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Sam Dobson Writes: June 2014

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Marriage Advice I'll Actually Follow

It's a common belief that the first year of marriage is the hardest, or that's just what people say to you for encouragement during a stressful first year. Either way, I have found that there is some validity in this statement. The first year of marriage is probably one of the hardest for young couples who are still struggling to climb up the ladder in their career, still taking college courses, have kids, etc. Your dream wedding is in the past and that romantic honeymoon is over. It's back to real life, your nine-to-five job, all those bills, fighting to stay healthy, taking care of kids or fur-kids, and all the other first-world problems we face.

No, I'm not trying to depress you, I'm actually doing the opposite. I'm attempting to inspire all you engaged couples and young newlyweds, trying to give you hope for your marriage. To do that, I must turn back to my marriage. In just six months of saying "I do", Blake and I moved out of our little beach apartment and packed all of our stuff into a storage pod. We went through an incredibly stressful process to buy our first house and in the mean time, bunked up at Blake's mom's house. We are renovating our entire house on a budget and on our own with little help. Talk about a hard first six months of marriage. 

So, how are we not strangling each other during all of this? I think the answer can in part be explained by a very valuable piece of advice we received while opening wedding gifts and reading through cards filled with well wishes. The gift from Blake's bosses (a married couple who started their own company together) was accompanied by a card with an inscription that advised us to always have a project to work on together. At the time, I didn't regard this as some sort of magical marital wisdom, rather just another thoughtful suggestion. Once we began the work to buy our first home and then the work to make our first home livable, I suddenly found myself remembering that specific piece of marriage advice.

During the reno there have been plenty of times where we wanted to smack each other, like when I drilled not one but two holes in the wrong spot on one of our pretty new kitchen cabinet doors. Blake has gotten so many cuts and bruises, we've lost count and I wouldn't have blamed him had he decided to put down the hammer and hire someone else to do the work. Overall, our team work has been pretty spot on. I never in a million years would have thought we would be able to lay new flooring and build a kitchen from scratch, but we did and our marriage is probably a bit stronger because of it. I think there is something about having a common goal and being able to work towards that goal together that can make a couple stronger. It has been quite the experience, trying and frustrating at times but also incredibly rewarding.

Obviously we can't always be renovating our house, nor do I want to. But I do think that when you have something you can do or an experience you can share with your spouse, it can strengthen your bond. It's healthy and necessary to have your own personal hobbies or activities, but it's just as important to have something together. This is sort of how Blake and I came up with our new tradition, one we had unknowingly started back in 2011. Instead of having a laborious project to work on all the time (a DIY once in a while is good enough for me), lets work towards the common goal of adventure. Both of us are always saying how we wish we traveled more, why not make that our "project"?

Blake and I made a deal that we would travel to a new destination every year. How can a young married couple with lots of bills and just enough income to pay those bills make that happen? We aren't planning on flying to Europe every year, who could actually afford that aside from the rich and the famous? Relatively local places count too; the goal is to go at least one place we've never been to every year. The idea popped into our heads after we got an invitation to visit Alaska. My best friend has an awesome boyfriend who just happens to have grown up there and he invited us for a visit. While we were plotting and planning the logistics, we both agreed that going someplace new once a year would be an amazing tradition and we had actually already been doing so since we started dating. A new tradition to carry on and work towards each year together, that's what it's all about. Needless to say, I'm very excited to see where this tradition will take us each year. 


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Outdated Sink Makeover

As you all know, the hubby and I are hard at work turning our dumpy condo into a lovely dwelling. There is a lot of "out with old and in with the new" going on, but that can get expensive real quick. To save costs, I have attempted to salvage anything I can and while there wasn't much that could be saved, the downstairs bathroom sink was workable.

The vanity sink in our downstairs bathroom was sound in structure but hideous in appearance. Instead of tossing it and buying a fancy new one, I decided to give it a makeover. I unplugged the plumbing and dragged it outside with the help of my big strong man. I removed the hardware and sanded the top layer of the worn, ugly brown surface. I dusted off that dust and began to paint. The color, a pretty blue hue that would look great against the freshly painted pale gray paint. Once it was dry, I reattached the hardware (which I'm contemplating changing) and installed the new faucet that Blake bought for me. Just like that I had a new vanity for my guest bathroom, all for the cost of a small can of paint and a faucet at half price.

Sink Makeover

When you are facing a renovation on a budget, little projects like this can really help to soften the blow on your wallet. Look for ways to save around your home before shelling out the big bucks for shiny new things. Sometimes, it just takes some good old fashion elbow grease to turn something old and ugly into something new and fresh. If I can make it work, so can you.


Monday, June 9, 2014

More Questions For Date Night

One of my most popular pins on Pinterest has been my 20 Questions Date Night post. First off, I love to see one of my posts making the rounds on Pinterest, or anywhere for that matter. Second, it gives me a better idea of what sort of posts are enjoyed by the masses. Another one of my more popular posts circling on Pinterest is the Unique At-Home Date Night post. I think we can all see the obvious theme here. Seeing how popular my date night posts have been, I thought it would be fun to come up with some more unique questions for you and your beau to discuss over a candlelight dinner and a bottle of wine. Enjoy!

*Oh! Before I forget, number 9 has a typo. That should be "strange" not "strang". Believe it or not, I'd have to re-do the whole thing to fix it. That's what I get for writing and saving these questions while indulging in a little red wine.

Questions for date night.


Friday, June 6, 2014

Simple Ways To Save On A Small Home Reno

Now that the mountain of paperwork is done and the hubby and I are officially homeowners, the hands-on work has begun. We are one week into renovations and my god, are we tired. Saturdays and Sundays are fully devoted to demolition. During the week, we spend our after work hours painting. Needless to say, it's an exciting yet exhausting project.

When we first put an offer on the house, we did so expecting little work aside from replacing the worn and tattered flooring and painting the walls. Once the property was vacant and we had a chance to really analyze our new dwelling it became apparent that it would take more than just some paint and new flooring to make this a comfortable home. The kitchen cabinets were flimsy and cheap and you couldn't pay me a thousand dollars to eat anything that had remotely touched those disgusting counter tops. The kitchen had to go. The floor of the master bathroom had some water damage and the vanity had a crack that would surely snap with the tiniest bit of pressure. Before we knew it, our new home was pretty much undergoing a complete renovation.

With all of our money invested in our down payment, there just isn't much left to put towards the much needed upgrades. Hiring professionals to do the work for us would be so much easier (and faster), but unfortunately we just don't have the funds for that. So, it's up to us to find alternative avenues to turn this empty, worn house into a fresh home. We sympathize with any new homeowners who have gone through or are going through a similar ordeal. The big picture is that we did it, we are homeowners, so give yourself a pat on the back. And although your remodel (and ours!) is going to take a lot of work, it will be well worth it. During this reno process, I will happily share some of the DIY projects we have completed or are working on. In the meantime, here are some ways to cut the cost of your small home renovation.

Ways to save on a small home reno.