10 Date Night Ideas Under $40

10 Date Night Ideas Under $40 | The New Wife Blog | Date Night on a Budget | Spending Time with Your Man | Marriage Advice | Christian Girl Advice | Creative Muse Blog | Jessica Giaimo

Happy Friday! With the weather cooling down and our schedules filling up fast, I thought it would be nice to share some fun date night ideas with you, all of which can be done for under $40. Because when you’re married, you need to be able to have a stress-free, relaxing date without all the hassle of trying to make it expensive or perfect.

So here are some of my favorite ways to spend time with my man without breaking our budget…

Olive Garden Pasta + Wine::

This one is by far my favorite! Especially as it gets colder outside, I love me some warm pasta at home watching a movie. I’m definitely a take-out girl :) We do this every so often. We’ll order a “create your own pasta” from Olive Garden, get the salad (it comes with two breadsticks) and we’ll get an order of 4 breadsticks with a side of Alfredo sauce (Jeff really likes it). Then we’ll stop at the liquor store on the way home and pick up a bottle of wine. I’m really loving pink moscato right now!

Split between us, it’s super filling without being too heavy and really doesn’t cost much. It’s a winner every time!

Movie Night with AMC::

We just recently signed up for the Stubs program at AMC, which allows us to go see up to three movies each week! If we only go see two movies in a month, it more than pays for itself. If there are some movies you know you’ll want to see coming up, then I highly recommend it. We pick up Chick-fil-a and sneak it in, while purchasing a soda and popcorn in the theatre (They don’t suspect you if you buy their stuff).

You can always do it for a few months to see the movies you want and then cancel it. It’s a great way to get out of the house in the winter!

Pei Wei Take-Out::

I told you, I LOVE take-out nights! Another thing we’re loving lately is ordering the chicken lettuce wraps and the Dan Dan Noodle Bowl with Chicken and splitting both. It’s really affordable and the Pei Wei app is always sending me coupons for free entrees.

Mini Golf::

I’m not really all that into mini golfing. But we found the most amazing place in Colorado that has an incredible course. You feel like you’ve stepped into another world! Look around your area for some fun, outdoor places and you’ll be surprised by how much you get in touch with your inner child.

Coffee + American Furniture Warehouse::

We did this a lot when we were engaged and newly married. We’d go pick up some Starbucks coffee and drink it while we walked around our local American Furniture Warehouse store. Ikea would be fun, too! It’s fun to walk around and dream of what you may want to buy, get inspired for new ideas or just have a relaxing night. The people there are super helpful but if you don’t want it, they’ll politely leave you alone. We’ve definitely had a few impulse buys there, too!

Explore an Area in Your City You Haven’t Yet::

Here in Colorado Springs, we’ve got Manitou Springs, Old Colorado City, the Penny Arcade, The Rabbit Hole (an underground bar/restaurant). There’s usually a lot to explore in your area that you have no idea existed and when you find them together, they make for really special memories.

Do some exploring and see what you think. You may just find your new favorite spot.

Recreate Your First Date (or Another Significant Date)::

Jeff recreated our first date on the night he proposed. Even though the activities weren’t a surprise, because they were from our first date, it was so exciting to recreate it. It almost felt like a mini thrill (of course I had no idea he was about to propose! You can watch him surprise me with it HERE).

Whether it was your first date, the date he proposed or the first time you said “I love you,” recreating a significant moment in your life is not only fun, but can bring up old feelings and emotions that you haven’t felt in a long time. It’s important to take yourself back there every once in a while.

Make Homemade Pizzas::

I’ve really been loving this! I buy pizza dough from King Sooper’s (you can freeze it and it keeps for a while) and get whatever toppings we feel like that night. Or, we’ll each get our own toppings and make our own pizza, trying each other’s out, too. It’s a different way to do dinner, while also spending some time together (as opposed to you in the kitchen and him in his office). You might just learn a thing or two about the guy :)

Try a new Hole-in-the-Wall Restaurant::

This is kind of similar to exploring your area, but maybe there’s a restaurant that you’ve always seen but never been to. Try something new and even if it doesn’t turn out to be amazing, you’ll have a memory that you two will share together.

Make a Holiday Traditions Night::

With the holidays quickly approaching, it’s the perfect time to plan some fun new traditions for you. Making gingerbread houses, baking Christmas cookies, hosting a Friendsgiving, the possibilities are endless and they are entirely up to you.

Every year, we always take a group of our fiends and go visit a local pumpkin patch and corn maze. It’s creepy and festive and we look forward to it every year. My family always put’s up the Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving and now I do that with my husband, while listening to Christmas music and munching on peanut brittle.

Having these special moments will stick with you forever and give you a sense that you’re spending quality time with each other, even if your schedules are super busy this season.

Those are just some of my thought on some date night ideas. Pick one and try it out soon. Dates aren’t always about making everything perfect. It’s about intentionally spending some time together and valuing time with that person. If he likes to go out and do things, try mini golfing. If you like staying home, try take-out and a movie. Mix it up so each person feels like they are getting the kind of quality time that matters to them.

What are some date night ideas you’ve enjoyed? I’d love to hear your thoughts below!

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When She Has What You Want

When She Has What You Want | Christian Girl Blog | New Wife Blog | Confident Wife Advice | Dealing with Comparison

In our world of cyber comparison, it can be difficult to not constantly be comparing what we have to what she has, or what she’s doing, or all of her blessings. It’s everywhere in our society today that it’s basically considered normal. Comparison is the key ingredient used in marketing campaigns, social media posts and it aspires to convince you that there is something important missing in your life that you need to truly be fulfilled.

Hannah was a woman in the bible well acquainted with comparison and never quite seemed to get her way. While she held the heart of her husband, his other wife held their 10 children, leaving Hannah with a lonely spirit and a sense of failing as a wife. 

But Hannah’s breakthrough didn’t come while comparing and sulking over what she didn’t have. She turned to God for her answers and got back more than she could have possibly imagined…

There once was a man who lived in Ramathaim... His name was Elkanah... He had two wives. The first was Hannah; the second was Peninnah. Peninnah had children; Hannah did not.

Every year this man went from his hometown up to Shiloh to worship and offer a sacrifice to God-of-the-Angel-Armies... When Elkanah sacrificed, he passed helpings from the sacrificial meal around to his wife Peninnah and all her children, but he always gave an especially generous helping to Hannah because he loved her so much, and because God had not given her children. But her rival wife taunted her cruelly, rubbing it in and never letting her forget that God had not given her children. This went on year after year. Every time she went to the sanctuary of God she could expect to be taunted. Hannah was reduced to tears and had no appetite.

Her husband Elkanah said, “Oh, Hannah, why are you crying? Why aren’t you eating? And why are you so upset? Am I not of more worth to you than ten sons?
— 1 Samuel 1:1-8 MSG

Hannah was deeply loved by her husband but he had two wives. And little miss thang over here was popping out children like it was a competition or something. And to top it all off, this other wife was constantly nagging, degrading and putting Hannah down for not having children. I’m sure Hannah constantly, daily, maybe even hourly compared herself to this other wife. She had to deal with comparison all the time. But what I want to talk about is how Hannah found her breakthrough.

Hannah didn’t go to everyone else and complain and feel sorry for herself. I’m sure she was in pain and felt like an absolute failure. But she decided to turn to God and bring the matter to Him.

Crushed in soul, Hannah prayed to God and cried and cried—inconsolably.
— 1 Samuel 1:10 MSG

Hannah went to God with her problems, with her comparisons, with her struggles, and the scripture says three of the most beautiful words I’ve ever read in the bible… “He remembered her.” In her moment of frustration, in the middle of feeling like a failure, in the midst of a mascara-smeared cry, God Almighty remembered His precious daughter. Once she was willing to turn to her Father for her answers, He touched her heart in a way only He could and touched her life so that what was once barren and dry, became full of life.

Before the year was out, Hannah had conceived and given birth to a son. She named him Samuel...
— 1 Samuel 1:20 MSG

Hannah gave birth to Samuel, who if you haven’t noticed, is the name of two books of the bible. He became a mighty Prophet of God who brought tremendous change to this world. God didn’t just give her one measly son… He gave her a son of promise. He gave her a legacy that would live on after her.

God wants to do the same with you. Whatever it is that you are comparing yourself, your life, your marriage, your career, your home, your body, your talents with, God wants you focused on Him because the promises He has for you are so unique, that what other people have will pale in comparison. He wants your heart kept safe with Him so He can fill it with everything He has planned for your life.

It may not seem like you have a lot right now, but everyone else’s lives always seem more spectacular when you’re comparing your insides to their outsides, your dirty laundry with their perfectly polished Instagram feed. Don’t get distracted by the temporal, flashy things that are often covering up a life of searching.

Whatever it is you’re going through, whoever it is that you’re comparing yourself to, just remember to go to God with it. When we go to everyone else with our comparisons, it just drains our strength even more, and then we’re not able to accomplish what God has given us to do on this earth.

You will never find what you are called to do by looking at what she is called to do. Go to God with your frustrations and allow Him to remember you. Let Him show you how much He sees you and the plans that He has for you. Then you will be full of so much strength to take care of your purpose, that you won’t even notice what she is doing and what she has. 

Don’t get distracted by someone else’s story that you forget you are writing your own. Fill these pages with something new and unique. Then you will be able to reach and inspire those your story was meant to help.

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Our First Dance + Thoughts on Marriage

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Cause it’s you and me and all of the people and I don’t know why, but I can’t take my eyes off of you.
— You and Me by Lifehouse

Four years ago I made one of the hardest, scariest and best decisions of my life. I said yes to date Jeff.

Now I know what you’re thinking… shouldn’t saying yes to marrying him be a bigger deal? Well, no because I knew deep down that if we dated, we would get married. That’s why it was so hard for me to decide. He was my best friend and I knew this decision would end in one of two ways, marriage, or by forever losing the one guy I cared about most.

I knew I had to take a chance and risk getting rejected by the only guy who knew me well enough to reject the real me. I said yes and it’s been the best decision of my life. Sure it hasn’t always been easy and there are plenty of days when I don’t feel like the stunning bride in this video. But the journey ahead is still so full of possibility and more and more I become so grateful that God brought us together to blaze the trail ahead.

Because it’s not just about who makes you “feel” great, or lovely, or wanted. It’s about who’s going to be there when it get’s tough, who will choose to love you even when you’re not acting lovely, and who will pursue his own relationship with God while you pursue yours. It’s an adventure and who you team up with is about more than mere emotions, for all emotions fade. It’s about who do you want by your side in times of peace, and who do you want to have your back in times of war.

This life is a battle and marriage is the ultimate strength to face it in victory. Choose wisely and if you’re already teamed up, remember that the enemy hates your marriage and he doesn’t attack anything that he isn’t threatened by. The attacks on your life have far more to do with who you might be in the future, than who you have been in the past. And there is something on your life and marriage that terrifies the enemy.

Put your armor on girl. This world needs you unified.

P.S. We practiced our first dance in the living room of my tiny apartment two nights before the wedding. I was so nervous and at one point, Jeff stepped on my foot. Can you spot my reaction?

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How to Get Out of Debt FAST!

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I bet you’ve got some dreams. I bet you’ve got some ideas for your life and I bet your bank account doesn’t always line up with these ideas. Am I right?

The truth is we all have an idea of how we picture our life looking and rarely does this ever line up with our reality. Most of the time, I would say it’s because the finances are just not there.

Money can be a sore subject. It can cause a lot of fights in marriage and can be a never-ending source of grief and frustration. But I would say from my own experience, it’s usually not a lack of money that’s the issue (or the main issue), but rather a huge pile of debt that month after month never ceases to remind us that our money is not our own.

Sure, we can budget, eat ramen and sit at home watching Netflix for fun in order to save money, but if debt is in the picture, you will never be able to find the extra cash to live the life you truly want to live. That is why I feel it is so vital that you work on getting yourself out of debt and out of it FAST!

Because the sooner you’re out of debt, the sooner your money is actually yours to do with what you will (not what you have to).

Before Jeff and I got married, he used to say that he would put more money into his savings and just pay the minimum on his credit cards because he felt he had more money that way. However, he quickly realized that $10,000 in savings with credit card debt, isn’t really $10,000 in savings. That money doesn’t accurately represent what you have if you still owe money to someone else.

Unfortunately in our American culture today, it’s considered “normal” to have debt, to pay a monthly car payment and to owe interest on things because you bought them before you could afford them. If this is what you believe, then it will be the way you live. But it doesn’t have to be! And in this post, I want to share with you some tips that Jeff and I used to get out of debt as fast as humanly possibly. And I can honestly say that it was well worth the effort.

 

How to Get Out of Debt FAST!

 

1.    Stop Adding Debt… and Stop it NOW!

I know this might seem obvious but too often, we feel like we need our debt. It becomes a familiar part of our life to the point where we can’t imagine ourselves not charging certain things. You can survive without your debt. And if you’re really serious about taking back control of your money, then this is the first and most vital step to starting this journey.

Maybe this means you won’t be eating out so often. Maybe this means your weekly trips to Starbucks will turn into at-home coffee pot drinks. Maybe you need to cancel some subscriptions until you’re out of this hole. There are always things we can cut out or cut back on to save money and this is the time to analyze where you spend money and adjust accordingly.

Think of it as a temporary sacrifice to live the life you truly want to live.

 

2.    Start and Maintain a Monthly Budget

If you aren’t already doing this for you and your family, then do this ASAP! This is where you will understand how much money is coming in, versus how much is going out, and where it’s all going out to.

If you want some help setting up a budget, you can watch my video HERE where I explain how I set up our budget and what I include. I highly recommend Dave Ramsey’s Every Dollar App. I use the free version, which requires me to input every transaction myself, which I love. It keeps me constantly updated so I always know where we stand financially. Something I never felt with my money before…

This may seem tedious at first and you may not see extreme results immediately. I think it took us about 3-4 months or so before I started seeing substantial results. But within 1 year from making my first budget, we got completely out of credit card debt, paid off one car, paid cash for another, bought our first home and traveled to Disney World about 3 times… and ALL we did was start budgeting. It is possible. You just have to be faithful and consistent.

 

3.    Create Your Debt Snowball

This is from Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University and it really helped Jeff and I see our debt from a more manageable perspective.

First, write down each debt sum that you owe (totals) from smallest to largest. This could include credit card debt, car payments, student loans…  Every debt you owe minus your mortgage. This you would attack at a later time if you desired, when you’re more financially stable.

So for example, if you have $600 on one credit card, $1,200 on another, and $4,500 left you owe on your car, then this would be what you would write.

$600

$1,200

$4,500

Taking on all your debt at once can be overwhelming and you certainly won’t feel capable of ever getting out of it. But if you make this list, then you’ll only focus on paying off one debt at a time, starting with the lowest (top) debt.

Continue to pay the minimum payment on everything else and then start to attack the smallest debt. Find money in your budget that you can spare and anything that’s extra or left over, throw it at the debt. Once it’s paid off, then you’ll cross it off and move on to the next total.

What you’ll find is that the more debt you pay off, the more money you’ll have to pay off the next debt. So that when you finally get to the largest debt you owe, you’ll also have a lot more money to throw at it each month than you do right now. That’s why it’s called a debt snowball. Your money grows along with your confidence in your ability to actually pay this off!

 

4.    Post Your Debt Goals

Now hear me out. I know this may seem embarrassing, but I believe it’s very important. Write your debt snowball out on a small index card and post it somewhere where you’ll see it every single day. We put ours on our fridge and it became a constant reminder of where we were and where we were headed.

Because when you post it, you own it, and then you attack it. If you don’t post it up, you won’t attack it with the same determination that you would if you saw it every day when you get your coffee. It’s not about identifying with your debt, but it’s about owning up to where you are and keeping a vision before you of where you are going.

 

5.    Have a Debt-Free Goal

Sometimes the concept of being “debt-free” isn’t enough to drive us to pay off our debt as fast as we can. Because most of us have never lived debt-free lives, we don’t fully understand what this kind of life would mean for us. So make a debt-free goal for yourself that will dive you to the finish line.

For me, it would for sure be a vacation that I had only ever dreamed about going on. What is it for you? What would be so great that it would cause you to say “no” to some things right now, so that you could say “yes” to (blank) later?

However, this goal, depending on your debt, could be pretty far off in the future and you’re going to need something to get you excited for the here and now…

 

6.    Create Mini Goals for Each Debt Sum

Every time you pay off one of your debts in the debt snowball, give yourself a mini reward. Maybe go out eat, to a movie or buy something nice for your home. Once you pay off a bigger debt, go out to a nicer dinner, or to the symphony.

Make it work for you and work it into your budget. When you cross off that debt, you need to remind your brain that this is not only a good thing, but you are going to get rewarded for what you just did. This will cause it to become more of a habit and something you look forward to doing, versus something you have to do.

One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.
— Luke 16:10 ESV

The journey ahead may take longer than it did for us, but it doesn’t mean you’re going to be miserable for the next three or so years. Paying off debt is fun! It becomes addicting to cross it off and attack it because you start taking back control of your money and realizing the kind of life you could be living.

It’s a biblical principle: when you’re faithful over the little, God will make you faithful over much. Tithing is great because it keeps our hearts trusting in God as our provider. But it’s not just 10% that belongs to Him. It all belongs to Him and we can be good stewards of our money by taking ownership, getting out of debt and actually start to create wealth to use for His glory.

If you’re struggling in your finances, please don’t get discouraged or condemned. This is something almost every single one of us deals with and the enemy wants to keep you down by beating you over the head. Don’t receive his condemnation. It’s not too late. You can do this. It is possible. All it takes is the courage to make that first step.

Let’s take back our lives and start living our full potential!

 

6 Helpful Tips When You Work with Your Husband

This Thursday is Jeff and I's One Year Anniversary and I thought it would be appropriate to write about our story so far in a way that can possibly help someone else. And the number one thing that God has been teaching us lately is how to work well together.  You see, Jeff and I have been working together (in the same department at work) for almost 3 years now, 8 months as friends, 6 months dating, 6 months engaged, and exactly a year now married and MAN.. have we learned a thing or two.

This Thursday is Jeff and I's One Year Anniversary and I thought it would be appropriate to write about our story so far in a way that can possibly help someone else. And the number one thing that God has been teaching us lately is how to work well together. 

You see, Jeff and I have been working together (in the same department at work) for almost 3 years now, 8 months as friends, 6 months dating, 6 months engaged, and exactly a year now married and MAN.. have we learned a thing or two. 

Working together is NOT easy and as grateful as I am for the opportunity, there are a few things that I have learned basically the hard way that can help with walking that oh-so-delicate line of spouse and co-worker. I promise it does get easier and it began to get easier for us the moment I started to put into action the tips I'm sharing with you below. It's a bit complex and detailed and some people might think I'm overdoing it all. But for those of you who work together, you know that any advice is welcome advice. 

Browse the list and see what fits for you and your man. The most important thing is to never stop talking about what you want your marriage to look like, in and out of the office. 

1. Acknowledge each other as married, but respect each other as co-workers

We tend to let our guards down with our man. But because guys are so task driven, they need us to put our best foot forward at work. This certainly doesn't mean that you can't be there for each other. You are best friends, confidants, the shoulder they lean on.. But make sure that your treating them with at least as much respect as you would another co-worker. It's easy for your other co-workers to get all the best parts of you and your spouse is left to only get the frustrated and worn-out bits. Remember to sometimes tuck your own feelings aside while at work and never be too afraid of showing favoritism that you overcompensate and treat your spouse harshly at work. They are supposed to be your favorite person, and everyone knows it! 

2. Give each other some space and keep conversations at work about work

One of the first marriage books we were ever given was called His Brain Her Brain, and it went into detail about the differences between the male and female brain and how that relates to marriage. One thing that really helped me was the idea that women are natural multitaskers (especially in the brain) while most men need to focus on only one thing at a time. It's the same reason men and focus on their career and soar to new heights and a woman can manage an entire house-hold, the cooking, cleaning, children, schedules, finances, shopping, etc.. and carry on a totally different conversation at the same time. 

So this means at work, I don't discuss what's for dinner, our gym schedule, upcoming trips, or any other sudden burst of inspiration I get without him initiating it first. And then I let him drive the conversation. Don't go visit his office whenever you feel like it. I try sending emails and calling on the phone first just like I would any other co-worker. That way he can focus on his work and not feel like all these details in our lives are simply distractions. 

3. Spend Quality time together and leave work at work

No wife or husband wants to feel like they are just your co-worker outside of work. It's vital to our marriage that we learn to unplug from the duties and demands of the day and truly see the other person as our best friend, husband, lover, safe place and rest. 

When Jeff and I were just dating, we went on a mini trip to Florida to see his parents, while back at work, we were in the middle of a seriously stressful situation. It was taking a toll on both of us, him more than anyone, and we decided that we needed to remove ourselves from that situation for a while, physically and mentally! The issue back at work all ended up better than we could have ever imagined on our own. Now we look back and laugh at how we actually used to worry about that. This tends to be harder for men to mentally unplug from problems. As wives, we should encourage (not nag) them to take off the worry and trust God with the results. 

It's important to leave work at work. If your not really on a date, then give him a break and let him check his emails. Everything being on our phones makes unplugging a pretty difficult thing. But when it's official date-night time, make sure that work doesn't make it a party of 3. 

4. Define and make clear the roles and responsibilities of each

When Jeff and I were sent on a video shoot to Michigan, we shot 9 interviews! (That's 9 interviews with 9 different people!) Oh and we did this in about 3 or so days. That's A LOT of work! When we got back, people would often ask us how we did it. I would say that we determined our roles and then stuck to them. 

This particular story we were working on was Jeff's, so he was the producer and I filled in the rest. I let him give vision and I helped him figure out a way to make it happen. Another thing we decided was that he liked to be able to focus on lighting the interview set and making it look great. So I would talk to the people and keep them busy so he wouldn't have to feel responsible for that too. 

No matter what field you're in, whether it's the every day tasks or a special project, determine what role each of you will fill and then also decided how you can help each other out in different situations. That way, you can get the job done and still like each other while you're doing it :) 

5. Fill in each other's weaknesses and lend to each other your strengths

This is a truth in marriage that should be carried over into the work place. One thing about Jeff is that he can be rather blunt. While this is usually a great asset, when communicating with women it sometimes doesn't get you too far. Sometimes, he'll ask me to communicate something for him if he feels he wasn't able to get his point or heart across. Because I know him and I know his heart, I can properly communicate what it is he wants - similar to how we represent Christ to this earth. 

I on the other hand, am not a very blunt person and have a hard time approaching people when I'm nervous. Jeff pushes me to be more forward and start conversations that I'm too afraid to start on my own. We also do a lot of writing, which can get really tedious. When we're writing articles, we often edit and proof read each other's articles before we submit them. 

It's important to never point out their weaknesses as proof of their inability but instead, always approach it from your willingness to offer yourself and to help the other person when they need it. So instead of saying "You suck at this," you could say "I want you to succeed. Here's what I saw..." 

6. Refuse to see the worst and choose to see the best

It's quite easy to allow all of the little imperfections that you see everyday affect how you see and treat your spouse at work. Just like you should do with your co-workers, CHOOSE to think, speak, and expect the best from your spouse until you have a chance to discuss it in private if something is wrong. I say "choose" because it is a choice. Our emotions may come and tell us things, but we ALWAYS have a choice as to how we will handle every situation with every person that we encounter.. including our spouse. 

This is something that I am definitely still working on myself! 

If Jeff says something to me that sounds harsh, or gives me a look like he's annoyed at me, or seems to ignore me in front of other people, I can CHOOSE to think, speak, and assume his intentions were good until I can ask him about it later. Maybe he was frustrated at a project, maybe he didn't see me, maybe he though that face was sexy... When I do this, 90% of what I thought was an issue is gone before I have a chance to talk to him about it. This will seriously save you SO much stress. 

Some positive thoughts for the road... 

Before we get too overwhelmed with all of the potential bad that can come from working together, it's important to reflect on all of the good that comes from working with your husband. 

You are able to be a team at work, which brings you closer together. 

You are working together towards a common goal and can dream in a deeper way than most. 

You always have someone at work with you who can fill in your weaknesses and be there for you in a way no other co-worker can. They are always for you. 

You have a constant reminder of what your vision is and why you are working so hard to begin with! 

So whether your working in a joint office, or just working on the story of your marriage, I pray that these tips will encourage you, give you insight, and perhaps just a bit more tools in your marriage belt when it comes to working alongside that handsome man of yours. 

Build your life well, 
Jess