Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

3 Reasons Why 2013 Was the Best Year of My Life

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

New Years Eve is here again! As I look back over the year, my heart is fuller than it’s ever been. I thought I’d share three reasons why this past year has been my favorite so far.

Reason #1 – My perspective has changed. For awhile I was feeling very restless. I wanted to move somewhere outside of the Seattle area, and I do think I will someday eventually. But I began to remember that today is the day to really live – yesterday is the past and tomorrow hasn’t happened yet. Today is real, and it’s no good wasting it with discontent.

I haven’t been out of the Seattle area, even for a short trip, for more than a year. And yet this past year has been more full of adventure and new people and new situations than many in the years past. All these interesting people and circumstances were right in my backyard, as long as I had the eyes to see it.

As a Christian, I also believe that God has a will for my life. Remembering to ask Him what He wants for each day, and keeping my eyes open to the present moment, and aware of what/who He might want me to notice, makes each day more interesting than it could ever be by just trying to make it that way.

Reason #2 – This is the year I decided to become a nurse! I’ve talked about this at length already (you can view the post here). I am so excited to have a direction in my career, and beginning this process has brought about much of the change mentioned before. I’ve been taking classes at community college for the past three quarters. Science was as challenging as I thought it would be, and yet I’ve conquered it somehow, and even become more and more curious and interested in all that I’m learning. That’s a miracle in itself!

school

I also began volunteering at a local ER. It’s hard for me to even sum up all that I’ve learned and felt and experienced through doing that. I’ll probably write more about it another time, but it has given me so much meaning and increased my purpose and determination to pursue nursing. If I had to decide right now I would be an ER nurse (although of course that may change).

jessie

Shameless scrubs selfie

Reason #3 – Rex. This boy. My little nephew has completely captured my heart. He’s sleeping peacefully on my lap as I type this. I was excited for him to come, but I never knew I could love him so much! It is the strangest thing to one day suddenly have this new little person in your life, and suddenly there is one more person that you love!

Rexy

While this probably isn’t the place or time to go into full detail, Rex had a handful of unexpected health scares in the month before he was born. It was humbling how many people prayed him into health over and over…today he is 100% healthy and it is 100% an answer to prayer. My sister calls him her miracle baby. I just think there is no better way to come into this world than surrounded by love, prayers, and God’s protection!

rex

I’m sorry if this post is a little sappy! I’m just feeling so blessed right now. Of course my life isn’t perfect, but I’ve never before felt such a sense of God’s direction and guidance, and seen so much of His protection over my family as I have in 2013. I don’t think I can ask for anything more in life.

Blessings to you in 2014!

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My Favorite Blog Moments + A New Season

Friday, December 27th, 2013

One thing I enjoy about this time of year is the chance to review the previous season, and then clear out and organize for the coming year. One project I’ve taken on in this process is sorting through my blog. I read through each of the posts from the past 2+ years, and organized them into their correct categories (you can view these at the top of the site).

I have to admit I felt a little sentimental reading through it all! I put a lot of hard work into the posts, and much of that was fueled by the ambiguity I felt in my career and future. This blog has been an immensely refreshing creative release for me.

That said, now that I’m in school, I have less time for blogging. I’ve had to think about where I want to take this site that I’m so fond of. To be honest, I’m not sure what the content will look like in the future. I do feel, however, that its identity as a baking blog has drawn to a close. I simply don’t have the time required for baking posts anymore.

I do want to keep this blog up and running though. I love having a medium where I can write/create/share, and sometimes even connect with others out there in the internet world. I will keep posting – I plan to write some thoughts on 2013, as well as an update on my nursing journey very soon.

In the meantime, as I’ve just revisited the history of this little site, and as this blog is officially moving from one chapter to another one, I thought it might be fun to highlight the best moments and my favorite posts from the past 2 years, in chronological order. I feel a lot of gratitude as I look back over what I’ve experienced the last couple of years. Let’s review!

1. Lemon Gooey Butter Cookies.

Lemon-Gooey-Butter-Cookies

This was my first recipe post, back in September of 2011. I submitted the photo to Foodgawker.com and was shocked when it was accepted, and the post got 1000 hits in one day! It was so exciting. If you are a food blogger, I highly recommend sites like Foodgawker for exposing your work to others.

This is also literally one of my favorite cookie recipes. Here is the original post with the recipe: jessienextdoor.com/2011/09/02/lemon-gooey-butter-cookies/

2. 2011 Summary Post

2011

This series of photos are some of the first I ever took with my DSLR. I think any creative person would say that they often feel they are “given” something (such as a song). I felt like these photos were a gift. The mornings when I took them were so refreshing as well…it’s a good memory.

Here is the post: jessienextdoor.com/2011/12/31/2011/

3. Lavender Cupcakes with Honey Frosting

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This is the most popular recipe on my blog by a verrrrrry long shot. AND Lauren Conrad featured it on her blog once. I just can’t get over that! You can view it here: laurenconrad.com/blog/post/friday-favorites-53-lauren-conrad-cupcake-hair-braids-shoes-print-2012

…and here is the original post: jessienextdoor.com/2012/03/21/lavender-cupcakes-with-honey-frosting/

4. Style Posts

I thoroughly enjoyed photographing some friends of mine and displaying their style and creativity! These shoots are some of my favorite memories. Pictured below is Grace from the post Late Summer Maxi Dress (link here).

Grace2

5. Lemon Lavender Bars and New Day Northwest

Of course one of the most unforgettable moments was winning the Girl Scouts Cookie contest and presenting the recipe on New Day Northwest!

6. Lauren Elizabeth Interview

One of my very favorite bloggers is Lauren of thelaurenelizabeth.com. She was so kind as to write a guest post about blogging. She was such a pleasure to work with – really prompt and helpful. I loved reading what she had to say.

Photo-on-4-26-13-at-11.59-AM-4

You can view her guest post here: jessienextdoor.com/2013/06/26/guest-post-lauren-elizabeth-on-blogging/.

7. My New Career

I took some time to write out the paths I’ve taken in my search for the right career, and my new journey towards nursing. I’m so beyond excited to be where I am in life right now, and it was a lot of fun writing it all out. You can view this post here.

scrubs

What a journey! Even as I look back over my personal life in 2013, I’m so amazed at what can happen in a year or two years’ time.

Thank you so much to any of you who read my blog. I hope you have a wonderful last few days of December!

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Book Review – The Cuckoo’s Calling (J.K. Rowling)

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

cuckoo's calling

When it was revealed this past July that J.K. Rowling had written a detective fiction novel under the alter ego Robert Galbraith, I knew I had to read it ASAP!

I love the Harry Potter books so much, and will continue to reread them probably throughout my whole life. I think they’re an example of a story carefully and thoroughly planned out from beginning to end, satisfyingly complete in the midst of its complexity.

The Cuckoo’s Calling is a story of much less epic proportions. It is simpler, and you can sense that Rowling is allowing herself to relax and ease into a genre that is fun to write, and fun to write with a pseudonym, thus avoiding the hoopla and pressure.

It is the story of Lula Landry, a model who plunges to her death from her balcony to the result of mass media coverage.

Cormoran Strike is the detective hired to investigate, and the hero of this series (a sequel is due out in 2014). He is described as not handsome – with a look similar to a “young Beethoven who had taken to boxing”.

The book as a whole is tidy and methodical. Occasionally I felt that it was slightly tedious, as Strike meticulously works through interviews with the different people in Lula Landry’s life. But every time I felt that way, I was reminded that this style reflected Strike’s personality, a trait that I really enjoyed about him.

Strike’s character is organized in his detecting because his own life is in shambles. Because of relationship problems he is living in his office, which is awkward when his new temporary assistant Robin arrives.

I also enjoyed how Rowling, with the perception of a true writer, described the intricacies in the ways people relate to each other. For example, at one point Robin has to tell Strike that he buttoned his shirt wrong. He looks down and sees that a bit of hairy belly is exposed. He then resolves to be a bit cold to her for a day or two, to balance out the accidental intimacy of the patch of hairy belly. These are things that most of us would think and do subconsciously, but a truly amazing writer like Rowling notices and expresses.

Overall the book is a little dark, but not over-oppressive. The content would probably be considered PG-13 – there’s a lot of swearing.

I probably never would have guessed it was J.K. Rowling, but I’m sure I would have liked this novel regardless. I give it a B+ overall – I can’t wait to read the next installment!

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Apple Muffins

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

AppleMuffins_full

It’s that time of year again! The calendars have flipped to September, Bath & Body Works is full to the brim with tempting pumpkiny candles, and kids are heading back to school.

This is actually my favorite time of the year, because it’s the moment in the calendar year that perfectly balances present beauty and future holiday fun – the weather outside has the golden hue of late summer, but fall brings the comforting return of structure and purposefulness. Then comes Thanksgiving and Christmastime!!

OK – enough rhapsodizing about the seasons! Naturally, this is the time when I really start to get the baking itch. I thought I would start things off this season with apple muffins.

Apples

I found a recipe for Apple Pie Muffins off of Food.com. I made a few adjustments after reading through the comments. In the end, I wasn’t 100% happy with the results – the muffins were not quite the right texture and something was lacking in the taste.

crumble

However, I thought I would still share the photos with you, because it has been such a long time since I’ve posted a proper baking post.

I don’t want to leave you empty handed though, so I will say that the original recipe is worth taking a look at, because people were losing their minds in the comments about how good these were! The recipe can be found here: http://www.food.com/recipe/the-best-apple-pie-muffins-ever-110506.

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I won’t give you the recipe with my adjustments since it was just average, but I will share with you three muffins I’ve made in the past that I would re-make in a heartbeat:

cappuccino-muffins1

Cappuccino Muffins (http://jessienextdoor.com/2012/06/29/cappuccino-muffins/ )

muffins1

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins (http://jessienextdoor.com/2011/10/09/banana-chocolate-chip-muffins/)

BranMuffins5

…and Grandma’s Bran Muffins (http://jessienextdoor.com/2013/05/29/grandmas-bran-muffins/)

I highly recommend any of these three muffin recipes!

Are you getting started with autumn baking? I think pumpkin may be calling my name soon…

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Jessie's Kitchen Chronicles