About Jill T.

Howdy! I'm from Tennessee so I feel obligated to use this as my standard greeting. I'm Jill. I'm a recent college graduate and newlywed living in Knoxville, Tennessee with my handsome husband. Our last name is Thompson, hence the name of this blog. I'm an old soul who believes in the power of snail mail and I'm convinced that there's nothing in this world that a triple scoop ice cream cone can't fix.

3 Ways to Be Financially Responsible In Your Marriage

So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? – Luke 16:11

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Photo by Derek Couts Photography

Before the vows are said and the rings are exchanged, many couples like to prepare for the transition from dating to married life by discussing a variety of topics.

Where do we want to live? How many kids do we want to have? What church will we attend? What lifelong goals do we want to achieve?

Financial goals and expectations are topics that need to be discussed as well! Money is a large component of marriage, whether we like it or not, that has the ability to help or harm it. I’m not saying that money is everything, but when we steward our finances with intentionality and consistency, we add a level of comfort and convenience to our marriages that makes them more fun and enjoyable for both you and your spouse!

Here are a few things to help you do just that:

1. Keep a budget
I’ve hit on this topic before in a previous post, but it’s so important and I think bringing it up again is worthwhile. Setting a budget and sticking to it is how you and your spouse are going to reach your financial goals later on down the road. It might not be very fun when you first get into it, but you will thank yourself later for paying off debts and not overspending.

Being financially responsible by keeping a budget is just a better way to live. You will be able to do more things, go more places, and when unexpected events come your way, like an emergency room visit, you won’t be sent into a panic wondering whether or not you can foot the bill.

2. Make financial decisions together
Daniel and I have only lived in our apartment for a few months and we are just starting out. There are a few things that we’d like to have for our home, but we know that it’s not in our best financial interest to purchase these things just yet. However, there are several big ticket items I’ve had my eye on for a while now that I just know would make our little abode more homey and inviting. How easy would it be for me to hop on Wayfair and buy all the fancy rugs I’ve been ogling for months or go to Home Goods and buy everything in the store? Super easy!! But I have a feeling that my husband wouldn’t be very pleased with me if he were to check our bank account at the end of the day and discover that I had spent hundreds of dollars without consulting him first. So, we make our financial decisions together, no matter how big or small they are.

It might seem a bit trivial, but even when I plan on buying something small for our apartment, like a lamp or a pillow, or go searching for a new work outfit, I always let Daniel know what I intend to buy and how much I expect it to cost so that it doesn’t come as a surprise to him when he checks our account.

Communicating your purchases to your spouse can prevent a lot of arguments and ensures that you are both aware of your current financial status.

3. Have a joint bank account
I know this can be a wishy washy subject for some couples, but hear me out on this. When we commit to spending the rest of our lives with someone, why would we exclude our finances from that commitment? That’s like saying, “I promise to spend the rest of my life with you, through sickness and in health, till death do us apart … buuuuut I’m gonna need to keep my bank account separate from yours, ok?” It doesn’t work that way!

Having separate bank accounts can potentially lead to bad spending habits and a point of contention between you and your spouse.

Having separate bank accounts can potentially lead to bad spending habits and a point of contention between you and your spouse.

Let me clear this up a bit: If you and your spouse share a bank account, your husband or wife has the ability to check the account whenever they wish. They can see every penny coming in and going out of the account. This holds each of you accountable. This is good!

On the flip side, if you and your spouse have separate accounts, you can spend as much money as you want without having to disclose that information to anyone other than yourself. So when you know you’ve spent more money than you should have and you don’t want your spouse to know, you might find yourself lying about how much you’ve actually spent. When lies and deceit begin to enter our marriages, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem at first, we are setting ourselves up for a long and bumpy road that can easily be avoided.

When lies and deceit begin to enter our marriages, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem at first, we are setting ourselves up for a long and bumpy road that can easily been avoided.

By keeping a budget, making financial decisions together and having a joint bank account, you and your spouse will set yourselves up for financial and marital success, and be able to fully enjoy the fruits of your labor “as long as you both shall live”!

3 Ways To Survive Your First Job After College

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When I was about to graduate college and searching for full time employment, a lot of people said to me, “Don’t snatch up the first job that comes your way!”.

I repeated these words over and over in my head and told myself, promised myself, that I would follow this advice.

But after I filled out a couple applications, talked my way through some phone interviews and was offered a job at a hotel a few weeks later, it was as if I had never heard that advice in the first place.

You see, after making nearly nothing at all in college, I jumped at the first job I was offered because it sounded like a million dollar deal at the time! Mind you, my starting salary wasn’t much, but for a fresh-outta-college gal like myself, it was enough to reel me in.

My start date was a week and a half after graduation and although I wished I had more of a summer break before I started working, I was ready to make some money. Donned in my new work clothes with my lunch box in hand, I headed out the door to sit in traffic alongside thousands of other working adults.

It didn’t take me long to realize what a big fat mistake I had made.

And I don’t say that because I didn’t want to work or that I was a lazy college grad.

Have you ever had a job that you knew you just weren’t cut out for? This was the exact thought that entered my mind after two short weeks at my new job.

Every day I dreaded going in and I practically sprinted out the door when my shift was over. I dealt with grumpy guests during my 10+ hour days which only added to my misery. Thankfully, I was transferred to another hotel once the summer came to a close, and my situation drastically improved.

But the good thing about going through tough times is that you come out on the other side having learned something. And maybe that something learned can help out someone else in the long run. Although I was very unhappy at my first job after college, I learned a few ways to cope with my less than idyllic situation that I hope you can put to use if you ever find yourself in similar shoes.

1. Find a mentor(s)
My parents were and are my best mentors. They didn’t let me take the easy way out by quitting my job, but they did help me see the good side of things. For example, they kept reminding me that I was able to save up money so that Daniel and I would have a nice little cushion once we got married. And my mom would always tell me, “At least you know now what you don’t want to do, which is just as important as figuring out what you do want to do!”. Keep this in mind when you are searching for a new job and steer clear of positions that are similar to the one you are trying to get out of.

Figuring out what you don’t want to do is just as important as figuring out what you do want to do. Keep this in mind when you are searching for a new job and steer clear of positions that are similar to the one you are trying to get out of.

Along with my parents, a few supervisors at the hotel I was transferred to after the summer took me under their wing. They made it fun to come to work, they taught me new things every day, and they listened to me when I needed to rant. Sometimes all it takes to feel valued and appreciated at your job is for someone to listen to what you have to say.

Sometimes all it takes to feel valued and appreciated at your job is for someone to listen to what you have to say.

2. Be a positivity sponge 
Most days at my job, the only thing that kept me going was listening to the Christian radio station, K-Love, during my morning and afternoon commutes. If it weren’t for those songs pouring out encouragement through the speakers and lifting my spirits before and after work, I wouldn’t have had the mental strength to go in each day. We can’t control what will happen to us at work, but we can control what we fill our minds with outside of it.

We can’t control what will happen to us at work, but we can control what we fill our minds with outside of it.

2. Have an end date in mind 
I knew I didn’t want to be at this job for much longer, but I didn’t want to quit either. The only way I could keep going was to dangle a carrot in front my nose. I told myself, “Just make it through the summer”. So I did. Then I told myself, “Just make it until the end of the year”. So I did that too. And around this time, Daniel told me that he had been offered a job back in Knoxville. With his new job lined up and our wedding right around the corner, I knew I only had 2-3 months left at my job. I was ecstatic! Finally, I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. With an end date in sight, my outlook completely shifted.

Now, I don’t encourage you to up and quit your job without seriously thinking it through and consulting with your family and mentors first, but the truth of the matter is, if you aren’t happy at your job, nothing is going to change if you don’t have a plan in place to improve your situation. Whether that’s applying for five new jobs every week or making a deal with yourself to only stay put at your current job for one year and then move on, having an end date in mind with a plan to meet it will keep you motivated and determined to reach your goal.

If you aren’t happy at your job, nothing is going to change if you don’t have a plan in place to improve your situation.

With guidance from your mentors, staying focused on the positive, and reminding yourself that this season of life won’t last forever, I am confident that you will not only survive your first job after college, but that you will set yourself up for success for your next job as well!

Being Hospitable Even When Your Home Is A Mess

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Maybe you’re like me and you’ve just moved into your first home. Or maybe you’ve been in your home for a while, but there are so many projects that need to take place before it even begins to mirror the vision in your head.

And the last thing you want to do is invite people over when you feel like your place of rest is a mess.

You’re afraid of what they might think or that your home won’t feel inviting. Maybe you’ll call them up when you have some new furniture or when the yard has been cut or when all the boxes have been unpacked. But not right now because your home just isn’t ready yet.

I’ve been there before. In fact, I’m still there! Many times throughout the day I think of all the things I wish we had in our apartment to make it more cozy, more decorative, more put together. I see what it looks like now and compare it to how I want it to look, and that makes it really difficult to be content with what we already have.

I’d tell myself, “When we have everything set up and it looks how I want it to look, then we’ll have people over”. But that’s just not what we’re called to do.

1 Peter 4:8-10 tells us, “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 

Did you get that? Use whatever gift you have received to serve others. It doesn’t say, “Wait until your home looks perfect before you open it to others”. It doesn’t say, “Wait until all the shelves have been dusted and every room has been vacuumed before you open it to others”. It says whatever gift you have received is all that you need to serve others.

I began to realize that if I waited until our home looked exactly how I wanted it to look, it would be a long time before we’d have anyone over.

God doesn’t say “Come find me when you have your life together, and then we’ll talk”. Instead, he meets us where we are, unpacked boxes and all.

We can do the same thing when opening our homes to others. We don’t have to have it all together. We don’t have to have new furniture or a freshly cut yard to be hospitable.

We do what we can with what we have and God will take care of the rest.

8 Pearls Of Wedding Wisdom For The Next Bride In Line

*All photos by Derek Couts Photography

Daniel and I loved and cherished every second of our wedding day and nearly five months later, we still talk about how much fun we had celebrating our marriage with our favorite people in the world. There were several things we did on our wedding day that I know will make your own wedding experience so much more enjoyable!

1. Pray a special verse over your wedding and marriage
As a bride, you think of all the things that can go “wrong” on your wedding day. It’s just what we girls do. What if it downpours at your outdoor wedding? Or red wine accidentally gets spilled on your dress? What if nobody dances during the reception? Or an unwanted guest shows up as a plus-one?

Early on in the wedding planning process, my mom told me of a verse that she had been praying over our wedding and marriage; Ephesians 3:20. This verse says, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” She prayed this prayer often and told me not to stress about the things that were out of our hands. All we could do was plan and prepare the best we could and leave the rest up to Him. This verse brought me so much peace during the time of my wedding.

When we accept that we cannot control every obstacle that will come our way on our wedding day, but trust in God’s ability to do abundantly more than we could ever ask or imagine, we allow ourselves to be fully present on our wedding day, enjoying each moment rather than being rattled with fear and worry of everything that could go wrong. HR_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-2042. Sit down and eat dinner with your husband
Before our wedding, I wanted to know what past brides wished they had or had not done on their wedding day. Something that I kept hearing over and over was that the bride wished she would have sat down and eaten dinner with her new husband. So, I made a point to do just that. At our reception, we had our own little table set aside for us by the fireplace where we got to enjoy 15 minutes of just being together and taking in all that was happening around us. We got to eat our delicious dinner and talked about how seamlessly everything came together. It is one of my most favorite memories of our wedding.SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-293SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-2943. Cut a rug
When your guests see you having a good time, it makes them want to join in on the fun! We came up with a first dance that we had practiced for months before our wedding and when our DJ announced us during our grand entrance, we went right into it. We had the best time showing off our silly moves and I felt like it set a fun atmosphere for the rest of the evening.SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-295.jpgSM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-297SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-303SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-3094. Don’t go crazy with the decorations. Create an inviting atmosphere instead.
You might have the most beautiful decorations, but if the atmosphere is stiff and nobody is on the dance floor, that’s probably what people are going to remember about your wedding when they think back on it years down the road. However, if you create a welcoming and fun atmosphere, your guests are going to stick around until your send off.

I wanted our wedding to feel warm, cozy and inviting for our guests, and I think we accomplished that without going overboard on the decorations. We had a fire lit during our ceremony and reception (instant coziness), and lots of candles strewn about. You can buy candles in bulk for pretty cheap. We also had good music playing the whole night, thanks to our awesome DJ, which set the tone for the evening and had people on the dance floor the entire night.

So when you’re obsessing over the nitty gritty details of your decorations, remember that your guests would probably much rather have a fun time dancing the night away at your wedding than have pretty centerpieces to stare at for a few hours. SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-361SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-372SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-365SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-387SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-403SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-404SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-452SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-412SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-410SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-4205. Make it personal
Most of the decorations at our wedding were things we already had at home, like my typewriter, door wreaths, and things for our UT pom pom send off. Or they were things that people had made for us, like the wooden cross that sat on top of the mantle that my best friend handmade for me, and an antique door that my mom had made for us that served as the backdrop for our family dessert table. SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-125SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-122SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-128SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-192SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-1296. Involve your family and friends 
My mom made our wedding cake from scratch and used my grandma and grandpa’s cake topper. She also did the majority of the decorations by herself, helped me address wedding invitations, and so much more. Women on both sides of our family made desserts for our family dessert table, Daniel’s uncle married us, my aunt cross stitched our ring bearer pillow, my second cousins were our flower girls and Daniel’s were our ring bearers. One of my bridesmaids sang a song and played guitar while we took communion and lit our unity candle, and ALL of my bridesmaids were such a huge help with getting our trail mix bags stuffed and setting up the day before. Your wedding will be much more special when you involve the ones you love the most. SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-248SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-251SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-3SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-4SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-130SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-131SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-210SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-216HR_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-105SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-107SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-203SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-252SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-1337. Get most of your photos out of the way before the ceremony 
We had a wonderful photographer, Derek Couts, who is also our close friend! He did an amazing job taking our family photos and bride and groom photos before the ceremony so we could eat dinner, visit with our guests, and dance for the rest of the night! After all, we had been planning this day for over a year, so why not enjoy it?! He was also fantastic at taking natural photos of us throughout the night and not pulling us away from the fun to get forced, posed shots. SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-114SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-121SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-100

 

SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-289SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-291SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-2928. Visit with your guests, but don’t feel bad if you can’t make it to everyone 
Yes, you should and need to visit with your wedding guests. They took time our of their schedule to come celebrate with you, so you should thank them for that! However, don’t feel bad if you can’t (and chances are, you won’t have the time to) visit with every single person there. They know that you have a lot going on and they want you to enjoy your own wedding! But be sure to thank them for coming after the wedding, whether that’s by writing them a thank you note or making a phone call. SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-312

16 Free and Cheap Couples Activities in Knoxville

Like many newlywed couples just starting out, Daniel and are on a budget. Although we are only four months into our marriage, we have established some financial goals that we want to achieve within the year that won’t be possible without a little sacrifice.

In addition to our monthly bills, we have another financial obligation that currently requires a healthy bit of attention from our bank account. As a result, we are left with a limited budget to spend on “the fun stuff”. However, this has made us better at making do with what we have when it comes to date nights and weekend outings.

Some of our favorite free or cheap activities are too good to keep to ourselves, so I want to share them with you in hopes that you and your significant other will give them a try! Not only are all of these activities extremely forgiving on your budget, but they will make you feel like you still have a social life.

1. Hiking
One of our favorite recreational activities since we are only a 45 minute drive from the Smoky Mountains. Pack your lunch with food from home rather than eating out along the way. You’ll have lunch with a view once you reach the top! Mountain views are priceless, literally.

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2. Buy cheap floats at the Dollar Store and have a lazy day floating on the quarry, lake, or down a river
We bought these floats at the beginning of the summer for $3 and I’d say we’ve gotten our money’s worth out of them! Floating at Mead’s Quarry a few miles down the road from our apartment is our favorite spot.

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3. Go to a minor league baseball game
Tickets to the Smokies game cost us around $20 and we were pleasantly surprised by how much fun we had! The fireworks at the end of the game were an added bonus.

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 4. Keep an eye out for festivals and events in your city
Our city has a biweekly Farmer’s Market during the warmer months and a festival for just about anything you can think of. This year, Knoxville hosted the USA Cycling Pro Road and Time Trial Championships in June. We spent the whole day walking around the city and stopping at different spots to watch the group of cyclists race past us.

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5. Take a walk or trail run at Ijams or ride your bike along the greenway
We live a few miles away from Ijams Nature Center where we like to go for evening runs. Every time we go, we always find a new trail or feature that we’ve never stumbled upon before. This year, we got to run alongside fields full of bright yellow sunflowers that popped up in July at Forks of the River!

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6. Free or cheap concerts at your local honky tonk or bar
Music is just better live, don’t ya think? Songs are brought to life when you see a band or artist perform them in person. Cotton Eyed Joe brings in new artists each month, often for free or usually less than $20 per ticket. This month we saw Midland, and tickets to see Joe Nichols in August are only $10!

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7. Happy Hour
If you are the kind of person who would rather sip on an adult beverage at a bar with your friends than at home by yourself, happy hour is for you. Our favorite downtown bar, Scruffy City Hall, has $2.50 beers during happy hour, and that makes us, well, happy.

8. Line dancing lessons
When I was in college, a couple friends and I would go to Cotton Eyed Joe to learn how to line dance. We go on ‘college night’, so we’d get in for free and attempt to learn the complicated steps to songs. More often than not, we’d fumble through the steps, but we still had a blast every time!

20120989_10155632659886600_1887081229_n9. Hang out at your apartment or neighborhood pool
Relaxing, close to home and free! I’ve never met anyone who’s said “no” to a day at the pool.

10. ENO at a park
Bring a book to read while you swing from the trees at Sequoyah Hills.

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11. Get a library card
This may seem super old fashioned to some people, but library cards are free if you live in the county that the library is located. You can rent an endless supply of books and return them when you’re finished instead of holding onto books you probably won’t read again and take up space on your shelves.

12. Bowling
Strike & Spare bowling alleys always have specials during the weekdays for $1.10 games, and they do cosmic bowling on Friday and Saturday after 10 p.m. which is sUpEr FuN.

13. $2.50 theater
Knoxville has an old school theater that sells movie tickets for $2.50, and there’s a Big Lots next door that you can stop in for a quick candy run if you forgot your snacks at home.

14. Camping
In my experience, you can rent most tent campsites for less than $30. Besides, eating dinner by candlelight is way more magical than at the kitchen table.

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15. Have friends over for dinner
Eating out gets really expensive and if you don’t monitor how much you’re forking out at restaurants (or forking into your mouth), you’ll start to see those dollars dwindle pretty quickly. This was, and still is, our biggest recreational expense. It’s especially hard during the summer months when all you want to do is get ice cream after dinner, but even that can add up if you make it a weekly habit. We’ve started eating in a lot more lately and although it’s sometimes a pain to come home after work and cook every night, it’s worth the money that we saved by not eating out, and healthier too!

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16. Go sight-seeing in your own city 
You’ll never know how much your city has to offer unless you get out an explore it for yourself!

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What are your favorite free or cheap things to do with your significant other? Have any suggestions for us that you’d like to share? E-mail us at hello.ataleoftwothompsons@gmail.com!

Finding Joy in the Marital Routine

Have you ever heard someone say, “I love my job because no two days are the same.”?

They enjoy going to work because each day brings new and different challenges, and they never know what to expect when they walk through door.

I admire people like that because that is so not me.

I live for routine. I’m a creature of habit and I can turn into a pretty crabby creature if something interferes with my routine. I’m not lying when I tell you that I wake up at the same time every morning, eat the same breakfast (oatmeal with a lil’ cinnamon and honey), leave for work at 7:35 a.m. on the dot, park in the same parking spot every day, and the list goes on. Many people would grow bored with this routine, but I thrive on it and that’s something I learned at a young age.

My parents often tell of the time I was involved in several school sports during my middle and high school days. On the days I had practice, I was much more productive because I knew I had to wake up at a certain time, get a meal in me, and prepare my workout bag so that I had the right uniform and equipment when I got to the school gym. On the other hand, when my coach gave us a day or two off, I would stay up late, sleep in until noon or later (one time I woke up at 1 in the afternoon and was so mad that I had wasted half the day), and lay on the couch watching MTV reality shows (Parental Control or Room Raiders, anyone?). These behaviors are still true to this day. If I’m not careful, I can blow a whole evening on our couch watching The Office while eating boxed mac’ n cheese out of the pot. Which is exactly what happened last night.

Anyway, we’re getting off topic here!

Although I flourish on a routine and like to have plans in place, I realize there are many of you who consider yourself to be more spontaneous and like to take it one day at a time. There are times when I wish I was more like that. More flexible, easy-going, not so structured and rigid. But that’s why I married my husband who is the most easy going person in the world 🙂

But I don’t think routine is a bad thing. And over time, I’ve come to realize that there is comfort in the routine and I think that can be true for anyone. During these past couple months of being married, Daniel and I have established some of our own routines that have helped us tremendously and that I think any married couple can adopt. For us, they serve as checkpoints throughout the week and times we can simply enjoy being together.

We encourage you and your spouse to start your own marriage routines. Here are a few of ours to help you get some ideas flowing:

  • Navigator’s Council

If you’ve ever watched TLC, you might know of a show called Little People, Big World. One of the twins on the show recently got married and he and his wife started a marriage blog called Beating 50 Percent. The blog inspires couples to have a better than average marriage by giving more than 50 percent to their spouse. They also created a marriage journal called the Navigator’s Council, which is a weekly journal where you ask your spouse the same six questions every week and record the answers. There is a short devotional and a weekly calendar that you fill out too, so that you and your spouse are on the same page for the coming week.

I’d been eyeing this journal for a few months when Hannah (Daniel’s brother’s girlfriend) got it for us as a wedding gift! Although we very much enjoy and get plenty of use out of our new dishes and beautiful home decor from everyone who was so generous to think of us during our engagement, this journal was the best wedding gift we’d received. We sit down every Sunday (we’ve missed a couple Sundays due to varying work schedules) and read the devotional, fill out our weekly calendar, catch up on things to come in the next week, and ask each other those six questions. Some are easy and some are hard to answer. They get us thinking about the direction our marriage is headed and open up the floor for conversations that might not have taken place if we hadn’t taken the time to sit down and really listen to each other.

I can’t say enough good things about this journal and how much our marriage has benefited from it in just two short months. We highly encourage you to consider this resource for your own marriage. Thank you, Hannah, for gifting this journal to us!

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  • Grocery shopping

This may seem like a chore to some, but Daniel and I get excited to go grocery shopping. Mostly because we just really enjoy food, eating and cooking, but also because we get to spend time together and plan out our meals for the week. We’ve recently discovered that we’re big fans of meal prepping for the whole week, rather than cooking a large meal every night after work (we’re big lazy babies).

My mom told me that she and my dad enjoyed grocery shopping together when they were first married too, and I hope it’s a routine that we don’t grow out of.

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  • Keeping up with the budget 

You probably aren’t surprised to know that finances is one of the biggest marital stresses (if not THE biggest). Many couples have gone their separate ways due to money stress. So if something like this is the cause of such stress and could potentially lead to the demise of your marriage, don’t you think we ought to be paying even MORE attention to it? *Enter the Handy Dandy Budget Book*

I can’t take much credit here, since Daniel is the one who stays on top of our budget every week, but we do work together by writing down every penny we spend, categorizing it (rent, groceries, insurance, etc.), and tracking our progress, or lack thereof, from the previous month.

It’s easy to think you’re doing OK on your budget until you start keeping track of each expense and those numbers begin to stare back at you judgmentally. It’s as if they’re saying, “Wow, did you really need that pineapple print welcome mat you found at Target when you already have two others??”

However, by keeping track of where your money is going, you will start to see trends form. For example, you might notice that a big chunk of your paycheck is going toward eating out at your favorite pizza place or getting one too many brownie sundaes at that cute, old-timey pharmacy downtown. Now that you’ve identified you’re spending tendencies, and realize that you can live without that brownie sundae, no matter how much it kills you inside, you can create a plan to be more intentional with your spending. Daniel and I have some work to do ourselves in this area, but we might not have known that if we hadn’t started keeping track.

We record our spendings in a cheap notebook from the Dollar Store and I am sometimes hesitant to buy things because I know that when I get home, I’ll have to write it down in that pesky little blue spiral notebook. How’s that for a money saver?

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Your routine can be something as simple as going on an evening walk together once a week, going to the gym after work, or even watching a couple episodes of your favorite show (as long as you don’t waste the entire evening and eat the whole pot of mac’ n cheese). Setting aside specific times throughout the week allows you and your spouse to get on the same page for the upcoming week, simply be in each other’s presence and reflect on the progress you’ve made so far.

What are you favorite routines or little moments throughout the day that you get to spend with your spouse?

A Thrifty Gal’s Guide to Knoxville’s Best Antique & Vintage Stores

What is it about old, rusty antiques that we find so endearing? Maybe it’s the stories that they carry with them from owner to owner. Or perhaps we think that the older something is, the more character it has. Whatever the reason, you can’t deny that feeling of excitement when you stumble upon a souvenir from yesteryear. Whether it’s an old red lantern or a mint green typewriter with delicate little keys, knowing that you can’t find that item at the local Hobby Lobby or Target thrills you even more.

Now that I’m an official Knoxvillian and because I don’t like to keep a juicy deal all to myself, I’ve decided to share with you several of my favorite antique/vintage/thrift/bargain (All fancy words for ‘old stuff’) stores in the area.

Before we jump in, I think it’s best that you know the back story. The reason for my fascination with things not from my time.

So, here’s where it all began:

Goodwill Industries – Knoxville, Kingston Pike 

Website: http://www.gwiktn.org/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GWIKTN/

A couple of years ago, while I was on my Goodwill kick (Let’s be honest, I’m still on my Goodwill kick), I was rummaging through the shelves at my favorite Goodwill location. As my eyes scanned the various knick knacks, they came to a screeching halt when I spotted a large, mint green object that was tossed haphazardly onto the middle shelf.

“Is that what I think it is?”,  I thought to myself as I reached for it quickly.

I grabbed the cover handle and, with quite the effort, due to the unexpected weight of the thing, flipped it right side up so that I could get a better look at this forgotten treasure. As I lifted up the cover, rows and rows of square, mint green keys stared back at me. It WAS what I thought it was after all — a typewriter! I had been wanting one since high school, but could never bring myself to dish out the dollars for it when I knew I would find one for the right price at the right time. All of my waiting had finally paid off. For $30, I was able to take home my 1958 Hermes 3000. When I got home, I discovered that my thrifted trinket would not only make a charming addition to my room, but it was also functional, and had the most delightful swirly girly font. Fast forward two years, Herman the Hermes has typed many letters to friends and family and was even displayed at our wedding this past March. My typewriter not only holds the history of its past owners, but now mine as well.

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If you’ve been searching endlessly for a particular item to embellish your home, like my hunt for a typewriter, these shops might just be your best bet.

Nostalgia

Website: http://www.nostalgiamarket.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NostalgiaKnoxville/

Nostalgia has some of the neatest little baubles I’ve ever seen, and many of them are in great condition, including some typewriters. However, be prepared to spend a little more on these items since they are in such great shape. They also have boxes of old postcards worth thumbing through and a great collection of reasonably priced records that are conveniently alphabetized if I’m remembering correctly. In addition to their plethora of vintage pieces, they carry handmade cards and coasters from local Knoxville artisans. Nostalgia is located in The District in Bearden off of Kingston Pike and I would definitely recommend carving out an hour during a rainy afternoon to make a visit.

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Knox Heritage Salvage Shop

Website: http://knoxheritage.org/salvage/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheKnoxHeritageSalvageRoom/?ref=br_rs

I cannot do this shop justice with my own words, so here’s what they have to say for themselves:

“The Salvage Shop is a program of Knox Heritage, accepting donated historic building materials to prevent these valuable items from going to the landfill. These items are re-sold to benefit Knox Heritage. The Salvage Shop’s inventory is stocked with items to help restore historic homes or serve as the base materials for new projects. The shop’s Facebook page is constantly updated with new additions to the inventory, as well as inspiration for up-cycled projects and customers sharing their own work with the community. The shop also rents studio space to local artists”

WOW, how cool is that? It’s not every day that you find a group of people dedicated to preserving the bits and pieces that add character to an old home instead of trading it out for all things new. If you consider yourself a creative person who has vision and the ability to see the potential in an item even in its beginning stages, start Salvaging! I stopped in this shop recently and they had some really unique pieces that could be HGTV worthy if the right person comes along and gives them a little time, effort and a fresh coat of paint!

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This piano was only selling for $150! *googly eyes*

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Tons of old wooden window panes and doors waiting for someone to pick them up for their next DIY project!

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Vintage Treasures

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Vintage-Treasures-414928118714136/

Vintage Treasures is on Kingston Pike, located in the same strip mall as Four Seasons. I visited Vintage Treasures with my mom a couple of years ago when it went by a different name and was under different ownership, and to be honest, I wasn’t crazy about what they had to offer. However, I visited recently and they have new owners who are so sweet and friendly and have really done the place up right! It’s clean and organized and the store goes on for miles. They have an extensive collection of old books, super cheap records, and typewriters to boot! I got a Hall & Oates record for $3.50 which I would have gotten for five times that amount at another record store that I visit from time to time.

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Retrospect Vintage Store

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Retrospect-Vintage-Store-189142077953204/

If your taste is a bit old school like mine and 60s/70s era doodads strike your fancy (I’m talkin’ macrame plant hangers, plaid couches and matching Pyrex sets), this place is especially for you. Retrospect looks like a scene straight out of That 70s Show. When I stopped in for the first time, it was a gorgeous sunny day and I could hear their 60s tunes spilling through the open doors. They have a large selection of vintage clothing and funky dishware that would make Austin Powers himself green with envy.

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If these mushroom cookie jars and baby blue tuxedo don’t make you want to visit the shop, I don’t know what will.

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Does anyone else remember these macrame owls hanging in your grandparent’s houses?

Tea & Treasures

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/teatreasures/?ref=br_rs

Daniel, my mom and I passed by Tea & Treasures on our way back from a BBQ lunch in Maryville and we immediately turned the car around because we were intrigued by this big, white Victorian and what might be inside. We were greeted by a little red cart stacked high with books parked by the sidewalk that winds its way up to the front porch. Once inside, we grabbed some refreshments while we browsed the upstairs and downstairs of the old house. The shop sells mostly local artisan crafts such as the coasters I mentioned earlier, that are made by Set in Stone Sisters. The coasters feature historic buildings and landmarks in Knoxville such as the Tennessee Theater, the big JFG coffee sign in South Knoxville and the Sunsphere. We have two of them sitting on our own coffee table at home. The shop is located in Vestal off Martin Mill Pike.

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Bearden Antique Mall

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BeardenAntiques/

This is a great place for anyone who has a little extra dough to spend on big ticket items such as a dining room set, living room furniture or a solid wood headboard. However, they do have some smaller items for sale on the first floor like these two typewriters. Even if you’re just there to browse, the Bearden Antique Mall is worth checking out simply to walk on the creeky wooden floorboards on the second floor. Nostalgia and Vintage Treasures are just a short drive from here, so you can visit all three if you’ve got a free afternoon on your hands.

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You’ll want to follow these shops on Instagram as well so that you can see their most recent items for sale. The majority of these shops post new things every day and following them on social media will give you a good idea of what they each carry in store as well as some cool events that they take part in every year!

What are your favorite antique stores? If there are any I didn’t mentioned who should have been, recommend them in the comments below for future exploration!