Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I'm beautiful

or at least my blog is, according to the fabulous Sarah at G.I. Joe's Wife!  Thanks for the award!


The rules to this one are quite similar to my last one, so I might cheat because the last time I did this, it turned out to be my favorite blog post to date and I don't know that I could be that creative again!  So here it goes:

The Rules:

1. Thank the wonderful person who gave you this award. {DONE}
2. List 7 things about yourself that your readers wouldn't know otherwise. {THIS IS THE PART WHERE I'LL CHEAT}
3. Pass this award on to bloggers you’ve recently discovered and whom you think are fantastic.{THIS WILL BE THE HARD PART}
4. Contact said bloggers and let them know you've given them an award!



So last time I did this, like I said, it was so much fun and it's my favorite post on this blog. {If you haven't seen it before, check it out!}  I don't know that I can come up with 7 more things about me and make it that fun so I'm cheating...if you want to know a little about me, check out that post here and you'll actually learn 10 things!


On to the presentations: Ok, I just went through my Google reader and couldn't find a single blogger who hasn't received this yet so...if you're reading this and you haven't received this award yet, I present it to YOU!


Thanks again, Sarah!


************************************************************

Grab My Button!

Some of you may have noticed that I didn't post my Moovin March post yesterday, but that's because I not only had BK last week, I also didn't go to the gym AT ALL...total FAIL =(  Thankfully March is over tomorrow!  I'm still going to do my best not to eat fast food, and get my butt to the gym, but at least if I have an off week I don't have to tell the whole world about it any more!  I hope all the other bloggers who participate had great results!  It was great getting to know you all through this activity!


Now I'm off to enjoy the fabulous weather we have here in MO with my hubs who is on spring break this week!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Project365

{21Mar10} FAIL

{22Mar10} Buster NOT freaking out (for a change) on the way to the vet


{23Mar10} 1st tan lines of the year =)


{24Mar10} This little guy was playing on our front door/patio for about 2 hours and I loved watching him!


{25Mar10} Growing my own herbs =)


{26Mar10} My best friend and my BIL's Alma Mater  (Ohio University)


{27Mar10} I'm going to miss our deck and grilling with the friends we've made here


{28Mar10} My craft room; taking more photos to send to the realtor...putting the house up for rent means it's almost time to get out of this town!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Things I'm going to miss...

My last post got me thinking about all the things I'm going to miss when we move to Japan.  Here are a few:































and of course,

Ok, so that was more than a few and a lot of restaurants.  I promise we don't eat out all the time, but occasionally I like not having to cook and I'm going to miss some of my favorite restaurants a lot!  I know there are movie theaters there, but we'll have to wait weeks/months to see "new releases" and I'm going to miss seeing all my favorite singers who aren't big enough YET to have world tours, and shopping in store is just way better than online in my opinion.  Oh, and I'm not going to miss Verizon specifically, as much as my 3G network and instant, "cheep" communication with my friends and family back home.

I now have a list of places I want to visit at least one more time during the next 6 months before we leave, and I can't wait to till I can make a list of things I love about my new home when we get there!

Changes

Just FYI, this post is full of info for our families so it's just a lot of information, nothing really exciting and no pictures.  Feel free to read if you want...I'll get back to the fun stuff tomorrow =)

We officially have orders to Okinawa, Japan and have started the process of PCSing (or moving in civilian terms).  I knew this process wasn't going to be easy, but man the Army and all of it's bureaucracy sure do make it stressful.

Step 1 for us was for me to get a government passport.  I filled out the necessary paperwork, took it to the proper office and got sent away, once because I didn't have my tourist passport with me and then again because my name was in the wrong spot on the orders.  I had to go to a 2nd office to get the orders changed, which at least I was allowed to do w/o my husband with me. (The amount of things I am unable to do on post with out my husband is mind boggling!  I'm still not sure why my husband had to sign off to have my background info released for a job, but that's another post completely)  So after 2+ hours of waiting in line and going back and forth between offices, I got step 1 accomplished all by myself =)

Step 2 was to start the process for our dog.  We knew that there is certain criteria that he has to meet in order to travel with us and I'm glad we started when we did.  To take Buster to Japan, he has to have 2 rabies shots 31 days apart, then get a blood test 21 days after the 2nd rabies vaccine and the day after that test, he has to be quarantined for 180 days.  Luckily while we're stateside, our house is considered quarantine so 180 days of quarantine + 31 days between vaccines + 21 days between the vaccine and the blood test = 232 days until our dog is allowed to run free in Japan.  Too bad we only have 217 days until we are supposed to be in Japan so it looks like he'll have to be in real quarantine for about 2 weeks.  Not too bad all things considered.

Step 3: schedule transportation brief and schedule HHG/UB pick up (House Hold Goods/Unaccompanied Baggage).  This step was easy and painless!

Step 4 was deciding to move back home with my mom for the summer while Jason is away at Sapper/Ranger schools.  This decision was something we debated on for a long time.  Neither of us is thrilled with the idea of me living with my family again (in our opinion, we're grown up and married and not supposed to be living at "home" any more) but we chose this for 2 reasons.

1. it just seems silly for me to live in our big house in MO all alone and fork out closed to $1300 a month on our mortgage and utilities when we could start renting now and put all that money toward paying off debt (we'll be able to pay off over $9000 in debt over the summer). Plus, I won't have to try to maintain our ridiculously large yard all alone, although I don't think that factored into the husbands decision at all ha ha!

2. I will get to spend just a little more time with my family and friends before I move 7,000 mile away.  Again, this didn't really play into my husbands decision at all, but it helped sway me.

So we started the process of getting our house ready to rent, finding a property manager whom we're comfortable with and now we just wait.  We only want to rent for 6 months, because we have friends moving here in January who want to rent our house.  The property manager said this will be a little more difficult but we're going to try.  Hopefully it rents quickly, because that will be one less thing for me to worry about.

Jason is on spring break next week so we hope to have the house 100% ready to rent (except for the holes we'll have to patch after I take down photos) by the end of next week.  We have a long to do list including waterproofing the deck which I'm sure is not going to be fun but it's got to get done!  Have any of you ever rented a house before?  Any suggestions/recommendations?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Flavor of the Week {Homemade Hostess Cupcakes}



I've had this recipe bookmarked for months and I have no idea why it took me so long to make these, but I wish I had done it sooner!  Yeah, it was a little time consuming (and I don't recommend making them while you're in the middle of cooking dinner) but worth every second!  I'm not a huge chocolate fan but once a month every once in a while I get a little craving for some and this definitely hit the spot last night!  I started out doing so well, taking photos at every step, then company arrived and I had to start finish dinner and the photo's at each step got lost in the mix so I hope the directions are easy enough to follow! I'm just warning you, this will use every dish in your kitchen and I think I had to clean out my mixer 3 times through out the process.  Like I said before though, it's worth it!


Originally seen at Bake at 350





For the Cupcakes
1 & 1/4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 & 1/4 cups granulated sugar
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, lightly beaten

For the Filling
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla exrtact
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 cup marshmallow creme
**NOTE: this filling is my favorite part, I'm so happy there was some leftover that I could eat by itself!  You know how people squeeze canned cheese right into their mouth, I was doing that with this filling all night....soooo good!**

For the Ganache
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


For the Icing
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 and 1/2 tablespoons milk 

1 cups powdered sugar
1/8 tsp vanilla



Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350. Place paper liners in muffin tin for about 18 cupcakes.


Prepare the cupcakes: 

Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl.

Bring the sugar and 1 cup water to a boil in a saucepan, stirring until the sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Meanwhile, add the chocolate and butter to the bowl of a stand mixer.  Pour the water/sugar mixture over top and let sit, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture has cooled slightly.


Stir the vanilla into the chocolate mixture then beat in the eggs.  Finally, mix in the dry ingredients.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans (about 1/4 cup batter per cupcake) and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool in the pans for about 15 minutes, then transfer cupcakes to a rack to cool completely.


(They will sink in the middle...THIS IS OK!)

For the filling: Using a mixer, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Beat in 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar. Add the vanilla and 1 tablespoon heavy cream; beat until smooth. Beat in the remaining 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar and 2 tablespoons heavy cream in batches, alternating after each addition. Beat in the marshmallow creme; set aside or refrigerate.


For the ganache: Place the chocolate in a bowl. Heat the cream and 1 tablespoon butter until just boiling, then pour over the chocolate; let stand for 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth. (I had to add my bowl to a double boiler to get all the chunks of chocolate to melt) Add 2 teaspoons vanilla; let stand until cool but still glossy and liquid.

Spoon the filling into a pastry bag with a medium star tip. Insert the tip into the center of each cupcake top; fill until the cupcake is heavier (if the top of the cupcake starts to break apart, IT'S FULL). 
(It's OK if some of the filling peeks out, it will be covered by the ganache.)




Spoon a little ganache on each cupcake and lightly spread with an offset spatula or a knife. Chill for at least 15 minutes.


Meanwhile, prepare the icing: Using a mixer, beat the butter, vanilla, the milk and confectioners’ sugar until smooth, adding more milk if needed. Spoon into a pastry bag with a small tip
 (I used a #2 plain tip);pipe onto the cupcakes to decorate.




mine =)




This is what it looks like when you bite into it before it's cool because it looks/smells too good





The final product=SO GOOD!!!!





Store in the refrigerator.



Wednesday, March 24, 2010

awesome giveaway

Jen at 11th Heaven's Homemaking Haven, life in mexico {and other places} a picture a day, 365 Days of TV-Free Toddler Time, and Mega-Family Blogs is giving away nearly $100 worth of Hot Tamale Dinner Ware...
This, to be exact...





...and this...




To enter, go HERE!

This makes me want to have a fiesta =)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Flavor of the Week {Homemade Ranch Dressing}

Last week I made soda bread for St. Paddy's day which required 1 cup of buttermilk.  Of course you can't buy just 1 cup of buttermilk, no, I had to purchase a whole 1/2 gallon!  (I do know about the trick of adding vinegar to regular milk as a substitute but a friend who claims to be able to tell the difference was coming for dinner, so I didn't want to cheat)  So I've been trying to figure out what do you do with the other 7 cups of buttermilk I have left over and when I saw a recipe for homemade buttermilk ranch in Pioneer Woman's cookbook (which I FINALLY got in the mail yesterday!) I had to try it!  Now I'm not normally a big fan or ranch (I prefer honey French or Caesar) but this homemade version is so yummy and I will never buy another bottle from the grocery store again!  Except for the fresh herbs, I usually keep all of the other ingredients on hand, and since I'm starting my own herb garden and will always have these herbs on hand, it's something that I can easily whip up if the husband tells me at the last minute we're having company!

In case you're wondering what I'm going to do with the rest of the buttermilk, I plan on making some buttermilk biscuits and buttermilk pancakes until this 1/2 gallon is gone!  If they turn out as well as this did, I'll share them with you!

Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
Ingredients:
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 cup real mayo (I hate real mayo, but the hubby likes it, so I keep it around.  I couldn't tell it was real mayo in this recipe!)
1/2 cup sour cream (another ingredient I'm not a fan of, but again I couldn't even tell it was in there with all the  fresh herbs!)
1/3 cup buttermilk (at the end you can add more if you want it to be less thick)
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 TBSP chopped fresh chives
2 TBSP chopped fresh dill
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
dash of hot sauce (optional. I am a weakling and don't like things spicy so I omitted this)

Step 1:
Sprinkle the salt over the chopped garlic like so

and mash it with a fork until a paste forms



Step 2: 
Add the paste and the remaining ingredients to a bowl



and mix together




Step 3:
Pour over your favorite salad



This also makes a great veggie dip and would probably be great on a baked potato!  What's your favorite thing to eat with ranch dressing?

***EDIT***

After letting this marinade over night, I would change 2 things, less dill and less cayenne.  It's a bit too spicy for me (although the hubby loves it) and the dill flavor is just a bit more than I like!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Movin March {week 3 review}

A few weeks ago, I was searching for some motivation to get my butt off the couch and Casey's Moving March at The Ever Changing Life was just want I needed!  So I signed up and agreed to 3 simple rules:
1. No fast food for the whole month
2. Work out at least 3 times a week
3. Blog about it on Mondays

Last week I started out on the rebound from an awful week prior. I did crossfit Monday, which always knocks me out for a few days, then took the pooch for a walk on Thursday.  I managed to get it 2 work outs on Friday, another round of crossfit and 4 hours of dancing with girlfriends in heels.  Now I used to wear heels ALL THE TIME when I lived back in Cincinnati and never did they cause me any pain, but being that there are about zero places here where it seems appropriate to wear heals (I'm sorry, but it's just weird to me to get dolled up and wear heels to WalMart), I haven't worn them in months.  By Saturday morning, my calves hurt SO BAD, I was limping around and chugging water trying to make the soreness go away to no avail....I am sill sore today!  From here on, I vow to wear my heels at least once a week (even if it's to the commissary) just so when I want to wear them, I don't have to suffer through this soreness again!

Oh, and NO fast food this week!  It's amazing how much we rely on the convenience of fast food.  Even though I never have really eaten it A LOT, I've realized how easy it is to just stop and pick something up when you're out.  Twice last week I thought oh, I'll just grab something while we're out and had to remind myself NOT to, to wait the 10 minutes till I got home and could eat something there!


Sunday, March 21, 2010

A little about me



I see other bloggers post this every week and this week, I like the questions, so I'm joining in =)

The questions..

1. What year did you graduate high school? 2000.  10 year reunion is coming up and the hubs will be away at Ranger school...not sure if I'm going to go or not.

2. What part of your body do you neglect the most? my legs...I hate shaving and only do it in the summer when I "have" to...I have no idea how I'm going to survive in Okinawa where it'll be warm all year round!

3. Beach house or Lake house? Lake house!  I'm not a fan of sand!

4. Mac or PC? PC

5. Did you wear braces? I desperately wanted them growing up but my parents couldn't afford them and Army insurance only covers them up until a certain age....I have a horrible overbite (that I have learned to hide quite well in photos) but once our debt is paid, I will be getting invisalign!

6. If you could be one person for a day..living or deceased..who would you be? My grandma when she was young. I want to know what her life was like when my grandpa was off fighting in the Korean war.  I know things were so different than how we deal with deployments now and I would love to experience it!

7. How many times have you moved in your life? counting..........13!  WOW!  Only 4 of them were courtesy of the Army.

8. Would you rather cook or clean? COOK! I LOVE COOKING!

follow up

I wrote a post last week about people who inspire me and as promised, here is the follow up. Our friend's sister met and surpassed her goal to raise money for cancer research and thus, she shaved her head!  Here are the promised photos:

Before:


After:


If I could be 100% sure I'd look as cute as her w/o hair, I would shave my head in a heartbeat!  Kate, you look amazing and what you're doing for Logan and other kids with cancer is truly an inspiration!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Project365 {week...I stopped counting}

{12Mar10} Sending (chocolate) kisses to a friend whose husband is about to deploy for a year

{13Mar10} learning how to sew...making an apron.  I can't wait until it's finished and I can start wearing it!

{14Mar10} we went to a party where we didn't know any one and found my sisters fiancĂ©'s name written on the TV

{15Mar10} making 50 bridal shower invitations for a friend

{16Mar10} our wedding photo in Military Spouse magazine

{17Mar10} Irish stew for St Paddy's day

{18Mar10} our dog looking all skinny on a warm spring day (we inherited him last May when my best friend grandma died and he was a fat, lazy, beagle weighing almost 45 lbs which is HUGE for a beagle.  my husband quickly changed his diet and started walking him and we're really proud of how healthy he is now!)

{19Mar10} my glass, filled with an Amaretto Sour, for girls night out =)

{20Mar10} who needs restaurants when Food Network magazine publishes recipes for "famous" restaurant menu items that you can make at home (that's a Red Lobster biscuit & Bang Bang Shrimp from Bonefish, which I've never actually been to, but these fried shrimp were super yummy!)