Tuesday, September 27, 2005

And Two Bank Accounts Shall Become One

No, our pastor did not say that when he married us.:-) But like most everything else in our lives that became "ours" instead of "his" and "hers", so did our finances.
Out of all of our differences, it seems that the one that has the most potential to cause conflict is our finances. We simply do not manage money the same way! I like to save and see how far I can make the money reach. My husband appreciates this but has a more relaxed approach. "What good is saving money if we never get to do anything fun with it?", he asks.
We started out knowing that our finances could be a great source of conflict in our marriage. We talked about it at length and came up with a reasonable spending plan (budget) together. Then we got married.
Even though we were realistic in our dreams and goals, we still had a few suprises to deal with after the wedding. My first and major suprise came when I went to balance the checkbook and realized that my husband didn't make a habit of recording purchases in the checkbook register. I guess I thought that if I did that then most everybody else did too. He was disappointed to find that I didn't feel Hot Pockets were a necessity.
Well, we got over that one and decided that I would take care of the finances for the most part. We decide together how we are going to spend the money and then I pay the bills each month. We are both committed to tithing, so we do that first. We use mostly cash because it is easier for us to keep track of what we are spending. The envelope system works extremely well for us. If you are not familiar with this- you have an envelope for every category, such as groceries, eating out, personal allowances,gas money, hair cuts, etc. Into each envelope put the amount of cash you have specified for that category. Paying cash is a great help in not overspending. I think it is harder to spend cash because I can see it going. (We do use a debit card for certain things and we pay most of our bills with checks.)
Our different spending styles do help to balance us out. While my husband benefits from my planning and saving, he helps me to be more relaxed and not take it quite so seriously. He is very generous and I can learn a lot from that.:-) We each have our personal money each month. Some books refer to it as MIP(Marriage Insurance Premium) or personal allowances. We call it our play money. This is money that we each can spend however we choose. Even though it is only a small amount of cash each month, it is still very helpful.
We are still learning in the area of finances.(Dave Ramsey, Larry Burkett and Mary Hunt are full of good advice!) We know things will change as we go along. My husband helps me alot more with the bills now than he used to.He has become very good about recording purchases in the checkbook. I try not to stress out over every penny! And every once in a while, I reward him with a box of Hot Pockets.

Sunday, September 25, 2005


My husband and I are very different. And I don't just mean because he is a man and I am a woman. Of course, that IS very different. But personality speaking, we come from completely opposite ends of the spectrum. He is an extrovert;I have introverted tendencies. He is spontaneous; I like to make concrete plans in advance. (We joke that I have to plan to be spontaneous.:-) I like to keep things organized; organizing things is not his strong point.When I think the house is cluttered and messy; he feels he is living in wide, open spaces. I am an early bird; he is more of a night owl.I analyze everything to death; he says I think too much. :-) I am structured and plan my days in advance; he takes life as it comes. After all, you can't really plan life-it just happens. And of course there is money. We are very different in that too! I am very frugal, a tightwad at times; he is more of a spender. (More on finances later!)
So we are not alike at all. Our differences can help us to grow individually and as a couple. But, only if we let that happen. In one year, some of those changes have already taken place. Not big ones yet, but we are starting to rub off on each other.:-)
My parents prayed for and told me for years that I needed to find someone who is outgoing and spontaneous to marry and spend the rest of my life with. They were highly concerned that otherwise I would become a hermit.(Funny, but not too far from the truth.:-) On the other side, his parents prayed that he would find someone that was organized, structured and a decent housekeeper. I guess all the prayers were answered!!!:-)
So opposites attract. God knows what He is doing when it comes to match-making. He definitely had a plan when He allowed for our paths to cross.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

A Year Ago

On this day a year ago, I was one week away from getting married. I was stressed with the wedding and every little detail you can imagine. I was more than ready to just go to the justice of the peace and forget having a wedding. I thought that weddings were basically a waste of money even though our wedding and honeymoon were paid for with cash before the event arrived. I am forever grateful that we did not come back from our honeymoon to credit card bills to pay for everything that had already taken place. Because of this, we did have to decide what was important and what wasn't which is good for every bride and groom and to do many things ourselves in order to stay within our very small wedding budget. I used white candles and greenery and borrowed ficus trees instead of flowers for church decorations. My sister offered the ivy plants for table decorations at the reception that were used at her wedding several months before mine. I made my own dress not so much for financial reasons but for modesty even though I did save some money that way.I used my mother-in-law's headpiece and my sister-in-law's veil-they just happened to really match the trim on my dress.:-) I made my flower girl's dress out of white fabric I had on hand. We made our own invitations and a lot of the reception food.(We had a dessert reception.) But most of all, I couldn't have done it without all the great friends and family who offered their services and help. We didn't need to hire anyone for anything, except for the few bouquets of flowers and boutonnieres and for someone to run sound at the wedding(required by the church we rented).
The week leading up to our wedding was very stressful for both me and my husband. I think we argued more that week than the whole year we have been married even though we do have our little disagreements now and then. A friend told me later that she had come to the conclusion that if I didn't kill my husband (then fiance) before the wedding, he had the potential of living a long and happy life!!! I didn't think it was that bad, but I do know that my mom and others wondered seriously if the wedding would ever happen. I had a major case of cold feet and nerves.
But amazingly enough, by the day of our wedding, I was extremely calm and sure of myself. I had come to the conclusion that by that stage, whatever that was going to happen would happen. I won't ever regret having a wedding even though I don't think I would be up to planning another one. :-) Everything went smoothly. The wedding was beautiful, original, and meaningful, just like we wanted.
In this week leading up to our very first anniversary, I certainly don't feel the stress that I felt a year ago.Life has settled down to a steady, busy pace. We have grown a lot as a couple in 12 months. Without giving it much thought, we have created our own daily schedule and routines. It is funny how easily we have fallen into our respective roles- he just does certain things and I automatically do other things. Over and over we have been thankful that even in the busyness of wedding planning, we took time to plan for our marriage. We read books together, got some great pre-marital counselling, and took time to learn what God's plan was for our marriage and home. Our wedding lasted for one day and its details that caused such stress were soon forgotten. Our marriage is meant to last a lifetime. We have certainly not arrived yet; we still have a lot to learn and issues to work on. Stay tuned as I share thoughts on marriage this week!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Spanish Rice and Corn Bread

For dinner tonight we are having spanish rice, fresh corn bread and a big salad. I will share the recipes here.(Although I think most of you can figure out the salad part.:-) We ate lots of this Spanish Rice growing up. My mom really liked making this recipe and we liked eating it! This is my mom's recipe, however, as she will be quick to inform me, it is not exactly like hers. This is because I don't have her recipe,(I keep forgetting to copy it) so I make it from memory and add my own touches as I go. It is basically the same. So here goes-

Spanish Rice Casserole
1 pound ground beef
1 clove garlic
1 medium onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
2 cans(14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes
1 can(6 oz.) tomato paste
1 or 2 bay leaves
Chili powder (to taste)
Salt and Pepper(to taste)
1 or 1 1/2 cups long grain rice, uncooked
Approx. 3 cups water
In skillet, crumble and brown ground beef. Drain. Add garlic, onion, celery and pepper. Cook together for a minute or two. Put all in a large pot and add the rest of ingredients. Stir all together and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer on low heat for at least 30 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.
* This is good with shredded cheddar cheese on top. Leftovers are good in flour tortillas.
* If you are like me and are only serving a couple of people, go ahead and freeze half of it. When ready to serve, thaw and bake in greased casserole dish at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.

Here is the recipe that I use for corn bread. It is from the cookbook Mad About Muffins by Dot Vartan.

Sweet Corn Muffins
1 1/4 cups all- purpose flour
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 rounded teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/4 cup corn oil

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Combine flour, cornmeal, salt, baking powder, and sugar in a large bowl. Lightly beat the egg in a small bowl. Add milk and oil to the egg and stir well. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and blend the ingredients. Fill greased muffin tins. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until tester comes out clean. Serve warm. Makes one dozen muffins.
* I make this recipe in a greased 9 inch square pan.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Saturday Morning Pizza

Well, I actually slept in this morning, which is in and of itself a small miracle. I always feel somewhat guilty when I sleep in because it seems like my best hours of the day are gone. Yes, I am a morning person. It has taken my husband almost a year to get used to someone being so coherent upon opening her eyes at the break of dawn.
Because we get up early during the week we are to the point now where if we sleep until seven a.m. it is the end of the world. Very rarely are we even able to sleep late on a Saturday. But today was an exception.
My husband needed to run some errands and asked very sweetly if I would like him to bring us some biscuits from a local fast food joint. I scoured all of our coupons and we decided on a "buy one, get one free" deal. The only problem was discovered just as my sweet husband was heading out the door- we had missed the breakfast hours. I immediately jumped to plan B. We could eat breakfast at home as usual. When you hardly ever go out, cooking and eating at home often ends up being less of a hassle!:-) He thought it would be nice to take me out for an early lunch. He asked me what I was in the mood for. After some deliberation, I decided on pizza. Not just any pizza either. Oh no... none of the pizza coupons would work, because I (the overly frugal one) wanted Pizza Hut's new Cheesy Bites Pizza. I had seen all the commercials for it and it just looked so great! In other words, I was sucked in to the grand marketing scheme. I saw it, they made it look good and I wanted it! An easy sale. We did get the pizza and yes, it was as tasty as it looked on TV. But I hadn't totally thrown my frugal nature to the wind... I looked the pizza over carefully and now I am pretty sure how I can make my own version of the Cheesy Bites Pizza, not only in the comfort of my own home but for a fraction of the price!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


I have been getting a lot of spam in my comments here on the blog, so I have added the word verification. I'm sorry if it is an inconvenience, but it will help to take care of the problem. Thanks for understanding!

Friday, September 02, 2005

Organized Home

Organizedhome.com has lots of free printable planner forms. In fact, there is almost every form available to use for your own household notebook or control journal or whatever you want to call it. I have used the weekly menu and shopping list forms for several months now and just this week started using the weekly to-do list. It is just easier for me to be more productive and organized when I have things written down where I can see it.I post my menus and lists on my refrigerator then move them to my very unorganized notebookwhen the week is over.(See? There are areas of my life that are still very unorganized.:-) I am still trying to get on a schedule, or rather to stick to one. It is difficult for me to stay focused and disciplined. But I am making progress!:-)