Thursday, November 4, 2010

D is for deployment


We are on day 97 of Bill's 6 month deployment and I thought I'd show you a glimpse of life before he left. We had 6 weeks to prepare. This was more than some families get and is obviously not enough time to prepare to be separated for 6 months and two weeks. The extra two weeks was spent in North Carolina preparing for departure. Bill seems to always take his "trips" during the fall and he has missed many of our wedding anniversaries. As a combined anniversary/"sorry I'm leaving you for 6 months" gift he bought me the iPad I had been drooling over for weeks. The large photo of Bill, in civilian attire, is from one of the last nights he spent in Okinawa. He was "working out the bugs" on my iPad - aka playing scrabble or doing a crossword puzzle or filling in Sudoku squares. At one point I was afraid the iPad was going to get packed in one of his sea bags and was going to be forced to spend the next 6 months in Iraq. Thankfully the hubs left my anniversary gift behind and I have put it to great use.

The last 3 months have flown by for me which is only possible through God's sweet provision. They probably haven't moved as quickly for Bill but he is hanging in there and making the best use of his time - working, eating, working, reading, working and Skyping with me. He has received several cards, notes and packages with goodies from some very sweet and supportive family members and friends. As Bill says "Mail is morale!" - thanks for showing your support and love in such a tangible way!!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

S is for Salsa - Eating in is optional



What is one of your favorite homemade dishes? Share your recipe!

My PIC (partner-in-crime), Dasha, turned me onto this great opportunity to post on the Women of Faith website/blog. Every Wednesday you are challenged to answer their question of the week and have the chance to check out other bloggers as well. I wanted to try my hand at it since one of my goals, recently, has been to write more and post consistently on my blog. Of all the topics to “discuss” on my first try they choose homemade dishes. Don’t they know that I avoid the kitchen like the plague?

I have an interesting relationship with cooking. I just plain do not like it. However, as a Marine spouse, I am “forced” to feed my Marine and maybe the occasional guest - so I have adapted, as all good Marine Corps spouses do. I have been told I can cook and I have come to the realization that this statement is true – I just don’t like to cook. I did not grow-up with a stay-at-home mom who loved to cook. Instead, I was introduced by my step-father to the wonderful world of restaurants and so began my love for eating out. Why eat in and do dishes when you can go anywhere and get whatever you want to eat without the dish duty? While in college, living with said eccentric step-father, we only used our refrigerator for restaurant leftovers, water and soda. Fast forward 2 decades and you find me on a small island, 1002 miles South of Tokyo, Japan and I am in eatery heaven. In the same week we will have eaten Okinawan favorites like yaki-soba, satisfied our taste for “heat” with Thai and closed out the week with sushi and edamame.

That being said, we do eat at home occasionally and one of my favorite foods to eat at home is homemade salsa. I am a salsa snob. Not that I have credentials to impress in the salsa arena but our little tiny island of Okinawa just can’t satisfy my hunger for great salsa. My favorite ingredients in our salsa are garlic and cilantro. Both are a perfect addition to almost any food and you can always find either ingredient in our fridge filled with leftovers and filtered water. My husband has perfected this recipe from a friend we met in Okinawa back in 2001. The hubs’s “Not-so-Famous-Salsa”, as we call it, is a fan favorite and is requested, along with our presence, at most in-home gatherings. I finally discovered that I could add his perfectly “spiced” salsa to avocados and get the best guacamole in town. The other key to the hubs’s salsa are the chips. You can’t scoop the best salsa with inadequate chips –it’s just not right and it actually changes the flavor of the salsa. Don’t ask me how as I’m not a true foodie and don’t know the inner workings of the chips to salsa chemistry – just trust me on this one!!

Bill’s Not-so-Famous Salsa:

Ingredients:

2 fresh medium tomatoes – chopped
4-5 cloves of garlic – minced
1 can of diced tomatoes
½ red onion – chopped
4-5 dried red peppers – chopped
1 bunch of Cilantro – chopped
Lime to taste – usually 1, squeezed

Directions:

Mix all ingredients well and refrigerate. For best flavor mix several hours before serving or overnight to allow all the ingredients to marinate together.
Serve with scoop-style tortilla chips. (We only like Tostitos Brand 100% White Corn Scoops)

Click here to view other Women of Faith Wednesday entires.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

It is a vehicle - literally and figuratively!

Is it a think tank, an iPod on wheels or an actual mode of transportation? My white van, that we affectionately call the Party Bus Jams or PB& J for short, was not my first choice of vehicle for a woman without a soccer team to taxi around.

Regardless, I ended up with it because it had iPod connectivity. I know, in the states that’s a pretty lame reason for purchasing a vehicle but, in Okinawa, it just is what it is. And what it is is a great way to transport some of my favorite people. One of my favorite people, who finds herself in the passenger seat of my Emina Estima, is Ginger. You’ve heard about her here on my blog before, you’ve read about her on Okinawa Hai and have seen several photos of her on my face book. And for whatever reason she seems to come up with the greatest ideas while cruising in my not-so-cool van. My van has inspired a bible study, many fun social events, ministry ideas that have been put into place, others that are still in the hopper and our newest baby – a scrapbooking Bible study.

I love that a van that I didn’t really want has become a catalyst that the Lord uses to transport ladies to lunch, creates an environment that finds us singing at the top of our lungs to “Sweet Escape”, witnessed some tears and frustrations and birthed some material that He may or may not choose to publish one day!!! I didn’t want a van but what I got was literally a vehicle that God uses for His will!!!
P.S. In a perfect world I would have a photo of my van on this post but the world isn't perfect and I have been strongly encouraged by my mom and my friend, Jenny, to update my blog. And this is the best I have right now as I prepare to fly to the states tomorrow!!!!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

C is for cockroach

Sidenote before you begin: I realize this is not the best way to re-enter the world of blogging but it's what was on my mind this morning and I've been encouraged to write - so I'm writing about a cockroach and not something more memorable or blog worthy like Easter, my husband's birthday cupcakes or his recent promotion to Major. Maybe those will appear here soon!!

I looked up the definition for cockroach more for the correct spelling than the definition but the definition is interesting. A cockroach is a flat-bodied insect of the family Blattidae that is a common household pest. You will find the word between cockpit and cockscomb which is the fleshy comb on the head of a rooster. I figured you already knew what cockpit was. I find the last part of the definition for cockroach interesting as I just read, in my personal journal, about the cockroach incident I experienced on this day last year - they are obviously common theatre pests as well. Or so you'll see.

As most of you know I have kept a journal for over two years now and I'm trying to motivate all my friends and family to do the same. Why? Because it's so much fun to go back and read what was happening last year or the year before on this same day. The great thing is all you have to do is write bullet points of your day and once you read that short, non-sentence all the memories come flooding back. I wrote cockroach incident and I remembered exactly what happened. Now I realize that remembering this insect moment will not impact my life or yours in any way but it's interesting to remember and obviously I thought you might like to hear about it - this is why you're reading this, right?

So last year the hubs started helping me celebrate my 40th birthday 14 days leading to the 13th of April. He would leave a message he wrote or created along with a gift or the promise of a gift. Check out my blog www.thehouseoftraquair.blogspot.com to read all 14 days of my celebration. On April 6th of 2009 He promised me dinner and a movie. We ate at Pizza Hut, the chain where we enjoyed our first meal together more than 16 years ago, and went to see Tom Cruise in the movie that started with a V - I don't want to look it up, sorry!!!

While we were waiting for the movie to start I noticed a cockroach trying to find a good spot to settle in before the National Anthem started. I'm not a big fan of any type of insect but I really don't like ones the flitter around searching for the perfect seat within spitting distance of mine. The hubs plan was to squash the thing but I just wanted it to be removed and returned to its natural habitat. So I came up with a great idea - ask the theatre staff for a soda cup and lid, coax the critter into the cup and reunite it with the great outdoors. To my pleasant surprise the staff member, female mind you, offered to handle it herself. And handle it she did. Now remember that I want the cockroach to live out its life and Bill just wanted to solve the problem. In true lost-in-translation form my Okinawan friend, the staff member, chased down the cockroach, stomped on it, obviously killed it and took it away. With a smile, no less. UGH!!!! Sorry cockroach world, I tried my best!!!!! Here's hoping for a cockroach free day!

Monday, February 1, 2010

2009 "I have learned.................."

I can cook, I just don't want to.

I love to eat out. Thai food is my favorite!

I especially love to eat out with friends.

I love BLT's minus the T add an A .(Bacon, lettuce and avocado on a bagel)

Quickly's serves fun drinks.

Good friends will hurt you.

I love to blog and I don't do it enough. Why?

Turning 40 won't kill me.

40 is only a number. The number after 39 and before 41.

I have GREAT friends!

I am confused by then and than. More now than ever before.

I love watching movies during the day - especially with girlfriends.

God will always provide!

Knowing that I do not have a living grandparent makes me sad.

I can choose joy.

My hubs is hysterically funny.

The same man (aka the hubs) can also infuriate me.

I have a great life!! And, if this is as good as it gets it's good enough!

I can be patient and I can hold my tongue.

I give good advice.

Short list for 2009 but it's all that I can remember for now. I will keep a more comprehensive list for 2010!!!!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Perfect Cup of Cocoa

My current obsession, for the day, is drinking hot cocoa and I have perfected it! I mentioned the perfect cup of cocoa on facebook a while back and was asked what made it perfect and for a picture - so here we go!!!!!

Why cocoa? I'm not a coffee drinker. Not because I don't want to be or that I haven't tried my darnedest to create the perfect relationship with a cup of joe. "Joe" does not like me. I love the way it smells and tastes but my stomach revolts and we'll just leave it at that. I have also tried to love drinking tea - especially tea without adding sugar. I have failed at this relationship as well. Tea leaves a weird taste in my mouth and I can't drink it without adding sugar. I have discovered, however, that I love the Jasmine tea that is served at Daikon No Hana and I don't have to add sugar to it. Not sure how to get that same recipe so I can enjoy it at home though. And since I can't enjoy this wonderful secret at home I had to find an alternative.

That is what has brought me to my new obsession - hot cocoa. Though it does have sugar and my "secret" recipe adds sugar in several forms, at least I love drinking it. I look forward to the time, every morning, after I eat, that I create this wonderful cup o' joy and sit at my computer reading blogs, or returning e-mails or updating my status on facebook.

Here are the ingredients for the perfect cup of cocoa: Hot water, cup, cocoa packet, cinnamon, whip cream, General Goods International Suisse Mocha coffee drink mix, and flavored soy milk and a spoon. Side note: I'm not advertising or getting paid by General Foods, just trying to be specific here.

Destructions:

You must start with the right cup. My cup, the slightly pink, ceramic item just behind the cocoa packets actually holds 16 oz. of liquid. This is a must and I will cover the "why" later.

Obviously you need a way to create hot water and we do this via our Sunbeam water-heater-apparatus. You choose whatever method of warming water as you would like since I'm sure this process does not affect the perfection that you will enjoy later.

Choose your favorite brand of cocoa packet - I happen to have two choices in my house because "why do, when you can over do".

Cinnamon - my new favorite and I have no idea why.

General Foods International Suisse Mocha Coffee Drink Mix - Choose whatever flavor you like, this is just my personal choice. This little tin of 60 calories per 1 1/3 tbsp powder brings back great memories of my husband making me this hot concoction and bringing it to me in bed. No work involved on my part. Whatever happen to those days?

Whip cream that can be dispensed and not spooned - vital to the look.

Coffee flavored soy milk. Or almond flavored milk. I use soy or almond because I am lactose-intolerant.

Note from my friend, Matilda: The soy milk is from MaxValue but I have bought it from San A and Kanehide too - any grocery or convenience store will have them. Although, I have to say they don't all have the same flavors available all the time. There are 2 brown ones, the coffee (it has the "co- hi" katakana on it) the other is almond... I think. There are so many good flavors.
More destructions: While your water is coming to a boil add your cocoa packet, a tablespoon of the Suisse Mocha and a couple of shakes of cinnamon. Stir dry ingredients. Pour only half of your water into the cup, along with two tablespoons of flavored soy milk, stir, and pour in the rest of your hot water.

Here is the key: leave space for tons of whip cream, dispensed in a circle leading up to your mound at the top.
Sprinkle cinnamon on top and ENJOY!!!! Happy sipping!!!!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Adventures in Journaling - Update

I am so excited that not only are several of you inspired but I have seen your journal in living color and you are staying motivated. And this has motivated me. As I have said in the past, I chose to make journaling a priority to strengthen my journaling skills in my scrapbooks. And, as I have also said, that mission has not necessarily been accomplished. That's okay though. I am moving forward and continuing to journal even though my goal in this exercise has changed. Change is good, right?? At least that's what "they" say!!!

Once my habit in journaling became natural I started thinking about making some changes. Changes like writing stuff a little more meaningful than what I had for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I dropped my breakfast notification but kept lunch and dinner since I usually ate out and discovered new places to eat, making my life sound more interesting. So then what? Then I moved on to writing "One Cool Thing" that I saw God do in that day or just "One Cool Thing" that happened. Unfortunately I have not done that a lot lately.


My point: Once you get knee-deep into this "exercise" start making some little changes. Change can create growth if we allow it. It also keeps things interesting. I'm not talking about change just to change but change for the sake of trying something knew, spicing things up and keeping you coming back for me.

My other point is that I am creating a new "category" in my journal thus making an addition to my daily writings - creating a change to challenge myself and for something new to look forward to next year when I get to go back and read what I wrote. Remember, this is my favorite part.

My new "category" is called "I learned today................." and I started yesterday, Friday, January 8th, 2010.

Here is the excerpt from yesterday:

"I learned today............."

that I love to laugh and I should do it more often.

to know your pots and pans. Some "warm up" faster than others.

Ellen DeGenere's friend, Gladys Hardy, is the funniest person in the world!

First, I decided that I may have more than one thing "I learned today............" and so I decided to add a large sticky note to the left side of my journal. I cannot bring myself to write on the back side of lined paper. Just not going to happen in my lifetime. That's just me - do whatever works best for you. I still wanted to keep writing about the normal, everyday stuff that I write about so I "created" more space by utilizing the usually wasted space of the left-side of my journal - a.k.a. the backside of yesterday's notes.


Second, without reading Friday's journal, the above info may not make sense. Here is my explanation:

I had a movie day with the girls yesterday and we watched "Julie and Julia" with Amy Adams and Meryl Streep. Awesome movie - I highly recommend it. If for no other reason than to laugh. However, you have to watch it with girlfriends because it just isn't as fun without them. And, if I can enjoy a movie about cooking than anyone can. The movie even inspired me before we watched it and I had made a huge pot of "Jana's Potato and Bacon Soup".

Hence, my next "lesson in life" aka "I learned today.........." - potato soup will burn, while reheating, if your pot is thin (have no idea what this pot is made out of) and you don't keep stirring. Advice: know your pots and pans. At least pay attention to the thickness of each different pot or don't assume that since your crock pot "pot" didn't warm up soup several weeks ago in 3 hours that your stainless steel (assuming this) pot will take as long. Bottom line: I burned the soup and now my pan must be sent to the graveyard for cooking mistakes. Sorry sweet new pot of mine!!! Your sibling will miss you!


The last thing I learned goes along with the first - I love to laugh and the discussions between Ellen DeGeneres and Gladys Hardy, no matter the topic, makes me laugh the most and I don't have to commit to a two hour movie. I don't agree with Ellen's lifestyle but you cannot argue the fact that she is funny and she brings out the funny in others. Not that Gladys needs help - she is funny on her own and she is a real person, with her own blog, and she is a grandmother who is loved and adored by her family. The love and adore her so much that they created the blog for her and to share her with the public who has come to love and adore her as well. Enough said, watch this and all the Gladys videos on YouTube:


and this one


Gladys is the women who coined the phrase "I love Jesus but I drink a little". She is so worth "watching" though you don't get to see her, you just watch Ellen and listen in on their two-way conversations. Ellen hears from fans more about Gladys than any other guest, show or topic.

I've gone on way past my point so I'll stop!!!!! Happy Journaling!!!!