Friday, November 30, 2012

7 Quick Takes- Gardening (or not) Edition

--- 1 ---
So, I tried my hand at gardening this week. I've been wanting to do something to our yard since we moved in. Grass is out for a while, because the whole aerating/seeding/watering process is quite pricey. So we'll stick with our weedyard. I want new mulch, but we decided to wait for spring for that. I want to grow a container garden but winter probably isn't the best time to start. (Or who knows, maybe it is. Enlighten me.) So when I was at Lowe's Tuesday looking for a tree stand (more on that later), I found clearance bulbs and couldn't pass them up!

--- 2 ---
My only experience with bulbs is when my dad and I planted an entire garden full of daffodils when I was 10 or 12. Not a single one came up that next spring, and we realized we had planted them all upside down. It was a scarring experience. But for half off (originally $3.98), I just couldn't resist trying to grow some hyacinth. I really wanted tulips, my #1 stunner flower, but they were double the price. I know, I'm such a cheapskate. Maybe if these live, I'll spring for the tulips next year. Get it? Spring?! So, pastel, multicolored hyacinth it was.

--- 3 ---
I bought a bulb planter thing, too, which is pretty cool and way easier than using a shovel thingy. So, I got home and was really excited to plant them. They should have been planted a month to two months ago according to the package, but then I wouldn't have gotten them on clearance. I got my foamy-kneel-in-the-garden thing, my bulb planter, bulbs, and gloves, and headed outside. When I cleared away the mulch to make my first hole, I remembered, "Oh yes, there's one of those weed barrier thingies".

--- 4 ---
Yep, I know I have stellar gardening terminology. I refused to return everything I bought, so I just punched holes with the bulb planter right in the weed barrier. However, I'm still not sure the bulbs will survive because it said to plant them 4-6 inches deep. Which I took to mean, get 4-6 inches of dirt out and drop the bulb in. But when I did that, there was only like 1-2 inches of space between the top of the bulb and the top of the hole. But I didn't really realize that until the last one, so I just covered them back with dirt and called it a day.

--- 5 ---
The last step is to water them. So I did that, and one of the bulbs popped right back up out of it's hole, in a muddy clay bath. I dug that one a little deeper and tried again. Then I went inside, and 10 minutes later it began raining. I'm seriously doubting these hyacinths will show their faces next spring. I will definitely know which ones make it (if any) and which don't, because I planted one between every bush.

--- 6 ---
So about the Christmas tree. The youth group at our church is selling live trees this year to fund a mission trip. Neither Steven nor I have ever had a real tree before, but we decided to take the plunge this year. We are super, super excited about it. I think we're going to go for a 5 footer this year. I bought the cheapest tree stand I could find, which means the tree should fall over just as we put our last ornament up. I also bet that, if we can hardly remember to brush the cat, we will never remember to water the tree and it will be brown before St. Nicholas Day.

--- 7 ---
In non-gardening news, I signed up for twitter this week. I'm a tiny bit ashamed since I said I never would, but I was missing out on so much Cathsorority action! My handle is @CatholicCrunchy. I debated on whether to have it associated with my blog or not, because my blog isn't associated with my facebook (for multiple reasons). I ended up deciding I'd rather use it for blog networking, faith sharing/growing purposes so that's why I chose that handle. Follow me so I can follow you! Finding people is exhausting for this noob. Also exhausting is trying to figure out what to do. I mean, I go away for an hour, come back, and there's tons of tweets all down the wall. Do you really sit and read them all? Help. I need your Twitter Tips N Tricks.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wedded Bliss Wednesday

Let's talk MAN fashion!

What is your husband's style?
Steven is a tshirt and jeans kind of guy, for the most part. His favorite tshirts are ones with Marvel characters, which I may or may not have started by buying him 5 for a birthday one year. I sort of shot myself in the foot with that one. He'll wear jeans and a polo if we are going somewhere a bit nicer like on a date. 

What is your LEAST favorite piece(s) of his wardrobe? 
He has this jacket that I call his 'homeless jacket'. I know... so not PC of me! But it's this navy blue, hooded sweatshirt type jacket, totally plain and faded, complete with a hole in the arm. After some begging and pleading, he agreed to only wear it when he's by himself or doing something around the house like yard work.

If you have a picture show us!!
(I meant to take some pictures of him doing a fashion show but I forgot, and now he's asleep, so random pictures is all you get.)

 Rocking his Iron Man tshirt at the beach. I could go either way on his character tshirts, but for some reason I find this one super cute.

 Rocking his NC State tshirt at the neighborhood summer concert.

All fancy-like in his polo for a date. 

What would you love for your man to wear? 
I'm fine with his style because we both prefer the more casual look. I do love polos on him, but luckily he already wears those. He tends to pick out colors I wouldn't choose, but he doesn't care if I pick them out, so lately I've picked ones I enjoy seeing on him.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Happiness in 5's

Five Things That Make Me Happy (just because):

  • Time with the hubs. His new job has him working a LOT more than we are used to. That park sucks. But the upside is that I feel like we have more quality time together. Baffled? The time we are spending together, even though there is less of it, includes way more interaction because we miss each other! We are on the computers less, and playing board games more, going for drives more, and just hanging out talking more.
  • The kitty. Seriously. I can be having a bad day, be sad, or just be in a funk, and 2 minutes with her totally turns my mood around. She seems to know when I need a little extra TLC. Her snoring or flying through the house with a toy brings a smile to my face no matter what.
  • Household chores. They don't always make me happy, but for the most part they do. I feel so productive and fulfilled when I take care of things around the house. I especially love cooking and stocking the freezer with deliciousness. 
  • Planting in my garden. I'm pretty sure I royally screwed it up. As in, it rained about 20 minutes after I finished. But I will expand on that in this week's quick takes. Digging in the garden was messy, but felt good!
  • Garland on the mantel. I scored awesome garland at Michael's for 70% off. It is SO pretty. Then I bought command hooks to hang it because I couldn't figure out what else to hang it with. It's my first bit of holiday cheer in the house.

Friday, November 23, 2012

7 Quick Takes

Happy Thanksgiving weekend! I detest Black Friday, so I will be curled up reading your quick takes today instead of fighting consumerist madness! Actually, I will be curled up in a perma-snuggle with my husband since he has the day off with me! I feel a movie day coming on...

--- 1 ---
If you saw my post on Monday about dealing with the loss of childhood traditions and making new married traditions, you already know that my family loves to celebrate holiday eves with snacks smorgasbords. I debated not doing it for just Steven and me because we really don't need another day of naughty food. And then I thought that it's our first Thanksgiving together (physically together) and we are going to do it up! So our Thanksgiving Eve menu was: pigs in a blanket (the mini kind), triscuits and GOOD cheddar cheese, carrots and hummus, eggnog, and no bake chocolate oatmeal cookies. It was a wonderful way to usher Thanksgiving in together, and totally worth the angst of tight fitting pants.

--- 2 ---

You know what I did for the first time ever this year? I went to Mass on Thanksgiving. I've never done that! Steven was working and I had a thought about going early in the week. All week, I kept battling the thought. I'd tell myself, "It's not a holy day, so it's ok if I don't go", "I just want to lay around in my pajamas that day", and "Hmm... I could say a rosary instead". And then I realized that if that thought was coming into my head multiple times a day, then the thought was certainly not my own and I ought not ignore it! I don't know that I will do it every year depending on plans, children, etc, but it was a BEAUTIFUL way to begin the day. Literally. I woke up with Steven at 4:45, made us our cinnamon roll breakfast, and then went to mass at 7:30 so I could be back for the parade. AND the Bishop celebrated! It was perfect.

--- 3 ---
So (again referencing my traditions post) I found a way to carry on a family tradition even while away from them. I found this amazing ballot for the dog show. I emailed it to my mom to print, printed my own, and we had a long distance contest! LOVE! We had a 3 way tie out of 4 players. After that, I made a pie (that I just made a few weeks ago and loved) and it was a total flop. I ended up in tears, since I was supposed to take it to my in law's Thanksgiving. My mom and the Cathsorority girls talked me off a ledge, and hubs brought home a store bought pie. Such is life, right? I had a great time eating and spending time with my in laws and husband, and that's what matters.

--- 4 ---
Earlier this week, I guest posted at Karianna's while she babymoons with sweet little Fritz. The post is all about getting your husband on board with real food eating!

--- 5 ---
While we're on the topic of eating, I decided to re-start Weight Watchers. I won't be going to the actual meetings ($), but counting the points on my own since I have all the stuff. Last time, I lost 58 lbs.... annnnnd over the years I've gained 66. After yet another depressing dressing room experience this week, I finally hit that place where I thought, "I can either do this for the rest of my life, or I can change it". I was trying to do it on my own (by just eating better and watching portions) but that's not working because I have nothing to be accountable to. I am horrible with portions and clearly not managing it well on my own. As much as I don't want to, I need to have to write it down. So there it is. I know I will get excited once the pounds start dropping off. 

--- 6 ---
Ladies, has your husband heard of the new Cathmen group on facebook? Like Cathsorority, it first started on Twitter. I got super excited and told Steven about it. He promptly joined which made me super excited for him. Well, apparently LOTS of people are excited because the group got 150 members in ONE WEEK! Cathsorority just turned a year old and we are at 131! Us ladies like it smaller, so I'm not complaining, but just so excited that there are that many men, and that quickly!, excited to live out their faith and wanting a place of support on facebook. Pass along the info to your husband/fiance/friend/whoever if you think he'd be interested!

--- 7 ---
Speaking of Cathsorority celebrating one year on facebook, Kendra made this in honor of the big event:

Isn't it awesome!?
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

What I Wore to Thanksgiving Dinner Link-up

So I haven't technically had dinner yet, but hubs is on his way home from work (bless his heart) and we should be heading out soon to my in laws for my first ever away from my parents Thanksgiving dinner. Want to know how it's going so far? Well, my pie was a giant flop, so hubs is bringing home a store bought pecan pie. Yep, I make awesome holiday impressions!

So I have to tell you, this is probably THE most formal Thanksgiving outfit I've ever worn. No joke. Are you ready for it?

This is a HUGE step up from what I normally wear to Thanksgiving dinner. Which is a clean pair of pajamas. Yep, I normally shower and put on a clean tshirt and jammy pants. It really aids in my dinner consumption. But alas, this year I had to be somewhat presentable for the in laws so this is what I picked. Mainly because you can't see my muffin top (no worries, it will appear after dinner). And this is partially why I don't generally participate in the What I Wore Sunday link up.... because I am very unconcerned with fashion. I'm sure you could tell that by my cardigan that is clearly meant for spring that I just pulled out of the closet for the first time after owning it for 2 years. 

And the SUPER exciting details because I know you are all going to run out to the store so you can recreate this fashion forward outfit! 

Cardigan- Target clearance
Shirt that I'm paranoid people will mistake for maternity clothing- Belk clearance
Trouser jeans- Target full price (cringe!)

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Guest post alert!

Check out my guest post over at Karianna's! She recently gave birth to super precious baby Fritz, so I offered to write about getting your husband on board with real foods!

Here's a snippet:

"I remember the very first moment it all started. I had been researching making the switch to real food for weeks, partially for general health reasons and partially because I was looking for more natural ways to help my PCOS. We were at my apartment sitting around, and I was devouring the 100 Days of Real Food blog for the 1000th time. I pulled up the page with mini pledges, turned to my then-fiance and said, completely out of nowhere, “How would you feel about starting this pledge?”. He read it and politely declined. I got irrationally upset and went on a diatribe about how he must not care about me, our health, or our future."

Go on over and check it out to find out how NOT to mess it up like I did! Make sure to check out the baby pics while you're there! 

Wedded Bliss Wednesdays

What are you most thankful for in your marriage?

Yep, just this one question this week, and what a hard one! Most implies picking one (or at least very few) thing(s). But there are SO many things I am thankful for in our marriage. I guess I would have to say, hands down, is the grace received in the sacrament. It has helped us to bond, to communicate, to love when we may not want to, to face our flaws for the betterment of our marriage, to learn sacrifice, and given us a tiny glimpse into heaven. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Making Married Traditions

What I'm going to write about isn't new and isn't rocket science. Some of you may have never had to deal with this, some may currently be, and some may know it's coming in the future. I'm talking about giving up some of the traditions of childhood and ushering in traditions of marriage. Obviously I'm writing about this because of Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up! Let me walk you through how I've spent the vast amount of my years celebrating Thanksgiving, for example...

My parents at Thanksgiving 2007. It's just the 3 of us, no need for fancy serving dishes :P! 

Thanksgiving: Some of this has been more of a half decade to decade-long tradition, as it is generally just my parents and myself at Thanksgiving. Don't feel sorry for us; we have a blast! In my family of origin, we take ANY excuse to eat. So we celebrate holiday 'eves'. This means that on Thanksgiving Eve (lol!) we have lots of tasty snacks set out buffet style and usually put a movie on. Thanksgiving morning my mom gets the turkey all situated in the oven and is working on delicious sides. We turn on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and watch it while we talk, mom bakes, and I pour through the Black Friday ads, knowing full well I have no interest in Black Friday shopping! Next up is the dog show! We have turned this into a contest in my family. We sit and watch the dog show together, and vote on which dog we think will win from each category. You get a point if your dog wins, and most points wins. My mom somehow wins this almost every single year! There is no prize; we just do it for fun! Later that afternoon we have our big meal around 2 or 3pm, and then just lounge around until dessert time. We don't believe in anything but stretchy pants and tshirts, even at the table. It's blissful. Honestly, I don't even care that much about the food at Thanksgiving. It's all the rest that I love so much! The day after Thanksgiving, we decorate for Christmas.

My dad sets up an antique train every year (the cat helps). It belonged to my mom's brother, who died when she was 4. The metallic smell is one of my favorites because of all the memories of playing with the train! 

Now that I'm married, Steven and I have decided to do whatever we need to in order to spend the actual holiday together (which we've never done and you'll see why!). My parents live 4 hours away, and Steven generally works until 3 or 4pm on Thanksgiving day. He can usually have either Thanksgiving day OR Christmas Eve off, though this year he will most likely be working both. Anyway, we decided, at least for the short term, to split holidays between parents- Thanksgiving with his parents, Christmas with mine, and vice versa the next year. So if you have put two and two together, you will realize that not only am I not spending Thanksgiving day with my parents this year... but I'm spending it pretty much alone! Ok, that's not entirely true. He'll get off late afternoon, come home to change, and then we'll head to his parents' house (about 75-90 minutes away) for Thanksgiving dinner. In our house, the entire day is pretty much over by then and sloth-dom has set in. This year, the day will just be starting! I already have visions of me sitting on the couch with snotty kleenex, watching the parade and dog show alone. I'M SO DRAMATIC! But this whole 'married holidays' thing is really going to take some getting used to! I'm excited to be with my in laws on a real holiday, and thrilled to spend Thanksgiving with my husband!, but you know what they say: There's no place like home. What IS exciting is that Steven has black Friday off, so we can stay at his parents' as late as we want without worrying about him needing to go to bed. And since we haven't been off on a day together in quite a while, we've already decided that we are going to have a totally loungey day Friday, and end it by going to the movies! I'm soooo excited!

I force games. Everyone pretends to hate me for it. (Do you see Christmas decorations oozing from every household orifice? Ahhhhh, home!)

All that long winded-ness leads up to a point. I told Steven earlier this week that I'm excited for when we can make some of our own married traditions. When he is trying to adapt to my family's traditions, and I'm trying to adapt to his, there is a sense of loss because we are giving up, at least for that holiday, what we know as tradition. And I'm letting myself recognize that and be ok with it. But when we create traditions together, the sense of loss isn't there because we're so excited to be making something new together for our little family. Until we have children of our own that aren't infants, we'll continue to go to our parents' houses for holidays and do the vice versa set up. That will probably *just* start feeling like tradition and then we'll have a child/children old enough that we decide what works for us, and make that our tradition. For now, we're focusing on making some little traditions to develop a sense of 'us' in holidays, versus it being a my family or his family type thing. Here are some little things we have started of our own for various holidays:

  • Opening stockings on St. Nicholas Day and decorating for Christmas on the first day of Advent (this will be the first year but we want to make it a tradition). In my family, you decorate the day after Thanksgiving by covering the house in Christmas related festiveness and open stockings Christmas morning. Steven's family does a little decorating but it isn't the national holiday that I'm used to, haha!, and I think his mom does it by herself, and stockings are also opened on Christmas.
  • Resurrection Rolls on Easter morning. (And of course baskets, but we both got baskets growing up, too.)
  • Donuts on the 4th of July. We tried to carry my parents' tradition of donuts on Halloween over but found it doesn't work for us since we eat half of the candy we are supposed to give out. Too. Much. Sugar. But I still need my yearly Krispy Kreme fix, so we decided to pick a holiday that didn't have so much sugar. 4th of July it is!
  • Advent calendar of activities. We had an advent calendar growing up where you put a magnetic ornament on a 'tree' each day to count down. I wanted to use an advent calendar, but make our own tradition so I ordered one last year with drawers. I'm sure they are for candy, but we put slips of paper in with activities ranging from simple to elaborate, and did whatever the paper said each day. It's one of the things I'm most excited about doing again for Advent this year! 
  • One we are starting this year is cinnamon rolls for Thanksgiving breakfast. This is more so I will be in a sugar coma while the parade and dog show are on, and may not even realize I'm alone. I'm guessing we will do it yearly as an excuse for the chemically goodness of the rolls. 
And I'm happy to announce that writing this out made me feel really excited for the traditions to come, and way less sad about the ones I'll be leaving behind. *Mission accomplished* 

Were your first few married holidays a struggle for you? What ended up working or not working? Do you have any special traditions that you started for your family after marriage? 

Friday, November 16, 2012

7 Quick Takes

--- 1 ---
I have been reading about coconut oil for a while now. I finally bought some this week and can't WAIT to try it. I'm actually overwhelmed at just how many uses there are for it!!! If you use it, what's your favorite use? I think I'm going to separate it into a couple different containers because something about reaching in there for a food purpose, and then reaching in for a non food purpose, freaks me out.

Ok wait. I just found my first use. SO MAKING THESE! Do you dare look!?

--- 2 ---
We had our Women of Grace group two weeks because of Thanksgiving. All I can say is this: How in the world does the morning group meet weekly!? I *barely* got my work done in a week, and might be a WOG drop out if I had to do that every week. Two weeks is totally necessary in order to fit in all the snacking, Netflix watching, and blog stalking that my schedule calls for.

--- 3 ---
So, generally we get our food from Trader Joe's and our produce from the farmer's market. However, when we are in a rush or the weather is really bad, we will just grab enough fruit to get through the week from TJ's. That has happened the last 2 weeks and unfortunately, the fruit has sucked!!!! I usually have nothing bad to say about TJ's but man... it is just flavorless. And I am referring to apples here, not some out of season, shipped from Chile fruit. I will be gone again this weekend but I am just going to find time to stop by on a week day because I can't go through another week of tasteless produce!

--- 4 ---
Our neighborhood was built in 3 phases. We are phase 3, which is the newest section. Phase 1 and 2 don't have a HOA, but phase 3 does. Because of that, we're hated just a tiny bit since we can regulate things that the other phases can't. However, there is a neighborhood co-op where all 3 phases can get together quarterly to talk about the neighborhood, events, crime in the area, etc. You are looking at the representative from phase 3. I couldn't believe no one else came! Phase 1 and 2 had an awesome turn out. Sooo ashamed of my section! Anyway, a guy from the town came to talk about yard ordinances and how the town can make them do stuff that the HOA can't (due to legal fees), which is obviously helpful for phase 1 and 2, as well. They give you so many notices about mowing your lawn, fixing your gutters, etc and then they do it themselves and bill you. They also have a program through the county to help you fix your house if it's in disrepair but you can't afford it. All of that made me sooo happy. I want to live somewhere that is taken care of!

--- 5 ---
Let's go back to dessert for a minute. I made crustless pumpkin pie this week and it was DELISH! I was wanting a dessert that wasn't too naughty, and this fit the bill. Well, minus the condensed milk. (But I love that I didn't waste any carbs eating a crust that I don't really like.) Which, by the way, you only use a 6 oz can of. Ask me how I know. Answer: 12 oz will overflow the pie pan and the texture of the pie will be a bit off. We polished it off and I'm already thinking about making it again.... maybe after Thanksgiving.

--- 6 ---
Talk about what you know, right? So staying on desserts, have you ever eaten sourwood honey? I have only ever had clover (what you mostly get at the grocery store), wildflower, and mesquite. Mesquite was my least favorite for everything but baking... but it was great in baking! Anyway, I bought sourwood when we were in the mountains last month and used it for the first time in the pumpkin pie. OMGEEZERS! Liquid candy, I tell you.
--- 7 ---
I'll leave you with some cuteness to start the weekend! (Stop judging my yellow stamp instruction!)

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Another Day, Another Dollar! Guest post #1

If you recall, I put a shout out in my quick takes a few weeks ago to get guest posters for a series I wanted to run. I have my first guest post, so here it is! The premise of the series is seeing how people live off of their income, whether they thrive or barely survive! I'm hoping to get various incomes, various cost of living locations, various family sizes, etc. To those of us (me, hi!!!!) who will be starting a family in the future, it can be intimidating thinking about making ends meet, so seeing how it works for different families and different situations is both fascinating and helpful! If you want to contribute, email me your post at I will post as many as I get! Though it's subjective, classify your area as either a low, medium, or high cost of living to give our readers an idea of how far your income stretches. Our first post is anonymous and she classifies her area as a medium cost of living. Without further ado, here is the first installment of....

Our Scenario:
We are a family of four, soon to be a family of five. We live on one income, and I stay at home with our children. My husband and I both earned our Masters degrees and are currently paying off student loans. Our children are not yet school age: we have a three year old and a one year old. We are also dealing with a temporary (hopefully) salary cut of 10% as my husband’s company is experiencing some financial issues.
These figures are after taxes are withheld, life insurance, health/dental/vision insurance and 401-K contribution.


Yearly Take Home: $64,972.96
Monthly Income: roughly $5,414.41

Savings: $11,912.41
Fixed Monthly Expenses:
Rent: $1200
Student loans: $685
Utilities: $564.91
Car Loan: $474.75
Car/Renter’s Insurance: $144.90
Tithing: $130

The Breakdown:
Rent: We recently moved and have chosen to not purchase a home at this time as my husband’s job is not as stable as we would like it to be. Most of what is in savings is from the sale of the home we owned before the move. While trying to avoid it, we have been slowly depleting our savings since the 10% salary decrease went into effect in April.
Student loans: This is probably the biggest reason we have a tight budget, given my husband’s salary. We have chosen not to consolidate loans as long as our budget allows in an effort to pay them off more quickly. We will be paying them off until approximately 2020.
Utilities: I have included electric, water, cell phones, internet and cable into this category.
Car Loan: We made a decision that, in order to avoid massive car repair amounts, we have two fairly new vehicles. We paid off one a year early with money from savings that was a $600 a month payment (roughly the amount of the salary decrease) traded in another for a larger vehicle in the event that we would add to our family, reducing nearly $1,000 a month in car payments to $475.74. We have solid credit ratings, and are paying virtually nothing in interest.  We chose to make vehicle reliability a priority.
Car/Renter’s Insurance: We pay the renter’s insurance once a year, and the car insurance is taken directly from our checking account twice a year. We have full coverage on both vehicles and clean driving records.
Tithing: My husband is not Catholic, and long before we were married we talked about tithing. We made the compromise that I would tithe with my income. Now that I am at home, we still tithe based on what I was making before staying home. My husband currently attends Mass with us, and we have not made the decision to change this amount much, but we do also participate in other charitable activities as a family. Tithing is something that is important to our budget.
Other expenses: While we have an actual budget that outlines our spending in every possible category, we have honestly not been sticking to it lately. We budget for about $150 in groceries a week, and have separate limits for baby items, household items, gas, entertainment, gifts, prescriptions, clothing, haircuts, dining, etc. Food is a tough issue for us: we like it! I try to cook mostly whole food items and keep things nutritional, but dining out is definitely a budget weakness for us.
We also have made the decision to hire a maid service to help clean the house once a month for deep cleaning. While I stay at home, with two little ones it is really difficult to find the time to do the deep cleaning, and my husband typically works 12 hour days. On the weekends for the foreseeable future, we prefer to spend that time as a family rather than one of us cleaning the entire time.
We also try to plan for a few visits to see family every year as we are states away from them.
There are still things that seem to pop up, and we are not currently saving on a regular basis, though our plan is to begin replenishing savings once the salary decrease is no longer in effect.
One big help for us has been to invest in Quicken software to track all of our accounts. It has improved our spending habits considerably, and provides us with easy access to all our financial information.
We seem to have been in a constant state of change since our oldest was born, but it is easier to flex our budget when we have a clear view of what is happening. My degree allows me to have some assurance that if I need to find some part time or full time work to fit our needs, I am able to do so (provided there are jobs to be had).  I am confident that we will always find a way to connect the dots as long as we clearly communicate our priorities with one another.
Our income may seem high to many. We also have had the luxury of flexibility in making some of our budgeting decisions, but that means that we also have room to cut expenses if our situation changes. While I was pregnant with my son, I was going to school full time and working part time and my husband was laid off. He spent nearly eight months unemployed. We were smart, and planned every last expense.  We laid out our tight budget counting unemployment income, my income, and the rather small amount we had in savings. We knew down to the day when we would run out of money and not be able to afford our necessary expenses! We spent two years recovering from that financially, but it was worth all the effort. We may very well be preparing to go through it again, only this time we will have two kids and pregnancy!
My advice to anyone reading this is to know your realistic budget. Be honest about what you spend and where. Track your spending, at least at first to get a handle on where your money goes. Also, know your budget priorities and weaknesses. Just being aware of all the nuances in your spending makes you financially smarter!

Friday, November 9, 2012

7 Quick Takes

--- 1 ---
Last weekend with the girls was FANTASTIC. As my friend Beca put it (and I'm paraphrasing here): I love that we are all so different and have different beliefs but we are still close friends and never fight about our differences. It is a true testament to the ability to love people despite differences because we have some big ones, and here we are 5 years later still coming together full of love and respect for one another! We had a sleepover, ate junk food, and stayed up late talking. It was exactly what I needed!

Darling bride Jean Marie, Beca, Lili, me, Megan

--- 2 ---
My exercising has faded almost completely since it got dark and cold. I think I need to incorporate some workout videos, because I keep saying I will get outside but I can barely handle the walk in from the car after work. Brrrrr... Yes, I'm a wuss (and yes, I feel terrible that my sister still doesn't have power, yet 52 degrees hurts my skin). Back to the point. Know of any free workout video resources? We have a few here and I could check the library, but do you have any favorite workouts that are online for free?

--- 3 ---
Do you remember when I wrote about drinking coconut water for heartburn? IT TOTALLY WORKED! I did it for about a week and a half, after having heartburn for a good month or so, and it got better over the span of about a week until it disappeared. Now I have it maybe once every other week and all it takes is a swig of the coconut water to chase it away! I'm so happy to not be downing antacids.

--- 4 ---
This weekend I'm on call (which is luckily only phone duties). That part sucks, but the part that doesn't is that I will be on the couch All. Weekend. Long. I hate being places and getting a call, so it's an opportunity for me to do nothing but read, watch Netflix, and play around online. YAY! Now let's just hope the phone is silent during church. I seriously can't focus the entire time, paranoid that I will get a call. It's only happened in church once in 3 years, so you'd think I'd quit being so dramatic about it.

--- 5 ---
Prayer request: My sister still does not have power!!! Please continue praying for all of those affected by the hurricane and now the snow. It's so easy to get caught up in normal life and forget.

--- 6 ---
Have you noticed how well I've avoided election/politics talk here? *does a bow* I do have to mention this, though, because it's an awesome idea. Someone in Cathsorority mentioned praying a decade a day for the conversion of hearts of those in power who are trampling on our religious freedom (and, of course, that's not the only reason). I LOVE that idea and will be joining! How about you?

--- 7 ---
Do you remember back in these quick takes when I talked about a series on budgeting? Well, I have my first contributer! Stay tuned because I will be posting it Monday. Any time you see this: 

you will know that it's a post in the series. That's right, I named it! I'm not the most creative person in the world, so I had to steal that often used phrase, but my back up was to call it something like "Budget Series". Anyway, I will post as many submissions as I get, so feel free to email them my way! 

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Wedded Bliss Wednesday

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1. When you were a child what did you imagine YOUR Prince Charming to be like?
Unfortunately, I think I imagined my Prince Charming to be just that.... Prince Charming. As much as I love fairy tales and chick flicks, I do think they can set you up to see this totally unreal, over romanticized version of life. Yes, I saw a very real example of marriage in my parents' marriage (34 years and counting!), but we are so immersed in pop culture that it was hard to know what was real from what culture tells you that you should have. So, I would guess that I thought he would be someone who would totally sweep me off my feet, treat me like a princess, and that life and love would be easy.

2. Does you husband match your prediction as a child?
Well, we live in real life and not in a fairy tale or chick flick, so not exactly! My husband did sweep me off my feet in a way (about 2 years from meeting to I Do) and he does treat me incredibly well, but he's a human with faults and flaws just like me, which is never part of the equation as a little girl, dreaming of your Prince Charming. Let's just say this much, he is absolutely perfect for me and has helped me to understand love and selflessness in a way I never otherwise would have. He helps me, just by being the amazing husband he is, learn how to be a better wife. So really, he's beat out any Prince Charming I dreamed up as a little girl! 

3. What about when you were a teenager and knew it all about love, does you relationship match that scenario you had during those rebel years? 
When I was a teenager, I was seeking love in the wrong places. I'm not sure exactly why, but I'm guessing because I was self conscious and lacked confidence, so I craved attention that I saw other people getting. So my view of love was a bit off as a teenager. I knew what I wanted and what real love should look like, but I settled for less than that. So thank God (seriously!) that the love I have now doesn't match the love I had then, and that goes for my early college years as well. I would have had a one way ticket to divorce. I always wondered why the love I saw other people have wasn't finding me, and I honestly questioned whether God had a husband out there for me, but when I met Steven it all clicked. I had to get to a healthier place before I could meet my husband or I very well could have ruined it, or not even recognized love looking me in the face. 

4. What love movie would you best match your relationship to? Why?
See, this kills me. Hollywood romance is not real romance! Our romance is real, it is unique, it is difficult, it is safe, it is warm, and it is rewarding. Hollywood romance, while enjoyable to watch, is not real life romance and I don't want to compare ourselves to it. So think of a documentary made that would be about a couple who had some hard times, a thousand more good times, a healthy dose of love, a sprinkle of discord, and a lifelong journey together, and that would be our movie. 

He's not my Prince Charming. He is so much more than that!!!

Friday, November 2, 2012

7 Quick Takes

Before we get started, I have to ask you to look up at the address bar, or click over if you are in the google feed. SQUEE! My husband is awesome. That's all. (Yes, in case you were wondering, I'm totally technologically deficient and wouldn't have figured it out on my own. I did the purchasing- as usual- and he did the work... um, as usual. He set it up in like 4 minutes.)

--- 1 ---
Steven had a great birthday last weekend and I had a blast too, which is always nice. I took him to our local indie movie theater, The Galaxy, to see Sleepwalk With Me. It was really good! We couponed some popcorn- yeeee-ah! (said in Lil John voice) Anyway, then we headed to Red Lobster where we participated in the 7th annual shrimp fest. I ate 60 shrimp! That's nothing though, the guys ranged from 100-165 a piece. Then they accidentally brought us about 140 more (not exaggerating) before they realized we were stuffed, so we had shrimp for lunch the next day, and I had shrimp in a salad one night this week. That's how you rock all you can eat shrimp!

 These are from the weekend before last, when we celebrated his birthday early at my parents' house.Yes, those ARE my crazy cat lady pj pants.

My  mom made his fave... german chocolate cupcakes!

--- 2 ---
Do you do something crunchy, aka earth friendly, aka whatever you define crunchy to be that you get weird looks for? Tell me about it here! The weirder the better :). I want some new ideas and challenges. The best so far is my sister who told me to pee on top of pee to conserve water. Did that make you want to vom? Me too, but she has a good point. TMI? Welcome to my blog! Then my friend Jennifer said you can put a liter bottle on the tank to fake the toilet out, which will also save water. YAY POTTY TALK!

--- 3 ---
How tacky would it be to take two bags of coffee you own into a store and use their grinder, then walk out? My mom says do it, but I'm skurred. I got 5 lbs of coffee a few months ago (good coffee! yay!) but two of them are whole beans. I could buy a grinder, I guess, but that's $20 I don't want to spend. By the way, I'm really glad I googled "grinding coffee beans in a food processor" before I broke out my shiny processor to try it. Apparently it's a big no no.

--- 4 ---
For all of you who follow my ovaries, I thought I'd provide a quick update, since it isn't enough to write a whole post about. My cycles were awesome when I first started NFP. Well, awesome for me anyway. I was having regular 45 day cycles. They have been progressively getting worse though, and are now down the crapper. My doctor is giving me two more months to have a true peak day (two false alarms so far) and then he will put me on Clomid/Femara to make me ovulate so that he can treat me with HCG. If I ovulate on my own first, I'll immediately start HCG. Apparently my recent bloodwork shows that I'm low on estrogen and HCG will regulate both my progesterone AND my estrogen. Pretty fascinating stuff.

--- 5 ---
We voted last night at an early voting station, which conveniently we didn't have to leave the neighborhood for. We originally had plans to walk up there to vote (just because we could), but then decided to go to mass and dinner right after, and it just made sense to take the car. I was sad.

--- 6 ---
This weekend I'm celebrating the impending marriage of a wonderful friend, just outside of DC. She lives in SC (her beau is in Mexico) and they will be moving to Boston for his studies after they get married in December, and she will finish her dissertation while there, until next August when they move to France for his studies. They met in Mexico on Valentine's Day of this year where he lives, and she was studying. Is that not the most romantic international love story ever? I am SO excited for her. Anyway, my little grad school group of girls (currently located in SC, NC, PA, NY, and MD) are all meeting in VA (at one of the girls' dad's house) for a girly weekend. SO STOKED!
--- 7 ---
We've gone from peeing on pee to sneaky bean grinding to talking ovary dysfunction. Do you really want another take? I didn't think so. Have a great weekend!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!