October 29, 2011

It’s the weekend! Although I really can’t say the week was too hard – my hours have been reduced for a couple of weeks until one of my co-workers leaves for another job on November 7th. This week I only logged 18 hours, which was fun at the time, but getting a paycheck for last week will not be as fun as my normal paychecks! Ghost, however, had a nice, productive week:

All ready for the work day!

Eric and I have been taking advantage of the lovely weather by……………. watching movies. Okay, so we really need to get out and hike. We have gone on a couple walks, and if you count going from the car to the gym and from the car to our apartment, we’ve spent some time outside. But I’d really love to take more advantage of the gorgeous weather and hit the Smokies! Penciling this into my planner…

This weekend ended up being the weekend to try some amazing new (and some tried and true old) recipes. Pinterest has led me to all kinds of blogs where people blog about new recipes they’ve tried. And I’m quite the sucker for a good recipe and some good food.

The first thing I HAD to try as soon as I saw a good tutorial, was homemade sushi. And let me tell you, it did not disappoint. I took a trip to the local Asian market. I didn’t expect all the ingredients to be so tricky to find. The imitation crab meat, cucumber, and avocado was easy… the Nori (dried seaweed) and sushi rice… not so easy. But I found it and bought it and made my way home to try.

The first roll I made was WAY too fat. I ate it to destroy evidence. Then the second time was a charm, because it turned out amazingly! My pretty sushi is wrapped up in the fridge because my first failed batch left me feeling quite full. Here are some pictures of the process:

My second attempt at spreading rice

All rolled up - much better than the first one

Me with the finished product!

My second experiment was with the brownies I talked about in the last post. They turned out well, although they weren’t much better than any ordinary brownies. After I made them, I realized I feel guilty when I eat too many sweets, and that is exactly what these brownies will do. Oh well, still fun to try!

Cookies 'n' Cream Oreo Fudge Brownies

Well, everything is going well with us. Work is good, life is good, and we are good! I am anxiously awaiting the first time we will have trick-or-treaters at OUR own place and in anticipation, went and loaded up on Halloween candy. Sadly, I have eaten about 1/5 of that candy. It needs to be put up higher so I can’t get to it. Eric would say that somehow, I’d find a way to eat it. However, there’s enough left for the trick-or-treaters and I’m excited to turn on our light and see all the cute little costumes!

Eric and me with our trick-or-treat candy!

We hope everyone is doing wonderfully and are so excited to come home on the 12th of November for Emily’s musical & birthday. We hope to spend time with all of you and catch up. We hope your upcoming weeks go by smoothly and we’ll see you soon!

– Jessica

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October 27, 2011

Ok, here is the deal. In my grocery shopping endeavors, I have tried and tried to buy healthy foods… to not stock up on the snacky food and to buy as many plumbs as I can eat (my favorite healthy snack). But I have a major craving for some sweets. I haven’t baked in weeks, and so I’ve decided I’m going to indulge in something amazing since it’s been so long since I’ve had a cupcake or cookie.

If I’m going to indulge in one thing for the next couple weeks, it’s gonna be something good. So I scoured my pinterest boards (if you don’t know pinterest, I would highly recommend it… it’s hard to explain, but it’s basically a place to “pin” lots of cool ideas, recipes, pictures, etc. that you love)… and I found these:

Delicious Brownies

These are called cookies & cream oreo fudge brownies. And here is the recipe:

1 box Brownie Mix
eggs & oil (as called for by the brownie mix)
1  heaping half cup (6 oz) Cookies & Cream ice cream
1/4 Cup hot fudge  topping (chilled or room temp)

Preheat oven & spray an 8×8 baking dish generously with cooking spray.  Combine brownie mix, eggs, and oil as directed on the back of the box, but do  not add the water. Add ice cream and hot fudge to the brownie batter and stir to  combine. Pour half of the brownie batter into the baking dish, layer with Oreos,  then top with remaining batter. Bake for 40-50 minutes or as directed on the  back of the box.

For the full page with pictures and a better tutorial, go here: http://www.kevinandamanda.com/whatsnew/new-recipes/cookies-n-cream-oreo-fudge-brownies.html

So that is it, folks. My next “project”. Of course it’s food. I love food. So I shall make this recipe this weekend, then share the results. And if it’s as delicious as it looks, you should try too!

I’ll update this blog on our lives sometime soon! Hope all is well!

– Jessica

October 16, 2011

The weeks are rushing by as we continue to fall into our routines. Work has been going well, although I know I need something to light a fire under my butt to make me finish my online class. 7 lessons and 1 final to go. After that, it’s hopefully on to substitute teaching and then Lord willing, an actual teacher job.

(If you haven’t noticed, I go back and forth constantly between wanting to teach and not wanting to teach. Because of the site pinterest.com and the hundreds of teaching blogs it has led me to, I now want to teach again! How long will this last?)

The cooler weather has been a welcome change. We haven’t run our air condition for almost a month now, but last night was the first night it was actually COLD in our room – our favorite way to sleep.

Our kittens continue to be a source of entertainment, although Eric and I are both at the point where we would love an animal that would actually listen to us and that is capable of being trained. We are anxiously waiting and saving for a house so that we may be able to get a puppy! For me, though, the cats are still fun and I think Eric doesn’t hate them yet ;-). I’m just glad they are getting along. It’s nice to know they both have a friend to play with while we are at work all day.

The Two Trouble Makers

This past weekend was my birthday and Eric and I have had a very fun weekend! On Saturday, I opened presents and then Eric came with me to run errands, which was a nice change from running errands on my own. In the evening, we went out to eat at Wasabi and I decided to splurge and get the regular meal AND sushi… I love their sushi!

On Saturday afternoon, Eric and I finally got around to carving a pumpkin for Halloween. We decided on “The Nightmare Before Christmas” theme and were really happy with how it turned out. I love carving pumpkins and it was a fun birthday activity!

Our Jack-O-Lantern

On pinterest, I keep seeing projects I would LOVE to do myself for our house decor. This week, I want to focus on one and see if I can actually get it finished. Here’s the idea:

The first atlas cut out is of the first place you met your husband. The second, where you married or where your first home was. The third cut out is where you honeymooned. I think it looks like such a cute idea and it looks like it could be a fairly cheap DIY.

Other than that, nothing much has been happening. Our lives aren’t the most exciting ones, but we are still having fun and enjoying Knoxville. We anxiously await the next time we are able to come home, but for now are enjoying our slow-paced, relaxing weekends. Until next time!

– Jessica

October 8, 2011

I am praising the Lord for a nice, relaxing weekend! I am lounging on the couch with a blanket and all the windows open… and Eric is sitting with a cup of tea and a book. It feels like the perfect day!

Somehow even though I was JUST sick, I’m getting another cold (I’m sure it’s due to my job and the 2-year-olds) and so I plan on taking it easy this weekend, drinking lots of fluids, and feeling better before Monday! You will find me on the couch a LOT this weekend and that is perfectly fine by me!

Last night one of my best friends from home, Jessica Pease, stopped by on her way home (she’s at school in Illinois) and we got to talk and see a little bit of Knoxville. It was SO nice to hang out with one of my good friends here in Knoxville! Eric and I have been continuing to make friends at church, but we still both really miss our best friends from home/college! But seeing Pease was a lot of fun and I’m so glad she was able to stop by!

Our kitten, Ghost, seems to have something wrong with him and we’re a little curious what is going on. He keeps making a coughing/hacking noise and we can’t figure out what is wrong with him. It sounds like he is stuffed up so maybe it’s a cold (can cats get colds??) or some sort of asthma. But it’s been interesting to hear hacking noises from our kitten out of the blue. I hope he gets better on his own really quickly!

Work has been going well, but I’ve begun thinking about searching for something else. I’m not sure what exactly I’m looking for, but I’m hoping that the Lord opens up something for me because I don’t know at all what I would choose for myself! I guess we will see where I end up. My online class is almost finished and I’m really hoping to officially have my degree by December. I need to keep plugging away at that…

Well, next week is my birthday and while I am sad to be missing Kelly’s wedding, I am excited for a fun weekend here in Knoxville. I’m hoping this next week flies by!

I guess it’s about time to finish doing laundry and then go back to lounging! Hope everyone has a wonderful, relaxing weekend.

– Jessica

October 2, 2011

The thing that Eric and I have been most excited about recently is fall weather! We are loving the 60 and 70 degree temperatures and have been ready for this season for a while now!

The past weekend we got to go to the wedding of a good friend of mine, Bia Stoltzfus. The wedding was in Ohio and it was outside. The rain held off and the ceremony, in Bia’s backyard, was gorgeous!

Walking down the aisle!

This weekend, Eric’s brother, Todd, came to visit and we got to go to a concert of one of our favorite bands, Explosions in the Sky. The band is an all-instrumental (sort of rock) band and it was a great concert! We were really upset to find when we got out of the concert, however, that our car had been towed! Other than that, we had a really fun time and were glad to be able to make it to the concert, which was in Asheville, North Carolina (about 2 hours from Knoxville). The rest of this weekend has been very relaxing and it’s been fun spending time with Todd.

As much fun as these weekends have been, we are still really excited for our first completely free weekend next week. We’re ready for life to slow down just a little bit!

I’ve been working full time at the daycare and it’s been an experience. I’m glad for a job, but I’m ready for the next job! 2-year-olds are just crazy. But the job has gotten more into a routine and I don’t dread going to work. I will also start a new schedule next week where I work a little less. I was really glad for this because I find that it’s really hard to get cooking and housework done while working 40 hours a week! So starting next week I’ll only be working 36 hours a week – I’m really excited about it.

Other than our busy lives, we have just been having fun with our new kitten and with our small group. We had a game night with our small group the other night and played “The Newlywed Game” and “Balderdash”. It was a lot of fun! And we still love our kitten, Ghost, although he is having trouble figuring out where the litter box is! We come home to many surprises left in the corner…

Ghost

Overall we are enjoying life and falling into a routine. We are still really liking Knoxville and it has been really fun to discover fun things to do around here. The place we’ve frequented the most has been the 2 dollar theater – it’s fun to be able to go to the movies and not pay an arm and a leg for 2 movie tickets!

We hope to have some more fun updates in the future. I hope to have more time with my new schedule next week! I’ll write as soon as I get a chance!

– Jessica