Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Our Marriage Rules to Live By: Rule #1

Somehow Andy and I created an unspoken agreement to always follow a set of undefined rules in our marriage. We never really sat down and said, "Okay, here's our rules. You better not break them." It was more of a mutual understanding that we reached without ever really having a conversation. And yet, the rules are still applied in our marriage to this day although they've never been officially discussed.

When I've analyzed other marriages, I find that most problems usually come down to one or both partners breaking some or all of The Rules. Not that all marriages will have the same rules, but these are things that work for us. The decision to live by our rules has saved our marriage from a lot of pain and frustration. Talk to your partner about your marriage rules. What things can you do to help your marriage become more peaceful and loving?

1. Fight Clean -

  • Assume the best of your spouse. If you feel like their intentions were negative or hurtful, assume they weren't. Never start a fight from the assumption that your spouse did something intentional to hurt you. Changing the way you think is a BIG step in preventing problems from ever arising.  If your partner does something that hurts you, discuss it but from the perspective of believing that your spouse would NEVER do something to intentionally hurt you believing that his/her desire is to make you feel loved to the best of his/her ability.

  • Never EVER say anything mean, derogative, or insulting to your spouse. Even if you are angry and you want to. Don't do it. You can disagree and argue without throwing in pointless and mean comments. Name calling is never okay.

  • Don't bring up the past.  "You never help me do X," or "You always act this way when X," or "I can't believe you did X again."  If the goal in marriage is to get along and be happy together, why are you throwing your spouse's past mistakes around like you've entered a poo-slinging contest?  The goal isn't to see who has more poo to fling, it is to clean the poo up and use it to fertilize the soil. If you view past mistakes as ammo against your spouse, you need to fix your mindset - not your spouse. We all make mistakes. You've made mistakes. Your spouse has made mistakes. It doesn't matter who has made more mistakes or whose mistakes are stinkier. Just put your back into it, shovel the stinky poo up, and leave it. Harping on another's person mistakes only creates distance and coats you both in your own failures. Forgive and move on. It doesn't mean it didn't happen; it just means that no fault, failure, or ugly problem is more important than showing love to your spouse. It just isn't.

  •  Try not to raise your voice.  I almost said "Don't raise your voice" because it should be a rule, but unfortunately it is a rule that is all too easy to break, which is why I said "Try not to raise your voice."  Andy has never raised his voice at me. Ever. I can't say I've reached that same level of calm and control, but I'm certainly getting better. It's hard to raise your voice angrily at someone who won't get loud-mouthed back.   What I can claim is a definitive rule - Never yell at your spouse. Yelling matches solve nothing and create lots of hurt feelings. This is a lesson in self-control for those of us who struggle with controlling their anger and frustration. However, it can be done, so learn to take your tone and simmer it down to a reasonable conversational level. This will help fights end much more quickly than the ones that are laden with screaming and yelling.

  • Remember that NO fight is more important than your marriage. Even if you're right. Even if you're wrong. Even if there is no right or wrong.  There. Is. No. Fight. More. Important. Than. Your. Marriage.  Let me say it again: there is absolutely no fight that is more important than your marriage or your spouse.  [Note: I'm not talking about cheating or abuse in this section. If you are being abused, get somewhere safe.]  Can you honestly name one problem that is more important than the long term health of your marriage?  If you can, then you don't value the health of your marriage enough. There is no argument worth having if it will cause long-term animosity between you and your spouse. When both people enter arguments believing that winning the argument is not more important than loving their spouse, the conversations are respectful and loving - filled with listening, discussing, and working together to find a solution that is amenable to both people. If, in an argument, you realize that mutual agreement can't be reached, choose to postpone making a decision while you both think and pray about the answer or choose to humble yourself and let the other person "win."  Going to your parents for Christmas or her parents? Going to buy a house or travel the world? Going to play video games or sit and cuddle? Going to do the dishes or going out with friends? Going to buy a new car or going to save money? She never picks up her clothes? He never puts away his video game cords? She likes to keep the house warm? He likes it cold? None of these decisions are more important than caring for and loving your spouse.
When fighting and/or arguing remember these principles:

Love is Patient. Love is Kind. It does not envy. It does not boast. It is not proud. It is not rude. It is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered. It keeps no records of wrong. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perserveres.

I'll be posting the rest of our Rules To Live By periodically over the next week or two!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

How To: Have Fun at Home with Your Spouse

Aren't you all so very excited to listen to my three long years of married wisdom?  See, my wisdom told me that you would be, which is why I'm going to enlighten you with a post chock-full of all the interesting things you always wanted to know. [BTW, the expression chock-full came from people saying choke-full which I think is an appropriate sentiment of my pompous statements].

Blah Blah Blah.

See aren't you impressed? I know so much about marriage it's unbelievable. Be inspired.

Okay, seriously though, I am excited about today's post since I think that it will be something that lots of couples can do and enjoy.

How To: Have Fun at Home with Your Spouse

So Andy and I have discovered that the economony sucks (You too? Really? Oh, I knooow. I can't believe it either). We've also discovered that it would suck a lot less if we had money to spend because everyone is trying to offer deals since the rest of the world isn't spending money either. Winning the lottery would help, but, unfortunately, winning the lottery isn't an option if you don't buy lottery tickets... I can't believe it either, but apparently you have to actually buy a lottery ticket to win. Ridiculous, I know.

So my lovely husband and I have been successfully (and sometimes unsuccessfully) trying to find ways to entertain ourselves at home in rainy (did I mention it was RAINY in June?) Oregon.  Here's some of the things we've come up with:

1. Cuddling and Talking - After a while of being married, I think we all tend to get into activity ruts. Conversations go something like this:

Elisha: "What do you want to do tonight?"

Andy: "I don't know. I don't really feel like making any decisions. Work was really long today."

Elisha: "Oh, I'm sorry. Well, why don't we watch [insert favorite girly movie here]?"

Andy: "Yah. That sounds great. I'll think I'll go blow people up instead on [insert favorite video game here]."

Okay, so this conversation varies and we often throw around ideas like playing a board game or baking dessert, but sometimes after a long day working and cooking and cleaning, the few hours that you have left in the evening just don't seem like enough time to do much of anything. It is too easy to fall back on movies, tv, and video games. So, in our exhausted states, we've been trying to do less TV and replace it with more relational activities - like cuddling. :D

I'll admit that my girly side loves cuddling and talking. Andy's manly side has a harder time just sitting and doing nothing, but once we get started on a good topic, we can talk for hours. It makes me feel like we're dating again when we're just sitting and shooting the breeze together.

So the first activity, which doesn't sound like an activity at all, is to sit and come up with interesting topics to talk about together. Be intentional and discuss things your know your spouse is interested in and likes talking about. However, beware of Elisha's conversation-starting mistakes:

Wife:  "Honey, let's sit and cuddle and talk."

Husband: "Okay, what do you want to talk about?"

Wife: "Umm.... my quilting class?"

Husband: "Interesting... Want to play my new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle video game with me instead?"

You might laugh, but this is an almost exact replica of a conversation that Andy and I had this week. In the end, we did play TMNT together and had a blast going back to the good ole days of arcade-style games. And then we cuddled in bed and talked about my quilting class. ;) So maybe it wasn't a mistake because we ended up having fun together, but it was probably a bad way to start a long romantic conversation.

2. Go For A Walk - Just do it. Even if it is raining. It can be a lot of fun to walk in the rain. Wear a raincoat, put on your galoshes, and just go for it. Maybe even jump in a puddle together.

3. Bake Something - Cooking is not my favorite thing. To be honest, I don't really like it. But I have a lot of fun with Andy while donning an apron, turning on some good dance music, and baking up a storm. This is not a good idea if you don't want your waist size to enlarge, but then again, cookies make good gifts, so give them away!

4. Invite Friends Over - Friends always make everything fun! Invite friends over for food or games or food and games. It is always a fantastic way to spend your evening laughing and talking with your favorite people (or new people!).

5. Start a Home Project (and finish it) - I know this sometimes sounds like more work, but doing projects together can be so much fun with the right attitude. Paint a bathroom, change the oil in your car together, or find some other hobby/project that you can both work on together. Even if it isn't something that inspires you and gets you excited, it is good to work with your spouse and do things together.  Some of Andy's and I best times have come when we're working on some project or doing something I don't enjoy.

In the same vein, sometimes just hanging out with your spouse while they work on some project of their own is fun. Andy sits and keeps me company while I'm quilting, so I guess it's only fair that I keep him company while he works on his motorcyle. This isn't quite as exciting as working together, but I love having Andy around when I'm quilting and I know he feels similarly about me being around when he works on his bike. Maybe grab a book and just read while he/she works on their project. Having Andy in the same room while I work on my projects makes me feel valued and happy - it says to me that he loves me enough to simply chill with me even if we're doing separate activities that he's not interested in.

Okay, that's all my brilliant (or not so brilliant) ideas. I'd love to hear what other people do at home to entertain themselves and bond with their spouse, so please comment with your ideas!


Saturday, June 19, 2010

Mucho de la blogs!

Now that we've decided to focus our blog on marriage and more specifically on our marriage, I've created a new blog for my quilting endeavors! As if I really needed another blog!

You can keep up with my quilting life at:

And just in case you've forgotten, you can also follow along with my reading adventures at:

We'll be posting marriage related stuff soon!

Friday, June 18, 2010

A change in direction

Every once in a while I evaluate why I'm blogging. Most of the time I think I just enjoy the act of writing. I used to keep a journal, now I keep a blog. It really hasn't been a huge transition for me except that my posts aren't quite as personal as my journal entries. 

Personal things are things you don't share with anyone, right?  Personal things are things you keep to yourself... or at least that's the view that I've had in the past. I think I'm nervous to show who I am on my blog - the icky, the grouchy, the helpless, the fickle, etc. I'm only willing to show the things I like to do and things that don't affect me on a deep personal level. I've made a few exceptions here and there, but have always shifted to lighter subjects directly afterward.

After analyzing this, I've realized that I don't want to share only the artificial things, but I'm not sure I'm ready to share the inner-workings of my soul.  After discussing this with Andy, we've decided that we want to share about marriage. We want to share the joys of marriage and the struggles. We're hoping that our experiences will encourage others in their own marriages and/or present a story of an honest marriage that is seeking to love eachother and the Lord more everyday.

Some days I'll post about the things going on in our marriage - the wonderful, the difficult, and the just plain normal. Other days, I'll post How-To's: the things we've learned to do in our marriage that makes fighting more peaceful or divying responsibilities less complicated. I'm also thinking of having guest bloggers from every stage of life post about their marriage experiences.

The goal of this change of direction in our blog is to encourage those of us who are married, someday will be married, and anyone who is in the life of someone who is married. Marriage affects us all.  Our marriages now will affect the lives, character, and marriages of the future. I believe that marriage is so much more than simply waking up next to someone everyday for the next 80+ years.  I believe it is so much more than just "getting by." I believe it is a holy calling to present an example of Christ to the world - to show, in our love for our spouse, the love of Christ for his church.  As such, I think it is worth discussing and sharing.

So look forward to lots of blog posts about marriage!

[Side Note: I think it is great that we named our blog - AndyandElisha. It is so fitting to smush our names together into one long name when discussing marriage. We're no longer Andy AND Elisha, but AndyandElisha. We're one unit. One enitity.]

If you are interested in guest blogging about marriage, please email me your ideas for a topic you are interested in at: elishacatts(at)gmail(dot)com.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Morrocan Sweet Apricot Chicken

What is a husband to do when his wife desires apricot chicken from the "local" Moroccan restaurant, but said husband has no money to buy said chicken? Why, he gets creative in the kitchen. And makes some home-brew apricot chicken that I would say rivals the original. I don't write down most of my crazy kitchen experiments, but this one I'm committing to memory.

P.S. - don't bother looking for pictures, we ate it all before that was even a remote possibility.

Inspired by Marrakesh, DELICIOUS:

- 2.5lbs boneless/skinless chicken THIGHS
- 2 cans (14oz?) Apricot halves in heavy syrup (drain the syrup)
- 1 12oz can Apricot Nectar (Kerns)
- 3 tbsp honey
- 1.5 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 lrg onion, sliced into strips
- ground cumin
- garlic salt
- sliced almonds
- corn starch

-cous cous as a side dish

Preheat oven to 400*

- Place chicken thighs and onion strips in greased 9x13 pan.
- Rub the chicken with the garlic salt & cumin (to taste, just a nice light covering.)
- Mix together apricot halves, nectar, honey and minced garlic.
- Pour the mixture over the chicken
- Top with sliced almonds
- Place in oven for 45 minutes.
- After 45 minutes, drain the majority of the juice and place in a saucepan. Return the chicken to the oven.
- Mix together 1.5tbsp corn starch and 4 tbsp COLD water. Pour into saucepan.
- Stir sauce together until thick (a few minutes.)
- Pour some sauce over the top of the chicken and serve. Sauce is also good on top of the cous cous.

Lap Quilt

This is the deal with quilting: You start a project. Then you go to quilt class and you start another project. But you see this beautiful fabric that you can't resist, so you start just one more project. And before you realize it, your quilts that don't have due dates never get finished and you have added another unfinished object, aka UFO, to your list.

Which is why this quilt has been sitting in my "to be finished" box for months. I started it with the intention of giving it to a friend, but as I worked on it, I decided that it just didn't fit their personality and that I simply did not like it AT ALL.

I can't, in good conscience, give a quilt that I dislike as a gift. So it sat...and sat...and sat...

Determined not to fall in the trap of my fellow quilters (from my quilt class) who have upwards of 100 unfinished quilts each, I was determined to get myself in gear and finish this quilt - for better or, most likely, worse.  Since I didn't want to waste any more resources (batting, binding, backing), I opted to make this large quilt a very small lapsize duvet cover. It seems a little pointless to make a duvet for a blanket that small, but I just happened to have a small lapsize blanket that was BRIGHT orange from my wondrous college days at OSU and was the perfect fit for this quilt. Thus bright orange blanket now looks like this:

And if I ever need my college colors back for a football game, I can simply pull it out of the duvet cover and bring it along.

At least it is one less UFO that is sitting in my to-be-finished box. :D Now I have only three UFOs waiting to be finished...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

MT Swap quilt!

I got my MT Swap quilt and it is sooo cute!!

See pictures:

Isn't the hand-stitching beautiful?

I'm trying to decide where to display it and I love it so much that I want to put it somewhere everyone will see, which is why I'm thinking of using it here:

Unfortunately, I don't want to cover it up with the candle thing and I can't figure out else in my house to put it where it will be visible.


Thanks to my amazing swap partner at who is actually an Oregon resident as well! Yay for Oregon women who like Modern Quilting. :D

I love the fabric!! Isn't it gorgeous?!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Quilt Class & My Soap Box

Quilting seems to be a hobby whose participants are mostly women over the age of 40. No men tend to frequent quilting classes and very few young women find themselves involved in the quilting world. My quilting class yesterday was like cozying up on an outdated floral-print couch at your grandmother's house while your grandmother bustles around making tea, listening to your problems, cleaning the house, and being generally productive.  While you sit there sharing your woes, this busy little woman is accomplishing the world and still making you feel listened to and appreciated.


Yesterday I realized our generation is losing the graceful art of being productive and entertained... of being busy but calm... of being efficient but relaxed. 

I walked into quilting class at Quilting Delights unsure of what to expect. Would I feel alone? Would I be ostracized for being so new at quilting? Would I feel like a child in a room of adults - seen and not heard?  Instead of feeling any of these things, the experience was like walking into my grandmother's living room and finding myself put to work and feeling happy that I was helping.  It was as if I belonged in that room of women 20 to 40 years older than I.  As we sat around sewing, we laughed, talked, joked, and simply enjoyed eachother's company.  I soon realized that these women had discovered one of the secrets of happiness.

As I sat there, intently sewing my fabric together, I pondered why my generation feels so different. What changed? When did we decide that work and happiness are mutually exclusive?  I realized that something happened in my generation that has never happened before and which has changed the social makeup of our world - the introduction of technological media.

I appreciate TV. I appreciate the internet. I appreciate facebook. I obviously appreciate blogs.  And yet, when I stop and think about it, if I removed all of these from my life, what would I do in my free time?

And my answer is:

I would be productive.

I would quilt. I would read. I would cook. I would garden. I would paint. I would draw. I would play the piano. I would play the guitar. I would clean. I would do laundry (God forbid!). I would go for walks. I would interact with my neighbors. I would interact with my friends. I would pray. I would read my bible. I might even listen to God instead of tuning Him out while I watch a movie or stumble though the internet or check my facebook or...

When I take away all these things, I find that I start becoming the kind of person I want to be. 

I want to pass on the skills and knowledge I have to my future children and I can't do that if we watch tv at night instead of sewing together or playing games as a family or cooking or singing or dancing or reading or gardening... Our generation is going to lose (if it hasn't already) the skills and talents of the generations that have gone before if we keep turning to modern technology to entertain us. We will lose the art of entertainment and simultaneous productivity if we separate entertainment as activities in which others entertain us and productivity as that which is required to get by.

And now, I realize why no one in my generation quilts. Our generation was too busy watching TV to learn the skills of our parents and grandparents. We were too busy playing SEGA and Nintendo and Playstation. Instead of sitting around as a family and playing games, we were sitting and watching a movie.

I strongly believe the lack of quilters in my generation is due directly to the introduction of TV, video games, and the internet. Perhaps the women's rights revolution contributed in part, but I think that has less impact than the rise of technology as my generation's primary form of entertainment.

But, as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord [and find joy in being productive. :D ]


Anyway, now that I've ranted. I'll share some of the photos that Becca took at quilt class!

Me Quilting!

Becca's mom, Pam, cutting her squares to size.

Becca's AMAZING mad skillz! She finished most of her quilt face in one day!

This photo isn't from our qulit class, but it is the pattern that we'll be doing for the August class that Pam is teaching! Go Pam! Isn't Pam's quilt so pretty?! I love the colors that she choose for the quilt!

I also signed up for the July class and I'm so excited about the pattern that month! I'll post pictures of it next month!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

New Dining Room Table!

Isn't it pretty?!

Why yes it is. And you want to know whose table it is? Well, let me put your mind at ease - it's now ours.

Macy sells this lovely table with six chairs for $1573.  When Andy and I started looking for tables about a year ago, I begged him to let me buy this table from Macy's at the Annual Sale for $1200.  He disuaded me telling me that we should get a table that was more affordable and that we didn't need this particular table. I reluctantly agreed, albeit somewhat disappointed, knowing that we didn't have the money to buy it.

And then, yesterday, we came home with this table. Only we didn't pay $1573 or $1200 - we paid the whopping price of $350.

[FYI - Our table is a pretty cherry wood color]

You may be asking yourself, "How did Andy and Elisha find such a beautiful table for such an inexpensive price?"

Behold, I will reveal our secret:

We discovered this gem on craigslist for ridiculously cheap and decided that since Mandy and Ian will be moving out (sad...) and will be taking their beautiful table with them (also sad...), we would need a new table to put in our dining room. And voile - here it is.

We heart it. ♥

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Spring has sprung and apparently so has decorating enthusiasm. Now that I'm full of this abundant and unexpected urge to nest and make my house homey, I've been daydreaming about what to do. Here are some of my thoughts:

For the downstairs bathroom, I fell completely in love with this idea I saw at Clyde Commons in downtown Portland:

We went out on a double-date a few weeks ago with our lovely friends, Craig and Lauren wherein I happily discovered this inventive wallpaper idea. [BTW, I wouldn't recommend this restaurant for it's food or its learn-to-be-skinny portions, but it does have a super eclectic Portland-y atmosphere which is awesome].

Unlike Clyde Commons, I only want to do one wall of our bathroom in this fashion, so I'm trying to decide what colors to do the rest of the bathroom.

I was thinking this color might be nice:

Or this:

Or this:

And finally, this:

Go ahead and vote for your favorite!