Thursday, July 17, 2014

Moving On Up…. and Out.

    I want to talk about PCSing! It's one of the most exciting, anxious, sad, and happy times in the military life. There is so much to look forward to when you PCS, but first there is so much to do! I have noticed a lot of wives post questions and comments about what to expect when your moving out of one home into another via the army. And it makes me think back to my first PCS move and how there was so much I wish I had known before hand, and so much I'll remember for next time.
   But I thought I'd take some time and compile a list of things to do, not to do, and to expect. At least from my personal experience. And hopefully it will help at least one other wife out there. Because this sure would've helped me! And if I have overlooked or left anything out please let me know and post it below! :)

    A few days before you move out:
With as often as the army can make you move, thank God they send movers to pack out your entire house! If we didn't have this I might run and hide when PCS time comes around! And while they do almost everything there are some things you need to do to ensure that nothing gets left behind or broken.

*Pack the bags with everything you plan on keeping with you throughout the move. And put it some place it can't be accidentally packed up. A closet with a sign on it, or a friends house works great. Make sure it's safe, because trust me if it's not nailed down they will pack it!

*Don't forget to keep all important paperwork with you in your CARRY ON, even papers you may not need for the move if there irreplaceable or expensive/hard to replace keep them. Birth certificates, marriage license, SScards, Passports, vehicle titles, his Orders, POA's, his Love Me book, ect. Because God forbid that one box or bag with any of these things were lost… well that would suck. So stick them in a file folder and make space in your carry on for them.

*Medical records, don't forget to pick up a hard copy from your hospital to add to your "important paperwork folder" Most hospitals will digitally transfer your files to your next duty station but it's still really smart to have a copy on you.

*Return things. Library books, your friends sweater, your neighbors casserole dish, get it back to them before it's packed up and sent away. I know what I'm talking about we had to pay 60$ for a library book when he cleared that was packed up!  

*Take everything off the walls, whatever is nailed up or screwed in that you want to come with you, take it down. And if your keeping any hardware that comes with it (screws, nails, ext.) put it in a ziplock and label it.

*Go through your house, top to bottom, and trash the trash! If you don't they will, I repeat WILL pack it. As silly as that sounds it's there job to pack everything and there is no toy, man, or piece of garbage left behind.

*Take things to donate. that dress you haven't worn since 2008, the 2nd George Forman grill under the sink you haven't touched, toys, shoes, and clothes your kids have out grown. This is the perfect opportunity to downsize some things. Theres no point in trying to make room for stuff you haven't used in years, in your new home. Besides somewhere, someplace there is someone who would get some good use out of those things.

The day your movers arrive!
   Now you might be tempted to pack things yourself, that china that was a wedding gift, or your favorite wine glass. But DON'T. The moving company often times is not responsible for anything that was broken during the move that you packed. What you can do though is supervise how it's packed.

*When it comes to that fine china (or anything else) your nervous about surviving the move, as much as you might want to don't pack it DON'T. But when you movers are ready to pack it DO supervise. If you don't think they used enough packing paper, ask them to add more, if they put too many things in one box, ask them to divide it. And maybe even have some bubble wrap (movers don't always use that) on hand to add to the box if that'll make you feel better. This way is something is broken the moving company still has it covered under their insurance.

*Make sure all your cabinets are opened up and anything that might be over looked is pulled out and put someplace visible. Thankfully our movers grabbed most things, but I did forget my Brita pitcher in the fridge…

*Ask about what they will, and won't pack. For us they packed unopened canned/dry goods, spices, and my wine! They would also pack my lotions and soaps, but only if I had a plastic container/box to seal them up in first. So just ask because you may be surprised at what they'll ship for you. And that'll be just one less thing you'll have to re-buy.

*Keep some water bottles, or/and sodas in the fridge for your movers. It's not required but it's thoughtful. And if you take care of them, they'll take care of you. :)

*Hardware, lets talk about that for a minute. Now the great thing about our movers was that they took things apart in one home, and the movers in the next put them back together! But the downside was that when it came to the hardware from our furniture they dumped it all together in ONE BOX! This might not sound so bad to you, but picture your movers on the other end getting all these puzzle pieces of furniture to put together and they haven't even seen what it looks like all together! So as they take things apart ask for the hardware and put it in labeled ziplock bags to be packed with that piece of furniture. Trust me you and your next set of movers will thank me for this! I wish I would've been told about this our first time.

*Your TV. Now it might be too late for this TV but keep the box it came in if it's a larger TV. Every company is different but some charge for TV boxes (this will come out of your pocket) some may just offer it, and others (like ours) will just wrap it in thick paper and stick it in the back of a truck. Which resulted for us in have some pixels go out. Now this is being fixed for us but it's just a hassle you'll really want to avoid. So keep those boxes! (As annoying as it can be to store them)

        I think that about covers all the things I wish I had known, and now know to do for our next move. I hope this advise help you ladies out! Good luck! :)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Overnight Oats, Breakfast in a jar:

    So I just attended my first all organic vegan/vegetarian cooking class this evening, and I LOVED it. It's a great way to get introduced to some delicious new recipes, see them made, and actually get to taste them before putting the time into making them for yourself.
   This evening Andrea (cooking class instructor) made 4 different vegan recipes for hot summer days when a good, healthy, but quick and cool meal is perfect when you'd rather be out doors the in a hot kitchen. All of them were made with whole grains, and it was nice to see that some whole grain breakfast foods can be pretty quick (when your not using things like instant oats).
   I enjoyed all of them but surprisingly my favorite was the "Overnight Oats" I say surprisingly because when it comes to cereals oatmeal, or anything like it has never been high on my list of foods I like. (Just ask my mom!) But after this class I bought everything I needed to be able to put it together tonight for breakfast in the morning.
  The class was in our organic vegetarian store, Down to Earth just down the road from me. So that also makes it easy to buy anything I need for the recipes that I like. And this meal, which feeds 2 only cost me about 6$ and everything in it is totally organic.
 So here is the recipe, keep in mind it needs made the night before, but only takes about 5 minutes to throw together.

     Overnight Oats:
Serves 2

 2/3 cup  Whole Oats
 1/2 cup Shredded Coconut
 2 Tbsp Chia Seeds
 Pinch of Sea Salt
 2/3 cup Almond Milk
 2/3 (5oz) Yogurt of your choice (soy, almond, coconut, dairy)
 1/2 Cup Banana

1. Stir all the ingredients together in a large bowl or a big jar. Gently fold in the banana last to keep it from bruising. Cover and let sit over night in the fridge. (I mixed mine in my 8 cup measuring and then spooned it into a quart sized mason jar with a lid to keep in the fridge)

2. To serve, remove desired amount of oatmeal. (Warm in a sauce pan or microwave if you don't want it cold) But it is best cold! So cool and creamy and sweet.

3. Top with your favorite nut butter, fruit, jam, or cereal if you like.

   I used coconut almond milk, soy vanilla yogurt, and apple bananas in mine. It smells amazing and I am looking forward to digging into in the morning. The recipe says you can warm it up if you like, but I think that kind of defeats the purpose of a cool breakfast and it's so good as a cold cereal. You can add pretty much any yogurt flavor you like, and could try mix and matching with more or different fruits other then bananas if you want. So this cereal can be something new every time you make it, if it turns out to be a hit for you and your family.

I know G and I will. :)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

"Papayas should never be refrigerated." -Alice Walters

  Papayas, once you slice them open there a beautiful brilliant orange with hints of pink near the rind. Their little dark seeds make them look so exotic, and they smell so warm and sweet. The sweet smell of papaya is noticeable even before you slice into one. And even with all these positive attributes I still can't convince myself to eat much of them raw, and never warm. But I had been given about 1/2 a dozen of them and just hated to let them go to waste sitting in my kitchen.
  So after some thinking and online browsing I decided on Papaya Jam! It seemed like a perfect idea, and I have yet to meet a jam I didn't like. And the recipe I used is so simple and calls for no pectin so it has a softer jam/fruit preserve feel to it, which I like.

Here is what I used:
 6 cups  mashed Papaya
 6 cups  Sugar 
 8 Tbsp. Butter
 4 Tbsp. Lemon Juice

Mix the sugar and mashed papaya together in a large sauce pan. Put over low heat and cook down until sticky. This part will take the longest. So set aside a couple hours and don't rush it. You'll want to stir it often so the sugar doesn't burn.

This is how it will look after being added to the sauce pan. Mostly just like smashed up papaya.

Then it will cook down and get nice and sticky. And turn to a richer orange color.

After it's been all cooked down add in the butter and lemon juice and stir for about a minute until it is all mixed together well.
I then carefully spooned the jam into 3 self sealing pint sized jars. It might not always come out exactly 3, it depends on just how much it's been cooked down. You can put it into smaller 1/2 pint jam jars, or really any size you'd like. But once you pop the seal to use the jam it wont stay good as long as the sealed jars. So since I don't go through jam super fast (except pineapple jam!) I like to use the smaller size. Once the jars are filled and lids are on, flip them upside down for an hour or two until they have sealed. The little hollow spot in the center of the lid should be down.

I tried some on toast before sealing my last jar and I must say I will now eat way more papaya! This jam is so delicious! And after reading more about Papaya and all the good things it does for the body. Well it makes me want to eat even more. :)
And tell me what you think of your own jam turn out. Or what are some of your favorite jam recipes? I am always looking for more!

"How can a nation be great if it's bread tastes like Kleenex?" J.C.

    Bread baking day! So yesterday I decided it was high time for some fresh bread in the house. So I called up my mother for my favorite bread recipe, the one she had been baking for us every month for years while I was growing up. And I decided to add some little touches of my own to it.
 Her recipe is a wonderful rich whole wheat bread with a just hint of molasses. And I decided to take this rich sweet recipe and make it super nutty. Since nutty whole wheat bread is my absolute favorite sandwich bread. And it is super easy to make it organically and even vegetarian friendly by substituting the butter for sunflower, or safflower oil.
 Here is the recipe. It makes 4 loaves of bread, or you can cut it in half to make 2. Usually 1 will last us long enough that with such warm Hawaiian weather here I wrap up the 2nd loaf in Seran wrap and slip it into a gallon & 1/2 size ziplock to keep in the freezer. It'll last for weeks if you make sure it's sealed up enough not to get freezer burnt.
 In a small bowl, mix:
 1 cup room temperature Water   
 2 Tbsp. Dried baker's Yeast 
 1 tsp. Molasses
Allow this to sit for 10 minutes, until foamy. (This shows that your yeast is still alive and will make the bread rise properly.)
 Then pour it into a large bowl, along with:
  3 1/2 cups of tepid Water 
 2 cups of Milk 
 1/2 cup of Molasses (sweet or blackstrap is fine) 
 1/2 cup of melted Butter 
 1 Tbsp salt
Then beat in 1 cup of Wheat Glutton. (If you don't have this on hand you can leave it out, it only makes the bread a little springier but wont ruin your end result if you don't have it.)
 Here is where I add a touch of my own.
Before adding the flour I mix in:
  4 Tbsp. Wheat Berries 
 4 Tbsp. Chopped raw Sunflower Seeds 
 4 Tbsp. Flax Seeds 
 4 Tbsp. Oats 
 4 Tbsp. Wheat Germ 
This really gives the bread a nuttier taste that I just love! And you can adjust the amounts of each that you use, or leave out some and double up on others. I find all my grains and seeds at a local organic vegetarian store here, so try looking at a place like that if you have a hard time finding them at your local grocery.
 Add 9 cups of Whole Wheat Flour Cover and set to rise for about an hour, or until it has doubled in size.
Then then beat down and one at a time mixing after each addition add
4-5 cups of Whole Wheat, or Unbleached White Flour. (These flours make for a healthier bread, but you can use white flour as well. Or mix and match the flours you use. Sometimes I use half unbleached and half whole wheat, and sometimes I just use all whole wheat.) Knead in and add flour as needed until the dough becomes smooth and workable. Knead an extra 10 minutes. Cover and let rise again, for one hour.


 Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Grease 4 loaf pans. Shape loaves into the pans and let rise for about 30minutes or until doubled in size. *(Optional: I brush the tops of mine with some beaten egg and sprinkle on some of the seeds and grains I used inside the dough for a nice nutty crunchy crust.)*


 Preheat the oven to 400*F, but turn the oven down to 350*F as soon as you have put the loaves in to bake. Bake for 40 minutes. Remove from pans and let cool for about 2 hours before storing. (I brush mine lightly with some milk, once there right out of the pans, top sides and bottom to help keep the moist) Even though this recipe seems to have a lot of steps. It's really not hard at all, just a little time consuming. But the end result is wonderful and well worth it. For taste and health!


 Slice and enjoy! I just love the smell and taste of home baked bread. And everyone just eats this recipe up!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Our beginning of 2012 in photos!

Home and together again!
We are so silly.
Army ball. What a fun and crazy night!
Beach baby.
Daddy doing her nails.

A New Year

I know I haven't been keeping up with this blog like I planned but I will try and do better. My husband is home from his deployment to Afganistan and we are all home together again in Hawaii. Hopefully we wont have another deployment to go through again for quite a while. I'm really enjoying getting settled back into our life together again. Running my own home again, spending so much time together, cooking dinners, and even the laundry I don't mind at all. (At least for now. lol) His leave is coming up soon and I'm really excited for even more time that we'll have together, before normal leangth work days and weeks kick in again. And Genesis warmed up to him again with almost no problem. She just loves playing with him, and picking on him. :) I'll have more to post later, but for now I just wanted to give my blog a quick makeover and let everyone know I'm still here and we'er all doing well. Until later -This is the Life!-

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy.

So My husband and I have been married now for just over two and a half years. And unfortunately we are already on our 2nd deployment leaving us with just over a year of actually being in the same house, let alone the same state together. One of these days soon though we will reach a time were we have been together more then apart. And I know allot of other military wives can relate well to what I am talking about. Although I guess between all the schools and training we have actually been together less then that. And even though I hate that fact, I am reassured in it because with all the time we have had to spend apart our marriage is always getting stronger and more beautiful every day.
Before I met my husband, I never imagined that I would be married to a soldier. The town I am from isn't very big and everyone in it knows someone who knows you. This town is also an hour away from any sort of military base and even though I have retired military extended family it's never really been a life style I've known until now. And I must say it really has grown on me. I love the camaraderie that you can find in many of the wives here. The fact that your neighbors and friends and even people you run into at the commissary know exactly what deployments are like, and what it's like going home to an empty bed night after night during those times.
One thing I have learned over our times apart is how to laugh. To be able to laugh at myself and to find the joy in life. Even during the times all the joy seems to be sucked out of it. I love reading books written by other military wives who know how to find the joy in life as well. Because even though there are so many many times all I want to do is curl up and cry I try and find things to make me laugh. It's keeps my spirits strong and my outlook so much more bright. Which is very important or you'll tend to sink.

I remember one afternoon some of the girls and I decided to take our kids and have a day at the beach, (Which is definitely one perk to being stationed in Hawaii!) there are many secluded beaches, and it's easy to find a spot away from roaming tourists and new Privets trying to pick up chicks. We planned the night before to go and I was very glad we did once I got in the shower that next morning. Knowing we were about to have a day at the beach I of course dug my razor out of the bottom of my cosmetic bag where it had been living for the past almost 3 weeks. And I swear once I got started it took all of 20 minutes to actually shave every unsightly hair off my body! Once my husband deployed I saw no need for this sort of extra maintenance, and had neglected it badly. I had razor burns in places I didn't know you could get razor burns! When I finally finished and my daughter and I were beach ready we headed out for our day in the blue waters. It was all fun and games and we were hunting for shells just under the shallow waves when a bit of seaweed floated over my girlfriends leg. "What was that!" she asked while pulling her legs back. I told her it was just seaweed as I looked down at it. Then I saw this seaweed scurry sideways... We all ran screaming from the waves toward the sand. It was a huge crab! When we realized what we just did, and what we must look like we collapsed on the sand laughing hysterically! And I know that we all very much needed that afternoon. I went home feeling so refreshed and energized. All because a crab turned us into screaming little girls.
It's those little things we learn to laugh at and use to make our day joyful.

-This is the life!-