Friday, May 27, 2011

Happy Memorial Day!

I will not be posting the MilSpouse Friday Fill-In this week because we are shortly off to Vegas! Also, most of the questions were less than thrilling - #3 was "which came first, the chicken or the egg?" - pardon the expression but WTF? We have a long drive ahead of us today but it will be worth it! Even though I have been to Vegas numerous times, I have never been with the hubby (with the exception of our brief stay on the drive down here to AZ) and I have never seen a show! Tonight we are seeing the Cirque du Soleil "Love" which showcases Beatles hits. Can't wait!

I hope you all have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend and remember why we celebrate. Let us all honor those brave soldiers who have gone before us to serve their country, and thank those who are currently serving.

"Live free or die...Death is not the worst of evils" -General John Stark 

Watch this link to hear one of my favorite songs that makes me think of my special soldier every time. Grab the kleenex too ;-)

I apologize, but You Tube isn't working at the moment to directly share the video here.

Monday, May 23, 2011

My Job(less) Conundrum

First, don't you just love the word conundrum? It's so fun to say.

I digress.

There are so many wonderful things about being an Army wife - exploring new parts of the country and world, making new friends, health insurance, etc., so if you think I am here to complain you are wrong. But there is one aspect that I find rather frustrating. It is very difficult to have a career as an Army wife.

I have a background in communications and marketing, which is all about who you know and working your way to the top. That's hard to do when you move fairly often to follow the hubby.

Right now, we are here in Arizona for an even shorter than normal time period, only 6 months, so I am a full time house wife. Here's my confession: I don't mind staying at home. I enjoy watching my morning shows, having the free time to work out when I want to and for how long I want to, being able to meet girlfriends for lunch and to lay by the pool, and most of all the time to cook yummy meals for the hubs and I. Here's what I don't like: feeling like I am not bringing anything to the table, having to really watch the bank account, and just an overall feeling of little self worth. I often feel like I am a stay at home mother without the child. (Does Maggie count??)

For as long as I can remember I have always worked. I babysat in middle school and started with part-time jobs as soon as I was in high school and continued through college. Then I walked out of PLU with a degree and a full time job lined up. Plus I come from a family where my mom has always worked full time, as does Ian. So me not working is a whole new mindset I have to get used to.

I know the majority of my Army-wife friends do not work, and I know I never think low of it and know everyone does what is best for them, but for me I feel convinced that somehow all of my non-Army friends and family must view me as lazy and pampered and all my education was for not. I know this is (hopefully) not the case, but it's hard to think otherwise when it's often how I see myself. Thankfully, Ian is extraordinarily supportive of me and always assures me that just because I don't bring a paycheck in doesn't mean I am not contributing to our marriage. I know he will encourage me to go after any of my dreams, even if that includes staying at home. For me it's a battle with my own mind and not coming from an external source.

So here is my conundrum... how do I balance enjoying my free time with knowing I am a valuable part of our marriage, challenge my brain more, and bring some mula in?? I always think a part-time job would be ideal, but I really don't want to work retail again! Am I crazy?! Am I wanting my cake and to eat it too?

When we move to Fort Campbell, I am really hoping to further pursue my interest in dental assisting, but to be honest, I am nervous that I'll pay even more money to further my education just to realize it's not what I want! Argh!  I am pretty positive that I would love it, but then again I at one point thought the same about communications.

Any advice would be much appreciated, and thanks for letting me vent! :-)

Friday, May 20, 2011

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In
I had to skip last week because I was at my baby brother's college graduation! Hallelujah! 
Here's the answers to this weeks questions, posed on Wife of a Sailor's blog. 

1. What is one of the things you always do special when your husband returns from a deployment? I ask him what he wants his first homemade dinner to be (for both R&R and redeployment he requested Italian), make it, and then decorate the house like it's the 4th of July! 

2. What do you do to help your spouse and/or yourself re-adjust after a deployment or long separation? For me, I loved every part of Ian being home but there definitely was one little thing that surprised me...I missed my "me" time I got used to having. I basically just had to give Ian a rule: If I am reading a book, please don't pester me, just let me read. It's little but that space was all I needed. I had to ask Ian how I helped him, and his response was a bit surprising. "Honestly, it was when you would yell at me." (Gee, thanks?!) He admitted he often would get in the mode of talking to me like I was one of his soldiers, and by me calling him on it he would snap back to being my husband and not a coworker. 

3. Are you a crazy coupon clipper? Ha! No! Unless asking for military discount counts ;-) I wish I was a coupon diva and find this a funny question since I literally just talked about this with some other milspouses! I remember watching my grandma spend hours clipping coupons and going to several stores to get the best deal. But as for me, I ALWAYS forget to use my coupons - even if I happen to have one in my purse! I really must work on this... 

4. What is your most treasured memory about you and your spouse (not counting your wedding)? I would have to say the entire two weeks of R&R during deployment. They were the most magical two weeks and felt like we were in our own special bubble. No longer alone, no longer scared, and treasuring every single second we had together. From surprising him at the gate at the airport, to sharing quiet nights in, to skiing in Colorado, and date nights on the town...every moment was so precious and sacred - especially since we knew it was short lived before the reality of deployment set back in. Many other moments could easily qualify as well...when he proposed, first said the L word (yes, I said it first), our first Halloween (special for many reasons), etc. Guess I'm lucky to have so many treasured moments! 

Mmm...Blueberry beer... 


5. If you could live anywhere overseas, where would you pick and why? Anywhere without quarantine for dogs! Italy is a dream of ours, as well is Germany. Greece would be divine... Somewhere where we could easily travel to other countries and cities would be key. Basically, anywhere in Europe. But if they happened to start PCS-ing soldiers to South Africa I certainly wouldn't turn down a chance to live there again :-) 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Recipe Round-Up

Hi all. Throughout the past month or so I have been asked to share the recipes for some assorted dishes I often make. Without further ado, here are what I can remember being asked to share!

Phyllo Pizza with Feta, Basil, and Tomatoes
Ian specifically requested this dish for his birthday dinner, so I know that it at least passes his test!

1/2 c shredded part-skim mozzarella 
1/2 c crumbled fat-free feta cheese (you can use any desired fat level you wish)
1/4 c grated parmesan cheese
1 tbs chopped fresh oregano or thyme (whatever you have on hand) 
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
10 (18x14") sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed
cooking spray or olive oil
2 cups thinly sliced plum tomatoes (regular or cherry tomatoes work fine too) 
1/3 c finely sliced green onions
1/4 sliced fresh basil leaves

1. Preheat oven to 375
2. Combine first six ingredients in a bowl 
3. Cut phyllo sheets in half crosswise (*note, some brands are already cut to this half size). Take five layers and place on greased baking sheet. Cook phyllo dough with cooking spray or brush on oil. Sprinkle with a layer of cheese mixture. Add two more layers of dough and repeat process. Continue about 3 more times or until desired thickness. On top of last layer of cheese arrange sliced tomatoes, followed by onions and basil. Top with an extra sprinkle of mozzarella and feta. 
4. Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes or until golden. 

Edamame Risotto (adapted from this Real Simple edamame recipe) 
2 tbs olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 c Arborio rice (Italian rice) 
1 c dry white wine
4 1/2 c low-sodium chicken broth (vegetable broth may be used as well) 
1 can drained, sliced mushrooms
1 1/2 c shelled edamame, thawed and warmed slightly in microwave
2 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tbs fresh basil, sliced
1 c grated parmesan 
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 4 minutes
2. Meanwhile, in a second pot, heat chicken broth through
3. Add rice to onion and cook, stirring constantly for two minutes. 
4. Add wine and mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until liquid is absorbed. 
5. Stir in broth, 3/4 c at a time. After each addition, stir the rice occassionally until broth is absorbed. This entire process should take approx. 25 minutes. Rice should be very creamy. 
6. Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients. Top with another sprinkle of parmesan.  

Yogurt Marinated Chicken with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Mushrooms 
Ingredients (for chicken)
1/2 c non-fat plain Greek yogurt
4 cloves chopped garlic
1 tbs lemon juice 
zest of 1 lemon
salt and pepper 
4-6 chicken breast cutlets (depending on size) 

Ingredients (for veggies) 
1 tbs olive oil
1 sweet potato, thinly sliced
1/2 lb button mushrooms, sliced
1/2 lb cremini/baby 'bella mushrooms, sliced
2 tsp fresh thyme
1 tbs balsamic vinegar (red wine or sherry vinegar may be used)  

1. Combine all the marinade ingredients into a bowl and coat chicken cutlets. Marinade in fridge for 30 minutes up to 2 hours.
2. Heat oven to 450. Place the potatoes, mushrooms, and thyme on baking sheet. Toss with olive oil. Roast, tossing veggies once, for approx 15 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with balsamic vinegar. 
3. Heat 1 tbs olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Wipe off extra marinade from the chicken and place in pan. Cook until golden brown and cooked through, about 3-4 minutes per side. Serve with veggies and a side salad. 

Here are some other links to some other yummy recipes! 
So far, I have made this recipe exactly as it follows, but I think adding fresh blackberries and/or toasted walnuts or almonds might be in order next time! 

This salad I actually play around with a lot, depending on what I have in my kitchen. I generally use feta instead of goat cheese, red onions instead of shallots, walnuts instead of almonds, etc. Use what suits your mood! 

I hope you enjoy all these! :-) 

Monday, May 2, 2011

A mini-milestone!

This past weekend, my friend Ashley and I both did something we never have done before: we ran a 5k race! We participated in the 14th Annual Fort Huachuca Combat Medic Run in support of Combat Medics who have been killed in action and those still serving overseas in theater.

Now, for many this must not seem like a big deal at all. But for me, this represents several things. First, that I willingly ran in a race. I have never, ever, ever been a runner, I have never enjoyed it nor have I ever tried to improve at running. So my second feat was that I ran over 3 miles! Just the other week I even ran 5 miles (not in a race but on a treadmill). Third, I am hopeful that this is the start of a new era in fitness for me. My next goal is run a 10k race in the near future and eventually maybe even a half-marathon! I can't lie, as of right now I really don't have any desire to run a full marathon! Lastly, I was proud that I beat my previous time! I finished the race in just under 30 minutes - around 29:50, making my mile time just around 9.5 minutes...previously I was running around 11 minute miles or longer!

Sometimes I feel silly being so excited about completing my first 5k when my own husband has run a marathon and I hear about several friends and family members running half and full marathon's all the time! I know my feat is pretty small potatoes in comparison. But everyone has to start somewhere right?? ;-)

Here are some pictures of my big day!
We don't look too optimistic... 

And we're off! 

Here comes Ashley! What a stud! 

So happy to see the finish! 

Look Ma's! We did it! 

My hubby...a.k.a Cheerleader/Photographer