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I'm a twenty-nine year old Army wife currently living near a large Army post. I have an unhealthy obsession with Dr. Pepper, the Internet, cloth diapers, and ridiculous TV shows. I'm a stay at home mom to two beautiful daughters, AJ and Amelia. We also have a 6 year old beagle named Abby who is as dumb as a box of rocks.
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Monday, February 28, 2011

Soup For YOU!!!

As you can tell, D was gone this week, so I made soup.

I love soup, but it tends to not really be enough for a full dinner for D, so I rarely make it when he's home. That is, unless I make grilled cheese or serve a salad and bread with it. The point is, I made soup this week and it was heavenly.

Our mail is finally catching up with us from the move and the address changes, so we got our February issue of Family Circle late. In it, however, was a whole section of recipes for homemade soup! I saw two recipes that caught my eye, so I decided make them this week while D was gone. They were so good, so I'm sharing them with you!

Red Pepper-Tomato Soup

Makes 6 servings; Prep Time 15 minutes, Cook Time 8 minutes

1 jar (12 ounces) roasted red peppers in brine, drained
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 can (28 ounces) tomato puree
1 c low-sodium and fat-free chicken broth
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 c heavy cream
croutons, for serving

1. Combine drained peppers and diced tomatoes in a blender or food processor. Puree until smooth.

2. Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add pepper-tomato mixture, tomato puree, chicken broth, sugar, salt, and pepper. Heat just to simmering, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in heavy cream. Return to stove and heat through. Ladle soup into bowls; top each with a few croutons.

For this recipe, I also added a little bit of red pepper flakes to spice it up a tad and it was delicious. Also, since I was making this for only one person and the recipe feeds 6, I froze the soup before adding the cream so when I defrost it in the future, I'll just add a little cream to my bowl and stir it in.

The next soup I made was totally different, but something I'd been wanting to try for a while.

Winter Veggie Bisque

Makes 6 servings; Prep time 15 minutes; Cook time 12 minutes

1 large onion, peeled and halved
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and cored
3 carrots, trimmed and peeled
2 tbsp butter
2 packages (12 ounces each) frozen cooked winter squash, thawed
3 c vegetable broth
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp cayenne
1/2 c heavy cream

1. Shred onion, apple, and carrots either with a box grater or with shredding blade in food processor. Heat butter in large pot over medium heat. Add shredded onion, apple, and carrot. Cook 7 minutes, until softened.

2. Stir in squash, broth, sugar, ginger, salt, cinnamon, and cayenne. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 5 minutes.

3. Transfer mixture to food processor fitted with chopping blade or to blender. Puree until smooth (do this in batches, if necessary). Return to pot and stir in heavy cream. Gently heat through.

Again, I froze the leftovers of this soup before adding the cream, so if you plan to make this and freeze, I would keep that in mind. I also couldn't find frozen squash at our commissary, so I just oven roasted some butternut squash in the morning and then let it cool. After if was cool, I cut it into chunks and used that instead of the frozen variety.

I hope you all enjoy these recipes, I know I'm already looking forward to our next "soup dinner" so I can break out these from the freezer!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Uh, hi!

Sorry I totally fell off the face of the planet this week. It was a long week. D was in the field and AJ and I were busy hanging out all week. When AJ was sleeping I was furiously trying to finish my 600+ page book for book club on Friday night.

I didn't finish it, but I did come close! I only had about 20 pages left when I had to leave to pick up some of the other girls.

Saturday D and our neighbor C took AJ to the gun show while I went with C's wife to Ikea! We did some damage and had a great time shopping. D spent Saturday night putting together some new furniture and I caught up on Glee.

Today our plan is to hang around the house and enjoy the Spring weather we've been having around here. I feel like I haven't seen D or really relaxed all week, so it will be nice to have a low-key day at home.

I hope you all had a good weekend and check back here later this week to find some recipes that I promised a few people I'd post (they're really good)!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

It's Gonna Be A GREAT Week!

Not.

I woke up at 0437 this morning when D left for the field for the week, only to find not one, but two text messages from caring, concerned friends informing me that I either got a new MacBook Pro or my email account had been hacked.

Great.

Most of you don't need to worry, I have a separate account for my blog, but its just annoying. I've gone through all the security options on Google this morning and I'm pretty sure that my email accounts are more secure than Camp David at this point. You know, because I have lots of super-secret squirrely things hidden in my email, like 437 emails from places like Pottery Barn, PB Teen (so what if I don't have a teen), West Elm, Crate and Barrel, CB2, Zulily and the obvious 9,000 notification emails from Facebook.

Despite the stellar start to my week, I'm trying to keep a positive attitude and just move on from the blatant invasion on my personal privacy.

I trust that you all will let me know if you receive any weird emails from my blog account. As far as I can tell, the hack was just on my personal email, but you just never know with kids these days!

So, a short PSA from This American Wife: CHANGE YOUR GMAIL (and other free email servers) PASSWORD OCCASIONALLY. I'm not crazy, I'm not going to make you change it every 90 days or anything like that, but Google recommends every 6 months and the last time I remember changing mine was um, never.

There you have it folks, a lesson in what not to do, courtesy of me.

Monday, February 21, 2011

4 Day Weekend

As many of you know, today is President's Day and lots of military service members had what is known as a 4-Day (in other words, they had a 4 day weekend off work). We are no exception in this house, D has been here at home with us for the entire weekend and its been great.

I remember a time, not too long ago, when, due to the nature of D's job, a 4-Day typically meant more work and not less. I'm glad to be past that, even if I know that the day will come when he has to work all the time again. It just stinks to get called in on a long weekend because someone messed up again. It comes with the territory, I guess.

Back to the weekend! My parents came into town this weekend. This was the first time they've been out to see the new house. I'm pretty sure that they really came so they could see AJ and my dad could do manly things with D and his buddies. Since my siblings and I have all moved out, my parents are officially empty-nesters and I think my dad really enjoyed going on a trail run with D and a few other guys.

We were able to make a trip out to a neighboring town for lunch on Saturday and it was so nice! The weather was beautiful all weekend! My parents bought us a fire pit, garden hose, sprinkler and an axe as house-warming gifts. The axe was promptly used to chop down a dead tree in our backyard. Don't worry, we stocked up on extra bandages at the store and had 9-1-1 already punched into the cell phone, just in case. ;)

All in all, it was a good weekend. My parents flew home yesterday and we are back here, hanging out, D in the garage, me stuffing cloth diapers in the kitchen. I've got a trip to the grocery store planned for the afternoon. Oh, the exciting life I lead!

I hope everyone else is enjoying the long weekend and hopefully y'all got some of our nice weather, too!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Marriage and the Military

I read a post the other day that got me thinking.

Everyone always says that the first year of marriage is the hardest.

I was pondering this statement and I came to the realization that our first year of marriage was hard, but I wondered if it "counted." You see, D was deployed for most of our first year of marriage. We had our wedding May 17 and he left for Iraq a month later.

So obviously, that first year was hard. It was hard in ways that don't even compare to what most couples go through in their first year of marriage. But would it have been hard if we had been together?

I decided that our first year didn't count, since we were 7,500 miles apart. I decided to take a look at our second year of marriage. Yes, it was a hard year for us. Looking back on it, though, we were going through a lot of the reintegration issues that are common among military families after a deployment. Oh, we also moved, found out we were pregnant and had a baby. Can you say stressful? But would it have been hard if I hadn't just spent a year wondering if my husband would come home to me?

I suppose the second year of our marriage was a lot like what most couples go through that first year, but intensified. I mean, we all have to adjust to another person's habits and quirks, but I think that for military families, its different. We spend a year (or sometimes more) worrying about the safety of our loved ones and then one day, they're back in our house, unloading the dishwasher wrong or messing up our routines.

In a way, I think that D and I are really just starting our first year of marriage, in the sense that we're in the same country, living in the same house, and we're not dealing with lingering issues from his all-expenses-paid, year long trip to Iraq. I just wonder if it will be as hard as they say it is.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Breakfast, Anyone?

I've never been a breakfast at breakfast-time person. I much prefer cold pizza or leftover chinese food in the morning. Coffee? No, thanks, I'll have a Dr. Pepper at 7 am any day, though!

Does that make me weird? Is it gross that its 9:45 am and I'm eating hot and sour soup and pork fried rice? No, I'm not pregnant, I've just always been this way. Its not that I don't like breakfast food, I like bacon, eggs, pancakes, and waffles as much as the next girl, just not for breakfast.

D, on the other hand couldn't be more obsessed with breakfast. In fact, his favorite dinner is, you guessed it, BREAKFAST! The man could eat eggs until he turned into one.

AJ seems to be taking after her Daddy. Her favorite thing to eat in the morning is eggs! I've started adding shredded cheese to them to get some more calcium in her diet and she is in heaven!

We've noticed lately that she doesn't seem to be eating as much as she has in the past (we're thinking she might be sprouting another tooth here soon) and eggs are always a sure hit with her. At least I know that she's eating a good breakfast, even if I'm eating crab rangoon. ;)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Valentine's Day Menu

The first thing I made for our Valentine's Day dinner was the chocolate covered pound cake. This is pretty much the easiest, most delicious dessert ever. Its decadent, and looks impressive, but really takes about 15 minutes to make.

Chocolate Covered Pound Cake
via My Mom

1 Sara Lee Frozen All-Butter Pound Cake
3 Giant Bars Hershey's Milk Chocolate
3/4-1 c. Sour Cream

Over a double boiler, melt chocolate bars until smooth. Stir in 3/4 c (or more) sour cream until thoroughly combined.

Meanwhile, slice pound cake several times horizontally (you will be "frosting" it so the whole thing looks like a layered cake when cut). Spread chocolate mixture in between cake slices and then stack and finish frosting the outside of the cake.

Place cake in freezer for at least 1 hour before serving. Serve frozen.

Next I got the chicken in the oven to roast. I made Ina Garten's Friday Night Roasted Chicken and it was so good. This is the chicken she makes every Friday for Jeffrey, in case you were wondering. I didn't use a whole chicken, but instead used bone-in chicken thighs we already had. I also omitted the roasted veggies that she had in her pan and just made the chicken. The recipe below is how I made it. Click on the title of the recipe for the original recipe.

Perfect Roast Chicken
via Barefoot Contessa

4 bone-in chicken thighs
salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 large bunch fresh thyme
3 lemons, quartered
1 head garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Liberally salt and pepper the chicken. Arrange the bunch of thyme, lemon, and all the garlic around and on top of the chicken thighs. Drizzle the outside of the chicken with the butter and sprinkle again with salt and pepper.

Roast the chicken for 1 hour, or until the juices run clear when you cut it. Remove chicken from pan and cover with foil for about 15 minutes.

And finally, the root veggie mash, which was something that is totally out of the norm for us. It was delicious and paired perfectly with the chicken. It was wonderful!

Root Veggie Mash
via Skinny Bitch Ultimate Everyday Cookbook

2 rutabagas, peeled and cubed (I used 1)
2 parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
1 potato, peeled and cut into chunks (I used 3 red potatoes)
pinch of salt
3 tbsp Earth Balance (I used butter and way more than 3 tbsp)
1/3 c almond milk (I used about 2 tsp half and half)
1/2 tsp salt
pepper, to taste
1 tbps chives, for garnish (we didn't have chives, so I skipped this)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the rutabagas, parsnips, potato and a pinch of salt. Cook the vegetables until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and place in large bowl. Add the Earth Balance, almond milk, salt and pepper. Beat with an electric mixer and whip until fluffy (I used a potato masher and left mine lumpy). Garnish with chives and serve immediately.

And there you have it, folks! Our full Valentine's Day meal. I hope you try these recipes and enjoy them as much as we did on Monday!

Monday, February 14, 2011

How's That For A Surprise?

Remember when I said that D was going to have to be in the field for Valentine's Day? Well, yesterday when he went into work, they informed him that he wouldn't have to (none of them did). Not only that, but he was able to come home early as well!

I was planning to run to the commissary to pick up some stuff for our makeshift Valentine's Day later this week and also get some stuff for my parent's visit this weekend. Since D was home early, he suggested that I go alone and leave AJ with him for the afternoon. (All you mama's out there know that there is no better gift than running errands with no kids in tow.)

I had a few things I needed to do, including pick up my book for the next book club session and I wanted to get my nails done too, so I kind of took my time.

When I got home I was informed that there was a surprise waiting for me. D walked out to the garage and came back in with the cutest thing in history.

D and AJ finger-painted this for me while I was gone! It says, "WE {Heart} MOM," which I'm told was written with AJ's toe dipped in paint.

Me and my little artist posing by her masterpiece. ;)

After we put AJ to bed (who, by the way, has been the crabbiest baby in history lately, ugh) we sat down to eat our delicious, fancy, candlelit Valentine's Dinner. We even turned off the TV. ;) I made Barefoot Contessa's Roasted Chicken (that she makes every Friday for Jeffrey) and root veggie mash instead of mashed potatoes. For dessert we had frozen chocolate covered pound cake. OMG. So good! Recipes for the complete V-Day meal are to follow.

I just have to say that this Valentine's Day ranks up there with the best. It was seriously so nice to just relax and spend time with my loves.

Best.Valentine's.Ever.

Rockin' Robin

I created a Twitter account.

Ever since, I haven't been able to stop singing the song, "Rockin' Robin." You know, the one that goes, "tweetle dee deel dee" and all that. There is just something about saying "tweet" that makes me sing that song in my head.

Anyway, my tag is @ThisAmericanWif. Come and find me, and follow me. Also, if you tweet, let me know what your tag is if I don't already follow you.

That is all for now.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Un-Happy Valentine's Day...

Friday afternoon I got a phone call from D, letting me know that he was on his way home from work, but that he needed to stop off and get my Valentine's Day gift first.

Yay!

This was followed by him telling me that his unit decided that they're going to start making the guys stay overnight in the field once a week. They're starting this on Monday. As in, Valentine's Day.

As in, they told them Friday afternoon that they need to be prepared to stay overnight on Monday.

Now, D and I aren't really big celebration people, and we have a baby, and we'd rather die than go out to eat on V-Day, but we did have plans to exchange gifts and have a fancy dinner at home on Monday night. You know, flowers, candles, wine, etc.

Instead I'll be watching episodes of Toddlers and Tiaras Million Dollar Listing off my DVR and eating Girl Scout cookies bon bons dinner alone with AJ.

The good news is, D loves his gift (a rowing machine!) and I got a pair of Ugg boots (my first pair ever, can you believe it?!) and a pair of the new Merrell Barefoot shoes (since D desperately wants me to get into Vibrams and I just can't do the whole separate toe compartments).

D's new rower!

Yaay for Uggs!

So tall and pretty...

Pretty new Merrell shoes.

Oh, D got AJ a gift too....
A new water bottle for AJ!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Things I Never Knew Til I Had A Baby

I've been thinking about this topic for a few days now. I've had a few conversations with friends and family lately that have kind of made me half laugh, half be annoyed.

I haven't really thought about it until now, but there are lots of things I never knew until I had my own baby.

I'm not talking about things like newborns poop 24/7 or how to do everything with only one hand.

Scenario 1:

I had a conversation with an out of town friend who is pregnant and she mentioned that next time I'm in town we'll have to have a cook-out. She is due in June and we won't be back in Hometown USA until around 4th of July.

Before I had a kid I would not have even thought twice about this plan. Now that I have a kid, I know that when she has a one month old baby the last thing she's going to want to do is to host a BBQ at her house. More than likely they will both still be getting used to each other and the new challenges they're facing (i.e. sleeping, getting a shower, eating, etc.).

Scenario 2:

We know a couple stationed here from a previous duty station. She is pregnant and due in April. We've been trying to get together with them since we got her about a month ago. We've invited them over for dinner several times and our schedules have just not clicked.

They invited us to go out to dinner with them this weekend, which with an-almost-one-year-old is not really high on our list of fun ways to spend Friday night. We declined, explaining why and mentioned that lunch would be a whole heck of a lot easier for us, if they were up for it.

Last night D got a text from the guy, asking if we wanted to see a movie on Saturday (today).

Um. Really?

Don't get me wrong, I know that before you have kids there are a lot of things that you don't know and lots that you probably don't even think about (like how miserable it is to try and eat and entertain your tired, hungry, crabby 11-month-old in a restaurant while everyone glares at you...I'm not enjoying this either, people!).

Heck, I actually found it a little bit funny at first, making a comment to D along the lines of "they will find out soon enough!" That is until we got the movie invitation. I think that it is probably common sense to assume that if dinner out will be a challenge then a movie is simply out of the question.

We're not bummed out that we can't do these types of things anymore, we just accepted it as a part of parenthood. We actually like the fact that we rarely eat out anymore. It makes the times we do eat out that much more special (it also saves us a lot of money).

I know you want to look at this face while eating....

So, you're welcome. We're the parents who don't force you to listen to our kid whine, scream and cry during your Friday night out!

**I should add that this post may sound a little snarky, but I really just thought it was funny!**

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

11 Months Old!

Today is AJ's 11 month birthday.

Covered in mashed potatoes.

Ack!

That means she will be 1 in 28 days. I can't believe how fast this year has gone by!

Hangin' with Mama...sorry so blurry, it was taken with my iPhone.

AJ has been officially full-on walking for a few weeks now and its hilarious to watch. She walks around our main floor and stops to pick stuff up off the floor, then keeps moving! She does "laps" around the kitchen island about 1,000 times a day.

Wondering what the heck I'm doing!

She has started actually playing with us now. If I call out to her, she'll come over and "get" me, which basically means she will climb all over me, play with my hair and giggle. I can tell that in the next few months we will be able to start going to playgroups and playgrounds in the area. It should coincide perfectly with the weather warming up.

She loves posing for the camera when she can see herself!

One of the cutest things she has started doing in the past 2 weeks or so is throughout the day when she gets tired she'll walk up to me and snuggle up to me and lay her head down on my chest. Its the sweetest thing ever. I love to just hold her and stroke her hair because I know that in another couple months she will want nothing to do with me anymore!

video

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Lame

I am making a trip to Hobby Lobby with my neighbor today to get some supplies for a few crafts I'm working on for friends. I've got 2 friends and a cousin getting married this year and instead of buying them multiple gifts from their registries, I'm going to make the wedding gift.

I'm afraid to say what the gift is on here, because I'm pretty sure that a few of them read my blog and I don't want to spoil the surprise. Once I get them done I'll make sure to take a picture and then after the wedding I'll post them on here for you guys to see.

With that being said, I feel like I've been so engrossed in my own life lately with moving into the new house and trying to make friends that I totally forgot (okay, not really forgot, just wasn't thinking about it) that I have several close friends who are pregnant and due within the next few months. Since these ladies are all first-time moms I feel like I'm pressuring myself to come up with the perfect baby shower gift because I'm the "experienced" mom. Any other mama's out there feel like this?

I'm also excited because I ordered D's Valentine's Day gift yesterday and he has no idea what it is. Trust me though, its the perfect gift! Its something that he wants. He's mentioned it in the past but I guarantee that he doesn't remember ever talking about it. It's something he would NEVER buy for himself. I'm just excited! We never do anything for V-Day and I decided that this year I wanted to celebrate, so we're also going to go out to eat (not on V-Day, but the weekend after when my parents are in town). Once he opens it, I'll take pictures and share with you guys (I know he reads my blog so I'm zipping my lips on this).

What is up in all of your lives? Does anyone have and exciting plans for V-Day? What did you get your hubby? Is there anything you're hoping he gets you?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

I have decided to suck it up and write a post for you all since I promised last time that I was working on a post. When I wrote that, I had ever intention of doing just that, working on the post. Let me be honest here. I have not written a word for that post since I started it! Ha.

The past week has been busy. D and I had a talk about finances because I've determined that my previous plan of "spending less money" wasn't really working all that well for my goal of "saving more money." I have looked into Dave Ramsey's plans in the past and while its not completely for us, I like some of the aspects of it, so we're doing a modified version. I sat down the other day and really laid out what our monthly expenses are and I think we have a solid plan in place. There is something to be said about simply discussing and coming to an agreement. I feel like our goals are actually attainable now. Funny how that works, huh?

Anyways, I also decided this week that I spend too much time on the computer. I want to get to know people here and make friends and I'm not going to do that on Facebook. I've been really putting forth an effort to keep my computer in the office and not in the common living areas anymore. I think that has helped a lot. Don't get me wrong, I'm still going to Facebook, and blog and all that, I just don't want to feel like I'm tethered to status updates. Ever feel that way? My cutting back on Internet and computer time has been part of the reason I've been slacking on blogging lately.

I have some crafts and sewing projects that I'm working on that I really can't work on while AJ's awake, so that leaves nap time, which is when I typically write my blog posts.

I've also been busy meeting new friends! Yesterday D got done with work early, and I had been invited to join a bunch of girls to go to a movie, so I went! We saw The King's Speech and it was awesome! I had no idea what it was about before it started, and I'm not usually into historical movies, but I loved it. I laughed, I cried, fantastic! Afterwards we walked over to the frozen yogurt place and my life was complete. Ha.

Last night we ordered Chinese food and had our neighbor over to hang and eat with us. They just moved in and her hubby had to go back to our old duty station for a few more weeks, so she's alone. We like her, so we do nice, neighborly things like make her come over and eat and hang out with us.

This morning we decided that it was time to venture out in the rain and check out some mattress stores in the area. We want a mattress for our guest room and the tax refund finally came, so off we went! We were in and out of the mattress store in no time (and we got a great deal on a mattress) so we headed to the Mecca (aka, Tarjay). Apparently everyone else on Earth also decided that this afternoon was a perfect time to hit up the holy land. I mean, I knew it would be crowded and all, it being Saturday afternoon, but come on. It was ridiculous. D and I were both like, seriously? I've never seen a store so busy in my life, except maybe Costco on a Tuesday ;). We also went to Home Depot and bought a ladder. Oh the joys and excitement of home-ownership.

So there you have it, my week in a nutshell. Not super eventful, but that's kind of how I roll these days. We've mainly just been enjoying the new house (more pictures to come of the guest room once the mattress gets delivered) and spending time together while D is working mostly short days. Pretty soon he'll have to actually work and then I have a feeling that we'll rarely see him.

Look for me in a few days, I should have found enough motivation to write my other post by then! Otherwise, if you don't hear from me for a few days, don't worry, all is well!

Oh, and GO STEELERS!

(We're Bears fans in this house, so I think legally we're not allowed to root for the Packers...)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Ack, Seriously?!

I can't believe that I have slacked so much on the blog front lately. I'm currently working on a post that should be done soon, but otherwise, I've kind of felt like I don't have all that much to say. I didn't want to bore y'all with more recipes (especially since my blog is not intended to be a food or recipe blog) so I'm putting together some ideas for new stuff to come. With that being said, let's move on to more exciting topics this morning!

I'm sure you're all aware (some of you may be far too aware) of the Snowpocalypse that is currently shutting down about 1/2 of the country today. We are some of the lucky ones here, we didn't get any snow and the weather outside today, while dreary, is actually really nice (think 65 degrees when I took the garbage to the curb this morning).

Our families and friends back in Hometown, USA, however, are right in the thick of things. On my Facebook news feed all I see is pictures of 74 foot snow drifts and houses completely snowed in. The only thing I have to say about the situation is that I hope you all stocked up on your tomato soup and grilled cheese supplies and that you have a warm puppy or kitty to cuddle up with today (or at the very least, a snuggie)! Enjoy your day off!

For those of you who aren't lucky enough to have the day off, sorry!