Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A fun and quick alternative to Newlywed Week

Well, this was bound to happen. The post that I wrote up last night was good to go, I scheduled it to post today, but it never went up. When I woke up, I looked on my iPhone to see if it went up and it didn't. So I went into my blogging dashboard and saw that it was scheduled for tonight actually. So I changed the timestamp on it and hit publish.

When it posted, there was no text! And I can't figure out what happened. I'll need to try and remember everything I wrote last night and publish tomorrow.

For today, enjoy these photos!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Newlywed Week: The Best Way to Handle Finances

On what we consider a very productive Sunday (cleaning, grocery shopping, fun shopping, and a run), we found ourselves stumped on what we should blog about this week. We can only post so many photos of our condo, wedding things, or random fun things we find online.

(Also, what do you think of our new banner? We think this is the permanent one.)

So this week we decided to do a series of "newlywed" related pieces. There are so many little things that you experience after getting married that you never anticipate. That's not a bad thing — it's what makes life interesting!

Today's piece is about one of the biggest things that new married couples must deal with — money. Here are a few rules that Erin and I have followed:
  1. Be Completely Honest (of course, be honest in all aspects of your life at all times). Any and all debt must be laid out there right from the beginning. Whatever debt is out there, dramatic or minimal, sit down and make a plan on how you will pay it off.
  2. The $150 rule. Or the $100 rule. Or maybe even the $50 rule — depending on your financial situation. During each pay period (based on a traditional pay period on the 15th and last day of the month), both people have an opportunity to buy something for themselves or whomever, with no questions asked from their spouse. Now, obviously there are also limits. It's kind of an unspoken rule that you can't go out and buy something unnecessary whenever a paycheck comes in. Be responsible. For purchases over the decided limit, you have to consult your spouse.
  3. Have separate bank accounts. But also have a joint account for monthly bills. Remember though, just because you have your own bank account, doesn't mean the $150 rule can be broken. Really, for us at least, the separate bank account is more of a convenience for both people.
  4. Budget. After a few weeks of living together, you start to see, almost immediately, what your weekly expenses entail. After a month, sit down and map out your income and your expenses. Marriage is kind of like running a small business. Make sure your expenses don't outweigh your income.
Everything money-related comes down to one thing: Honesty. It might be hard to deal with, but it's going to be harder to deal with when your finances become backed up because either of the spouses didn't mention a hitch in the chain. It's much easier to deal with a problem from the get-go.

Some other interesting newlywed reading that is financial-related.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

It's the weekend: Make it great

Happy Weekend to Everyone.

It's a weekend filled with birthday celebrations from near and far for us. My sister Maggie and Erin's mom Judy share Jan. 29th as their birthdays. Erin and I will travel up to Evergreen tonight for a lovely lobster dinner. I'll likely receive a phone call from the Dodson crew while at their dinner in Lansing. Happy Birthday to our lovely family members!

Erin survived her first week of the accounting industry's busy season. I probably had my busiest week at Exclusive Resorts (the luxury travel industry is fascinating).

And in the news...

— The Aussie Open didn't feature a Williams sister, but did see an up-and-coming star.

— Facebook is close to going public, and could be worth nearly $100 billion. Billion.

— Everyone on the Italian Cruise ship is receiving $14k for their Titanic-like experience

— Mitt Romney, if he pulls it out, would be our richest president ever.

Friday, January 27, 2012

I want an office, but we can only fit a desk

While our desktop makes our kitchen counter look a bit more chic, it can't stay here forever. Erin and I have many projects to accomplish around our condo (photo collage...), including finding a desk and some sort of organization system for bills, important documents, etc. Our goal is to go completely paperless by the summer.

Wish us luck.

Anyways, we're in the hunt for a desk. As I perused the Internet for something that will fit in our small space, I certainly became inspired by some pretty awesome home offices. Once we move into a house one day, I hope to have a big open space with a large flat desk (think Restoration Hardware). Here are some great home offices:
Photo: Restoration Hardware
We'll probably end up going with something like this for now...
And more specifically — will probably go with something like this. (Photo: Ikea)

Have any inspirations for a fun home office? Share below.
Happy Friday!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Is there a better view of downtown Denver?

From the left...
As we've probably mentioned many times in previous posts, the best part about our downtown Denver condo is the view from our balcony. Not only do we get beautiful skyscrapers, but we also get a taste of the Rocky Mountains.

Erin and I are already dreaming about spring, when we can enjoy all of our dinners on the balcony. Fourth of July fireworks that launch from Coors Field will also make for a great party. Winter has been pretty mild, especially compared to what I'm used to in Michigan, but I hope spring gets here soon.

Happy Thursday. You've almost there.
...and to the right.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Evernote: How I Want to get Better at Planning My Meals

If you haven't heard of Evernote, you might be living under a rock.

Evernote is one of the simplest and most powerful productivity tools that you can download for free on all of your devices. I use Evernote on the iMac that we use to publish this blog, on my iPhone, and on my iPhone. I use it online on my work computer, and could make changes to my notes anywhere in the world on any computer.

The concept is simple. You create a new note, it syncs to your cloud, and you can pull it up from anywhere.

I used Evernote pretty extensively as a reporter at the Bay City Times, and I'm starting to use it even more with my work at Exclusive Resorts. It's a really easy way to stay organized — and if I need to check something work-related at home, I can easily do it.

This week, Erin started her work's busy season, which means 12 hour days and late nights. Of course, it's tough for both of us. Erin will certainly be tired and I'll miss her at night, but we work really hard as a newlyweds to make it through the next few months.

With Erin gone, however, more pressure is on me to plan dinners for one (Erin has her dinner picked up every night by her company). And if you read Erin's blog post on Sundays, doing our meal planning and grocery shopping on Sunday works really well.

In comes Evernote.

Evernote allows me to copy recipes and create grocery shopping lists easily and neatly. So, when I see a recipe that I like, I copy the ingredients, convert it into a check list, and then paste the directions and a photo of the meal. I check off the items we already have in our kitchen. Not only does it look really nice and organized, it also saves time creating a grocery list.

I really only (kind of) started using these steps this week, but I definitely hope to get better at it. Here's an example photo of what I see on our desktop:

And then when I go to the grocery store, I pull out my iPhone, and this is what I see:

So, readers! Go to Evernote.com, create an account, download the app on all of your devices, and start organizing your life! If you want more ideas on how to best use it, check out the Evernote's "Noteworthy Blog". It's one of my favorite blogs to read.

Do you use Evernote to help organize your life? Let us know by leaving a comment!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Perfect Meatball

Okay, these may not be THE perfect meatballs, but they definitely rival. I mentioned in my post on Sunday that I made wonderful spaghetti and meatballs for last Sunday night's dinner. I was especially proud of myself because I always thought making meatballs to be a daunting task. Maybe it's because growing up, spaghetti and meatballs was a treat. We had spaghetti and meat sauce on a normal basis, but meatballs were something special. I always just assumed that was because they were complicated and took a long time to make, so they were a once-in-awhile thing.

But when I came accross a recipe for meatballs on Jenny Steffens Hobick's blog (check her blog out- she has a multitude of simple, delicious, and easy-to-make recipes!), I felt like it was something I could easily make fairly quickly.

Andrew and I had had our fair share of red meat that week, so in an effort to be healthy, I substituted the ground beef for ground turkey. Maybe that is why I was so impressed with these — we couldn't even tell they were made with ground turkey! I think the trick is baking them in the oven instead of pan-frying. It kept them so moist (ick I HATE that word) and flavorful.

Homemade Meatballs

1 pound of ground turkey or beef
4 slices of bread
2 tablespoons of milk
1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese
1 egg
salt & pepper
fresh parsley, chopped

Start by removing the crusts of the bread and tearing the remaining into small pieces, then place into a medium mixing bowl.

Pour milk onto breadcrumbs and stir. Add cheese, parsley, salt & pepper, and egg. Mix together.

Add ground beef to mixture and combine with a fork - be careful not to compact the mixture - try to keep it light. Form into balls with an ice cream scoop and place on a baking sheet. I line mine with parchment paper to reduce clean up. Cook meatballs under a broiler on high for 4-6 minutes until just browned on outside. I like the middle of the meatball to remain moist.

*Side-note: We're at altitude, so it took about 13 minutes for our meatballs to cook fully in the oven

Because I made the meatballs from scratch, I just used spaghetti sauce from a jar, and it still tasted great. Maybe if I'm feeling brave next time, I'll make both from scratch!


E & A

Monday, January 23, 2012

How to Follow our Blog

Erin and I have stayed pretty motivated to keep our blog on newlywed life current and updated — and one of the easiest ways to follow us it to follow our blog using Google's tools. Of course, there are other ways, including bookmarking our site to your "daily website checks folder" or clicking a link, as most people do, when you see an update on our Facebook.

Here's a quick tutorial on how to follow us using Google:
Where it says followers, you'll see some photos of people (and your photo could be there too!), click, Join this site.
This is the screen that will pop up after clicking "Join this site." If you already have a Google profile (if you have a Gmail account, you have a Google account), you're good to go. I think you can also log on and follow us using your Facebook account.

And it's as easy as that!

We appreciate your support and your readership! And we promise to do our best to keep our blog fun, interesting and inspirational. Cheers!

Our Condo is Finally Becoming a Home

When you move anywhere, there is always that period of uncomfortableness. Luckily for Erin and I, that period didn't last too long. We finally think that our downtown Denver condo is getting to that point of completion. There are some things, like the photo collage I mentioned earlier this week, that we still need to work on. We want to hang some shelves, put more photos up around the place, and then when the weather gets nicer, buy some patio furniture and a grill for our balcony (which in my opinion, is the best part of our new home).

We kept the colors neutral in our place, with whites, light tans, and then a darker black-brown for our end tables, coffee table, and TV stand. Here are some photos of our progress.
Every house needs at least a small wine rack and a glass rack for underneath your counters.

Erin yelled at me for taking this, because the kitchen was kind of messy. We still need to get a small desk for our iMac, but for now, it looks pretty good in our kitchen. That's where we do all of our blogging.
We love that all of our appliances are stainless steel.
Once we put some photos on the wall, our living room will be amazing. When the sun beats down on it, it's so comfortable and warm.
One of our wedding gifts was this lovely tray that really adds some color to our living room.
When it comes to picking out a bed and bed sheets, Erin is an expert. Our bed is beyond hotel quality. It's superb.
And the one question we have — what can we put in these awesome glass jars we got from our wedding? The smaller ones that came with the set are perfect in our bathroom, but these ones are a bit larger. Let us know what you think in the comments, below.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Oh Sundays...

I have a strange, love-hate relationships with Sundays. I love being able to sleep in a little in the morning, and then go to church, and spend the rest of the afternoon grocery shopping and being lazy. Once about 6 o'clock rolls around, however, that all changes. I'm one of those people who fall victim to the "Sunday night depression". SEVERE depression. So far, I really like my job, and once my week gets going, I don't mind being at work, but for some reason, I always DREAD the upcoming week on Sunday nights. Maybe it's just because I love so much the time that the weekends provide me to spend with my loved ones, and it is quite sad when that comes to an end. So when I stumbled upon this article by Women's Health addressing the same exact subject, I wasted no time in reading it.

The article details simple little things you can do to make Sunday nights (and Monday mornings for that matter) a little less painful. Andrew and I tried a few of the suggestions last weekend, and guess what? It worked! Last weekend we made sure we had all of our laundry, grocery shopping, bill paying, cleaning, and other chores done by about 3 o'clock on Sunday afternoon. I took my time making a wonderful (if I do say so myself) dinner of spaghetti and meatballs, which Andrew and I enjoyed with a glass of wine. We finished the weekend by cozying up on the couch with hot chocolate and renting a movie on iTunes. It was lovely, and by the time bedtime rolled around, I felt relaxed, and prepared to take on the week ahead.

Tomorrow marks the first official day of my busy season, which means that 12 to 13 hour work days are going to be the norm. In the next few months, Andrew and I will continue to perfect this so that we can enjoy or weekends to the fullest, and when Sunday evening rolls around, feel refreshed and ready to take on the week ahead!

Does any one else struggle with Sunday evening depression? Do you do anything to make Sunday evenings and Monday mornings better for yourself that this article doesn't mention? If so, we would love to hear!

So cheers to Sunday! And may your evening be as relaxing as possible.


E & A

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Happy Weekend: Fancy Dinner, Photo Collage

Another week down. This will probably be the last full weekend that Erin and I will be able to enjoy before her auditing busy season starts. Our original plan was to snowshoe, but due to high winds and a lack of snow, snowshoeing would be more like ice skating. We do have a fancy dinner planned tonight in downtown Denver at McCormick's Fish House — the same restaurant that catered our wedding.

Now that we have all of the photos from our wedding, we are trying to become inspired and put up a photo collage in our condo. Here are some little pieces of inspiration we came across online this morning, but recommendations and tips are definitely welcomed.
 We don't mind the frameless look, but those prints get expensive.
 Do we stay one color, like this all white display? Or splash in some browns and black frames, too?

 I don't mind this, although, I prefer frames that border the photo, instead of housing a small photo.
 This is clearly a joke and much too busy.
And we might have a winner! This is pretty classy looking.

Here's a shot of our living room with it's empty wall. Again, suggestions are certainly appreciated and welcomed. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

New Year's Resolutions That Make Sense

We may be 19 days late on the "New Year's Resolution" post, but it's never too late to set goals.

This morning (and I'm writing this on Wednesday morning), Erin and I went for a treadmill run in our condo's mini-gym, and it jogged (pun...) my memory about some New Year's Resolutions that one of Erin's friends told us over dinner the other night. The blog post she was referring to was called "New Year's Resolutions for 20-somethings," and we think it makes a lot of sense and can make our marriage better. Shout out to the author Jessie Rosen. Here's the list, and we've included our 2-cents after some of them:

  1. Before you status update, Tweet, Tumble or Instagram, pause and say to yourself, “is it entirely necessary that I share this morsel of thought with my entire social network?”and if the answer is not, “yes, I absolutely must,” then step away from the Internet. Following this resolution can also make our blog better.
  2. Know which candidate you’re going to vote for in the upcoming presidential election, and know why. I still need to register as a Colorado voter, but this is a good one — especially for Erin.
  3. Enough with the 14-day juice cleanses. If you want to lose a little weight quickly, eat less and exercise like crazy. If you want to lose a lot of weight slowly, do whatever Jennifer Hudson did.
  4. If you really like the person you’re hooking up with and would like them to be your boyfriend/ girlfriend, find a way to tell them, and hope for the best. If you don’t and wouldn’t, stop.
  5. Find a way to save approximately 300 dollars and spend it on a flight to see a friend or family member who lives far away. Come February, I will have been away from home the longest I've ever been. The last time it's been that long was when I interned in Washington, D.C. for a summer. This is a GREAT resolution.
  6. Please stop liking the Kardashians, all of them. It’s not helping anyone, least of all the Kardashians. Andrew: YAYYYY! Erin: ...
  7. Spend less than or equal to the money you earn each month. Always helpful.
  8. Wear clothes that fit you, especially to work. Easy enough.
  9. Call someone on the phone at least once a week, and speak to him or her for at least ten minutes. Out of all of these, I like this one the best. I have hundreds of contacts in my phone — why let them go to waste?
  10. Start preparing now to get over the fact that Facebook is probably going to change again in six months. You’re not going to deactivate your account. You don’t know how. I actually really like the Timeline
  11. Wait 30 seconds before you look up a fact you can’t remember on your phone, and try to remember it using your brain. This is what the olden days were like. I'm very guilty at this. Technology is designed to make us smarter and more efficient, but sometimes it handicaps our brain.
  12. Replace one terrible reality show you’re currently watching with one wonderful scripted show currently available on television.  Swap suggestion: Real Housewives of Anywhere for HBO’s Enlightened. Well, I guess no more Teen Mom 2..
  13. Try that food you think you don’t like but have never actually tried, unless it’s brussels sprouts. They really don’t need any more attention. This one will take some thought.
  14. Cut one person out of your life who you truly do not like and add one person who you truly do. Note: not on Facebook, on Earth. Another toughie.
  15. If you’re still blacking out regularly, you should stop. Luckily, this has never been a problem.
  16. Volunteer once over the next 90 days.  You’ll feel really good about it, and probably end up volunteering again over the next 275. We have a lot of philanthropy and volunteer opportunities at work — definitely doable.
  17.  Tell someone who you love that you love them on a more regular basis. To their face, not in a text. Every morning, afternoon and at night!
  18. Back up your entire online life onto an external hard drive, especially your photos. We're working on this right now. My family back in Michigan has crates and crates filled with photos — it's pretty cool that Erin and I will have a hard drive or two, no bigger than the size of our hands.
  19. Crap or get off the pot. This applies to whatever thing you’re not doing that you should just sack up and do already. Amen.
  20.  And in the eternal words of Tom Haverford, “TREAT YO SELF!”

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wedding Photos: Our Post-Ceremony Portraits

We're on the homestretch of wedding photos! As mentioned in an earlier post, we decided to see each each other before our wedding ceremony so we could take some photos in the daylight. Those photos came out great.

Lucky us, however, that the night photos came out just as good — if not better. Here are the portrait shots after our wedding ceremony. Enjoy!