Saturday, April 30, 2011

Images of a Husband-less Weekend

Hubs is a groomsman in a wedding in Texas this weekend so I'm home alone (because it was too expensive for both of us to buy plane tickets).

I decided to make the most of it.

My latest drink obsession.


Nail polish. Duh.

(And yes, I know it's shocking that it's not an Opi brand!)


Girlie movies galore.

Yesterday I rented Love and Other Drugs and Sex and the City 2 and when I went to return them today I couldn't resist renting two more: Tangled and Going the Distance.


Mini Blizzard. YUM.

(It had been over 6 months since my last Blizzard so I decided it was high time to change that!)

There was also an unpictured dinner of an egg sandwich last night. Eggs are the perfect single girl's food!

Sometimes being alone has its perks.

(But I still miss my husband a LOT.)

Friday, April 29, 2011

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In #39

Here we go, time for another Milspouse Fill-In! For more info on the fill-in visit Wife of a Sailor's blog.


1. Have you and your spouse agreed to live in separate locations (a geographical bachelor tour) knowing that the short-term inconvenience would have long-term benefits for your family? How did it work for you?

We have never lived apart since joining the Army unless it was required (i.e. deployment). For us, not having children means that we can pretty much pick up and move without too many consequences, other than me having to leave my job. Although the decisions may have been more difficult if we had kids in school, we still firmly believe in keeping our family together as much as possible. What that means for our future, I don't know. It would be a tough decision!

2. What is your favorite thing about being a MilSpouse?

I love the relationships that I have formed through being an Army wife, because they are unique and different than all my other friendships made in normal circumstances. The high-stress environment meant that we all grew closer a lot quicker than we would have in the civilian world.

I also love all of the lessons that I have learned along the way. This lifestyle has challenged me in more ways than I ever imagined, but I have been able to overcome every obstacle.

3. If you could still have your spouse/significant other and your family, but take the military life out of it…would you?

This is a tough one to answer for me. I certainly wouldn't change the past because, as I mentioned above, I'm thankful for those experiences! However, for the future, we aren't sure whether we will make a career out of this Army thing or not. The main factor for this decision is our desire to start our family, and the thought of adding children to the mix worries us. We just want what's best for our family and if the deployment schedule continues to stay as frequent as it is now, we're not sure the Army is the best thing for our future family. We still have 3+ years left before we face the decision of whether to stay in or get out, so we're not coming to any conclusions right now. We'll just evaluate things when the time comes.

4. What have your homecoming experiences been like after a year long tour of separation?

Our longest separation was for my husband's only deployment thus far: just shy of 12 months. The homecoming experiences was, in one word, AMAZING. I know a lot of people talk about how there is an adjustment period and things start out rocky, but for us things just got right back to the way they were, if not better! We appreciated each other more than ever, we cherished every moment spent together, and every night was like a date night even though we were just hanging out at home. It was so nice to have him home and I honestly think the months following his redeployment were one of the best times in our marriage!

5. If you have a child(ren) why you did you choose their name(s)? If not, why would you name your child something?

We obviously don't have children yet, but baby names are something we have talked about. We both love the idea of family names, but then you run into the issue of jealousy from other family members, so we're not sure that's the route we'll take. In general, we like classic and somewhat old fashioned names that aren't too crazy popular. I grew up as an Ashley when the name Ashley was at it's peak of popularity in the 80's, so I have a strong desire to not name my child something trendy!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pretzel Rolls

When I was in a sorority in college, the most popular night to eat dinner at the Theta house was on Pretzel Sandwiches night. Basically, it was just ham & cheese sandwiches served on homemade pretzel rolls and they were TO DIE FOR!

I have always had a fond memory of those sandwiches and really wanted to try to recreate them sometime. So when I saw this how-to for Pretzel Rolls on Tasty Kitchen, I knew I was destined to make them.
I'm not going to lie, these were a bit of a pain to make. Lots of steps were involved, but they did turn out pretty good. They weren't perfect, but they were good! I was imagining a more light and fluffy roll like the pretzel rolls from my college days, but these turned out dense and chewy (I guess more like a real soft pretzel?). I'm not sure if that was a result of me doing something wrong, or if that was the way they were meant to be.

Here are some pictures of the various steps.

Letting the dough rise.


I put the dough in our sunroom for a nice, warm place to rise.


Cutting the dough into small pieces for the dough balls. I made both a larger size and a smaller size.


After the dough was rolled into balls, you let it rise again.


Then you drop the balls into a boiling pot of water for 30 seconds on each side.


After baking the dough balls, they come out golden brown.


And of course I had to immediately taste one with mustard (my favorite pretzel topping)!


Dense and chewy.

Like I said, I'm not 100% satisfied with the way these turned out, but that probably has more to do with the fact that I had such high expectations and preset ideas of what they should be like.

My husband, who has no fond memories of pretzel rolls at the Theta house, thought they were AWESOME and requested that I make them often. I took that as a good sign.


I made these pretty much exactly as the recipe described (other than using kosher salt instead of pretzel salt), so rather than posting it here I'll just link to it since I made no major changes.

The Recipe: Pretzel Rolls

Let me know if you make these how they turn out! And if you have a recipe for Pretzel Rolls that results in light & fluffy rolls, please share!

Monday, April 25, 2011

This Week in Fitness


Monday 4/18: Bridal Body Burn + Piloxing (both from Exercise OnDemand)

Tuesday 4/19: Best Body Ever Cardio Countdown on the treadmill + Bootcamp Body Makeover Beginner (Exercise OnDemand)

Wednesday 4/20: Bootcamp Body Makeover Advanced (Exercise OnDemand)

Thursday 4/21: 33 minute jog (~3.3 miles) + 10 Minute Total Body + Abs & Back Workout (both from Exercise OnDemand)

Friday 4/22: The Firm Get Chisel'd DVD

Saturday 4/23: 34 minute jog (~3.4 miles)

Sunday 4/24: Rest Day

Fitness Tip of the Week: Keep it exciting and try new things! I obviously practice what I preach when it comes to this because I am so easily bored. I constantly try new workouts that I find online or on Exercise OnDemand. Besides just battling boredom or fitness burnout, this also keeps you from hitting a fitness plateau because you're always challenging your body in new and different ways.

Fitness Tune of the Week: Ain't Goin Down by Garth Brooks

I don't usually put many country songs on my workout playlist, but this song came on during my last run right when I was starting to feel major fatigue and it totally rejuvenated me! It has a quick beat that really got me pumpin' my legs a little faster.

How were your workouts this week? Did you try anything new?

Friday, April 22, 2011

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In #38

For more information on the fill-in, please visit Wife of a Sailor's blog.

1. How many pets do you have? And what type?
We have one dog...
Her name is Libby and she's a terrier mix of some sort.

And she's spoiled rotten!

We adopted her from the SPCA when she was 3 years old, and now she's about 6 years old. We love her very much, even despite her quirky little habits that we can't seem to break (jumping up on visitors, "talking" to you (aka barking), licking non-stop, etc.)

2. What are your favorite projects to do while hubby is away?
I became a little crafty while Hubs was away and made some holiday decor, home decor, and tried my hand at sewing (didn't go so well).

3. What are the must-haves in your deployment care packages?
Baby wipes, handwritten notes, powdered drink packets, shelf-stable snack food (granola bars, nuts, trail mix), DVDs, magazines & books.

4. If you could star in any TV show, what would it be?
I would like to be on The Bachelor, minus the competing for a random man's affection. So basically I just want to go on a vacation where I just get to lay around in mansions and go on fantasy dates (with Hubs) to exotic places for 6 weeks straight.

5. What was the biggest hurdle that you faced during your significant other's first deployment?
Keeping our connection strong. We were actually able to talk to each other a lot (almost every day) but sometimes it felt like we had nothing to talk about, despite the fact that we were separated. Also, as I've mentioned before, I tend to shut down as my personal way of dealing with pain, so I could be pretty cold towards him sometimes. It was tough but I was able to overcome it!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Chopped - The Whole Story

I realized I never really explained my inspiration for the drastic haircut that I got recently.

First off, here's a pic of me taken moments before I got 8 inches chopped off.
Before: Long and shapeless.

I've never really been one to have issues with split ends or dry and damaged hair, but moving to Arizona apparently changed that. I used to go 6+ months between haircuts and have no issues. Here I went about 3 months between hair trims and my hair was in AWFUL shape!

Plus, I was just tired of having long hair and being too lazy to ever actually blow dry it. It was pretty much always in a ponytail.

I asked my husband if he thought I should chop it all off and, surprisingly, he said yes. Turns out, I guess he kind of likes me with short hair. Who knew?!

I've never been one to shy away from a drastic change of hairstyle. I just get bored easily with my hairstyles so I have always been one of those people who lets my hair grow out long, and then chops it all off the minute it gets to my desired length. And the cycle repeats.

So anyway, once I decided to go short I started searching online for images of short hairstyles that I liked as inspiration. I quickly found this one of Nicole Richie and decided that this was the look I wanted:

Nicole Richie's Short Bob (though some people may call this medium-length)

I printed out my inspiration photo and took it into my hairstylist in Tucson. I had never been to this stylist before so I was really hoping I wasn't making a huge mistake! (FYI I went to Panache in Tucson and my hairstylist was Emma)

About an hour later I came out looking like this:
And I was thrilled with the results!

Yes, it's slightly different than the inspiration but those were all adjustments that Emma discussed with me to make the look better fit my needs.

Here's another look of the haircut from the day it was done:

The real test though was whether I would be able to easily style it myself. I'm a low-maintenance kind of hair girl...I actually hate doing my hair so it has to be somewhat easy to do or else I'm doomed.

Here is a pic taken a few days later when I styled it myself:
Please ignore the Hubs' goofy face!

I think it looks pretty good, all things considered!

To style it this way I applied a light styling mousse and then blow dried it with a medium-size round brush. After blow drying I used my Chi straightener to just quickly smooth out the hair, not taking too much time on this step. Finally, I finished off with a light coat of flexible-hold hairspray.

I've also since figured out that it doesn't look terrible if I just wash it, scrunch it with some mousse or gel and let it air dry. It doesn't look as good as when I blow dry it, but it works in a pinch!

(FYI - I have very straight, fine and somewhat limp hair, but I have a lot of it.)

My only complaint with this hairstyle is that my hair tends to do it's own thing on the ends no matter how much styling I do. No matter how hard I try to get it to curl under, it's a futile effort on one side and in the back. I think it does this because the hair length skims my shoulders and therefore gets naturally flipped out instead of in. Oh well! I'm embracing it!

Phew...I never thought this would end up being such a wordy post! I guess I have a lot to say about my hair. :)

Question: Do you take in inspiration photos when you get your hair cut? I ALWAYS do because I find I usually have a hard time verbalizing what I want.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Dinner Worth Sharing

This will be a short and sweet post, but I just have to share tonight's dinner:

Grilled salmon* for me (steak for Hubs), steamed broccoli and twice baked potatoes.

*I know I said last week that we're not fans of salmon, but I actually do like it okay if I'm in the right mood for it. Also, we had a bag of it in the freezer that needed to be eaten.

I seriously loved this meal. It was pretty darn simple to make and totally satisfying. The twice baked potatoes were definitely the star of the show!

I've made twice baked potatoes before, but I was reminded of them recently when reading Yes I Want Cake's post on them.
I made them the same way as she did so check out her blog for the deets. Definitely adding twice baked potatoes back into the regular rotation!

And if you're wondering about the salmon, it was simply seasoned with jerk seasoning and then grilled on a piece of foil (so it doesn't fall through the grate) for about 10 minutes.

Now I'm off to hang out with these two:

Have a great night!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Pasta Carbonara Florentine

My husband said it best: "How can you go wrong when you combine pasta, eggs and bacon in one dish?"

Truer* words have never been spoken.

*Is "truer" a word?! I thought it was but it doesn't look right!


This recipe hails from one of my fave recipe sources, Cooking Light. I love the fact that it's a lightened-up version of what could be a very decadent dish AND it adds in some healthy greens with the spinach.

But don't let the "light" part fool you, it still tastes perfectly decadent with the salty bacon and parmesan and the creamy sauce. Let's just say I had to physically restrain myself from going and getting seconds so that I could still have enough leftover* for lunch tomorrow.

*You better believe I called dibs on these leftovers! My husband is a leftovers hog but he will NOT be feasting on carbonara tomorrow.
**

**Can you tell yet that I'm loving this asterisk footnote thing tonight?? I know, I'm weird.


Pasta Carbonara Florentine
Source: Cooking Light

Yield: 4 servings; Serving size: 1 cup

Ingredients

• Cooking spray
• 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
• 1 (6-ounce) package bagged prewashed baby spinach
• 6 slices center-cut bacon, chopped
• 1 cup finely chopped onion
• 2 tablespoons dry white wine
• 8 ounces uncooked spaghetti
• 1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1 large egg
• 1 large egg white
• 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (omitted)

Preparation

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and spinach; cook 1 minute or until spinach wilts, stirring constantly. Remove spinach from pan; place in a bowl.

Add bacon to pan; cook 3 minutes or until crisp, stirring frequently. Remove bacon from pan, reserving 2 teaspoons drippings in pan; set bacon aside. Add onion to drippings in pan; cook 2 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Add wine; cook 1 minute or until liquid is reduced by half. Remove from heat; keep warm.

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain well, reserving 1 tablespoon cooking liquid. Immediately add pasta and the reserved cooking liquid to onion mixture in skillet. Add spinach and bacon; stir well to combine. Place skillet over low heat.

Combine remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, cheese, pepper, egg, and egg white, stirring with a whisk. Add to pasta mixture, tossing well to coat. Cook 1 minute. Remove from heat. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve immediately.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

YBBC - Day 6

Let's get straight to biz. Here's what the plan called for:


And here's what went down:


BREAKFAST
A loaded veggie scramble of sorts with a piece of whole wheat toast.

Made with 1 egg, 2 egg whites, cherry tomatoes, baby spinach, bell pepper and a sprinkle of goat cheese.


MORNING SNACK

None.


LUNCH
A wrap made with leftover falafel burger, schmear of hummus, baby spinach, sliced tomato & a drizzle of leftover tzatziki sauce. All wrapped up in a La Tortilla Factory tortilla.

Plus I split this apple with Hubs.


AFTERNOON SNACK

None because we were having an early dinner.


DINNER

For dinner we went to nearby town Bisbee for dinner and a ghost tour with our friends. We ate dinner at Santiago's Mexican Restaurant.
I ordered a combo platter that had two fish tacos, one pork carnitas taco, black beans and roasted corn. I ate all the tacos and left the majority of the corn & black beans.

Plus I should mention that I ate a good amount of chips & salsa and drank two glasses of (really yummy) sangria!


DESSERT

For dessert I ate one chocolate truffle from a chocolate shop that we visited earlier in the day, plus half a gingersnap cookie that I split with Hubs.


FITNESS

Jogged roughly 3.3 miles and then did Jillian Michaels' Yoga Meltdown DVD.

YBBC - Day 5

Friday was partially spent out of town too so I definitely deviated from the plan a lot. I tried to still make smart decisions though!

Here's what the plan called for (I don't know why I'm even posting this since I basically didn't follow it at all):
And here's how things went down...

BREAKFAST
I ate breakfast at the free continental breakfast at the hotel. I toasted a piece of multigrain bread and topped it with 1 Tbsp peanut butter, sliced banana and a drizzle of honey.


MORNING SNACK:

None.


LUNCH
I stopped at a place called Pita Jungle in Tucson and got the Veggie Garden Wrap.
It was delicious, packed full of veggies and the size of my arm! I ate half of it for lunch and the other half later for a snack.


AFTERNOON SNACK

Like I said above, I ate the rest of my pita lunch for a snack.


DINNER
Steamed Fish with Pesto & Veggies and brown rice on the side.
I pretty much followed the recipe linked above exactly, except that I used mahi-mahi instead of snapper and I added cherry tomatoes to the foil packets.

Unfortunately I just wasn't feeling fish that night (Alex liked it though!), so I actually only took a few bites of this dinner and then abandoned it in favor of this:

Special K cereal with sliced banana and almond milk....yum! Totally hit the spot. Sometimes you just gotta go with what sounds good!


FITNESS

Rest day....again. Ooops!

YBBC - Day 4

Well I think it's safe to say I've been slacking on my YBBC recap posts! Oopsie! Time to start catching up with a Day 4 recap.

Like I mentioned in my last post, Thursday we spent the night out of town in Tucson so I got a little thrown off of my normal schedule. Here is what the plan called for:


But here's what actually happened:

BREAKFAST
Frozen waffle topped with vanilla greek yogurt, berry "syrup", and coconut flakes. Plus I ate the remainder of the container of greek yogurt with the remainder of the berry "syrup" on top. This breakfast was SO YUMMY!! Best one of the week fo 'sho!
I made the berry "syrup" by tossing about 1/2 cup of frozen mixed berries in a small saucepan and turning the heat on medium. Then I added a splash of orange juice and a drizzle of maple syrup. I let that mixture cook down a little until the berries released their juices. Then I stirred in a tablespoon or two of flour to the mix to thicken the sauce. That's it! It was so easy and SO GOOD. It would be great on pancakes, waffles, ice cream, and much more.

MORNING SNACK

Wasn't needed.

LUNCH
A turkey, avocado, spinach & dijon sandwich on whole wheat....eaten on the road (don't worry - I was safe)!


AFTERNOON SNACK
I had a little time to kill before I could check into our hotel so I went to a nearby Starbucks and drank an iced coffee. I always order my iced coffee with a pump of some sort of flavored syrup (this time I went with cinnamon) and then I add my own half and half to my liking.

After we checked in we realized that part of being a Hilton Rewards member meant that we got free access to a happy hour at the hotel. I'm never one to pass up free food or drinks, so of course we had to check it out.

I had two glasses of white wine plus a small plate of chips & salsa, raw carrots, some sort of ham & cheese thing served on a slice of baguette (it was good!) and a potato skin. I went back for seconds and got another potato skin and a little more chips & salsa. It was a yummy snack!

DINNER

For dinner we headed to one of our favorite chain restaurants, BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse.
I ordered the Thai Shrimp Lettuce Wraps, which were good, but I was pretty full from the happy hour food so I only ate half. (Though I did also eat quite a few of Hubs' potato wedges....he didn't want them and I couldn't let them go to waste!!)


FITNESS

Didn't manage to fit in a workout today. Oh well!