Thursday, December 31, 2009

Oh-Nine was fine

On this day last year, we found out that Jason was going back into the Navy (and angels sang).

2009 was a good year before it even started.

I have a peanut butter ice cream pie chilling in the freezer, a Big Kitty cuddled up next to me, and a glass of Silk Nog and rum waiting for me on the coffee table. Oh, and an adorable husband waiting for his turn to cuddle.

2010 is looking good from where I sit.

Happy new year, everyone!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Where in the World Wednesday: Disney Magic

I've never been one to participate in those day-of-the-week blog things that other people do, but Ashley's post about visiting a creepy Czech church decorated with human bones got me totally convinced that this project, Classy in Philadelphia's Where in the World Wednesday, will be awesome and right up my alley.

Who in the what when? Says she (Classy in Philly, that is): The idea of WITWW is to post a picture of you in someplace in the world... it doesn't have to be somewhere foreign or tropical. Just a picture of you somewhere that you consider traveling.

I've been a place or two, and I take a lot of pictures. Sometimes I even manage to get some taken of myself. So without further ado, I give you my first Where in the World Wednesday:

This picture was taken aboard the Disney Magic cruise ship on December 28, 1998, when I was a junior in high school. My mom, sister and I did Christmas and New Year's Eve Disney-style. We spent Christmas at Disney World in Orlando before setting sail on the Magic, which had stops in Nassau and at Disney's private Bahamian island, Castaway Cay, and culminated with a party and fireworks on the boat on New Year's Eve. I wish I were there now, sipping a fruity drink and basking in the Caribbean warmth!

That is the absolute tannest I have ever been in my entire life. I fakebaked before we left (hey, it was the 90s!) and did my fair share of laying out during the trip. Gosh, do I miss my high school body--I look so skinny! I've gained at least 60 pounds since then. Gross. Seriously.

Our waiter, Tom (on the left), was from Croatia, and our busboy, Neil (on the right), was from England. I was pretty much completely in love with Neil, who said to us, in his adorable accent the morning after an apparently raucous New Year's Eve, "Wrong socks, no shave, DISASTER."

Our photographer, Sash, was also one of those charming, ambiguously European men who you can't help but love a little. Doesn't every girl have an ambiguously European man somewhere in her life story? I have a few, actually (wink, wink).

And now I am craving strawberry daiquiris and coconut rum...

I think I just figured out my plan for bidding adieu to 2009.

Monday, December 28, 2009

1,000 vegan recipes (for me to screw up)

For last night's belated Christmas dinner with Jason, I was inspired by the main course that was served at our wedding, a beautiful pastry and vegetable concoction shown at right, and this recipe for pastry-wrapped portobellos from vegan cookbook goddess Robin Robertson's new book, 1,000 Vegan Recipes.

I've been following (and obsessing over) the "Cooking From 1,000 Vegan Recipes" blog for a while now, and I finally got the cookbook from my dad and stepmom for Christmas while I was home. It's a hefty, 612-page hardcover tome; I'm surprised it didn't send my suitcase into the "overweight" category. Once I get into cooking the goodies in it, I imagine my backside will go even further in that direction.

My recipe concepts don't always turn out as intended. I didn't have portobellos, so I used a package of sliced mushrooms. I sautéed them with garlic, onion, artichoke hearts, and a shake of Victoria Taylor's Sicilian seasoning (also a Christmas gift). I was running behind in my timing from the very beginning because I forgot to defrost my puff pastry dough ahead of time, so the pastries were still in the oven when everything else was ready. As a result, the dough didn't cook all the way through. Jason was hungry, so I served him an underdone one and he liked it, but I was frustrated. I made six of them, so I let the rest of them sit in the hot oven while we ate, and by the time Jason was ready for seconds they looked a lot better--more fluffy and golden.

I cut a few corners and made a packet of roasted garlic instant mashed potatoes to save time. I've never gone the instant potatoes route, but Jason had bought a box while I was gone, so I figured I'd use that up (also, I've been way tired since I got back from Michigan and didn't want to peel and slice a pot full of potatoes). I made the same cornbread stuffing that we had at Thanksgiving, and a slice of Field Roast rounded out the plate.

I love the nubby look of the Field Roast; the final plate wasn't so bad either--the pastry just needed more time to develop some color.

I'll definitely try the pastry-wrapped portobello recipe again--but next time I'll follow the directions properly.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Back in California + Bo2k9BC: Best Social Web Moment

Today's Best of 2009 Blog Challenge prompt is: Best social web moment. Did you meet someone you used to only know from her blog? Did you discover Twitter?

Affirmative on both counts!

I joined Twitter on April 17 this year. The reason? Joey McIntyre told me to. Why yes, I am a sheep.

On March 28, I met Jamie, who has been my friend since the Diary-X days. We'd "known" each other since 2002-ish, but now we can say it without the quotation marks!

I got back to California Friday night. There was apparently a botched terrorist attack on a plane landing in Detroit just before my flight left, but I didn't know about it until yesterday when I checked the news. Scary stuff. I'm glad I didn't know.

I'm making Jason a belated Christmas dinner tonight since I got home so late on the real day. I have some Field Roasts to fire up and I'm contemplating some sort of puff pastry-wrapped vegetable concoction. Add stuffing and mashed potatoes and he'll have a meal fit for a king. I've missed taking care of him.

At some point I'll probably attempt to unpack my suitcase, but for right now, I just want to cuddle up with my cats and the DVR (and the ginger fudge my dad and stepmom gave me for Christmas).

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Meowy Michigan Christmas

Happy Christmas eve!

I'm watching the weather anxiously here. If the headlines say "Travelers beware if leaving Michigan," it can't be good news for my flight out of Detroit tomorrow. All the more reason not to leave. Except that I miss my husband and kitties terribly and every happy moment is tinged with sadness that Jason isn't here to share it.

Angst aside, Merry Christmas to one and all, from:










...and me.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

the mitten kitten

I'm in Michigan. It's cold. It smells good. Does cold have a smell? It does here.

Last night I sat down on the chilly streets of Ann Arbor and hugged a beautiful black dog close to me until her homeless guardian came out of the restaurant in which he was warming up. Her chattering teeth tapped a drum line beat. My heart broke a little right there on the sidewalk. I hope I gave her a temporary reprieve from what must be a difficult life.

Another orange cat was sitting at our door when Jason took me to the airport yesterday morning. He didn't want food, just love. We left him some food anyway. The kitty was still there when Jason got back, so he sat and petted him for a while before he had to go to work.

I can't save them all. But we did save my mom and stepdad's (as yet unnamed) kitty up there, who showed up at their door like she owned the place. And now she does.

Welcome to the family, Kitten.

Monday, December 14, 2009

increasing my carbon footprint

Tomorrow morning bright and early I'll be heading to the land of these guys:

sports pictures, detroit redwings
see more Sports Pictures

No, not Sweden and Russia. Rather, Hockeytown--a different mother land entirely. Mine!

I'll be taking these tasty snacks with me since I'll be in airports from 4 AM Pacific to 8 PM Eastern time. I love my random imported commissary food!

I have all of my holiday shopping done (and paid for).

I only need to add a few more last-minute items to my suitcase.

I also need to get the cats off of it.

My parents' cats are going to have a field day smelling my luggage. I think the cat lady disease is starting to spread, because my mom and stepdad have a cat now, too. And my dad and stepmom have a mighty flock as usual. If you don't want to end up with a cat sleeping on your head at night, I suggest you stop being friends with me posthaste.

Get ready, I'm coming home.*

* Holy crap, I love that song. It needs to be on iTunes, stat.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Party! + Bo2k9BC: Best Change to the Place I Live

Friday night we went to Jason's command Christmas party at the Visalia Convention Center, along with about 600 other people. I had never been to one of those things before, so wasn't sure what to expect. Luckily, I managed to dress appropriately (black pants and sparkly top with big hair and dramatic eye makeup). The food left something to be desired, but I managed to pick around the piles of beef and chicken on my plate and salvage some vegetables and potatoes.

We ended up having a fantastic time: the drinks were flowing, we won a $10 gift card to Jamba Juice, and even went to an awesome club with some of Jason's coworkers afterward. At one point we saw a Corvette (not ours) on the street and I said I should lick it. One of Jason's coworkers said he'd pay money to see that. I probably should have taken him up on it, but the poor guy had already bought Jason a shot and a beer and who knows what else for other people so I didn't want to take advantage. The only casualty was an earring that somehow fell out of my ear; presumably while dancing at the club (because I am awesome and spastic like that). No worries, though, it was a cheap set I've had for years.

There may have been barf the morning after, but I'm not saying what species the barfer was. There are multiple choices around here.

Today's Best of 2009 Blog Challenge prompt is: What's the best change you made to the place you live?

I kind of already wrote about this in my first Bo2k9BC blog. To sum that up, moving to California was exactly what we needed to do. The next best change is moving from the fail apartment to base housing. Since we've gotten settled into base housing, we've made some nice changes--like getting our washer and dryer and our new bedroom furniture. I've successfully battled the ant hordes and my cuckoo neighbor. I've befriended my feline neighbors, including Coco (who may actually be a boy, but I haven't confirmed that yet).

All in all, we are very happy in our new state, new home, and new life.

Even if Coco is always trying to break in:

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I'm addicted to a tuberous rhizome.

Lately I have had this obsession with ginger. I'm becoming adept at working it into every meal (like this one) and I often find myself craving the taste of it. I don't know what's the matter with me.

Peep my delicious gingery accomplices: Torani sugar-free gingerbread syrup, Makoto ginger dressing, Newman's Own Lighten Up low fat sesame ginger dressing, Reed's Extra Ginger Brew, and Bundaberg Ginger Beer. I got the dressings at the commissary and everything else at World Market.

On Sunday I decided to use some of my leftover Thanksgiving baking supplies to make some gingerbread cookies. I had creamed my wet ingredients and was combining the dry ingredients when I realized that I didn't have any ginger. How that key ingredient never made it onto my shopping list, I do not know. You'd think that I wouldn't have trouble remembering that gingerbread contains ginger, but apparently I do.

It was getting late at that point, the commissary was already closed, and there was no way that I was going to make a trip into town to see if any of the civilian grocery stores were still open. So I improvised. Pumpkin pie spice has ginger in it, so I dumped in some of that and an extra shake of nutmeg. I've made similar swaps before, so I figured the end result wouldn't be that bad. The cookies turned out nicely, although I prefer very spicy gingerbread and spicy, these aren't. Nevertheless, they're moist and delicious in their own lightly-gingered way. They're perfect with a cup of gingerbread-flavored coffee in the morning.

P.S.: This one's for Bev:

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Bo2k9BC: Best Night Out

Today's Best of 2009 Blog Challenge prompt is: Did you have a night out with friends or a loved one that rocked your world? Who was there? What was the highlight of the night?

I can't limit this to only one. With the amazing concerts I've been to this year, how could I? So here they are in the order they occurred (click the dates to read more about the shows):

April 16, 2009 - New Kids on the Block concert at the SaveMart Center in Fresno.
September 18, 2009 - Pink concert at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

My companion for both of these was Jason. Being so far from family, he's the only person with whom I can share those rock-your-socks-off moments. Luckily for me, there's no one else with whom I would rather share them.

Best night out honorable mentions go to the couple of times we've let loose at Saddle Ranch. Earlier tonight we were talking about how much fun we've had there. perhaps we'll go there again once our new bedroom furniture is paid off. Until then we'll just hang out in our room reminiscing (and hoping that we don't break the bed again).

Thursday, December 3, 2009


I was sitting at my desk yesterday morning when out of the corner of my eye I saw a kitten dart across our yard and under my car. I hauled ass outside, bent over next to the car, and cooed at the kitten to come to me. She toddled right over and let out the tiniest, most adorable squeak of a meow that I've heard since my dad and stepmom's cat Nigel was a little one.

How do all of these cats find me? First the tortoiseshell kitten and Black Kitty at the fail apartment, then Princess and Orange Boy Kitty here in base housing. Not to mention Coco. So before today my tally was two cats whose homes I've found, and two I've taken to animal control. Not bad. There was also a feral cat at the fail apartment who I never managed to catch before we moved out, but feral animals are another situation entirely.

The kitten spent the rest of the day exploring the house and sleeping under the bed in the office. I ended up working overtime yesterdary, so I didn't have the opportunity to run her over to the base vet to check for a microchip. She had a brand new collar on, so I knew she must be someone's and was probably vaccinated, so I kept her overnight. Our cats--Lola especially--took great offense to her extended stay and kept me up past 1 a.m. with their hissing and growling. She didn't care, she just wanted to play. When I got up this morning and headed to the kitchen to make Jason his coffee, she came running after me from who knows where. She spent the day chilling with me in the office and playing an epic game of chase with Jacob. Today was equally as hectic work-wise, so I figured I'd make a point of taking her to the vet tomorrow. And honestly, I was enjoying her company and her kitten-ness.

But then Jason came home. He brought in the mail and a hand-written sign that he found at the mailboxes. Black and white female kitten, seven months old, purple collar... sure enough. He called the number and left a message while I jumped in the shower. When I got out he was still waiting for a call back. I was drying off when the phone rang. The person was right down the street and was going to come over right then. She lived next door, in fact!

Guess who it was, you guys. JUST GUESS.

If you guessed Crazy Navy Wife, DING DING DING, you're the winner! We found out her first name, too, so now I can think of more nicknames for her.

I made Jason answer the door and give her back her kitten (whose name, incidentally, is Boots, due to her white paws). CNW was all thank yous and we missed hers and her tone of voice was in normal lady mode, but I know the evil lurking within her could strike at any moment. I listened from behind the bathroom door. My neighbor is Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde.

My mom is probably going to say that I should try to be friends with her since she was nice this time and we have a fondness of cats in common, but it doesn't work that way for me. I don't cast my lot with people who can't be level-headed, civilized human beings all the time, and I'm not one to hand out second chances like business cards. Part of the reason we left Massachusetts is because we needed to surround ourselves with stable people. Trust me: being fond of cats is not enough to make a friendship or any other kind of relationship work.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Bo2k9BC: Best Restaurant Experience

If you're looking at this in a reader, click on through to the real thing, baby, because I decorated for the holidays up in hurrrrr. I like the new look so much that I might even keep it around in the off-season.

So here's today's Best of 2009 Blog Challenge prompt: Share the best restaurant experience you had this year. Who was there? What made it amazing? What taste stands out in your mind?

We've eaten out a lot this year. We eat out a lot in general. But I'm going to say that the best dining out experience I had all year was the brunch at the Universal City Hilton. We ate there two times this spring whilst flitting about Los Angeles. I remember four things: the coffee, the free champagne, the pineapple, and the gorgeous atrium in which the spread is set up.

I remember the coffee because I needed it after having been out late (among other things) the previous evenings.

I remember the free champagne because, HELLO, free! Champagne! And drinking bubbly at breakfast feels so decadent.

I remember the pineapple because it was fresh, not canned, and it was so sweet and juicy that it practically melted in my mouth.

I remember the atrium because the ceiling was sky-high and the windows flooded the space with SoCal sunshine. Sitting there with coffee in one hand and champagne in the other, my handsome husband sitting across from me, I felt like the world was my oyster. I felt like we had a glow surrounding us, because for all the people at the tables around us knew, we were somebody. Isn't everyone in LA somebody? Even if it was all in my head, we were that much more important for those two sun-drenched mornings.

P.S. Check out my butt-shroom:

It reminds me of my carrot.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Best of 2009 Blog Challenge

It's the first of December, and you know what that means.

Yes, it means that you only have 24 shopping days left until Christmas (I only have two people left to buy gifts for, suckahs!).

Yes, it means that it's World AIDS Day (use a condom, people).

It also means that it's time to look back on the year behind us--and what better way is there to do that than The Best of 2009 Blog Challenge? (That was a rhetorical question, so don't answer it.)

Here's how it works: there's a writing prompt in question form for each day of December. For example, today's question is: What was your best trip in 2009? And so forth for the next 30 days--the list of prompts is here (there's also a list of participants on that page--I'm number 240, so seriously, all the cool bloggers are doing it). Easy, yes?

Well, maybe not. I am by no means promising that I'll blog every day or that I'll write about the prompt question if I do blog. I can commit to a man, but I sure as hell can't commit to blogging every day. Nor can I be counted on to summarize my year properly. Regardless, mad props to Gwen Bell for adding a little bit of organization to these here intertubes.

On to today's topic: my best trip in 2009. I've done a bit of travel this year. Most recently to Virginia for work, to Oakland for work, and to Los Angeles a few times, definitely not for work. And I'll be going home to Michigan two weeks from today (side note: SQUEEEEEEEEEEE!).

But the best trip of all this year was by far when I drove 3,100 miles from Massachusetts to California with a car full of disgruntled cats. (In case you missed it: part the first, part the second, and part the third.) And I don't mean "best" in an ironic or sarcastic sense at all. Leaving Massachusetts and knowing that I'll never have to live there ever again made the unpleasant parts of the journey fade into the background. California was my light at the end of the tunnel highway, and blasting across the Massachusetts/New York border throwing a one-fingered salute was better for my mental health than a bottle of Zoloft.

The move (and the Navy reenlistment that prompted it) was also an integral part of reclaiming our lives, which seemed to be stagnating in the morass that is Massachusetts and its accompanying familial entanglements. (Hehe, I said morass!) It was tough at times, like when Jason had to leave me in Massachusetts (for we didn't know how long) when he reported to his temporary personnel unit in Illinois. He certainly had it worse than I did. We ended up only being apart for two months, but that separation made joining him in California even sweeter, despite our less-than-ideal temporary accomodations and sleeping on the floor for two weeks while waiting for our moving truck to arrive.

I never thought I would drive cross-country, let alone with no other company than my cats. I feel grateful to have had my situation necessitate it. Making the trip was rewarding in that it taught me that I can handle that kind of stress. When Jason first reenlisted, I told him I wanted us to be sent anywhere but California because I knew that I would have to drive the cats to wherever we ended up, and I didn't think I could do it on my own. Now I know that I can!

This trip got me out of a negative place (literally and figuratively), boosted my self-confidence, and reunited me with my husband. It doesn't get much better than that!