December 26, 2008

Christmas "Vacation"

The drama of our flight could have been worse, like some people we could still be stuck in an airport that is somewhere en route (or not!) to our destination, neither here nor there, with a sack of underwear for a pillow and a bag of toiletries for entertainment. Instead, it took us only three and a half extra hours on the airplane, one extra landing, and a three hour drive from the airport which is usually only an hour and a half. It wasn't terrible, except that on the DC to PDX leg we were in separate rows and both stuck in the middle seat and I had the worst seatmate ever . I'm trying to let it go, the seat mate memories, because SGT T is tired of hearing about it, but it's lingering and I'm trying to deal.

Once here our trip has been great. It is always wonderful to see everybody, and all of our friends have made a lot of effort to get over to see us which reminds me that just because I don't have any friends in NC doesn't mean I like not havinng friends. I'm very appreciative of the time taken from work, the extra driving they all do since they don't live in town anymore, the taxiing me around, and all the extra laughs; my friends are the best. I especially love and appreciate the fact that they are anxious to see me this week even though I'll be moving here next month where there will be plenty of time to see me (or put off seeing me!). You guys rock!

My sister wasn't able to be here for Christmas day so her family came up on Christmas Eve and we had an entire separate Christmas with them. Turkey, gravy, Mom's homemade croissants, the whole she-bang! I made the vegetable, and since I had to do the veggie for Christmas day at my aunt's house, I decided to make the same thing for both. And, because I liked the green beans I made for Thanksgiving so much, I decided to make that again, for a larger audience. They may have just been humoring me, most people know that I need some extra back-patting from time to time, but it seemed genuine.

We have to return home on Monday, a sad and depressing thought. We're planning on going up to Portland on Sunday and staying the night since our flight is so early Monday morning, hoping to get to see SGT T's mom whom I've never met before. Assuming our flight gets us home as scheduled, SGT T will have 5 or 6 more days off before he has to be back to work. We'll have to figure out how to celebrate his birthday which is Wednesday, how to celebrate the New Year, all of which will have to be done with no money spending since pay day isn't until the 1st! After the first, I think we'll have to start buying packing materials and find a storage unit. It's time for us to start packing up and getting as much in storage now, as we can. I could be a little over-eager, but I can't help it! I'm so excited!

December 21, 2008


Leaving in a bit, pouring rain for the drive to the airport. Unknown if we'll be able to land in Portland due to weather, then an icy drive home if we do make it. I can't wait!

Happy Holidays!

December 20, 2008

Commencing countdown, engines on

I'm about to tell you something that may shock you: yesterday, I had a manicure AND a pedicure. I know, you are wondering who I am and what they've done with the real me, but calm down, it's me, I promise. For my birthday, SGT T gave me a gift certificate to the local "spa" here on the base so yesterday I finally used part of it. The certificate was for the "Queen for a Day" package, which, how pretentious does that make me feel?, and includes the mani/pedi, a deep pore facial, and a one hour massage. Oh, and my birthday was in August. I figured since I'm moving next month I better use it so I convinced myself that I would do the massage and facial as celebration for completing the Couch to 5K program and I'd do the manicure and pedicure for Christmas. I finished the jogging thing early this week but they had no openings for a massage so I'll have to wait until after the holidays. They did, however, get me in for my mani/pedi. My toes are bright red, for the holiday, and my fingernails were sort of a sheer gold color before I methodically picked at them until the were clean. And that is one reason I don't do manicures.

We leave tomorrow for Oregon and I can't wait! While chatting it up with the nail technician we ended up talking about being able to go home finally and one of the things you look forward to most is the restaurants. Oh man, I can't wait for a burrito from Andale's! From what I hear, we'll also finally get to experience some winter weather. I walked outside yesterday and the thought that ran through my head was, "What is this, California?", it was just too warm! Even the breeze was warm, not like some winter days where the sun is out and so it feels warm but then the wind blows and you're like oh yeah, there it is, it's December after all. Not here, which, I don't know if that is normal or not but it is entirely too warm for my liking. Lucky(?) for me, the PNW is having some crazy weather going on, lots (it's all relative, people) of snow and ice and closed school and closed roads, and that is just perfect for a cozy holiday at home! One thing I really liked about living in Utah was how much it actually felt like winter there, all the snow and cold and just great. SGT T hates it, but maybe because he has to be outside working in it, I don't know. I just know that I *heart* Winter!

We leave tomorrow and I've got so much to do before then. Must exercise since tomorrow will be a travel on my ass kind of day, then laundry so we can pack because I haven't a pair of clean undies left anywhere!, and most importantly cleaning the house so I don't have to worry about it when we get home. Nothing beats coming home from vacation to a shiny sparkly abode. Assuming the cats will pick up after themselves, of course. They've lately taken to terrorizing the windows and we will be lucky if all we have to do when we move out is replace every single set of blinds and not entire windows. I'll try to get a picture of their newest trick of climbing up the window (sheer strength of claws I guess) because it competes in cuteness/annoyingness with them climbing up the screen door and hanging out up their spread eagle.

In an effort to find some Christmas spirit yesterday, I left the house to join the holiday crowds at the local shopping establishments. Not the mall, because I think I would have passed out from stimulation overload, but both PX's here on post, as well as a beauty supply store across the street from the mall. I think I made up for my hermit-like lifestyle yesterday and used up my entire years quota of patience and just being near so many people. In a way, yes, it felt like the holiday season was upon me, I mean all those people spending all that money in an environment with all that forced holiday cheer, how could I not feel it? All I can say is I'm glad to be going home tomorrow so that we can be surrounded by our friends and family, maybe then it will actually feel like the holidays.

December 17, 2008

Because I blogged about pee

I feel bad, I want to blog, I want to tell you all about my life and stuff, but I just have nothing going on and it is sad and depressing and makes for less than interesting blog posts which leads me to thinking it is a good idea to tell you about how many times I peed last night. To make up for it, I thought I'd post a few of my favorite pictures from my trip to Europe last Spring.

This was in an alley in Barcelona

Sacra di San Michele - Near Turin

Sacre-Coeur Basilica - Paris

Les Invalides - Paris

Big Ben and London Eye - London

My cape is yellow and my tights are too

Last night I drank so much water before I went to bed that I got up to pee three times in the first 40 minutes I was in bed. Not counting the two times I went before I crawled under the covers. And by "so much water" I mean the last, oh, I'd say about 4 ounces left in my water bottle.

Those of you that know me know that if I have a super power, it is the power of the Super Tiny Bladder. I should know better, even if I'm a raisin and just crossed the Sahara on my hands and knees without a canteen, I should probably not drink if I'm going straight to bed. I know this and yet I do it, time and again. Not the desert crossing (with or without canteen, on my knees or feet), the water drinking.

I'm not sure what kind of good I can do the world with this kind of super power.

December 14, 2008

I may not have anything going on in my life, but some people do!

Let's talk about my social life. Oooh, sounds fun, but what is there to talk about, you have none.

True dat, people. But listen, I've been stalking you guys fair and square and feel as though I have a vested interest in the events in your life. Sure, I've probably never delurked and commented on your webpage, even though you've bared your soul a time or two and perhaps shared your most vulnerable life experiences. And sure, you've probably never been to my page and so don't know who I am. Or even if you have, you maybe read a post or two and then shrugged your shoulders and said, "meh, ok". Thank you for loving the little people!

Anyways, my point is, wait, do I have a point? Kind of, bare with me! So many of the authors of blogs I read have had so much going on lately, life changing events, and I am so excited for them! The interweb is strange, isn't it? You read what, in some cases, amounts to the journal of a total stranger and feel like you know them. There are babies on the way (and here and here too!), there are hopefully babies on the way, there are house completions, and there are engagements! It seems like every day I refresh my google reader to find more good news out there and it just makes me so excited!

I probably shouldn't be so excited or care so much for the happiness and success in life of total strangers, people I've never talked to, but you guys, I don't care if we never ever talk, I'm just so happy for you all! So, I guess this is like one giant de-lurking comment (but uh, shamelessly on my page instead of yours) to say congratulations and good luck and thank you, thank you for sharing your stories with me!

December 12, 2008

Warning: No happy ending here

Tuck the little ones in, sit back and relax, I'm going to tell you a story.

It all began about 7 months ago, in South Korea. We had a cat there, Kimchi. You remember Kimchi, don't you? If you've been with me since my MySpace blogging days, you are well aware of the Kimchi saga.

Poor Kimchi was a sickly kitten. He was a scrawny, bug eyed, floor-peeing little rascal, but he was my companion. After many vet visits, both Korean and American, much debate and many tears (on my part, SGT T must have a heart of stone), it was decided that he probably wouldn't handle the 18 hour flight (and oh, like 30 hours of travel) involved in getting us from the hotel at the base to my parents house in Oregon very well and we "surrendered" him to the nearest base vet. I don't know why they use that word, but it's like that here too if you are giving up a cared for animal.

Fast forward about 2 months.

Remember Big Mama? She was one of two or three strays that were hanging around our house last summer. Big Mama kept coming back, sleeping on our porch, when the others left. We decided she was looking for a safe place to have her babies and so took her in. She chilled in our basement, only coming upstairs on delivery day and on occasion after that to try to lay a claim to Axle's territory. I say Axle's territory because Axle is clearly the dominant party in the four-legged crew of this house.

Big Mama had her babies, 8 of them at first. While we had them, 3 died, or more likely, were sacrificed by Big Mama, since she was so sickly and didn't have enough in her to keep everybody going. When she started having frequent diarrhea we accepted the fact that we couldn't do enough to keep everybody alive. We figured that everybody was probably well enough to be moved, so we called animal control and they came and got them. More tears.

Then I got out of bed this morning. It was a gorgeous sunny morning, so I went outside to chat with SGT T while he smoked. I saw movement a couple lawns over and finally recognized it as a dog. A puppy - black lab. The dog went up on the porch of our neighbor and I saw a side view of it. I nearly died then, it is possible to have a broken heart over an animal, and to die from it. This dog, no, this puppy, was incredibly emaciated, all bones with a bloated belly, and a limp just in case she wasn't miserable enough. She had a collar on, and if she hadn't been so obviously starving, I probably wouldn't have done a thing, figuring that she just got out of her yard and would make her way back home when she got hungry.

As it is, our morning began with a drive to the county shelter to drop off the dog. When we got there, I went in to make sure we were at the right place, and get a leash. They asked me all the questions they have to ask, my name, address, etc. When I brought her inside, the first thing they said was "Oh, you poor thing". The second thing they said was "How long have you had her?" in a borderline accusatory tone. I hope nobody goes through all the paperwork I've created in my animal rescuing endeavors, I'll come out looking awfully suspicious, don't you think? If we weren't limited to two pets by post housing, we would have Big Mama and her babies, our two cats, and a puppy by now! Thank goodness for strict pet rules, is all I can say.

That is the story. The end. Why do we get all the strays at our house and do other people rescue animals as frequently as we do? I've seen SO many strays on this base and it makes me sad. Sorry for the sad them of this post, it's rather depressing to think about. I'll try to bring something lighter soon, I promise!

December 11, 2008

Privacy, please

"Good lord, do we have to hear about you being unemployed again?"

Well, what else should I write about, please, tell me!

As you know, I'm home a lot. Like, A. LOT. Therefore, my cats have formed some serious bonds with me, and I with them. Sometimes, when I sit myself on the couch, I have a preview of the jungle gym my body will become if I have kids, thanks to the lack of personal space cats so lovingly give. One of my favorite ego-feeding quirks they have, though, is any time I close a door on them, they are waiting anxiously on the other side when I open it again. Granted, we only have the one door in the house behind which we close ourselves so it must be something of a novelty for them to not have full access to me at all times. And even that, at least for me, is only done for the more private of bathroom matters because, let's face it, who am I protecting my privacy from when I am home alone for 15 hours a day?

I do, however, close the door if I am in the bathroom for any considerable length of time because the cats love to play in the bathroom garbage, and they've also become quite adept at finagling Q-tips out of the box, and I can't keep an eye on them while I'm showering or whatever. So, after I shower I will usually open the bathroom door while finishing up my hygiene routine because the room is small and steamy and mildew is rampant and the door being open helps the extra moisture dry up faster. And more often than not, the cats are chillin' right there in the doorway.

It doesn't take long before one, or both, of them come in to see what kind of trouble and destruction they can cause. You should see the shower curtain and the delightful pattern of holes that have cropped up! Cricket will, without fail, jump onto the toilet and then up to the counter in order to better access fresh, clean Q-tips. I think after at least twice landing in the toilet, she has finally learned to check that the lid is down before leaping. Once on the counter, she'll sniff around the sink, play with the water drips, and sniff at the mirrors. However, yesterday something new and, I must say, terrible cute occurred. I guess the sink hadn't been used in a while because it was bone dry and when she got up there, she immediately curled up and relaxed for the duration of my bathroom frolicking.

December 10, 2008

Golden potato goodness

I've never really been a fan of soup. I mean, grilled cheese and a bowl of Campbell's Tomato was a staple growing up, but as an adult, soup hasn't really made much of a regular appearance in my slowly expanding kitchen repertoire. However, after the mashed potato success at Thanksgiving this year, and after seeing all the yummy leftover ideas online, I thought I could maybe make a potato soup from the leftover potatoes. That didn't happen because, well, the potatoes were good so we just ate them. However, there was still a couple pounds left in the bag so I figured I'd give it a try. It's been approximately 9 years since I attempted making soup from scratch. Wow.

I tried the recipe Una Donna Dulce posted here. On a side note, someday I hope to learn how to take decent pictures. I like to blame the lameness of my photos on the really terrible lighting in the kitchen here, but who am I kidding, right?

Loaded Golden Potato Leek Soup
4 slices thick cut hickory smoked bacon
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
3 leeks - white and light green parts only, cleaned and sliced thin (I used regular old green onions since I wasn't making a trip to the store any time soon)
2 Tbsp Italian seasoning (I used whatever seasoning was in the cupboard, plus some basil and oregano to make it more "Italian")
1 Tbsp garlic powder (I also used a couple of pieces of garlic, minced)
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper
2.5 - 3 lbs. yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed and sliced thin
8 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves (I had no bay leaves and can't remember what I used instead. I pretty much just used the spices I had in the cupboard as I apparently lack all the important ones!)
2 parmesan rinds (I'm not really clear on what, exactly, a parmesan rind is, but, taking an educated guess and working with what I had in the fridge, I just cut about 1/8" off the edges of my wedge and tossed it in - the edges, not the wedge)
1/2 cup eggnog (yes - eggnog! heavy cream would work too)(alas, I had neither so I used skim milk as that was all we had)
1/3 cup sour cream
salt and pepper to taste

For serving;
shredded cheddar cheese
chopped scallions
sour cream
crumbled bacon

Fry bacon in the bottom of a large stockpot until crisp. Remove and save for topping. Add butter to bacon fat (I drained the bacon fat), then saute leeks until soft. Add seasonings and potatoes, then stock. Bring to a boil. Add bay leaves and rinds and simmer until potatoes are really soft and falling apart.

Remove bay leaves and rinds. Use a hand blender to blend to the desired consistency (I like it still a little chunky). (After blending, I added sliced carrots, celery, and mushrooms which I had sauteed with more onion and garlic)Bring back to a simmer just long enough that it gets really thick. Remove from heat, stir in eggnog, sour cream and season to taste.

I also mixed the bacon and stuff into the soup instead of putting it on top. If I had been thinking, I would have kept some out and actually garnished the soup but oh well.

This was the best soup I've EVER had. Period.

December 8, 2008


For Thanksgiving weekend, SGT T had 4 entire days off. Whoa. What did we do with all that time together, you ask? SGT T played computer games, I read and/or watched TV. What? We were in the same room, at least. Seeing as I have nothing else to do, I found some really incredible looking recipes for our Thanksgiving Day feast and went to work. Wednesday I made the pie (pumpkin, of course), bread crumbs for the stuffing, and prepped all the veggies for the stuffing.

Instead of Turkey I made Cornish game hens, with this Honey Game Hen recipe from Paula Deen of the Food Network. The reviews for the recipe were fantastic and I was excited to try it out. They sure looked good, coming out of the oven. Unfortunately, even though the thermometer told me they were well and done, once we made it through just enough of the bird to make it not worth reheating, we discovered they were, in fact, really, really not done. We then spent the rest of the night waiting to see who would get dibs on the toilet for the food poisoning festivities. But not before I ate as much pie as possible. What? Tell me you'd do different!

The stuffing, on the other hand, was great! I found the recipe from Crabby Cook and was extremely pleased with how it turned out. My only mishap with the stuffing came when making the bread crumbs. Apparently our oven is lame, or it could possibly be me, and I burned one side of two entire trays of bread. I went back to the store for another loaf and tried again, this time at 200 degrees and just kept checking them until they were done. Much better!

I've never, EVER, been a fan of the green bean casserole so I found an alternative recipe here. I altered it somewhat by skipping the blue cheese (I had to get SGT T to eat it somehow), and adding bacon (again, you can get him to eat just about anything if you put bacon in it!), and used regular yellow onion instead of shallots. I don't know if SGT T actually ended up eating them or not, he was too busy scarfing down a raw hen, but I really liked it.

And of course the best part of the meal, the mashed potato's, I didn't take a picture of. But holy cow, they were good! Seriously, like the best mashed potato's ever. EVER. I roasted some garlic (inspired, again, by Crabby Cook) the day before, used yellow potato's instead of regular old brown whatever they are ones, left the skin on because that's the way we roll, and added a bit of sour cream when I mashed. Yum. The gravy had to be made from a packet of Lipton's onion soup because the hens didn't really leave any sauce or drippings, so it wasn't fantastic but for a girl who has made gravy from scratch like, twice, I'd say it was quite fine.

Not terribly fantastic, but not bad. And, we escaped the food poisoning which was really lucky because we only have the one bathroom and I wasn't sure how I felt about using the tub while SGT T used the toilet.

December 5, 2008

"Mac" and cheese

I've made, and posted about, this before but that post is no longer up here so I'm re-posting. Besides, it turned out way better this time. I actually made this a few weeks ago but am just now getting around to posting it. The reason would be because in order to download pictures from my camera I have to use the computer in the extra bedroom. The extra bedroom has become a vast no-man's-land, leaving you isolated and cold, unsure if you'll find your way back. We have to keep the door closed to the extra room because Cricket loves to pee on the futon and I don't love to clean it up. Ergo, isolated and cold - banished, if you will. It leads to me procrastinating and putting off doing anything involving that computer, even though the mac is my one true love, in order to avoid being stuck in that room. SGT T even suggested bringing the mac out to the living room and just setting it up on the coffee table. Classy, and oh so tempting.

Once again, the recipe is from Carmen Cooks, who adapted it from Amanda Hesser's "Cooking for Mr. Latte".

Macaroni and Cheese adapted from Amanda Hesser’s “Cooking for Mr. Latte”

2 tablespoons butter , plus more for buttering dish (I used cooking spray for the pan)

2 tablespoons flour

2 cups whole milk (I used skim because it's all I had)

1 1/2 cups grated monterey jack cheese, plus more for topping

3 1/2 cups cooked elbow macaroni (I used shells)

1 cup country ham, cubed (I used bacon. BACON!)

1 cup canned whole plum tomatoes with juice , drained (reserve the juice)

3/4 cup coarse breadcrumbs

ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350, and butter an 8 x 8 baking dish (I used a full size casserole dish, I think the shell pasta was HUGE and it all fit better this way).

In a saucepan, heat the two tablespoons butter until foamy. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk until it turns golden, then slowly pour in the milk, continuing to whisk.

Bring to a simmer over medium heat and let it thicken.

Stir in the cheese and remove from the heat (it should be a loose sauce). Fold in the macaroni and ham, then add tomatoes by squeezing them between your fingers. The mixture should be loose like a thin batter; if it’s gluey or thick, add a little milk or drained tomato juice.

Pour into the casserole dish and spread breadcrumbs over the surface. Top with 1/4 cup cheese and ground pepper (I also added some paprika, both in the sauce and on top. Oh, and some parmesan.). Bake until browned on the top and bubbling, about 25 minutes.

December 2, 2008

Just because I'm not in school doesn't mean my education is over

I learned that jogger's nipples are real.

I guess this is as good a time as any to out myself and what I'm trying to train my body to do. I still feel hesitant to write about it, but I can't just tease you with nipple talk and not explain, now can I?

In October I started doing Cool Running's Couch to 5K program. It is a 9 week training program designed to gradually work your body up to being able to run 5k (~3.1 miles). I found some free podcasts that Robert Ullrey put together, which are great because, if you looked at the program, there is a lot of "run for this long then walk for that long now run for this long", and I didn't trust myself to remember to watch the clock while dying, and Robert tells you when to change pace. Robert made a podcast for each week, set to music, and informs you when to run and walk, and offers just enough encouragement throughout. One thing I like about the program is that you can do it either by time or distance. I chose to do it by time, mainly because that is how the podcasts are structured, but also because how do you go around measuring all these different distances and stuff? So now I'm half way through week 7 and will be jogging 30 minutes at a time by Christmas.

I was going to wait until I finished the entire 9 weeks before I posted about it, but I received an email from a friend wondering why I wasn't posting - sometimes it is a real stretch for me to come up with bloggable material, what with my anti-social tendencies and my BFF status with two cats. I had been contemplating the nipple post ever since I realized my friction problem, but knew that once I did I would have to explain why I thought it possible that I was in possession of a pair of nipples that deserved to be talked about for an entire blog post. So, in order to satisfy the masses, and since I've got nothing else about which to write, you get my boobies! Which you can't really complain about, now can you? Except for wondering why there aren't any pictures, where are the pictures?!