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Adventures in capsule living and a question for you

Posted by Robin Abrahams  March 12, 2014 06:18 AM

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The house Mr. Improbable and I live in is being renovated, top to bottom, inside and out, and as a result we have had to condense two entire apartments' worth of stuff (and, in Mr. Improbable's case, over 30 years' worth of history) into three rooms, one of which is storage.

We're living in the other two rooms, and it's not half bad, even considering that we both work at home. All the houses on our block have had work done in the past few years, it seems, and mostly during the summer when we have our windows open, so we're used to writing with construction noise in the background.

Here's my question to you, readers: When the renovation is over, we'll have a much nicer and more guest-friendly apartment. Our place was so oddly-configured and old and difficult to maintain that I gave in to learned helplessness years ago: You try gracious entertaining when your kitchen is on a different floor than your dining room and there's no dumbwaiter. So I'm looking forward to upping my game on the domestic front.

What are your favorite books, magazines, websites, or other resources for decorating, entertaining, and housekeeping? What are your own best practices? What products or tips or tricks do you find helpful?

Some pictures of our current capsule lifestyle. The Front Room: 


The red bra hanging on the wall there isn't any old bra, it's Dr. Elena Bodnar's Emergency Bra, which can also be used as a particle-filtering mask. Or, actually, two particle-filtering masks. This could be useful if dust from construction becomes overwhelming. 

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And this is the Back Room. 



This is where Milo spends most of his time, although he also has a blanket on the floor of the Front Room. It occurred to me the other day that he probably thinks of the bed as his territory that he graciously shares with us, and why wouldn't he? He's in it 18 hours a day. 

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About Miss Conduct
Welcome to Miss Conduct’s blog, a place where the popular Boston Globe Magazine columnist Robin Abrahams and her readers share etiquette tips, unravel social conundrums, and gossip about social behavior in pop culture and the news. Have a question of your own? Ask Robin using this form or by emailing her at

Who is Miss Conduct?

Robin Abrahamswrites the weekly "Miss Conduct" column for The Boston Globe Magazine and is the author of Miss Conduct's Mind over Manners. Robin has a PhD in psychology from Boston University and also works as a research associate at Harvard Business School. Her column is informed by her experience as a theater publicist, organizational-change communications manager, editor, stand-up comedian, and professor of psychology and English. She lives in Cambridge with her husband Marc Abrahams, the founder of the Ig Nobel Prizes, and their socially challenged but charismatic dog, Milo.

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