking and, well, a lot of things. I recruited Natalie Hollingshead, and together we interviewed a dozen experts about the art and science of homemaking. Basically, I wrote the book for selfish reasons — I wanted to know how to make the perfect pie, balance my budget and do laundry the right way.

The recipe below isn’t actually in the book — Consider it a web-only bonus. It’s actually pretty easy to make and should turn out perfectly, as long as you don’t make it explode.

Raspberry Bread Pudding

Cream Mix: 

1 loaf aged, white bread 

1 quart heavy cream 

3 cups sugar 

1 egg 

1 teaspoon vanilla 

Fruit Filling: 

5 cups frozen raspberries 

1 cup sugar 

1/2 cup apple juice 

Vanilla Sauce: 

2/3 cup butter 

1 ½ tablespoons flour 

Pinch of salt

1 ½ cups heavy cream

1/2 cup sugar (add more if doesn’t taste sweet enough)

2 teaspoons vanilla


In large bowl combine cream, sugar, egg and vanilla. Cut bread into 1 ½-inch cubes and add to cream mixture, coating bread well. Let stand 30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes to allow cream to absorb completely. For fruit filling, combine raspberries, sugar and apple juice, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Layer a 9-inch by 13-inch dark baking dish 3/4 full with bread mixture, pour fruit filling over bread mixture, spreading evenly, top with remaining bread. Bake 40 minutes at 375 degrees. Serve warm. Top with vanilla sauce. For vanilla sauce, over medium heat, melt butter, and add flour. Stir about 5 minutes until it has a nutty aroma; do not brown. Add salt, cream and sugar and boil till mixture is thick. Remove from heat, adding vanilla. Serve sauce over pudding.

—     Courtesy Noelle Degroot of Cedar Hills, Utah

The Short List

Lists — love ‘em or hate ‘em?

I am a lover of lists. I’ve got grocery lists, shopping lists, food storage lists, house project lists, to-do lists. I love to write things down then strike through them once the task has been accomplished.

So when I found this cute notepad at a paper boutique on Coronado Island, I knew it had to be mine. Cute, compact and cheery, it is the perfect way for me to keep track of everything I need to do this summer. Plus, it fits in with my new simplification efforts — there is only room for nine items on the list and I’ve set that number as my official cap for to-dos. With two kids and another on the way, a book coming out (hooray!), not to mention work and church obligations, I’m trying to do less this summer, not more.

What are you doing to simplify this summer?