"Two are Better than One!" ~Ecclesiastes 4:9

Monday, June 28, 2010

Summer is for Grilling!

Since we have moved into our new condo, we have gotten the best gift ever - a grill! We were not allowed to have a grill on our balcony at our old place, so we would grill things in a Le Creuset grill pan on the stove. It was very desperate, I know! But, it held us over for a short time! Now, we have a built in stainless steel gas grill with a little countertop area on one of our balconies! I never thought Todd would be excited about anything cooking, but I found out he loves to grill! And, I must say he is great at it! Apparently, the only cooking he did as a bachelor was via the microwave and the grill! I knew about the microwave, I just had no idea he was such a grillmaster!

In the last month or two we have cooked part of almost every meal at home on the grill. Which is great, because it helps me out with cooking. And, our gas is charged to the building and paid by the HOA, so it is economical too! The more we grill, the cheaper our power bill - if you know Todd's frugalness, you know this is what his dreams are made of! :)

We bought Todd's dad a grill basket made with wire mesh for fish, shrimp, scallops, and veggies for Fathers Day. His parents' have a second house on the gulf, and they love to go get shrimp straight off the boat and grill (although, not anymore I'm sure!). So, we thought this would be perfect for their beach house meals! Todd loved my find, and continually asked his Dad if they had tried it out when he would call. However, they still have not used it. So, after much self control, Todd finally gave in and used some Williams Sonoma gift cards to go get one of his own!

Todd also picked up a Wilton Armetale grill platter. We are already huge fans of Wilton Armetale platters because they can go in the oven, on the grill, and in the freezer - and they look great for serving straight to the table! So, they were a large part of our wedding registries, and we now have a complete set of the "flutes and pearls" design, thanks to friends and family. So, when Todd saw this no frills platter with handles designed specifically for the grill, he knew I would also be a fan!

If we weren't prepared for summer grilling already, we are now! I will be sure to follow up with product reviews for any of you who are intrigued! Todd is very anxious to use our new grilling toys, so I am sure it will be soon!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

It's a Small World

I recently read a story on Walt Disney World's blog about a couple who found out what a small world it is! They were sorting through childhood pictures in order to create a slideshow for their wedding, as many engaged couples do, when they came across a very familiar childhood picture. It was a picture of the bride with her brothers posing with Mr. Smee at Disney World. However, when the groom took a look at the picture he saw something else -- himself!

What makes this picture even more ironic is that The bride's family was from Miami, and the groom was from Canada. Fourteen years later, the bride would go to work for the groom's family and they would "meet" again. The bride remarked that they loved to go to Disney while they were dating, and never knew what a significant role it would play in their relationship until they were only a week away from marriage!

This story is so sweet to me, and just pulls at my romantic, teary-eyed, heartstrings. While it is easy to see the coincidence and irony in the whole story, I think it is something more! What are the chances these two people would be in the same place at exactly the same moment when this one picture was taken? And that years later they would meet after being so far apart, and even later pull out this exact picture to put in their slideshow? This picture could have stayed in the bottom of a closet at her parents' home and never been discovered! Makes me wonder -- have Todd and I crossed paths in our past and don't even know it? What a fun story, and especially a blessing for this couple...a little Disney magic ;)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Poor Breck :(

I dropped Breck off at the groomer this afternoon as we do every month. He looked a little something like this (overgrown and ready for a trim):

However, when I arrived to pick him up, he looked like this!!!

As I'm sure you can tell, I was not in control of this drastic change. The guy that grooms him has always listened to every neurotic request I have had in the past -- and his cut has, for the most part, stayed consistent for the last six months. So, I can only assume, that I assumed too much was understood in what I communicated when I dropped Breck off. I know lots of people who keep their maltese's cut this way and they look great, but I loved Breck in his shaggy puppy do! He is so tiny and skinny now! To be honest, I told Todd he looked like a girl poodle! Then, the calmer side of me (which did not want to make an appearance initially), told myself that it would be okay for a few reasons: he would be cooler for the summer, it would cut back on the amount of mats he gets, and after all it is hair...it grows! But, the emotional side of me was going crazy inside and wanted to cry! What had they done to my poor puppy? I even asked Todd in the car on the way home, "Do you think he (Breck) is upset that he looks naked?" So, now I feel horribly about it, and we leave for Atlanta in a few days. I am so concerned my nieces and nephew will have no idea who the strange, naked puppy is that Aunt Beth brought with her!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Saving and Spending

In our household, I feel that it is my job to primarily do the shopping. I'm not sure how it began that way, but that's how it has been since day one. I'm sure partially I took over instinctively because I was worried people would get the first thing in our budget that Todd came across for their wedding, instead of the perfectly wrapped, thoughtful gift I would visit 3 stores in order to find. I'm sure the other part was that Todd's grocery shopping habits included buying chips and salsa for dinner. Additionally, If I were to send him to the grocery store for wheat bread, he would probably come home with white bread because it was five cents cheaper. So, needless to say, I have taken it upon myself to be the shopper in our family - not that I am heartbroken over this title!

Seeing that I have so much more time on my hands lately and have very much embraced the more expensive "all-natural" health kick, I am also taking it upon myself to be the spender, and the saver. I have always loved a good sale, negotiating the price of something down, or a good coupon. However, I am kicking it up a few notches and trying to make my coupon clipping worth my time, and possibly a part time job! I have signed up on Kraft foods to get free pre-market products in exchange for survery responses. I also signed up for a one year subscription to All You, a magazine full of manufacturer coupons and saving ideas. I have recommited myself to daily working on my MyPoints account -- this means answering online surveys and simply clicking on links in exchange for giftcards to retailers. We purchase the Sunday paper when we are in town so that we can get the coupon circulars, and save anything that finds its way into our mailbox. And, I have this great little coupon clipper from Pampered Chef that is magnetized so it sticks to the fridge, and I am so in love with it! I even use it to quickly slice open those difficult to open bags of things like powdered sugar and cereal when cooking. Yes, everyone needs one! With all of the new coupons we have, my little handheld expand-a-file coupon book had to be upgraded to a full flegged binder with dividers and sheet protectors. And, it now has a bonus section for retailer coupons, giftcards, restaurant coupons, and menus. What can I say, I got carried away!!

Having numerous wedding gifts, birthday gifts, Fathers Day gifts, etc, etc, etc to purchase in the next few weeks, I went to work. I signed up for Bed, Bath & Beyond coupons via email under my maiden name years ago, so I updated my account using my married name, new address, and email and now inadvertantly get double the coupons. I used them as well as a free shipping promo to get some wedding gifts en route to brides and grooms with June weddings without even leaving the house or clipping that huge blue coupon! Don't underestimate me, I do have a pile of those blue coupons that I will be using tomorrow to purchase a few more wedding gifts for those whom I can hand deliver to. Today, I used Barnes 'n Noble prefered membership to purchase two books, and three cards that would have totaled over $30, but instead paid $20! So, now that I have mastered the retail sign up, email coupons, and circulars routine, I am on to upgrading my grocery store saving.

When I use coupons in the grocery store, I am so excited to save $10! Maybe this feels like a huge feat to me because I understand my handicap - I will not purchase things that I know we will not eat or use simply because I have a coupon for it. I don't even waste my time clipping the coupons I know we won't use. However, when I do use a good amount of coupons, the cashier seems to always share a story about someone who came in and purchased hundreds of dollars of groceries for twenty dollars. I don't think I will ever make it to that level, but my goal is to at least feel half as good as those mega-savers when I leave the grocery store. This will most likely mean always shopping with a grocery list and sticking to it, printing online coupons before I leave the house, remembering my reuseable bags to get the instant ten cent rebate at Whole Foods for each one, and continuing my current rituals. It means I will have to stay very organized, and stop by drive-by grocery shopping adventures that happen several times a week.
As a stay-at-home wife, I hope that my saving efforts can make my time at home more productive. I may not be bringing in regular paychecks, but at least I can help realize regular savings. Any helpful hints, great coupon sources, or mailers that I need to be signed up for??...Please share :)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Lazy Sunday Afternoon!

Growing up, I remember occasional Saturday mornings, when the entire family would jump in my parents' bed. We would all squish in their queen bed - all five of us - and talk, and giggle, and entertain each other. Those are such fond memories...maybe because they meant we didn't have other places to be that morning, or because it usually meant a low key remainder of day, or just that we laughed all morning....until someone got hurt and then the fun was over! Regardless, I loved that we all slowed down to have a morning together!

Now that I am a newlywed, I am really appreciating the times in our marriage where we slow down to have time together. I know we don't have kids to jump in bed with us yet and keep us rolling with laughter, but it's always nice to reconnect with each other. It has been a great weekend of relaxation! We spent several hours at the pool yesterday and met some great neighbors that are old enough to be our parents, but still wonderful company. They asked Todd several questions about the medications they were on, refered us to their financial advisors, and were so surprised that "children" under 40 were so conservative. It rained later in the afternoon, so we stayed in and watched two movies. Cuddling up under a blanket while it is raining outside and watching a movie is the best! Not to mention, the dryer was running, which makes a home that much more cozy to me! Maybe that also stems from my childhood, where the house I last lived in with my parents had the laundry room adjacent from my bedroom and my Mom seemd to always run the dryer at night as I dozed off. Funny how sounds can be of such comfort! I feel the same way in the fall during football season; the sound of football on TV makes me think of my dad :) I'm not sure what sounds make me think of Todd yet - maybe his snore as I try to sleep at night, his beloved basketball on TV, his shower in the morning as I try to get in a few extra minutes of sleep, or maybe his stressed out grunts as he runs his credit card at the grocery store. Poor bachelor, he didn't understand that while it is cheaper to eat at home, the grocery bill is still inevitable! And PS, I have not posted my NCAA March Madness victory dinner pics yet, because, well, it hasn't happened! I am being oh so patient though, and trying very very VERY hard not to nag!

Oh yes, back to relaxing things... Today began with a wonderful morning at church, breakfast for lunch, and has now turned into a lazy Sunday afternoon! Both of my boys (Todd and Breck) are napping oh so soundly in the bed while I sit here typing away, finishing the last of my laundry pile, cleaning the kitchen, and sorting coupons (to help Todd's buyers remorse)! So, maybe it is a little more relaxing for them, than me, at this point!

Not only do I love and appreciate this time with Todd now, but I look forward to years of it! I hope that we continue to take time to slow down and appreciate each other. And when we have kids, I hope that they jump in our bed on Saturday mornings also!