2015 has been a year of creating our home as husband and wife. I fell in love with cooking and hosting in ways I never thought I would. I’ve always loved making a place cozy and pretty (ask my parents!), but to have such a big space has been both daunting and delightful 🙂 It’s a work in progress that takes time, so I am learning.
But there have been a few simple, practical, and life changing things that we experienced or did around our home that I think are worthy of sharing. I could name many many more and go into great length about all the things we’ve learned this year, but as I wrote this out, this list got long enough!
Enjoy my little list of 10 things we did in our home that made huge impact…
#1 – We bought bikes
The last bike I ever owned was pink, with a banana boat denim seat. Yep, that was back in the farm days. In my adult life, I’ve never owned one, but for years have wanted to. In an effort to find something outdoors that we both liked and was easy to do almost anywhere, we went to SportChek in the spring and each bought a bike. We didn’t get high end ones, because for me, it’s mostly street and trails that I’m after.
On warm summer evenings, it was an easy way to get in some free quality time together, explore our new community, and get some exercise. Win, win, win and money well spent!
#2 – Read the book Explicit Gospel, by Matt Chandler, within the last year.
I couldn’t get enough of it, so I read it twice. I have been a Christian since I was about four-years-old, but never have I ever heard the gospel, Christ’s redeeming work and sovereignty so well explained as in this book. I’ve walked through a few years of untangling some false belief systems about myself that were more based on fear than faith, and to be honest, am still processing with the Holy Spirit areas of my life where my ‘good behaviour and nature’ was born out of fear. He talks in depth about our life ultimately being for God’s glory, and if so, then why would God ever leave you to your own devices as far as sanctification goes? His chapters on moralism, grace-driven effort, and how our churches can be led by the three b’s more than discipleship (butts, budgets, buildings), really hit home! If you want to grasp the depth and grace of the gospel, then we totally recommend this book as a must!
#3 – Vinegar and water all-purpose spray
I know there is a BIG push to go all natural in our homes. DIY and simplify. And I’ll admit, I’m onboard that in some ways. But it takes time, trial and error, and money to get it right! In an attempt to use less chemicals on everyday used areas, one simple thing I’ve done is mixed 1-1 vinegar and water in a spray bottle, and keep it under our kitchen sink. I use this for a counter top cleaner and a floor cleaner. And sometimes even in the bathrooms. It cleans like a dream and no nasty chemicals! Troy will often come in and smell vinegar everywhere and say, “You’ve been cleaning!” Now that I’ve got used to the lack of toxic smell, whenever I smell something like Vim or Spray ‘N Wash, I nearly gag. And now with baby coming, I am ever more mindful of chemical smells. Slowly but surely, I’d like to eliminate them all, but for now, my vinegar and water is a great inexpensive compromise!
#4 – Always kiss goodnight, and good morning
We’ve just always done it, and I love it. It connects us at the end of the day and at the start of the day. It reminds us that we’re a team, in this together. Try it, I’m sure you’ll love it!
#5 – Cut cable
We found before summer that the main channels we watched were HGTV and maybe a sports channel. In an effort to find ways to trim our budget, we opted to keep Netflix, and cut our cable, which saves us now about $75 a month. We still watch what seems like enough TV (it’s a relaxer for us both!), but I like that we aren’t governed by what is on at a certain time. We can watch when we want, what we want.
#6 – DIY and thrifted finds
It’s no surprise if you’ve read my blog before, that we love to restore and repurpose and add our own touch to our home. We moved into this 2500 sq ft home last Christmas, and suddenly found ourselves with a lot of rooms and space to fill. Which we are still working on 😉 I’m not one to walk into a showhome and love it all usually. I find they lack character and personality. I love things that make a home particular to the ones that own it.
DIY and shopping on kijiji or garage sales are a great way to customize your home on a budget. Everything from our kitchen table to office desk, to coffee table have been refinished or built, along with many things on our walls. We are currently saving up for some new chairs, and we are super excited about NEW! 🙂 But for now, this has certainly helped us stay within budget and add our own touch to our home. You can read more about our home and thrifted finds in this post here.
#7 – Go for drives together
We realized something lately – we have the best conversations when we’re driving home from somewhere, the sun is setting or has set, and we’ve got time to kill. Just us and the wide open road. Some nights it’s been raining, and some nights have been beautifully warm. For whatever reason, driving inspires us to dream, talk deep and share our hearts. We’ve now joked that when baby comes, if we just need a date night, we’ll go for a drive! And hey, if you add ice cream to that then it’s even better 😉
#8 – Appreciation
It sounds so simple, but I think it’s had a profound effect on our first year of marriage and our home. A while back, I got these little notes through a newsletter subscription that I could print off and leave in a cupboard for us to fill out at whim. So we did. Leaving notes of ” God gave you…” or “I love it when you…” Or even the blank ones, that we would fill out whenever. But more than written notes, I find that a strength that Troy and I have cultivated is appreciating what each other brings to our marriage and home.
Troy is extremely hard working – a real man’s man. And this girly girl loves it! His heart near explodes when I tell him how thankful I am that I married him, that I love how hard he works for us, or when I recognize the heart and soul he’s put into a project. Likewise, Troy is over-the-top thankful for every meal I cook, how clean I keep the house, and for simple things I do like get the groceries. He thanks me.
It sounds so basic, but simple recognition and appreciation helps us both feel noticed and makes us want to do even more for the other!
#9 – Coconut oil
Seriously, Lord, well done. What an amazing creation! We have come to use coconut oil for everything from a cooking oil, lotion, lube (hey, let’s be honest!), polishing leather, in the dog’s water (fresh breath and soft coat), to oil pulling (makes me gag, so I can’t do it for long!). I can’t think of a purer product that has so many uses! We have found that Costco has the best price for the amount that you get.
#10 – Make decisions together
We just do it, naturally, and intentionally. Everything from how to spend our free nights together to finances – we talk about it all. I’m sure there’s some things that seem trivial, but I love that we just naturally consult with the other. I think it shows we care about what the other thinks, and that, again, we’re in this together. Neither of us has a ‘my way or the highway’ attitude, and I do hope this is something we continue to cultivate over the years!
I hope you enjoyed my basic list of things that came top of mind that were simple and some deeper that have impacted our home this year!