zucchini soup.

in an effort to use all my zucchinis, i've been cooking this rapidly-growing squash like crazy.  i'll add it to anything these days.  i guess a. should consider himself lucky it's not in his cereal.  

a. is a relatively picky eater (actually, he'll eat anything as long as there's meat in it), so trying to find a veggie-based entree can be a bit challenging.  last weekend we had some friends over for game night and i decided to use them as my guinea pigs...like any good hostess should.

i found this zucchini soup recipe and ironically had everything i needed to make it in our fridge.  i was a bit short on spinach and cilantro so i added a bit more lemon to make up for it.  everyone really enjoyed the soup & we had enough to freeze for a later date (or game night).  enjoy.


i love a good homecoming.

i just saw this amazing video on elise's blog.  since a. and i just had our own homecoming after a year-long deployment, it really struck a chord with me (he'll be home 2 weeks sunday!).  homecomings are so incredibly emotional & words can't begin to explain what you're feeling.  this video is the closest representation of the happiness and excitement and joy we felt the day we saw each other.

luckily, we'll never be going through another deployment again, but if for some reason things change, i'll be copying this- for sure.

and as a. said, this homecoming was so much cooler than his.


on a school night.

last night i surprised a. with tickets to the avett brothers.  a few years ago, we discovered them and thanks to this song, have been fans ever since.  the concert was about 2 hours from home at ommegang brewery, so on a school night, it was a bit of a haul.

on our way to the concert we drove through a torrential downpour and when we arrived at the venue, the rain was just getting started.  surprisingly the venue was packed & with great beer and an awesome line-up (brandi carlile opened), it was amazing.

the rain never let up and everything turned into mud soup.  but it was totally worth it.  & even though my poor shoes got ruined- the music, waffles, beer made it the best date night ever.


a.'s homecoming

it's been one week since a.'s been home.  and it's been wonderful.  it's so nice to have a partner in crime and someone to just do nothing with.  so i guess you can say, it's been a great week.  

sadly, i missed a.'s homecoming.  in true following of murphy's law, our largest conference was held in san antonio the same weekend of his arrival.  to anyone else, it might seem silly that i wasn't there- and yes, the decision to miss it was hard.  when we found out about the conflict, we talked about it a lot & together decided it would be better to miss the initial hello than be forced to say goodbye a day after he came home.  

so we chose for me to go.  i spent three very long days keeping my head down and working my butt off.  meanwhile, a. started his travels across the globe and our friends planned a killer homecoming party in his honor.
the pictures are: 1) my call from san antonio to tell the gang a's homecoming information and pick-up details.  it was also when i realized it was actually happening.  honestly, i had a mental breakdown.  it was the only time i regretted our decision. 2) the party growlers 3) homecoming formation 4) katie, a. and rick 5) a happy pup 6) a sushi platter rick made for a.

the next day (the first full day a. was home), my colleagues surprised me with an early ticket home.  i wanted to keep it a surprise, but between my excitement and knowing that he probably would decide to go golfing or mountain biking for the day, i thought better of it.  so i hopped the first flight out of san antonio on monday.  miraculously, i made each and every connection & arrived to syracuse on-time.  a. was waiting for me and it was magical.  & for the first time, in 365 days, i finally felt happy.


zucchini bread.

my garden is over flowing with zucchini.  there was a time, about 3 weeks ago, when i was convinced my garden stopped and boycotted the growth of fruits and veggies.  so imagine my surprise when i moved a few leaves and found a zucchini the size of a small animal.  

i spent the better part of the evening scouring the internet for zucchini recipes and after considering fritters and stuffed zucchini, i settled on an oldie but goodie: zucchini bread.  i've never made zucchini bread.  in fact, up until my bread making craze these past couple months, i'd never made anything more than banana bread.  

so i picked this recipe from smitten kitchen and went to town.  a. was shocked because i don't bake.  i generally despise it.  there's something about precisely measuring and doing things in a specific order that drives me crazy.  i prefer a freestyle form of cooking- where anything goes.
substitutions: i didn't have enough sugar and added a 1/4 cup of white sugar and a 1/4 cup of brown sugar.  in my opinion, this ended up being more than enough.  i also added 1/8 cup of chai seeds for a little extra fiber and dried cranberries.

review: overall, i think it turned out pretty good.  the bread is very moist and has a ton of flavor.  next time, i'd add walnuts and a bit more zucchini.  


the deployment (part 2).

as you know, i launched my lofty list of things to do in a.'s absence.  i was going to eat healthy and exercise much.  learn a new language and how to play guitar.  ready many, many books, travel the world, volunteer, scuba dive and climb mountains.  all of this in one year.  oh yea, and start a brand new job.  see where the straight jacket comes in?

by three months in, i definitely felt less crazy.  i met up with a good friend who went through two deployments herself and she verified my deepest fear: the second deployment is tougher than the first & doesn't get any easier.  the only way to get through this unscathed was to fight like hell and endure.  so i did.

i dove head first into work.  with a week of australia ahead of me, i had something to look forward to.  it was only once i hit the new challenges of the job, that i realized i no longer had anyone to bounce ideas off.  the one person who was not only an awesome sounding board, but also helped me rationalize and stay grounded, was gone.  and that sucked.  majorly.  so i turned to my awesome network of family & friends and they guided me (with a ton of patience) through my trials.  and i am forever grateful.   

by the time the holidays got here, i was completely out of any sense of normalcy i once had.  but it didn't make it any easier.  no sir'e.  the holidays were the absolute pits (sorry family...just being honest) and while i was home, it just wasn't the same.  so once again, i endured and made the very best of the holiday cheer and festivities.  

when i arrived home, life took over and continued full-speed ahead. and even though the days felt long, i found i had enough to do to keep my mind occupied.  a. and i spoke often.  we talked about the future and our life plans & bucket lists and life after the army.  we wrote one another letters and on the rare occasion, were able to chat via skype or on the phone.  that was the best.

my friend was right, it never did get easier, but as the snow and cold lifted, so did my spirits.  i started to see a light and with costa rica right around the corner, had a reason to get very, very excited.  while emerging from my funk, i also started making time for me (this is actually rather ironic considering i had an entire year of me-time).  i finally got involved in a running club and read more books.  i picked up beer making and began to make mini-books again.  i bought flowers for the house and cooked more meals.  as dismal as things may have been, it was really starting to look up.     


he's home!

he's home.  i'm home.  & we're together forever.  finally.


conference weekend.

here we go.  the big conference weekend.  and the big homecoming weekend.  all rolled into three crazy days of chaos.

when i launched my september list, i mentioned i wanted to rock this conference.  well, the time has come.  i'm heading to san antonio for a fast and furious weekend of work, networking & very long hours.  the event business is a blast & it definitely has it's perks.  it's also way overrated and according to msn, one of the top 'not so glamorous' jobs.

but i'm a sucker & i generally love what i do.  specifically the conferences and being on-site.  it's where i'm meant to be.  planning and executing conferences is such a thrill & there's something so exciting when you're working down to the wire, making sure everything is perfect, & problem-solving as you go.  the long hours don't mean much when you receive the positive feedback from your team, a boss, or best yet, an attendee.  

so please wish me luck.  i'm hoping i can wrap my head around all the details & focus on networking while still being majorly excited for a.'s homecoming.  i'm going to need some well-wishes and good voodoo.  thanks in advance!  

catch y'all on the flip-side.


the boxes have arrived.

best.day.ever.  a.'s boxes started arriving at the doorstep.  i didn't think they'd make it here this fast, but they did, & that means a.'s right behind them!  for any of you wondering, the anticipation is way worse than being a kid on christmas eve, or the first day of school, your wedding day (and that was pretty damn exciting), starting a new job or learning how to drive.  seriously.  it's bananas.   & so completely wonderful.  

only a few more days friends.


brewing beer.

in january, i started brewing beer.  it began as anything does: over a long & wonderful conversation, with a good friend and a glass of wine (ironically).  the start of a long winter was the perfect catalyst for this new hobby.   

after our first (very successful) batch of hefeweizen, we decided to make anther batch & since we're both huge raspberry fans, we opted to make a raspberry wheat beer.  

making beer is a process.  generally it involves a few steps (heating the hops and malt, letting that ferment, adding the sugar to the fermented mixture, bottling the beer & finally, letting everything sit in a cool place until carbonation occurs) that takes about a month to complete.  with the raspberry wheat, we had to add one more process to the mix.  After the fermentation, we cooked over three pounds of raspberries and added them to the carboy with the beer.  this had to sit for another week or two and ferment a bit more.

by the time we were ready to bottle the beer, it was a huge yeasty, hoppy mess.  the raspberries actually turned white during the process and the hops and yeast settled to the top & bottom of the carboy.  after making beer, it's amazing we still drink it.  bottling is the longest process (other than waiting) but with good company and a system, it goes pretty fast.

while we have yet to try it, if it tastes as good as it smells, we're gonna be some seriously happy campers.  it'll be about another week until the unveiling & i love how it coincides with a.'s homecoming.  beer-making is a very cool hobby.  there's a lot of science involved, but it's also an art.  we're like liquid chefs, trying to make the perfect recipe- only we can't taste it until it's complete.  so far, the time & energy has been well worth it.  i'll be sure to let you know how the raspberry ale pans out.


race day weekend.

these lovlies rocked it.  seriously.  now that the weather's starting to turn, there are only a few more races on the calendar.  the arc half marathon & 5k is one of the last races of the season & the weather couldn't have been more perfect.  it was a great day to wake up early & cheer on these fantastic ladies as they crossed the finish line (like rockstars, mind you).  very, very cool & so inspirational.  job well done girls! 


skinny jeans.

we all have a pair.  and no, i'm not talking about the ones you're wearing, but the ones that live in your closet waiting to be worn.  the ones you long to wear.  you know the ones.

well, i have a pair.  and they just happen to be skinny jeans.  so now you can imagine my frustration trying to get my bum in my skinny skinny jeans.  that sounds fun, doesn't it?

mid-summer i decided to take these infamous pants off the shelf and hang them up, beside a mirror, in our closet.  this is the mirror i use everyday & everyday, i saw the pants.  i adopted an out of sight, out of mind motto with these jeans and on the days i wanted ice cream for dinner or played hooky from the gym, i just closed the closet door.  

last month i finally mustered the courage to try them on.  up & over my hips they went and i did the happy dance.  then i buttoned them.  lo & behold thee muffin top.  so damn close.  cursing under my breath at the pizza i ate earlier, i hung the jeans beside the mirror.  for a month i played this game.  the jeans and muffin top always winning.

so today, with great doubts, i tried again.  up & over my hips they went and i held my breath as i buttoned.  the muffin top was gone.  the pants fit so very nicely.  i did a happy dance.  & wore them to work, feeling like a million bucks and then some.  

i love when hard work pays off.  it's the best feeling ever.  and what a great way to start the week.


the bragg challenge.

one of my co-workers is just as nutty as i am.  she's always trying new, natural remedies and the other day, informed me of her apple cider vinegar (acv) with "the mother" challenge.  for one week, she is going to consume 1-2 tablespoons of acv three times a day (or one huge shot every morning...her words, not mine).

never one to turn down a challenge, i offered to join her.  over the past couple years, the health benefits of consuming and using acv has popped up in more and more articles.  apparently, it the miracle elixir.  and as noted on bragg's apple cider vinegar, in 400 b.c. hippocrates, the father of medicine, used it for its amazing natural cleansing, healing and energizing health qualities (i'm not a sucker for marketing scams or anything, am i?).

i know this challenge will give my family and friends amo for my craziness, but i'm excited to see if after a week, the benefits are all that they claim to be.  my challenge begins today & i'll be sure to report back on the results.  oh yea, wanna join me?


one year strong.

holy smokes.  one year ago today i wrote my first blog post.  crazy.  now, 365 days in the making, i'm still going strong (maybe not consistent, but strong) & love this little blog space.  

originally, my intention was to create a record of my life for a. while he was deployed.  now that it's only 2 weeks from his homecoming, the time has come to reassess the space and decide if it's something i want to continue.  lucky for you, my friend, i've never been a quitter.  and this blog is here to stay.  

as my life will change in the next two weeks, it's safe to assume this blog will as well.  hopefully for the better.  i hope to be more consistent with my posts this year, share more diy's and recipes, loves, challenges and adventures.  i'm also going to make a vow to put myself out there.  i've been okay with living under the radar in blog land.  i've only told my family and a few friends about the space.  afraid of being judged and feeling vulnerable, i opted for a low profile.  now i'm not saying i'm going to post my blog on cnn or send in a nudie pic to perez, but i am going to make a point to talk about my blog & share it with anyone who might be interested.

i mean, i've written over 143 posts...so i obviously have (or think i have) something to say.  i also owe you a huge thank you.  thanks for signing on and reading.  for supporting this little space and reminding me that while i might think my life is ordinary, it's still interesting, exciting and i have plenty of stories worth sharing!  honestly, if it wasn't for your support, i don't know that we'd be still having these conversations.

cheers to you, the first year & many more to follow!
local beer at upstream brewing company- omaha, ne


the depolyment (part one).

i’ve been trying to write this for a while now.  trying to find the right words, but it never felt right,  with each passing month i tell myself it's time & i should- but always fall short as the words fail to come.  now things are different.  with a very definite end in sight i finally can and will write what's been on my mind this past year. 

there's no beating around the bush here- deployments to say the least, are the worst.  they just suck.  leading up to the "big-d" everyone told me 'you can do this.  it'll be easier than you think.  and you know what to expect.'  so i repeated...'it'll be way easier than i think, we've done this before & i'll stay super busy...i can totally do this.'  so i put my head down, cried my tears and forged ahead.  & to my surprise, the second deployment isn't any easier than the first.  as a matter of fact, it's harder.  

for the first month, i thought someone was going to have to put me in a straight jacket.  it was really that bad.  i started a new job right before a. left (worst. decision. ever) and between the new job & deployment, i was stressed to the max.  i surrounded myself with self-pity & sorrow and hunkered down for the long haul.  luckily i have some amazing friends.  they let me wallow just long enough before they stopped putting up with my bs and called me out.  

so i ventured out, looking for adventures & happiness...convinced they'd arrive in one pretty little package.  i booked a few trips and committed to a couple races and activities.  i put myself out there.  like a single girl in a frat house...there i was.  and while i had many moments of satisfaction, nothing seemed to help- my little gray cloud lingered.  the more i thought about my funk, the more welcome it became.  & to make matters worse, it wasn't even that i was unhappy, i was really lonely.  and tired of being a plus one.  

so i continued to grieve behind my masked smile (best disguise ever, by the way) and promised myself i'd make the most out of this year.  i'd learn more about myself, teach myself new skills, get crafty, enjoy the "single" life and eat ice cream for dinner whenever i wanted.  so i started making lists.  long, lofty lists of everything i'd accomplish while a. was away.  i wrote list after list, wallowing in my mountain of paper and ink.  even though i just wrote it down, i told myself i'd accomplished something.  it was a start- even if we still had a long way to go.



for the long weekend, i jumped on a plane and headed to the land of eternal sunshine.  aka, san diego.  it was a busy weekend full of friends, laughter and fun.  i always love going home, regardless of how tired i am when i return.

i made the trip for my good friend kelsey's wedding.  seriously, cutest. ceremony. ever.  the wedding had a boardwalk-meets-1950's theme and my good friends, many who i've known since kindergarten, were there for the festivities.  it was so great to dance, catch-up and drink good wine.

i spent the rest of the weekend making time for family and friends.  i was finally able to meet cammie, my sweet friend's daughter over brunch and some much needed girl talk.  i went to a great roadside farm stand on our way to the race track.  it's claim for fame?  wolfgang puck buys his produce there.  everything was heirloom, organic and triple the cost of a grocery store.  i of course, had to take pictures.

we ventured to the race track.  i bet on the horses with the coolest names and prettiest colors.  i think luck was on my side...i won $3!  i helped my super-crafty sis* make invitations for a birthday party, took my other sis on a death march-turned-girl talk, had a fabulous barbecue with the inlaws, sister in law and niece.  there was swimming, fire pits and make-believe.  

saying good bye is always the hardest part.  so i ventured to the sister-in-law's with family in tow for one final hoorah (and the yummiest ice cream ever).  after getting caught up in chatter and niece/nephew playtime, i nearly missed my flight (not that another day in san diego would have been a bad thing) and left san diego in the manner i arrived & played...full speed ahead.

i won't be back until christmas, but these little weekend getaways always remind me how good it is to be home!

*in 15 minutes, my super-crafty-sis managed to teach me, her computer-illiterate sis, a thing or two about photoshop.  she's a genius.  i learned more from her in 15 minutes than i have in a month- you can thank her for the most-awesome photo montage.


whole wheat bread.

lo and behold my second bread-making attempt!  while this loaf didn't turn out exactly as i had hoped, the flavor was really good and i would totally make it again.

i used the barefoot contessa's honey white bread recipe (found in this cookbook) and substituted whole wheat flour for white flour (in hind-sight, i should have only substituted half & half since i've never modified a bread recipe before and didn't know how it would affect the recipe).  during the rising process, the bread never really doubled in size as the recipe implied (& despite my impatience, i waited over 2 hours at each step for the dough to rise), so the bread was a bit denser than i had hoped.

overall, it was a perfect blend of salty & sweet.  i ate it all last week with vegetable soup and avocado.  yum, yum.


bring it, september

how i have waited for you!  this is the month- the month that marks the long awaited arrival of my man!  the arrival that will forever turn "i" into "we" and make a lazy, quiet sunday afternoon into a lazy, quiet day of dating.  life will be oh so good.  and there's only 20 days to go!!

this month other than the most-wonderful arrival of a., i have a few things in the cooker and a few on the to-do list...drum roll, please:
  • get the house "couple-ized."  after living apart for a year, i've took the liberty of making everything mine.  his desk?  mine.  his side of the bed?  mine.  his shower products?...what shower products?  you get the picture.  the time has come for sharing.
  • rock out my upcoming conference.  in case you didn't know (or i neglected to inform you), i work for a company that produces conferences.  i'm in charge of the exhibit floor and all sponsorship components.  this conference is the biggest one of the year (aka. the doozie) and i'm determined to rock it.
  • find some time to take care of the garden.  considering 3 out of my 4 weekends this month involve traveling, this one could be tough.  but i'm gonna give it my all.
  • continue with my monday night improv classes.  that's right, i said it.  i do improv!
  • start swimming twice a week.  it's time.  it really is.
  • keep learning photoshop (like my "hello september"?).  that is a huge accomplishment for me!  gotta keep it up.
  • go backpacking.  (this is already planned- it's what a. and i are doing our first weekend together- but since it'll be an easy and fun thing, i figured why not add it to the list?!?)
whew.  so there we have it.  the september list.  what do you have planned for your autumn kick-off?