Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Book Review: January

I used to do a review every once in awhile about the books I'd been reading, but I kind of got out of the habit of doing that in the last six months. So, I thought I'd start back up again with the new year. This month I've read 12 books and I'm working on my 13th, which is a bio about Mickey Mantle.

Here is my list so far:

1. Cold-Blooded- Lisa Jackson

2. Dreams of Joy- Lisa See
3. Chasing Harry Winston- Lauren Weisberger
4. Prarie Tale- Melissa Gilbert
5. The Family Fang- Kevin Wilson
6. Stories I Only Tell My Friends- Rob Lowe
7. A Dark and Lonely Place- Edna Buchanan
8. The Secret History of the Pink Carnation- Lauren Willig
9. The Tiger's Wife- Tea Obreht
10. Girl Who Chased the Moon- Sarah Addison Allen
11. Story Of Beautiful Girl- Rachel Simon
12. Happens Every Day- Isabelle Gillies

Of the 12 that I read, my three favorites are:

1. Story of Beautiful Girl

It's about two people that escape from an institution in the 1960's and entrust the life of their daughter with a stranger they met the night they escaped. One of the main characters was caught and sent back to the institution, but the other character escaped and lived on the run for many years. I loved the main characters and I felt the story was heartbreaking, but had a great ending.

2.A Dark and Lonely Place

I really did enjoy this book, although the overuse of "Darlin" in the book got on my nerves. That being said, this book is about two times in history. In the early 1900's, a couple in Florida live a life on the run after John Ashley is falsely accused of killing a man. They are devoted to each other and the story follows them through their life on the run with an untimely end. The other part of this story is about present-day where a Miami detective and a model are thrown together in a similiar circumstance and it seems history will repeat itself. This book was a very fast read for me as I found it very interesting.

3. Prarie Tale and Stories I Only Tell My Friends

I'm lumping these two bios together because they were similiar AND they dated each other, which until I read Prarie Tale, I didn't know.  Both biographies were pretty good and although Melissa Gilbert mentions Rob Lowe a lot in her bio, he mentions her maybe once or twice and hardly says anything about their relationship. It was interesting. I think I learned more from Rob Lowe's bio, simply because I didn't know that much about him. I also didn't realize that huge amounts of his part as Soda Pop in the movie The Outsiders were cut from the film. I always wondered why his part in that movie wasn't bigger. Melissa's bio was eye-opening in the fact that I didn't really know what other work she'd done since Little House on the Prarie and I also wasn't aware of her substance abuse problems. Not that I'm that surprised, but still. Interesting.

The other books were good reads too, but the above that I mentioned were my faves of this month. Any books you guys have been reading that you care to recommend?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Recap of this Week

This week has been all kinds of crazy. For starters, we've had 3 earthquakes in the last few days. Two of which I've felt. The strongest has been 5.2 and it happened yesterday. Each time it happens I think I'm crazy, then I realize I'm not imagining things, the floor really is shaking. It gives me an uber-creepy feeling.

Still no word on when we are leaving Italy or where we will be going. I just love not knowing things! We had a brief about this whole medboard process last week and being the good wife that I am, I went with Sean. UGH! It was the worst 3 hours EVER. To begin with, there were 5 of us crammed in a small office trying to look at slides off a desktop. The gentlemen giving the brief liked to spend at least 20 minutes on each slide, when it wasn't even necessary to do so. He also liked to name-drop and tell stories of things that had absolutely NOTHING to do with what we were discussing. Not to mention he also kept talking about "The Orient."  I told Sean later that I wasn't aware we'd gone back to the 1800's when they actually did call it the Orient.

I'm obsessed with reading right now. I've always loved reading, but right now it's like I can't get enough of books. I probably have 10 books checked out right now and I've actually already read 10 books this month. I'll be doing a post about that at the end of January.

Sean has staff duty all day/night so I'm making him pulled pork sandwhiches with hot corn casserole. For myself I'm making bacon wrapped jalapenos and currently I'm enjoying a fabulous Raspberry Beer Cocktail that I found on Pinterest.  It's all kinds of delicious. I highly recommend it.

I realized today, while searching around on YouTube for old school rap videos from my youth, that I know all the lyrics to this song:

Don't Judge.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Pinterest Jackpot

If you don't know what the Pinterest Jackpot is, or at least my version of it, then keep reading and you will by the end of this post.

Last week I was looking at this adorable set that I'd pinned on my Fashion Faves board and decided to look for this particular dress.

Imagine my dismay when I found out this dress (by H&M) was two years old and most certaintly out of stock.  So with a heavy heart, I hopped over to Ebay thinking by some slim chance it might be there.

Not only did I find the dress, in my size and in perfect condition, but it was 99 cents! How is this possible?! Talk about Pinterest jackpot! So, after waiting a few days and even waking up extra early on a Sunday just to be able to bid on the dress, I won this little beauty for $4.25. Oh the wonderfulness that is Ebay.

Also, if you're on Pinterest, and you care to follow me, I've provided a little "Follow Me on Pinterest" button off to the right side of my blog.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Thoughts About Weight

I know I've shared before on here about how I struggle with accepting myself and my ever fluctuating weight, but I had a few new thoughts about it and wanted to share.

Every year I vow to myself to "get in the best shape ever", but I think I've finally started to realize that my best shape ever doesn't necessarily equal this:

Let's face it, I'm not six feet tall with a long torso and legs that go on for miles. I'm a shorter girl who happens to have hips and more muscular legs. I've told myself over the years that I could be a shorter version of that ideal, that I could have skinny legs and amazing abs like that, but the truth is I can be in shape and I can be toned, but my body is never going to look like hers.

You know what though? I'm finally starting to be ok with that. I want to be muscular, I want to look fit and toned, but I don't want to look sickly and I don't want to starve myself or cut out amazing things that I love to eat (in moderation) just so I can try to be a size 6. I think I look good at a size 10 or 12 and even when I lost 20 lbs, I still was in a size 10/12. Evidently that's just my body. 

I see this floating around Pinterest all the time:

And I think it's a load of crap. I can think of lots of things that taste better than skinny would feel. Potato casserole, cheese enchiladas, chips and salsa, and a cold Dr. Pepper are just a few. Obviously I believe that you should eat and drink those things in moderation, but I'm not going to cut them completely out of my life. I mean, in the end of my life, am I going to look back and care whether I ever was a size 6? Are my children going to care if I ever made my goal weight or only gained 10 lbs when I was pregnant with them? No, I think not. And because I don't think it really matters, I'm not going to worry about it anymore. I'm going to worry about making myself healthy and getting into shape. Not trying to look like some ridiculous idea of what people think "in-shape" is.

I'm sure this new thought process is going to take some time for me to switch over to, but I'll try to update you with how this new process goes.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

What's For Dinner?

Around our house I try to do a meal plan so it's easier for me to buy groceries and in the end I think it's a lot cheaper.  So..in order to keep the meals interesting around our house, I've been trying out a few new recipes. These are a few I've tried in the last couple of months with my (and Sean's) honest opinion. (Just click the title to be taken to the recipe.)

1. Shepard's Pie via Skinny Taste

I've never had regular Shepard's Pie, so I can't compare, but both Sean and I LOVE this dish. It's enough to last us for a couple of days and I think the flavor is awesome. We make this one a lot.

2. Crockpot Minestrone via Skinny Taste

I've only made this once and I wasn't a fan. Sean happened to like it. For me, the rosemary was just too strong and this is coming from someone who actually likes the taste of rosemary. I've thought about cutting down the rosemary and making it again, but I'm kind of on the fence with that one.

3. Turkey Burgers via Trying Our Best

I've been meaning to make these forever, but our commissary is always out of ground turkey. They finally  had it in stock, so a couple of days ago I made turkey burgers. Oh. My. These are delicious! And honestly quite easy to make. Thank God it was enough for leftovers, because I can't stop eating them.

4. Sloppy Joes via Skinny Taste

I used to make Manwiches for dinner. You know, ground beef and sauce out of the can. Then one day I decided to try the sloppy joes on Skinny Taste and I haven't looked back. They are great, packed with veggies and taste like normal sloppy joes. I'm actually making them tonight and Sean and I are both very excited about it.

Now...for a couple of recipes that are specfically for dinner, but I wanted to review them anyway.

1. Jalapeno Popper Dip

I found this recipe via Pinterest and thought it would be fun to make for our Christmas Eve party at my grandparents' house. It was a huge success. Everytime I've made it, people have asked me for the recipe. If you love jalapenos, then you are going to love this dip. It's addictive!

2. Nutella Peanut-Butter Cookies

I'll be honest, these were good, but not good enough that I'd make them over and over. For starters, I'd add some more Nutella then the recipe calls for. Seems like you could barely taste the Nutella and although I do love peanut butter, I don't love peanut butter cookies that much.

Any recipes you guys have made recently that are amazing?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Things I Love!

Time for another edition of Things I Love! Which could also be called Things I Just Bought or Things I'll Buy Soon.

1. Rising From the Sea dress from ModCloth

How awesome is this dress? I love the color and the style. Pretty sure it will be perfect for my 29th birthday (which isn't until July). So I popped this little dress into my shopping cart and it will be mine!

2. Rockaholic Flexible Hairspray from Tigi

I had to leave my hairspray in the States, because my suitcase was over the weight limit, so coming back to Italy, I needed a replacement. I didn't really like my other hairspray anyway, as it left my hair kind of sticky, so when I stumbled upon this flexible hairspray, I knew I had to give it a try. Well, thank god I did, because it is awesome. Seriously, it holds curls so well and they are soft without being sticky or stiff. Love this stuff!

3. Slipper boots from Old Navy

Ok, so the picture is small because the Old Navy site is stupid about saving pictures, but you get the point. I have these exact slippers and in my cold apartment with freezing floors, they are a lifesaver. Plus they were on clearance for like $6 and you can't beat that.

4. Hunger Games

As with many popular items, I'm behind the times when it comes to reading The Hunger Games and the other two books in the trilogy. However, I finished all three books while I was home for Christmas and was quite impressed. I must say that the first book is my favorite and I'm super excited to see the movie. So, if you haven't read the books, you really should!

5. Pepperidge Farm Coconut Cake

I had this cake on New Years Eve as a special treat with my family. I must confess that I'd been eyeing it for awhile, but refused to buy it and eat the whole thing by myself. Let me just say that it was amazing. If you remember Little Debbie's Coconut Cakes (that they so unfairly discontinued years ago) this cake tastes just like that. It was gone within hours after we opened it. It's that good, people.

There you have it! My list of Things I Love. Anything you guys are loving right now that you'd like to share?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Well, I have another update to our whole medboarding saga. So, I thought I might as well share it with you guys.

A couple of months ago, it was passed down that all soldiers (after a certain date) who go through the medboard process, would no longer complete the process in Italy, but instead be sent back to the States to a WTU unit to complete the process. I'm assuming it's not just us that they are doing this to, and it affects others in Europe as well. Although I'm ready to get back to the States, Sean and I wanted to stay in Italy, simply for the fact we didn't want to have to move twice AND we make more money by staying in Italy. Sean asked one of the people in charge about this new policy and was told we had a choice to stay in Italy or to go back to the States.

Fast forward to last Friday, a mere 24 hours or so after I get off the plane, and Sean tells me the man he spoke to was wrong(surprise, surprise) and we don't have a choice. That we will most likely be moving back to the States within 60+ days.  Sean just got his permanent profile approved yesterday which will put this whole process in motion. His superiors in S1 are wanting him to drag it out as long as possible until his replacement is here and properly trained. However, we are still looking at leaving here in March. At least that's our best guess. We have no idea where we will be sent, just a list of six possible places that it could be. Honestly, most of the choices are fine and I'll be able to make do wherever we are. It's just a lot to process in a couple of days time.

So, much to my dismay there are a lot of places we won't be checking off our to-do list to see since we leave in such a short time. However, I think we are going to give it our best to try to make Ireland before we leave since it's very high on Sean and I's list. Besides, it's not like I can never visit Europe again. And I realize I've been very, very lucky to see all the wonderful places that I have seen in the three years I've been here.

In less than a year, Sean will most likely be done with military career and I'm praying that he gets a good rating so we can continue to keep our benefits. We've both been researching this process, but there is a lot that goes into it. We still aren't 100% sure where in Oklahoma we are moving when we are done, but we have agreed that Oklahoma is our choice of where we want to end up.

Once I know more about where we are moving to finish out this process I will most likely be asking for tips and advice on the location. So...stay tuned!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Favorite Photos of 2011

I meant to do this post before the new year, but I didn't have my external hard drive with me that contains all my pictures, so I just put it off until I got back to Italy.

The following photos are my favorite that I took in 2011 in no particular order.

1. Lanterns at Disneyland Paris

The pattern, color and shapes are what make this picture one of my faves. It just gives off a whimsical vibe.

2. Sunbeams in St. Peter's.

The sunbeams in St. Peter's Basilica are my very favorite thing about the place.

3. Churros and Chocolate in Madrid.

Even though Sean gives me grief, I love taking pictures of the food we eat in our travels.

4. Maternity

One of my goals this year was to take more portraits of people. This was the second maternity session of three that I've done this past year and this is one of my favorite shots.

5.  Red Pumps

This is from one of my pictures of the day when I was working on my 365 project last year. I think this is my favorite still-life from last year.

6. Eiffel at Sunset

Some of my favorite pictures from this year came from my August trip to Paris.

7. Poppies in Tuscany

I'd always wanted to capture a field of poppies in Italy. This year on my family's visit we just happened to be in Tuscany while the poppies were blooming. Absolutley beautiful!

8.  Baby in Pearls

I've been lucky enough to practice photography on a beautiful baby this year. This is one of my very faves from our many sessions.

9. Bird's Eye View

Another of my favorites from Paris. That city is so beautiful!

10.  London Eye and the Thames

I was lucky enough to visit London for a second time this summer and really enjoyed getting to take more pictures of this amazing city. The London Eye makes for a perfect subject.