Annie Payne Column May 23, 2009

Staycation: Get out the hammock and make your house a summer home

I am so happy that summer vacation has started. It was getting harder with each day to wake up and get the kids ready for school.

The alarm would go off, and I’d hit the snooze and think, “We’ll have cereal, instead of pancakes for breakfast.”

Five minutes later, the alarm would go off again. “I won’t iron their clothes.” Hit the snooze.

Five minutes later. “We’ll skip baths.”

Now their teachers know that if the Payne kids were hungry, wrinkled and smelled bad, it’s not their
fault. It’s their mom’s and that ever-so-tempting snooze button.

We’ve been gearing up for summer ever since daylight savings time began ... cooking outside, buying new flip-flops, staying up later (hence, the abuse of the snooze button).

But when we started planning our summer trips, like most people, we realized that in this economy, the trips we have taken in previous years just aren’t going to happen in 2009.

Here are a few tips to make your house a summer home for your family’s “stay-cation.”


Take a cue from your favorite hotel. A good hotel is clean, orderly and offers its guests little luxuries.

Hotels don’t have extraneous furniture. Have a look around your room. Do you have under-used or over-abused pieces of furniture? Perhaps it’s time to let them go.

Consider selling your well-cared-for items in a yard sale. You can make some extra money for ice cream cones and pool passes.

Change your heavy winter curtains for light sheers. These can be purchased inexpensively, even on a tight summer budget. I got mine at Kmart. Thanks Martha.

Bring in some live plants: palms, ferns and fresh cut flowers. Set out bowls of fresh fruit, such as cherries, for the hungry passersby.

Put a little basket of trial-sized lotions next to your bathroom sink and don’t forget mints on the pillows.


One of the things kids love most about traveling is the chance to sleep somewhere else.

Just because you are staying close to home this summer doesn’t mean you have to sleep in the same bed each night. Let the kids switch beds or even switch bedrooms.

Setting up a tent in the backyard is just as good, if not better than going camping, because a familiar bathroom with a flushing toilet is just inside and not down a dark path with who-knows-what waiting for you in the woods.

If you are really adventurous, move the kids’ beds out of their rooms and set the tent up in there instead. I haven’t tried this. Let me know how it goes.


You may not be basking in the sun on a peaceful white sand beach this summer, but who says you can’t bring that blue ocean water home with you?

Add a few drops of blue food coloring to your bath water and just pretend you are in a tropic locale.

We actually did test this first. I added a few drops of blue food coloring to my daughter Mini Me’s bathwater. After 30 minutes, neither she nor the bathtub turned blue ... to her disappointment.

Now, all you’ll need is someone to bring you a fruity drink in a pineapple.


The kids and I love to do crafts, but we hate to clean up after our projects are done.

We’ve been saving up several projects for the summer months, so that the daily routine of pick-up-
and-put-away doesn’t cramp our artistic style.

Set aside some space in the house or garage where the crafts can be ongoing.

We used a card table in the corner of the guest room to create “Craft Central,” where there is always easy access to paper, paints and pastels.

Just don’t forget to unplug the glue gun when you are done.


Why should the kids have all the fun? Mom deserves a break during the summer, too.

Take a break from your regular dishes and use paper plates. You have already cut down on your carbon footprint by not taking that vacation flight.

Give yourself a break from the kitchen sink a couple nights a week by using disposable dishes.


Summer allows some flexibility in a family schedule, but the predictability of a routine keeps the family from getting too loosey-goosey.

Make Monday “Family Game Night.” Tuesday could be “Library Day.” Wednesday is “Swim Day.”

Thursday is “Hike Night.” Friday is “Kid’s Choice,” and Saturday is “Date Night” (no kids allowed)!

Giving each day a theme infuses fun into the long, hot, dog days of summer.


Because I won’t be flying somewhere to swing in a hammock between two palm trees this summer,

I bought a hammock hanger for the backyard.

It’s been something we’ve been putting off buying for years.

My husband, aka Secret Agent Man, and I have beautiful, colorful, hand-crafted hammocks we purchased in South America that have just been taking up space in the garage for 15 years.

With the money we are saving by not going on a vacation, we’ve finally purchased a hammock stand to make the best use of our treasured souvenirs.


We are so lucky to live here. We live near so many trails, recreational areas, state and national parks.

The “Vacationland” insert in The Daily Sentinel’s May 17 edition was full of ideas for places to go that are less than a tank of gas away.

Some of our favorites are Rifle Falls, Vega Lake State Park and, of course, Colorado National Monument.

When it comes to spending the summer in western Colorado, there is truly no place like home.

For more on an unpredictable variety of other topics, visit Annie Payne’s “Anniethology” blog online at


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