Saturday, March 28, 2009

Engagements

It seems that in recent years, news of engagements has been replaced by the "We're having a baby" news. However in the past couple of weeks, several people I know have gotten engaged including my cousin, my best friend from high school and one of Daniel's good friend's. We are quite excited for all of these loved ones and their coming nuptials.

Then the other day, I read one of my friend's blogs about her funny engagement story and I thought it would be nice to revisit the past and share my own engagement story and ask that you guys share your engagement stories as well.


So here goes...

Daniel and I met and dated in college. We actually met in February of his last semester at Harding - he would be transferring to Tennessee Tech to finish his Engineering degree. After much discussion that summer, we agreed to continue dating long distance the following year.

The following spring, I was getting ready to graduate and had a senior art show to set up for. It was right before finals and my turn to travel to Tennessee to see Daniel. I was feeling very overwhelmed with having too much on my plate and at the last moment decided I didn't think I should go to Tennessee after all. I discussed this with my roommate, Lisa, who promptly convinced me to drive to see Daniel, promising she would help me set up my art show when I returned. She had a hunch, but didn't say anything other than to persuade me to go see my boyfriend.


So I drove. The whole 7-ish hours to Cookeville I was annoyed that I was wasting all of this time driving when I should be studying and setting up my show. When I pulled up to Daniel's apartment, he had me get back in the car - he had plans to take me somewhere.


So I begrudgingly complied and he drove out to Gainsboro to Fat Bottom Road (no kidding about the name of the road). We proceeded to drive up a mud road until we could drive no further, then we got out and walked to a point where we could set up a picnic and watch the sun set. And there, on a blanket in the woods at the end of Fat Bottom road, Daniel proposed.


I think I said, "Really?" Followed by, "Of Course." My roommate was right and I came back an engaged woman.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Tip From Mom

About a month ago I was frying something for dinner and I ended up burning my eyelid from oil that was spitting out of the pan. I recently told my mom about this incident and she told me that I could sprinkle flour on the popping oil to stop it from spitting out of the pan. So tonight while frying chicken meatballs (for my chicken meatball, asparagus & leek soup), I tried my mom's advice and her little trick worked. I am so thankful because otherwise Daniel would make me wear safety goggles when frying food in order to prevent any more burns.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Debt Free

I came home from work and asked Daniel what he wanted to do tonight. He just gave me a hug and said that we were going out. I was kind of surprised since we had agreed to limit eating out while he is unemployed. No questions asked, I got in the car and let him take me out for the evening.

On the way to dinner, I asked what special occasion would warrant us spending extra money. He just smiled and handed me a card. I opened it up and he had written me a sweet note, complete with a hand-drawn graph showing how as of today we have paid off debt (after 15.5 months of scrimping).


Technically "Debt Free" is a bit of a misnomer as we still have our mortgage and student loans to pay off. But as of today, we are completely free of credit card debt for the first time since we have been married (which includes everything we spent on all of our renovation projects over the past 3 years).


I have to admit, it feels pretty good to know that we don't have that debt hanging over our heads, especially with the current state of the economy.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Life Changing

There are moments in life that are life changing... getting married, having a baby, a death and in this case a loss of a job. When life changes, I find the best thing is to embrace the situation and move forward as best you can.

With the current state of the economy, it was not a huge surprise when Daniel called me this morning and said to come pick him up. That was all he said, but I knew immediately that he had been laid off. I had only been at work for about 20 minutes and I was running out the door to get him.


It is weird the emotion that goes along with this. I wasn't surprised, but I did have some moments of shock and maybe some guilt as well... after all it was Wednesday and I had assumed that no lay offs were going to happen and I allowed myself to think that we were OK and that we would be able to buy furniture for our basement after all. How lame is that? I was thinking about furniture the same morning that Daniel would get laid off...


Anyways, these things happen and they are happening more often than not these days. I know so many people who have been laid off. Makes me kind of sad. I don't have answers - not for us and not for others who are experiencing this as well.


There were 12 let go in the Charlotte office and the rest of the employees are getting (another) 10% pay cut.


I am not sure what we are going to do. I am so thankful we have been frugal for a year and paid off a good chunk of our debt. We already know how to live off of one salary - we did it before when I quit my job to freelance for a year. We will be OK, at least for now. Who knows what the future holds, but I know that things will work out, even if it isn't the way I expect.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Mini Fraud

This morning on the way to work Daniel took the time to check his voice mail (something he rarely does). As we listened to it on speaker phone, one of the messages was about recent activity on a credit card we have not been using. Stating that we should call immediately to make sure identity fraud was not occurring.

So Daniel called the bank and sorted everything out. Evidently someone tried to use our credit card number to buy $1 worth of records at a local record store. Also purchases of less than $5 were attempted on iTunes and Napster. Since we had not been using the card the bank noticed the oddity and called us. Thankfully none of the purchases went through or were of significant amounts. This does make me wonder if such fraud would pass through, undetected, if we had been using the card regularly...


In other thoughts, the partners at Daniel's company have convened for a meeting this week. Since it is not the end of a quarter, we can only assume the worst (3 past meetings such as this have been followed by lay offs).


We are not sure what to think. We just keep praying that Daniel's job will be secure, while knowing nothing seems to be secure these days.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Cheap Date

Daniel and I are pretty cheap. We always have been. When we were first married and literally had no money we would go hiking or camping on the weekend b/c it was basically free (gas was cheaper in those days).

We have continued to be frugal, but now that we are back to being a one-salary household, we are cutting out even more. First to go is my one visit to Starbuck's a week (guilty pleasures are not allowed when you are cutting back). We also planned to cut out all eating out. However, tonight we broke that rule and went to Moe's where we split a Joey Bag of Donuts and drank water for a grand total of $6.32.


We already live pretty sparingly, it is hard to know what else to cut. My monthly clothing allowance, along with Daniel's miscellaneous allowance is gone. I will now be brown bagging it every day for lunch as opposed to 3-4 days a week. We are considering getting slower internet, but that is pretty minuscule amount and internet is pretty important, especially since Daniel will be using it to job hunt. Daniel is also looking into getting cheaper car insurance. We have had basic cable for some time, I suppose we could always cancel it to save a few more bucks.


After our $6 meal, we went to Joseph-Beth's to read magazines and browse books. I happened to pick up the magazine,
Real Living and they had an article called 71 ways to cut back. For us it was a bit of a joke to read. We either 1) flat out don't do the things it suggests cutting out (example cut out weekly fresh flowers for $20/week - who does that?) or 2) we have been doing the suggestions for years.

Tonight was a nice night (even on a
super tight budget). We also had the extra treat of being able to visit with my grandparents on their layover in Charlotte, on their way home to Canada.

Another bonus to sharing meals is the potential for weight loss... this might not be so bad after all.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Snow


I have a confession. I am half-Canadian and I am not crazy about long periods of snow. Chalk it up to living in the south for the past 16 years, but I am content with having just a little snow here and there.

I don't think I could ever go back to the full-blown, make your Halloween costume fit over your snow suit kind of snow. Or the walk to school in the snow, regardless of how cold it is or how much snow is on the ground. When my mom was a kid they were actually required to play outside unless the thermometer hit colder than -40 degrees.


Sunday night we had a little snow storm blow through. It was fantastic to get out and take a walk in the dark with the big snow flakes falling all around. Our neighbors kids were up taking advantage of their one day of good sledding. It was nice while it lasted.


But it is March and I am over it. I want the bitter cold to go away. I want the sun to come out. I want the trees to start budding. I want spring.


I know that I shouldn't be complaining as I have friends and family that deal with much worse weather, for a much bigger portion of the year (we have had 3 days of snow this season and that seems like a lot). Anyways, I enjoyed our little storm, but I am looking forward to spring and lunches outside and the warmth of the sun beating down on my face.

Among Trees

Last weekend was a long weekend (Columbus Day/Canadian Thanksgiving) and I was determined that our family should do something together ou...