Category Archives for "Household Management"

Apr 21

When Your Home Runs You…and How to Stop Feeling Overwhelmed!

By Dustin | Household Management

Do you ever look around your house and wonder how things got so out of hand?

Bethany and I have struggled with “homemaking” since the earliest days of our marriage.

The Ultimate Homemaking BundleEarly on, it was all about trying to figure out who was doing what and splitting up chores.  But then…

kids came along and the household duties grew exponentially with each new child.

And after 14 years of marriage, the challenges never go away since our family’s needs continue to evolve.

The Dream…and The Reality

I definitely get overwhelmed with it all sometimes, but I think it’s especially hard on the wife of the home.

Bethany has told me that when she was a little girl, she dreamed about getting married, becoming a mommy, and having her own home.

She imagined a home that was more than just 4 walls, a roof, and a mortgage.

She wanted to make a special place that was a magical mash-up of:

• a school,
• a playground,
• a refuge,
• a boo-boo “fix it” station,
• a “you can do it” pep rally, and
• a safe place for personal expression, sharing and growth.

And then real life happened…

…laundry, diapers, stretch marks, and never-ending meal prep… money worries, gritty floors, soap scum, and the stain that won’t come out of our son’s favorite shirt… holiday stress, and teaching our daughters to read (and master long division)… a husband who works long hours, a kid with the sniffles, stomach aches and a fever… and a secret dream to run her own little business from home.

As rewarding as it is, homemaking is hard work and it doesn’t always come easily.

How to Stop Feeling Overwhelmed

It turns out that we’re not born with all the knowledge and patience we need to keep a happy, organized and faith-filled home.

Nope, the truth is that Homemaking is a Skill!

And that’s awesome news because it means that you can learn to be a better homemaker and get specific help in those areas that cause you stress.

That’s why we’re thrilled to announce the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle!

This is a collection of the best resources in the world when it comes to homemaking, and we’ve used several of these books to help run our own house with less stress and more smiles.

What is the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle?

BigBookBundle

It is a complete library of 99 eBooks and eCourses to help you nurture the beauty and productivity in your home and family relationships.

Here are the topics you’ll see inside:

Cleaning… create a healthy, toxin-free home
DIY/Homemade… fun and frugal ways to express your personal style
Devotionals and Faith… take a break from the daily grind to renew yourself
Finances… build a budget that works
Cooking & Meal Planning… serve easier, tastier meals in less time
Holidays & Special Events… brighten up old family traditions and create new ones
Homeschooling… homeschool with grace and ease
Marriage… heat up your marriage
Motherhood… find peace, balance & joy in mothering
Organizing… conquer the clutter and simplify your life
Pregnancy & Babies… enjoy a healthy pregnancy and prepare to nurture your baby
Health & Wellness… soothe aches & pains with natural remedies, and
Working from Home… hone your talents, live your passions and earn money to help your family

And for a limited time, the price is only $29.97. (A total value of $984.74.)

That breaks down to 30 cents per book… a full 97% discount! (And yes, everything is backed by a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee.)

77EbooksThere are also some amazing bonuses from generous, inspiring companies that understand homemakers like you.

Every gift is yours to enjoy.

I wonder which one will be your favorite?

Even if you only want a few of the nearly 100 books in this bundle, it’s still an incredible value.

And you can always share the others with friends or save them for a time when they’re just what you need – because we all know how unpredictable life can be on the home front~

But this bundle is only available for a very limited time…

Plus An Extra Bonus for Engaged Marriage Readers

As if the massive value provided by this bundle wasn’t enough, I want to sweeten the pot a little more and make sure you get the Marriage help that you need.  Plus, when you purchase the bundle through my special link, I get a referral bonus so it’s a win-win.

So, when you pick up the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle this week, I’m going to give you a FREE copy of our popular 15 Minute Marriage Makeover Premium Edition.  This includes the book plus some amazing bonus materials (a $16.99 value) – you can see the details here.

To claim your bonus, just purchase the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle through this link.

Then forward your receipt via email to me at Dustin [at] engagedmarriage.com and we’ll get you hooked up!

IMPORTANT: The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle will only be available from 8:00 a.m. EST on Monday, April 20 until 11:59 p.m. EST on Monday, April 27 so pick it up now while you’re thinking about it.

Jun 02

A thrifty DIY investment that pays dividends

By Kim Hall | Household Management

thrifty diy investment that pays dividendsIf you’ve bought your first home, you are familiar with the exhilaration of being handed your first set of keys and no longer having to tiptoe or keep the kids or pets quiet so as not to disturb the neighbors who are a mere thin floor, ceiling, or wall away.

You are probably also familiar with the list of projects that just keeps growing as the years pass.

I don’t recommend putting off almost all projects like we have in the past, only to later ratchet up the to-do list in an effort to get the house looking great so you can put it up for sale.

There is a lot to be said for choosing your upgrades wisely and being able to enjoy them while you still live in the home. 

Improvements are not all equal

While all improvements are generally good for one reason or another, some can be an investment that will pay dividends both now and later.

A kitchen facelift is one of those projects, and the especially good news is that the actual experience needed is minimal, depending on how much you decide to change.

We moved to Tennessee last summer and recently purchased a home we love.

Although it met our criteria of being structurally sound and move-in ready, we decided to budget for sprucing up the kitchen because it was straight out of the 1980’s: dark mauve walls and equally dark stained oak cabinets with very dated hardware. Plus, there was a countertop we wanted to move about a foot higher to accommodate swiveling bar stools so our company could sit and visit if we were working in the kitchen.

Oak kitchen mauve walls before wm

Lay the groundwork, do the deed

After much discussion, planning, and testing, we decided to go with buttery yellow walls and a soft off-white for the cabinets. We also thought we’d attach vinyl floor tiles to the backside of the kitchen counter to give it a richer look that offset the white. They look like expensive ceramic tile when installed and are durable, hide the dirt, and easy to clean.

We made a plan, purchased the materials, and proceeded to clean, sand, paint, hammer, glue, and nail our way to a fresh new look.

While I couldn’t tell you the exact cost, I’ll share what I do know:

Hours spent: Many. Sorry, I just didn’t keep track.

Cost: $407. We already owned paint brushes, sand paper, etc, so those things are not part of this total. The cost did include a spiffy new faucet on clearance—$105—because the old one leaked. Also, when I used the old sprayer, it stuck in the “on” position and continued to soak me and everything else in range. If we had gone with just paint, new hardware and hinges, the cost would have been about $220.

yellow white kitchen diy after wm 

Here are some of the dividends you, too, can enjoy, doing a project like this:

1. You get to work towards a tangible, short-term goal with your spouse. The time spent together can be joyful, and it can also provide practice in being generous with your patience. 🙂 For example, when my husband was placing the counter onto the brand new wood support brackets, he hit one of the brackets and broke it in half. The fix was simple, and he moved the bracket next to the wall where it won’t show. Problem solved, no fighting needed. If you are concerned about too much time together, however, I suggest checking out this wisdom from Dustin about co-puttering.

2. You get to enjoy the fruit of your labor. This is a huge improvement over hurriedly completing projects because you want the house to look good when you put it up for sale in the very near future. We’ve done it both ways, and living with the fresh new look and more user-friendly end result is much preferred. We enjoy such a sense of delight and satisfaction every time we walk into our newly bright and sunny kitchen!

3. You will find the space easier to keep clean. The Broken Window theory basically states that when a building is in disrepair, more damage is apt to be done. Conversely, when it is kept in good shape, it is less of a target. The same holds true for your home. While you may have tolerated and/or not even noticed everyday grime on your cabinets, you are much more apt to stay vigilant in keeping your new space clean and tidy.

4. You may be more comfortable having friends and family over. As Lisa-Jo Baker says, “If I wait for my house or my life to be perfect before ever inviting someone into it, I just might never let anyone in.” Like Lisa-Jo, I believe we shouldn’t wait for the perfectly decorated home before throwing open the door to generous hospitality. That being said, if freshening up or remodeling a space gets you comfortable with hospitality, go for it!

5. When you decide to sell your home, your efforts could pay off. Kitchens are important to buyers, and a brighter and more up-to-date space just shows better and is more appealing. Plus, you may be able to get a better price for your house. As the site RealEstate.com notes, “Kitchens tend to be the heart of a family home so anything you do to improve your kitchen will add value.”

 

I believe paint gives a lot of bang for the buck, and I recommend it for most any room that needs a facelift.

If you would like to tackle a kitchen facelift but need direction, The Frugal Girl shared a practical how-to post here.

For more background on two DIY products that I consider must-haves for freshening and refinishing, read this.

One last thing: Do you remember my post about places to find free and nearly free stuff? My hubbie picked up the old-fashioned orange and blue soda framed print showing on the left wall in the photo above on a regular walk through our neighborhood. The homeowners had put it in a cardboard box with other items to be picked up in the morning with the trash. Yes, we did a little neighborhood curb shopping that evening. 🙂

Question: What DIY investment have you made in your home?

Nov 27

Coffee Table Makeover

By Mary Beth Foster | Household Management

coffee table makeover

If your furniture is putting you to sleep, here’s a quick, easy and inexpensive way to give it a facelift with paint chips.

I started with a piece I already had, a Boksel Sofa Table from Ikea, but this project would work with any table or dresser with a glass or plexiglass top.  All you’ll need is a variety of paint chips and something to cut with.

coffee table makeover

Start by cutting your paint chips.  I used an x-acto knife and a ruler to cut my paint chips on a rotary mat, but don’t worry if you don’t have these tools.  I find that an x-acto knife makes for straighter, more precise cuts than scissors, but if you don’t have one, scissors would work just fine.  Also, if you don’t have a rotary mat, a thick piece of cardboard works well as a cutting surface. I chose to cut my paint chips into squares and rectangles of varying sizes.

After you’ve got a big pile of paint chips (trust me, you’ll need way more than you think you will!), remove the glass top from your table and begin positioning your paint chips directly on the tabletop.  I didn’t have a plan for their placement; I just tried to vary the size and color of the paint chips and let the design evolve as I went.

coffee table makeover

After you have a design you like, have your spouse help you to very carefully replace the glass top.  That’s right: I didn’t even glue them down.  When I started this project, I thought I’d have to figure out a way to make the paint chips adhere to the tabletop, but the glass top sat snugly enough against the tabletop to hold them in place.  Here’s the finished project.

coffee table makeover

This project took less than an hour and was completely free.  Here’s some advice I’d offer if you’re thinking of trying something like it.

  • The final effect of this project is definitely bold and busy – “whimsical,” as my husband called it.  I can see it looking great in a kid’s room or a play room.

  • Too busy for you?  If you like the idea of this project but find the final effect to be a little too bold, consider limiting yourself to a single shade of paint chips or cutting your paint chips into a single, uniform size.  Bigger paint chip pieces will also help.

  • Unless your table is very small, I would suggest cutting your paint chips into mainly large pieces.  Most of the small squares I cut went in the trash because it just took too many to cover a relatively small section of the table, and I had trouble keeping them in place without adhesive.

  • If you’re able to get by without gluing your paint chips in place like I did, this project is quick enough that you could change out your paint chips for different seasons.

  • Don’t have a glass top table?  I’ve seen variations of this project on Pinterest that involve using a craft paste like mod podge to glue paint chips to a basic coffee or side table.  I haven’t tried this myself, so do your research if you decide to go this route.

What tips do you have for giving old or boring furniture a facelift?

Oct 23

PVC Pipe Spider Tutorial

By Mary Beth Foster | Household Management

PVC Pipe Spider Tutorial

With Halloween approaching in just over a week, we’re getting the house ready for trick-or-treaters with a spooky giant spider!  Here’s how to make your own giant yard spider from PVC pipe.

Materials

Small plywood board (approximately 1’ x 2’)
6 10’ sections of ¾” PVC pipe cut as follows:
8 4’ lengths
8 2’ lengths
4 1’ lengths
8 ¾” 45-degree PVC elbows
8 ¾” 90-degree PVC elbows
PVC Primer
PVC Cement
4 ¾” U-shaped bolts
1-2 cans of black spray paint
2 black trash bags

Some notes on materials:

  • I used ¾” PVC pipe for this project because it was inexpensive, but if you want a bigger, more substantial spider with thicker legs, you could certainly use wider pipe.  Just make sure you also adjust the width of your elbows and u-bolts to match the width of your PVC pipe.

  • The “small plywood board” acts as a base to which to attach the legs; the measurements don’t need to be precise, nor does it need to be plywood.  I used a spare piece of plywood board I had in my garage from another project.  Just make sure it’s lightweight (the PVC “legs” don’t hold much weight), and make sure you cut the four smallest pieces of pipe as wide as the board you’ll be using.

Let’s make a spider!

  1. Attach 45-degree elbows to both ends of each 1’ pipe.

  2. Position the 4 1’ pipes where you intend to attach them to the plywood board.  Use a pencil to mark them.

PVC Pipe Spider Tutorial

  1. Drill holes for your u-bolts.  Here’s a trick for making sure you drill the holes in the right place: use a permanent marker to color the tips of your u-bolt; then press the tips to the board.  The faintly stamped impressions left on the board will show you exactly where to drill your holes.

  2. Attach the 1’ lengths of pipe to the bottom of the board.  Tighten the bolts enough to secure the pipes in place, but don’t fasten them securely yet. You’ll need to be able to slide them around to glue the 45-degree elbows in place.

PVC Pipe Spider Tutorial

  1. Glue the 45-degree elbows to the pipes using PVC primer and cement.  I’d never used these products before, but after I got the lids off the cans (which required a pair of pliers, a grip of steel, and ultimately my husband’s help), the actual gluing was pretty simple.  Apply primer to both pieces you are gluing together (the inside of the elbow and the outside of the pipe).  Immediately apply cement to both pieces; don’t wait for the primer to dry.  Push the pipe and elbow firmly together and hold for ten seconds.  Your elbow is now permanently fused to your length of 1’ pipe.  Repeat this process to attach the remaining seven elbows to each end of the 1’ pipe.  Do one at a time; the primer and cement dry fast.

  2. Use the same procedure to glue the 2’ lengths of pipe to the other side of the 45-degree elbows. At this point, the weight of the pipe will make your spider’s legs start to fall over.  To hold the legs in place, use a wrench to tighten your u-bolts.  Adjust the pipe so the legs flare out at different angles, and tighten your bolts so they stand up straight.

  3. Glue a 90-degree elbow to the end of each 2’ length of pipe.  Make sure the rounded part faces up and the open part faces down.  The remainder of your spider’s legs will extend from these joints, so you’ll want to flare them outward, like this.

PVC Pipe Spider Tutorial

  1. Firmly stick the end of each 4’ pipe into each 90 degree elbow.  Do not glue the 4’ sections of pipe in place unless you have a space in your house big enough to store something that looks like this.

PVC Pipe Spider Tutorial

Maybe now you’re thinking, “Great idea!  Why glue any of the pipes together?  It’ll be so much easier to store if I can take it apart!”  I thought the same thing: I figured I would just fit the pipes together without glue so I could disassemble it for easy storage.  Unfortunately, it quickly became clear to me that the legs weren’t sturdy enough to hold up the plywood base without glue.  Gluing everything but the 4’ sections of pipe in place leaves you with a base that’s sturdy but still a manageable size for storage.

  1. Spray paint it black (unless you want an albino spider).  I left it on sawhorses to do this, but you could just as easily set it out in the yard for painting. You’ll need to flip it over to paint the bottom.

  2. Stuff two black garbage bags with leaves, one about ¾ full, the other about half full.  Use duct tape to to tape the corners of the back in so it’s more ovular and less, well, like a garbage bag full of leaves.

  3. Use duct tape to attach the garbage bags to the “platform” formed by the plywood board.  Viola!  A spider.

PVC Pipe Spider Tutorial

Even with glue reinforcing most of the joints, this was still a little less sturdy than I imagined it would be, so we did two more things to support it.  First, we dug each leg into the ground about ½”.  Second, we added a leftover piece of PVC pipe under the board to support it (it’s held in place by a long nail driven into the top of the board).

Here it is at night.  Spooky!  How are you preparing your house for trick-or-treaters?

PVC Pipe Spider Tutorial

Sep 25

Organize Your Closet Shelves for under $25!

By Mary Beth Foster | Household Management

organize your closet shelves for under $25

Sharing space with your spouse isn’t always easy.  Good organization is key to keeping you both sane and helping your home run smoothly.  Here’s an easy way to organize your shelves.  The best part?  It will only cost you $24.99.

I’ve been on a mission lately to organize my master bedroom closet.  I was sick and tired of my shelves looking like this.

organize your closet shelves for under $25

I’d seen a lot of neat ideas on Pinterest for dividing your shelves into smaller compartments that house neatly folded stacks of shirts and sweaters, but most of the products I found on the market for subdividing shelves (like these from The Container Store or these from amazon.com) were constructed for use with solid, wooden shelves, not the wire shelving commonly found in closets.  Another limiting factor was the price.  At anywhere from $6.99 to $24.48 for a set of two dividers, costs had the potential to add up pretty quickly if I wanted enough dividers for all my shelves.

Use wire storage cubes

Target sells the Closetmaid 6-cube wire organizer in white for $24.99.  If you don’t like that color or brand, you can find a wide variety of options by searching “wire storage cubes” on amazon.com.

Here’s what you’ll find inside the box.

organize your closet shelves for under $25

It’s meant to be assembled like this.

organize your closet shelves for under $25

Instead of creating cubes, use the wire grid squares and plastic connectors to create a series of u-shapes.  You’re just creating bottoms and sides; you don’t need backs or tops for the purposes of dividing your shelves.  That means you’ll get a lot of mileage out of one 6-cube set.

organize your closet shelves for under $25

Move your dividers into the closet

organize your closet shelves for under $25

Depending on how many wire grids you link together, it might get a little unstable.  I was able to move a set of four into the closet with little trouble; I added the fifth and last compartment after I’d gotten it into position on the shelf.  If you’re worried about stability or maneuvering your creation through the door, it’s not difficult to do your “construction” in the closet.

Doesn’t it create unusable space in the corner?

If your shelves round a corner like mine do, then yes, you will cage in an unusable square in the corner.  However, it’s only about a square foot of unusable space.  Throw something there that you don’t use very often.  We pile up old Halloween costumes there.

organize your closet shelves for under $25

Stack your folded clothes and enjoy your organized shelf

organize your closet shelves for under $25

It’s amazing how much more organized $25.00 of wire shelving can make your closet.  Believe it or not, that’s the exact same amount of clothing in the before and after photos; it’s just much better organized.

If you enjoyed this post, check out last month’s 4 Ways to Improve Your Master Closet.

What clever ideas have you come up with to organize your home without blowing the bank?

Aug 28

4 Ways to Improve Your Master Closet

By Mary Beth Foster | Household Management

4 ways to improve your master closetSharing a closet: one of the unexpected pleasures of a domestic partnership.

While we’d all love to have custom closets designed to keep us organized and maximize our space, it’s simply not a financial reality for most couples.

Here’s a look at four easy ways to improve your shared closet space that won’t break the bank.

Re-evaluate what you store

Many single people are used to living in small apartments or shared housing with limited storage space.  Because of that, we develop certain storage habits that may not serve us well when it comes to sharing a closet.

For me, it was suitcases.  Living in a one bedroom apartment, I had always stored them in the bedroom closet.

Where else would they go?  When my husband and I bought a house, I put our large suitcases in the master bedroom closet because that’s what I had always done.  But how often did I actually use those suitcases?  Almost never.

Meanwhile, I spent dark mornings stubbing my toes on them while other things I did use frequently were pushed aside to leave room for them.

Remember: your master bedroom closet is prime real estate.  Moving large and rarely used items to another location can free up a lot of space and ease frustrations.

Let go of unused items

It’s no secret that getting rid of things is a way to clear space and pave the way toward an organized closet.

Actually getting rid of things, however, can be harder than it sounds.  We convince ourselves that we’re going to wear that shirt we bought a year ago that still has the tags on it, or that we’ll lose a few pounds and fit in those too-small jeans again.

Here’s a trick my husband and I use to keep ourselves honest: about once a year, we each look through the other’s clothes and pull the things we can’t remember having seen the other person wear in the past year.

The first time we did this was an eye-opening experience.  We each formed a pile of items we’d never seen the other wear in five years of knowing one another.  The items don’t always go straight to Goodwill.

Sometimes we still insist on keeping things we insist we’re going to wear someday, but it does help us to take a more honest look at what we’re actually using.

Invest in shoe storage

Quick: where do you store your shoes?

If you’re anything like me, they’re laying on the floor of the closet in a jumbled pile.

Investing a little in shoe storage will go a long way toward making your shared closet a more usable and organized space.  An over-the-door shoe organizer or expandable shoe rack is a relatively inexpensive, pre-fab solution.  Repurposed bookshelves and media stands also make great shoe storage.

To remedy the big pile of shoes on the floor of my closet, I used a 6’ Closetmaid shelf installed close to the floor to make room for two levels of shoe storage.

4 ways to improve your closet

If you want to be more creative with your shoe storage, there are some great ideas on Pinterest, like these magazine files used to store flip flops from Lovely Lohas, this system of tension rods from 3 City Girls NYC, and this shoe rack created from PVC pipe from Cookie Loves Milk.

Add shelves

Most closets – even large walk-in closets in new homes – tend to come with a single shelf or rod hung roughly at eye level, which can be a big waste of space.

How many things do you have that actually reach the floor when hanging from that shelf?  Adding a second “level” of shelving at waist-height immediately doubles the amount of space you have to hang shirts.

I had plenty of space to hang items in my closet, but little space to put folded items.  Installing two more shelves left plenty of space for my husband and I to hang our clothes while also creating more space for folded t-shirts, which had previously lain jumbled on a single shelf.

4 ways to improve your closet

 There’s no one-size-fits-all shelving solution for every couple, but that’s the point: if you and your spouse own your home, you can customize your closet to suit your needs without breaking the bank on an expensive organizational system.  If you rent, modifying your closet by adding additional shelving may not be an option, but you can still “customize” your space with inexpensive bookshelves, plastic drawers, or wire baskets.

What have you done to make your closet a share-able, organized space?

Aug 21

Sizzle Your Space Challenge

By Debi Walter | Household Management , Romance

Photo Credit: bien living blog

Photo Credit: bien living blog

I have a pet peeve when it comes to cultivating romance at home, and it’s something you may or may not have thought about before. It has to do with the state of your space–namely the master bedroom.

I encourage you to stop reading for a minute and go to your bedroom and take a quick look around. Don’t touch anything, just take a look at what your room looks like right now. Then return to the computer. Now, answer these questions, honestly:

  1. Is your bed made?
  2. Are there more children’s toys in your room than anything else?
  3. Are there piles of clutter in any (or all) of the corners?
  4. Is dirty or clean laundry visible at a glance?
  5. Does your room look like a grown-up place that’s warm and inviting or more like a college dorm room?
  6. Are there unfinished projects lying around the room i.e. scrapbooking, bills, crafts, broken things needing to be fixed?

These are hard questions to answer when you’ve been caught off-guard. But they’re very important in determining the romantic element of your marriage.

Who wants to push toys out of the way in order to be romantic? And who wants to have pictures of your family and friends staring at you from framed photos on the shelf?

A few years ago we had a series on The Romantic Vineyard called S.I.Z.Z.L.E. Your Space. It was very popular and many couples admitted that their bedroom was more like a storage room than a place of quiet retreat. I want to encourage you before the summer is over to reclaim your bedroom for the sake of your marriage. It’s not that difficult and once you get started I have a feeling you’re going to like what you see. Are you ready?

First, you need to set aside time everyday to do the following assignments. It shouldn’t take you more than a week to do it well. Maybe less if you’re truly motivated. Next, set a reward for finishing the goal. It could be a date night to your favorite restaurant, or a romantic rendezvous in your “new place”. You choose, or let your spouse choose. There are so many options you can do to make this more like a game than work. After all, you are the one who will directly benefit from the results of this project.

Here are the daily assignments that spell out the word SIZZLE.

Day One: S = Sexy or Sloppy?

Walk into your room and look at it as if you had never seen it before.  What does your room say about the importance of romance to you?  Does it look cluttered and thrown together?  Does it speak of all the other things in your life – work, children, and/or unfinished projects?  If so, take one hour today and remove all these things.  Your room should be your haven – the one place you can go to retreat together as husband and wife.  Retreating is hard to do when you’ve invited the world into your space.

The goal is to keep only those things that help you celebrate your love.  Anything that draws your attention elsewhere should be kept in another part of the house or a closet.

One more thing we are going to challenge you to do every morning this week –make your bed.  It will help your room look better immediately, and it will also motivate you to complete the day’s assignment.

Day Two: I = Inclusive

Is your space Inclusive?  In other words, have you considered what is important to your spouse when it comes to relaxing and retreating?

We have talked to couples who argue quite a bit about how to decorate the home.  One prefers one way and the other prefers something different.  How can two come together and create a space that includes the likes of both?  It may seem like a difficult task, but it doesn’t have to be.  Most likely you know what your spouse likes.  Try to incorporate some of their tastes into the space.  If they like modern and you like traditional, look for something special they would find appealing.  Our bedrooms don’t have to look like the cover of a designer’s magazine.  Our bedroom is only for US!  Whatever works for you to help you both relax is fine; in fact it’s perfect!

If you’re on a tight budget it pays to go to garage sales and thrift stores to find that special something.  Often times I don’t even know what I’m looking for, I just have an idea of what I want.  Walking through the aisles of a thrift store usually provides lots of ideas of items at very reasonable prices you may want to consider adding to your space.

Most of all, make this part of your bedroom decorating a surprise.  It would be fun to add this special element to the room as the finishing touch.  Don’t let your spouse know until they see it for themselves on the final day.

Day Three: ZZ = Pair of ZZ’s

The ZZ factor of your bedroom is very important!  How well do you sleep at night?  Today we’ll focus on beds, linens and sounds.

This is the most challenging part of the week because it requires some investment to do well.  The linens, pillows and bedding we have really are the centerpiece of the bedroom.  If the covers are frayed and the sheets are torn it effects our ability to relax.  If you are able to purchase some new items here are some things we’ve found to boost the ZZ factor of a Sizzling Space:

  • 100% cotton sheets with at least 400 thread count.
  • Pillows – be sure to have the type of pillow best suited for your needs and support.
  • Mattress toppers – we have discovered a down mattress topper that lays on top of your mattress that is unbelievable.  It makes you feel as if you’re sleeping on a cloud, but without losing the support of a firm mattress.  They sell these as Target or on-line.
  • A Good Mattress – if you’re in need of replacing your mattress, but don’t have the money to buy a new one, pray and ask the Lord to provide.
  • Comforter Set – If it’s been awhile since you’ve replaced your comforter you might want to consider changing it.
  • Clock Radio CD player with Sound Machine

Day Four: L = Lighting

How is the Lighting in your bedroom?  There was a day when candlelight was the only option, and a good one at that!  It was cheap and very romantic.  Now we have so many choices – flourescent, incandescent (not for long though), lamps, canned lights and candles.  What options to you have in your room?

Tom and I have dimmers on every switch in our bedroom; they are inexpensive and make any light fixture easily romantic.  And we have invested in battery operated pillar candles – a must for any serious romantic! Another fun alternative is to hang clear stringed lights from the ceiling – you may not want to keep these up all the time, but they sure would be fun for an especially romantic date night at home.  The quick peel and stick hooks will make this easy to do in any bedroom. Or hang them from your headboard as an easy alternative.

Day Five: E = Enjoy

It’s time to ENJOY your space.  Today is the day to finish all the work you’ve begun this week.  Once you’ve finished it all – spend an hour vacuuming, dusting and straightening your knick knacks.  Next, buy or make a card for your spouse inviting them to a special Evening to Enjoy your space together one night this next week.  If you have the room why not set up a table and have dinner or dessert by candlelight with soft music in the background?  If space is limited spread a nice tablecloth on your bed and enjoy a picnic of finger foods you both love.  Don’t forget to use your special lighting to create the right mood.

You’ve worked so hard to do this project be sure to make a big deal of the reveal to your spouse.  You may want to wrap your bedroom door with a large bow along with a romantic card. Play it up big!  After all this is the moment you’ve been waiting for!  Enjoy it!  Oh, and don’t forget to have the music playing as they open the door!  This is the best part of taking on a project like this – the results!

For inspiration, check out our Romantic Master Bedroom photos on Pinterest.

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Tom and Debi Walter have been married for 34 years and have been involved in marriage ministry for much of this time. In 2008 they began The Romantic Vineyard in an effort to help build and strengthen marriages. They provide a rich harvest of ideas to help your marriage vineyard grow strong for God’s glory. They offer creative date night ideas, both at home or out on the town. They even offer FREE iPhone app that provides a healthy marriage tip and great date night questions to use when you don’t know what to talk about. You can download it on their blog, follow them on: Facebook, Twitter (@theromanticvine), or Pinterest.

 

 

Jul 31

Spicing up the Bedroom: DIY Floating Headboard

By Mary Beth Foster | Household Management

Spicing up the Bedroom - DIY Floating Headboard

When my husband and I upgraded to a king-sized bed this spring, one of the ensuing problems we knew we’d have to tackle was the headboard.  Our old queen-sized headboard was actually one of the first home improvement project we took on together to spruce up my then-boyfriend’s bachelor pad, but it wasn’t going to fit on our new and improved sleeping space.

We found a great floating headboard we liked the look of on Hazzard’s Hypotheses.  Here’s how we worked together to make it work in our bedroom.

Materials:

  • 3 6-foot boards (see important notes on board selection below)
  • Sandpaper or orbital sander
  • Wood stain (we used Minwax Dark Walnut)
  • Protective top coat for wood surfaces (like Minwax Polycrilic Protective Finish)
  • 2 large foam brushes or paint brushes
  • 2 packages of large 3M command strips
  • Yardstick
  • Level

A few important notes on selecting boards:

  • 6-foot boards are perfect for a king-sized bed, no cutting required.  If you’re working with a differently sized bed, you might need to trim your boards or buy boards of a different length.
  • Think about how tall you want your headboard to be; in other words, how high do you want it to extend above the bed?

We wanted ours to be just slightly taller than the bedside lamps so we had a decent gap between the top of the headboard and the bottom of the framed pictures that were already hanging on the wall.  Three boards was perfect for us, but you could always make a taller headboard by adding another board or two.

  • There are several different types of 6-foot boards you can purchase at your local home improvement store.  We went with basic whitewood, the cheapest boards you can buy.

It’s a little rougher than more expensive boards like pine or poplar, and you have to dig a little to find the “good ones,” but it’s also two to three times cheaper, and we liked that the wood grain had interesting designs in it.

  • Don’t be afraid to be the crazy couple taking all the boards off the shelf and inspecting them.  Make sure you choose boards that are free of dents and marks.  Remember, you’re staining, not painting, so the wood grain will show through.

Make sure it’s pretty.  For the boards to “float” effectively, they need to sit flush against the wall, so you’ll also need to make sure you select the straightest boards you can find.

Once you’ve got all your materials home, you’re ready to work

Start by sanding your boards using sandpaper, a sanding block, or an orbital sander.  Sanding can be messy; you’ll probably want to do it outside or at least in your garage.

Sand the fronts, sides, edges and corners of the boards.  The only side you don’t need to worry about is the back, since that will sit up against the wall.  If you go with whitewood like we did, give the sides, edges and corners a little extra attention; they tend to be sharp and rough.

Sanding creates a lot of dust, so you’ll want to wipe the boards down with a dry rag after you’ve finished sanding to create a clean surface for staining.

Next, prop your boards up off the ground for staining (which you’ll definitely want to do outside). Your goal is to have them flat but elevated, sitting on something you don’t mind getting a little stain-y.

I laid mine across a pair of sawhorses, but if you don’t have those, you could lay them across a few old boards, blocks of wood, folded up cardboard: you get the idea.  Follow the directions on your stain, which are generally to brush on an even coat in the direction of the wood grain, let it sit for 10-15 minutes, and then wipe off the excess stain with a clean rag.

Make sure to get the sides, too.  Don’t worry if some stain gets on the backs of the boards; they’ll sit up against the wall, so you’ll never see it.

It takes 4-6 hours for stain to dry completely, so take a break.

After 4-6 hours, you’re ready to apply another coat of stain (if the color isn’t dark enough for your liking) or move on to a protective top coat.  Apply the top coat the same way you applied the stain: brush on a thin coat in the direction of the wood grain.  Make sure you get the sides, too.

You’ll want to apply 2-3 coats of protective top coat, waiting two hours and sanding lightly in between coats.  After applying your final layer of protective top coat, let your boards dry for a full 24 hours before bringing them in the house to hang.

It’s time to hang your new headboard!

You might think the hard part is finished, but oh no, my friends, the hardest part is yet to come.  

It turned out the hardest part of this project was the part that required working together to hang these boards on the wall.  The first important decision we had to make was where to place the first board.

Did we want it exactly lined up with the mattress?  Slightly above it?  Extending below it?

We decided to place it just slightly below the top of the mattress (so our pillows wouldn’t slide between the mattress and the board).  Once you decide where you want your first board, level it, and mark the corners with a pencil.

Remember, you’ve only decided where you want it; you’re not actually ready to attach it yet.  Make sure you mark your corners so you can put it in place without going through the deciding where you want it and leveling process again.

Now you’re ready to hang the first board.

Here’s the thing: command strips are harder to use than they look.  I assumed they were like tack or tape: stick them to the wall, stick your piece on it, and you’re done, right?  Not exactly.

Hanging something using command strips involves the mind-bogglingly complex process of snapping the strips together, attaching them to the board (pressing them in firmly with your thumb for 30 seconds), pressing the board to the wall, pulling the board off the wall, pressing the command strips firmly into the wall for 30 seconds, and then leaving them for an hour before you can permanently attach your board.

There are directions on the command strips themselves, but be aware that it’s probably going to be more complicated than you think.  We used two command strips on each board, one on each of the top corners.  That left us with one extra command strip, which we used on the top board, which turned out to be a little warped, so the extra command strip helped us get it flush against the wall.

Once board number one is on the wall, you’re ready to attach board number two.  

We wanted a slight gap between boards.  Here’s where a yardstick comes in handy.

Rather than measuring and marking the small gap and then leveling the second board, we simply laid the yardstick on top of board #1 and then laid board #2 on the yardstick, effectively leaving a yardstick-sized gap between boards.

Bonus: as long as board #1 was level, using this “stacking” method ensures board #2 will be as well without any additional leveling.  Remember to mark your corners because you’ll have to go through the same crazy process with the command strips.

Do it all once more with board #3, and voila!  You’ve made your own floating headboard.

This is a great weekend upgrade for couples because it’s relatively inexpensive (particularly compared to some of the fancy headboards on the market) and doesn’t require any special tools.

It’s also great for renters (or homeowners like us who like to rearrange frequently).  Because you used command strips to attach the boards to the wall, they should come off easily without leaving marks or holes.

Is this a project you’d like to tackle with your spouse to make your bedroom a romantic getaway?

Jan 16

I Love My Wife Enough to Shop at Wal-Mart

By Dustin | Household Management

Wal-MartThere comes a time in every man’s life when he must put aside concern for his own well-being and be a warrior for his family.  He must sacrifice his security and face fear in the eye in the interest of serving his wife.  For me, that time arrived on a cold, melancholy Saturday afternoon in southern Illinois.

The lunchtime weather forecast called for snow, and it was imperative that my family have the provisions on-hand to make it through the night under the heavy blanket of what could be up to 2 inches of snowfall.  Like a good mother hen, my wife sprang to action and quickly assembled a detailed list of products that would allow our family to survive the calamity.

Good Luck, Honey

I looked her in the eye and told her that I would serve my usual role with bravery and honor.  While she went shopping, I would, to the best of my abilities, sit at home while the kids were napping.  It would be difficult since my heart and thoughts would be with her while she was away, but I knew I could muster the strength to surf the internet while I watched college football.  I could and  I must.

Although I didn’t realize it at the time, it was at this fateful moment that my life changed forever.  Pushing out her belly a bit more than usual, she batted her eyelashes and reminded me that she was carrying my child, and it sure was tiring to grow a little mini-me in her womb.  Yes, she required a nap to sustain her strength, particularly with the stress of the impending storm weighing on her mind and soul.

Alas, it was I who would be leaving the homestead behind and venturing to….Wal-Mart.   It was I.

The Journey Through Suburbia

I have to admit, I was scared.  While a trip to Wal-Mart was a regular occurrence for my wife, routine even, I had not spent much time in the place, and never alone. Nevertheless, I knew what was required of me, so I swallowed hard, grabbed the list from her hand and kissed her for what I hoped would not be the last time.

Before departing, I peered in to see my children sleeping, realizing that it was their innocence and their welfare that I would be preserving that afternoon. I had to get those toiletries and assorted foodstuff.Lucky Parking Spot

With much trepidation, I left the house and got into my Dodge Stratus.  My senses were heightened, and as I passed every nearly-identical, suburban home, it was as if it was the first time I had made the 1.2 mile trip to…Wal-Mart.  Today, I wouldn’t be enjoying a tasty toasted sub from the adjoining Subway.  No, today I had a mission to complete.

45 Acres of Asphalt and No Place to Park

When I arrived at the shopping center, I quickly realized that I wasn’t the only one stocking up for the impending blizzard.  I found a parking spot near the back of the lot.  It was right next to the Ghostbusters van, so I started to feel a bit better.  I parked, looked at myself in the mirror and said aloud, “You can do this. You must do this. You will do this.”

After a quick double-thumbs up to my own reflection in the car next to me, I made the 300-yard jaunt to the front door.  I resisted the Girl Scout cookies sale and the incredibly-priced vending machine soft drinks and walked straight to the automatic door.  I had arrived.

Well, actually this was the exit, so I had to walk around the vending machines and Scouts to get to the actual front door.  Now, I had arrived.  And, as luck would have it, I was greeted by a guy who I’m pretty sure was Justin Timberlake of NSYNC fame.  What an incredible start to my shopping experience!

Small Prices & Even Smaller Aisles

Upon entering the store, I was greeted by an elderly man who tried to put little stickers on my gloves, coat and shoes.  He insisted I report to the customer service desk, but I finally got around him and found a beautiful shopping cart with three functional wheels and something sticky on the handle.

I looked at my list and saw that diapers were necessity number one.  This was easy.  The “baby” section was straight back according to the large overhead freeway signage.  On the way, I found an incredible Ninja t-shirt and some very classy lingerie for the little lady. In fact, a disabled old man was wearing a very similar piece, and it was truly striking.

As I smiled to myself about the remarkable deals I was finding, I was quickly distracted by the sound of a child dragging along the tile floor.  I stopped my cart just in time and avoided a near collision.  I thought to myself, “That looks really fun, and that floor looks fabulous.”

The trek from lingerie to diapers was trying.  It seems that no one within the walls of Wal-Mart understands or respects the rules of right-of-way.  At seemingly every intersection along the journey, I was forced to pull back on my cart like the reins on a wild stallion to avoid a serious crash.  I am still not sure if these were experienced shoppers trying to intimidate me, or whether their intelligence level was so low that they truly weren’t capable of perceiving distance, space or time.  Regardless, I was becoming anxious to get the items my family needed and head back to the safety of home.

I found some diapers and headed for the next item on the list.  It was time to check out the grocery section for some delicious (and nutritious) frozen entrees.

Onward to Groceries

Frankly, the grocery section in this particular Wal-Mart left a lot to be desired.  The aisles were narrow and many items were placed so high up you’d need a ladder to reach them.  I did see some other shoppers improvising, and frankly the big sale on Fanta soda left me wishing I had brought along a small child myself.

Focus.  I had to focus and complete this trip as soon as possible.  My family was waiting at home with only a pantry full of food and a wide assortment of drinks, meats and cheese in the refrigerator.  I needed to proceed onward.

When I arrived at the frozen food section, I was caught off-guard by a sense of awe and respect.  Before me stood what I figured must be the President of MENSA, a true genius in our time.  This man…er woman…um mannish woman, had bestowed upon his/her head a crown of glory and achievement.  While I would potentially be exposed to snow upon my own head when I left the store, or water in the event that the sprinkler system were activated, this person-thing had what can only be described as a manifestation of human ingenuity already in place ready to defend “it” against any perfectly vertical precipitation.  I still think back to this creation and know it could only have been inspired by God himself.

After slapping myself upon both cheeks, I snapped out of it and grabbed the Salisbury Steak Lean Cuisine entree I was seeking.  It was at this time that things get fuzzy.

Accosted in Health and Beauty

After being humbled by my experience in frozen foods, I was closing in on the conclusion of my list.  I needed deodorant, and then I’d be out of this store faster than a fat kid in dodge ball.

I weaved in and out of “action aisle” traffic in a mad dash toward Health and Beauty.  Victory was near and I could feel a sense of intense pride welling up inside.  I had nearly made it, all by myself.

To this day, I don’t remember exactly what happened next.  I remember seeing a rather rotund man in a t-shirt, and I asked him something about what number two looks like.  I think he hit me or perhaps I was broadsided by an errant cart.  I’ll never know for sure, but I think I was knocked unconscious.

When I awoke, I was sitting at the courtesy blood pressure machine checking my own vitals.  I was a bit woozy, but I was alive.  More alive than I had felt in so long.

It was time to leave this place behind and get back home to my loving family.  I figured that they were probably worried about me at this point, and I truly had no way of knowing just how long I had been knocked out since I had no watch and I left my cell phone in my car to avoid being distracted.

Checking Out

Not wanting to waste another moment, I hit the “emergency release” button on the blood pressure machine and extracted my arm.  I stood, steadied myself and pushed my three-wheeled cart in a beeline past an amazing array of tobacco products and straight to the checkout area.

There was exactly one line open to serve approximately 37 people with full shopping carts.  I killed some time reading the backs of the various packs of super glue using the adjacent magnifying glasses.  I also used the opportunity to catch up on the latest news on the Tiger Woods scandal and got some real insight into the daily struggles faced on Jersey Shore.

Finally, I was next in line, and I was so anxious to complete my trip and make my drive home.  Well, as luck would have it, the man in front of me demanded a price check on some leg warmers he wanted to buy.  I couldn’t blame the guy because I myself remembered that they were on display for $4.49, and it just wasn’t right to pay $4.59 under those circumstances.  The man was a bit dejected when the price investigation revealed that the tiger-striped warmers were considered a premium edition.  It would require the full sum of 459 cents to bring that particular model home.  Worth. Every. Penny.

The Triumphant Return

Battered, beaten and tired, I stumbled out of the store’s exit doors, ignoring the incessant pleas of the Girl Scouts.  Despite my fatigue, I was overpowered by a sense of accomplishment and pride.  I had made it.  I had metaphorically left our cave, killed some prey and was about to drag it home to my appreciative family.  Diapers, frozen entrees and deodorant were mine.  And so was the adoration of my peers and the love of my dear family.

In a twist of irony, I returned to the Stratus to find that the Ghostbusters van that had brought me so much comfort upon my arrival had been replaced by an equally interesting vehicle.  It was a pick-up truck, and its payload revealed so much about the life and love of the price-check man.  I stopped, saluted him and his companion, and made my way into the familiar security of my car.

Just as I arrived home, the first snowflakes of the impending blizzard began to pour down upon our driveway.  I was so relieved to know that not only had I made it (mostly) safely, but through my own valiant actions my wife and children would be secure and comfortable through the uncertain night ahead.

I burst through the door, single plastic bag in hand, and declared that I had returned home with every single one of the three items that my family needed for survival.  Everyone was asleep, so I poured myself a glass of Fanta and waited patiently to share the news of my adventures.

My dear wife awoke from her nap and greeted me with a kiss.  I started to unfold for her the glorious tale of my undertaking, but she stopped me shortly after I showed her the incredible lingerie I had purchased to ask…

“Did you get my text message about picking up some toilet paper while you were at Wal-Mart?’

Editor’s Note:  First of all, I need to be clear that I love Wal-Mart and would never want to be sued by them.  Also, most of the photos used in this post were borrowed from an incredibly funny site called People of Wal-Mart, and I suggest you spend several hours looking around there and supporting their sponsors.

If you happen to be a new reader of Engaged Marriage, you should know that this is my first attempt at a funny post.  Everything I wrote above is pure satire and just for fun.  The vast majority of the posts here are aimed at helping you achieve an Extraordinary Marriage, but this one was intended to just give you a laugh or two.  I’d love to know what you think about this change of pace in the comments below!