Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Ties That Bind

   "I can never think of promoting my convenience at the expense of a friend's interest and inclination."
                                                                   George Washington

   There's something to be said for friendship.  But first, what is it?  The dictionary defines a friend as "a person who is attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard;  a person who gives assistance; a patron; a supporter; a person who is on good terms with another; someone who is not hostile".  Even though these are all true they don't seem to do the term justice.  A friend, or should I say a true friend, is someone you can rely on in times of need.  This can be as basic a need as, "Hey, can I borrow some milk?" Or, it can be something a bit more crucial, like, "I really need someone to just sit with me tonight because I'm upset."  In either scenario a true friend would say "okay".

   Friends come in all varieties, and just because you like the same music, the same books,  and the same movies, does not always mean you're going to be friends.  Most of my closest friends have been people that were not like me.  (After all, who wants to hang out with themselves all day?)  I don't know why this is, but the ties that bind us are not always the ones we'd expect.  Sometimes the ones you become attached to are not even the ones you sought out.

   Friendship-making (like dating) a can be an intimidating and scary chore.  Like dating, when forming a new friendship you test it by doing things together, talking about your interests, and seeing if there's a connection.  If there is you have to tend to it.  If left unattended, even the strongest connections can wither away to nothing.

   Being a military wife has taught me to a new depth how important friendships are.  Before we moved to our new duty station, I was completely alone.  I had family around, but no one that knew what it was like being in my shoes.  When I moved to a base, I finally began making connections with people around me who were in the same boat.  Honestly, I don't know where I'd be with a deployed husband, a two-year-old, and no job to preoccupy my time if I had no one to turn to.  Or better yet, I know exactly where I'd be.  Angry.  Frustrated.  Hurt.  Depressed.  Alone.

   I'm not one who does well when left alone for too long without a task to perform.  I completely understand why women used to go to "sewing circles" or get involved in choirs at church and such.  I need interaction with other adults, as I'm sure most people do.  And for this reason I treasure my friendships a lot more now, and the loss of a friend, a good friend, cuts me in such a way that I never truly heal.

  I've lost many good friends along the way, and although the wonders of Facebook keep us in contact, that sense of closeness that has been lost.  And for some, I don't think it will ever return.  It's such a bittersweet truth that some people are in your life for a season where others are in for a lifetime.  It's natural, healthy even, to grow apart and change, but it's too bittersweet for my taste.

   I'm sorry for being so morose and pensive tonight, especially after being so fun and whimsical in my last post, but recent events have made me open my eyes to how much I truly value those people I am privileged to call my "friends".

"Thus nature has no love for solitude, and always leans, as it were, on some support; and the sweetest support is found in the most intimate friendship."- Cicero

Friday, July 29, 2011

"This is Halloween..."

  Today we had a tax-free shopping day here in MS.  I was so excited that the first thing I did was text Tessua, and seeing as she needed new jeans for her new job, it didn’t take much convincing.  Monkey was soon strapped into a buggie, and the hunt was on.  As I’ve mentioned before, my hubby is deployed at the moment, and we’re hoping to see him soon.  A few weeks ago I bought a homecoming dress for his arrival, but the perfect pair of shoes that I could envision have been eluding me.  And without the right shoes I couldn’t buy jewelery, so until we found the holy grail of footwear I was in a rut.  
    Wouldn’t you know it?  We went to Target, and although Tessua found a pair of suitable jeans, the perfect shoes did not reveal themselves.  Not to be dissuaded we pressed on.  To Kohl’s!  I was very excited because until today I had no idea there was a Kohl’s in this area.  Once inside it was like my shopping madness could not be stopped.  I found a pair of chocolate brown leggings that I’ve been looking everywhere for.  I saw several different outfits I wanted but controlled myself enough not to purchase.  Then, just when all hope seemed lost, we found the shoe section.  There among all the drab blacks, boring beiges and nuetral whites, we found the perfect pair of pink shoes!!!!  And, they even felt good!  They were waiting for me the whole time.  Soon after that finding jewelery was a cinch, and I was flyin’ high at all my good luck.
    On the wave of euphoria Tessua and I headed over to Michael’s simply to replenish my stock of hot glue sticks.  But what we found was so much better!  They are putting out their Halloween decorations!!!!  I was already excited about the shoes, but this was just the icing on the cake!  I was literally skipping up and down the isles, singing “this is Halloween”  This was mainly from excitement, but also partially to scare off the creeper who was following us with his little boy.  Tessua swears he was trying to hook his kid up with my Monkey, but Monkey was promised to a doctor’s son long ago.  *Don’t tell her Daddy*  At any rate the creeper left, and Tessua and I had a grand old time.  Especially after I saw a giant black raven that we quickly named “Nevermore”.  This led to more skipping and singing and giggling as I ran around the Halloween isles grabbing things from the shelves to make a giant wreath for my door.  Sadly we had to trade Nevermore in for a smaller model, but don’t worry.  I positioned Nevermore in such a way as to frighten the be-gee-bas out of some unsuspecting customer admiring the fake roses ;-)
   My love for Halloween even outweighs my love for Christmas.  (Sacrilegious for a Southern Baptist, I know, but I can’t help it.)  Halloween will always be special to me thanks to my grandmother.  Four out of her six children settled in homes near hers, so most of my now eighteen or nineteen cousins lived close by.  My “momo” would decorate her giant front porch to hair-raising perfection each year.  There were creepy glowing sandbags lining the driveway, spiderwebs everywhere, stuffed figures on haybales, a black cat that hissed at you when you walked by, numerous hanging skeletons and ghosts, and oh so much more!  The best part was when you’d get up the stairs, my momo and one or two of my aunts would be dressed up as witches, standing over a cauldron that was smoking with dry ice and filled with candy!  *sigh*  Halloween was magical.  
   That being said, I have no big front porch I can deck out, but I would like to try my hand at a few creepy crafts I have lined up.  The first, of course, is the wreath.  My mom has made numerous wreaths for various holidays, seasons, and football teams, and after years of watching her, I’m ready to try my hand at it.  I’ll let y’all know how that goes ;-)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Mop Juice is Good for the Soul

   The sad thing about this photo is that I don't find it funny; I completely agree.  If you asked my darling husband, he would probably tell you that I have a serious problem.  He might even venture so far as to say that my control issues lead me to seek out a chore such as mopping that may make me feel in control of my life.  And you know what?  He might just be a little right.

    There's something so soothing about mopping after a busy, toddler-filled day.  I read somewhere that Zen Buddhists believe that the chaos in your mind is reflected in your home.  That is completely true for me, so it's no wonder that I look forward to my once-a-week mopping session to clean out all of the crevices in my mind as I'm cleaning up the sticky grape juice on my floor.  It certainly leaves me feeling accomplished and at peace.  (That is until my daughter wakes up, at any rate.)

   So back to the busy, toddler-filled day.  Today is Thursday, which means we took a trip to the library for story time.  We also picked up our new letter book.

   She looks so enthused....

   And as I've mentioned, a new letter book means new letter-oriented crafts.  I'm so excited about this letter because I've come up with a list of things that start with "p".

   A few days ago my new kitty, VooDoo,  ate a piece of the puzzle that was hiding in the guest bedroom, just waiting to be framed.  Instead of throwing it out, a little voice told me to keep them for crafts.  I'm so glad I listened.  Today we made a puzzle piece picture phrame.  ;-)  I also had monkey color a pretty princess picture to go inside of it.  I caught her eating the crayons, however, so the poor princess is only partially pretty.

   I was so excited to have a plethora of "p" words, that we did a second craft.  I got the idea for this one here while I was adding crafts to my Halloween board on  I really like the way it came out, and Ryleigh had fun "painting" with food coloring.

We did three sheets of these, and once they were dry I cut them into strips.  (The original poster had a paper shredder that made her job easier.)

I pretty much had to take over at this point.  Monkeys don't have the attention span to weave strips of paper.  So while Monkey watched a princess movie (Tangled), I made this:

   After weaving it I glued it to a piece of white card stock and added a border.  I really liked the effect, and Monkey has the makings of a Picasso protege.  (I'm sorry; I can't stop the alliterations.)

   And, just for good measure we painted Monkey's toenails and fingernails.  Even Roux got a pedicure.

  So after properly preoccupying the pretty princess for the proper proportions of the....

Okay, I give up.

   So after a day of keeping my baby girl preoccupied with wonderfully educational crafts I was ready for some mommy time.

If only....

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Why No Woman Should Diet

    So Tessua decided to do a liquid diet on Monday, and if you know me you know that if I had my way no woman would ever go on a diet.  I'm all for getting in shape and making yourself better, but I am not about sacrificing good food. To me life is about balance, and if you balance good food with good exercise, it should all even out.  That's my rationalization at any rate, and it works for me  (not that I truly do much working out, but it's still my rationalization!) .  So when Tessua was on her all-liquid, 24-hour diet, I'm not going to lie, I really wanted to bake these brownies just to tempt her, but  I decided to be supportive instead.

   Yesterday I got all of my running around in Vicki out of my system, so today I was all set to stay home and bake.  So I finally got a chance to make these:
   That my friends is a Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownie.  I found the recipe here, but I took step-by-step instructional photos!  (I'm so proud of myself.)  So here we go.

For the brownie part you'll need:
4 oz unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups light brown sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour

For the cookie dough part, you'll need:

¾ cup unsalted butter
¾ cup light brown sugar
¾ cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons whole milk
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ cups mini chocolate chips
(Pretend there are chocolate chips and milk in this picture.)
Brownies first!  
Preheat oven to 325 F.  Line a 9x13" pan with foil.  Butter the foil. In a small glass bowl, melt the chocolate in the microwave at 30-second intervals, stirring after each, until smooth.  Set aside to cool slightly. 
*If you end up with chocolate on your fingers DO NOT lick them.   Yuck!  Although a friend of mine did have a good idea.  If you just can't bring yourself to waste that precious chocolate, dip it in sugar first.*
In a large mixing bowl, mix the butter and brown sugar until fluffy.  Beat in the eggs and vanilla.  Mix in melted chocolate.  Mix the flour, just until combined.  Don't over-mix.  

Spread into prepared pan.  Bake 25-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes away clean.  (Mine took the full 35 minutes.)  Cool completely.  

Resist the urge to sample.
On to the Cookie Dough...
In medium bowl, use a mixer to combine both sugars and the butter. 

 Add milk and vanilla and beat until combined.  

Mix in flour, being careful not to over-mix.  Stir in chocolate chips with a spatula.  Spread the cookie dough over the cooled brownies.  Refrigerate until the dough is firm.  It says about an hour, but mine was more like two hours. 

   These were so good.  To be honest, I don't like brownies.  I'm more of a cookie girl myself, which is probably why I liked these.  Scratch that, loved these.  AND, I got Tessua to eat one!  (Yes, it's a hollow victory considering her 24-hour diet was over Monday evening, but it's a victory none-the-less!)
  So after dinner, I was plating up the brownies and I asked Monkey what she wanted to drink. 
Me:  Hey, baby girl, what do you want to drink with your brownie?
Monkey:  Juice!
Me:  Well you've had a lot of juice today and not much milk, so how about milk?
Monkey: *silence*  How about juice?
She inherited her Daddy's stubborn streak.   o.O
   These were so fun to make and share.  I will definitely be making them again.  I hope y'all enjoyed my attempt at step-by-step photos instructions.  And let's have a round of applause for our lovely Willow Tree models :-D

Oh, no thanks.  I'm on a diet.

Well, maybe just a bite...

Monday, July 25, 2011

"We've Got Cabin Fever..."

    Ever since Thursday of last week I have been mostly stuck inside of my house.  This was due to the joint efforts of Mother Nature and Vicki.  Mother Nature has seen fit to bless us with all of the rain that she's been holding back for weeks now.  And Vicki...wait..."who's Vicki", you ask?  Vicki is my 2001 Crown Victoria that I've had for about three years now.  She is extremely temperamental, and she reminds me of a sullen teenager.  She even turns my radio down from time to time when she doesn't like a song, or she ramps up the volume so loud I can't hear my own thoughts.  She has character (to say the least).  As I was saying, Vicki's A/C clutch burnt up on the two-hour drive home last week when I went to return my brother, "Bubba" to my mom.  She's been in the shop since Friday (Vicki, not my mom hehehe) having the A/C clutch and compressor changed.  If it weren't for my trusty friend, "Tessua", I would have caught cabin fever and painted the dog purple just for kicks.

   Don't get me wrong, a couple of days of just Monkey and me in my house is a requirement every few weeks, but there's just something about knowing that Vicki is waiting in the garage if I need to get out.  Add to that all the rain and my lack of reading material, and it was not good.

   When it was finally time to go spring Vicki from the mechanic's I was bursting at the seams to go anywhere, and Tessua was having a craving for Little Ceasar's so off we went.  It was absolutely liberating to drive thirty minutes down the road and back again, and I was so excited I began to plan out tomorrow's trip.  First we'll go to Wal Mart, then the NEX, and then....drumroll please....The Commissary!    (Yes, that's how pent up I've felt the past few days.)

   This also means that I have no recipe for you tonight; sorry.

   In the meantime, though, Monkey and I have been crafting it up.  We've made a few things for her Daddy for when he returns from deployment.  (Unfortunately, I can't share those as he may be reading this...)  All I can say is that he's going to love them.  I promise to share as soon as he's home.

   What I can share, however, is a bit of our weekly letter crafts.  Each Thursday we go to the library for the toddler story time they provide, and we check out a new letter book.  Here is this week's book:
I love this series.  There's one for each letter, and each one is about a child who has to fill a box with things that begin with his or her letter.

   After we read the book, she always decorates a letter I've drawn out because we are making a giant alphabet to act as a border around her room.  I would insert a picture, but I don't have one, and seeing how Monkey is sleeping I'm not venturing in there any time soon, so you'll just have to make do with your imagination.  We also made a finger puppet in the shape of an owl.  She loves her finger puppets.  We've made a frog and a hog before, each for their respective letter.  It's really not hard.  All you need is scissors,  brown, orange and black felt, and a hot glue gun or tacky glue.  You start by cutting two U shaped portions, slightly bigger than your index finger (leaving room to glue the sides together), two wings, and two "ears", and two eyes from the brown felt.   Then cut out a nose, two feet, and two eyes from the orange felt.  Squeeze the hot-glue along the edge of one of the U-shapes, except along the bottom.  Press the second U-shape on top of the first, making sure the edges are lined up.  Glue the wings to the back, the feet to the bottom of the first U-shaped piece, the eyes and nose to the top. *I know this explanation was way more complicated than it needed to be, but I work better with step-by-step.  Next time, I'll be sure to photograph each part of the process.*
I got this idea from "The Fantastic Rainy Day Book".

Next we played a game of my own invention: "Pin the Legs on the Octopus".  It was very fun!  I drew the body of an octopus, and cut him out, but I gave him stubs instead of legs.   I cut out eight different-colored legs, and I  put one of the corresponding colors on each stub before letting Monkey give him a face.

Next, Mr. Octopus was taped to the wall, and Monkey was given one leg at a time and told to match it with the right stub.  (I put a piece of tape on the back of each leg so that she could just stick it on there and move on.)  She loved this game, and I was pleased with how well it went.  Not that I'm bragging, but she got every color right.  :-D Maybe next time I'll use numbers to make it more challenging for her.

  So even with the inclement weather and the cabin fever, these past few days have not been a waste.  If nothing else, I can rest assured that my Monkey can reassemble a color-coded octopus should the need arise.

   And, on that bad joke I'll say "Goodnight" :-)

Oh, and bonus points to whoever knew that the title for this is an actual song.

Good Morning

    Good morning out there!

    This morning I was awakened to the sound of Monkey calling out "need to go potty".  This is truly a beautiful sound to my ears.  Potty training has been an extremely bumpy road in our house.  She was doing wonderfully with it, until we moved to our new duty station.  Soon after that her Daddy deployed, causing another upheaval in her life, and now we're finally getting back on the right track.

   We came downstairs for breakfast only to find that our cat, VooDoo, had been into the bread again last night.  I say "again" because I've found the bread like this on two other occasions.  Once there was also a half-eaten bag of potato chips laying next to it.  Evidently, VooDoo loves his starch.  I can't get mad at him though, because he's the baby of the family.  Although he's technically older than our mutt, Roux, he's the newest addition.  I had a beautiful calico cat named Gumbo for over a year, but she was an inside and outside cat.  One day she just decided not to come back.  Although I still catch myself looking for her as I drive around base, I'm not too worried about her.  She can handle herself out there, and I'm sure she's happier where my Monkey can't harass her.  A few weeks after she went missing, I was talking to my wonderfully comforting husband, J  (please note the sarcasm), and he told me "just get another cat".  "No,"  I replied.  "I don't want another cat.  I want Gumbo back."  A few days later, my best friend asked me to ride out to PetSmart with her to buy heart worm medicine for her dog, Kratos.  Roux needed some too, so I tagged along.  When we walked in, we saw that they were doing one of those "Pet Adoption Days", so we walked over "just to look".  I even told her jokingly, "Don't let me walk out of here with an animal".   I walked straight to the cat section and started calling them to see who would come to the bars to let me pet them.  Only one responded, a little black cat (horribly) named Nicoli.  He was so sweet and snuggly and clearly deprived of attention that it wasn't long before I had him out of the cage and in my arms.  I turned around to tell my friend that I was in danger of adopting this little kitty, only to find her with her arms wrapped around a very cute and very enthusiastic pup.  We both just looked at each other and laughed.  Well once all the papers were signed, and the new collars bought, we loaded up and headed home with our new babies in tow.  I decided that "Nicoli" was way too creepy, so I named him VooDoo instead.  My friend later pointed out that my logic behind that seemed a little off, but growing up around New Orleans makes the term "voodoo" seem less daunting than "Nicoli", because if you've ever read any of the Left Behind books, you'd know that Nicoli Carpathea is the antichrist.  If nothing else, it sounds like some creepy, stalker guy's name.  VooDoo is way less creeper-ish.

   There is a point to all of this.  When I saw the bread, I decided to use what had gone untouched to make these:

They're Cinnamon Twist Rolls, and they're really good.  I found the recipe while browsing, and they are one of my favorite go-to items for breakfast.  Here's the recipe:  It's extremely easy, and Monkey loves them.   Try a few, they might make your Monday brighter :-D

Sunday, July 24, 2011

For Starters

This will be my first attempt at this craze of "blogging" that has been sweeping the country.  This will also be my way of avoiding the constant stream of "can I have that recipe?" comments that I get on my Facebook account every time I post a new food-related picture.

  So who am I, exactly? I'm the Juggernaut, B!tch!!!  (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)  As you can gather from my blog name, I'm a Navy Wife, and at the moment I am, in fact, bored.  That's not typical in my life, however, so it will probably bug me later to have such a misnomer.  Ah, well.  It was the best I could come up with on such short notice.

  So back to me :-D   As it says in my description I'm 22, and I have a two-year-old daughter.  I refer to her often as my "monkey", so just be aware of that so that there is no confusion later.  Monkey keeps me pretty busy.  She's two, after all, and she has her father's flair for adventure.  Unfortunately she also inherited her mother's grace (or lack thereof); so she gets scraped up on a regular bases.  She's surviving though.

  My husband....what shall we call him?  I'll try to be nice ;-)  Let's just call him "J" until I come up with something a bit more clever.  J is in the Navy, and is currently deployed.  I'm hoping to see him again soon.  In the meantime, however, I've been keeping busy with Monkey, cooking, volunteering at the local library, and reading books that I haven't made time for in years.  I'm also writing again, which is huge.

  Writing has always been a big love of mine, and although I haven't really done much other than the occasional journal entry, I would love to write a novel one day.  I must admit that my first English professor in college made a comment on one of my papers that truly went to my head.  She said that I have a charming story-telling voice.  This should not have inflated my ego at all, considering it was followed up with "that has no place in a research paper".   Oh well, I'll take what I can get.

    So, I guess I should get on with it and post a recipe.

   Recently I received my latest Paula Deen magazine (I love her, and I am a yearly subscriber to her magazine), and in it was a recipe for Whoopie Pies.  Apparently I was a deprived child because I had never even heard of a Whoopie Pie, much less tasted one, so I decided then and there that these would be placed at the top of my "must try" list.  I must say, the results were rather tasty, although a bit too sweet even for my sweet tooth.
  The recipe is as follows:

Vanilla Whoopie Pies (the cookie)
1 3/4  cups plus 2 TBS all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 TBS butter (this is Paula Deen after all, and what would it be without all that "love"?)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 TBS vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, and salt.
In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar at medium speed until fluffy.  Add egg, egg yolk, and vanilla; beat until combined.  Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating just until dry ingredients are incorporated.
Using a 1/4 cup scoop, drop batter 3 inches apart onto prepared baking sheets.  Bake for 12-14 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool pan on wire racks.
*If batter starta to spread when you scoop it out onto the baking sheets, chill it in the fridge for about 10 minutes.


1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
6 TBS heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
11 TBS butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

In small saucepan, combine brown sugar, cream and salt.  Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook for 1 1/2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove from hear, and cool completely.
In medium bowl beat cooled brown sugar mixture and butter at med-high speed with a mixer until smooth.  Gradually add confectioners' sugar, 1/4 cup at a time; beat at medium speed until smooth.
*I actually used more confectioners' sugar, b/c mine didn't have the right consistency at first.  It should be  spreadable, but not too runny.  Just be careful not to make it too thick and dry, either.  As with most things in life, it's about finding the right balance.

Peanut Butter
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup softened butter
1tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

In medium bowl, beat peanut butter, butter,  and vanilla at medium speed with a mixer until smooth.  Gradually add confectioners' sugar, 1/4 cup at a time; beat until smooth.
*Once again, play around with the amount of sugar added.  This one actually came out too thick.  Maybe I was a bit heavy-handed with my scoops.

I served these to a group of my girlfriends who came over for a games' night on Friday, and although they all said they were tasty, no one went back for seconds.  I'm fairly certain it's due to the fact that these are pretty decadent.  I will probably make these again for the next family get together.  I have a ton of family members with sweet tooths (sweet teeth?) who would (hopefully) devour these.  I'm going to try to add a photo, too.  They remind of something you'd see in a fifties diner.