Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Recap

Jeremy and I had a nice, relaxing Christmas this year as we stayed at home and didn't have to worry about traveling. It started Friday night with our Christmas Eve dinner. My family always had our "big" Christmas meal on Christmas Eve, as is the Ukrainian tradition. We don't follow all of those traditions listed in the link, but we always eat fish for the meal and no meat. The fish and the meal change every year - this year Jeremy and I had tuna steaks, pierogies, steamed asparagus, and ginger glazed carrots. I was happy to find the pierogies at the store - I didn't really want to go through all the work of making them for just the two of us.



After dinner we played dominoes until it was time to get ready for church. We went to the candle light service and Jeremy was the assistant minister. He was nervous since he's never done it before, but did a good job. (He also got to acolyte, another first!)

We came home and eventually went to bed. Since it was a late night, we slept in on Christmas day. When we finally woke up we opened presents and then lounged around until it was time to go to our friends' house for dinner. A couple from church invited us over and we had a good time getting to know them better. A third couple was supposed to come too but ended up not being able to make it. After the dinner we came home and played dominoes.

Our church was in charge of a free, weekly, community meal in a nearby town on Sunday so after church we headed up there to help. We knew that since it was the day after Christmas there probably wouldn't be that many people attending, but we still had fun and met some new people. After a group of us played dominoes (sensing a pattern? It's our latest addiction and it's more fun with more than two people).

After the dinner we headed home and prepared for the incoming "blizzard." We really didn't end up with too much snow, but it was relaxing to spend the day at home Monday because "we couldn't go out in the snow."

Monday, December 27, 2010

Our First Nor'easter

Jeremy and I are currently snowed in, kinda.



The "blizzard" started last night and is expected to last through today. We're expecting, so I've heard, anywhere from 6 to 14 inches of snow with winds up to 35-55 mph.

Work emailed, and then called, at 9pm last night to tell me not to work today. They don't want us out driving, and since almost everyone has to travel to get to clients' houses, it means we can't work.



Fine by me. I'll sit at home and enjoy another day of vacation!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

University Towns

I never realized how fortunate I was to be affiliated with a university for the past 8 years. I think I took it for granted. Now that I'm not going to or working for a university I realize all the great perks I had. The biggest perk that I took for granted was being able to use a state-of-the-art gym for free (as a student) or for a nominal fee (as staff). I didn't always take advantage of that, but man it was nice to have it there was an option. Baylor had a great indoor pool that I occasionally used. I don't have that available anymore. UT had free classes at the gym. I used to do yoga once or twice a week and I really enjoyed that. Now, nada. I take that back. I do actually have access to the gym at the lab where Jeremy works, but it's 35-45 minutes away so I don't think it's worth it to drive all that way to work out.

Also, I miss have access to cheap, smoke-free, entertainment. The University Center at UT charged $.06/minute for pool and also had good rates on bowling. It was great. Jeremy and I frequently went there to play pool on the weekends when we had nothing better to do. It was also a great place to people watch because undergrads are funny, especially when they're on awkward first dates. Not only did they have cheap pool and bowling, but there was a big screen TV with cable! Since we didn't have cable most of the time we lived in Knoxville, we sometimes went to the UC to watch Baylor games.

In addition, universities always have a wide variety of shows, concerts, plays, lectures, games, etc. Not that we necessarily went to a lot of those, but we did occasionally and it was nice to know we had the option.

Man, I miss living in a university town.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Wreaths

After learning all about wreaths, Jeremy was planning on making one. He even bought a ring and some decorations for it. Then he came home from church with this one:



Our church decorates and sells wreaths every year as a fundraiser for different non-profits and charities in the area. It's pretty fun - everyone stays after church a couple Sundays and we have a potluck before we get to work. I was a "ribbon fluffer" and Jeremy trimmed the wreaths and "supervised" a small child who helped trim. Someone in the area made the actual wreath part. Wreaths are big business up here - people sell them out of their homes even.

So, if you want an authentic Maine wreath for your door next year, let us know! Ours are MUCH cheaper than LL Bean's and we'll ship them to you!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Pretzel Hugs

I love sweet and salty food combinations including, but not limited to, Payday candy bars, salted caramels, and chocolate covered pretzels, which is why I love these fun little Christmas snacks. I'm not sure what their official name is, but pretzel hugs sounds good to me.


I first made these last year for an event at church. I was wanting to make them again this year, but needed a reason. There is no way Jeremy and I can, or should, eat all of them! Finally, I had a reason - we were having a luncheon of sorts after church yesterday. Perfect!

They're really easy to make. Line up pretzel waffles (or pretzel rounds if you can find them) on a cookie sheet, lined with wax paper. While you're doing that, get your husband (or someone else) to unwrap all the hugs and set those on top of the pretzels.


Cook at about 275 for 2-3 minutes. These were in for 3 minutes, but probably should have come up a bit earlier.


Place an m&m on top and smash down. Put in the fridge to cool and harden. Eat and enjoy.

(Note, I didn't line my cookie sheet with wax paper and it was hard to get them off. Once I found my pastry scraper it was a lot easier, but I'd recommend using the wax paper for less headaches.)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Homemade Eggnog

One of the reasons I love this time of year is simply put, eggnog. The only problem is that Golda will never let me buy any. This is probably good, cause I'd drink gallons of it and have a heart attack before Christmas. So, what's a guy to do? Easy - make it myself!

Recipes are pretty easy to find, I used one in Golda's copy of Joy of Cooking that actually cooks the eggs. I also swapped in less heavy cream and 2% milk to try to make it a little bit healthier. Topped it off with some Captain Morgan and a little nutmeg, and I'm in heaven.


Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 06, 2010

New Year's Resolutions Revisited

I made two Resolutions for 2010:

1) Make a new recipe every week
2) Eat more pizza

I stopped keeping track of the first one in about March-April, but I still tried to cook something new every week. I didn't accomplish this always, especially with moving half way through the year, but I did find some new recipes I really enjoy and have now worked into our meal rotation.

The pizza resolution, I must say, was my best resolution ever. I enjoyed trying to keep this all year. I've had some memorable pizzas this year.

Best New Homemade Pizza:
Beet Pizza

Worst New Homemade Pizza:
Scallop Pizza

Most Unique New Homemade Pizza:
(Tie) Jambalaya Pizza (My half only had shrimp)
(Tie) Breakfast Pizza with Pesto Sauce, Scrambled Eggs, and Monterey Jack Cheese

Most Commonly Made Homemade Pizza (non-CSA box):
BBQ Pizza with Assorted Veggies

Most Commonly Made Homemade Pizza (CSA box):
Pesto Pizza with Assorted Veggies (We got a TON of basil every week)

Best New Pizza Joint We Visited (Knoxville):
Hard Knox Pizza, hands down. So sad we can't eat there anymore!

Best New Pizza Joint We Visited (Ellsworth):
(Tie) Finelli's (NY Style)
(Tie) Charlie's (Greasy, Comforting, and Cheap)

Saddest Pizza
(Tie) Goodbye Hard Knox pizza with Mary Beth and Steve
(Tie) Last pizza from Red Onion in our house in Knoxville the night before we left, eaten on the floor because everything was packed

Most Exciting Pizza:
Hard Knox Buffalo Chicken Pizza (minus the chicken) while watching my Baylor Bears in the NCAA basketball tournament. Delicious, plus we won!

Best Date Night Pizza:
Pizza from Orono House of Pizza while listening to the Baylor Bears beat K-State to become bowl eligible for the first time in 14 years. Eaten in Jeremy's office on campus, followed by a UMaine v. North Dakota Hockey game.


I still have about three weeks left of the year to get some more pizza in. All I have on my schedule is the Pizza Hut lunch buffet and at least one more homemade pizza. The lunch buffet takes me back every time. It reminds me of when my dad would take us to Pizza Hut for lunch when we didn't have school in middle/high school.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Decision Matrices

For a while now I've been trying to decide between getting a toaster oven or a stand mixer. I've been going back and forth on this. Finally, I put it up on facebook and got a bunch of responses from people who were either pro-toaster oven or pro-stand mixer. It was pretty entertaining actually. I still wasn't able to decide after asking my friends since people were about evenly divided on the subject. I figured it was time to make a decision matrix.

Decision matrices are awesome. I first learned about them in my econ class in high school. Basically, they are a chart that helps you make a decision between two or more options. I talked about them in a couple of my undergrad classes as a method for making decisions. No one knew what I was talking about but my Econ professor got REALLY excited and asked me all about them. I think everyone else just thought I was a nerd. I don't care, they're very useful.

Here is my decision matrix about toaster ovens and stand mixers:


Amount I'll Use It Time Saved Electricity Saved Versatility Storage Space Taste of Results Total
Toaster Oven 2 2 2 1 1 2 10
Stand Mixer 1 1 1 2 2 1 8


You put your choices on one side and all the factors on the other, basically, then decide which option "wins" that category. Add up the numbers to get the total and you have what your decision should be. Here, I have decided that I should get the toaster oven. I didn't add some other important factors like "ability to cook pizza" or "ability to cook two cookies at a time" but I thought about it.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thanksgiving and more

After a week+ of misery, I'm finally feeling better. I kept feeling somewhat better last week, but then I'd feel horribly again.

Because of all this, Jeremy and I decided to keep Thanksgiving low key and just do a few side dishes and one dessert.

Here's as picture of most of the food:



That's green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, Jeremy's famous sweet potato souffle, dressing, and a roll. I guess we didn't get a picture of the pumpkin pie cheesecake.

I wasn't feeling particularly well that day, but managed to make my assigned dishes. As I was kneading the dough for the rolls I got really tired and exhausted. That's when I knew I was still pretty sick. We got through dinner and as I was laying on the couch that night I knew I wasn't going to be able to work the next day as was planned. I hate taking sick days. I managed to never take one in the three and a half years I worked at the University of Tennessee. Then again, I was never really sick then so that helped. It was a good thing I didn't try to work Friday - I was miserable! I laid on the couch all day watching Gilmore Girls and movies on TV. I also had a low fever. Luckily, when I woke up Saturday I was feeling much better - good enough to even leave the house! Since then I've been feeling progressively better. Now all I have is a cough, other than that I'm basically fine.

Jeremy has managed to not be sick this entire time. I don't know how he does it. My guess is that he was still in California when I was most contagious. I'm glad he didn't get sick - who would have gone to the store to get me Nyquil, and Tussin, and Vicks VapoRub, and most importantly, chocolate?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Blah

Not much has been going on around here recently. Jeremy left for California for a week and I did a whole lot of nothing. Then he came back and I immediately came down with the Cold That Won't Go Away so I've been doing a whole lot of nothing. I used to never get sick, then I started working with kids. Ugh. I thought I was so great when I managed to miss the first round of illness in mid-September. Then I got the flu toward the end of October and now this cold. To be fair, I don't think I got the flu from my kids since Jeremy came down with it first. I'm totally blaming them for this cold though, seeing how almost ALL of my clients have been sick in the past two weeks.

Yesterday I was feeling a lot better so I went to work. Turns out talking to kids for 7.5 hours will do a number on your already somewhat sore throat. I could barely talk by the time I got home. I didn't feel well today and was contemplating taking a sick day when I found out I couldn't see my only client anyways today because of some paperwork that needs finalized. A nice relaxing day has been pretty nice.

The other night I was watching Highlander with Jeremy. I wasn't really watching, but in the room. He's been watching the entire series on Netflix lately. At some point I decided to go to bed. I took some Nyquil and settled down with Eclipse, which I will admit I borrowed from my supervisor. She got the whole "not-wanting-to-get-it-from-the-library-cuz-I'm-too embarrassed" thing and gladly loaned me hers when I was up in Bangor last week. Anyways, the combination of Highlander, Eclipse, and Nyquil led to a very strange dream about vampires and immortal-headslaying children duking it out.

I no longer mix my sci-fi before bed.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Quite Alarming

It turns out that even when Jeremy isn't here, he can manage to wake me up in the morning with his alarm.

Neither Jeremy nor I are morning people. And that's an understatement. When we lived in Knoxville, I had to get up earlier than him most mornings. That has all changed and he usually has to get up before me now. He is also a snoozer. It drives me CRAZY to hear his alarm go off three times in the 6:00 hour. And I make sure he knows this. He has gotten to the point where it only goes off twice now, usually. Although some of those times he thinks it only goes off once since he is still asleep when he hits snooze. Oh, and have I mentioned how loud his alarm is? It's very loud. I don't know how it doesn't wake him up sometimes. My alarm starts out very quietly and progressively gets louder - Jeremy doesn't even hear it usually when I do have to wake up before him.

So all that to say, Jeremy's alarm drives me crazy. He left Thursday morning for a conference in San Diego. Wednesday, in order to pack, he had to get his luggage out of the storage space in our room. Somehow, while he was in there, he must have bumped something because Friday morning at 8am I woke up to a beeping noise (I had to get up and leave early Thursday also so I didn't hear the beeping then). It took me a while to locate where the beeping was coming from, and by the time I realized it was in our storage space it had stopped. I contemplated getting up then but decided to go back to bed for 30 minutes or so. Ten minutes later the beeping started again! Since I knew it would eventually stop, I stayed in bed and covered my ears.

I told Jeremy about this when I talked to him on the phone later that day but he didn't know what it was. It happened again Saturday, and again I wasn't amused. I told him again about it Saturday, this time mimicking the noise, and he realized that it was his old alarm clock, which was in a bin in the storage space. Sure enough, I climb into the storage space (no easy feat) and find the offending clock. My morning was much better today without an extra alarm to wake me.

Monday, November 08, 2010

When in Maine, eat seafood.

Jeremy has really embraced seafood since moving to Maine. He liked it before, but now he's trying out all these new recipes since we have so much fresh, cheap, seafood at our fingertips. You may remember the lobster rolls we made earlier in the fall, all his idea.

Then about a month of so ago he decided he wanted to make some haddock chowder for dinner one night while I was working. It was excellent.

About two weeks ago he saw mussels on sale and couldn't resist. Here they are (don't mind the ugly pot):







Neither of us had ever eaten mussels before. They were pretty good, but both agreed that we probably won't be eating them often.

I fully support Jeremy's quest in new seafood adventures because it means I get a break from cooking dinner every once in a while. (Although I do enjoy cooking, it's nice to have a night off sometimes, plus Jeremy enjoys getting the night off from washing dishes if he cooks!)

Monday, November 01, 2010

Saying Goodbye

Jeremy and I found out this weekend that a dear friend of ours from Knoxville passed away. It wasn't a total surprise - he was 90 and we knew that he was in the hospital, but it still hurts. Gerhard was one of those people who you thought would live forever.

Since moving to Maine a few months ago, Jeremy and I will go over all the people in Knoxville we miss. Gerhard and his wife were always near the top of that list. They went to our church and we were fortunate enough to get to know them in the four years we lived there. They were both very active in everything. They were both on the Social Ministry and Outreach commission at church with me. Both delivered meals for Mobile Meals regularly. In fact, a couple of years ago there was an article in the paper about Gerhard's involvement. Some of the people they delivered to were younger than him! They also did all the recycling for our church and Gerhard was a big supporter of an organization I was in called Knoxville Interfaith Network. He was very concerned with the hungry around him and according to others, he's the reason why our church first became involved in Bread for the World. Basically, Gerhard did a lot.

He was such an inspiration to both of us. I don't know how many times Jeremy and I have said that we'd like to be like him and his wife when we're older. They were so active! A couple of years ago Gerhard hurt his knee and was on crutches. A few weeks later he was walking again just fine. I was surprised at how fast he bounced back. Not long after that, he and his wife were vacationing in Panama.

Gerhard also always had a smile on his face and a good word to say. Jeremy and I were in a supper club at church with him and his wife and a couple other couples last year. When it was his turn to host, he showed us all his beautiful gardens and the new trees he planted. I was again amazed at how active he was and all the work he could do. I hope I'm like that when I'm 89! He also told us some pretty funny stories during supper club. I won't repeat them here, but trust me, they're a riot.

So it's with sad hearts we say goodbye to Gerhard, even if we can't be there Wednesday for his memorial service. When we got the news of his passing, we paused for a moment, but then we started telling stories about him and our time with him. Things that reminded us of him. He definitely lived a full life worth remembering.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Weekend

Jeremy and I had a fairly busy weekend. Baylor was playing it's homecoming game against K-State Saturday at 3:30. If they won, they'd be bowl eligible. We also had tickets to the UMaine - North Dakota hockey game up in Orono (about an hour away) for 7pm. We decided that we'd go up to Jeremy's office on campus to listen to the football game (since it wasn't being televised) and then walk over to the hockey game after that.

Jeremy decided that since we were headed up to Orono that day, we should stop by Bangor and do some shopping. He was wanting/needing some dress pants and found a coupon for Express online. Since an Express just opened at the Bangor mall (45 minutes away and the nearest place to us to buy things like pants - living in a small town can be rough sometimes), we decided to head up there before listening to the football game. Turns out Express was having some crazy sales. Jeremy ended up buying two pairs of nice pants and I got a pair of earrings - a $140 value and we paid $53!

We ended up only being able to listen to the first half of the football game since lightning delayed it for almost two hours. We had a healthy 10 point lead at the half so I wasn't too worried about losing (a few years ago I would have been - the Baylor team of yore would have found a way to lose, but not this year's team!). We went to the hockey game and I called my dad at intermissions to get updates on the score. He's a K-State fan so he wasn't too thrilled that they lost.

The hockey game was packed! If it wasn't sold out, it was close. It was fun and UMaine won 4-2, beating #2 North Dakota. Here is us after the game - Jeremy thought ahead to wear UMaine colors while I'm sporting my Baylor gear (that you can't see):



We got back pretty late Saturday night so I had to get up early Sunday morning to make an apple-raisin bread for church. It was "blue jean Sunday" at church this week - that is, everyone wears their blue jeans to church and stays after for lunch and to do the fall cleaning.

The weekend definitely went by too fast. Why oh why aren't they longer?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Working at the Food Pantry

October is our church's month to help run the local food pantry. I've gone twice now to volunteer. Mostly I just help people pick out their food and help stock shelves. Spending time there has made me think how blessed Jeremy and I are - we can afford to buy food and buy what we want, for the most part. Now we aren't eating high price items a lot, but we can choose what we want to eat and how we want to eat. It must be really hard if you have to follow a special diet yet are relying on food pantries to help feed yourself or family. While there are some sugar free and gluten free options at the pantry, most of the foods aren't either. Also, there is a lot of meat given to the families, which I'm sure they enjoy. I, on the other hand, wouldn't be able to take a lot of the food given since I don't eat meat (except fish). I am so lucky that I can choose to follow this semi-vegetarian diet and have the means to do so.

I was pleased to see all the fresh fruits and vegetables at the pantry. Some local grocery stores and farmers donate some of their bruised or almost-too-old to sell items. Also, the families can take "as much as they can use" of these items! I thought this was awesome, because too often the foods donated to pantries are overly sugary/fatty/full of sodium. Some of the people bypassed the table completely, but I was pleased to see so many people taking advantage of the fresh fruits and vegetables by loading up and talking about what they were going to make with the giant zucchinis/tomatoes/etc.

The pantry also receives day old desserts such as cakes, pastries, pies, etc. I have found this is completely typical from the work I've done at other pantries and homeless shelters. In Waco, we were always getting tons of cake, but little in the way of nutritious foods. I'm glad there is a nice balance here. Both times I've been at the pantry here there have been some lemon meringue pies. I was surprised to see them go towards the end of the day. I LOVE lemon meringue - I'd totally pick that over cake or pastries any day.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Yet Another Pizza

In my never ending quest to eat new pizzas, I made yet another new one this week. Jeremy brought home a bunch of red peppers from the farm we work at last week and I couldn't decide what I was going to do with them. Yesterday, we were having pizza for dinner and we didn't have enough basil pesto for both pizzas. Suddenly it came to me - I'd roast the peppers and make a red pepper pesto for one pizza.



I was afraid the red pepper taste would be overwhelming, but it isn't. Since I roasted the peppers first, it is a pretty mild taste. I used almonds instead of pine nuts in the pesto since that is what I had. I should have used less olive oil - I forgot that peppers have more water in them than basil so they need less oil. Oh well. I topped it with some mozzarella and I must say it turned out pretty good. Jeremy says it's "okay" but he'd prefer a bbq, tomato sauce, or pesto pizza. Then again, he's not a big red pepper fan. He did eat some though.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Maine's Fall Colors


Summer is basically over now in Maine. I've actually had to wear a coat every day for a while now. One of the best things about summer being over is it means that Fall is here - which means that the leaves are changing everywhere. I cover a good swath of the area, driving between Bangor and Bar Harbor, so I've really gotten to see a lot of them. Last weekend Golda and I finally got around to driving around and taking some pictures.

The University of Maine in Orono has a pretty campus right now. Here's a few shots of the library:




And here's another building nearby that I forget the name to:


Part of the south Bangor waterfront (not really a lot of color, but I thought it was pretty):

And finally back closer to home in Bucksport:




And then a few final photos in a random cemetery in Bucksport (apparently I'm supposed to mention this is my mother-in-laws favorite place). I think it'd pretty awesome to see 4-5 generations of a family all in one place, but I'm sure this is going the way of the buffalo nowadays since it isn't as common to stay close to home now.

Wanna come visit yet?

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Registered and Ready to Go

It only took a few weeks and way too much money, but my car is now fully registered and street legal in the state of Maine. This is the first state I've had a car in that requires a state inspection every year. While getting my car inspected they discovered I needed new struts on all four wheels. Sigh. They did say that everything else looked great, especially for the amount of miles on it. And the mechanics were impressed that there was no rust on the car. That's because the car has lived in Tennessee it's entire life, before moving here. There is no snow in Tennessee, which means no salt on the roads, which means no rust. Also, no oceans and no salt water in Tennessee. Yes, Tennessee is a good place to be a car. Besides all those mountains they must go up and down.

Speaking of struts, Jeremy found out that his new-to-him car needed a new strut (along with other things) this week as well. Luckily, since he's only had the car a month and a half, the dealership he got it at fixed everything for free. They said they should have caught it before they sold him the car. This was such great news to us.

This is also the first state in which I've had a car registered that requires a front plate. Which means I can no longer have my Yooper plate on the front.

This is a sad day indeed. My sister Betsy gave me this plate for Christmas in college and it adorned my Trooper and then my Accord in both Texas and Tennessee. Alas, I've had to take it down. In it's place is a standard Maine Chickadee plate,


as I didn't opt for one of the fancy lobster plates.


Maybe I should have.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Fall Food

Fall foods are my favorite seasonal foods. If cherries were ripe in the fall, it would be perfect since I also love cherry season. Last year I discovered how much I love acorn squash and made it frequently so I was excited to see our first acorn squash of the season in our CSA box this past week. I baked it for dinner tonight with a bit of butter, brown sugar, and maple syrup. Divine. I also have planned our first pumpkin dish of the season for this upcoming week - pumpkin soup. I love soup and I love pumpkin so it's great.

Today I needed to use up the rest of the zucchini we got in our box this week. It seems like it will never end and Jeremy and I are both getting a little tired of eating it. I decided to make some zucchini bread out of it, but we didn't have quite enough so I added in some grated honey crisp apple. Another reason to love fall - honey crisp apples are on sale. These have been my favorite since I first tasted them two years ago.

The bread tastes pretty good, but the texture is a little weird - moist and almost spongy. I think I should have either squeezed out some of the moisture from the apple or maybe added a bit more flour. I'll have to play around with it and see what I can do. At least it tastes fine.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The New Red, White, and Green Pizza

Jeremy and I eat a lot of pizza. I usually make it at least once every two weeks. It's a great way to use up odds and ends of vegetables we have in the fridge. Earlier this summer I was making a pizza with a pesto sauce when I saw some baby beets from our CSA in the fridge. I sliced them real thin and threw them on the pizza, just to see how a beet pizza would taste. Turns out, it's delicious! We got some more beets in our box this week so I made another beet pizza. I also added the beet greens this time. I've done it before when we haven't had enough greens to really do anything else with them. They're pretty good on the pizza too.




Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Dinners

Since school has started for the kids of Maine, my work schedule has shifted so that I mainly work in the afternoons and evenings now. I do in-home therapy and it's hard to do that when the kids aren't actually at home. Gone are the days of summer when they could meet anytime. It's kind of a pain working these hours because I don't get home until about 7:30-8ish most nights. Once I'm home, I'm hungry. I don't want to spend another hour making dinner. Enter the slow cooker. It has become a great friend of mine these past three weeks. At least once a week I've been making something in it so dinner's done by the time I get home and Jeremy and I can eat right away. Most of the meals have turned out decently thus far, but last night's veggie stew was a little lacking. I didn't follow a recipe - I just emptied the vegetable bins in the fridge and added some seasonings. I guess I didn't add enough seasonings because it was a bit bland. Live and learn. At least we used up most of the rest of last week's CSA veggies.

The upside to working mostly afternoons and evenings is that I have a lot of free time in the mornings which allows me to do most of my food prep then. This way, when I get home dinner is mostly ready - just has to be popped in the oven or heated up on the stove. Jeremy has also been a big help with heating up the food so it's ready when I get home.

I really don't see how people with school age kids can do this job. You're never home when they are! I also get why people eat out so often. If you don't like to cook and you get home at 8pm, it makes sense to just go through the drive thru I guess. Thankfully, I like to cook so I'm not going to resort to that. I hope.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Homemade Hand-picked Lobster Rolls and Ginger Ale

We've lived in Maine for 3 and a half months, and realized the other day that we hadn't had a Lobster Roll since then. After realizing this, I also remembered seeing Lobster at the grocery store for only 5.99/lb. And they'll cook it for you for free. Need I say more...


So we bought two small Lobsters and had 'em cooked, and brought them home (along with some Maine-style frankfurter buns):

Now on to the hard part, we had to get all the meat out...

Most people would probably stop at this point, but we wanted to do it true Mainer style, so we dug into all the legs and body and got every last bit of meat out. The results were pretty gruesome:

Mix it up with a dollop of mayo and throw it in a bun and you've got a Lobster Roll. (Sorry for the fuzzy pic, Golda wouldn't let me take another one since she wanted to eat!).


Simply Delicious.

I also made my first batch of ginger ale this week. I found a really simple recipe which we basically already had everything for:
  • 1 C sugar
  • Zest and juice of one lemon
  • 1 inch of ginger, grated
  • 2 T bread yeast (you might want less if you have better yeast/a warmer house - I got impatient)
Add it all to a 2-liter bottle and fill with lukewarm water. Make sure to leave some space at the top. Put the cap on and let it sit somewhere warm for a few days. Make sure to check it regularly to let the gas escape so it doesn't explode (or use a 2L growler like me =) -- if you're lucky enough to have one already). Once it's fizzy enough for you, put it in the fridge and most of the yeast will calm down.

It turned out so well that I might try to make my own root beer or cream soda next. Anyone else have ideas or recipes they use?

Thursday, September 02, 2010

The Heat, Heat, Heat, is Hot, Hot, Hot

It's been miserably hot here all week. Last week was so nice - in the mid to upper 70's every day. This week it's been in the 90's and muggy almost every day. Now I know that doesn't sound hot to all those in the south/mid west, but here, that's hot. It's bad, because if it's 90 outside, that means it's 90 inside too. No one has air conditioning, and if they do, it's just a window unit. Jeremy is a lucky punk, his work has a/c. Since my work is at clients' homes, there is no a/c, and part of my job is to play with kids. I spent all day yesterday (9am-6:30pm) working with kids who kept wanting to play, mostly outside. Needless to say I was exhausted by the time I got home.

Today we had our weekly staff meeting at work and we started it by all telling heat-related stories. One girl said she lives on the third floor of her building and it was 12 degrees hotter inside than it was outside the other night. Another guy said it was 102 inside a house he was working in. Ugh. No thank you. This is Maine - it's not supposed to be like this!

Luckily, the hurricane is headed our way. Everyone I've talked to is very happy about this. I have never met a group of people so excited about a hurricane. They're so happy only because the hurricane is bringing cooler weather with it. The high is 71 on Saturday!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Working from home (and food)

One of the best things about being based out of my home (or car) for work is that I get to eat lunch at home usually. Sometimes there isn't enough time between clients so I have to grab something and eat it on the road, but when I get to eat at home, it's wonderful. I get to eat so many things that I wouldn't be able to pack in a lunch and eat elsewhere. Also, I never have to worry about packing my lunch the night before or that morning in a rush.

Today for lunch I had two poached eggs on a piece of toast, covered in salsa and a blueberry-banana smoothie. I'd never get to eat that anywhere but home for lunch.

There is a downside to this new job though - the hours, especially once school starts for the kids, keep me working late into the evening. This means that I'm going to have to get creative with dinners on those nights. I'm thinking we're going to be eating a lot of crockpot meals.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Living in Vacation Land

Besides the increase in traffic, living in a tourist area can be really annoying. It kind of stinks when you're driving to work in the morning and you see all these cars and campers with kayaks and bicycles on them, driving towards Bar Harbor for a week of vacation fun.

I want to be on vacation and play all day! I don't want to go to work! Take me with you!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Camping and Kayaking

We had a busy weekend this past weekend. So busy that I kept saying Sunday night that I needed a weekend to recover from my weekend. It actually wasn't too bad. We were able to go camping for the first time this summer and the weather couldn't have been better. We ended up at a state park, Cobscook Bay, about 1 1/2 hours from here. Unfortunately, by the time we reserved our site all the good sites on the bay were booked. We did have a "slight view" of the Bay though. Jeremy took this picture while standing on the bench of the picnic table.


You still can't really see the bay, but I promise it's there.

Saturday afternoon Jeremy tried his hand at mystery shopping, which meant we spent all afternoon running around so he could do it. He also had to upload everything by that night so we had to find some free wifi to do that. We then hurried back to our campsite so we could make dinner before dark. That didn't happen. We did have some good grilled pizza and reese's s'mores though.




Sunday morning we had to leave nice and early so we could get back in time for church. We would have just skipped, but we were becoming official members that day so we had to be there. Also, there was a church picnic later in the day. The picnic ended up being at a couple's house back in the direction of the state park so we were driving back and forth on Route 1 all day. At least it's a pretty drive.

Some new friends of ours invited us to their camp after the picnic to kayak. Their camp is on a lake, or what people around here call a pond. Everything is a pond here, no matter the size. We were going to kayak at the picnic, but it was pretty windy on the river so our new friends said we could at their place instead, where it would be calmer. Since this was to be our first time in a kayak, we thought that sounded better.

Kayaking was so much fun and the pond was beautiful. I'm sad we didn't have a camera with us to capture it. We went around a couple of small islands and I was surprised to see that we were pretty much the only people out on the water. I definitely want to do it again sometime. I hope we get the chance.

We finally got home for good Sunday evening and I pretty much collapsed and didn't do anything else. It felt so good.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Blueberries!

It's blueberry season here in Maine which means you can buy wild blueberries practically everywhere. It also means that the blueberry pickers are in the area. We decided that instead of paying $5-6/quart we wanted to pick our own, for $1.50/quart. There was a list of places in the paper where you could pick your own so Jeremy called one and we were on our way.

I wish I got pictures of the picking process. It was a little sketchy. The place of business was a trailer out in the country, with a few other houses around. The houses were all surrounded by wild blueberry fields. The guy Jeremy talked to on the phone told us that he probably wouldn't be there, but to just pick some or talk to someone in the area and they'd tell us where to pick. We were to leave the money in the bucket on the porch.

When we got there, sure enough the guy wasn't there. We knocked on the door of a nearby house and no one was there either so we just started picking. I sure hope that we picked in the correct field and we weren't actually stealing from someone else. We left the money in the bucket so someone got paid at least.

Here is a picture of our bounty, after we picked them over for leaves and stems. We picked about two quarts in all. I'm planning on making a blueberry pie and pancakes out of some of them and freezing what's in the pan.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

"Battle" at Fort Knox

Last weekend Jeremy and I headed to nearby Bucksport for their annual town celebration. Mainly we went to see the reenactment battle they have at (the original) Fort Knox, which is across either a river or bay from town. I never know what body of water I'm looking at up here. It's all very confusing.



We rode a shuttle bus over the new bridge to the fort to watch the Civil War reenactment. Now you might be wondering what Civil War battle occurred this far north in Maine at Fort Knox. None. There was no actual battle. The reenactment was what could have happened if there was a battle. That was the whole reason I wanted to go - to see the reenactment of something that never happened. I kept hoping they'd reenact what actually did happen because it would be funny to have all those people there watching nothing, because that's actually the historical truth.



The reenactment wasn't very interesting. I had never been to one before, and now I don't feel the need to ever go again. At least now I know what all the fuss is about.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Summer Doldrums

About this time every year I get antsy for it to finally be fall. Not because I'm looking forward to the cooler, crisp weather, but because this is the doldrums for sports. By the end of July, Wimbledon has been over for a couple weeks, and this year the World Cup has been over for a while as well. The US Open is still a month off and it's even longer until college football season starts. All we have right now is baseball, and I don't watch baseball on TV. Who does? This past Saturday I was bored - I wouldn't be bored if it was fall! I'd have football to watch (and listen to online when Baylor's games aren't be televised)!

This really is the worst time of year for sports fans.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Jeremy and I have started playing a game when we're both in the car when it's time to get gas. We guess how many gallons we need. That's it, but it's surprisingly fun and we're getting really good at it. The last few times we've played one of us has been with 0.1 of the correct amount. We may have to start guessing to the hundredth soon. We don't play by the Price is Right rules, that is, if you go over you automatically lose. That would make it even more difficult I think. The last time we guessed I was going back and forth between 14.1 and 14.2 gallons, but picked 14.1 because I didn't want to go over (even though we weren't playing Price is Right rules). It ended up being 14.7. Dang it, had I just guessed 14.2 I would have been ever closer. Jeremy recently was within something like .002 of the actual amount of gas.

We may need lives if this excites us, eh?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Boston

Jeremy and I went to Boston this past week. He had a conference to go to and I saw the city while he was listening to talks. It worked out well for me. Boston is only about 4.5 hours from us so the drive wasn't bad at all, that is, until we got into the city. After getting lost once, we found our hotel and settled in.

I got to spend some time with Cecilia while there, since she's a grad student at BU. She showed me around the area we were staying in and we also went to the Science Museum together. That is a pretty cool place. I'd highly recommend it to anyone visiting Boston.

I got a "Boston City Pass" that gave me access to the science museum, sky walk observatory, aquarium, art museum, and either the natural history museum at Harvard or the JFK library for much cheaper than it would be to buy separate passes. I ended up going to all but the observatory and I picked the natural history museum over the JFK library, mainly just to see the Harvard campus. Jeremy was able to accompany me to that one. It was pretty lame and the campus wasn't as impressive as I expected it to be either. The art museum was my favorite attraction (I would also highly recommend it). It was HUGE and they're adding on another big wing. The aquarium wasn't the best I've been to. It was rather small and overrun by small children so it was hard to see a lot of fish. They do have a rather impressive penguin exhibit though.

We celebrated Jeremy's birthday while there and had dinner at an Italian restaurant in the North End followed by some awesome cannoli. it was pretty good, but since he didn't get a cake I'm making him one now. He has requested white chocolate with raspberry this year.

Also while in Boston, we were able to see my friend from Texas, Ceci, who is a grad student at BC and Jeremy's friend from Baylor, Derek, who is also a grad student there. Who knew we knew so many people in Boston? It was fun seeing them. We played trivia with Derek and his wife at a bar and were in the lead until they threw in a baseball "lightning round". We basically lost because we didn't know what teams all these baseball players are on. We got all the science questions though!

We came back Wednesday afternoon and will probably go back sometime for a weekend vacation now that we know how close it is. We're closer to Boston now than we were to Memphis when we lived in Knoxville. Crazy.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

The Fourth

We had a pretty good Fourth of July up here in Maine. Our town doesn't do anything, but there was a lot of stuff going on in nearby towns. We went to Bar Harbor on Saturday to watch the parade. It was no Gladstone parade, but it was still decent. I have never seen so many people (and animals) dressed up like lobsters before. I think the Fourth of July is synonymous with lobster day here.

After the parade we headed to the ballpark where other festivities were going on, including lobster races and blueberry pie eating contests. They were both fundraisers for the YMCA and a lot of fun. Here is a video of one of the lobster races. I picked the winning lobster correctly. Too bad I didn't bet on it.



The best part of the festivities was that I could eat almost everything there! In Knoxville, the only things I could eat were popcorn and giant pretzels. Here they had groups selling sandwiches for fundraisers and they had grilled cheese, pb & jelly, and hummus sandwiches! Also, there was a lot of seafood, and since I eat seafood, that was an option. Except that it was 10x the price of a grilled cheese... Another difference between here and Knoxville, I'm pretty sure I didn't see anything that was deep fried.

Oh, they are also serious about their desserts up here, especially their pie. A local garden club was selling slices of pie as a fundraiser and they had every kind of pie you could think of. Jeremy went with a slice of blueberry pie while I got strawberry shortcake from a nearby booth.

Sunday we went back to Bar Harbor for the fireworks. We got there three hours early and still had problems finding a good spot to sit. It was crazy packed, mostly with tourists. It was a good show though, so I think it was worth the wait, especially since we got to people watch while waiting. People watching here isn't as much fun as it is in Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge though. Totally different crowd up here. Way less airbrushed t-shirts and I have yet to see a Confederate flag.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Working on the Farm

Jeremy and I joined a CSA in the area, but instead of paying for our fresh vegetables every week, we work 8 hours a week on the farm. Actually, we joined it along with our friends who moved here from Tennessee also. This was our first week going out to the farm to work. Since our friends were out of town, Jeremy and I went and each worked 8 hours. I picked spinach, weeded beets, gathered eggs, and washed spinach and meslun. Jeremy cut and washed lettuce and picked garlic scapes. In exchange for all this we left with two giant bags of spinach, a head of lettuce, a bag of mesclun, a bag of garlic scapes, and two dozen eggs. Most of the other people doing the workshare are doing it alone. I'm not sure how they eat all that food by themselves in a week. They must eat a lot of salad and eggs.

It was a lot of fun working out at the farm. We got to meet some people from the area and the farmer. One of the full time workers on the farm is actually from Tennessee. He even went to undergrad with a girl from my grad program. It's a crazy small world.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Settling In

Not much has been going on here lately. I'm still looking for a job - it's not a fun process. I hope something comes through soon so I'll be less stressed. I have noticed something about Maine though. It reminds me a lot of da U.P., in good ways. It's very rustic, like the U.P., lots of tress and water, and the people are pretty similar too. Also, the weather is very comparable. It's pretty much been in the 70's, maybe low 80's every day. So much nicer than Tennessee, where it has been in the 90s-100s the past couple of weeks.

The weather is a bit odd here, however. In Knoxville, it would get warmer until about 4pm each day, then start cooling off slowly. Here, it peaks around noon and is much cooler by 3pm. I've been told this is because of the ocean - a southwest wind starts about noon each day, cooling the air. This makes so much sense, now that I know this. Before I was just perplexed as to why it was so much cooler every afternoon.

Other than thinking about the weather, we've been exploring some and getting to know the area. We found a cheap and good lobster place not far from us. We have been here over three weeks so we figured it was time we finally ate some lobster. It didn't disappoint. While we were eating there, on the patio, we saw a group of really pretty 20-30 year olds go in. This confused us because, much like the U.P., people don't really get dolled up to go out to eat here. You can never be under dressed anywhere. We figured they must be from Boston and vacationing here. A few minutes later another group of pretty people arrived. We heard one girl say she was getting married the next day. Then it all made sense, it was a destination wedding and this was the rehearsal dinner (also explains why half of the inside of the restaurant was reserved for a large group).

Sunday, June 13, 2010

our new home


I (Jeremy) started work at Jax this week, it's been pretty crazy learning all the ropes, but the work environment is great (and my desk has a pretty awesome view to boot). The commute is a bit much, at around an hour each way with tourist traffic, but I've been carpooling with a friend so that helps to pass the time.

Lots of people have been asking about our new digs in Maine. We had some friends over yesterday as a little housewarming, and to give us a reason to finish unpacking and clean. So, we figured we'd take some pictures of the layout. We still don't have a replacement TV yet (we sold our old one instead of moving it), but it should be here this week. The guest bedroom/office also still has quite a few boxes in it... It's easier to ignore the boxes than try to find a place to put all the stuff.













The awesome built-ins (we were very disappointed with ourselves, not filling them all...) looking towards the front door and through to the kitchen/dining area. Upstairs is the master bedroom, bathroom/laundry area, and the guest room/office.




Thursday, June 10, 2010

A few of my favorite things

We've been in our new place for a little over a week now and we're really enjoying it. Sorry, no pictures yet. We need to tidy up some before we can do that! Here is a list of some of my favorite parts of our new home:

1. Storage space - there is so much of it! And it's spread around. We have access to the unfinished basement where we have put stuff we don't need often. There is also a lot of space above part of the stairs. The kitchen cabinets are HUGE. And there are built in bookshelves and a cabinet in the living room.

2. Outlets - they're everywhere! Our bedroom in Knoxville had two. I think we have at least four or five here. Very convenient.

3. Our patio - It's very nice for grilling and eating outside. There is even built in benches around the edge.

4. An enclosed entry way - no more getting wet while trying to open the door in the rain! And, the mailbox is there too so no more getting wet getting the mail.

5. The washer and dryer - easily the largest I've seen for home use. I've done five loads of wash already, which would have easily been at least 7 or 8 in our old machines.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Bizarro Land Lowe's

We made it to Maine. It was so nice to finally arrive and know we didn't have to drive that Penske truck anymore. Luckily we had great weather and great traffic for almost the entire trip. It rained yesterday, but held off while we got the truck unloaded. Some people from the Lutheran church in town came over to help us unload, which was very much appreciated. There was no way we could have done it by ourselves! Now it's just time to unpack, which is coming along slowly but surely.

We made a trip to Lowe's yesterday for some stuff we needed. Turns out there are only a couple of overhead lights here so we needed to buy some lamps. It was the most bizarre Lowe's trip ever. First, when we arrived, a guy greeted us and asked us if we needed help finding anything. When we told him what we were there for, he pointed us in exactly the right direction. Then, as we were walking that way, another employee said hello to us. We also saw another Lowe's worker asking other people if they needed help! What's going on? To make things even weirder, we saw numerous other Lowe's employees working and looking as if they like their jobs! Freaky! When we finally got to the lamp area the lady who worked in lamps came over to help us! It was so weird!

You might not think this is odd, but it's very different to the Lowe's back in Knoxville we shopped at. We could NEVER find anyone to help us and when we did, they never actually knew too well what was going on. Plus they always seemed to hate their jobs and all customers. Once we had to wait about 10-15 minutes while finding someone so we could get a piece of wood cut. When the guy finally did come, we acted as if it was such an inconvenience. Another time we were trying to buy a door, were standing in the door area actively looking through the little book thing, obviously had questions, and were acting confused, all while two Lowe's employees sat nearby shooting the breeze, completely oblivious to all nearby customers. Hence why we usually tried to shop at our neighborhood Ace for everything instead of driving across town to Lowe's.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I feel like all I've been doing lately is packing and working. And if I'm not doing either of those I'm feeling guilty for not packing. The truck comes tomorrow and Jeremy is going to load what he can while I'm at work. Then Friday some friends are coming over to help with the rest of it. As social protocol dictates, we will provide the helpers with their choice of a PS3 or mountain bike (name that show. Saturday morning we roll out of here on the way to Jeremy's family in Pennsylvania.

It seems like there is so much I need to get done between now and then. I really just want to be in Maine already with all our stuff. Next time we move, I sure hope we can get movers. Side note, being a professional mover would have to be the worst job ever.

We're rapidly running out of food I want to eat in the house. I can't wait until I'm stocking my shelves instead of trying to eat everything so we don't have to move it. We're starting to get creative with what we eat when. I had leftover black bean enchiladas and I believe Jeremy had a meatloaf lean cuisine for breakfast.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Door

Today Jeremy and I went to Lowe's to order a new door. Once we got there and talked with one of the salespeople we found out that we didn't have to order it, they had them in stock. As soon as Jeremy pulled it off the shelf I asked him if it would fit in my car. He assured me it would if we put the back seat down. I looked at him skeptically and we went on our way. We arrived at my car and put down the back seat but as we started to put the door in the trunk, we realized that the opening through the back seat was about two inches too narrow. Of course I immediately said "Hey, remember when I asked you if the door would fit in my car and you said yes?!" As we stood around for a few minutes, trying to decide what to do, I noticed that the parking lot was full of trucks and SUVs. I jokingly said "maybe we can pay someone in one of these trucks to take it home for us." No more than 20 seconds later a guy pulled up in a Chevy Silverado and asked how far we were going. We told him and he said he'd take it for us if one of us rode with him. I, of course, nominated Jeremy because I try not to ride in trucks with strange guys if at all possible (Except for that one time in Texas when I had a flat I've managed not to. See, I didn't die, mom!).

So now the door, and both of us, are home and our faith in humanity is restored. Thank you guy at Lowe's with a truck.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Stress

It's been a rather stressful past month. For a while we weren't sure if we'd still be moving to Maine next month or if it would be later in the summer. That made planning for anything pretty much impossible. As of now, we're still not 100% sure it is happening next month, but we're sure enough that we went ahead and sent in our deposit and signed the lease for an apartment today. This help relieve some of the stress since we were having a tough time finding a place. Since it's such a small area, there aren't really any big apartment complexes. Most of the places to rent are owned by an individual, not a company. We called and emailed so many places and hardly any would even return a call or email. It was very frustrating. Jeremy probably contacted at least 15 that didn't get back to us. The ones that did get back to us weren't the best - very small, run down, etc. I'm so happy we found a place that looks pretty great. It's a two story apartment connected to the landlord's house, but has it's own entrance and back patio. It also has a dishwasher and washer and dryer. Plus there is a garage that Jeremy can probably park his motorcycle in during winter.

To add to the stress, we were in a car accident two weeks ago. It wasn't bad, but my car got a little dented. An older man didn't realize we didn't have a stop sign (even though there was a big sign saying northbound traffic didn't stop) and he hit us. Again, it wasn't bad, just a bother. I have a rental car right now while the car is in the shop.

Now we're in the pack-the-house-up phase of moving. I hate packing so much, but we got some boxes through freecycle. We're trying to do it a little at a time. Hopefully this will work and we won't have to do everything at the last minute. Also, I've started looking for a job some up in Maine. I also hate the job hunting process.

On the upside, I rearranged my work schedule this week for a meeting at UT that never happened and flexed some hours at CASA so I have today off. It was nice to sleep in, especially since I'm now coming down with a cold. At least it's over a long weekend so I'll be better by Monday.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Currently in our house we have whole wheat flour, rye flour, self rising flour, and cake flour but no all-purpose flour. We also have honey, brown sugar, molasses, and pure maple sugar but no white sugar. In about two weeks I'll be able to say we have every spice on earth but no table salt.

I'm torn if I should buy some of this stuff since I'll just have to move it soon. We're kind of trying to use up what we can right now but it's getting difficult to do things like bake.

Friday, April 16, 2010

My Bread Machine

We bought a bread machine a little over a year ago and I must say, I think it's pretty great. Well, except that the pan pops out during kneading so we have to rig it so it will stay put and then remember to un-rig it so it will rise properly. Other than that, it's great.



Now that we have it, we rarely ever buy bread or bread products. This basically means that our bread consumption has greatly decreased. We actually use the machine mostly for making pizza dough. We love our pizza. I also use it to make dough for rolls. So handy not having to knead stuff myself. We don't make bread as much now as when we first got it, I will admit. We used to make all sorts, now it's mostly pumpernickel with occasionally wheat or wheat-oat.

The only bread products we now buy are from the "Oops, we baked too much!" section at Kroger and it's usually things like hoagie and hamburger rolls or French bread. They are super cheap and we freeze them until we need them. It's great.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Chimney Tops

This past Friday I didn't have work so Jeremy and I went for a hike. We've done this in the past on Good Friday, but with a group. This year we went solo. We decided to do Chimney Tops in the Smokies because I think it's one of those hikes you're supposed to do at some point if you live here. It's only 4 miles total, but it's pretty strenuous - two miles up, two miles down. Plus, once you get to the top, or near the top, it's literally a climb up a rock face to get to the very top. Once we got there, I was unsure if I actually wanted to go to the top, but knew I'd regret it if I didn't. The boys in front of us told me there was an easier way down on the other side so I decided to do it. The climb was a bit scary, and I was definitely aware of my own mortality during it. I was extra careful since I knew I couldn't get hurt since my health insurance doesn't actually cover anything.

I wish we got a good picture of the rock climb at the top. It was pretty crazy. Plus whatever kind of rock it was heated up in the sun and burned your hands. I was happy we weren't there later in the day or it would have been impossible.

The park and the trail we were on were fairly busy since it was spring break for a lot of people, but luckily we went early enough in the day that it wasn't too bad. On the way down the mountain we saw a TON of people going up. And for some reason, a lot of those people didn't have any water. I don't think they knew what was ahead.

Here is a video Jeremy took of the 360 degree view at the top:



And here's a picture of the way down. See those rocks? That was the climb up.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Ice Cream, with a Twist

There is a newish ice cream place in Knoxville called Chill Custom Creamery. Jeremy and I tried it out yesterday and I must say, I was pleased. It's different than any other ice cream place I've been to. When you enter, you choose either a vanilla, chocolate, or soy liquid base. You then go done a buffet line and add whatever flavors, candies, or cookies you want. At the end they freeze and blend it using liquid nitrogen so that you essentially made your own, unique ice cream. It's a really neat concept. They price it by weight so you can add as much or as little as you want, depending on how much you want to pay at the end.

I made a raspberry, marshmellow-y ice cream with chocolate add ins such as brownie bites, snickers, and oreos. Jeremy did a peanut butter theme for his. Both were really good. We'll probably go back sometime soon.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What's the opposite of an ode?

Because whatever it is, that's what I'm writing to my oven. I hate my oven. For a while we didn't think it was pre-heating to the correct temperature so we bought a thermometer and sure enough, it wasn't getting hot enough. I ended up having to set it to about 15-35 degrees hotter so it would get to the right temperature. It worked fine that way for a while, but now it's gone crazy. A few weeks ago I set it to 380 so that it would heat to 350, like normal, but instead it heated to 385. Two weeks ago I set it to 425 and it beeped at 300. No matter what temperature I set it to it wouldn't get above 400. The next day it was fine and heated normally. Yesterday I set it to 350 and it beeped at 295. I turned off the oven, set it again and it worked fine, heated to 350.


I can't wait until we get our own place and can buy our own appliances.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Gary Paulsen

Last week Jeremy and I went to see Gary Paulsen, the author of Hatchet and many other books, speak at UT. He was quite entertaining - more so than I expected. Apparently he doesn't do many public events. He talked mostly about his life, including growing up in Minnesota to abusive, alcoholic parents, how he started writing, racing sled dogs, and the like. He's a very interesting guy. Some of the stories were a little, er, colorful and I'm not sure if all the parents of the children in the room appreciated that, but I think the kids did. He was pretty funny.

I loved Hatchet when I was a kid. I think I've only read one other of the Brian series though. Jeremy had never read Hatchet until a couple years ago! I found out he hadn't read it and freaked out. He also never read My Side of the Mountain. I made him go to the library and get both. I guess he was too busy reading sci-fi as a kid to read the classics...

I bought Gary Paulsen's new book at the event and was going to get him to sign it, but the line was ridiculously long. I swear every 4-7th grader in the area must have been in it. After waiting for about 20 minutes and knowing that it would probably be about an hour more, we left. It was already 8:30pm by that time and we had stuff we needed to get done that night. I was a little disappointed, but I knew we really needed to leave.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Play Ball

Yesterday, as I was leaving work, I noticed some elementary age children at the community center across from the courthouse playing touch football. I immediately wanted to join them. I miss recess. I really do. There should be a part of the work day for adults that is designated to just run around and have fun.

That same afternoon Jeremy and I went to some soccer fields to look around. Our church and another one are teaming together for a day of community service and we're looking at fixing up the grounds of the soccer fields. As we were leaving a bunch of kids were arriving for practice. For the second time that day, I again wished I could join in. I miss playing sports. I told Jeremy it was a good thing we weren't looking at tennis courts or I'd REALLY want to play.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Let it Snow

When I was a small child, like 4-7ish I used to always wish for it to snow on my birthday. Whenever I threw a penny into a fountain or blew out my birthday candles or whenever else you can make a wish, that's what I wished for. I mean, what else is there to wish for when you're that age? A pony?

For years I forgot about that wish until my freshman year at Baylor. The night of February 24th into the morning of the 25th, my 19th birthday, we got a snow/ice storm and campus was closed on my birthday and all classes were cancelled! Finally after all those years my birthday wish paid off!

Again this year, we were driving home the night of the 24th and it was snowing - enough for the ground at our house to get a dusting. I woke up the morning of the 25th and it was snowing then too - big fat flakes. It snowed all the way into work and supposedly was snowing while I was in court. By the time we got out of court after 12pm the snow had stopped and all the snow on the ground had melted. It was nice while it lasted though.

I have decided that I need to put a time frame on my wishes. I mean, I haven't wished for it to snow on my birthday since I was probably about 6-7. 15-20 years is a little long to wait for a wish to come true. For now on, I will be more specific with my wishes.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

King Tut's

For Valentine's day Jeremy and I went to a quirky Egyptian restaurant in town called King Tut's. We also went there last year for V-Day. And we've been there a handful of other times. It's quite an interesting place. First of all, it's located in a tiny building in not the best neighborhood. If you didn't know it was there, you might not notice it. Also, it never looks like it's open, even though it is.

The restaurant is ran by a couple, the husband, Mo, works the front of the house and his wife cooks. Mo always suggests pretty much the same thing to everyone - a Greek salad and the Egyptian sampler to share between two people. He claims the Greek salad is the best in Knoxville and I'd have to say I agree. It's the best I've ever had. On V-Day when we were there we suggested the salad and sampler, like always, but he was also suggesting each couple get the stuffed tilapia, which was that night's special. Jeremy and I stuck to our usual since we knew the salad and sampler were enough to fill us and bring home some leftovers. As usual, we weren't disappointed.

One of the best parts of the King Tut's is it's bring your own wine. Always a good way to save some money. If you don't bring alcohol, you can always get a soft drink or water served in vases. Yes, drinks are served in vases. Part of the quirkiness. Also, the tables are crammed in the small dining space. We were sitting rather close to the people at the booth next to us. Slightly awkward. Mo also performs magic tricks occasionally. Once while we were there he tricked a guy into singing karaoke. Never a dull moment.

Oh, one thing about King Tut's that should be noted is it's cash or check only. We saw no less than three guys leave to go get cash so they could pay. Oops.

After our meal we went to UT for a free concert put on by the UT symphony orchestra. It was fun, and I appreciated that they put in the length of each selection in the program. I always get so anxious not knowing how long a song is going to last.