"It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all." -Laura Ingalls Wilder

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Inevitable Christmastime Crunch

First of all, I would just like to say a big THANK YOU to the state of Maine for being 50 degrees in the month of December. It's making climate adjustment so much easier. Yet, we had snow in October? New England makes no sense (but we love it anyway).

So I've got 17 days until Christmas and way too much stuff to do. How about you guys? Three Christmas parties to cook something for, lots of presents to make or buy (and relatively no money to do so). I'm also finding it really hard to just buy things for people. I look at things and they are just so wasteful and such throwaway gifts. I wanted to go out on Small Business Saturday and get some holiday shopping done but instead went to visit my Uncle who had just had his kidney removed. Obviously a visit to a recovering family member was way more important than Christmas gifts. I'm thinking since today is my day off I'll make the rounds down in Norway center and check out the bookstore and yarn store. My mom wants this specific cable needle she can't find anywhere and the one thing my dad will NEVER complain about is a book. Or, even better, I'll check out the second hand bookstore. I have always been frugal (aka cheap) but being BROKE around Christmas time is making me really think about every single gift I'm purchasing. It's a big eye opener. I've also been trolling the internet for good DIY gift tutorials. If anyone has a good link, please post it in the comments. I'm thinking I'm going to try making soap as well to give away with some crocheted washcloths. I'm also thinking that this is going to be the most last minute (and least consumerist) Christmas EVER.

How about you guys? Are you making an effort to buy or make handmade or to buy local? Do you have any good tips? Or any great (and CHEAP) Christmas potluck recipes?

Until next time,

xoxo Stacie

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A quick note

I just wanted to let everyone know about the awesome New Year's Resolution sign  up over at Frugally Sustainable. I already signed up for the 23 day frugal living challenge starting January 6th and I hope you'll pop over and join in!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Back to the grind!

Well, after that last sorta DEPRESSING post, I thought I'd write something uplifting and happy instead. I read this awesome post on Frugally Sustainable (really, all her posts are awesome) titled "10 Ways To Live in Contentment and Have Enough". I found it really inspiring and took a step back to evaluate just how much I am lucky to have and how little I really need. I am a big fan of the term "simplify" and found myself really thinking about how often people (including me) buy things they WANT but really don't NEED just to get a momentary rush of happiness. I have found that by " redefining my understanding of 'enough' " I have so much to be happy for that I don't need to buy anything, thus helping me save money.

The idea of unplugging for a day a week makes me so happy. While living with my parents my mother often keeps the TV on for "background noise" and the incessant chatter drives me NUTS!!! My husband is often on the computer in his free time playing games and such and that drives me crazy too! I like to just sit and read or crochet while looking out the window and relaxing. I think we all need a little bit of time in our lives to separate from technology. If only we could all look around outside at all the wonder and miracles that nature gives us everyday instead of locking our eyes to a screen! This ties in directly with finding our own entertainment. Some of the best times I've had with friends and family has happened when we pulled out a board game or card game and played together. I love walking outside, especially with my dog and husband. Plus, those are both free! (Well, unless you don't own a board game or a deck of cards and in that case, you should get on that STAT!)

The best of all (something that I find myself with battling quite often) is STOP TRYING TO KEEP UP. Who cares what kind of car you drive, house you live in, or clothes you wear? It doesn't make a person who they are. You will never measure up to every single person in your life so why stress out trying. As Frugally Sustainable put it, "You are a unique, amazingly talented individual all in your own right." Another thing that causes a lot of stress to people is trying to make time for everyone and everything. If you spend time on someone in your life and all they give you are negative feelings about yourself or your choices you need to get that toxicity out of your life. It's just wasted energy on that person. We only have so long on this Earth and we should spend the time and energy with have culturing the relationships with the people that make our souls sing.

The hardest of all of these (in my opinion) is being happy with yourself. Everyday I find this to be an uphill, bloody battle (for reasons I will not disclose in this blog). It's something I will work on my whole life but I often find myself not making time to do so. Even if we all just take five minutes a day to look in the mirror and think of two great things about ourselves our worlds will be happier and we will stand straighter. After all if you can't love and respect yourself, how can you expect anyone else to do the same?

One of my biggest passions in life is eating wonderful homemade food and encouraging others to do so. Believe me, it makes a huge difference on how you feel! I no longer eat meat that wasn't locally grown, and I do my best to help my local economy by buying local produce and other items while I can. The best thing of all of course is to GROW YOUR OWN FOOD! No matter how small your space you can have a couple pots of herbs or even a tomato plant. It is an amazing feeling to eat something you grew from a little seed in the ground to a fruit bearing adult plant.

Of course, with Thanksgiving coming up it is on all of our minds right now, "Show Gratitude". So many of us dwell on what we don't have or what's wrong instead of what blessings we have in life. I am so thankful for my family, my husband, my cuddly dog, and everything I have. We get lost in life sometimes and forget all the beautiful things and people in it. Take a moment to close your eyes and think of all you can give thanks for and I'm sure it'll start you down the road of being more content.

Until next time,

xoxo Stacie

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Where to begin....

It's been quite awhile since I've had the heart to touch this thing. Life just gets in the way sometimes. I'm trying my best to be thankful for what we have right now instead of dwelling on how we seem to be in stasis. Faith has always been a struggle for me since I'm such a "gotta see it to believe it" person but I'm trying to just hold on to the thought that rain clouds never last forever and the sun always breaks through.

I recently started another job and it's fantastic, basically my dream job. Mostly I've found myself crocheting and crafting to get Christmas presents for everyone done. We just don't have the money this year to buy anything, and really, Christmas shouldn't be about expensive crap you don't need anyway. The weather here is hard to enjoy for me. A few weeks ago we had a snowstorm...and we had eight to ten inches. It made me miss North Carolina quite a bunch.

Living with other people when you've been used to living alone is putting stress on us both. Hopefully if all works out in the next couple weeks the husband should be back to work and we'll start trying to find something to buy (we're hoping to be out of here shortly after Christmas). One thing I have learned in living in close quarters without a heck of a lot of room is that much of the "stuff" we've accumulated we don't actually use or need. When we move our stuff out of storage I think a lot of it will go into the dumpster. Simplifying things makes me so happy.

That's about it for now. I have a scarf ready to be finished that is calling my name.

Until next time,

xoxo Stacie

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Wonderful Life

It's about time I updated about everything! We're settled in back in Maine, we're both working, and the man-formerly-known-as-Mr.-Marine-but-hereon-know-as-Adam received his beautiful package from the Police Academy and we're well on the road with that. I am not really that keen about my job but it's just temporary until we find out where we're going to be with the State Police.

Last week I went to the most AMAZING FAIR EVER; Common Ground Fair. There were so many amazing things to see and I wish I had a million dollars to spend on all the great food and books. I got an amazing goat book that I know I'll spend many winter nights pouring over thinking of the goats we'll have soon. I also tried switchel, an old haymakers' drink made out of vinegar and honey which was fantastic. It was a really inspiring day!

I also tried my hand at cheese making. Adam and I ventured to the local health food store where I bought the culture, vegetable based rennet, and a gallon of local raw goat milk. It was a super easy process (or at least the book I read made it that way, I highly recommend Ashley English's Home Dairy) and the feta came together quickly. The whole experience was very much like a science project. It was cool to watch the curds and whey separate and to see the curds turn into a solid mass when wrapped and hung in cheesecloth. Unfortunately,  I can't tell you how it tastes until Thursday because the cheese has to cure for three days. The suspense is killing me!

Well, I've got some things to take care of before I head off to work. I've missed writing and I'll be back to it on a regular basis fairly soon.

Until next time,
xoxo Stacie

Thursday, September 1, 2011

"Thankful Thursday"

In the midst of utter moving chaos, I am taking a moment with a full coffee cup and this laptop to remind myself the reasons why I don't want to pull my hair out.

I am thankful I have a strong, healthy husband who can move everything for me. There are many things that could've happened nearly a year ago that would've rendered him not able. I am thankful for two years married this Monday. I am thankful for my parents for opening their hearts and their doors to us until we can find a place and get settled. I am thankful for fantastic friends who will come over and help me get organized and motivated. I am thankful for the long road ahead but also for the journey that led us to it. Most of all, I'm thankful for the military for reimbursing us for moving so we don't have to live in the poorhouse!

Thanks to everyone who reads this. It's going to be an quiet week or so around here while we travel, pack, take care of everything, have fun visiting with family and friends, and settle in to our new life. Wish us luck!

Until next time,
xoxo Stacie

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sailing on....

The moving truck is on it's way. My husband is just about done with checking out and we have a goodbye dinner planned for Thursday night. The end is here! Yet I find myself feeling wistful and a little sad, not because I'll miss the military or North Carolina (the heat? no thanks!). I think back of the beginning days of this journey when I didn't know a dang person in the whole state and how lonely it seemed. Now that I'm leaving all the amazing friends I've made here I feel the loneliness creeping in again. I know it's the name of the game with the military, you move away or your friends move away, but it doesn't make it any easier. So I'll get all reminiscent and post some old memory laden pictures.

I've never had a group of friends so fantastic. It's different when everyone's husbands are in the military because you already have that immediate bond of sisterhood. We are have the same things to get through and we can relate to each other like no one else. We've helped each other through deployments, field ops, family troubles, lonely holidays, and we've even experienced the joy of a friend having a baby. It's been a long, hard road these last two years but I wouldn't change it for the world. Without the hardships and heartache I would never have experienced the help and love of true friends. I will miss each and every one of you and I am forever thankful we entered each others lives. Know that there is always a hot meal and a soft bed waiting for you in Maine whenever you want them. We're only a phone call away. I love you guys.

Until next time,
xoxo Stacie

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Farm Days (warning...PHOTOBOMB!)

We have just returned from a week home at my parents' in Maine so my husband could take his tests for the State Troopers (and so we could find somewhere to stash our furniture for awhile). In between random family visits and knitting group (!!!) I took a few hours one morning to walk around my parents' house and take some pictures.

There were amazing views (this is my parents' backyard, by the way)
Yummy jellybean tomatoes
Beautiful Zinnias
Inquisitive bunnies
Piggies getting ready for market
Gorgeous Sunflowers (complete with bumble bee!)
And crazy alpacas. Get out of the barn, Noble!

All in all we had a fantastic trip. I missed curvy mountain roads, cool weather, barefoot walks in the grass with old friends, my fantastic family, and just being around love, home, and family. We got everything done we set out to do and my husband is well on his way to becoming a Maine State Trooper. Keep your fingers crossed for him! I hope you enjoyed the photos (I sure loved taking them!).

Until next time,
xoxo Stacie

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

For the love of running

In middle school and high school, I was a fatty. There's really no way to sugar coat it (pleasantly plump? I had a pretty face?). After my grandmother died during my junior year I made a promise to myself that I would lose weight and would not spend my life overweight and sick like she had been (she was a diabetic). So I started logging my food intake, counting calories, and exercising regularly. Between the summer of junior year and the end of senior year I had lost around 30 pounds. Since then it's been a real pain in the you-know-what to lose more and keep it off. I've been yo-yo-ing between the 130 and 125 range for what seems like forever.

When I first got married to Mr. Marine I moved far away from home and everyone I knew and I used food to comfort myself. Since his deployment to Afghanistan I've lost the weight I gained and then some. Once again I've hit the 125 plateau! I've started keeping a food diary again so I can be accountable for what I'm eating and have been trying to exercise more.

One day while sitting on the couch watching TV with Mr. Marine I looked at him and said, "We should go running". He just quit smoking and is gearing up to take a PT test for a job so it's definitely beneficial for him too. The last couple nights we've been running at the park near our apartment and it has been MAGICAL. Somewhere along the way in life I've learned not to give up when I get tired (which has always been the issue with me and running) and to PUSH THROUGH. I have never felt this powerful and good in my entire life. I think I'm addicted! Hey, it's better than crack!

What about you guys? Yay or nay on the whole running deal?

Until next time,
xoxo Stacie

Thursday, August 4, 2011

An Update

Things are getting very hectic around here! Our 30 day vacate notice has been put in, the movers are scheduled, boxes filled with stuff have taken over my apartment, and my husband is checking out of everything. Needless to say this poor blog has fallen to the wayside.

We are both so glad to leave the Marine Corps behind us and start a new life back home. I am so thankful for the many wonderful people I've met while we're been stationed here. I don't know how I would've gotten through so many lonely nights without them. I've learned things about myself and about my marriage I never would have if we didn't have this experience. Most of all I'm ready to leave ALL THIS MILITARY CRAP BEHIND. I am so sick of worthless field ops, long days of Mr. Marine at work for nothing productive, mandatory family fun days, and 24 hour notice deployments.

The most important thing is that I'm ready for us to buy a house. I've been saving for a house before I was married and since getting married the fund has grown and grown. It'll feel so good to have sheep, goats and chickens running around in my own yard. People laugh at me but all I've wanted to be since I was little was a homesteader. Looks like dreams are coming true.

I love all of you and appreciate you reading and I'm sorry I've neglected this blog for so long. I promise it'll pick back up once things calm down a little.

Until next time,

xoxo Stacie

Friday, July 15, 2011

Milspouse Fill In #49

I haven't done one of these in a few weeks (oops...) but I'm looking forward to participating again in Wife of a Sailor's fill in! If you want to give it a go hop on over to her blog and link up. Here it goes;

1. If you could have a private concert with any singer, who would it be? submitted by An Air Force Wife’s Blog
Ooh, tough one. I'm a big music dork so it's hard to narrow down. I'll go top 3; Gwen Stefani (but she can only sing No Doubt songs, thankyouverymuch), Dave Grohl, or Matt Skiba.

2. Is there anything you do to supplement your family’s income? submitted by Our Life, One Adventure at a Time
I do a lot of crafty type stuff but haven't had much luck selling yet. Since we're moving back home soon I haven't put a lot of roots down trying to find customers though, so it's mostly my fault.

3. During your pregnancy (whether past, present, or future), what did you nickname your unborn baby before you knew the sex? submitted by Explosions of Love
Not pregnant, no babies, but will probably come up with a totally ridiculous thing to call it. Just our dog alone has about 5 nicknames so I can only imagine. Or, depending on how my pregnancy goes, I'll just refer to it as the spawn.

4. Have you ever won a blog giveaway? If so what did you win? submitted by Mrs. O’s Life

Sadly, no, but it seems all the ones I enter have a large amount of entrants so my chances are lowered. I'll keep trying, though!

5. If I looked into your refrigerator right now, what would I find? submitted by Married to the Army
It's pretty slim pickins in there right now but off the top of my head I can tell you there are;
eggs from the farmer's market, skim milk, sweet tea, OJ, mozzarella, blueberry goat cheese, homemade chicken broth, blue cheese, tons of onions, whole wheat flour, an open jar of salsa and marinara sauce, and lots of condiments.

Until next time,

xoxo Stacie

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

It's too dang hot!

Phew, I have never realized how much of a New Englander I am until the last couple GRUELING hot days. Secretly I'm daydreaming of Maine snowstorms and woodstoves (it's totally sick, I know).  Anyway, with the temperatures so high the last thing I want to do is turn on the oven. So yesterday I cooked up some sesame noodles for my husband and made myself a tomato salad. I thought I'd post the recipes since it's hard to come up with good, healthy things to make on a hot day.

Sesame Noodles (loosely based off of this recipe)
2 bundles of lo mein noodles (you can use any kind of thin noodle, this is just what I had in my cabinet)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tblsp. brown sugar
4 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
1/2 a medium onion, diced
thumb size piece of ginger, diced
1 tblsp. red pepper flakes (adjust to taste, we like it spicy 'round these parts)
2 tblsp. rice vinegar
2 tblsp. sesame oil
2 tblsp. vegetable or canola oil
sesame seeds, for garnish

Cook your noodles according to package directions, drain and run under cold water. Then mix up all your other ingredients and combine with noodles. Enjoy immediately or chill for an hour or so to let the sauce get soaked into the noodles and for the seasoning to meld. Don't forget to sprinkle on some sesame seeds right before diving in!

Tomato Salad
2 large tomatoes, cut into chunks
one huge ol' handful of basil, torn
2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
2-3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (If you haven't had this stuff before, you haven't truly lived. Do yourself and invest in a bottle of the good stuff. You will NOT be disappointed!)
1/2 cup of mozzarella, shredded (use the pre-shredded kind, shred the block stuff, shred the fresh stuff, totally up to you)
salt and pepper to taste

Combine everything in a bowl. Enjoy immediately! If you want to let it chill in the fridge for a while, that's fine too but don't add the cheese until just before eating. It can get a little slimy or break down...you get the idea.

I definitely liked the sesame noodles but I am not a big fan of sesame oil so I gobbled up all the tomato salad and left the noodles for my husband to enjoy on duty. What about you guys? What's your favorite thing to whip up on a sweltering summer day?

Until next time (and stay cool!),

xoxo Stacie

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Week 3 & Week 4

Sorry about missing last week, with the holiday it was a little crazy around here! Week 3 was a total bust. I spent $69.35 at the commissary and $3.75 at the farmer's market (I had to have my eggs). Thankfully this week (week 4) I fared much better by spending $19.25 at the farmer's market and $36.03 at the commissary. It's still a bit over budget but this week I had to buy dog food, so that pushed us over. Basically, I'm crap at this! Only one week out of four has gone well. I'm still sticking to it though. I haven't made this weeks whole meal plan yet because I wanted to see what was good at the farmer's market first. I do know that tonight I'm making caramelized onion and blue cheese pizza which sounds absolutely fantastic!

Other than trying to save money and cooking we've been on a big time "get in shape" kick in our house. I picked up Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred. I've only done 2 days so far and I can feel a difference already. It's pretty fantastic. We've also been trying to go for a few runs here and there and bring the dog for more walks (Sookie approves). It makes us both feel better to be more active.

I've also got an ever-growing pile of granny squares getting ready to be made into an afghan. I picked up 8 skeins in blues and greys of Debbie Stoller's Bamboo Ewe yarn at Michael's for $1.99 each and I figured the best thing to do was to make something like a blanket with it. It's coming along nicely. We just recently got streaming Netflix for Mr. Marine's Xbox and while I'm watching random and weird indie flicks I've been knocking them out like crazy. I like having something to do with my hands while I'm sitting still.

How about you? Any projects you're making headway in? How is your budgeting going?

Until next time,

xoxo Stacie

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Week Two

Unfortunately, week two was not nearly as successful as week one. I came in over budget by spending $60.74 at the commissary (although I did use 14 coupons which came to a savings of $9.35) and $10 at the farmer's market. I probably bought more than I would've without coupons but I got some really good deals. Also, this week my husband is on leave so I bought a lot more things for him to snack on and make for lunch while he's home. From now on I'll be sure to shop the farmer's market first then make my meal plan and shop at the commissary. That's my usual game plan but this Friday we were scraping the barrel with bare cupboards and a slim refrigerator. I definitely think that will save a bit and allow me more to spend on local, fresh foods.

But I digress, our meal plan is as follows;

Sunday - American Chop Suey
This is one of my family favorites! We use ground turkey instead of ground beef to lower the fat.

Monday - Lemon Ginger Chicken Thighs (with a veggie)
This week I went through my old magazines hunting for new recipes and found this in an issue of Better Homes and Gardens. It looks simple and bone in chicken thighs are one of the cheapest proteins you can find at the grocery store.

Tuesday - Indian Samosa Casserole
This is another recipe I found in an old issue of Vegetarian Times. Around here we love samosas and to think of a casserole with the same flavors...mmm...

Wednesday - Mushroom and Onion Omelettes
I figured I'd serve these with toast or french toast (depending on the state of our bread).

Thursday - Bean and Rice Burritos
Mr. Marine requested more rice and bean dishes, so here it is! It's something easy to throw together and I'm going to totally wing it with the recipe.

Friday - Grilled Potatoes, Veggie Kabobs, and Minute Steak.
I'm not a big fan of red meat but Mr. Marine loves it so when I found a pack of minute steaks for $.90 I picked them up to pan sear while he grilled the rest of dinner.

Saturday - Pizza with Green Olives and Feta
Pizza is our weekly Saturday thing. I try to switch up toppings almost every week but feta is one of our very favorites.

So there we are! Hopefully next week turns out better. Mr. Marine encouraged me to think that as with everything, keeping a budget gets easier with practice!

Until next time,

xoxo Stacie

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Result

My commissary bill came to $33.11! I am very excited. I definitely think this a budgeting goal I can reach. I used two coupons but also swapped a few things to save money. We are huge popcorn eaters in this house. When looking at the store I realized how expensive the convenience of microwave popcorn is. So instead of buying a 3 pack of microwave popcorn for $1.50, I bought a 2 pound bag of popcorn kernels for $1.19. So we'll be breaking out our inherited air popper and mixing up some seasonings using my spice cabinet. Cheaper and healthier too!

I did mix up the menu nights a bit and last night we had ground turkey tacos with homemade taco seasoning. My husband and I both agreed they were the BEST TACOS EVER! I also added a can of rinsed and drained black beans into the meat mixture which bulked up the fiber content of our dinner while also stretching the meat further. We both ate a hearty dinner and had leftovers for lunch plus there is more meat for my husband to munch on when he gets home from work.

One thing I've learned from shopping with my mom is to pick up an extra box of pasta or extra can of beans every shopping trip so that you often have basic staples constantly in your pantry. This week I'm relying heavily on my pantry for pasta, pasta sauce, and diced tomatoes. I've also bought ingredients this week that can be used in multiple recipes (like the salsa both for tacos and taco salad). I'm also utilizing tomatoes, green beans, and basil from my balcony garden! A few plants go a long way in saving money. I also cannot stress enough how important a great spice cabinet is in keeping your food interesting while on a budget. Cheap foods like whole chickens, rice, potatoes, and beans can all be jazzed up with different seasonings to make them different and exciting.

I am looking forward to next week and seeing if I can stay under budget even after a visit to the farmer's market. Wish me luck! Also, if you have any inexpensive recipes you'd like to shoot my way I'd be happy to try them!

Until next time,
xoxo Stacie

Monday, June 20, 2011

"If you don't have anything nice to say....

...don't say anything at all." That's how I've felt the last couple weeks hence my blogging sabbatical. Things around this crazy household are at a fever pitch with Mr. Marine's EAS date fast approaching. There are some things I am thankful for learning in my time as a marine wife but mostly it's made me want to pull my hair out. With the end in sight we're excited but at the same time scared and stressed with the unknown.

One very good thing that has come out of all of this crazy unknown business is that we are trying harder than ever to save money. During my husband's two deployments I saved like CRAZY (I am a penny pinching cheapskate frugal kinda gal) and we have an amazingly good chunk of savings. With the end of a steady paycheck looming we have more reason than ever to save every single penny we can. With neither of us being big spenders the only place I can find to scrimp is in our food budget.

I am already saving tons in that department by avoiding convenience foods and cooking from scratch whenever possible. Still I think we buy too many extras and end up wasting some food. I sometimes spend up to 100$ a week (that also includes toiletries cleaning items) for two people. That is so unacceptable!

So, to curb all this crazy food spending I am giving myself the very lofty goal of spending only 50$ per week on groceries, toiletries, and cleaning products. To reach this goal I am going to have to embrace all my creativity and meal planning skills. I'll have to shop sales and use coupons when available. I'm going to try to make most of those foods we love (popsicles, bread, popcorn) from scratch. Most importantly, we are going to have to learn to go without! Each week I am going to post my meal list and whether or not we stuck to our budget (or even came in under budget).

My meal list for this week;

Monday - Pasta Primavera
Also a "pantry buster" for that random veggie soup packet hanging around in the back of the spice cupboard.

Tuesday - Classic Tomato Spaghetti
From Jamie Oliver's "Food Revolution" cookbook. Seriously, if you don't already have this cookbook go out RIGHT NOW and buy it. I have never owned a cookbook where I wanted to try every single recipe. Plus, the pictures are amazing.

Wednesday - Butternut Lasagna
I found this on an amazing blog and have been dying to try it. I picked up a butternut squash at the farmer's market just for this recipe.

Thursday - Ground Turkey Tacos
Using this amazing taco seasoning instead of the overpriced and over salted packet stuff.

Friday - Taco Salad
For this taco salad I am tricking my husband by using veggie crumbles instead of the fatty meat counterpart. Just don't tell him....

Saturday - Homemade Cheese Pizza
With a homemade whole wheat crust. My mouth is watering already.

I've just written out my grocery list and I'm heading to the store shortly. Let's see if I can make it through week one on my new budget!

Until next time,

xoxo Stacie

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Today I Love,,,,

These amazing necklaces (but especially this one) made by Truche on Etsy. The problem I'm having is that I love too many states! I'd need more of a charm bracelet of state love.

How about you guys, do you have any faves on Etsy? Do you sell there? I just love anything and everything handmade.

Until next time,
xoxo Stacie

Monday, May 23, 2011

Bok Choy LOVE

I was a vegetarian for 5 years then got married to the biggest carnivore on the planet and sold my soul to make cooking easier. Honestly, my body was never made for eating large quantities of meat. When my husband is deployed I maybe eat meat once to twice a month and that's only because I have a huge hankering for it that I believe is my body's way of telling me it needs some protein.

So lately for both our health and our grocery budget I've been cooking meat far less frequently. Going to the farmer's market has helped tremendously because it's much cheaper than the commissary and offers many unique veggies and fruits. This week I picked up a big head of bok choy just because I love bok choy so much. I usually make a meal plan but I've been winging it a lot lately because I'm never totally sure what will be there in the stalls on Saturday morning.

Today after a long day at the beach and a few errands both Mr. Marine and I were pooped but totally ravenous. I was going to make spaghetti and meatballs but the meat hadn't defrosted so I poked around in the fridge and saw that beautiful bok choy and knew I had to make it. After a little bit of chopping and a tad bit of stir frying we had a delicious and easy meal on the table that satisfied us both (even the carnivore). So of course, I thought I'd share the recipe so you all can enjoy bok choy just as much as we do!

Stacie's Fantabulous Stir-Fried Bok Choy 
1 large head of bok choy, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 medium onion
3-4 cloves of garlic
1 tsp red pepper flakes (add more or less depending on your taste)
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp powdered ginger or a piece of fresh ginger (I was fresh out of ginger root so I used powder)
1 tsp five spice powder
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tbsp soy sauce
a "glug" of vegetable or canola oil

Dice garlic and onions and place in a large skillet with veggie oil, ginger, and red pepper flakes over medium heat. Once the onions start to turn translucent add in sesame oil, five spice powder, cornstarch, and soy sauce. When the spices start to get fragrant add bok choy and cook until the leaves are wilted and the stems still remain slightly crisp, approximately 5 minutes. Serve over rice.

Yum! I've also used bok choy in meat based stir fries but I feel it stands well on it's own. A great meal to eat in the heat of summer too since it doesn't use the oven. Next time I post a recipe I promise to take a picture before it gets devoured. We were just too hungry tonight!

Until next time,

xoxo Stacie


Friday, May 20, 2011

Milspouse Friday Fill-In #41

Happy Friday! We all know what Friday means...another Milspouse Fill-In! Thanks, as always, to Wife of a Sailor for getting this together every week. It's so fun to get to know other military spouses.

1. What is one of the things you always do special when your husband returns from a deployment? submitted by Keep Calm and Soldier On

I always cook my husband something extra special and usually new. My first trial with cheesecake and also with sweet potato pie came about because I wanted to make them for homecomings. Also I usually buy some of his favorite soda, Dr. Pepper, because we don't drink soda but that is a special treat for him.

2. What do you do to help your spouse and/or yourself re-adjust after a deployment or long separation? submitted by Diapers, Dogs and Deployments

We don't really have a specific plan when it comes to re-adjusting. It may take a few days but we both fall back into a  rhythm. I think the key is that we both make an effort. If he makes a mess I would usually complain about I have patience and keep my mouth shut, and he does the dishes or takes the trash out without being asked. Just doing little things and letting things go without nagging helps immensely.

3. Are you a crazy coupon clipper (I’m becoming one, so share your secrets with me)? submitted by Married My Airman

I'm not "crazy" when it comes to coupons, at all. I clip the ones for things I know I'll use and give the rest to one of my amazing, but crazy, coupon loving girlfriends. She gets so many things for free and it's fantastic! We eat "real food" though so getting 3 boxes of free Hamburger Helper does nothing for me. It's fun to watch her do her thing, though.

4. What’s your most treasured memory of you and your spouse (not counting your wedding – that’s a given)? submitted by Scrubs, ACUs and One Crazy Ride

On post-deployment leave after Mr. Marine's time in Afghanistan we went to the beach and swam together and we both had so much fun. He turns into a little kid when we do fun things (complete with goofy sideways grin) and it makes me so happy. Also, it was late September so there was barely anyone other than us on the beach. One more memory that makes the cut is when we went to the Atlanta aquarium and he pet sharks in the touch tank. He was so excited and it made me giggle.

5. If you could live anywhere overseas, what would you pick and why? submitted by Little Moments Like This

Ireland, without a doubt. Rolling fields full of sheep and greenery is my kind of place!

Until next time,

xoxo Stacie

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Puppy Love

A picture sent to daddy in Afghanistan.

When my husband and I first started getting to know each other before his deployment to Iraq it was just a few random emails back and forth, nothing all that exciting. Soon we mentioned our mutual dog love and our talks took off from there. We've both grown up around dogs (at times, multiple dogs) and when we got married couldn't imagine our lives without one. So after a great deal of research and calling around we found a Dachshund breeder out in Lumberton and headed out to "just look" one weekend.

There she was; a cutie-patootie little timid thing sitting on the couch. She initially shook a bit when my husband held her but after passing her off to me she calmed down and gave me a  kiss on my nose. The breeder brought out a few more puppies and we played with them all but my hands kept going towards the dapple long-haired female. We were smitten from the start and off we went with our little Sookie in tow.

A man and his dog.

Since she is our first "baby", she is spoiled. We bought her new toys, a little bed, and the best organic treats you could find. Well, and there was also that one doggie coat....please forgive me, it was cold in Maine that Christmas and I didn't want her to freeze! Along this journey of puppy parenthood, we've learned what to do and many things not to do. For the most part she's a pretty well behaved dog although we made some mistakes in socializing and unknown visitors make her nervous. It also took a long time to housebreak her (one of the downsides to the Dachshund breed is the sometimes difficult task of housebreaking) but nowadays she sits by the door and whines if she has to go. She is the best cuddle buddy, especially when my husband was deployed. She loves to swim and often shows her hound-like tendencies when she spots a squirrel from ten meters.

Sookie is one of my favorite things in the universe. I have always loved our family dogs growing up but being fully involved in Sookie's training and upbringing has given me entirely different kind of love for her. She is our dog. It's the perfect kind of puppy love!

Do you have a story to share about your favorite furry love?

Until next time,

xoxo Stacie

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Reunited and it feels so good...

Hooray! Huzzah! Mr. Marine is home again! This time, hopefully, for good. We only have a few months left of our Marine Corps journey then it's home again, home again (to Maine), jiggity jig! It's very exciting, but also stressful and a little scary. We met, got together, and got married while Mr. Marine was active duty. To think of our lives without the Marine Corps is a little daunting. I have faith we'll figure it out and get through the transition. Well, back to showering the ol' ball and chain with affection since he's been so starved the past few months.

Until next time,
 xoxo Stacie

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A very happy sight

This morning while checking out and watering my plants I came across a sight that almost brought tears to my eyes. There, hidden beneath the large leaves of my tomato plant are some little baby tiny green tomatoes!

It may not seem like much for some but after twenty-three years of watching my father toil in his garden and enjoying all the fantastic vegetables it's finally my own two hands that helped something to grow. I'm not just his helper anymore but a woman who can do it all on her own. At this moment, staring at these two little tiny fruits of my labors all I can say is, "Thanks a bunch, Dad". For stoking the embers in me that started a passionate fire, for all the knowledge you've bestowed in me, and for the faith you've always had that I can do anything I set my mind to.

Even if all I want to do is to grow a couple tomatoes.

Until next time,

xoxo Stacie

Friday, April 22, 2011

Strawberry jam and other projects

I am a terrible, awful, no good, very bad blogger. Oftentimes I find little things getting in the way of sitting down and writing here. I'm trying to make myself take some time to write here, mostly because I feel I do have some good things to say (here and there, anyway).

Last weekend my friend Nicole and I went down to the Farmer's Market (ah, I love Saturdays!) and I bought a whole load of strawberries to make jam. We toiled the afternoon away washing, cutting, cooking, boiling, etc and now I have these beauties on my canning shelf ;

Sorry about the picture quality, my camera battery is dead and gosh darn it I was posting something today! So lo' and behold; a crappy cellphone picture! I am a big ol' sucker for those gingham caps and the dark red yumminess inside the jars as well. Last year my strawberry jam didn't set and I had to reprocess everything. Thankfully this year it turned out perfect! I even had some left over after eight jars that I put in the fridge and have since been smearing on my morning toast. Delicious!

I've also finished two crochet projects, which I'm proud of. I'm getting much better at reading and figuring out patterns. Ever since my mom came down and we crocheted socks I've gotten way more comfortable with a hook. Trying something really difficult when you're still a beginner makes you feel that you can tackle almost anything!

Here is my first project, a beer cap hot pad ;

It was pretty easy and I just sat in front of the TV watching Buffy knocking each one out. The only part that was tedious was sewing them all together. The reason I wanted to do this pattern is that it was very reminiscent of a hot pad my grandmother had that was made of beer caps and shaped like a bunch of grapes.

Next I made a cute little shell stitch baby hat for my friend who is expecting ;

I really like crocheting baby sized things because they come together really quickly. I still have over half a skein left of this yarn so I'm looking for a baby bootie pattern to use the rest up.

Now I'm working on Lion Brand's Acorn Shrug which, although a larger project, uses just one stitch and is simply folded and sewn to make arm holes when finished. I'm hoping to wear it to my husband's homecoming to wear over a small strapped sundress. Well, now that I have "official" homecoming dates I need something to keep me from jumping up and down with glee.

I've also had a lot of success with my container gardening! I can't wait for the lettuces to get big enough to pick and eat and for the other plants to start bearing fruit.

From the top down I have a patio tomato planted with Purple Ruffles basil, mesclun mix, bush beans, Black Krim tomatoes, basil, garlic chives, marjoram, and bush cucumbers. Not pictured is my sweet pepper mix which just wouldn't fit. Oh, and that's Sookie the infamous weenie dog looking upon her jungle with that, "I want a bite", look in her eye. As you can see things are coming along nicely in the gardening department.

Anywho, I hope you guys enjoyed seeing some of the reasons I've been lost to the blog-o-sphere lately. Plus I think these are some of the first (albeit crappy) pictures I've put on here! Woo-hoo!

I hope you all have a fantastic weekend!

Until next time,

xoxo Stacie

Friday, April 15, 2011

Milspouse Friday Fill In #37...and ten things I love!

It's been a couple weeks now since I've done this (sorry!) but thankfully I'm around this week to join in on the fun. As always, thank you to Wife of a Sailor for taking the time to post these every week.

1. With PCS moves happening every few years, do you take the time to paint and decorate your home? submitted by Life as Mrs. JPT
Honestly, I haven't been a military wife long enough to experience a PCS move! I still think I'd take the time to at least decorate. My mom always inspires me to make things homey and comfy and I don't think I could come "home" to somewhere that didn't feel like home.

2. If you could live in any home on a television series, what would it be? submitted by Standing By Him
That 70s show! I love all the retro awesomeness of that house.
3. What inspired you to start your blog? submitted by Pink Combat Boots
I had spent time blogging for the Jane Wayne Gear blogger brigade and just forgot how much I liked it. It's my own little place to rant and rave! None of my friends care about alpacas or green cleaning products or other random things like that so it's nice to have somewhere to talk about it.
4. What is the weirdest thing you’ve ever seen on base? submitted by Adventures in Life
I don't think I've seen anything to be called "weird" on base. I've seen some deer (I'm from Maine, that's way normal) and a loggerhead turtle nest on the beach (normal for North Carolina).

5. Which historical figure (politician, writer, artist, scientist, actor, etc…) would you like to have dinner with? submitted by Army of Two
Wow, that's a tough one! I think it'd be a toss up between Henry David Thoreau and F. Scott Fitzgerald. With Thoreau I could have a deep philosophical conversation about life and happiness where Fitzgerald could talk to me all about the Jazz Age and his love life with Zelda Sayre. Both enjoyable topics!

I've also been tagged to participate in "10 things I love". It'll be hard to narrow it down to ten, but here goes!

10 Things I Love
The rules are as follows:
1 - State who tagged you; withlovelydia
2 - State ten things you love!

1.) Mr. Marine
2.) Sookie the amazing weenie dog
3.) Peppermint tea
4.) Fresh baked bread
5.) Digging in the dirt
6.) Nature and all the lovely things that live in it
7.) Good books!!!!!
8.) My mom and dad (and the rest of my family too, I suppose)
9.) Learning new skills
10.) My dad's homemade hard cider

I could go on and on...there are so many things I love!

3 - Tag ten other people and notify them through a comment
(I'm going to break the rules and do 3, because I don't have that many blogger buddies!)

1.) Cait at Libby Loves to Write
2.) Cheyenne at Always & Forever Maupin
3.) Mrs. M at Diapers, Dogs & Deployments

Thanks to everyone for reading! It seems like this is a post where you learn a lot about me...hopefully you liked what you read. ;)

Until next time,

xoxo Stacie

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Eating Locally

Springtime means birds singing, sunshine, the beginning of gardening season and my personal favorite, the start of the farmer's market! My local farmer's market opened this past weekend to my extreme delight. Growing up in New England I'm not used to April being a great time for local veggies and fruits but down South the season starts with a bang. In season right now are strawberries, kale, and other green leafy veggies. I picked up some kale, strawberries, a basil plant, eggs, and a rabbit (processed, of course).

Some may ask, "Why pay three dollars for a bunch of kale or a dozen eggs when you can get it cheaper at the grocery store?". I will get right on my soapbox and ask back, "Haven't you watched the NEWS? Because I don't like E. Coli!". All joking aside, I am a huge advocate of eating locally. You can ask the person who grew your food personally about their product. You are supporting your local economy. As a consumer, you vote with each dollar you spend and if you spend your money on local produce and don't accept the mediocre, shipped thousand of miles, pesticide soaked and genetically modified crap at the grocery store you are saying you won't stand for that. I understand with the cost of food rising people are trying to cut wherever they can to get by but I strongly urge to go without in other places (does anyone really NEED soda?) to make sure you feed your family the best produce physically possible.

If you're unaware of a farmer's market in your community try searching online. That's how I found mine! If you really can't any farmer's markets in your area, try looking for local CSAs. Community supported agriculture is great for you and great for farmers. How a CSA works is that a farmer offers "shares" to the public. By purchasing a "share" or membership you then receive a box of seasonal produce (and sometimes other farm products) each week from the farmer. There are other versions of CSAs which you can read about and also search for CSAs in your area on the Local Harvest website as well as the information I've already provided.

I can say how great it is for you and the environment all day long to eat locally but if you've never had a garden fresh tomato and you get one from the farmer's market or a CSA you'll never turn back. I guarantee it. Grocery store tomatoes don't live up to them at all. I hope everyone has found this information helpful and I hope I've convinced you to at least look for a farmer's market in your area!

Until next time,

xoxo Stacie

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A little of this, a little of that

Basically, I'm cheap. My mom taught me my percentages in the clearance section of every store. As I mentioned in my last post I love to just throw things together for dinner. Oftentimes because of that I can open my fridge and look at what's left and build a meal around it. This helps keep my food costs down as well as reduce my food waste. There is nothing in the world I hate more than seeing myself, or someone else, have to throw something away because it went bad before it could be used. First of all because it's a WASTE OF MONEY but secondly because it's a waste of resources. To think of the energy that went into growing and shipping the spinach that is now wilted and getting tossed makes me feel so terrible. So, tonight I am trying to avoid waste and create a tasty meal...here goes!

I have found;
a 1/3 of a can of diced tomatoes sitting in a plastic container in the back of my fridge
day old home baked bread
leftover Parmesan and  Mozzarella cheeses from making lasagna
a tube of pre-chopped basil (this stuff is pretty cool, might I add)

Are you thinking what I'm thinking...oh yeah, BRUSCETTA! Mmm mmm....

Preheat the oven to 350. Cut bread in 1/2 inch slices. Cut the top off of a clove of garlic and rub each slice of bread generously with it then drizzle on some olive oil. Toast the bread in the oven for about 5-8 minutes, keeping an eye on it to ensure your fire alarm doesn't go off.

Meanwhile, mix together the diced tomatoes, Italian seasoning to taste (I also added red pepper flakes because I love them),  and about a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar.

Once the toasted bread is out of the oven spread on some pre-chopped basil (or just add basil leaves to the diced tomato mixture, totally up to you and what you have on hand). Spoon on some of the tomato mixture, then sprinkle on the cheeses. Return to the oven and bake until the cheese is melted.

You can eat this alone for dinner or serve with salad greens.

Easy, delicious, cheap! My favorite kind of food. How about you? Do you often clean out your fridge with a certain dish? What is the weirdest combination of leftovers you've ever served?

Until next time,

xoxo Stacie

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Baked Apples

I don't know about you guys, but I am a big fan of what is called the "pitch and throw" method of cooking. There is hardly a recipe I have followed to the T. Today I'm feeling a little under the weather because of allergies so I wanted something sweet and comforting. So I fired up the oven on this eighty degree day (because I'm insane) to turn some granny smith apples that have been sitting on my counter into something magical.

First of all, get out your small (8x8) casserole dish. Preheat the oven to 350. Core your apples (I made three apples because that's what I had but I could have stretched the filling for four), leaving the bottoms intact. I used a paring knife to remove the stem and top of the core then dug in with a spoon to remove the seeds. Now in a small bowl go crazy with the filling! I had a tablespoon or so left of the real deal maple syrup so I threw that in. Then I found about a 1/4 a cup of walnuts I had lying around that I then chopped and added. Then add a few dashes of your favorite spices. I used cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Now get out your brown sugar and add about a 1/2 cup. Mix and then stuff the apples, pressing down with a spoon to really pack in that brown sugar mixture. Now put a small pat of butter on top of each apple, and put about a cup of water in the casserole dish. You can cover the dish in foil if you want, but I didn't. Now just let them bake (about 30 minutes to 45 minutes) until the apples are soft but not mushy. Enjoy warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Or eat them unadorned like I do!

The mixture can easily be changed to incorporate your nut of choice and you can add raisins if you're so inclined. I looked up a few recipes to make baked apples online and I didn't have some of the ingredients so I made it up as I went along. It's definitely a much healthier way to get the warm apple-y spicey gooodness of an apple pie. Yum!

Are you a fan of the "pitch and throw"? Or are you a stickler to the recipe rules?

Until next time,

xoxo Stacie

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Art of Cooking For One

Someone should teach a class on this. How in the world am I expected to cook for ONE PERSON when I usually cook for four (yes, there are only two of us when my husband is home but he eats enough for two, three on a good day)!?

I know there's always the easy-peasy solution of buying prepackaged meals but that is just not my shtick! I've become a big fan lately of what I like to call "scrambled mess"; two scrambled eggs mixed with whatever is in my fridge that isn't a) expired or b) pickles. Tonight I had Mexican "scrambled mess" which included two scrambled eggs, sauteed onions, bell pepper, and mushrooms as well as a chipotle in adobo, salsa, and Mexican shredded cheese. I never had the knack for omelets so this is my substitute!

I gotta tell you though, I'm getting sick of eggs. So I'm asking for pointers. What do you cook when it's just you at home?

Until next time,

xoxo Stacie

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

On The Road Again.

I'm finally in my deployment groove! Last deployment I hit this spot fairly quickly but I also had time to prepare myself for Mr. Marine leaving. I've already started taking up the whole bed while I'm sleeping and watching lots of Bravo shows. I haven't heard from Mr. Marine since he left the states but it'll happen in time. He knows I don't need much attention while he's gone so he'll probably wait a bit until he calls.

Today after my dentist appointment (YES YES YES!) I'm starting my seeds. I called my dad one Saturday while starting at the seed packets and asked him what I could grow in containers on my balcony. So that's what I got! We've got tomatoes, bush cukes, mesclun mix, sweet peppers, purple basil, and petunias. The petunias I picked up yesterday just because I thought we need some color on our balcony. I'm excited though! It'll be nice to can something that I grew myself. I'll still frequent the farmer's market (gotta visit "my people").

A few days ago I went on a crazy cooking rampage. I baked morning glory muffins, bread, pizza, and made stuffed peppers. Morning glory muffins are probably my new favorite thing. They're really easy (minus the fact you have to grate tons of carrots), healthy, and super yummy! I got the recipe off of King Arthur's Flour here;
The best muffins ever.
Cooking is very much like yoga for me. It helps me relax even in the wake of a crappy situation. Also, I get to eat yummy food which also makes me feel much better.

That's all for now! I'll post again soon (and hopefully in a less rambling way).

Until next time,

xoxo Stacie

Friday, March 4, 2011

Oh me, oh my!

I find it funny that when Mr. Marine is off saving the world, etc, I turn back into the person I was when I was 16 (only with much better hair). My Pandora switches to pop-punk stations, I stay up late, and I read Charles Bukowski poems. Basically, I turn into an emo teenager. Depressing right? Unfortunately, Mr. Marine is the tape that keeps my crazy parts together.

My friends all tease me because I always do the same thing when I'm down; 'Bridget Jones Diary' goes into my DVD player. Do you guys have something that you do to comfort you when something like a separation has you down? I also drink Merlot (but I do that anyway, hee hee) and want for random crap foods. For example, I woke up Wednesday morning and was seriously craving cupcakes. I am mostly a healthy eater but literally cupcakes were dancing in my eyes. So, because I have the best friends a girl could ask for, Ms. Nicole bought me some at the commissary and dropped them off as a surprise. I could have cried it was so nice of her. I have absolutely no idea where I would be without the crazy ladies I'm friends with. Probably in a padded cell somewhere.

On another note, my hair has been chopped. Mr. Marine's reaction? "I like the front, but the back will grow out." He likes my hair Rapunzel length. Here's a crappy web cam photo to show the beauty that is my shorter, styled by a professional hair.
Don't worry, it's back to looking like a lion's mane.

I think that's all the randomness I can bore you with for now.
Until next time,

xoxo Stacie

Milspouse Friday Fill In #32

1. Do you or your {spouse} ever wish your {spouse} was in a different branch of the military? submitted by The Turner Family

Not a different branch (although we have talked about it with his EAS coming up) but ABSOLUTELY a different MOS. I am very proud of him for being a tough ass-kicking Infantry Marine but it's not so good for my mental health.

2. What duty station(s) are on your “No Way, Hell No, Not Going, Have Fun Unaccompanied” list and why? submitted by Every Branch

I'd always go where my husband went but I'd certainly kick and scream the whole way to California. I'm an East Coast girl through and through.

3. If you could be one age forever, what age would you choose and why? submitted by Three Krakens

I'm not afraid of getting older. I'd never want to stay one age forever.

4. If you were a breakfast cereal, which one would you be? submitted by the C.W.
Fruity Pebbles, hands down! Wild crazy rainbow colored sugary cereal...bet you can't have just one bowl!

5. What is your morning beverage of choice and why? submitted by NH Girl Displaced

Coffee. I'm hardly even considered a human being without it. Many times I've tried to give it up and it's just best for everyone that I don't.

Well, that's the fill in for this week. Hope you all have a fantastic weekend! I have a date with a beautiful Marine wife and her cute-as-pie daughter that I'm looking forward to. Anything special on this weekend's agenda for you guys?

Until next time,

xoxo Stacie

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming....

I can spread out on the bed
Less dishes, less laundry.
Less picking up in general.
I can watch trashy TV without any sighs from the peanut gallery.
I don't have to cook unless I'm hungry.
More reading time.
I don't have to share the computer, or the car.
Save money.

Yeah, still not worth it. See ya later, sexy man. You'll be back sooner rather than later. Until then I'll try to remember the few positive aspects of this spur of the moment deployment and remind myself that I'm a tough broad.

Until next time,

xoxo Stacie

Friday, February 25, 2011

Milspouse Friday Fill In #31

Phew, back again for another Friday Fill In! I've missed a few due to random craziness but I'm back again!

1. Aside from no deployments, what is one thing you would want to make the MilSpouse life “perfect”? submitted by Oh How Delightful

Deployments are bad enough, but the month plus long field-ops PRIOR to the actual deployment I could do without. I miss my husband during those times, of course, but also then I have to wash his stinky laundry. As much as I love this man that is just not fun!

2. Just how many peppers did Peter Piper pick? submitted by Married into Army

Did he use compost and raised beds? Or did he just throw down the seeds willy-nilly and hope for the best? I think that the gardening preparation would determine the amount of pepper Sir Peter Piper could pick. Yeah, I went there.

3. If you could have any career in the world with nothing holding you back, what would you do? submitted by It’s My Party and I’ll Cry if I Want To

I really enjoy the homemaker life but I'd also really enjoy adding a house, land, farm animals, and kiddos to the mix. I've also always dreamed about having my own bakery.

4. Do you have a service oriented tattoo and if so what is it. If you don’t what would you get? submitted by The Squid’s Accomplice

Being that I am not in any branch of service myself, heck no! I also tend to find myself not all that obsessed with the USMC. It's my husband's job, and if instead he was a mechanic I sure as heck wouldn't be getting a wrench tattooed on my butt.

5. Imagine a block of time has opened up in your busy day for you to take a class in anything you like. What subject would you choose? submitted by To The Nth

I have so badly been wanting to take a quilting class. Really, anything to do with a sewing machine would be nice since it feels that I'm in an epic life or death battle every time I use one. And of course, I want to take a spinning class so badly. My mom is a fantastic spinner but she tells me herself that I should take a class because she's not very good at teaching. Also, I think she doesn't want to waste her alpaca roving. But hey! I still love her.

Thanks for reading guys! I promise I'll have a regular post up soon.

Until next time,

xoxo Stacie

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A little update...

As much as I absolutely adore having family stay at our apartment it's nice to be able to write again! My husband's grandmother ("Meem") and her boyfriend came to visit this week and it was so great to see them. They're very low-key guests who are amused just by sitting around and chatting. We did end up giving Meem the ol' Lejeune tour (thank you to my friend Nicole who made it possible). Unfortunately it was drizzly and a little cold but we still made the best of it, even walking down Onslow beach.

Today it was supposed to snow and they closed down Camp Lejenue so the man got to stay home and sleep in. I think they jumped the gun a little bit though because it isn't even sticking to anything! I can't complain though because it's nice to spend time with my husband.

Yesterday I had my first job interview since moving down here in September 2009. Believe me, it wasn't for lack of trying. It seemed to have went well though and I'll be hearing back early next week. It will be so nice to have more money going into the savings account. My husband and I save with the very lofty goal of being able to buy a house in cash. For how long we've been married and how much we've saved I'm beginning to think it's entirely doable!

I've been staring blankly at my project board putting off starting things because company was here. I like to have one-hundred percent concentration on a new project and I knew that with people here I'd never get to anything. I just had to take apart a purse for my aunt's birthday because it was uneven (must I mention I'm a perfectionist?) so that's next up. I also have to squeeze in the shadowbox frame project for my husband's Valentine's Day present. I just got an email from Lion Brand Yarn and now I have a wrap I want to make after that. It seems I have projects planned out until 2012, yeesh!

Lastly, I've got four books sitting on my bedside table in the works. They are as follows;
Jon Katz "Izzy and Lenore"
Maggie Stiefvater "Linger"
Various authors "Buffy the Vampire Slayer Vol. 1"
Shannon Hayes "Radical Homemakers : Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture"

The Jon Katz book is a little bit sad so it's taking me a bit to get through it. "Linger" seems as though it's going to be burned through in a couple of days. I love when authors take something like a werewolf and put a whole new spin on it. I definitely recommend picking up the first in the series, "Shiver". The Buffy book just doesn't have the same amazing quality as the show so it's slow going. Shannon Hayes' book is simply wonderful and if you're someone who loves self-sufficiency and thinks that it's not worth the sacrifice to keep up with the Jones', you should definitely pick it up. It's a great read!

Until next time,
xoxo Stacie

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Dodging Bullets

So I've meant to write in here but external circumstances (ie; Stacie's mini meltdown) seemed to keep me from tapping on these keys. For those who don't know, my husband returned from a combat deployment in Afghanistan at the end of September. Then comes the trials and tribulations of re-adjusting yadda yadda, but we've been doing well and loving each other and all that jazz. Unfortunately, my dear husband came home with news this week that he would be redeploying as soon as February 15th as a combat replacement for another battalion.

Commence breakdown. Now, it's not that I can't handle deployment. This last one I survived on 9 letters (stupid Afghan mail) and an amount of phone calls I can count on my fingers. C'mon, I'm a badass grunt wife I can handle a lot. Unfortunately, that does not include last minute, "honey I'm home, honey bye bye", unplanned for combat deployments. I don't know how to explain it, but I just had a bad feeling in my gut about it. Fortunately he came home Friday afternoon to tell me he was off the roster because his EAS date is TWO DAYS before the cut off. By "tell me" I mean he came in trying to hide his grin and then proceeded to start hand me my POA but then grabbed it back and ripped it up. He's oh so theatrical, isn't he?

Anywho, here I am again bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and mentally stable! Aren't you so glad? Hee hee. Well, that's all for now. I've got a craving for cinnamon rolls I just can't resist so I think it's time to get out the flour and start cooking while my husband snores away (snicker).

Until next time,
xoxo Stacie

Friday, January 28, 2011

Milspouse Friday Fill In #29

1. If you were a famous movie star, what types of movies would you star in?
Definitely crazy action movies so I could do all sorts of cool stunts. I'd probably enjoy comedies too, but I doubt I'd be able to hold in my laughter long enough to try to act.

2. What is a vacation you would like to take if money were no object?
Book me a flight to Ireland, baby, STAT! I'd definitely bring my Mom too since she's always wanted to go. I want to see all the sheep and green hilly pastures, and drink at a pub....sounds like heaven to me. Oh, plus I'm red-haired and freckled so it'd be nice to be among my people (just kidding).

3. Did you have pets growing up?
Lots and lots and lots of pets. Iguanas, a snake, hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, chickens, ducks, cats, dogs...my family really loves all kinds of animals.

4. What do you do for exercise?
Sometimes I'll go to the gym with my girlfriends (it's easier to go with someone else, though I've been know to go alone). I love walking and I do it often whether it's with the dog, my friends, or my husband. My husband and I have also started jogging and some strength training at the nearby park on the weekends. Oh, and gotta love the Wii Fit (I'm a hula-hooping rock star!).

5. What is the best piece of advice you've ever received as a Milspouse?
Since separations are so frequent and (sometimes) for so long, make every second together count. Don't bother with silly fights or bickering. Just spend the time together you have in peace and love.

Well that was a welcome distraction from life right now. Things are stressful on the prairie this week! Anywho, thanks Wife of a Sailor for another great Friday Fill In!

Until next time,
xoxo Stacie

Monday, January 24, 2011

Meatloaf Memories...

Have your ever noticed how powerful food is in recalling memories? A certain scent of a dish simmering on the stove or one bite can take you back to a different time and place.

Today I have delved into my awesome recipe box (thank you to my pal Molly, who hand-painted it as a wedding gift) to take out a tried and true family favorite; my Nana's sweet and sour meatloaf. While my Nana passed away almost seven years ago the smell of the meatloaf cooking in the oven brings me right back to being ten years old in her kitchen, helping her make Sunday dinner. My husband has heard many stories about Sunday dinners at my Nana's house (probably so many times he's sick to death of hearing of them) simply because they are some of my favorite childhood memories.

The week of your birthday my Nana gave you the choice of Sunday dinner. We all got together around the big wooden table and ate, laughed, and spent quality time together. Almost every year I chose boiled dinner as my dish of choice (something my uncle and grandfather were both proud of and excited for) and she cooked it in a big old pot on the stove, letting it simmer the day away. When finally finished it was put out onto the big serving tray usually used for the Thanksgiving turkey and I honestly could not get enough. Even now when I cook boiled dinner I smile thinking of those long ago days filled with family and togetherness.

Along with many other things my Nana taught me that food has the power to call people together, to comfort, to show affection and love and that the kitchen table is a sacred place. One of her favorite things was to see her family together and happy. Every time I dig in and taste one of the dishes she passed on to me I know I make her proud. Even though my husband never had the chance to meet her I know he feels the love she taught me to put into every whisk, stir, and spoonful.

Here's to you Nana! Thanks for all you taught me. I wouldn't be the woman I am today without your love and your inspiration. I hope that you're enjoying drinking iced tea and playing cards in Heaven with your mom, Ruthie, and Auntie Jeannie.

Until next time,
xoxo Stacie

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Milspouse Friday Fill In #27...

...Only it's Saturday...whoops! Here it goes...

1. What do you usually want to know about someone when meeting them for the first time?
If it's a Milspouse, usually where they're from and how long they've lived down here, etc. "Regular" people I usually ask if they have any pets, hobbies, and if they like to read. When they do like to read, my eyes glaze over and we talk about books, haha.

2. Would you rather know everything about your spouse, or be regularly surprised?
Oh, I love to be surprised. Last week we discovered how much we both miss and love fishing. (IE; hello taxes, how about you go towards some fishing poles?).

3. If you could live in one city for the rest of your life, where would you live?
I suppose I could live anywhere I had some friends and some family. Oh, and the city wouldn't be a city at all but a big ol' farmhouse in the country with lots of acres and critters.

4. When you go out of town, what one material thing do you ALWAYS take?
Always, without fail, I take a book. Sometimes even two or three.

5. Using no more than 10 nouns, and ONLY nouns, describe yourself.
wife, daughter, friend, nature, Gerber daisy, dirt, animals, books, flour, and COFFEE!

I'm not going to lie, that last one was pretty tough!

Until next time,
xoxo Stacie

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Pickle, pickle, who's got the pickle?

This summer while my husband was in Afghanistan I went a little canning crazy. Bread and butter pickles, pickled beets, jams, and fruit butters now fill my cabinets. The problem is I didn't realize my husbands insane and illogical pickle obsession and after making two batches of bread and butter pickles (roughly 14-16 jars) I only have two jars left! I am also a pickle fiend and the thought of my husband polishing off the last of the pickles with cucumber season so far from sight makes me a little depressed. So, I thought to myself, maybe he'll like my Asian quick pickles and leave the others alone. I think I got this recipe from an old issue of Energy Times, but I'm not sure.

Asian Quick Pickles
1-2 cucumbers, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
(if you're using English cukes, feel free to just give 'em a scrub and use them peel and all)
fresh ginger, a piece about the size of your thumb, peeled and roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
a pinch of salt and pepper

Find yourself an old pickle jar and wash it thoroughly. Throw in all your ingredients and let sit in the fridge 4-6 hours. Technically, you can eat them immediately but the longer you let them sit the more the flavors mate together. I usually give the jar a shake every time I open the fridge just to keep everything mixed. All of the ingredients are a rough estimate and can be changed to your taste.

If you've never tried rice wine vinegar before you're missing out! It has a subtle sweetness that works great in marinades and salad dressings. I found my husband eating them out of the jar as a midnight snack so thankfully the last of my precious bread and butter pickles and safe and sound. You may find yourself addicted to these as well!

Until next time,
xoxo Stacie

Friday, January 14, 2011

Milspouse Friday Fill In #26...but my first EVER!

Staying on task with writing in here is being helped along by this great fill-in from Wife of A Sailor
Here it goes...

1. What are you looking forward to most in 2011? from Jessica Lynn Writes
Well, it's looking like it's going to be a year of a lot of changes and that excites me! My husband is retaking the ASVAB to open up more re-enlistment opportunities (no more Grunt's wife) and then most likely re-enlisting...although there is still the chance he decides not to. Also, there are plans in the works for purchasing a house (maybe) and the sound of chubby little feet frolicking (definitely). Time will tell!

2. What is something random you do on a boring night when your significant other is away? from Lovin Ma Soldier
I totally watch mind-numbing TV. I'm talking, the housewives of anywhere, teen mom, etc.. I get "the look" when I put it on when he's home (hee hee) so I enjoy it while my husband is gone.

3. What has been your greatest adventure as a MilSpouse?
Definitely moving from Maine to North Carolina and not knowing anyone. I definitely feel I could pack up and move somewhere else (but please not California, UGH) and be fine with it.

4. What is the ugliest fashion trend you ever bought into (I’d like to make fun of you, so can you please provide a picture as well)? from More Than An Army Wife
In junior high I let my aunt put pink Manic Panic streaks in my hair. Thankfully, there is no picture evidence. Honestly, red hair + pink streaks = not a good combo.

 5. What was the high point of last month?
Oooh definitely Christmas! It made me realize that we can create a holiday ourselves without our family (although we do love and miss them). We're nearing the realm of the grown-ups now!

Thanks again, Wife of a Sailor, for posting and allowing all us Milspouses to participate!

Until next time,
xoxo Stacie

Monday, January 10, 2011

New Year...New Goals.

Hello and a (belated) Happy New Year to all! I find myself, despite my hatred of them, always making some new year's resolutions or "goals".

This year I've crossed off the typical goal of losing weight. I'm not going to get into it now, but my weight and I have always been in a death match battle that is detrimental for both my physical and mental health. We'll call it an unhealthy obsession and perhaps someday I'll talk about it here, but right now is neither the time nor the place.

Without further ado the goals I go have go as follows;

1.) Write on this blog more!
I'm afraid I've been ignoring this cute little page for nobler efforts (ie; reading insane amounts of YA novels...no, seriously, I cannot stop) and that's something I'd like to stop doing in 2011 (not the reading, of course, but the ignoring).

2.) Get hookin'.
My mom taught me the basics of crochet when I was still living with her. Unfortunately, for one reason or another, I left my yarn and hooks by the wayside and have neglected to touch them since I've lived in NC. Well, until now. I picked them up just before the New Year and have hardly been able to put them down since. So, I would like to continue to crochet in 2011 as well as learn more stitches and conquer more difficult patterns.

3.) Find some class.
Craft class, that is. I'm vowing to take find some classes to take this year. I've found a place in Richlands that does spinning classes and I'd love to try that. The community college also offers a basic quilting class that I'd love to try. Just honing my crafty skills is something I'm looking forward to this year.

4.) Sell out!
I also want to find some way to get my crafts (or baked goods, or jams and preserves) "out there" in the world. Whether is be at a craft fair, the farmer's market, or Etsy, if I want to make some sort of living doing what I enjoy I've gotta bite the bullet and take some sort of calculated risk.

It seems I have quite a few craft related goals this year. If you do what love, it isn't considered work, right?! A girl can hope. Well, I'm off to make some tea for the hubby and I and get down to business crocheting some "wristers" for my best friend's mom. To all those in the Jacksonville area, I hope you're having a wonderful snow day and keeping warm and dry!

xoxo Stacie