Saturday, October 13, 2012

Feeling Fall

Today was the perfect fall day. In the morning, it was crisp and cool. The afternoon was warm and sunny. The leaves are changing and the air smells fresh and cool. Mmmmm, I love fall more than anything. Fall means a fresh start. Fall means tailgates, football, Keeneland, and holidays. Fall means delicious food and family time. Fall means cozy sweaters and cute boots. What could be better??

We have been in full on fall mode at the Bell house (or 420 sq. ft. apartment). The scentsy is filled with whipped pumpkin or baked apple pie. We've stopped by the neighborhood grow shop for pumpkins and mums.

We've taken walks among the changing leaves. 
We opted to paint, rather than carve.

We've baked pumpkin goodies.

We've sipped hot chocolate.

We've munched on candy corn.

We've donned our UK blue and Cowboys tees to cheer on our teams.

And what says fall more than apples??
I'm on a quest to find my favorite type. I will let you know how it goes. 

If only it could stay fall forever...

Until next time,
J and M

OH YEAH- This week is my student teaching solo week...wish me luck!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Crazy Dog People

Yes, we are those crazy dog people and we are not scared to admit it.

With a face like this, how could we not be??
I think our friends and family would have to agree. We talk to her like she knows what we are saying, which she does. When Jake goes to the store, he gets treats for her instead of me. We take her on adventures as much as possible. We live for the days we can sleep in and snuggle with her. A typical dinner conversation consists of what she we think she is thinking or what she would say if she could talk. Every time we leave, Jake has to say goodbye to her for at least 5 minutes.

Anyway, the point of this blog post isn't to talk about how crazy we are or how cute Lexie is, but to share a funny but weird happening. Lexie has always been a hoarder. When she was a puppy, she had a nest under my bed where she would keep lots of weird things like wrappers and clothing. Last year, she started an even weirder habit. Whenever I left, she would put my shoes on the bed. It freaked me out at first, because I thought she was going to chew my shoes, but she never has. To this day, without fail, when I get home, my shoes are on the bed. Now, it's mostly Jake's flip flops he leaves around the apartment. I am not sure why she does it. I researched it, and discovered shoes hold a lot of our personal scent. I am guessing she misses us when we leave and likes to snuggle and smell our shoes. Now, she even puts Jake's flip flops on the bed when I am home. I walk in the room and she is on the bed, snuggling one of Jake's shoes. Jake and I have considered calling an animal psychic to figure out why she does it, but I guess we will just always have to wonder.

Don't believe me?

Yep, she's weird. I guess we are just one little, weird family.

Until next time,
J and M (and L)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

For the Love of Cooking

As I said in my previous post (if you actually read the entire thing), I am in love with cooking right now. I know this will make my grandma and my mom happy, who have both taught me well. I love everything about cooking. I love the shopping, the preparation, the final product, and have even learned to enjoy the clean up. Grocery shopping is such an enjoyable thing for me. I can wander around the aisles looking at things and thinking up wonderful dishes. I have also developed an unhealthy obsession with Trader Joe's. If you haven't been, go. RIGHT NOW. It is fabulous. Some people have the misconception that it is expensive, but they are wrong. Some things might be, but some things are actually cheaper and yummier than in grocery stores. For example, their hummus is delicious and only $1.99, where it is around $2.99 at Kroger.

A few Trader Joe's products I love:
-whole wheat pizza dough
-lavash chips
-guilt-free guacamole
-yogurt pretzels
-roasted coconut chips
-veggie sticks
-sun-dried tomato hummus

I have learned that cooking for a boy is a lot different than cooking for myself. Jake loves his meat. And he loves his comfort foods just as much as I do. He likes to eat clean, but he also likes to eat very hearty. He can afford tons of calories because of how much he works out, but I cannot. I have learned how to cook healthy and still make things he likes. I secretly do enjoy the nights when he works late and I can cook some things that I know he won't like or won't be hearty enough for him.

As much as I love my comfort foods like mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese, I figured that with my newly acquired free time, I had no excuse not to eat healthy. I have been religiously scouring blogs and pinterest for healthy eating tips and recipes. I have learned that eating healthy really isn't that difficult. It is all about cutting out processed foods and incorporating fresh, quality ingredients. My main problem is that I really hate recipes. I think I got this from my mom. I like to do my own thing and wing it. I hate having to go to the grocery store to buy very specific things for a recipe that I might never use again. I like to take what I have in my pantry already and make something. I kind of put my own spin on recipes, which sometimes works and sometimes does not.

Here are some wonderful, healthy meals that I have made recently

Trader Joe's whole-wheat pizza dough, low-fat turkey pepperoni, reduced-fat cheese, and garlic. Pizza is one of my weaknesses, so this recipe gives it a healthy spin without losing any flavor. Not to mention the pizza dough is only $1!

Quinoa pizza bites

Greek-yogurt chicken broccoli Alfredo. Yummm. I found this recipe on pinterest and kind of did my own thing with it. It turned out a lot better than I expected. It is also one of the first pastas I have cooked completely from scratch. I have made it a couple times now. 

The past couple of days I have given in and made some not so healthy but oh so good baked goods

I had seen a very easy recipe for a crusty bread on a blog I read. Check out her recipe here. I am a serious sucker for bread, and when I saw how easy it was, I knew I had to try it. I burnt the bottom a little bit, so I can't wait to try it again.

This picture does not do it justice. I need to work on my food photography skills. 

Fall is here! Of course pumpkin anything is a given. These pumpkin bars are fabulous!!  I had a hard time not eating the whole pan by myself. 

I don't plan on becoming a food blogger or anything, but I do want to share some of my kitchen success, so stay tuned!

If only I could go to culinary school. A girl can dream.

Until next time,
J and M

lovin' life

Right now, life is perfect. I say this because I really do not have much to complain about (except for the fact that I am sitting at home with strep throat while writing this post.) Do not take this the wrong way, I am not trying to brag. I just want to document this time in my life so later down the road when life gets tough, which it undoubtedly will, I can look back and remember the simple things that make me happy.

Why is life so perfect you ask? Honestly, I feel like the last couple of years, I have spread myself too thin. College will do that to you. I have taken 15-18 credits a semester, 20-25 hours at the very hectic Starbucks on campus, tons of observation hours, club volleyball, a social life, and then some wedding planning thrown in there. These were all wonderful things, but I felt like I never really had time to sit back and enjoy all the great things I had going on. I always felt tired and stressed and never had time to do other things that I enjoy.

In the spring, I made a huge decision. It might not seem huge to any one else, but it was huge for me. I quit my job at Starbucks so that I could focus on student teaching this fall. Starbucks was a wonderful, but somewhat stressful college job. During the spring, I was working at night until 1 or 2am and then waking up at 6 am and going to my school and teaching all day. I was so tired at my school during the day I did not feel like I was getting everything out of it that I could. I realized that it was more important to focus on my career rather than a college job. It was hard to say goodbye because some of my best friends worked at Starbucks with me and because I would not have any source of income in the fall. I think this was by far the best decision I could have made. I miss it at times, but I have been able to put everything that I have into my student teaching. I also have time to do other things that I love. Yes, most of the time I really miss getting a pay check every two weeks, but money definitely does not buy happiness. Good thing I have a wonderful husband and family to take care of me.

Even though I have the same amount of time as most normal people, I feel like I have all the time in the world right now. I get up around 6 and go to my school and get home around 4. Then I have time to plan lessons, work out, cook, and relax. I even have time to get 8 hours of sleep a night, which hasn't been the case in about 8 years.

 Lesson planning isn't like normal homework. Lesson planning is fun and something I actually want to do. It doesn't feel like a burden or some busy work that a professor has given me. I guess this is good since lesson planning is something that I will be doing for a long time. I love not having to spend hours on papers and other daunting assignments. I can sit on pinterest and look for fun and creative lesson ideas. It doesn't even really feel like I am still in school right now. It also helps that I absolutely love teaching. It is by far the perfect career choice for me. Some days I feel drained and the kids drive me crazy, but every bad day is followed by at least 3 great ones. I love seeing my students succeed and making a difference in their life. Teaching does not even feel like a job, but like a privilege. I do not even mind getting up at 6 am everyday.

I love having time to do things that I enjoy. I have always liked being active, but I have never had a lot of time to actually be active. Lately I have been walking Lexie every day. She has been spoiled that if I do not get a chance to take her on a walk, she pouts. It has been great having a park right down the road with a walking path. We walk or run a few laps and sometimes I let her loose to chase squirrels. She has gone a bit crazy over the squirrels. People at the park love to watch her and see if she can catch a one. It hasn't happened yet, but Jake is convinced it will be any day now.

I have also had the chance to cook EVERY night. I love, love, love cooking. I have decided to take up healthy cooking. I am a sucker for comfort food, so I have been trying to cook lighter and cleaner. I love trying new things and creating a repertoire of go-to foods. Jakes has certainly been enjoying this current obsession. Not all of my cooking experiences are a success, but I have been learning so much. More posts about cooking to come!!

Other things to be happy about:

I love being married. I get to come home every night and be with my best friend. It's corny, but true. We love spending time together at night eating dinner together and watching TV or walking the dog. We love our cute little apartment  and are trying to enjoy every minute of time left here in Lexington.

Jake's TBS date moved from October 22nd to November 5th. It was a bit disappointing because I know  he is so ready to go, but we are trying to look on the brightside. He now has more time in Lexington and less time for us to be apart. He is so excited to start his career in the Marine Corps and is working hard every day to achieve his goals. I am excited to move to Virginia, even though I have no idea what I am going to do for a job. The next couple of years are going to be an exciting adventure for Jake and I.

At first I was worried about living with Jake and being away from my friends. I thought that it would be hard to go from being around them all the time to not seeing them as much. It has actually turned out to be the best of both worlds. I get to hang out with them whenever I want and still get to be with Jake. It helps that I actually have time to devout to hanging out with friends. It also made me appreciate my friends a lot more. They have all made an effort to include me even though I am not around as much.

During times like these, it is important to reflect and realize how lucky you are. I hope that this happiness and appreciation for life can continue for a long time.

Until next time,

J and M

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Somethin' Bout a Truck

At the end of August, Jake finally traded in his trusty Mercury Cougar for a Chevy Silverado. I have never seen him so happy over anything in his life. (Except maybe Lexie, of course) He researched for months and months trying to decide what he wanted. He was back and forth between a truck and a jeep, decided on a truck, and then was back and forth about what kind. Once he decided he wanted a Silverado, he shopped around and found the best deal he could find. If there is one thing I have learned about Jake in the past 5 years of knowing him, it is that he researches before he makes any big decisions. He will sit on the computer for hours looking at his options and reading reviews. He also asks lots of different people their opinion and looks to others who have knowledge on the matter. He doesn't go into anything lightly or decide anything without knowledge and reason. I guess that is why when he told me he wanted to marry me, I knew he was being sincere and that he had thought it through.

I was skeptical about the truck thing at first. I thought it would be a better decision to get a smaller car that was better on gas mileage. Jake told me that every new lieutenant needs a lieutenantmobile. I thought he was making some lame excuse, but when we were in Virginia and driving around The Basic School, sure enough there were nice trucks, jeeps, and SUVs filling the parking lots. He had me convinced. I have to say though, there is something about a boy in a truck that makes you smile.

Pretty cool right??

Until next time,

J and M