Thursday, June 27, 2013

Made it-Loved it

I have FOUR boards that I currently pin food to on Pinterest. I say that now, but in a week, I'll probably change it. I can't stand having a million pins to one board, so I like to break it up. I may be slightly OCD, but I like having all of my craft pins organized by material or holiday so I'm not skimming through thousands for one idea.

So back to the food. My food boards are :
1. Yumminess: where I pin things that I haven't made yet. This one currently contains a lot of meat items. Even though I'm not currently eating commercially harvested meats, I'm not swearing off meat forever. I'm dying for fall to get here so my husband can fill our deep freeze with 200+lbs of moose. ha.
2. Vegan/Vegetarian: Things I pin for myself, since I'm not forcing this on my husband, and because when I innocently wandered into the knowing world of slaughter houses, I had a freezer full of meat that I just stocked up on at the commissary, and someone has got to eat it!
3. Made it-Loved it: This has things that I've actually made, and that turned out really well. Foods I definitely would eat again. So if you're looking for things that have actually been taste tested, you're more than welcome to follow it!
Check it out HERE
4. Made it-Not So Good: This has pinterest fails. Maybe other people might like them, but they were not yummy in my opionion. So far, there aren't too many things I've found that haven't worked out for us :)

This is what we had for dinner last night off the Made it-Loved it board:

1 -2 lb fresh shrimp, cleaned and deveined, and butterflied
1 lb angel hair pasta (I subbed in ronzoni garden delights fettuccine)
1 diced tomato
6 -8 whole garlic cloves
1 shallot, diced
1 pint heavy cream (I used 1/2 and 1/2 instead to save on some calories)
1 cup dry white wine
olive oil
5 -7 leaves fresh basil
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, finely grated
For the shrimp
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, finely grated
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (I use a mix of unbleached and whole wheat)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Pour enough olive oil in a large sauce pan to cover the bottom, turn to medium high heat. This is the only pot you'll need for the sauce so it should be big. Soak the shrimp in milk and combine the dry ingredients (flour, 2T cheese, salt, pepper). Coat the shrimp with the dry ingredients and let them fry in the olive oil, About 2 minutes per side until golden brown. The Flour that falls off the shrimp will add great flavor and consistency to the sauce. Add more oil as necessary, between batches of shrimp. Dab the shrimp with a paper towel, cover and set aside on range top to keep warm.
Add the garlic to the oil, stir for a few minutes, then turn the heat to medium low. Now add the wine and bring it to a boil. Then turn the heat to low and cover, let the wine reduce, about 10-15 minutes.
In a separate pot, bring water to simmer. (for pasta later).
Add the cream, and bring it back to a boil, turn heat to low and simmer for 10 more minutes. While it is simmering dice your shallot and tomato, and chiffonade your basil. Now add the Basil, diced tomato, and remaining 2T Parmesan cheese. Stir for a moment then add the fried shrimp, and remove the pan from heat. The sauce will thicken as it cools.
Bring pasta pot to a boil and add angel hair and cook.

Anyone else completely neurotic with their pin boards?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The hardest part about being a first time mama

In my honest opinion, the hardest part of being a first time mama isn't the sleepless nights, endless loads of laundry, or the crying. Its learning NOT to compare yourself to other mamas. Humans are competitive by nature, and this is an instance where "a little healthy competition" does more harm than good.

Yesterday, I was perusing through a bunch of my favorite blogs that I have neglected for oh so long, and I came across a fellow blogger who has a kiddo about the same age as my critter, who can say twice as many words as Amelia. I honestly started to wonder if there was something wrong with her. Why could this little kiddo say so many more words? I pouted through quite a few more blogs, silently milling it over.

Once my critterbug woke from her nap, I was watching her happily play on the floor, and I remembered just how smart she is. She may not know how to say a lot of things yet, but she's an amazing visual learner. She'll watch me or my husband do something, and will instantly be able to mimic what we just did. It only took her a few times of watching me fill her bottle at the sink before she would take her bottle and chuck it at the counter when she wanted it refilled. She even hit all of her mobility milestones before she was supposed to. She may not say a lot of words, but she understands so much that we tell her, and she can follow lots of instructions.

I couldn't believe as someone who was a teacher for 6 years, that I would be comparing kids like this. I've spent years preaching to individualized education that plays to the strengths of each student. I KNOW that each child is different, and develops on their own time, but I still wanted my kiddo to be the best of the best at EVERYTHING. She is way too young for me to have such unhealthy expectations for her.

It's okay to be jealous of others at times, but my advice to other first time mamas out there is this: don't dwell on what your child can't quite do yet, celebrate their accomplishments. Every child is different, and it will all fall into place when your child is ready. Every accomplishment is magical when it's your baby learning it.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

I've been gone for far too long

Taking a hiatus from blogging for almost a year, and then attempting a come-back is almost like culture shock. Things on blogger have changed. When I disappeared, everyone was in a tisy because blogger was going to do away with followers. I'm glad to see that the little follower box is still there, even though I don't think I have more than a few people who actually still follow we. Now, google reader is going away? I think that's what I've read. A few people recommended getting the bloglovin app, so I downloaded it. Where was this app a year ago?! I think I might have actually stuck around the blogging community if I could have read all my favorite blogs from my phone.

Critterbug was born in April, and I was a teacher for years, so that gave me from April to August home with her. I should have been able to fit the blogging in, but I was so tired, and hauling out my computer seemed like such a hassle. I blogged a few times from my phone, but most of them ended up in my drafts folder, never getting published. She was super dependent when she was itty bitty, and I couldn't put her down without her screaming. She would only take one long tap in her swing a day, so I spent that time running around like a chicken with my head cut off. Showering, cleaning, getting dinner prepped, and doing laundry. She refused to sleep in her own bed, and I couldnt do the whole let her cry it out thing, because she never stopped crying (she still spends part of the night in our bed. I'm such a pushover when it comes to making her happy)

As she got older, and I went back to work, I felt like I was neglecting her enough being gone all day, there was no way I was loosing any more time with my precious little baby. Thankfully, I didnt miss any of her firsts! She saved those all for home.

Now that I'm not working, and she's independent, I can usually sit down and blog without having to worry about her needing my attention. Right now she's making a mess out of my husbands video games, and is perfectly content.

I'm trying to read all these blogs that I've loved, but I feel like I've missed so much of their lives. Ladies who were newly weds now have kiddos, and the first time mamas are having a second. Milsos have PCS'd to new locations. I've got so much to catch up on. Thankfully, I've got all the time in the world now! Hopefully, y'all will be seeing some comments from me soon. I'm reading as much as I can between snuggles and cleaning up after my little tornado. I'm trying my best not to give up on all of you again!

Summer Solstice

On Friday, I posted about wanting to make it to the summer solstice party. When we went through our incoming brief in May, the commander told us Alaska has 4 seasons like everyone else, but here they consist of June, July, August, & Winter. lol. Summer is everyones chance to get out and enjoy this beautiful state, so I don't want to miss any of this summer fun before we start seeing snow again.

That night the hubs came home and informed me that instead of having the 3-day weekend that he thought, he had to go in for part-day training. Oh, Army. How you tease us. Ha! The hubs was super ticked off, because at Bragg, he was the best Gunner in his battalion, so he thinks he's too good to go in for "extra help," but he sucked it up and went anyway.

That meant no summer solstice for us... so I sucked it up and took critterbug by myself. I was a little lonely not having anyone who can hold a conversation, but we still had fun none-the-less. It was quite a few blocks long with tons of local Alaskan vendors, a skate park, a kids area, food, and live music. One of the coolest parts was the Hero Games. They had teams of local firefighters, EMTs, and soldiers battling it out in silly games like racing scooters and tug-o-war. It was cool to see this one group of super fit soldiers who thought they were tough get their butts kicked by a bunch of overweight firefighters. lol. Don't count your chickens before they're hatched, I suppose.

The super cute books I found for critterbug. They were written by a local author, who signed each copy for us. They came in a bundle for $25. Amelia loves the animal sound one, which has actual alaskan animal sounds, but my favorite is the Denali bus ride. It folds out into this 3' long book, which I thought was so unique!

The best kept pony ride animals I've ever seen. So well groomed and perfectly trimmed hoofs. Its refreshing to see people take such good care of their ponies. They're so often neglected.

So many people!

This was the team that thought they were going to beat the firefighters. I love the dude with his boxers hanging out of the bottom of his ranger panties. Each team had to have one girl, and it looks like he traded shorts with her. lol

Horrible picture of me and critterbug. It was super sunny.

They built a sand pit right in the middle of the street. I thought this was AWESOME! A great place to take a break with the kiddos, and it was free. They also had built a shallow pool in the middle of the road for kayak races

Enjoying some "fried bread" with confectionary sugar
We've always called it fried dough. Anyone else call it fried bread?

Friday, June 21, 2013

5 on Friday

Since I'm attempting to make my blogging comeback, I figured I'd join this linkup today. I noticed it on two different blogs (out of the six I've read so far today) so on the bandwagon I will jump! You can ling up HERE on Natasha's blog.

If you follow me over from the linky, let me know so I can follow you back :)

I am dying to go to the summer solstice festival in Downtown Anchorage this weekend. We get 22 hours of daylight on the summer solstice, so it's a big to-do up here. Its on my Alaska Bucketlist (which is like a million miles long). So far I've only checked 2 things off my list. Boo.

I'm having a slight meltdown today because I discovered a pimple on my cheek. Seriously?! I'm 27 years old. I couldn't even tell you the last time I had a pimple. Where the heck did this little bugger come from?!

We've been here since the 25th of April, and we've still got moving boxes in our garage... and not just a few. I hate unpacking. At first I was excited to decorate our new house. We came from a 3 bedroom/2 bath, to a 5 bedroom/3.5 bath, which has slightly overwhelmed me. My husband insisted we get a larger house because he thinks I'm a hoarder. Considering we found a whole box of empty boxes while we were unpacking, I might admit to a small problem. I'm almost done with critterbug's cowgirl themed room, so I'll hopefully be able to post pics soon. I've still got her bookshelf to repaint.

I've made it a whole week without eating commercially harvested meats and poultry, and I'm feeling pretty awesome about it. I still cook meat for my husband, who has next to no compassion, so I've been tempted a few times to chow down on a yummy steak, but then I remember all the horribly inhumane things I've read about slaughterhouses, and I don't have any problems saying no. There is a farmers market in Anchorage that I'm hoping to check out soon that has organic meats and poultry, which are locally butchered. We're also looking into getting chickens since our landlord left a chicken coop in our backyard.

Critterbug learned how to go down a slide all by herself, and I couldnt be more proud :)
How stinking cute is she?!

A place people spend thousands of dollars to visit-Alaska

When my husband first found out he was going to Alaska, he was livid. He'd been stationed at Bragg for 4 years, and before that, came from Ft Sill, OK. Originally from Michigan, he had vowed never to return to life about the Mason-Dixon line. That was fine by me. I loved southern living. Not so much in Fayetteville, because that place is the butthole of North Carolina, but out in the country southern hospitality thrives, and I met some of the most amazing people alive.

After a while, the idea of Alaska grew on us. Like I mentioned, he's from Michigan, and I hale from Upstate, NY. We were both raised in the wilderness of the North, so Alaska seemed to be taking us back to our roots. Hunting, fishing, mudding. It all happens here. Yes, it snows a lot, but we're both used to that.

The only thing that is truly different than the lower 48 is the sunlight. It's crazy how it'll be light out long after we go to bed, and before we even wake up. Summer in this place is spectacular. Hopefully, the winters won't make us regret our new found love for this amazing state.

Critterbug at the Knik River-14 Months Old

Summer Sisters

If you haven't read this book, I highly recommend it. I managed to read the entire book in one day, with a one year old running around. It's that good! It came out a while back, but I received it as a gift when my critterface was itty bitty, and I just didn't have time to read it. Now, she's a little bit older, I'm not currently working, and I can actually read while she plays on the floor or terrorizes the dogs. I loved that this book has short chapters, because with a little one, its hard to read more than a few pages at a time without bottle refills, snuggles, and stopping to play with whatever she has brought to me.

Here is the amazon description:
In the summer of 1977, Victoria Leonard’s world changes forever when Caitlin Somers chooses her as a friend. Dazzling, reckless Caitlin welcomes Vix into the heart of her sprawling, eccentric family, opening doors to a world of unimaginable privilege, sweeping her away to vacations on Martha’s Vineyard, an enchanting place where the two friends become “summer sisters.”

Now, years later, Vix is working in New York City. Caitlin is getting married on the Vineyard. And the early magic of their long, complicated friendship has faded. But Caitlin begs Vix to come to her wedding, to be her maid of honor. And Vix knows that she will go—because Vix wants to understand what happened during that last shattering summer. And, after all these years, she needs to know why her best friend—her summer sister—still has the power to break her heart.

Summer Sisters on Amazon

Not what I expected at all from Judy Blume!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Guess who's back

Hello out there! Not sure if anyone is still listening, but if not, that's okay. I've been gone from the blogging scene for quite some time. Working & being a new mom, while prepping for a cross country move was more than I could handle. I didnt really pick up my computer over the last few months other than to upload photos to facebook.

Since my last post, we managed to make the 4,500+ trip from good ole North Carolina to Alaska in 11 days. It was long days of driving. Wanting to kill my husband. A week and a half of pure hell. But, we made it, and I couldn't be happier with living in Alaska. This is truly one of the most beautiful places on earth, and I'm blessed to be living here.

One of the main reasons I wanted to get back into blogging was because I'm going to attempt 30 days of vegetarianism. I'm not really into it because of the health benefits. I've been modifying our diet for a while now, and I try to do a lot of clean eating... However, one of my guy friends from college has been posting on facebook a lot lately about the dog meat market in Asia. The pictures are truly horrific, and talking with my husband (who was in Korea for a year) about it, has really made me sick. I absolutely adore my dogs. I could never imagine them being treated like that. I just don't know how people can do that to an animal... and while reading his posts, and becoming infuriated, I started seeing more an more about the way animals in our country are slaughtered and I cried. Like a baby. Imagining those poor cows getting skinned alive. I've heard about the process not being so nice before, but to actually sit down and read quotes from slaughter house employees was sickening. Cutting their throats is one thing, but skinning and boiling animals alive is beyond excuse. So with that, I'm going to stop eating slaughterhouse meats. I'm not going to completely cut meat out of my diet forever, I'm just not eating any meat that may or may not have come from an animal that was abused while it was alive. No more supermarket meat for this kid.

Both my dad and my husband have hunted for years, and I won't be cutting out game meat forever. It may seem somewhat hypocritical, but to me, it makes sense... I believe in the food chain, and I've seen far too many animals getting hit by cars & left on the side of the road to rot due to overpopulation. The main road from our house to base boasts 214 dead moose. A brown bear was killed by a car just outside of base last week... I know we are completely to blame for taking over their habitats, but what can we do at this point in time to give it back to them? Alaska is pretty rad though. They donate moose hit by cars to local food banks if they can. Kudos for not having an animal die in vain.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm not against eating meat. Man had been doing it for the entire length of its existence. I am however against animal abuse in all shapes and forms... so with that. I'm going to give this a go.

I'd like to try my hand at becoming vegan for a while, since dairy farm conditions aren't much better, but I have a serious love affair with cheese. I need to find a great farmers market around here that has local farmers who don't abuse their livestock to support.

If anyone out there is still listening... share your favorite vegetarian meals.

Also, I'm in need of a new blog look since I am no longer in NC, so if anyone knows someone who can help me out. Let me know how to contact them.