Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 in Review

I have done this survey every year for quite a long time, so here it is again!

1. What did you do in 2012 that you'd never done before?
Be on the board for an organization. Attend a sibling's wedding (twice!). Spend the holidays sans husband and family. Complete a full year of college.

 2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I don't think I made any. I do want to make some for this year but they are more along the lines of things I want to do/accomplish by the time I turn 30. That will be a separate post though.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth or get pregnant?
Many friends, as usual--it's just that time of life.

4. Did anyone close to you get married?
Yes! Two of my brothers. =)

5. Did anyone close to you die?
Thankfully, no.

6. Travel?
To FL twice, and a whirlwind roadtrip to San Antonio.

7. Did you move anywhere?
No, we got to stay put this year!

8. What was the best month?
Hmm. I'm gonna say November; I got to be in FL for a wedding and spent a lot of quality time with the husband.

9. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?
 A debt-free existence (at least for a little while, until we buy a 2nd car). We don't have much debt compared to some people, but I'd like to be rid of it so we can start saving for a house one day. Oh, and I'd also like flat, tight abs. ;-)

10. What date(s) from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
The cold December day I kissed my husband and sent him off to Afghanistan.

11. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Completing two 4.0 semesters of school.

12. What was your biggest failure?
Continually giving in to procrastination, and letting my running fall by the wayside.

13. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Just continued suffering from allergies and the occasional TIA (which I intend to get checked out again soon =P).

14. What was the best thing you bought?
My Cuisinart coffeemaker--I'm convinced it's the cone-shaped brew basket, but it seriously makes amazing coffee, and has made up for it's almost-$100 price tag by preventing me from buying so many expensive espresso drinks at coffee shops. Also, my new laptop and the quality backpack I got for school.

15. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My four oldest siblings.

16. Whose behavior made you appalled and/or depressed?
Certain other family members, for still not having learned that churches and pastors are not supposed to think for you, control your every move, decide who you associate with, and dominate every aspect of your life.

17. Where did most of your money go?
Plane tickets, new laptops...nothing else unusual.

18. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
My trips to FL

19. What song will always remind you of 2012?
Probably "Good Time," by Owl City and Carly Rae Jepsen.

20. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? Sadder. Last year my husband was here.
ii. thinner or fatter? Fatter--the gym and clean eating have not been as high on the priority list the last two months. =\ But it's okay, it was only temporary and I'll be back on track soon.
iii. richer or poorer? The same.

21. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Running, blogging, Bible-reading.

22. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Spending money, procrastinating, sitting on the couch, stressing.

23. How will you be spending New Year's Eve/Day?
 New Year's Eve I'll be attending a party at a friend's house. New Year's day I'm not sure yet; maybe something spontaneous will come up.

24. What was an unexpected surprise?
 Loving my philosophy class. =) Attending one of the on-post chapels and liking it.

25. Did you fall in love in 2012?
I'm still in love with my husband, and I can't think of any other new loves from this year. So, no.

26. What was the best concert you've been to this year?
Any of the El Paso Symphony concerts I attended this year. And for most fun concert, it was Karmin.

27. What was your favorite TV program?
"Red Eye."

28. Do you dislike anyone now that you didn't dislike this time last year?
Yes; I think that's inevitable.

29. What was the best book you read?
Probably Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand. Absolutely amazing true story, and ironically the book that caused my first Kindle to be stolen: because I couldn't put the book down, I was carrying my Kindle around with me all day so I could use every spare second between classes to read it, and consequently ended up accidentally leaving it somewhere for a few minutes. =P

30. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Don't think I made any. But some of my already favorite artists put out amazing new albums this year: Owl City, Mumford and Sons, and Tenth Avenue North.

31. What did you want and get?
Lots of quality time with Andrew, a great group of Christian friends at Ft. Bliss, to attend both brothers' weddings, good grades in all my classes.

32. What did you want and not get?
To pay off my car.

33. What was your favorite film of this year?
Oh man. SO many good movies this year! Avengers, Dark Knight Rises, Hunger Games, SkyfallLes Miserables, The Hobbit. I don't think I can choose. First world problem there. =P

34. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
According to Facebook, I didn't do anything because Andrew was in the field and I had loads of homework.  But I did get to go to World Market, apparently. ;-) I turned 28.

35. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Becoming an overall more self-disciplined person.

36. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?
Slightly more trendy. There were a lot of skinny jeans and looser tops. Oh, and flannel--I've gotten obsessed with flannel.

37. What kept you sane?
Andrew (minus the times he drove me crazy, haha), wine, yoga, and friends.

38. What political issue stirred you the most?
The election. Grrrr.

39. Who did you miss?
Family, especially my older siblings and extended family.

Five things that 2012 taught me:
1) One of the downsides of military life is moving to a new place, desperately making friends with the first people who come your way, and then having to decide if you actually click with them or not. =\
2) You get in good with professors just by never skipping class, completing coursework, and being respectful.
3) Never underestimate the stupidity of people who can't think logically.
4) "Popular" does not usually indicate "quality."
5) My husband may not buy me presents often, but when he does, they are perfect. =)

Five things you want to do in 2012:
As mentioned, I'm going to save this for a separate post. Deployment year + the last year in my 20s = lots of things I want to accomplish and experience!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Monday 10

Another blog friend posted 10 questions for everyone to answer, and I haven't done anything like that in awhile so here goes.

Monday 10:

1. Do you pronounce Visa like "Veesuh" or "Veezuh"?

2. Do you have a hummingbird feeder?
No, but I should--I've seen hummingbirds around here!

3. What's the most interesting animal you've seen in the wild?
Hmm. The only animal coming to mind right now is a ground squirrel. I'm not used to squirrels that live in the ground so the first time I saw one here I was quite charmed. They are so cute!

4. What's the last kind of cookie you baked?
Chocolate chip, as usual!

5. Which email service do you use (primarily)?
Gmail. It's the best.

6. Are you on Instagram?
No, no smart phone right now.

7. True or false: you like drinking beverages out of jars.
False. Jars have odd openings and feel weird to drink out of.

8. Have you ever done a tequila shot (no sipping!) complete with salt and lime?
I have! Shots aren't my favorite way to imbibe but they're fun every once in awhile.

9. Please point me to your Amazon wish list, if you share it with people. Is it updated?
It is here. And yes, it is updated!

10. Do you dye your hair?
Nope, never! I used to hate my hair color but now I like it, and the upkeep of dyed hair just seems like such a hassle and waste of money. I have been seriously considering putting a blue streak in it though, just for fun. lol

Friday, December 7, 2012


This semester of school is almost over! It's been the easiest one I've experienced so far, but I've still been feeling remarkably drained and uncreative the last month or so. I can't even manage to come up with decent words on my Words with Friends games--how sad is THAT?

Just two more days and it's time for massive amounts of gym time (to make up for all the time in the kitchen when my cooking/baking bug comes back *cough*), TV & movie time, house-cleaning (this place needs major attention, man), regular blog posts, reading, and SLEEP! Also time to cling to the Husband to the point of annoyance before he leaves me very soon for a stint in a not-so-safe Middle Eastern country. =(

Until then, here's a picture of my Christmas decor. Isn't it purty??

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


I know a lot of bloggers have switched to Wordpress, and I have no intentions of following their example, but I do want to make it easier for non-Blogger people to follow me. So I set up Bloglovin!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

My Guest Post over at A Boy, A Girl, and The Marine Corp

Recently military spouse blogger A Girl featured a series of posts on the subject of dealing with deployments. I wrote one detailing some lessons I learned from our last deployment: check it out here!

And while you're at it, check out the rest of her blog--it's a good one! =)
A Boy, A Girl, and the Marine Corps

What I'm Loving Lately

* Sally Hansen "Complete Salon Manicure" nail polishes. I bought this nail polish (in the shade shown) at Target the other day on a whim, and it's my new favorite brand! I've been trying not to get manicures or pedicures lately, but it seemed like no matter what quality of polish I was using, I couldn't get my nails to look good. This polish goes on smoothly, dries in a flash, and looks great. The brush is also a little wider than most, making it easier to cover the nail in less strokes. I'll definitely be buying more colors!

* Anything and everything pumpkin. (I doubt this needs any explanation.)

* The new Mumford and Sons album. If you don't know who Mumford and Sons are, you are missing out.

* The new snack I came up with a few weeks ago: Greek yogurt mixed with a spoonful of all-natural strawberry preserves, as a dip for apple slices. It's seriously amazing.

* Yoga arm balances. I managed to get into the one pictured below (scissor-legs side crow) last week, although of course it is still going to need some perfecting.

* My philosophy class. I honestly never expected to enjoy philosophy, but thanks to a very unique professor (he is hilarious), it is the highlight of my class days. 

* The return of all my favorite fall TV shows.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Book Review: Unspoken Abandonement by Bryan Wood

A few months ago I got a friend request on Goodreads from somebody I didn't know and as always, I checked out the profile. I always like new friends on Goodreads if they're likely to recommend good books, since I'm always looking for something new to put on my Kindle. I noticed this person was an author, and clicked on his book. I was intrigued immediately upon discovering it was a war memoir, and added it to my to-read shelf and downloaded it onto my Kindle. 

I've read a lot of military memoirs over the last decade, and quite a few about Iraq and Afghanistan. It's one of my favorite book genres. This could sound rather odd considering my husband is a U.S. soldier, but I'm one of the (probably minority) military wives who would rather know what happens over there than not. You can't really prepare for something you know nothing about. With that said, I was kind of avoiding starting this one. For one thing, my husband is heading over there in the not-too-far future and I've been struggling enough with the thought without adding anything else to it. But I finally started it last week, figuring it would be easier to read it while he was still here than wait til he's gone.

Another reason for my avoidance was that after having exchanged a few messages with Bryan on Goodreads about the book (when he found out Andrew will be deploying again he definitely suggested it would be good for me to read it), I felt a little nervous. I knew he would be expecting a review, and what if it sucked?? LOL But I needn't have worried: I was sucked in from the very first page. Bryan is an excellent writer. I don't remember any other war memoir that made me feel like I was right there like this one did. His descriptions paint every scene in vivid detail; it was like watching a movie. Some memoir authors get so militarily technical or so "down and dirty" that you become detached from the story, but not this one. It's simple, blunt, and real. 

Even though I couldn't put it down, it was certainly not easy reading. My heart hurt over the descriptions of the plight of the Afghan people, especially the children. Americans have NO idea how good we have it. I got very angry over the way his wife treated him (though I definitely appreciated the fact that he kept her out of the story as much as possible); when my husband was deployed a few years ago, anything he even hinted at wanting got put in the mail to him the very next day, and it's hard for me to imagine a military wife who refused to do the same. The only thing that kept me from completely breaking down over some parts was my mistake to take my Kindle with me to public places and not wanting anyone to see me sitting there bawling my eyes out!  

Bryan's experiences upon returning from Afghanistan would be important for anyone to read who has a servicemember in their life, no matter in what capacity. I appreciated his honesty about his struggles and also his humility. He doesn't write with a victim mentality; he just tells it like it was. I think every veteran's journey back to wholeness is going to be different, but without doubt most of them struggle with similar things, and I feel like I will be a better support to my soldier after having read Bryan's story. So, many thanks to him for putting himself out there!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Officially a food nazi?

People who know me well have begun realizing I'm one of those types who stands there reading labels in the grocery store (and most likely putting the item back on the shelf with disgust), rails against processed food, and gets angered by the nasty chemicals that are allowed to be in our food. But if you don't know me well, I can demonstrate that the above is true. 

Last night I was taking a little quiz online for my government class. Here was one of the questions:

Which of the following is NOT a public good provided to you as a resident of this country by the government?

1) Safe food
2) Military defense
3) Paved roads
4) Crime Prevention
5) Job security

My hand immediately moved to click on the "safe food" option. 

And then my common sense kicked in and I realized that actually "job security" would be the answer the program was going to be looking for. Haha!

But I still maintain that both 1) and 5) should be considered the correct answers! ;-)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My Guest Post

Recently I've been doing a little guest blogging for some fellow military wife bloggers, and here's the first one, which I totally forgot to share until now: a review of Ft. Bliss.

My other guest blog will be coming up next month, and it is about what I learned through my first deployment. I'm excited to share that one so stay tuned!

Back to normal

Well, NTC is over and done with, and I'm proud to say I "thrived, not just survived," a la Switchfoot. That's a really good song, by the way. I am pretty obsessed with the whole "Vice Verses" album, but "Thrive" is one of my favorites. Check it out:

Anyway, I digress. ;-) In some ways the month flew and in others they dragged. I certainly kept as busy the rest of the weeks as I did the first week (which I related here), and between church, Bible studies, concerts, movies, game nights, lunches out, cooking dinner for friends, craft sessions, FRG meetings, ESC board meetings, volunteering, prayer groups, etc. the time seemed to pass so quickly. But once it got closer to Andrew's return date, it felt like the longest month ever since I had seen him! After lots of uncertainty about return times and then delays (would it really be the Army without either of those?!), finally I was in the parking lot waiting impatiently for the next dirty soldier loaded down with packs and rucksacks to actually be mine. I swear, no matter how many times you pick your soldier up from a long training cycle or a deployment, that moment never gets old. =)

Although he got home later in the week than I would've liked, we still had time for a relaxing weekend together before school started for me. We slept in late both days, had dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings, and watched The Hunger Games on DVD as well as a few things I had saved for him on the DVR. I love being out and about, but weekends like this are honestly my favorite.

The only thing that marred the homecoming and weekend was the knowledge that on Monday we were going to have to do a very hard thing. We had decided a couple months ago to adopt one of the cute stray cats who hung around the house.
He was so sweet and had the cutest meow when he wanted pets and cuddles. I finally got around to taking him to the vet for vaccinations last week, only to find out he tested positive for FeLV. Since we can't risk the other cats (even though they're vaccinated for it), the only choice was to have him put down. Andrew went by himself and did it yesterday. It was super hard on him, and I've broken down over it more times than I can count since Friday. We are definitely going to use this as a lesson to get any future cats tested before we get so attached to them. But considering we're both such crazy cat people, I don't think this is the first time we're going to have to put a cat down. Loving things so much definitely increases the amount of pain you're going to experience throughout your life, that's for sure. =(

Okay, don't want to talk about that anymore.

School started on Monday. I'm taking 5 classes this semester so I'm definitely going to be busy! Based on the syllabi I've received so far I don't think there's going to be a ton of homework besides reading and studying my textbook and class notes. I'll take that!

I'm well aware my blog has been all over the place lately. Hopefully with my life regaining structure I'll be able to add more structure here as well. In the meantime, be patient with me! ;-)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Furry Friday: Pictures for Daddy

I love my cats all the time, but I think I love them especially when Andrew is gone. They save my sanity! Who can go crazy when they have cute furry babies to talk to and take care of?

Andrew always misses the cats a lot whenever he's gone, so I make sure to send him pictures. Here are a few I sent him over the past couple weeks:

Sweet cuddle-bug

I think he wants to go to the gym?

The Basement Cat is looking very basement-y. 

This picture didn't get send to daddy, but I had to include it so the little Albus wouldn't be left out. It may not look like it, but this is actually his "please rub my belly" pose. =)

Link up your own furry post!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Monday Morning Coffee

One of my favorite bloggers, Jenna over at Eat, Live, Run started a new feature on her blog that she referred to as a "virtual coffee date." As in, what she would say to a friend over coffee while catching up on life. I love that, and since she also borrowed it from another blogger I figured it would be okay to borrow it for my blog too!

So, let's pretend we're sitting at a lovely little cafe sipping coffee, and you just asked me what I've been doing lately. =)

Two Fridays ago Andrew left for a month of pre-deployment training with his brigade out in the California dessert (it's called "NTC"). It's been a long time since we've done NTC and he has not had to be gone very much since he got home from his last deployment in 2010 so I will admit it's been an adjustment all over again. But, as always, my method of coping with him being away is staying as busy as possible and this time has been no exception!

I was so blessed a few weeks before the brigade left to meet a large group of wonderful ladies whose husbands were in the same brigade, and even better, they were all Christians! I've been really praying for more Christian fellowship and support, especially with the deployment looming, and bam, God answered all of the sudden right when I needed it most. He's pretty cool like that! So here's how my first week or so of NTC went:

Friday: spent the evening with new friend and fellow military spouse blogger, J, watching the Olympics opening ceremonies and chatting about everything under the sun
Saturday: yoga, errands, and then a get-together at Summer's house on post
Sunday: church, lunch at the PX with a group of church people, and lots of Olympics watching
Monday: coffee with Shannon, errands, and the gym
Tuesday: grocery shopping, lunch with Heather, brigade Bible study
Wednesday: craft morning at Meredith's (where I finally started working on doing something with my wedding pictures!), yoga, and a few other misc. things
Thursday: morning prayer time at Heather's with a few ladies, house-cleaning, and had Krista over for dinner
Friday: doc appointment, helped Lizel with a car situation, went to dinner and a movie with Allison and Meredith
Saturday: farmer's market and lunch with Lizel and Brigitte, girls' game night at the home of a lady from church (which included some crazy rounds of Catch Phrase--love that game!)
Sunday: church, lunch with church friends, and then a lazy afternoon

Whew. Is there any doubt my week went by fast? =) This week is shaping up to be just as fun, although I am trying to slow down a little just because I neglected the gym a little more than I planned. Oops! 

In other news, school starts up in a few weeks, so I've been getting my financial aid and textbooks lined up. I'm excited to start; I miss school! This semester I registered for 5 classes so we'll see how that goes. I will definitely not have much free time, that's for sure. 

Okay, I think that's all I've got. Time for chores before I hit the gym! Have a great week, my friends!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Recipe Post: Oven "Fried" Chicken

The other day I realized I needed to have some structure to my blog; ie, certain days where I post certain kinds of things. I think it will help with the mental blocks I always have and prevent the long hiatuses I frequently take. It will probably take me a few weeks to really get the kinks worked out, but start looking for some more regular updates. I saw another blogger who asked themselves the question, "What kind of blog would I want to read?" and I found that tremendously helpful for myself as well.

Anyway, a recipe post will definitely be one of the regular features. I haven't completely decided which day it will be, but I'm going to go ahead and post this as this week's recipe post.

So. Who loves fried chicken? ME, for one. Growing up in the South, it has always been one of my favorite meals. I can make some mean homemade chicken, especially if I talk myself into pulling out my deep fryer. But it's not something I like to indulge in often. There just isn't any kind of oil out there that is healthy enough to fry chicken in since you need such a large quantity, and that goes for anything else deep-fried. Fortunately I have a pretty darn good substitute for my friend chicken cravings: doing it in the oven! It doesn't look quite the same, but it tastes about as close to real fried chicken as you can get. The gravy definitely turns out the exact same though, and what's more it's a little better for you than real fried chicken gravy because you can make it with a little butter and chicken juices instead of using whatever terrible rancid oil you deep-fried the chicken in.

It's unbelievably simple.

First, preheat your oven to 375. Line a roasting pan or dish with foil and add some butter. I used half a stick since you basically want enough butter to coat the bottom of the pan and make the skin crispy. Put the pan in the oven while it preheats.

Meanwhile, grab a plate and dump some flour on it. I never measure the flour, so just eyeball it. Guess how much you'd need to cover the amount of chicken you're making and then add some extra to use in the gravy later (because if you don't make gravy the world will cry...or at least I will)--it's probably around 1/2 a cup. Add about 1/2 tsp of salt, 1/4 tsp of paprika, and a generous sprinkle of black pepper.

Toss it together with a fork and get the chicken ready. Your oven should be preheated by now, so take out the pan with the butter. It should be all melted and bubbly like this:

This is the point where you realize just how good this chicken is going to be and your mouth starts watering and your tummy rumbling at the prospect.

Bread your chicken pieces thoroughly with the flour, then place in the pan skin-side down. This is very important! Here's a picture to remind you.

Put the pan in the oven. My chicken took about an hour to cook. This is the 2nd very important step: halfway through the baking time, pull the pan out and flip the chicken over so the skin side is up. Then let it continue baking til no longer pink in the middle.

Look at that beautiful brown, crispy crust! YUM! Then look at that goodness in the bottom of the pan. Remove the chicken to a plate and scrape that stuff into a skillet to make gravy. I didn't bother taking pictures of the gravy-making process because there is an expert out there who has already done it much better than I could. But sometime I am planning to bribe a friend who has a nicer camera than mine to come over and shoot a video of me making it because brown gravy is something that stumps a lot of people. It took me years to get it right.

There was supposed to be a picture of my plate containing the chicken, gravy over brown rice, and my sauteed zucchini, but I was starving and had already dug into it before I realized. So I suggest you just make some yourself and then you won't need to see mine! =)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Bulleted Randomness

* I love making pancakes for breakfast now that I found the perfect recipe. I never have blueberries to put in but they're just as perfect without. I don't feel quite as guilty eating them as with other pancakes considering they're so full of protein and fiber!

* You know what's great about Sundays? Law & Order: SVU marathons on the USA channel.

* Waking up with a headache sucks. I had my alarm set to get up for church but felt too crappy so I turned it off and slept a few more hours. I hate missing church though, especially now that we found one I like.

* Yesterday was mine and Andrew's 5th wedding anniversary. Craziness! In some ways it feels like we've been together forever, and in other ways it doesn't feel that long at all. I wish we could celebrate it with a romantic getaway, especially since he'll most likely be gone next year for our 6th, but it's not in the budget this year. Anyway, I was having fun looking through our wedding pictures yesterday. I love this one--inside joke captured on camera:

* I'm rereading this trilogy on my Kindle and enjoying it just as much as the first time.

* Yesterday I had lunch with some friends at L & J's Cafe, and officially decided that it is the best Mexican food in El Paso. It was my second time there, but while the meal I had the first time was good, yesterday's meal clinched the deal. And here are my friends and I after lunch (I'm the one in the bright teal capris):

* On Friday I got caught in a flash flood. Apparently those happen often here in the summer. It was not fun, to say the least.

* I miss my gym classes. Between holidays and various other occurrences, I haven't been to any in a week and a half. I am capable of kicking my own butt at the gym, but it's boring. Excited to be back at yoga tomorrow!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Being Alone

I just saw this quote pinned by someone on Pinterest and liked it:

“I think it’s very healthy to 
spend time alone. 
You need to know 
how to be alone 
and not be defined by another person.”

Unfortunately it's being attributed to Oscar Wilde all over the internet and, peeps, Oscar Wilde didn't say this. Actress Olivia Wilde said this, in an interview after experiencing a break-up. I know it's irritating not being able to trust everything you see on the internet, but you know what, you just can't trust everything you see on the internet. That's another subject though. *

Even though Olivia Wilde said it and not Oscar, she has learned a bit of wisdom that more of us need to realize. 

Humans were designed to be social beings, and to need people. But this need can sometimes control us in unhealthy ways. It isn't good when this need leads you to continue hanging out with friends who are a bad influence on you. When you're afraid to stand up to someone who's walking all over you. When you go from one romantic partner to the next with a sort of desperation. When you can't be content being single. When you can't bear to spend one evening or weekend away from your spouse or significant other. When you feel like you can't be happy or fulfilled without someone in your life. 

I think this is one reason I'm thankful for military life. It teaches me this lesson in a very stark way that not many people get to experience. I love my husband more than anything in the world, but I've learned that I can spend an evening, a week, a month, a year without him and not fall apart, even though I miss him like crazy. I've learned to live without family close. I've learned not to cling too tightly to friends. 

Practice being alone and okay with it!

*I'm thinking of starting a regular feature on my blog called "The Worst of Pinterest." What do you think ?