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Create Inviting Curb Appeal

As we prepare to store away all things winter (thank you, Jesus) and spruce up our yards for Spring, I can’t think of a better opportunity to shed some long overdue sunlight on a dreary exterior. Springtime is a season to embrace budding beginnings and embark on new adventures…and maybe even get our hands dirty.  But achieving the desirable curb appeal for your home can be somewhat intimidating, especially on a tight budget.

Perhaps you may think curb appeal is unnecessary. But in my humble opinion, curb appeal is the equivalent of a first impression.  So what first impression is your home making? Although the chances for my modest threshold to grace the cover of Martha Stewart Living is highly unlikely, I still believe anyone can create inviting curb appeal for any home on any budget. Seize this chance to be creative and get inspired!

 

Welcome Sign

I can’t think of a more obviously inviting way to welcome someone to your home than to plainly advertise it . In one of my D.I.Y weekend project blogs, I repurposed an old, unused bench as the canvas of my Welcome Sign. Perfect wood is not required here. In fact, the more rustic, the better! Don’t have a large piece of wood on hand? I love incorporating this same idea on a smaller scale with a homemade door sign. Besides, I’m a sucker for anything with a mason jar!

 

 

Potted Plants

You can’t fully celebrate Spring without planting something, right? But I understand that not everyone can have a green thumb. I understand because I’m one of them. I have a cooking thumb, a cleaning thumb, and when I feel like it- a baking thumb. But no green thumb here. That’s what I love about potted plants- they are low maintenance, but add so much beautiful color to the exterior. Take advantage of creativity here. Add dimension and interest by placing the potted plants on something- crates, a rocking chair or simply line the porch steps.

 

 

Spruce Up the Shutters

Replacing outdated shutters can easily become a pricey project. That’s where my dear friend, paint comes in. Over the past several months, my relationship with paint has gone from simple acquaintances to practically bosom buddies. I paint all. the. time. I can always depend on paint to transform something drab into something amazing. Make a big impact with little investment. Be sure to choose something clean and neutral, like classic black or modern slate. This is not the time to think bold. If you want the look of farmhouse wood shutters, check out my D.I.Y Wood Shutters  blog located under my weekend projects! Each shutter was only $8!

 

 

Add Flower Boxes

Add a touch of country charm with flower boxes. There is just somethin homey about flower boxes- very cottage-esque. And bonus! You can take care of these plants from the convenience of your window. Adorable and practical! Joanna Gaines often incorporates these in her exterior designs, as she is famous for her utilization of 3-D décor.  Making these yourself is super easy too. Check out this link for D.I.Y window boxes by The D.I.Y Network.

 

 

Simplify the Landscape

Unless you own a brand-spankin’ new home, you likely have more of an abundance of shrubbery than a lack thereof. Over the winter months, landscaping can become tired looking and overgrown. In this case, less is more. While greenery is beautiful and inviting, too much can easily become distracting and overbearing.  Begin by trimming out- of- control bushes and hedges. If a plant covers too much of the house, the home can appear smaller and become lost in the foliage. The landscaping should compliment the house, not overshadow it. Think less “Little Shop of Horrors” and more “Under the Tuscan Sun.”

 

 

Outdoor Seating

Imagine sitting on your porch or stoop on a warm, sunny morning, sipping a hot cup of chai tea and watching the kiddos play in the yard. Outdoor seating provides functionality and style to your home’s exterior. Even if you don’t have room for a big ‘ole southern porch swing, you can incorporate clean- line furniture that can suitably fit even the most quaint of entries. Nothing is more inviting- and comfy- than an outdoor living space. But outdoor furniture can cost a pretty penny. So when shopping for your outdoor living essentials, take advantage of garage sales and consignment shops. I found my free gem of a rocking chair by the side of the road! It was perfectly weathered and just what I was looking for.

 

Creating stylish curb appeal doesn’t have to be complicated or even expensive, for that matter. You just have to use a little creativity, be willing to roll up your sleeves, and get your fingers dirty!

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

 

 

 

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10 House Hacks- Organization Made Simple

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In the spirit of Spring, I not only thrive in channeling my inner Danny Tanner (turbo cleaning machine), but I also love organizing. There is nothing like having a place for everything at home- and having it done in style! Organizing can make life so much easier and allow your home to operate much more efficiently. In all honesty, how many of us often spend extra time searching for something we’ve misplaced? Or find ourselves flustered by clutter?

But before you spend your money on pricey, commercialized organization systems, there are stylish, economical organizing hacks that can be accomplished using simple household items. Don’t have these items at hand? No biggie- just pop into your nearest Dollar Store the next time you’re out. Savings and style? That’s what I’m all about!

1. Repurpose Magazine Holders. This is such a clever and versatile hack! The storing possibilities are endless! The flip flop bin?  C’mon! Admit it- you’re impressed! I know I am!

 

 2.  Put A Lid On It.  Your thinking- why haven’t I thought of this before? Sorting through pot and pan lids gets old fast!  This creates an easy system to locate the one you need and saves on space so your cabinet isn’t bursting at the seams.

 

 3. Get A Handle On Plastic Bags. Plastic bags. We all have them and they come in handy for a lot of other needs once they have fulfilled their shopping destinies. But rather than organize plastic bags in another plastic bag, repurpose on-hand items, like empty tissue boxes and wipes containers to provide practicality and style.

 

 4. Round-Up Your Junk Drawer/Cupboard. There is always that one pesky catch-all drawer in the kitchen. It’s the land of the unknown. Who knows what lies within. But you can create purpose and function to this drawer with a simple solution by using some labels and utensil bins. Add character by spray painting or wrapping in a fun printed paper.

 

5. Sort it Out. Laundry sorting is something we don’t typically enjoy, but has to get done none-the-less. Create an easy sorting system using laundry’s most obvious companion- the laundry basket. Add labels to make this system even more user-friendly! Hey, maybe the kids and even the hubby would catch on. One can only hope.

 

6Quit Your Wining. We received a wine rack as a wedding gift, but contrary to my Irish ancestry, we actually don’t drink alcohol, including  wine.  As you may know, I’m more of a chai tea lover. But I am in love with this idea of converting your unused wine rack to store bathroom necessities. I especially love the towel rack hack! I just like my towels rolled up- I do not know why.

 

7. It’s the Small Things in Life. Tackling tiny organization presents a challenge. Staples, rubber bands, paper clips…one can go mad sorting through these things when they have no designated space. This eliminates that problem! One less headache to worry about! Use a muffin tin or ice tray to keep small things in their place!

 

8. Marvelous Mason Jars. I simply adore mason jars! I will try to fit as much as I possibly can into a Mason Jar. Seriously- with so many ideas, it was hard to narrow the examples down to only 3! I could have dedicated an entire blog post about them! Maybe I should!Truly the MVP of organizing hacks!

 

9. Be Crateful. Crates are another creative way to keep away the clutter. Organization doesn’t have to mean cookie-cutter plastic totes. Bring a rustic charm to your organization- something that looks as good as it is functional. As someone who has quite the impressive collection of wrapping paper, this hack is perfection!

 

10. Life’s A Beach. One summer staple dollar store gem are those multi-colored beach baskets. These are commonly used to tote around towels, sand shovels, and sun screen. But here, they also serve the purpose of toy bins. Label or color coordinate for simplicity. If you live in a house with stairs, this will help your kiddos tremendously! We all know how toys migrate from the bedrooms to the living room. That’s why I’m particularly fond of the idea to label a basket for each kid and place them on the steps. Then at the end of the day, they can collect their toys and carry them upstairs.

 

So many of these hacks are affordable, decorative and functional. Don’t overthink and become intimidated by organization.  The keys to optimal organizing is to be creative, simplify and streamline.  Conquer the clutter and enjoy the clean!

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

 

 

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No Muss-No Fuss Spring Cleaning

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Ah, Springtime! A time of year when the trees begin to bud, floral patterns are back in season, and we can (hopefully) store away the winter coats, gloves, and scarves.  With all the new beginnings Spring offers, there is one that delights me the most…Spring Cleaning! I realize that my love for cleaning is not normal, and I can live with that. But today, my obsession is your gain because I am bringing you the ultimate cleaning guide that will make Spring cleaning a breeze!

This time of year is often daunting for most people. But it doesn’t have to be this way. While I understand that not everyone can share in my affection for cleaning, it doesn’t have to be chore. In order to avoid sounding like Mary Poppins here, instead of making a game out of my chores, I have found throughout my cleaning chronicles that having a detailed outline for what needs accomplished is the best strategy to tackle these projects, without causing my head to spin.

One of the reasons we tend to get overwhelmed with the idea of Spring cleaning is because we forget the purpose of this cultural traditional.  The goal is not to clean the entire house from top to bottom- although that sounds fun. The goal is to clean the aspects of the home that commonly get neglected during the course of the winter. This excludes the normal day-to-day routine tasks that should be completed. We’re strictly focusing our efforts here on the details.

The most efficient plan of attack on your Spring cleaning is to go room by room, then handle the general chores, otherwise it’s easy to get lost in a trail of tasks and become easily sidetracked and discouraged. I like to start with tackling the kitchen first. It’s the heart of the home- a lot of love is created and shared in this space, but also a lot of mess. It’s one of the heftier jobs to clean, which is why it’s also best to get it out of the way first while motivation is still in its prime.

This list provides all the chores that need done in a 2 week timeline. So grab your sponges and roll up those sleeves. And welcome Spring with pristine! Happy Spring Cleaning!

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

the-ultimate-spring-cleaning-checklist

 

 

 

 

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5 Affordable Ways to Completely Re-Vamp Your Bathroom

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If the kitchen is affectionately coined the heart of the home, what does that make the bathroom? As a mom, the obvious titles that come to mind would be: the battle at the sink, the mirror of smudges, and the land of misfires. Add a 60’s inspired peach tile and drab décor, and you’ve surrendered this territory as a lost cause.

It’s hard to imagine a space surrounded with such offenses  as potentially being something peaceful- your own in-house oasis. You dread the one inevitable question of guests, “Where’s your bathroom?”  And you often attempt to conceal it by closing the door- all in hopes to discourage the opportune view of onlookers passing by, including yourself.

While no home improvement project can promise your 5- year old son will always aim directly into the target or that your sink will have the power to repel the unexplained large amounts of toothpaste from adorning  the sink bowl, there are ways to make your bathroom a space you can enjoy  on a humble budget.

  • Add a Printed Wallpaper. Wallpaper is an inexpensive and simple solution to make a statement in your bathroom. It adds a boldness, but elegance to the space. Choose a safe and simple color scheme and pattern or make a statement with a large print design and color. Check out wallpaper you’ll love by Wayfair! Bring a touch of sophistication without compromising your budget! $50.

 

  • Substitute Beadboard for Paintable Bead Board Wallpaper. Get the nostalgic, farm-house look of beadboard, but at a fraction of the cost. I love the textural and detailed charm that beadboard offers. It tactfully blends the combination of modern and whimsical. I suggest using Martha Stewart Paintable Beadboard Wallpaper. This product has been highly rated and user friendly! Keep the classic white beadboard look or paint to compliment your bathroom. $30.

 

  • Paint Out-dated Tile. A tile gut job is not exactly my idea of a simple bathroom re-vamp. But a bathroom covered in powder blue tile is not an ideal situation either. If the tile is still in good shape, you don’t have to replace- you can paint it! It’s very easy and, of course, affordable! I stand as a witness that you would never know the tile had been painted. And the blue will be a thing of the past! Check out The Home Depot’s options of  Tile Paint to select the color that suits your suite’s needs! $45.

 

  • Stain or Paint the Vanity. You probably could have guessed by now that I’m a huge advocate of painting. The transformation from paint never ceases to amaze me. Most older vanities are solid pieces of wood- structurally sound and in perfect working order, but lack modern appeal. Old vanity, meet paint…(cue the music) instant friends for life! Choose something ultra modern, like Black. Bring warmth with a mossy green. Freshen and brighten the vanity with a classic white or soft gray. Or add a punch of personality with a charming blue. Stop in at your local hardware store or choose from the HGTV’s Fixer Upper- approved collection by Magnolia Homes. It’s Joanna Gaines…you can’t go wrong! $35.

 

  • Transform Your Countertop. Another undesirable element of an out-dated bathroom is a distasteful countertop. But buying a new countertop can cost several hundreds of dollars. Thanks to modern advances in remodeling, you can change your countertop without replacing it.  Countertop Transformation Systems can save as much as $400 or more. Groundbreaking, right? $150.

 

 

With inspirational remodels like this, you can proudly leave the door open when guests come to visit or indulge in a private home retreat with the door closed and relax in a tranquil, Spa-like bathroom ( children compliantly sleeping sound not included).

Who says you can’t have the bathroom of your dreams on a humble budget? These ideas prove to be just that- attractive and affordable!

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

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7 Home Improvement Projects to Get You Off the Couch this Winter

 

While winter can easily become a depressing time of year for us, there is no better way to brush off the winter blues than to keep busy. Even though snuggling up on the couch with a cup of  steamy chai tea and a good page turner sounds heavenly, there is much more potential that awaits us when we muster up some motivation.

So rather than sulking in our sorrows from the chilly weather, cure cabin fever with some affordable home improvement projects that will knock your socks off without knocking the budget.

 

1. Paint. Winter is the perfect season for painting and not just because you’re forced to stay inside, but because cold weather is actually ideal for the paint drying process. Paint is the cheapest way to transform a room or piece of furniture. It’s a great time to creatively change a room, add an accent wall or touch up areas that “mysteriously” got scuffed or marked. If you find yourself stumped by paint colors, try Joanna Gaine’s new paint line by Magnolia Homes Paint.

 

2. Trim Up. And I’m not talking about your waste line! I’m referring to the baseboards, door frames and molding. Trim is relatively inexpensive and easy to install, but makes a bold statement. Whether your trim just needs a fresh coat of paint or you’ve been considering adding a detailed finish like bead board or crown molding, winter is the perfect time to turn this simple idea into a reality.

 

3. Re-finish Wood or Furniture. Maybe you’re tired of your outdated bathroom vanity, kitchen cabinets or that family heirlo0m dresser in your bedroom. Take this opportunity to spruce things up with some new paint or stain.

 

4. Update Hardware & Doorknobs. I am a detail- oriented person and I think style is found in the details- the little things. It’s amazing what new hardware and doorknobs can do to transform your home. And again, budget-friendly!

 

5. Organize the Laundry Room. Since laundry is the gift that keeps on giving, it only makes sense to show it some love. Create a bin or hamper system for sorting and simplify organization by labeling each container- even husbands and kids can participate…maybe…but don’t get your hopes up!  Have a designated area for hang drying clothes and ironing. Add a little simple decor to make it a space you’ll enjoy spending time in… okay, a space you’ll mind less spending time in.

 

6. Shed Some Light on the Subject. While paint sets the tone of the room, the lighting sets the mood of a space. Lighting strongly indicates whether a space is intimate or casual. I personally love Wayfair for lighting inspiration. Add a touch of elegance to a room with a chandelier or make a bold statement with something modern.

 

7. Make a Splash with Backsplash. A backsplash is a simple and economical way to change up your kitchen. This is a great element to show off your personal style. Choose something timeless, like a subway tile or add some fun with a printed mosaic tile.

This winter doesn’t have to be a total bore! Get off your couch. Get inspired. Get creative. And get to work!

 

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

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Humble Hosting

welcome-mat

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! A time of giving thanks and simply giving! A time to gather together, make memories and extend love.  It’s also the season for hosting. Whether it’s hosting the biggest “stuff- your- face” day of the year- also known as Thanksgiving- or a Christmas party for friends, we’re busy making purchases and plans.  This year, I am honored to be hosting Christmas (my absolute, hands down favorite holiday). I’m so excited, I literally feel like a kid on Christmas morning!

As I began plans to research and write on this topic of hosting, titles like “How to Impress Your Guests” came to mind. However, God led me to instruct (and learn) a much more gracious concept.

Even though I have been assigned dessert duty for Thanksgiving (which I still can’t believe is just around the corner), I already have my wheels turning with concepts and ideas for Christmas.  As I was sitting down the other day, searching Pinterest for the most jaw-dropping table scape and perusing Food Network for the perfect Christmas menu, a conviction stumbled upon my heart.  In fact, I know it didn’t stumble there on accident- because it was a prompting of the Holy Spirit.

This may come as a shock, but I am a detail-oriented, type-A personality with extreme OCD (obsessive CLEANING disorder) and a well-known perfectionist to my friends and family.  I see hosting as a challenge- one in which I must maintain my goal of perfection by simply out-doing myself. Sounds exhausting just thinking about it!  But God revealed to me, The Humble Homemaker, that my hosting isn’t humble at all. In fact, it was chalk full of pride. And pride has no place in a humble home or a humble heart.

This truth came to me when I asked myself why I care so much about every single detail when I host? Why does the house have to be spotless? Why is serving my guests with paper plates simply unacceptable to me? And the answer: p-r-I-d-e. See how “I” is in the very core of the word? That’s because I wasn’t so concerned about every.single.detail for the sake of my guests. It was for me.

I’m not sharing this because it feels so good to put my flaws in the spotlight. But I know many other women who can easily identify with this same struggle. The desire for perfection- the desire for performance-and the desire for praise. 

I was striving for praise, when I should be striving for service. That is the ultimate goal of hosting- serving those whom you have welcomed into your home.  Hosting is not about the presentation- it’s about the heart.  I shamefully admit that I have allowed pride to even keep me from blessing someone by hosting them. I wanted to wait until the bathroom was remodeled or we had more furniture for seating, because heaven forbid my house not be just so.

Last week, a woman from my Mom’s In Prayer group at my daughter’s school invited everyone to her house for prayer, food and to watch the movie, War Room.  I was expecting this immaculately gorgeous house, but was immediately humbled when I entered her home. It was quaint and cozy. Even though she and her husband have lived there for almost ten years, there was still the same 70’s inspired style since the construction of the house.

Her home was clean, but certainly not spotless. She unapologetically had a sticky spill on her table, dishes in the sink and toys scattered throughout.  And yet, I felt as though I was at home in her house.  I felt completely comfortable and welcomed. She wasn’t striving for perfection, she was striving for servitude. It wasn’t about her. She opened her home so she could have an opportunity to bless our Mom’s In Prayer group. And she accomplished that goal! Even without the table scape!

It made me ask myself: how do people feel when they come to my home? Do they feel at home?  But more importantly, what is the condition of my heart when I am hosting?   I was humbly reminded of the words in  Matthew 23:12: “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

I’m not suggesting to not prepare a beautiful meal or plan for the occasion. I do still enjoy those aspects of hosting. But I want to make serving others in the name of the Lord my ultimate focus, rather than receive prideful honor. Even though relinquishing my perfection may cause me to die a thousand slow deaths inside, (and that’s ok-I’m still working on it!) I pray with God’s help, I can let go of pride and be the humble host He calls me (and you!) to be.

When we are hosting, we are not only welcoming people into our homes, we are welcoming them into our lives.  And our lives aren’t perfect. But with a humble heart, I believe our lives (and hosting) can be a blessing and give honor where it is due- to Christ!

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

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5 Fool-Proof Ways to Organize Kid’s Bedrooms

Tornado warning! Don’t panic and run to your basement- I’m not updating you on your weather forecast- I’m referring to the inevitable state of your children’s bedrooms.  At the end of yet another eventful, action-packed time of playing with toys, games and pretend, it almost seems easier to just place some caution tape across the door and call it a day. Well, you would unfortunately have to enter the disaster zone at some point. But I am here to tell you that there is a solution for damage control. You can maintain your home (and your sanity) by applying these simple tips to organize your kids’ rooms and keep them organized!

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  1. Keep, Toss or Donate. It’s a good habit to do a little inventory, so to speak, on your kids toys from time to time. I routinely practice this after birthdays and Christmas, when the kids get to stock up on some new toys. Make three piles. If a toy or game is broken or missing parts or pieces- it’s time to bid them farewell. Then there are the toys who don’t get a lot of attention and are often found in a corner or stuffed under the bed with a company of dust bunnies. If they are in good shape, consider placing them in the donate pile or next summer’s garage sale heap. This is my personal favorite strategy for throwing out – I mean retiring unused toys- for lack of better explanation to my four and six-year old.

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  1. Categorize Alike Toys into Bins. Qualifying bins can be anything from small plastic tubs, decorative fabric boxes or baskets. This is an effective alternative to a toy chest- which honestly does not fall into the category of organizing toys- don’t let the nostalgic dancing bears on the box fool you- it’s the textbook definition of organized chaos. Yes, the toys are compartmentalized, but at random and in no particular order. You might be amazed at what you can find at the bottom of a toy chest- anything from a missing Uno card, to moldy crackers, maybe even a neighbor kid. Organize alike toys in the same bins. Have a bin for Barbie’s, a bin for cars, bin for animals, action figures, etc.  This also helps alleviate the headache from the daily “Mom! Where’s my…”.

 

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  1. Utilize Wall Space. Floating shelves or baskets are perfect for displaying and storing your child’s favorite stories, coloring books and crayons. It frees up drawer and closet space, while adding a sweet  personal touch to the room. This concept is not limited to just nurseries anymore. Children of reading age can enjoy the benefits of having their books on display to encourage their reading.

 

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  1. Take Advantage of Closets. Maybe you’re picturing the current state of your child’s closet: stuffed to the brim and bursting at the seams- that is not what I’m referring to! My approach to bedroom organization is to avoid having every inch of the perimeter of the room displayed with toys or furniture. You want the room to feel spacious and open, not cluttered. Relocating toys can offer a solution to keep a room looking clean, while also providing functionality. Instead of an elaborate closet organization system for clothes, consider consolidating clothing to dresser drawer space. Use the closet space to store toy bins, baby dolls, dress up clothes and games. Closets create easy accessibility for children, but also designate a structured place for things when guests come to visit. And unlike a jam-packed closet, you won’t have to feel embarrassed if those doors do open.

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5. Organize Dresser Drawers. It’s the same concept as the toy bins. Organize clothing into    drawers with other like clothing- pajamas with pajamas, shorts with shorts- you get the idea.  Evaluate sizes of clothing at the beginning of each season. If you can determine that your child won’t fit that adorable sweater next winter, it’s time to sell or donate.  If you find you still have a lack of dresser space, simply put out- of -season clothing into labeled tote containers to store in the basement or garage until the next appropriate time of year arrives.

 

Organization can be challenging and time consuming, but necessary when we are striving to manage our homes with the upmost efficiency- may the good Lord grant you patience in the midst of sorting through the rubble. But when the job is done, you can remove the caution tape and unroll your sleeves with a great deal of personal satisfaction. Maintenance is key to keep your home functioning and running smoothly. Although this requires a degree of self-discipline as well, you may want to use this as an opportunity to introduce these concepts to your children and hand over some responsibility for their rooms. Having a designated place for everything will make their job easier when putting things away and teach them beginner organization skills and stewardship. Now go forth and conquer those bedrooms!

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker