Friday, September 9, 2016

Conversations Every Couple Needs to Have

conversations couples should have
Starting a relationship and the beginning of a marriage can feel like the easiest most natural thing in the world. You feel the attraction. You have fun together. Generally, enjoy each others company. In the honeymoon phase, not much more thought goes into it than that. Once that honeymoon phase has fizzled and life takes over, it takes a conscious effort to maintain a happy and fulfilling relationship. It is very important to know where both you and your partner stand on things and just how important those stances are to each other. The best way to discover these things about each other is to talk; to share the whole picture of each other through meaningful and intentional conversation. Having these conversations early can go a long way in helping to create a happy home in the future.

1. The Future

Yes, your future as a couple, but also the future in general. Where do you see yourself in a year? 5 years? 10 years? Where do they see themselves? It is easy to be blinded by the honeymoon phase and just think "together," but you need to figure out if these futures can intertwine or will somebody need to compromise (and is that a compromise that you or they really want to make without strings of resentment).

2. Political Stances

Politics aren't generally a conversation for new couples, but it is important to know where each other stand. Most people are steadfast in their political beliefs and it can lead to some pretty nasty "are you serious?" conflicts if the two of you are not on the same page on most of the larger topics.

3. Faith

Another thing that is VERY important to know is where your partner stands with their faith. Are they strong in their faith? Do you share the same faith? In this day and age, there are many happy interfaith relationships and marriages, but they present a unique set of obstacles that are very important to discuss for a happy and healthy relationship.

4. Parenting

Most couples have the "do you want kids?" conversation at some point, but it is important to take it further than that. No, I don't just mean "how many?" (although, that is a very important question too), but to talk about what kind of parenting styles you see for yourselves. Do you see yourself as a stay at home parent? More crunchy? Less crunchy? Religious upbringing? Parenting is such an important topic and presents an opportunity for even the most minor of disagreements to be catastrophic that it is vital to have an understanding as to where you each stand on things (before the jump to starting a family).

5. Sex

Sex may be an awkward and uncomfortable topic (or maybe it's just an awkward and uncomfortable topic for me), but knowing what your partner likes (and doesn't like), limitations and curiosities can make private time much more comfortable and fulfilling for you both.

6. Money

Chances are, it doesn't take too long to get a general idea of what your partner makes and where that money is spent, but it is a very important thing to discuss, with finances being one of the leading causes for divorce (around 45%).

7. What makes each other happy

This is one of those "Thank You Mrs. State-the-Obvious" things that tends to get lost as time
talk to your spouse
goes on and life takes over. It is important to express the things that bring you joy and to listen to what brings your partner joy (especially since these things are likely to change over time and with different stages). Make sure that you make these things a priority because they tend to get lost in the routine of day-to-day life.

8. What bothers each other

Knowing what bothers each other is just as important as knowing what makes each other happy. We often just assume that our partners know what bothers us without having ever expressed it (GUILTY!). Expressing these things in conversation before it is an issue can prevent a lot of conflicts.

9. Division of labor

You and your partner need to know and understand what each of you expects is you your role and job in the household. Will one work outside the home and the other tend the home? Will everything be divided equally? Knowing and expressing these expectations upfront can also prevent quite a bit of conflict and hurt feelings.

10. Nothing

Conversations about nothing can teach us a lot about each other. Many things that you would have never thought to ask come out in a conversation about nothing.

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important conversations for couples

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Thursday, September 1, 2016

Old Fashioned Rules of Etiquette to Keep in a Modern World

modern etiquette rules
Unfortunately, we are in a day and age that has allowed the demise of old-fashioned etiquette in most forms. Manners, courtesy and any sort of care about behaving properly have become little more than a distant memory and an absolute rarity. In a world surrounded by lewdness and vulgarity, there are still a few standards of etiquette that we should keep alive and well.


Starting here because it is a very big pet peeve of mine. Not RSVPing is not the same as RSVPing "With Regrets". The host or the hostess is likely trying to plan and budget for the projected number of guests and may not want to risk not having the necessary concessions on the chance that those that didn't return their RSVPs may show up. If someone took the time to send you an invitation, please take the time to respond in a timely fashion.

2. Thank You Notes

Really, "thank you"s in general, but for all intents and purposes, I'll stick to notes. Again, if someone has taken the time to do something nice for you, especially a gift, please take the time to send a proper "thank you". Please avoid the inclination to take the easy way out by using e-mail/Facebook/or other impersonal forms of social media, a simple card with handwritten gratitude still goes a long way.

3. Handshake

A handshake goes beyond a formal greeting to a sign of confidence and respect. A good, firm handshake will take you a long way.
Gentlemen meeting a lady: Allow her to dictate the personal contact by waiting for her to extend her hand first.
Ladies: Extend your hand, please.

4. Punctuality

Please be courteous and respectful of other people's time and show up on time, "fashionably late" is far from fashionable.  Showing up on time is much more appreciated than an "I'm running late" call or especially text.

5. Opening Doors

If someone is entering a building behind you, it is polite to hold the door for them. Please, if someone holds the door for you, acknowledge them with a thank you and a smile.
Gentlemen: It is polite to hold the door for a lady and let her enter before you. It is also still polite to open her car door for her.
Ladies: Please accept this courtesy graciously. It is not flirting, an attack on feminism, or an insinuation that you are not capable, it is simply (not so) common courtesy.
*Side note: My husband recently took a business trip to New Jersey and attempted to hold a door for a woman walking up behind him, only to be snapped at that she didn't need him to hold the door for her and that she could do it herself. She then proceeded to stand and wait for the door to close all the way so that she could open it herself.

6. Asking for Gifts

This one, in particular, has been making the rounds lately as I'm sure the entire free world has already seen the viral letter sent out by the parents of a one-year-old in regards to a birthday gift. (I will not be linking to it since I am sure that they have already suffered their fair share of mortification with their letter being plastered on every blog and social media site out there.) Although gift registries and wish lists have become commonplace, it is generally impolite to make mention of or request gifts. On the other end of the spectrum, it is also impolite to dictate "no gifts" as this would tend to insinuate that gifts were otherwise expected.

7. Personal Hygiene is Best Left in Bathrooms

Personal hygiene is a wonderful thing to have... at home. There are definitely instances where personal hygiene concerns require immediate attention and it is always best to excuse yourself to the restroom instead of flossing your teeth or filing your nails in a public space. This is especially true for restaurants. It is considered impolite to do anything more than touch up lipstick at a dining table.

8. Speaking Negatively

It used to be considered impolite to speak of anything negative at all or to even ask a question that could elicit a negative response. (ex: it would be impolite to ask "how is your mother?" as this could illicit a negative response if she were unwell, it would be considered polite to say "I hope your mother is well." instead). This is a little extreme for the modern age, but I like that this can be adapted in a less extreme way by avoiding speaking of negative situations unless asked or necessary, especially with people that have no part in them.

9. Public Discretion

The ideals on this area of etiquette used to be very different for men and women. While it was expected of men to make themselves as visible as possible to avoid the appearance of a "lurker", while it was expected that women do the exact opposite to avoid catching the gaze "lurkers" and "loafers". Many of the old-fashioned views on public discretion can be easily and well adapted in modern times to simply exercising some modesty and dignity (in both attire and behavior) in public situations.

Modern Bonus: 10. Public Cell Phone Use

This one pretty much goes hand in hand with number nine, but with its prevalence, it deserves its own number. Public cell phone usage is best avoided as it takes the privacy out of private conversations and generally disturbs those around you. There are those urgent phone calls that must be taken right then and there, but please do so with courtesy and excuse yourself if possible.

What rules of etiquette would you like to see make a comeback?

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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

GiGi's Orange Glazed Italian Ricotta Cookies

I love my Grandma (ok, I know I am Mrs. State-the-Obvious here, but I just had to say it!)!  A few years ago  I tried my hand at baking ricotta cookies for my Grandma for Christmas (I love all baked and handmade gifts!), and she loved them (which is a big deal! GiGi knows her food and her ricotta!) Now, I make huge batches of these cookies just for GiGi, whenever I know that I'm going to see her so that she can freeze them and have them on hand.
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Italian Ricotta Cookie Recipe:

2 sticks unsalted butter (room temp)
2 cups cane sugar
15 oz ricotta cheese
2 eggs (room temp)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 zest of one orange (or lemon)
4 1/2 cups flour (I like to use 2 cups einkorn and 2 1/2 cups all purpose, but have also made these using 100% all purpose; both had similarly delicious results. I have not, however, done this with 100% einkorn)
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder

Orange Glaze:

4 Tbsp unsalted butter (room temp)
1/2 juice of half an orange (or lemon)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Combine flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder; set aside.
  • Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy.
  • Add in ricotta cheese.
  • Add in eggs, one at a time.
  • Add in vanilla extract and orange zest.
  • Mix in your flour in 1/2 increments making sure that it is well combined.
  • I used heaping teaspoons to measure out each cookie.
  • Place on greased baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes (until edges have a touch of golden brown)
  • To make icing simply combine all ingredients and mix well.
  • Allow cookies to cool before icing.
*These cookies are especially wonderful cold.
*Yes, they freeze well :-)
If you like these, you should also check out these delicious cream cheese sugar cookies.
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