Household Management – Engaged Marriage

Category Archives for "Household Management"

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.

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?

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?

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

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?