January 10, 2012

This past month has been very busy but packed with so many good things! It was especially fun to spend my first Christmas season married to Eric and having our own Christmas traditions!

We started out with something that probably won’t become a tradition, but was still so much fun and I wouldn’t mind doing it again in the future. Eric and I had signed up to run a 5k called the Santa Hustle – Smokies. So what we got to do was dress up as santas and run 3.1 miles with hundreds of other people dressed up as santas! We didn’t train very well so placed JUST outside of the top 100, but we still had a lot of fun and finished with a decent score.

Two Tired Santas

Both Eric and I got to take 3 days off of work, so that combined with the time off we automatically got for the holidays meant we got to go home for a whole week! We loved spending time at home with our families. Eric’s brother’s wife was due to have their third baby even before we got home, but she ended up being induced two weeks after her due date because little Levi just wasn’t ready to be born! We were sad to have missed meeting Levi Steven, but we still were so glad to get to spend time with both sides for Christmas. We got to eat Christmas dinner with the Fitzgeralds, see the light display where we got engaged last year, open gifts with both of our families, and just spend some quality time with everyone being lazy and doing nothing important at all! We both would love a break like that again already!

Ezekiel & Adelaide opening gifts!

Going back to Knoxville, however, wasn’t as disappointing as usual this time because three days after we got home, Eric went to pick up our little puppy, Samson! This may seem like the worst idea with two cats already taking over our apartment, but we love Samson and he has been the best little puppy! He has been very easy to housebreak, and even though the cats don’t feel the same way, he is excited to have two little playmates wondering around the house. My biggest frustration with Samson has been how much he chews… on everything! On our feet, on the table, on my bags, on Eric’s power cord (which, by the way, cost $70 to replace! Ridiculous…), and on just about everything he can get his teeth on. We love him though and supply him with a large supply of chew toys and are just trying to teach him there are only certain things he’s allowed to chew on!

Our new cutie!!

We’ve settled back into the routines of our jobs but can’t wait to have another excuse to come home! This week we will host our small group and this weekend will probably make a little trip to the Smokies so that I can FINALLY write a paper that I need to write for my Earth Science class and be DONE WITH IT.

This month Eric and I will have been married for 6 months! Such a short time, but I feel blessed to have spent this time married to such a wonderful man! His birthday is on Thursday and we will hopefully spend it relaxing and eating fried chicken (his only food request)! We hope all is well with everyone back home and we can’t wait to see you all again soon!

– Jessica

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December 4, 2011

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmaaaaaaaas! I, for one, am very happy about this. Our tree is up, we have lights and greenery all over the apartment, and our air wick wall plugins smell like Christmas! This is my favorite time of the year and I have LOVED preparing for the first Christmas I’ll spend married to Eric! He has been so helpful and accommodating to my overflowing Christmas Spirit.

We didn’t get to go to a big, fun Christmas tree farm to get our tree (we would’ve had to drive at least 30 miles for a place like that around here) so we found a place selling them here in town and this place delivered, which was perfect for us since we both have tiny little cars. I wasted no time at all decorating as soon as the tree was delivered and was pretty satisfied with the result!

Our tree!

I even convinced Eric to take a picture with me in front of the tree… although I managed to cut off his head. Oops!

Sorry, Eric...

The weird thing about this December is that temperatures have been in the mid 60s here in Knoxville! I don’t remember ever experiencing temps like this in the month of December. I am loving it, though… this is my absolute favorite weather! Cool enough for a jacket, but not so cold that it’s unbearable to be outside. I love it.

We had a wonderful time being home for Thanksgiving and eagerly anticipate coming home for Christmas. We will both get an entire week off from work so we can’t wait to come home and relax! We will come home Tuesday evening (the 20th) and leave the following Tuesday (the 27th). The longer we get to be home, though, the more eager we are to be home permanently. We’ve loved our time in Knoxville and will stay here for as long as the Lord wants us here, but we miss our families and friends.

Our Santa Hustle 5k is next Sunday and I am so excited to run in my first 5k! I know I won’t get a great time, but this is all for fun so I’m excited to run next Sunday. Hopefully this is the first of many 5ks! Eric and I have been in the gym a lot lately (ok… Eric is at the gym a lot all the time. For me it has just been lately!) and I’ve been trying to live a healthier lifestyle. However, when the only desserts in our house are yogurt and Special K bars, I start to crave lots and lots of sweets. So here’s to hoping I can keep this healthy thing up!

The only other thing going on with us is something I decided to do last minute. I read this blog article: http://www.thedatingdivas.com/tara/the-spouse-christmas-countdown/ and decided I wanted to do a Christmas countdown! So day by day Eric has been reading a piece of paper giving a compliment, offering a service, or suggesting an activity. It has been fun to open them because I mixed them all up and it’s a surprise to me too! It’s been such a fun project and it may be something I do every year, hopefully including kids in that tradition some day!

Christmas Countdown!

Well, the weekend is almost over and work soon begins. I hope all is well with everyone and we can’t wait to be home to see friends and family! Merry almost Christmas!

– Jessica

November 18, 2011

This cold weather has me feeling festive and happy! Eric and I are both really looking forward to the holidays (I more than Eric I suppose… I am a huge Christmas fanatic)! We are especially ready to be home for Thanksgiving to eat the wonderful food that our family will prepare!

We were lucky enough to get home this past weekend for Emily’s 18th birthday and her musical. We had a lot of fun and Emily did a wonderful job in the play – I was happy to get to see (possibly) her last musical. We enjoyed fondue with my family for her birthday celebration.

Fondue!

I got to see baby Evalee again and catch up with Lauren, which is always a blessing. When I am with my best friends, it makes me wish we were a little closer to home… but we are still enjoying our time here in Knoxville meeting new people. It was so good to see my “honorary niece” though!

Lauren, Evalee, and me

Work for both of us is still just work. We are both searching for something “better” but waiting for the Lord to show us where He wants us! Right now we are content and still enjoying married life. I’m looking forward to lighting a fire in our fireplace for the first time this weekend and setting up Christmas decorations as soon as we get back from being home for Thanksgiving. I’ve held off on the Christmas spirit for Eric’s sake! But I am hoping to go to a Christmas tree farm and get a real Christmas tree… if Eric can put up with that then I’ll be a happy wife! 🙂

A “date night” that I am hoping to do this next week is go shopping together for Operation Christmas Child boxes! Last year I did this with my roommates and had a lot of fun putting together these shoe boxes… this year I’m going to try and make a date out of it with Eric!

I am JUST getting over a 2-week-long sinus infection so I’m very excited to be getting my energy back! Maybe that means a fun and productive weekend.

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend and we can’t wait to see you all for Thanksgiving! We are both so thankful for all of our friends and family and are very anxious to spend time home with everybody! We’ll see you soon!

– Jessica

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

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