They say “home is where the heart is.” And when I say “they”, I have no idea who “they” ever are, but assume “they” are very smart and know what they are talking about since everyone always references the wisdom passed down from this group of unknowns. For my husband and I, home is definitely our place of comfort, enjoyment, and refuge… not just because we can lay around in pajamas and binge-watch Netflix (although we do plenty of that too), but because there are so many little things that we do to create little bits of happiness. Below, I have compiled a small list of habits that I truly feel make a difference in our daily home lives.
- Keep fresh flowers in the kitchen: I learned this practice from my mom and try to always refresh the vase on our center island in the kitchen. Flowers just make people happy. They are a comfort to us, a welcome to guests, and are a “treat” to our home to show just how much we care for it. It doesn’t have to be anything large or elaborate. One of the small $4 stem assortments from your local grocer will still make all the difference. For those with farmers markets nearby (such as my South-Alabama mama), I am super jealous of you. You can snip blooms off outdoor bushes, or even use greenery around your yard to enhance your display. Currently, my favorite flowers to purchase are the large $14 Costco bunches. They have local florists bring them in and have the most beautiful, healthy looking arrangements. They also last far longer than any I have purchased at the grocery store. My mom also taught me the power of splitting a bunch into separate containers, or saving a bloom or two for a bud vase for the window sill.
- Make your bed in the morning: This makes me feel good for so many different reasons. First, I like things tidy. I am actually a bigger advocate of keeping things “tidy” than actually keeping things “clean”. Working from home and knowing the bed is made keeps my head clear with one less thing on the to-do list. No matter how much work or chores I may have, having a made bed is one thing that has already been accomplished. Coming home to a tidy bed makes it feel like you are coming back to relaxation — not disorder and chaos. (I realize this may actually not affect some people, but any other Type A personalities can relate and appreciate this). At the end of the day, slipping into taut cool sheets is just a better end to the day than wrestling with a bunched up, wrinkled wad. This is so easy, it takes two minutes at the beginning of your day… make your bed.
- Plan your meals: Every Sunday morning, I sit down and plan our meals for the upcoming week. In the past, I have been that person who can’t decide what to make at the end of the day… or thought planning what to cook seemed to take too much effort. This practice usually led to (a.) a boring box dinner, or (b.) takeout. I have also been that person who planned each meal one day at a time. Purchasing all ingredients separately + every day visits to the grocery store = expensive food habits and a lot of waste. When planning dinners for the week, I resort to my cookbooks, recipes, and of course, Pinterest when I’m feeling adventurous to try something new, and try to pick recipes with like items that I can use in multiple dishes. Nothing makes me feel more guilty than using one stalk of celery and letting the rest of the bunch go bad. I concentrate on meals that I can halve, prepare at the same time, and freeze a portion for later. I am also a sucker for crock-pot meals… pure genius. We buy meat in bulk, cut and portion them into single freezer bags, and always have a variety of protein on hand. And, I eat leftovers for lunch. Sometimes we cook together, sometimes we prepare meals for each other, but, we hardly ever dine out. Committing to the meal we have already set and the groceries we have already purchased forces us to plan ahead, and on those long days when you don’t feel like “thinking” when you get home, the decision has already been made for you. We both love food and we both love saving money. Serving one another and enjoying dishes that you have prepared for each other is one of the most gratifying things I can think of.
- Go sit on the porch: Every day after work, before turning on the television or starting dinner, Dave and I go sit on our deck to unwind. We catch up on our day and give our eyes some much needed rest from technology screens. Since we upgraded our chairs (see previous post), our outdoor relaxation can last anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours. This time in the day is invaluable because while we do most everything together, this is where we go to really talk, really listen, and totally engage with each other without interruption or distractions. Most all good ideas and plans come from this place of post-work wind-down.
- Pray together: Again, you know what “they” say about a couple who prays together… In all seriousness, I am a person that that prays throughout the day. But, when I pray, it usually comes across as sporadic, one-line requests. Example: After seeing a prayer request on Facebook, “Lord, please be with (insert name here) and his/her family as they lay his/her father to rest.” After making my work to-do list, “Lord, please let me get through this day.” Etc. I have friends that I admire, who don’t miss a daily devotion in the morning, something I have tried more times than I can count but then inevitably fall out of habit. However, Dave and I try to pray together most every night before bed, and it has easily become the time when I feel most connected, not only to my husband, but to God. This is when we reflect on our blessings and I really pray for what is on my heart, from protection over our marriage to knowing His will for our lives. To me, prayer has always been private; Dave is the first person I have ever regularly prayed with, aside from my parents when I was younger when I would ask God to bless every name I knew… list style. This time is special and sacred and makes a huge difference, not only in our days, but in our lives.