May 28, 2015

Culinary School Diaries - Part 1

So here I was, enjoying my day off, sitting on my bed whilst reading my culinary textbook and indulging in a box of chocolates...(from Christmas...also I don't really like these boxed chocolates...I'm sorry but chocolates filled with "raspberry cream" and "orange cream"?! No thank you.)...when I suddenly had this weird rush of unexplainable drive and ambition, (trust me, this does not happen often). I ran over to my hutch and emerged from it my stacks of textbooks, binders, and duo-tangs that I've kept safely since my time at culinary school.

I want to write about my experience at culinary school!

I know, I know, I have mentioned it before on the blog that I wanted to write about it, so it's not like this is news to anyone. But I'm going to approach it in an entirely different way than I had originally envisioned. Rather than hammering out all 8 months onto one overly-lengthy blog post, I'm going to turn it into a series of blog posts, if you will. Posts that I will publish in a random manner, not consecutively---to keep y'all on your toes.

It will be way less overwhelming for me, as I can take my own sweet time with each individual post and try my hardest to remember all of the important details. (Be gracious, as it has been a year since I was in school). And it will also be more convenient for you, the reader, to enjoy it, because who really has the time to read a 10,000 word blog post? Not I!

Moreover, I do think it will be a nice read for those of my friends and family who aren't too familiar with what exactly goes on at a culinary school. I mean, growing up, I didn't have a single friend, or relative who graduated from culinary school. Maybe it's because all of my friends and family are already so good at cooking ;) (Fabulous cooking is totally a Mennonite thing that I missed the train on a few times, but it's safe to say that I'm finally aboard it and enjoying the ride).

With that said, I need to make clear that this is nothing to get your hopes up for. I'm not writing this series to impress anyone, it's more of a self-journey type of thing. The whole concept very much reminds me of when I wrote 19 blog entries dedicated to my Israel Trip in 2010. Yes, it was for friends and family to live the experience with me, but I mostly wrote it for when I'm 50 years old and suddenly get the urge to re-read all of my archived blog posts and remember how silly I used to be. It's only been 5 years since that trip to Israel, but when I re-read those entries I can't even believe I forgot half of the things I wrote down! (Does anybody else re-read their old blog entries, or do I just have too much time on my hands?) And that is what I want for this culinary series, to record all of the interesting details before they get lost in the depths of my brain, never to resurface again! :O

Anyway, back to what I was saying; don't get your hopes too high. I didn't take as many photos at school as I should have, and the photos that I did take were taken with an uber--crappy-- IPod Touch camera. Also, I don't have any rough drafts written, so I have no idea how many blog posts could be in this series. Could be 5, or it could be 20. Who knows?!

I am super excited for this and it feels so good to have some goals dedicated to this blog! Thanks for reading, and I hope you are excited for this too!! :)

Happy Dining!

Oh and P.S- The new Masterchef season has begun! YAY!

May 27, 2015

Rest & Memorial Day.

It's kind of a odd week for me, at least in comparison to the previous.
I mean, I went from working 8 days straight to a resting period of 5 days straight.

From a financial standpoint, I'm definitely a little irked..perturbed...ect., Because let's face it, some extra hard-earned paper would be nice. (Yes, you heard me, I did say paper). But at my workplace, summer technically hasn't started. And when summer kicks in there, that is when the REAL party begins! Some frequent overtime would NOT be bad at all...
(And Jenny, lets be reminded that money is material and not eternal. So stop feeling irked and perturbed!)

From a physical wellness standpoint, my body is rejoicing! FINALLY, some sleep! It feels so good to sleep past 5:50 AM again. And let's talk about my legs and feet, shall we? They are feeling normal again! No more aches and pains. Yay!

I have definitely spent the brunt of this week diving into my stay-at-home-housewife role. It feels so good to cook, clean, and organize the apartment at my own ---snails pace--- again. (And why does it feel like this place ALWAYS needs to be organized? Just WHERE do all these papers come from?)

Confession: Our kitchen counters were just piled with every single bowl, plate, utensil, pot, pan, ect. that we owned. It was absolutely sinful having that many dirty dishes on the counter. We even ended up having that age-old conversation:
 "You know, we could just throw all of these dishes away and just buy new ones...they're old anyway..."
" do raise a good point..."
We then sat in like 5 minutes of silence trying to decide what to do.

It was soooo tempting to toss them all, but yesterday evening, even though Jarryd and I agreed we'd do them together, I conquered ALL of those dishes. And the only thing that got me through them was listening to the Focus on The Family Daily Broadcasts. It was honestly the most fun I've ever had doing the dishes. There was much laughter and tears and it left my heart feeling so full (and my hands so prune-like) after. I seriously suggest you listen to them!

Also, I've been able to spend more time with Jarryd which makes my heart so happy! And with Memorial Day last Monday he had work off, so we were able to spend the whole day together, as well as with some friends and family!

It was my very first Memorial Day as a U.S. resident, and it is a big deal out here. It's a day dedicated to remembering the fallen soldiers who served in the U.S armed forces. I was curious as to how it exactly came to be, so I watched a short History video on it. Long story short, it was originally called "Decoration Day" as town stores and business would close for an entire day to decorate the graves of soldiers with American flags and flowers.

Memorial Day is unlike anything I'm used to. Yes, in Canada we have "Remembrance Day" on November 11th, but I was raised in a community that formed long ago as a result of pacifism (families running away from war and persecution). As in, I can only think of one person from my hometown who fought in a war. Whereas in the community I currently reside in, I think it's safe to say that everyone's grandfather/great grandfather served in wars or a war. It is almost like culture shock to me! mean, my mother-in-law grew up with a Dad suffering from PTSD as a result of his time in the war. His funeral even included the Three-Volley-Salute (3 shots fired from rifles). Jarryd's great grandfather was sent to Pearl Harbor after the 1941 attacks to fix radio equipment there. (And those are just two examples within my in-law family history. I want to tell you more but I'm not confident enough in my knowledge of the exact facts to lay it all out on here).

The Armed Forces play a huge part in the history of this community in Maryland, and also a huge part in its present time. I recently befriended a woman who is, as they say, an"army-wife". Her husband is currently on a ship somewhere in the world and I can't even imagine living life in her shoes! She is incredibly strong.

Another example is that America's oldest Army proving ground, APG is 30 minutes from where I live (that place is absolutely HUGE). At least everyday I see military helicopters and planes flying above my apartment.
(I seriously want to make it a goal to learn as much of America's history as I can!)
Alot of people view Memorial weekend as just an extra day to "party", but as I just explained above, it is so much more than that! It's about remembering the ones who died to give you your freedom. And one of the best ways to do this is to spend the day with family, which is what Jarryd's family does every year! A good old fashioned American cookout. Haha!

The photos below weren't even taken this past weekend (I actually didn't take any photos this weekend), but I love them enough to show them to y'all anyway. Enjoy!!

Flowers at my in-laws place. I did absolutely NOTHING to edit this photo. They are so pink!! 

Here I am with my Mom-Mom and Pop-Pop. They are so precious to me and especially to Jarryd. They tell the funniest stories and loved me with their whole hearts since the day I met them. 

Fishing day at the lake with family and friends! In case you're wondering, I didn't catch anything...but I did find a Canadian goose nest and a duck's nest!

 Fishing at the lake with friends and family!

 With Coke in hand. ;)

 They came to the lake too! I'm sure it was great for them to get out!

 More flowers at the in-laws house.

 And again, more flowers at the in-laws house. Love these!!

Jarryd and I at a friend's cookout party. (Excuse the short-shorts, I swear they look shorter than they actually are. LOL!) This was a great night though! There's nothing like having a guitar sing-a-long while fireside.

Oh and once more, flowers at the in-laws house. I managed to capture a bee doin' it's thang!

May 20, 2015

I Have Survived.

Hello friends,

Guess what! I did it. I survived my eight consecutive days of work at my new job and now I have never been more excited for my day-off tomorrow. I actually get to sleep in, and I think I'm going to sleep in until...oh I don't know, how about forever?!

I want to tell you all about it, but before I get into all the details, I just wanted to say thank you to all of you who had me in their thoughts and prayers. I gotta say, your prayers definitely paid off. I can't even believe it myself, but I didn't feel an ounce of tiredness at all until today, the eighth day!
It is so unlike me. It's just so so so not me at all to actually feel excited for an EARLY work day the next day. Normally I'm dreading it. Normally I'm dragging my feet by lunch time wishing I could be doing other things (especially in this gorgeous summer-esque weather that we are experiencing right now). Amazingly enough, I had more energy this past week than I've ever had with a job!

What kept my spirits up were two plain, simple, and wise guidelines:

1) Acceptance. When I accepted the fact that my upcoming week was going to be crazy, I mentally prepared myself for the worst and just took it all one. day. at. a. time. I never once counted down the days until my day off. In fact, I counted UP the days, if that makes sense. After the first day passed, I was like "wow, I made it through!", and after my second day, "oh my goodness, two days in already?! I'm really proud of myself". Working is something I want to take pride in, and is something I want to look forward to rather than get it over with.

And secondly,

2) Remembering The Purpose. Why am I working here? What is the purpose of my time here? When tasks became a little redundant or some people's words rubbed me the wrong way, causing my mood to shift into a downward spiral, I just reminded myself that I am there to do the Lord's work! I'm there to serve Him. I mean, yes, obviously I'm there to earn a nice paycheck once every two weeks and help pay the rent, but ultimately I had a goal to cook meals for thousands of people and it had to be met!

Colossians 3:23 sums up my two points perfectly: "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men...".

Now to get into the juicy details!
On the weekend we prepared for a women's group of 400+. Looking back now, alot of my week is now a total blur, but to the best of my memory...all I remember is chopping a TON of carrots and bbqing chicken breast on the grill for like 3 hours (I'm practically a grill master now). I also remember that the women ate way more than we ever expected, so at lunch we were in a HUFFlepuff to get more food made.
We also spent all weekend prepping for the Mon-Wed group of 1,200 men of the Pastors Conference. Prepping food is like my favourite activity in the world. Honestly. I'm weird in the way that I could do a mind-numbing, repetitive task for hours and I'd be completely overjoyed about it. So that was fun.

Another job I had was to refill the salad bar buffet lines. At first I was totally scared to do it, just because I'd rather hide away safely in the kitchen and not have to interact with the guests at all. But once I got the hang of it, I was loving it! And all of the men were so kind and took so many moments to tell us "thank you for the food" or "you guys are doing such a great job". One of the guests from New Jersey told me that his grandfather was from Lake Winnipeg and I totally fa-reaked out! "I'm from Winnipeg!!!" Anyways...

So that was also fun, until Tuesday at lunch when I so badly wanted to have a break-down and cry my eyes out from pure stress. (I know what you're thinking, typical, typical Jenny). Since there were so many guests, a couple hundred men had to eat in a different room that had other buffets and salad bars, and I was sent to that room to be in charge of the salad bar (by myself!!). I was told that it'd be easy. And at first it was...but then literally every crock started getting empty at the exact same time. So it was like an hour of non-stop squeezing into the salad bar, refilling things, grabbing things, running all the way to the kitchen because some things were missing from my re-fill cart. With cheeks bright red and eyes welled up I eventually yelled to the wait-staff, "Can I get some help?!?!". I don't yell, I never yell...nor do I speak with such a harsh tone, but I guess in a moment of desperation I had no other choice. (Perhaps this is my future mom-voice being awakened?!). :P

After lunch was over, I told my co-workers about how nuts it was for me, but I don't think they took me real seriously just because I'm a newbie. BUT, when my co-worker took over that room for supper, he came back to me in exhaustion and said "Jenny, I'm SO sorry we had you out there alone!!" That made me feel better. :)

As I said before, (aside from my brutal aching feet and legs) I never felt tired, but the 2 consecutive 14-hour days totally disoriented me and made me do things I would never do.
First of all, I left the light on in my car all night! Who does that?!

And secondly, when I went to pick Jarryd up in the evening, I got out of the car, hugged him, and then I walked around to the passenger side because I wanted him to drive us home. Because my legs were aching SO bad, I opened the door, and literally crawled onto my seat, shut the door, and we drove off. When we arrived at home, as I got ready to open the door, I reached down to the floor for my flip-flops (because whenever I'm in the passenger I always have my bare-feet up on the seat). But nothing was on the floor! "Did I really just leave my flip-flops on the side of the road at your workplace?!" Turns out I did, and they were STILL there waiting for me the next day! Yay! But how crazy is that? That just speaks volumes as to how much sleep I need!

In conclusion, I have to remind myself that having 1,200 guests is only a once a year thing and that the average amount of people is usually 400-500. Now that I got through this week alive, I feel like feeding 400 people will be a synch!

I've really enjoyed getting to know my co-workers at Sandy Cove. I feel like I'm fitting in quite nicely there. :) And another huge blessing about this job is that I got to take plates of food home for Jarryd and I to eat for dinner. Free food!! It's like eating take-out every night and never having to make dinner!! (Just watch me gain like 20 pounds by the end of the summer...)

I am truly proud of myself and I feel like giving myself a gold star (or two) for this one! I'm excited for all the things I have learned and all the things that I have yet to learn!
And now, it is time to rest! But before I hit the pillow, I absolutely have to watch some Parks & Rec. ;)


May 15, 2015

What Is Sleep?

Side note: For the past year everytime I sit down to watch a movie all I want is to eat mounds of "Gushers" Fruit Snacks. And I ignored that craving everyday until now. They were on sale yesterday at Aldi. *Squeeeeal* Dream come true!! I haven't had these since high school!

Moving on to more important things, I have officially worked six whole shifts at my new job and am loving it more and more each new day that I work!
I love how much I am learning in regards to how to prep food and cook for the masses.
I am totally amazed at how so many little things I picked up in Culinary school, are now completely relevant within an enormity of situations at work.
I love meeting all of these new people and feeling like I am a part of something again...a team!
I thoroughly enjoy the surprise in people's faces when they ask me where I'm from and I drop the geographical-bomb that I am actually from Canada. And the responses are always that same: "Why do you guys call it 'Canadian Bacon'?" "You can take Justin Bieber back now." "Ha! You said 'Eh?'! Ha ha ha!" And many, many more...

Besides all of these things, I am tired. I am so tired. This week I have worked 3 shifts so far, but I could have sworn to you that I have worked a months' worth. My days feel so long, and this has little to do with my job itself, but has EVERYTHING to do with how many hours a day I am awake.
My schedule is a set 6:30 AM to 3 PM. Anyone who knows me well knows that I absolutely loathe waking up early. I am a night-owl through and through! And because Jarryd and I normally go to bed between 2 and 3 AM (Parks and Rec definitely has something to do with this!), this means practically zero sleep for Jenny! My past three nights I've achieved bout 4-5 hours of sleep each. 

The last time I slept so little for a number of consecutive nights was when I was wedding planning, visa filing, marriage planning, working, and going to school. And I was the crankiest woman ever. (Lets never talk about that again!)

I'm just not used to going to bed early at all! And when I am going to bed at night with the knowledge that I cannot sleep-in the next morning, I go to bed super cranky. I hate to sound like a diva, but it's true. It's awful. This is how I have been wired. I think it's Gods way of challenging me to be thankful for everything (having a job, having reasons to get out of bed in the morning, having the gift of another day alive)! He is funny...

Therefore, I am awake from 5:50 AM til 2 AM at night. 
And when I'm over-tired like that I end up losing all drive for productivity and waste hours doing really, really stupid things. A perfect example: I wasted an hour of my life watching "Beyoncé: Baby and Beyond" on Netflix. It was the lamest, most unexciting documentary I've ever seen. I honestly could have produced, edited, and narrated it myself. Yes, it was that bad. Apparently it was made in 2013, but it had that 90's picture slideshow type of feel, where they show you a photo and gradually zoom in on it closer...and closer...Ugh.

Ahhem. So there's that.

And on top of pure exhaustion, I'm slightly freaking out because I hardly get to hang out with my husband anymore. (It's been 3 whole days. Hahaha). We have fallen prey into the opposition work schedule trap; I work mornings/afternoons and he works evenings. I don't want to be one of those couples that are like "ships passing in the night", as some may say. 
Either I'm being a baby, or I've just been really spoiled with the gift of unemployment for the first year of our marriage, being able to hang out with my husband for long periods of time. Or both. Maybe I'm a spoiled baby.

But I must confess, I am loving having the evenings all to myself at home. After a long, strenuous, and exhausting day at work, the last thing I want to do is be drug to a social event thanks to my social butterfly of a husband. (Bless his heart). After work all I want is my king-bed, Netflix, junk food, and a glass of wine.

Even though it's been 3 whole days of business, I've learned alot along the way.
My first ever day-off will be in a week from now, meaning after 8 consecutive days of 6:30 AM to 3:00 PM shifts, I will finally have a day off. And since--BRACE YOURSELF-- Sandy Cove will be hosting a men's conference consisting of 1,200 men, 3 of those work days could be potential 14 hour days (I can't even picture that many men in one room, let alone feeding that many men!!!).

Last night I felt incredibly overwhelmed just thinking about my exhausting upcoming week. Once again, I was a total crank. (My poor husband...again, bless his heart). But he gave me some good advice: "Don't think about next week or any of that. Just think of today, and allow yourself to rest in this moment". To you it may be your average common-sense everyday advice, but to me it meant that world and opened my eyes.

It reminded me of what Jesus tells us in Matthew 6...

"Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, not about your body, what you will put on..."

"Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?..." (Seriously!!!)

"Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble".

I hope those words mean as much to you as they do to me! <3 Thank you for reading, and until next time, here are a few photos I took at my workplace. Sigh :)

May 11, 2015

Workin' Woman!

Dearest friends, family, and beloved readers,

It is my pleasure to announce that I am officially a workin' woman! I am so very excited about this, as it has been almost a year since I have been without a job. (For those of you whom don't know the whole story and are assuming that I have just been lazy for the past year, the marriage visa that I'm on  has not allowed me to work until now. So really, I had no choice. Haha!)

The last job I had was back in Canada at an amaaaazing creperie called Spin Dessert Cafe & Bistro.

There I was in the year of 2014, so excited to be at work.
Out of all my jobs---and I've had plenty, that one was definitely my favourite! I mean, working with food, spinning crepes, making waffles, and chopping up endless amounts of strawberries and chocolate, how could I not love it?! It also helps when you have awesome bosses and co-workers. ;)

Hopefully I'm not speaking too soon, but I have a feeling that my current job may be my new favourite! I work at a large Christian retreat center/resort called Sandy Cove, and my official job title is "Prep Cook". *eeee!*

There I am, wearing my new uniform! As you can see I love having photo evidence that I actually have a job.
When I received my Employment Authorization Document from U.S. immigration in the mail, I did a great deal of research online, through friends & family, newspapers, and compiled a list of all the jobs I wanted to apply to. Within that entire list, the number one job I wanted the most was indeed, the Prep Cook position at Sandy Cove.

So a week or two after submitting my application, cover letter, resume, ect., I received a phone call from Sandy Cove. I had an interview scheduled for exactly a week from that day. I hung up the phone and went back to whatever it was that I was doing and didn't think much more of it. Despite that being the job I desired, I wasn't as excited as you'd expect me to be. It was nothing against the job, it was just that a low confidence was beginning to settle deep inside of me.

I really think I would enjoy this job a lot, and because I want it so much I'm probably not going to get it. With my luck, I'm not going to make it past the first interview. They're going to reject me, and I'll end up working somewhere that I hate.

Sad, right? I'm just not the girl who gets the jobs she wants. A few years ago when I lived in Manitoba, I applied to an endless stream of jobs. After not getting a single phone call inviting me to an interview, I let go of my pride and applied to what I liked to call my "last resort job". Of course, they called me (because they're always desperate for workers). I had an interview with them (which I thought went terrifically!), and *GASP* they never called me back! Even after I'd keep seeing new "We're Hiring" signs up at the front of their building they wouldn't give me the time of day. I was shocked. Wow, not even my last resort job will hire me! What made it worse is that I went around telling people how great the interview went. Pfff.

So I do believe that that experience has something to do with my lack of self-esteem when it comes to employment. 

ANYWAY, as the days got closer and closer to the interview I remember telling my husband Jarryd, "I'm not very excited for this interview. Plus, we only have one vehicle, and I can only work certain hours, and I know employers prefer candidates with flexibility." Sigh, sigh, and more sighs.

Although I wasn't too enthusiastic about the whole thing, Jarryd gave me the fabulous idea of creating a portfolio of my best culinary creations so that the employers could see what I'm capable of.
I spent that entire Monday evening putting it together the best that I could, including photos of my best work, my academic report from culinary school, and a lengthy list of every dish I made at school. I was ready!

Just a taste of my portfolio. (It's several pages long!)
Jarryd, being the sweetheart that he is, drove me to my interview that Wednesday morning. As I was getting ready to get out of the car, stunned...I asked, "Where is it? Where's my portfolio...?"
Low and behold, I left it at home! Oh no! The one thing I had that is actually going to give me a chance at this job, I forgot to bring to the interview!

I was so frustrated as I sat in the waiting room. Just my luck, I thought. But as befuddled as I was, a peace from God came over me and just assured me that now if they do happen to hire me, it won't have anything to do with my portfolio. It will only have to do with my resume, and the actual person that is brought before them: Me! (Quite a profound thought).

My interview was with HR, and being that this was a Christian facility, every interview question revolved around my Faith and my relationship with God. It's harder than you'd think it to be! I found myself stammering with my words a few times and going off on verbal rabbit trails. All in all, it was a really enjoyable interview, and my interviewer was an incredibly sweet man. I remember him saying a few times "I am really happy with what I'm seeing on your resume! I'm so impressed"!


After all the questions were asked and the answers were given, he asked me one more question..."We don't normally do this, but if you have the time, would you like to proceed to your second right now?"

Um....a second interview? Already?! YES!

So there I went, to my second interview with Head of Guest Services. (Poor Jarryd had to wait in the car this whole time!) This interview consisted of practical questions more closely related to the actual position of Prep Cook, which is when I confessed that my availability isn't too flexible, and he assured me that they could totally work around that. *Phew*

On the car ride home, I indulged Jarryd in all of the details, when suddenly we were interrupted with my phone ringing. "Hello?"
"Hi Jennifer, this is HR from Sandy Cove. I heard that your second interview went really well, and we'd like to offer you the position!"

And that was that! In the span of less than 2 hours, I was employed with a job that relates to what I went to school for! Here is a lovely aerial photo of it:

Isn't it beautiful? It's right on the Chesapeake Bay!
I'm just so thankful to God that He blessed me with this job. After moving like a zillion times since high school, I am just ready to settle down, and I'm so happy that this, out of all jobs, could be my very first long-term job!

I just completed my first week there, and I LOVED it!
I get free meals every shift that I work (this will totally help out our grocery bill!), AND I can drink -free- coffee with the fun flavored creamers whenever I want, (so pretty much all day, everyday, let's be honest).
Every Thursday we have a meeting with all of the staff there (not just kitchen staff, but ALL of Sandy Cove staff), where the first half consists of announcements, and the second half we watch a sermon and pray together. Then we all eat lunch together (that I helped cook, by the way!). I'm very much loving that this is a social job.
But best of all, I am a COOK. I get to make delicious food and serve God and God's people with something that I enjoy doing.

Thanks everyone! :)
Love, Jenny

May 7, 2015

A Tour of Our Newlywed Apartment Home.

Our one year wedding anniversary, along with our one year apartment anniversary is coming up in just over a month. So I'd definitely say that a tour of our little home is looooong over due.

And just to warn y'all, our home is nothing fancy. It is absolute pennies compared to those gorgeous Instagram photos posted by the many interior design bloggers out there. And in case you forgot or don't know anything in the slightest about me, I am not a professional interior designer.

There are moments when I am just so indescribably frustrated at this apartment.
It's too cold. (No A.C)
It's too hot. (Heating this place is insanely expensive)
I could cry just looking at all of these dirty dishes I have on my counter. (No dishwasher...)
It's not "new" looking. (Old.)
There are too many bugs getting inside. (Holes in window screens)
The colour of this carpet is just awful. (Purpley-Reddish-Pink...nothing matches with Purpley-Reddish-Pink!)
Not enough storage space, ect.

Sometimes the negative voices in my head are so loud that I forget that I am actually living my dream! To explain, for many years now all I wanted was to move into an apartment to share solely with my husband. And now, it's exactly what I have.

To give you a little background as to WHY I so desperately desired an apartment for two, these have been my housing experiences starting with my first year of university:
1) a dorm room with 1 roomie,
2) a dorm room with 9 other girls (I kid you not, there were 5 bunk beds in one room!),
3) a dorm room with 1 roomie and 2 other girls "quad-mates",
4) a room to myself (for the first time ever!), but shared the teeny-tiny condo with 2 girls, and...
5) a basement room to myself but in a little house with 6 other girls. 

I mean, can you really blame me for wanting some space?!

Our apartment may not be even close to perfect, but, what makes it special is that it's OURS; it's our little safe place to come home to after a long days work, and it is where we love to be, (especially me, seeing that I am a total homebody). Whether I choose to believe it or not somedays, this place has some upsides to it as well:
Open kitchen-dining room-living room concept.
Plenty of counter-space and cupboard space.
Awesome landlords!
SO many windows that let in an abundance of natural light!!
French doors in the bedroom.
The apartment is privately owned in a quiet and peaceful neighbourhood.
Huge balcony.
Beautiful light-yellow walls.
Washer & Dryer.

Amazingly enough, that list is actually longer than I pictured it to be! :)

Jarryd and I have actually been really blessed within our first year of marriage here in this apartment. Every single piece of large furniture in here, (dining room table & chair set, antique hutch, bed, end tables, TV, dresser, and couches), were ALL either gifts or hand-me-downs from family and friends. Money has been tight, so the first piece of furniture we ever bought for ourselves was 9 months after we moved in, which was a (much-needed!!) coffee table and a small area rug. Isn't that amazing though?! I couldn't be more grateful for the generosity of our friends and family!

Until I got a job two weeks ago, I was a stay-at-home-wife. So the first ten months of our marriage I spent a lot of time in "nesting" mode and strove to make this little space as cozy and as "homey" as possibly could whilst living on one income.
So with that being said, here are some--very selective--photos of our home!

So after you walk up the steps to our balcony, you will see these lovely flower baskets a hangin'.
These too.
Under our balcony we even have a clothesline! We also have a dryer-rack for inside of our house when we want to dry clothes in the winter. Using a dryer is just too expensive.
This is the view from our balcony in the winter! I absolutely love being surrounded by so many trees!

When you enter our front door, you are immediately welcomed by our kitchen!  (What you can't see is next to the front door is our pantry). When you ignore that giant pile of dishes that are drying, you can notice all of the counter space!
The view of our kitchen and living room from our front door. Ooo la la!
The frame right above our oven. :)
There's nothing like having a window above your sink! And why yes, that is indeed a makeshift curtain made from a lacy scarf and a dish towel. 
Kitchen window sill. The little cork bottle is from Germany. (This is the window where all the lovely little ants like to come marching through. Grr.)
My new sugar pot and butter dish that I found whilst shopping in Alabama. How cute are the birdies?!
Hanging in our kitchen. <3
Ah yes, my most favourite drawer. Many of these tools came with my knife kit from Culinary school.

The wall between our kitchen and living room is perfect to display some of our favourite cards because I really hate the thought of people's precious words to us being stashed in a drawer somewhere, never to be seen again! Hanging all of our cards also really helped when I went through some of my homesick phases. It helped me remember who I am, where I came from, and that I am loved.
And here is our living room, which is probably my most favourite area in our apartment! This photo was taken a few months ago, so my decor is slightly different now. The couches were a surprise wedding gift from Jarryds parents!!
And don't worry, I'm sure we'll get another set of curtains on that other window one day. :P
My new collection of flowers, herbs, and succulents including: Pineapple Sage (smells like pineapple!!), Rosemary, violet (I think?), basil, and some type of flower that actually should be planted in the ground. I am just loving all of the greenery in here! :)
My gorgeous and --sturdy-- coffee table that I ordered from Its color is called "rainwater" and it's just the perfect blue to accent our living room. If you want a solid piece of furniture (IKEA I love you, but you're a little rickety some times), order from Wayfair! This coffee table is pretty heavy and doesn't budge.
Our little TV, XBOX and blanket basket corner. In the winter that basket rarely has any blankets left in it! Brr!
This is what our tv corner looks like presently, as we moved our TV into the bedroom so we could watch Netflix in bed. ;) I guess it's safe to say that this is our little reading corner now!
A collection of our favourite books. See anything ya like?
Our coffee table centerpiece. I love this!
Some wedding photographs. Speaking of which, I definitely need to put more photos up around the house!
A canvas print of our favourite photo from our engagement session, and one of my favourite photos of my parents and I!
My keyboard that I got for Christmas, which doesn't get played nearly enough as it's quite lonely these days.
Our end tables that I painted white, with a few of my favourite cookbooks (mostly Mennonite Girls Can Cook). Hee hee.
The wall between our living room and dining room to display our Christmas cards on. This clock is now broken and stays stuck at the 9:30 mark. Quite annoying to say the least.
Our dining room. As you can see with the office chair, it's a dining room table/office desk right now.
Our beautiful hutch that my Father-in-law found for us at an antique auction for $35. Seriously, what a steal! It's beautiful and great for storage!
Our tiny bathroom. Pretty self explanatory. My next place is definitely going to have a sink with a countertop and cupboard space. A stand-alone sink is not easy, my friends... 
Our bathroom has two doors, one connects to the living room and the other connects to this room: the shower/laundry room. The shower/laundry room has a door that connects to our bedroom.
Shower curtain. In the wall behind this is our stacked washer and dryer. There's even a window in here too!
Our bedroom. Again, this photo was taken a few months ago, so it looks pretty different now (decor-wise). And as you can see, this is connected to our kitchen. Are you loving our carpet or what?!   
Our king bed. As you can see, we don't have much for bedroom furniture. But trust me, a bed frame, nightstands, and curtains are on the list!

Here is a more recent photo of our bed, featuring my new pillows from Target. :)
Last but not least, our beautiful french doors that enter onto our front balcony. Again, I am so thankful for all of the natural light that this apartment lets in.
I hope you enjoyed my little tour! I promise that if you come visit I will feed you with coffee, tea, and an abundance of baked goodies. (What I can't promise you is a totally clean house like these photos might portray). If only you could see it now...hahah! :)