February 27, 2015

Said by Scott

The good news is that Scott does have a cell phone on this deployment.  The bad news is that these are the text messages he often gets from me now.

So if that doesn't make you feel bad for me...

He doesn't leave the phone on all the time, so we don't get to talk all the time because of the time difference.  But it's nice for him to have as he travels.


Listening to this song on the radio...
Scott: All you have to do to be a rapper is say things three times.
Me: Okay.
Scott:  Don't tell 'em, don't tell 'em, don't tell 'em... you ain't even gotta tell 'em.  See? Three times?
Me: Can we change this now?

A dog jumps onto the bed in the middle of the night.
Scott: Which one is it?
Me: I don't know.
Scott: Pet it.

Scout and Jett have very different fur and that's how you can tell them apart in the middle of the night.


Scott: What are you getting me at Costco?
Me: Salmon.
Scott: What kind of salmon?
Me: …pink.
Scott: …..
Me:  chum…
Me:  Red.
Scott:  Otherwise known as…?
Me:  Sockeye.
Scott:  And none of that God awful Atlantic salmon.  Don't come home with that.

I was playing dumb there. There are 5 rankings of salmon. King/chinook, Silver/coho, Red/sockeye, Pink/humpback, Chum/dog. You don't want to actually eat the pink or the chum.  That's the stuff they make dog food out of.  You can take Kristin out of Alaska, but…


As we're driving out of the driveway with the dogs…
Scott speaking for Jett:
You never let me go anywhere.
Me:  Get in the back.
Scott speaking for Jett:
But there's so much to see!


On my birthday…
Scott: We're getting old.  Like, really old.
Me: Maybe you are.  You're older.
A few minutes later..
Scott: You know I'm only like 6 weeks older than you, right?  You're aware of that?
Me:  Different year.  You're much older.



February 26, 2015

Stuff and Things 2/26

+I've started biting my nails again.  I stopped around my birthday because I told myself I was too old for that nonsense anymore.  I tried, desperately, to keep polish on them because then I won't bite them.  However, polish chips and then they look messy and then I start chewing on them again. It's a losing battle.

+This is my theory on 50 Shades of Gray:  It is really, really dumb.  It is also unnecessary and when the morning news includes a segment on it, you  know that the civilization is in probable decline. You might remember that I attempted the first couple chapters of the book before it blew up a few years ago and I was insulted by the poor writing and the fact that it was Twilight fan fiction.  My theory has evolved though. I could go on and on about how impressionable and susceptible adolescent girls are, but I won't. My overarching theory is that...have you seen The Fall?  Jamie Dornan (a.k.a Christian Grey) plays a serial killer.  A particularly sadistic one.  That character, Peter something, is much more likable than Christian Grey.  And he's a serial killer.  
I think Dakota Johnson seems about as insufferable as Kristen Stewart, but I do like Jamie Dornan. As long as he's playing a serial killer.

+I was going to complain about winter here for a few sentences.  But seriously, who wants to read that?  I don't even want to write that, so I'll keep my nasty thoughts to myself.

+Those of you with pets: How do you keep your floors clean in the winter?  We're lucky that we don't get a whole lot of precipitation here (the mud in Missouri was unreal), but when it snows and melts, they track in the dirt and mud.  It's exhausting, wiping paws at the door.  And honestly, when it's really bad, I just keep a couple of inches of water in the bathtub that is closest to the door the dogs use and plop them in to wash paws.  Yes, I carry them from door to tub.  They hate it, I hate it, and Scott laughs at me.  But I can't deal with dirty floors.  Especially because they like to nap on the bed and couch and I certainly can't deal with dirty furniture.

+Another question: Do you photoshop pictures? I've been thinking about the topic of photoshopping lately. Especially the idea that nothing you ever see in a magazine or even is movies is the real deal. Aside from playing with lighting/saturation or filtering on IG, my pictures are never photoshopped.  I would like to say this is because I have a high moral stance, but honestly, I just don't know how.  Everything you've ever seen on this blog or my IG is the real deal (I don't know if that's good or bad).

+If you're looking for a fun weekend read, check out Yeah, Maybe by Joey Hodges.

I read this young adult fiction book last summer in about two days and now is your chance to pick it up on Kindle.  It would probably also be a perfect snow-day read if you're in Colorado...sigh.

For quiet, reserved, and focused 15 year old Annie Mackey, school was a sanctuary. But when her bubbly and beautiful neighborhood best friend joins her at Willow Point High for freshmen year, her world is turned upside down. 

Everything Annie could count on for stability is shattered, and she's left feeling more alone than ever before. 

Just when she's about to lose all hope, someone unexpected swoops in and gives her a much needed lesson in perspective.

This special is good until Saturday, 2/28!

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February 24, 2015

In the throes

We are in the beginnings of another deployment and this marks the third in 5 1/2 years.

The first one was only 4 months, but they were easily the darkest 4 months of my life. I would not go back to those days for anything. The second was 11+ months and was the period of time in which I grew the most as a person.  2012 was simultaneously the worst year and the best year for that reason.  This third deployment won't be as long as the second, but longer than the first.  It's not even a "deployment".  He's in a "safe" country and, until a few weeks ago, I was actually going to be able to visit.  Which would've been really neat and fun and just...different.  Which made it not seem like so much of a deployment at all.  Then the army changed its mind and, unless some kind of miraculous R&R is granted, there will be no traveling for me.  I had seriously already started planning the trip and arranging for the dog-care.  Talk about annoying.

So, that's where we are.  Just an FYI I guess. Expect lots of single serve desserts and T.V. talk from me over the next several months.

I made this graphic last year and now seems an appropriate time to post it.  We have a lot going on right now: my job, his job, this house project.  I have to have faith that it will all work out appropriately because, I mean, if I could make it through 2012 in Alaska by myself, I can make it through this, right?  I really wish I had known then the things I know now, but the lesson is the same:

Psalm 46:10
And yes, that is a glacier in that picture.    

February 23, 2015

Homemade Naan Pizza

Before we get to the pizza, I ordered wine on Groupon yesterday and I wanted to share this referral link.  Not only will I get a discount if you order 6 bottles of wine for $39, but you will too!  I didn't get to choose what kind I wanted to order, but it's a mixed box of red and white.  I like white, Scott likes red, win-win. I'm trying to add to our collection and possibly evolve from Yellowtail.

In case you've missed the first installments of my Recipe Challenge (52 weeks, 52 new recipes), here's what I've done so far in 2015.

1. Baked Crab Dip
2. Mint Oreo Ice Cream Cake
3. 30 Minute Leek and Potato Soup
4. Company Chili
5. Cookie Dough Ice Cream
6. Scott's Salmon
7. Homemade Marinara Sauce

Recipe challenge, week eight.  

So, what can you do with that marinara I posted last week?

You can make naan pizza.

I credit my newest pizza obsession to Joey.  She mentioned that she and her husband like to make naan pizza as a quick dinner.  I bought some naan that weekend and made mini-pizzas with it.  It was really good.  Like, insanely good.  Much better than those flatbreads I usually go for.  However, store-bought naan is expensive.  Annoyingly expensive.  $4 for two pieces.

I could actually talk about naan all day.  Scott first made naan from scratch back in the winter of 2010.  He'd just returned from Afghanistan and went on and on about how amazing the local food was there.  He spent an entire Sunday working in the kitchen: grinding spices, mixing up a rice dish, and rolling naan.  I remember how good it was.  I also remember how long it took:  all day.

That being said, I decided to embark on making my own version of naan back in January.  I actually used the recipe from Food Network's website.  I didn't add any of the spices; just followed the basic recipe.

It's a remarkably hands-off process.  You mix everything together, let it sit half the day in a place where dough can rise, and then roll it out. It cooks in about 2 minutes in a cast iron skillet.

So, once you have your naan...preheat the oven to 475 degrees.  Put 2-3 pieces on a baking sheet.  I use a thin (really cheap and half-destroyed) metal pan but you can use a pizza stone.  I let it warm and crisp in the oven for about 5 minutes.  Then I add sauce, pepperoni, pizza seasoning, and cheese.  Bake for 10-12 minutes until the cheese is browned.  I use convection*, but you can bake for 10 minutes in a conventional oven and then just broil for a few minutes.

*I've found that, because of the altitude issue here, it's best to use convection for everything. Baked goods cook evenly and without any worry on my part.  I don't mean to sound like some kind of Ina Garten with "you need to have fresh milk, fresh cheese, fresh butter...and a convection oven".  

February 21, 2015

Blogging for Books: Lincoln in the World

I took a lot of history classes in college. They always involved a textbook of some kind and then a bunch of other books the professor deemed important. I always wondered what it would be like to be a professor and get to choose the books that those broke college students "had" to buy.  Did you read your college textbooks?  I didn't.  I had the best of intentions.  I always bought the books. I rarely read them. Taking good notes on the lectures, I found, was the key to success.

All of this to say that Lincoln in the World read like one of those books a history professor would tell you to read, but you never actually got around to reading it. I'm a certified social studies teacher in two states, and  I fancy myself as someone who knows a lot about American history. I liked the movie Lincoln.  And I know a lot about William Seward after my time spent teaching Alaska history.  And one of the very first non-fiction books I ever remember reading was about Lincoln, when I was about 6.  Also, I read that Lincoln/vampire book and actually really liked it.

But I didn't get into this book.  It was full of information, yes, but wasn't pleasure-reading in any way. It was kind of a compilation of other authors' books on Lincoln instead of one person's opinion on how Lincoln helped to make the U.S. a world power.  In my personal opinion, there is nothing more boring than studying foreign policy.  The only interesting foreign policy I've ever come across was the build-up to World War II.  I just have this picture in my head of the U.S. being very isolated during its first 200 years.  You don't hear a lot of foreign policy between the Revolutionary War and World War I.  Weren't we busy with other things?  Going to war with ourselves and Reconstruction and all that.  While 19th century American history is interesting (hello, Little House on the Prairie), this book wasn't to me.

I didn't make it through the book.  I skipped a couple of chapters here and there and...sorry, Blogging for Books.  I wanted to like it.  I just didn't.

February 20, 2015

8 months of Rodan+Fields

I started using the full line of Rodan+Field's Unblemish on June 26.  I remember this because it was my brothers' birthday.  Actually I started the last week of May, but I didn't want to commit to the whole (expensive) line at once because I wasn't sure how my skin would react to it.  After it was evident that my skin would not break out/freak out because of it, I committed to the full line of Unblemish and I've used it twice a day ever since.

The end of May 2014

I am so completely, wholly, humbly thrilled with the results.  There are no words to describe what it feels like to have bad skin.  I always had some adolescent acne, but that had pretty much cleared up by my 20s.  However, in June 2013, I stopped taking the pill and, I believe, as the hormones ebbed their way out of my system, chaos erupted on my skin.  I was good from June to probably October.  Then I started noticing how bad it was getting.

Now, do I think that, eventually, things would've cleared up on their own?  Perhaps.  Maybe it just would take that long for all the hormones to leave my system.  However, after almost 6 months of struggling with rash-like breakouts, I couldn't wait any longer.  This is part of the reason why Missouri was so hard on me.  Everyday seemed to be a struggle.  Especially because my job required me to stand in front of people everyday.  I mean, kids don't really care, but I also met with teachers, parents, and administrators each day.  It was a lot to deal with. However, I'm hoping that's all behind me.

Last week.  
This picture isn't perfect and neither is my skin.  However, while I may still get the odd cystic breakout, I do not have a bumpy, uneven skin tone anymore.  That's more than satisfactory to me.

I spend $174.90 every other month on this skincare regimen…and it's worth every penny.  I'm not going to tell you that there's specials or deals or whatever because it is an expensive brand.  It just is.  I'm not a salesperson and this is probably why: I would never gloss over the price if I was trying to get you to start this system. However, I was spending $30 or so every two months on Pro-activ and it wasn't working anymore.  Then I bought a Clarisonic and loved it for many reasons but then it stopped working.  That was like a $150 investment, plus the cleansing gels.  Plus the amount of money I'd spent trying makeups to hide the imperfections. And the frustration and heartache that accompanies bad skin.  Frustration-free living is priceless to me. I mean, we were never assured that life would be easy, but why make it more difficult if it doesn't have to be that way?

For me, the cost of Rodan+Fields is worth it and I can console you with the thought that they do offer a money-back guarantee.  I kept all the boxes from that first delivery, well-prepared to send it all back after a month. (Seriously, I would've done it.)

Anyway, I've ranted and raved about a lot of skincare over the last year so I felt an update was well overdue.

My biggest advice to anyone suffering with cystic acne or constant breakouts is to try this.  It could seriously change the quality of your life.

February 19, 2015

Stuff and Things 2/19

+I had a whole post written, realized I didn't like it, and now I'm starting over.

+The Oscars are on this weekend.  Scott has a bet on American Sniper winning Best Picture and Bradley Cooper winning Best Actor.  I actually didn't see American Sniper, but I have a feeling it will depress me.  Scott really liked it and, in my humble opinion, Bradley Cooper should win Best Actor all the time.  I still rewatch Silver Linings Playbook every once in awhile. 

+This article on Slate ranks all the Oscar nominees.  I haven't seen many of the movies because I'm not a movie person, but I did see The Imitation Game (very good), Big Hero 6 (cute enough), Into the Woods (dumb), and part of How to Train Your Dragon 2 (Scott likes animated movies).  Gone Girl is on my list, but I've seen none of the others.  I feel very out of touch.  

+But I will be watching on Sunday.  Because we have the opportunity of winning $550 and I need to celebrate if that's the case.

+Some days you feel really put together, clothes-wise.  Yesterday one one of those days. To the non-blogger though, I just look like I'm wearing blue stripes with black, and black with brown, and two different stripe patterns.  

I had trouble getting a decent picture.  I'm out of practice.

Boots: Madden Girl // Leggings: Athleta (they have pockets! acceptable for work!) // Shirt: Gap // Sweater: Forever21 // Scarf: Target

February 17, 2015

Hiking in the Springs

Is harder than it looks.  Not like hard on the body, but mentally.  It takes effort to get where you want to go.

It was going to be 70 degrees one day last weekend.  I thought it would be nice to get out and do something.  Taking the dogs is usually a must and since we also have to drive at least 30 minutes to get anywhere, we wanted to maximize our experience.

I swear I looked things up the night before.  I came upon The Crags Trail after searching for "dog-friendly hiking in co springs".  After weighing the pros and cons of other trails on the list, Crags seemed to be the best choice. We drove 2+ hours to Divide, Colorado and then were greeted by an iced over dirt road with cars parked along the side.  Another driver told us there was a jam on the dirt road up ahead, so everyone had to turn around.  It was a production, to say the least.  No pictures were taken and the whole place seemed to be poorly maintained.  You could barely get one car down the 3+ mile dirt road, let alone two to pass each other.  Also, very windy and switchback-like.  And that was just the road to the trailhead.  We turned around and drove back toward home. I would maybe try it again in July.

(Let it be known, at this point, that I had previously said, "Hey, we should stay here or south, since it's going to be the warmest in these parts...There might be snow in the mountains" when we were planning this expedition.  He said, "No.  Mountains.  It'll be fine."  I did not bring this up on the drive back to town.)

We saw a sign for Green Mountain Falls.  I looked some stuff up on my phone as we were driving and they seemed to have a really extensive trail system, varying levels, all around the base of Pike's Peak.  We took the road with the sign that said "Green Mountain Falls --->".  It led us to a small, kinda cute, tourist town but no trailhead.  No signs.  No nothing.  I couldn't believe it.  I was sorely disappointed with our 6 minute drive through Green Mountain Falls.  There looked to be a couple of cute restaurants so, if we'd be able to find what we were looking for, we definitely would've had lunch there.

Scott suggested Stratton Open Space.  I (and I did not mention this either) had suggested it the night before and there was one reason or another why that wasn't going to work (oh, right: mountains).  Oh the way there, we passed a sign for Rainbow Falls.  We pulled off.  It was a 200 yard hike to a bunch of graffiti-covered concrete with a giant waterfall running right through Manitou Springs.  They must call it "rainbow" because of all the paint colors.

Onto Stratton Open Space.

We actually liked this place.  We hiked for about an hour and my only complaint was that there were no restrooms and parking was kind of limited.  It was easy to find, accessible, and the trail was clearly marked.

There was a sign that said dogs had to be leashed, but 99.9% of the people weren't following it, so we let ours run a bit too.  If it hadn't been February, they could've swam in the reservoir. 

Then, we went to Pho and Grill.  It was wonderful.

My advice if you want to hike in Colorado Springs:
Do your research and expect very little.
I mean, honestly, there are hiking trails everywhere you turn in this town, but we were looking specifically for a place that wasn't too crowded and we wanted to let the dogs off their leashes.  We probably should've driven south to Pueblo again.  Everyone had flocked to the trails since it was so warm out on this particular Saturday.

February 16, 2015

Homemade Marinara Sauce

Recipe challenge, week seven.

When it comes to my teacher personality, I take my read-alouds very seriously.  I have a schedule.  Certain books are read to the class at certain times of the year.  Sometimes I add in new books, and sometimes I read the same book I've been reading to 4th graders since 2010.  For example, I read No Talking by Andrew Clements every year.  This year, I decided to incorporate First Light by Rebecca Stead.  The kids like it well enough, but it's pretty long actually.  I didn't think that far ahead when I decided to start it in January. I do 1-2 chapters a day and I have it planned to end on a certain day so I can start the next book.  The other day, I had a substitute and I left very specific instructions: Read Chapter 32 from First Light.  She made it 3 pages into an 8-page chapter and that's where I found the bookmark when I went back to school on Friday.  I was not happy.  

Then, when I asked the kids why she just stopped in the middle of the chapter (continuity and closure are essential to their understanding!), they said she started telling a story about a dog because something in the book reminded her of this dog. Of course, that's not what she wrote in the plans.  She'd checked it off, like it'd been completed.
They make us fill out a review for each substitute and, meanly, I put that on there.  Of course, nothing will come of it because this is the same substitute I had a month ago.  At that time, she had let the kids leave crap (they have a lot of crap) all over the floor and somehow my school laptop was on the floor also, and I almost tramped on it when I walked in the door.

I digress.

One read-aloud I particularly love is Penny from Heaven by Jennifer L. Holm.  I bought it in college when I needed a book for a project.  $16 for a hardcover from Barnes and Noble wasn't in my budget but it looked good and then I ended up really liking it.  (Then I went next door to Ulta and bought shampoo and conditioner I also couldn't afford.  Two years later, Scott would be paying off this credit card.)

I first read Penny from Heaven to my 4th grade class in 2012.  Also known as "the best fourth grade class ever".  They loved it.  They were invested.  They were so upset when it was over.  They appreciated it in the same way I appreciated it.  I haven't found a group of kids like that, as a whole, since.

Penny centers around an Italian-American family in the 1950s and my favorite parts are the descriptions of the food.  Oh, the food.  

"Dinner is a big production here, and it takes hours. We usually start off with some soup, and then we have macaroni, and then some meat, like breast of veal or braciole, which is braised beef rolls, with vegetables and potatoes. After that there's salad, just lettuce with oil and vinegar, no tomatoes or anything else. Then there's a break...Then comes coffee and nuts and fruit and cordials.  After that, we'll sometimes have a snack.  

I start in on the soup, which has escarole and bits of egg...Here, food is everything...They call pasta 'macaroni'. At home we say it's tomato sauce, and here they call it gravy." -Penny from Heaven

My friend Jenna gave me this sauce recipe because she grew up in an Italian family where they simmered the sauce all day.  She made her homemade sauce for us when she visited last summer and I've been meaning to recreate it ever since.  This is her family's recipe, and I didn't change much.  I will say that she doesn't add sugar to hers (it's, I suppose, a personal preference when it comes to the serious business of sauce-making), but I've made two batches in the last few weeks and I added sugar to one.  It's a very subtle difference.

Homemade Marinara Sauce
makes about 8 cups

1 can tomato paste
1 can tomato puree (28 oz)
1 can crushed tomatoes (28 oz)
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
2 T. fresh basil, chopped
2 T. fresh oregano, chopped
1/2-1 t. red pepper flakes
1 t. brown sugar, if desired
Olive oil

Coat the bottom of a large stockpot with olive oil.  Turn on medium-low heat and add the garlic.  Let it cook for a minute and then add in the red pepper flakes.  Allow it to cook for a minute or so, but don't let the garlic brown.

Pour in the tomatoes and tomato paste.  Stir and add the herbs (and sugar, if desired).

Cover and allow to simmer on low -low heat.  At least an hour is best, but you can also allow it to cook all day.

After it cools, it can be frozen in Ziploc bags.  I usually split it into 4 bags and lay it flat in the freezer.

(Again, Recipage will NOT work.)

February 13, 2015

Why I refuse to watch "regular" t.v.

I have trust issues.

I define regular t.v. as ABC, NBC, CBS, or Fox.  I do watch some: Once Upon a Time, I kinda like Revenge, New Girl DVRs for me and I usually get around to it…but for all intents and purposes, I avoid the major networks.  I stick to AMC and those channels I have to call to add and cancel a couple of times a year (HBO and Showtime) because I'm cheap and won't pay for them indefinitely. Also, a lot of things I find on Netflix are okay.

Okay, so this is why.  Last week, we were watching Jeopardy and then Scott fell asleep and I was reading and didn't notice that Hawaii Five-O was on until I realized I was half-watching it.  I became filled with this bitter resentment…you see, Alex O'Loughlin was on another show a few years back and I loved it.  Moonlight.  He played a vampire.  So, yeah, I really liked this show about vampires.  It was the fall of 2007 and I was enamored with the whole thing.  It was before my DVR days and I would make sure I was home on Friday nights in order to see it.  I mean, I was student-teaching that year so being home and ready for bed early was the norm on Fridays (because exhaustion).

Anyway, I loved this show.  It was brilliant in my opinion.  Like, I actually own the one and only season on DVD and I've watched it many times.  

The fall of 2007 was the year of the writers' strike in Hollywood and Moonlight fell victim to it.  Shows never had the chance to get off the ground because no one was writing new episodes.  There was one season.  16 episodes.  Then, no more.  (If you click that link up there, you'll probably be as baffled as me when you realize that Rules of Engagement and How I Met Your Mother lasted for so many years…I'm probably one of the only people who didn't like "HIMYM", but did anyone actually watch Rules of Engagement? It was awful.)

You see, the networks I concentrate on now aren't affected as much by such things.  Mostly, I'm assuming, because their seasons start at different times of the year.  Mad Men always starts in March/April, for example.  They aren't held to a strict schedule.  Shows like that have enough of a following that people will watch no matter when the season begins.  They aren't forced into the cattle chute of potential viewership and that "sweeps" week thing.  It's really like the difference between the testing that's held in public schools and the absence of state testing in private schools.  (I think I just made a brilliant comparison that also sums up my feelings on my career choice.)

After that, I lost faith in the networks and stopped watching them.  Until I picked up Once Upon a Time last year, I don't know that I'd watched anything on ABC for years.  I still haven't forgiven CBS.

Then, after Hawaii Five-O (which actually wasn't bad), I noticed that Criminal Minds was on and I saw a commercial for NCIS and I thought, "Stupid CBS. How have these shows been on for so long?" and I turned on Netflix to watch The Fall.

Is there a t.v. show that you desperately miss and are still bitter about?  Or is it just me? Technically I've been stewing about this for 7 years.