Sunday, July 29, 2007

Bread Making

We found a breadmaker on Craigslist for $5. I'd been wanting one, always scanning the local thrift stores for them because I'm too cheap to buy a new one, but without success. I'd forgotten about it for a while and lo and behold this one comes along. I mean, $ can't lose, really.

I cleaned the thing out and tried to make my very first loaf of bread. Maybe it's not fair to say that I made it, since the machine did the hard part. But hey, it's still "home made" and all that. I put the ingredients in and and set it up and "ta daaa!"

The first loaf came out flat (too much water?), but I didn't realize that until I made the second one. It came out just about perfect (pictured above ^). The first one tasted great, but the second one was incredible! And nothing beats the smell of bread baking in your apartment!

Tonight I used wheat flour instead of white and added some extra water and got a loaf of whole wheat bread. It didn't taste as good, so I think the recipe needs to be worked with a little (add some honey?). Anyway, this new toy has already paid for itself (I paid the same for it as the cost of two loaves of bread at the store) and it's fun to mess around with.

I can't believe I was able to write that much ^ about a breadmaker.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Lake Beach Adventure

Yesterday and the day before, Dave and I had one of our adventures to the lake a few miles from our home. I was under the impression that to even get within half a mile of the water, you had to fork over $$ to a park ranger. Dave and I are always looking for cheap or free activities, and sadly we assumed that going to the lake (as dirty and disgusting as it may be) didn't fit into either category.

Oh, foolish me! Dave had a feeling he could find a way to get to the beach, and I didn't believe it. But the other night we went for a drive and randomly ended up right there at the edge of the beach! It was like a swamp/wetlands area, inhabited heavily by dragonflies, birds, various other bugs, and mosquitoes, of course. But despite the setting sun and misquito clouds, we found a little beach and went out to play for a while.

I have to be honest. It isn't the most beautiful lake as far as trash and general grossness are concerned. But the water is blue ( most of the time) and the plantlife is lush and it is calm to stand out there on the beach. Dave and I would love to come back with a boat (haha, like we have one!) or raft and just paddle out into the middle of the lake from this beach. Well, then again, it might be worth it to pay to get into a part of the beach that isn't so dirty, but oh well.

(We came back the next day when it was earlier in the day. On our way there, we passed some adorable horses and I couldn't help but photograph them in all their majesty.)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Making choices can suck

For a year, I've been working the same elementary school cleaning job. It's been very convenient because it is located just a block away from our home. Back when we didn't have a car, it was wonderful to just walk to work and a big load off my mind to not worry about transportation. Dave also worked there for a while, and it has treated us well.

Dave has since quit when we got a car (it's amazing what oppurtunities are suddenly open to you when you have a way to get there) and I've continued to work at the school because he had the car, etc. I started really wanting a change a few months ago--something other than cleaning, something to challenge myself and let me learn new things--but it wasn't an option yet. Now, though, Dave and I have been working out our school and work schedules and it seems like the right time for me to switch jobs.

Dang, I hate starting a new job, but it's definitely the right option. The school had to bring down my hours to two (what they were originally supposed to be from the beginning, but I had taken some of Dave's hours before and worked extra when they were short on help) and so I'm just not making enough for us to live the way we have been. Plus, I want to take more of the responsibility for supporting us. Dave is starting his teaching cohort in the fall and it will be almost impossible for him to work full time. I am going to work enough so that he can go to part time, and then I can still go to school and have time with him.

The job hunt is a hellish journey into the unknown when you don't really have skills. I've had many jobs, yes, but none where I've learned anything besides handling cash and preparing food (and the fast food thing is DEFINITELY not an option again). At first I looked for other cleaning jobs because it's what I know how to do. It's easy and I'm good at it--it's comfortable and safe. But back a few months ago, when I was itching for a change, I was really wanting some kind of office job, like secretarial or something like that. Seeing as I'm not exactly qualified for such a position, I wasn't too successful in finding a job I would be hired for. I still looked and applied.

--What it comes down to is that through all of my searching, two companies have shown serious interest in me. One is a preschool a few miles away. They want to hire me as a housekeeper for the afternoon. It would be different from what I've been doing because there would be more of an order to how I would need to do things, and I'd be under more careful supervision. I'd also be working with and around children, something I'm actually not too keen about (they make me oddly uncomfortable, especially in big groups!). I like the atmosphere, though. It's a happy place (except for occasional screaming) and I would know exactly how to do my job, besides the whole "helping kids use the potty" thing, which I've never done.

--The other possibility is an office position. I would be working as an office assistant for a craft company, a few miles farther away than the other job. I'd be helping with tasks around the office like packing and shipping boxes, entering things into the computer, counting returns, a little bit of customer service, photocopies, and other such things. I have never done any of these things, at least not in a professional setting. I would have to learn everything from the beginning. Unlike the the preschool gig, I would be totally at the bottom of the ladder, knowing nothing. It would indeed be a challenge. It would, however, pay almost a dollar more per hour.

So those are my options. The preshool is ready to hire me right away, while the other place hasn't gotten that far but acts like it is very possible. I'm totally uncertain about which to choose. Do I stay with what's mostly comfortable and learn more about kids, or do I try something new and a little scary and gain office experience? I've been completely stressing over this for the past 24 hours and I still haven't come up with an answer. If you're reading this, any input would be helpful :)

I'm really confused!

What you see BEFORE you die...

My mom told me about this cat yesterday, and I just barely found a story about him on yahoo. He predicts when patients in a dementia center are going to die., he looks like my Ralphy.

Take a look:

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Our Favorite Park

There is a park near our apartment that Dave and I accidentally discovered about a month ago. It has been built as a replica of an old park from the 19th century that was distroyed, and it very beautiful. At first we thought it was just a pretty waste of water, but then we started to really enjoy it there.

There are beautiful flowers...

Dave and ducks!

This is the coolest swingset I've seen...and tons of fun to swing on!

Sunday Photoshoot

I have a new hobby :)

Visiting The Sis

Dave and I visited my sister Jana in the dorms last Sunday. Don't we look alike? We ate delicious bread fresh from the oven (aka Harold). When it started to rain, all of the girls ran outside and screamed and frolicked about in the storm. Ah, college life.

Anyway, it was nice to see Jana again (we love you, Jana!).


So...what was up with the 24th of July? Weren't there supposed to be fireworks or something?

Monday, July 23, 2007


Is it normal for apartment managers to change 4 times in a period of less than a year? Maybe that's why our work orders haven't been looked at until now... (no, that's probably because they keep changing maintenance guys too).

Sunday, July 22, 2007

My Hair

A couple of weeks ago, Dave's sister Jenny cut and styled my hair. She did a fantastic job and is quite the hair artist if I may say so myself.

(The front)

(and...the back. What else?)


Our Saturday

Yesterday was rather busy, at least for a Saturday.

First thing, Dave went to give Plasma (a surprisingly good source of income). As soon as he came home, we rushed off to do our typical weekend grocery shopping (which is always brimming with excitement). It's interesting to observe that we pretty much always grab one of those little baskets to carry all of our groceries in, trying to hide within the lie that we don't buy that much and therefore don't have need for a cart. After we had collected several fruits, vegetables and a carton soymilk, we relented at last to turning in our basket for a shopping cart when we realized we needed a 5lb bag of russet potatoes. Oh, well.

We got back with a little time to spare before we met up with a friend of Dave's from work and his wife and bro-in-law, who had invited us to a movie. We went to see "Transformers" with them. It was lots of fun and defintely action-packed (although I'm sure some of its awesomeness was lost on me since I've never played with the toys or watched the cartoon). After the movie, we concluded that our car, Blanca, was indeed a transformer.

Back at home, we cleaned up the place and such until a mutual friend of ours named Cara, who we hadn't seen in a few years, came to hang out. We talked and ate cookies and had a great time reminiscing and all that.

Around 9:30pm we said goodbye and dashed off to see some fireworks in the city where Dave's family lives. It's a richer town that ours, and believe me when I say that makes all the difference in how good the fireworks actually are. They were really amazing to watch. When they were over, we stuck around for a couple hours and talked and played games with the family. We got home late and didn't get to bed until close to 1am...wonderful when you have 9am church, let me tell you.


Friday, July 20, 2007

Our Plants

We have two pots of luscious green plants on our back porch right now. No, we haven't started growing anything illegal...just vegetables :)

When my Mom and sister came to visit this last May/June, my Mom helped me plant some vegetables. I must be honest, I was pretty excited (I've really never grown anything other than houseplants, which I mostly succeed in killing...hopefully I do better this time)! We got two tomato plants and one pepper plant. We put them in pots and gave them soil and all that stuff, and now, after they've been growing for over a month, it's fun to see how big they're getting.

I'm not so sure we're going to get much of a harvest, but so far we have two tomatoes and some yellow blossom things.

(Look how large the tomato plant on the left is compared to the little one on the right [upper lefthand side of pot])

(The one in the very front is the pepper plant. Right behind it is a potted mini rose that is just kinda hanging out with the other plants...)


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Humble Beginnings

The phrase "poor college students" has never fit anyone as well as us as we began our marriage. Before the wedding, Dave and I looked through numerous classified ads in search of a dirt cheap apartment. Well, we certainly found what we were looking for...

Figuring we could not afford anything else, we signed the lease on a one-room studio apartment. As it turns out, the apartment (the entire place not being any larger than our current living room alone), as well as the others in the little 'complex,' had been converted from cheap motel rooms that have probably been around since like the 1960s. We were enchanted, but soon realized that living in a tiny space pretty much sucked.

The place smelled like mildew, the oven didn't work, the kitchen was like 2 feet square, there was no air conditioning and very minimal heat, bugs were everywhere, our front-window view was a parking lot and the back of an ugly building, the bathroom was...well, that's a world of its own. But you get the idea I think.
(this is the kitchen on the left, and the bathroom is behind that curtain on the right)

(a view of the kitchen and computer area/living room)

(Dave near the front door of the apartment. He's pretty much standing in every 'area' of the apartment at once--bedroom living room kitchen, etc.)

(The entertainment area. To the left of it was our dresser, and behind you would be the bed.)

After about 6 months, it's needless to say that we were feeling pretty cramped. As we slowly accumulated more junk like clothes, furniture, and other crap, the apartment grew smaller and smaller--closing in on us. Was this really the best we could do?

We had signed a one-year lease, but after only half of it was done we were itching to get out. We didn't think that moving out was an option at all until, one fine day, we were inexplicably drawn to another apartment complex about a mile away. We took a tentative look around. They were two bedroom, one bath units and although they had been built a few decades ago they still looked pretty good to us. It was like looking into the window of a candy store. The apartments-- they were HUGE! We got information by calling the renting office and learned that these impossibly big, perfect apartments were only $125 more per month than what were were paying for the studio. We were shocked to realize that WE COULD AFFORD IT!

That was it. We talked to the office of our current apartment and were told that we would have to sell our contract. It took a few weeks, but we managed to do so (and I still feel bad for that lady who moved in after us...she probably didn't realize what she was in for).

After about a week, our new apartment was ready for us to move in. We borrowed Dave's parents' truck and were done with the whole moving mess in a day or two, without any help (I don't think anyone we knew even realized we were moving at all!).

And that's the happy ending. We love our new place. It has many problems, but compared to our last experience with renting, it is heavenly!

(Dave and me in our NEW PLACE!!!)


Karen and Dave's Blog

Welcome to Karen and Dave's family blog!
We have decided to start this for fun and, I mean, fun and so people who don't see us often or are interested in getting the scoop on our lives can be updated on us if they wish. We will also post cool or amusing things we find from time to time, and images. Forgive me if it isn't all that beautiful yet...I haven't done this 'blog' thing in a long time.