Thursday, October 11, 2012

Wheat Free For Me...

Several months back, I told you that my husband is Paleo. I've tried multiple times to eat like him and failed miserably. I like bread. I didn't want to give up bread. I had intense cravings, didn't understand why I would deprive myself, and didn't really see a negative effect from eating non-Paleo. Plus, I figured eating multigrain, whole wheat, organic bread? Healthy, right?

I saw Dr. William Davis, the author of Wheat Belly, in the news. He kept popping up. In Women's Health, on Good Morning America, etc. And he was talking about well-researched dangers linked to wheat. Yup. Wheat.

Wheat, as Dr. Davis points out, is no longer wheat. It's not what our ancestors ate, heck, it's not even what our grandparents ate. It's been modified, cross-bred, spliced, into something very scary.

I'd advise you to check out the book, or his blog, and decide for yourself what is the answer for you. But for me, the book clicked. Wheat is behind our skyrocketing obesity rates. Dr. Davis has found links where wheat causes diabetes, heart diseases, acne, IBS, possibly even autism and some cancers.  Scary yes, but c'mon, that can't be right, wheat is heathy for you, right? And I don't notice any ill effects from it. He must just be talking about celiacs, right?


Dr. Davis explained how the unique form of gluten and the specific carbohydrate found in current wheat posses the ability to 1. open your intestines to allow all form of manner into your bloodstream that shouldn't be there, and 2. actually permeate the cerebral linings and effect your brain. In fact, wheat is able to act almost like an opiate, giving you a high, causing you to seek more.

And, plain and simple, two slices of whole wheat bread increase your blood sugar more than two tablespoons of pure sugar!  It spikes your glycemic index, is more digestible than any other carbohydrate, so you crash much faster, and can interact with your body like an opiate.

Suddenly, my cravings made sense. Why I couldn't break free and was cranky when I tried to go Paleo. And it scared me. Yeah, I want to get rid of my wheat belly, the visceral fat around my middle that grows with every "healthy" whole wheat item I eat. But more importantly, I want to avoid the scary consequences. The things wheat does to our bodies.

So I decided to go wheat free. Not Paleo mind you, because strict Paleo-ists will not eat dairy either. I see nothing wrong with dairy, especially full-fat cheeses. Yes, full-fat. The government has declared a war on fat, pushed "healthy" whole grains, and yet obesity rates have grown and grown. Seriously, read the book.

I'm about 5 days in. I've definitely had some painful moments. I went cold turkey. Threw away everything in the house that had wheat in it. The first few days, I was hungry. My body was seeking that high again. I had headaches. Yup, actual withdrawal symptoms from the removal of wheat. By day 5?

By day 5, I'm a bit amazed. I'm already feeling more regular. Hunger is no longer a craving, even when I feel hungry, I'm not panicked. My skin looks clearer already. Really.

I'm still feeling a bit of the withdrawal. A bit sluggish and cloudy. Workouts are a bit difficult right now as my body adjusts. It's relearning what to burn. Food is actual fuel now, not a weird toxin.  But I'm sleeping faster and better. It's easier to wake up.

I know there will probably be a few more difficult days, but I'm doing this for my health. For my health while pregnant. For the health of future children.

I'm not a doctor by any means. I can't tell you what to do. But I do suggest you pick up the book, research, and decide for yourself. And if you do decide to quit, stay strong. It's not fun, but you won't regret it.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

I'm Back!

I've been very, very MIA. I want to come back, but I make no promises that I will actually blog consistently. If I'm successful, this blog is headed in a new direction. The Army is less and less a part of our lives right now. I will always consider myself a military spouse, and no one can take those experiences away from me, but they simply are no longer on the forefront.

What is a priority right now? I am still job hunting, but seeing some hope. I am revisiting my goal of running a half marathon, hopefully the 500 Festival Mini Marathon in Indianapolis. I am attempting to go wheat-free.  So, you will see more blogging about just basic life. Hopefully I can come up with some good recipes, and not just bore you.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Final Wedding Post

I figure I have a few more wedding tips to share, so here goes..

Bridesmaid gifts: This was tough for me. If you've followed the blog closely, you know I lost my job a month before the wedding. Clearly, I couldn't do anything super amazing. My mom offered to pay for a mani/pedi party for myself and my bridesmaids (and her of course!) since I hadn't had a bridal shower or bachelorette party... I love my mom : )  When we moved the wedding, it worked in our favor since she has a little nail salon she attends regularly, and they were willing to close shop so we could have a private party and bring in snacks and wine.  While there, I presented the gifts...

Sorry the pictures are small, but I think you can get the idea...  I decided to give the girls something practical that they could reuse, so I thew together a wedding survival bag. 3 of my bridesmaids are in college still and the other travels a lot, so I figured a quality tote bag would get good use. I nervously ordered from (Liberty Bag).. you couldn't beat the price, and the quality sounded pretty good. They arrived quickly, the quality was good, and I would definitely recommend them.  I found someone in town to stitch each girl's initials onto their bag.

I filled the bag with a number of "survival items"...  flip-flops, nail files, a VitaminWater, etc. Then I got each girl a small heart-shaped necklace, and in the cards, I told them they will always be on my heart!  They seemed well-received!


Vendors: I can't honestly remember if I mentioned my vendors yet or not, but if you are planning a wedding in Andover, Mass. the Andover Country Club was fantastic! They did such a great job helping me on 12 days notice, and I can only imagine what they could do with full planning time!  Tracey was great!

Now, if you're planning a wedding in Vermont (Vermont brides, listen up!), our vendors were all fantastic!

  • Flowers: Just Weddings ( Katharine and Marriam are AMAZING! Seriously can't rave enough! They worked with me to get the budget where I needed it, include my must haves, and help me with ideas. More amazingly, when Hurricane Irene forced the move, they moved with me!! These girls are great, and they know what they're doing!
  • Photographer: Jay Ericson (Jay Ericson Photography) Jay was great. His work is incredible, and I felt completely comfortable having him around... you didn't even notice him! He did offer us a Veteran discount, but his regular prices are a touch below the other photographers are contacted. Be warned, he is extremely busy, so he can be a bit difficult to get in touch with, but he is worth it!
  • Dress: A Trace of Lace Bridal ( If you are a Vermont bride (or heck, anywhere within driving distance), GO HERE. You will not regret it! The owner Jamie, is super nice, knows her stuff, and makes sure you are happy. The dresses are well priced, and the boutique is super cute! Just don't blink or you might drive right past it!  Jamie encouraged me to try on all types of dresses, even those I didn't think I'd like. Sure enough, I liked one I didn't think I would, which lead us to my dress, which I LOVED. They can also recommend seamstresses in the area, and will store your dress for you. 
Hair and makeup ended up being done by an independent friend of a friend, and the cake was baked by a friend of my mom's. In Vermont, I was set up to use Mountain Cuts for my hair, and I absolutely loved my consult with her. 

I was also meant to have the wedding at the Killington Grand, and again, while I never got the see the final product, the preparations were well-done and fun! We worked with Emily, and she is all about making sure your day is exactly how you want it. Even though we had to cancel, Emily still sent us an adorable wedding gift with Killington mugs and some local food mixes! 

Feel free to post any questions about any wedding DIY or vendors... I hope my few posts help you with your planning!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Box...

My husband does Crossfit. He has for a while. I ran. Or pretended to run. And pretended to like it. And resisted his urging to try Crossfit.

I haven't abandoned the run. I've finally started logging some miles again, but real satisfaction? Real satisfaction comes when you push beyond your boundaries. For me, it seemed to come when I lifted more than I thought I could. When I pushed out the last rep. When I took my aching, angry muscles the next day and went from sore-in-a-good-way to an all out push.

I haven't decided to actually Crossfit. But with the purchase of a home gym for my husband's Crossfit needs, and the amount of weight at my fingertips, I've started incorporating some Crossfit moves into the basic moves I tend to rever to.  Today, I did a 21-15-9 of kettlebell swings (35 lbs.) and box jumps (step-ups).  Why step-ups? Because of the box.

The box.

It doesn't just sit, it looms. It casts it's own shadow. It seems too high, just a bit too far. I stared at that box, I wanted to jump, but when I stood next to it, it psyched me out. You can't do this Stacey. You can't jump this high. You can't top this. You can't attain.  I tried it. A weak jump, full of fear. Not enough height. I didn't even move forward. You can't do it. It's simply beyond you.

So I took the easy route. The route I knew might be easier, but I knew I could do it. It would challenge me a little. In cardio. Not in strength, in power, in explosion. 

I did my workout. I did a 10-8-6 of bench presses with my 20 lbs. dumbbells. I sat on the bench, and I stared at that box. 

The box. 

Too high.


Too tall to jump.

A challenge. 

I walked to the box, squared up, squatted a bit and gave it all I had. 

And I landed. Flat feet. Drove through my heels and stood. Paused a moment, smiled and stepped down to do it again. I only did 5 jumps (c'mon, this is post-workout), but I did them. I jumped that high, I had the strength, I met the challenge. 

I could be extremely cheesy here, but you already know the metaphor I'm suggesting, so I'll keep it brief. You know the challenges I'm still facing in my life. The challenges you may be facing. The box is looming, yes. It's standing there, too tall, telling me I can't do it. That things are too high, too hard. And it's been topped.

Square up. Have confidence. Stare it down. And jump. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

I Am Proud...

The President addressed the nation from Afghanistan last night. As usual, we tuned in. One of us favors Mr. Obama, one of us does not. But it is Afghanistan. And having lost two years of our lives to that country, we tune in.

As is my norm, I riffed along a few snarky tweets while he spoke. Let's face it (and I choke on this quite often when it's invoked by people I don't agree with), it is the right of every American to voice their opinion, to have freedom of speech, and to voice disagreement with our elected leaders. (Insert "America, F Yeah!" statement here). So I did my usual thing. And in the end, when the speech rapidly swung into campaign territory, I tweeted this:

Is this really going toward "I'm in Afghanistan. Fix Economy. Forward!!!"?? Vets & spouses can't even find jobs you twit!!!

That tweet seems to have found a target in a total stranger. (Complete tangent, I am simply amazed by how people find people on Twitter. Seriously, can't make the connection sometimes.) This morning, I woke up, poured some coffee (oh, sweet coffee), and dutifully checked my mentions on Twitter (what, that's not what you do every morning?). There they were.

 Stop bitching. Vets are taking up all the defense intel jobs. Nothing like putting retards in important national security jobs.
 and if you are worried about a job, you should have gone to college and not focused on marrying a military person. DUH

Wait. What? Huh?

Seriously. My first reaction was not one of anger, of indignation, or urge to hunt the person down and smack them. No. I was confused. Then I was shocked. Then I laughed out loud.

There are so very many things wrong with these tweets. First, perhaps because it's the most simple, I did go to college, did not focus on marrying a military person, and am beyond proud of what my husband has done and continues to do. It is amusing and ignorant to believe that a military spouse must be unemployed because clearly there is no way she went to college. Clearly because my husband serves, my entire goal in life was to follow around guys in ACUs until I found one that would take me home.

I really laughed out loud when I clicked through to her profile, found that in her personal description is one short line, and then a link to her online resume. So this hate and condescending statement is actually coming from someone who is unemployed just like me! But I thought she had all the answers?? That I should have gone to college and not focused on a marrying a military person, and DUH then I would have a job?  

So I clicked.

She went to Indiana University. You know, the one in Bloomington. Home of basketball. Home of the Little 500. Home of the gorgeous Dunn Meadow, Old Campus and the beautiful gateway onto Kirkwood, the Main Library that rumor has it is actually sinking. Oh, the one where I attended for four years, and graduated, receiving my Bachelor of Arts with a dual major in Communication and Political Science. Oh, the irony.

So perhaps she's inexperienced, facing the new graduate struggle, the bitter effort to find a job, any job in a bad economy. No, in fact, she had 9 years experience with major defense contractors, each employment stint lasting roughly 2 years and showing career growth. She claims in several tweets to have active security clearance. But she is unemployed. And she is bitter. (I'm pretty sure you'll see the irony here, as I too am unemployed and bitter, though apparently I didn't realized that I deserve my unemployment because I married a military person).

So let's think about the meat and bones of these tweets. That veterans are in her words, "retards" and "assholes".  Really, read that again. "Vets are taking up all the defense intel jobs. Nothing like putting retards in important national security jobs."

Let that sink in.

In another tweets on her timeline, she refers to veterans as "assholes". She re-tweeted and adamantly agreed with a tweet complaining that soon we will withdraw from Afghanistan, veterans will come home, and they will need jobs. I suppose they could have stayed here, fought for her job all along, and never gone to war, which if you think about it, probably created the very jobs she's had for the last 10 years.

Now, as for vets taking up all the defense intel jobs, I can see where she could be upset. I mean, why should defense intel companies hire people who have actually been on the ground in the country in question? Who have trained to interact with the people there, both good and bad? Who have studied the customs and culture? Who have hunted down and fought against those very security threats that defense intel people fight against? Nah, that doesn't make ANY sense to hire veterans for those positions!  

And really, how dare these companies be offered tax credits for hiring our veterans? For attempting to ensure that our men and women can come home from fighting a war for us and actually be taken care of? Frankly, forget the tax credits, their real-world life experiences outweigh her 9 years of office experience any day.

Now, I may be an unemployed, uneducated, fatigue-hunting bum, but I know one thing she doesn't. Twitter is powerful. Twitter is accessible. Twitter is not going to pick and choose for you what other people can see. I know that if you're constantly tweeting about how desperately you need a job, if you're tweeting out your resume, if you've linked to it right there in your bio, you DON'T spend multiple tweets insulting, grossly insulting the very people you would be expected to work with.

If I am an employer, I see out the best person for the job. In many cases, for a defense contractor, the best person for a job will be a veteran. Regardless of any hiring incentive, the veteran has experience, honor, dedication. Knowing this, if I receive an application or an inquiry from someone, I check their Twitter, and I see them refer to veterans as "retards" and "assholes" multiple times, do I call that person, or even give them the time of day?  A big, fat, emphatic NO.

As far as her mentality, her hatred and disrespect for veterans and their spouses, I can't answer that. It'd be easy to lump her in with the Occupy Wall Streeters, the Bradley Manning supports (tweets show she is), the anti-war liberals. I could give her a category, walk away, and never think about her again. But really, when I scrolled through her timeline, I was simply sad. Sad that life could have made her so broken, so bitter, so angry. Sad at the opportunities she is destroying for herself. Sad at the sheer anger and ignorance coming out of her.

And it made me proud. Proud of our veterans. Proud of my husband. Proud of the spouses who struggle, who fight, who wait. Who don't lash out (well, maybe we do, in the safety of a group of friends, wine in hand). Who live through war with honor, despite the ignorance among our society. Who receive hate and push forward anyway. Who come home and seek jobs, seek treatment for what ails them, seek to be productive in society. We won't be knocked down by bitterness, resentment, misguided hate. And for that, I am proud.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

I'm Not That Desperate...

Ah, another frustrating day of job hunting. Yes, I know it's only 10 a.m. That is just how depressing the job hunt is in Metro Detroit.  But rather than be sad, time to find the humor in the situation...

I've seen plenty of blogs, posts, articles, etc. about job hunt blunders made by applicants, or what *not* to do when hunting for a job. By way of a genius suggestion from @SgtMsWife (AKA "The Wife"), I've decided to flip the tables, and share with you the things employers should not do. Or simply the things you shouldn't bother clicking on when you're job hunting.   Here's today's list, but I will probably revisit this theme as my job hunt drags on...

Let's begin with the obvious. Job search engines suck. Seriously, they are terrible and frustrating to work with. Keywords that make sense to you clearly make no sense to the search engine.

  • Search term: "Event Coordinator"   Result: "Director of Community Relations" - I can somewhat see the event planning/community relations link, but I'm a bit confused by the titles because coordinator level work just screams Director.
  • Search term: "Community Outreach"  Result: "Nurse Practitioner" - Because, nurses work in the community?
  • Search term: "Public Relations"  Result: "Pashto Interpreter" - Monster jumped on the word "public". Public relations thus is the same as a job within Army Public Affairs. And writing press releases in English is definitely the same as interpreting Pashto.

Every search engine likes to have you upload your resume, then create a search agent for you. OK, so mine shows roughly 4 years professional experience, plus retail positions and internships. My last two job titles were Programs Coordinator and Client Relations Assistant. My job agent recently returned:
  • Senior Manager - Product Research.   I suppose 4 years does make me senior to people who are unemployed...
  • Sales Management Trainee at Enterprise.  Uhm, no. Just NO.
  • Public Relations Intern.  I'm not above a foot in the door position. In fact, I would welcome it. But an internship? Unpaid?
  • Director of Marketing.  These two were literally one after the other. It seems my agent thinks I'm qualified to be both the lowest person on the corporate totem pole and also to run the show. Excellent.
  • Law Office Word Processor.  Uhm, what?
  • Director of Anesthesia Program.   Because Program Coordinator (essentially event planner) means I'm a Doctor.
Then there are the companies that either don't actually want you to apply, or just are looking for really dumb people.   Don't even get me started on how often I see listing for Communications professional with misspelled words or typos in the listing title. Also, the use of exclamation points frightens me. 

Actual listing:  Event Specialist!!!   
Responsibility: "Conduct Demo Event for approximately 5.75 hours"  (that's awfully specific)
Among the Duties:  "Move around cart area to approach customers within 10 feet"  (so you're a very aggressive demo event conductor).  "Push cart weighing 52-74 lbs. distance of 150-300 feet" (no worries, when the customers get within 10 feet, I'll push my 52-74 lbs. cart those 10 feet to block them in and ensure they demo my product!)

(This was listed 3 additional times, with slight changes to the position title. Sadly, the exclamation points were only in one listing.)

Actual listing:  Global Account Executive ? Meetings Sourcing Sales"   Company: American Express
(So, are you not sure what you're calling the position? Did you not think to review your listing to see how it appeared? Are question marks now acceptable separators, much like hyphens?)

And my personal favorite...


(You will see multiple versions of this listing any time you search any number of keywords.)
Actual excerpts from the job listing:   "UNIQUE approach to advertising"  
" **Experience in the below industries are a plus**
  • Marketing and Advertising
  • Sports and Athletics
  • Entertainment
  • Military
  • Finance and Accounting" 

These "direct marketing" firms prey on young graduates who need jobs. They are quite skeezy. I know, I had one horrific day with one in Massachusetts.   This one claims "we do NOT participate in door-to-door, telemarketing or graphic design".  So they've moved on from the days when my "interview" consisted of changing into a Verizon polo in a gas station bathroom, then going door-to-door with my "mentor" trying to sell FiOS to people...  Maybe it's office-to-office now.  What blows my mind is that they sucker enough people in that they stay in business. Sure, you can get a good commission, but I'm not that desperate...

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Wedding DIY: Escort Cards, Gift Table and Mr./Mrs. Signs...

Wedding season is approaching! Figured I should mak good on my promise to share more of my wedding and help out the brides-to-be out there...

First, the card basket. This is always one of those pieces that is so simple and yet so stressful. It's a great way to show your personality or the theme of the wedding with something quirky and fun, but it could just as easily be a standard basket and turn into something boring that just blends into the gift table...

Keep in mind, as mentioned in previous posts (Welcome to Married Life...) this wedding was intended to be in Vermont, not Massachusetts, so there is a bit of a Vermont-in-Fall theme. Now, what type of basket screams "Vermont" to you?? A Ben & Jerry's container? How do you find one big enough? An apple crate? We were doing anything else apples. A ski boot? That's winter, not fall. Suddenly, something simple was stressful, and I was not going to do the same old antique bird card every bride seems to do.

We were leaving our wedding dress rescue mission when I finally found the answer. In Quechee (go check out the Gorge!) there is a little Quechee Village shopping center, which includes a Danforth Pewter shop, a Cabot annex, an antique store and more. We passed and I asked to stop. Mostly because I'm obsessed with Cabot cheese, and I also wanted to check the antique store for some type of crate. And I found...   nothing. 

We were getting ready to leave, and my stepdad was purchasing some Cabot cheese spreads when I looked around. Sitting on the counter was a round, wooden cheese box with the Cabot logo stamped on it. On a whim, I asked if they sold these boxes. Yes, for a mere $5!  So we picked out the perfect one (which just happened to have been shipped on my mom's birthday), and had our card box!

Photo by Jay Ericson Photography

To complete the gift table, we brought in the basket of programs in case anyone had missed it at the ceremony, and my mom displayed two photo collages she had created with childhood photos of each of us. 

Photo by Jay Ericson Photography

Now on to our simpler DIY project.  Using many of the same items that I used for the programs, I created a  Mr. sign and a Mrs. sign to hang on our chairs at the reception. DIY - Wedding Programs  For the back, I used a size A7 note card from Paper Source (A7 Note Card), then used the yellow paper previously used for the program belly bands, and the same piece of cream luxe paper used to print the front of my invitations (A6 Note Card). Turning the card horizontal, I first measured out a top border of approximately a half inch. The rest of the borders are approximately 1/4 inch. Be sure you print the Mr. and Mrs. cards first, then simply trim the front and second card to fit.  Again using my trusty tape runner, I simply attached them in a stack.

To create the hanger, I punched a hole in each of the top corners and inserted a brad (see my post about programs for these tools). I tucked the ribbon through each and tied a knot in each end.  Also, if you have a lighter, you can easily sear the ends of the ribbons so they don't fray.

Photo by Jay Ericson Photography

Photos by Kelly Burton

Photo by Kelly Burton

Escort cards!   ...are a pain in the ass! This was actually probably the most intensive part of the wedding prep. The escort (or seating) cards themselves were fairly easy. I was able to use Adobe inDesign to create a layout where I could fit 4 names per A7 card. I ringed the full layout, the horizontal middle and the vertical middle with a leaf design I had created. Once I cut the card in half each way, I had 4 name cards, each with a leaf border.

Using my tape runner, I adhered each name onto a folded cardstock back. I had quite a bit of card stock, so actually cut down and folded larger pieces, but Paper Source does sell pre-folded cards (4-bar Folded). Just  work to ensure you have your sizes right!

I decided I liked the ribbon board look, but wanted my own twist. First, I found cheap bulletin boards. Target had some in the home office section for roughly $6 each. I painted each one so the colors fit into my brown, orange, yellow theme. Home Depot sells paint samples for less than $3, and one in each color was more than enough to paint 4 boards. Once the boards were dry, it was time to attach the ribbon. This was a pain!

I used Paper Source's natural cotton ribbon to wrap around my invitations and hold all the pieces together. It turned out to be sturdy enough for my card boards too. (Natural Cotton Ribbon) First, measure and re-measure the boards! I found that I could fit 5 rows. Measure one escort card, plus roughly half an inch and split the height of your board by that amount. Mark where the top of each ribbon should attach. 

Because I wanted clean edges, I used a flat head screwdriver to press down the cork at the connection spot of each. This gave me just enough room to tuck the ribbon under the wooden border of the bulletin board. The Paper Source brand of tape runner is actually strong enough to connect these, but I used a dot of super glue on each. Just put the dot as close to the end of the ribbon as possible and tuck it into the small space. Be sure to measure and cut the ribbon because you will not be able to hide any extras, and you want the ribbon to be taut. 

Our wedding coordinator hung the actual escort cards onto the ribbon for me, and scattered the table with maple candies we bought at the Cabot annex and leaves we pulled off trees at our property in Vermont. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Moving On Up...

To Michigan! I've been MIA, I know. But the move to Michigan is complete, we are first-time homeowners, and my lingering unemployment allowed me to fix the house fairly quickly.

The move went very smoothly. The cats were well-behaved, if scared. We stopped at a rest stop and discovered that one cat was actually shaking in her carrier. When we opened the door, she hopped out, hunkered down in some soft items right below her carrier and was fine. Aside from one day of hiding in a closet, both girls have adjusted very well to their new home!

We chose a nice suburb of Detroit with plenty of restaurants and parks. I have to say, these two Midwest kids are loving that we have a yard and trees again. For the first time in years, I have neighbors that I've actually met, who say hello and bring over 'welcome to the neighborhood' flowers instead of just glaring at me when we pass in the apartment hallway!

Anyway, on to the fun stuff...  Painting!  I used all Behr Ultra paints (the paint + primer). I've included the colors just in case you love them as much as I do. Here's a quick look at before and after in our home:

The front door opens into a decent-sized front room. Back in the 40s, when the home was built, this was probably their main gathering room, but since our home had a large 'great room' addition in the back, we decided to turn this one into a study. The hardwood floors and coved ceiling? Awesome. The weird yellow/tan color and maroon-ish drapes? Not awesome. 

So I painted it grey! The color worked out fantastically! It feels more open and peaceful. I've since hung a few pictures, and may add white drapes later..   

Paint Color: Ashes. 

There is actually a large room upstairs (seemed to be a common feature in homes we looked at) which runs the width of the house, and has angled ceilings. We eventually intend to use that as the Master, but right now it is painted lavender, and has almost no storage. Temporarily, we are using a downstairs bedroom as ours. And it came with more of that icky golden tan color...

Green! I did worry this color would be too dark, but it is still muted enough that it works very well  (this picture is a bit dark). We will use this color upstairs as we fix up the room for our use.   

Paint Color:  Sanctuary

 We haven't fixed up the kitchen yet. One of our earlier projects will likely be a complete kitchen remodel. Despite its large size, we've found that the cabinets are not very good, counterspace is wasted, which doesn't leave enough for canisters and small appliances, there is no actual pantry, so we have to use a small rolling pantry that is not roomy enough, and while the appliances all work, they're an off-white color that makes them look incredibly old. Not to mention, the faucet drips when turning it off, and the side cabinets are slightly drooped and the previous owner added a light that she screwed up through the bottom of the cabinet...

The deck also has a patio portion next to it. We need to clean it, get some furniture/decor, and add a grill, but nothing too major out there. I can't wait to plant my vegetable garden!

Ah, the great room. (You can see the kitchen to the right... we will definitely put in half cabinets and extend the counter to open that up). This room made me happy (it's huge), and crazy (the fireplace mantle is red, the room is that icky golden tan the previous owner seemed to love).  This took the longest, and was delayed a few days when I dropped a sign on my toe, cracking the nail (it's a different color now too!).

Love! Ok, don't judge me on the tiny portion on the right wall. Me + 6 foot ladder still was not tall enough to reach it. My husband and his extra 8 inches will fix that this weekend.   So first, we painted the mantle an espresso brown color (I'm somewhat obsessed with espresso brown, it's OK). After way too many color swatches and some nervousness that we went too bold, we chose a gorgeous blue. I actually could not be happier with this color. It works with the espresso brown and white, I can easily add nautical accents in the living room side, and  (not pictured), it looks great with my espresso brown leaning wine bar AND the greens and tans that make up our dining set.

Paint Color (mantle): French Roast

Paint Color (walls): Juniper Ash

Now, I just need to find a job! And remodel the kitchen. And create a man cave in the basement. And fix the Master Bedroom. And plant my garden.   Stay tuned, the (mis)adventures continue...

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Paleo Spaghetti Squash Toss...

Like the rest of the U.S., we here in DC have been blessed with summer temperatures. In March. I bought meat for chili, but no one wants chili when it's 76 out. So, I tried to come up with summer recipes, found something that sounded good, tweaked it, and got this...


1 spaghetti squash
2 chicken breasts
1 medium tomato
1 can black olives
1 small onion
1/2 cup feta cheese
1 tsp olive oil
Garlic to taste

Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Cut the spaghetti squash in half and remove the seeds. Brush the inside of each half with olive oil, sprinkle with garlic, salt, pepper, etc.  Place the halves face down on a cookie sheet and bake for at least 30 minutes.  You will know it's done when you can pierce the outside skin with little resistance, or flip a half over and see if the flesh is tender. 

While the squash is cooking, do your prep work. Slice the olives and dice the tomatoes and onion.

Once done slicing, dice the chicken. I find it's easiest to get bite-sized slivers if I cut the breasts while they're raw, using my totally awesome Wusthoff chef's knife. 

I found it easiest to wait until the squash was out of the oven before I started the chicken portion. The squash needs time to cool, which can lead to too much down time. You do not need or want to serve this dish piping hot. Do whatever works best for you and your kitchen time management. 

Once the squash pieces are cooled, use a fork to scrape out the fleshy parts. You can scrape in any direction, it will still come out in spaghetti-like strands. I suggest you scrape directly into the serving bowl.

Now, put the chicken pieces into a pan with just a little olive oil. Just enough to keep it from sticking. Cook through.

Add the diced onion and cook until the onion is just tender. Add the tomatoes and cook until they are just heated (I like my tomatoes to stay firm, so I suggest you do not overcook).

Add the chicken, tomatoes, and onions to the spaghetti squash. Add the tsp. of olive oil and your desired amount of garlic. Toss. Add the feta and olives and toss again. 

Serve!  It isn't the prettiest dish ever, but it got glowing reviews from two hungry men. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


I wasn't going to do it. I wasn't going to blog or comment on the situation in Afghanistan. Where a Staff Sergeant apparently walked into an Afghan village and proceeded to shoot and kill 16 Afghan civilians. I wasn't going to add my voice, say what's already been said, or try to say something new. And then I saw this:

Truly, what offended me first was the actual headline. Boom, "Sergeant Psycho". In letters so large and bold that you notice nothing else on the page. Not the photograph, not the ad at the bottom, not the secondary headline. Just "Sergeant Psycho".

Stop and think about that for a minute. "Psycho". Early reports are that this soldier was on his 4th deployment in 11 years of service. There is a report that he had been diagnosed with PTSD, but declared fit for duty. Even if these reports were untrue, or simply unknown, a rational person immediately knows and understands that it is not a rational person who walks off a base at 3 a.m. and kills 16 civilians. A soldier, a man with a wife and two kids, does not take this action in a normal state of mind. And the New York Daily News feels it appropriate to derogatorily label this man a psycho.

"Psycho". Forget what could have caused him to do this, forget what our military has been through, done and seen over the course of these wars. Forget that this soldier comes from Ft. Lewis, well known and making the headlines regularly for its failure to help and protect our guys. Forget what could have caused this soldier to become unbalanced enough to commit this act. "Psycho." It does not boil down to something so simple, so un-empathetic, so judgmental, so cruel.

After I sort through my disgust at the headline, I focus on the secondary headline. "Killer G.I. had suffered traumatic brain injury."  Now process that. What is the reader's reaction? Just as the media has recently led us to believe that every veteran has PTSD, and this somehow makes them evil, crazed people who could snap and kill us at any moment, the NY Daily News seems ready to have us believe that we should link traumatic brain injury (TBI) and "Psycho" or "Killer". No? There it is in black and white. "Psycho". "Killer". "Traumatic brain injury".

I have seen firsthand TBI. PTSD. I've seen the irritability, the fear and tension brought into what used to be normal, everyday situations. I've seen the headaches, the tinnitus (ringing in the ears) that TBI leaves behind. I've seen the flashes of anger. And I've seen that our military community needs help. They've taken the weight of these wars and carried them alone. They've gone from war to home to war to home. Back again, over and over. They've carried with them the pain of leaving their families, the fear of war, the adrenaline of war, the difficulties caused when you dive into a war, but life keeps going at home. They carried back with them the things they've seen, they've done, the hurts physical and mental, seen and unseen.  And they've come home to a world where society doesn't understand a thing about them, where society (in general) doesn't care. They come home and spend whatever little time they have at home listening to the stupid, insensitive comments of civilians who don't understand, many of whom don't care to understand. They've come home to a VA that can't or won't help them. TBI demands help. Yet I've seen firsthand a soldier who called the VA only to have the phone answered by a woman who didn't even know what TBI is or the meaning of PTSD.

And they've come home to a failed system. A system that doesn't take care of them. That in some cases punishes them for admitting they need help. A system that quite simply has failed to help them.  At Ft. Lewis, where this soldier was based, a number of veterans (the report stated the number is as high as 2,400) were diagnosed with PTSD and then had this diagnoses reversed. Not because they had been helped. Not because the diagnosis was wrong. Because the doctor became concerned about the cost of paying benefits to and caring for these veterans. Rather than give them the help they needed, the doctor simply reversed their diagnosis, claimed it was all OK.

I am not, do not, and will not condone what this Staff Sergeant did. I do not think there is any time or condition where we can say that it's OK, release him of all fault, or let it slide. Regardless of how the system may or may not have failed him, this soldier killed 16 innocent civilians. He deserves, and will receive, some level of punishment. But he also deserves a fair review. He deserves and has earned the right to have a mental evaluation, a real offer of a help. He deserves for us to gather all the facts, to see if he was failed, or if he acted without hint of reason. He does not deserve "Psycho".

More than anything else, we must learn from this. We have a choice laid before us. The circumstances around this choice have escalated. We've had kill squads, we've had suicides, we've had suicide-by-cop. And now this. These men have not failed us. We have failed these men. We must deal appropriately with this soldier and we must finally make the change. Step it up. Fix the VA. Fix the mentality. Help these guys carry the weight. Stop assuming and inferring that PTSD/TBI = "Psycho", "Killer". Help.

An Update...

Boring post alert.

First, I've been a terrible blogger. I'd like to tell you I've been busy, but I haven't been *that* busy. As a housewife with no children and not even a house yet, I spend most of my days sitting around, frustrated, trapped, but not really that busy.

The husband finished his training, finally. I'm extremely proud of him, and I'm glad to have him truly home, finally.

We are preparing for our move to Detroit. In good news, we bought our first home!  It took a ton of frustration, too many trips up there, and one change of realtor, but we found a place we truly like in a great neighborhood. I'm still searching for a job, which is beyond frustrating. The listings are not good, pickings are slim, the jobs that are interesting are still a few years experience beyond me. I'm doing my best to stay optimistic. God is in control and has good plans for me. I just wish his timeline was a little closer to mine sometimes!

I yet again vow to try an be a better blogger, but we all know how that goes. There are some big adventures coming up, so I'll do my best to share them..

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Itch...

Who would've thought that all the drama, confusion, and stress of buying your first home would actually be a good thing? Right now, I am so thankful for the distraction it provides.

There is a monster stalking us. It's hiding in the shadows. Creeping behind me, ducking out of the way when I turn around to look. Freezing so still if we manage to look right at it that it blends in and can't be seen.

One year ago at this time, he was in Afghanistan. (Ok, exactly one year ago, he was home on leave, and about to see, and propose to, me.) Two years ago at this time, he was headed toward Fort McCoy for pre-deployment training. Three years ago at this time, he was in Afghanistan, a few months from what would've been the end of his tour, and only a couple weeks from being medvac'ed out of country. Four years ago at this time, we were gearing up, getting ready for his first trip to McCoy, his first deployment, the start of a wild journey.

This post is not about my usual Reserve vs. Active Duty issues. Forget that. Just know that, even though it says "Reserves" in my blog description, my husband's tours came at the pace of Active Duty tours. Know that when they said "go", he went, because that was his job. That's what he volunteered to do. And know that when he came home, he was home for exactly a year when they said "go" again.

In theory, we are done. We are IRR, and POTUS tells us all the time how he's winding down the war in Afghanistan. In theory, they will not tell my soldier "go" again.  But still, I wait.

I wait because I've been trained to wait. I wait because I've learned that this is the point where the cycle repeats itself. I wait because he is an experienced NCO and units will have holes to fill. I wait because, even though Iraq is over, and most of America thinks that means all war is done and they can completely forget about it yet again, still they go.

That monster is stalking us. We've mentioned his presence, but assured ourselves he won't get us. But he's there. I see how the monster effects us, whether we notice or not, whether we acknowledge or not, whether we think things are connected or not. The SGT has acknowledged that parts of him feel like it's time to go back. Part of him wants to be back there. Part of him thinks it's time to ramp up and train again. I see him watch war movies more than usual. He acknowledged how hard it is, how disconcerting it is that he does not have his rifle everywhere he goes.

I feel it creeping in. I feel an urge to push him away on Valentine's Day. I feel a peace that he will be at training that Tuesday instead of with me. I feel myself prepping to be alone, not just on weekends, but always. I feel that I am retreating into myself because I am all I can rely on, and it's easier than stressing him.

I wait because I feel that monster lurking behind me. Because even though all logic tells me we are done, I don't know when I can ever be sure. Because even with the lights on, there just aren't enough lights right now to convince me that there is no monster under my bed.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Paleo Scallops and Bacon...

So tonight I had no idea what to cook. But I had scallops, and it was cook or freeze time. I also had bacon, of course. I rummaged around a bit and stumbled upon a dish...

1/2 lb diver scallops (smaller size)
2 slices bacon cut into bite-size pieces
1/4 C. red onion, finely sliced
1/8 C. mushrooms, diced
1/2 C. yellow squash, sliced then quarted
Olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper

Pour approximately 1 Tbsp olive oil in your saucepan. Add garlic (approx. 1 clove), a few shakes of salt and pepper and heat. Once pan is hot, add scallops.  Cook until they begin to take a golden color.  Remove scallops and set aside.

Add bacon to pan. Cook until nearly done. Add scallops and veggies. Sautee together until onions and squash are tender.  Serve.

(This amount is essentially 1 serving)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Paleo One-Dish: Shrimp, Broccoli, Red Pepper

So, with the husband gone, I'm a master of cooking for one. Or one plus leftovers!  And, because cooking for one means I do the cooking and the cleanup, I love anything that involves only 1 pot.  So, as I continue this year to eat Paleo (ish) and clean, I'll continue to share my adventures.  I believe this one is actually Paleo..

2 Tbsp. Coconut Oil
10 medium shrimp, raw (make sure they're thawed and remove the tail, etc.)
1/2 medium yellow onion
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 broccoli crown
Garlic (powder is fine if you don't have fresh)
Red Pepper Flakes

Dice your veggies into bite-sized pieces. Melt 1 Tbsp Coconut Oil in your saucepan over medium heat. Throw in the shrimp and garlic to taste (approx. 1/8-1/4 tsp.) and saute until pink and almost done. Add remaining Coconut Oil (make sure you have enough to coat the veggies, add more if needed) and veggies along with your desired amount of red pepper flakes. Saute until the broccoli is cooked, but still firm.  Enjoy!

Jacksonville Weekend...

I told you how I was contacted by Colts TE Jacob Tamme and offered a wonderful weekend in Jacksonville, FL, plus Colts tickets to thank me the hubs for his military service. So I bet you want to know how the weekend went, right?    First, I have to thank Jacob, and Tammy (@TammyLuvsColts on twitter) for the incredible gift. Second, it was AMAZING!

The only downside to the trip was the 5 a.m. wake up in order to get to the airport in time. But hey, I've done much worse! Our flights were smooth and actually landed early. Easy travels! We got to the hotel, in an adorable, new development area of Jacksonville. It was situated right on a lake, and done in adorable blues and greens. If you get a chance to stay at a Hotel Indigo, do it! We had a suite, which was wonderful when it was time to get ready for dinner!

We checked in, then headed out for lunch, and then drove to the Jacksonville Beach area. The water was chilly, but we walked in the waves and just enjoyed the fresh ocean air. And we saw 4 dolphins playing and hunting in the surf!

After the beach, we headed back to watch the first half of the IU-OSU game (go IU!) and get ready for dinner. We had a wonderful dinner at III Forks; you can never go wrong with steak, seafood and a bottle of wine!

I won't lie, we barely made it to midnight...  but we made it! Happy 2012!!!

We started the year off right! As we sat to have breakfast, I got a message from Jacob inviting us to meet him after the game! So we finished up and headed to EverBank Field. Jaguars fans were pretty friendly. People teased us a bit before the game, but it was all in good fun. We even ran into one security member who told us he was secretly cheering for the Colts!  The stadium has a great Bud Light Party Zone above the south end zone.  

We grabbed a sandwich for the hubs and then headed to our seats to watch warm ups. The only downside is we were on the wrong side of the field... the Jaguars were warming up closest to us!  But I still love being there.  I will say it's more fun at Lucas Oil Stadium, at least there they play "In The Air Tonight"!  

I was a little bummed that they use the tiny flags. Their mascot, Jackson-de-ville did fast rope in from a light tower above the field, which was cool.... and also a sign of things to come. One downside to Jacksonville? It's a bit like a circus side show! The mascot is doing so much random stuff, driving on the opposite end of the field with a tiny motorcycle, streaking, etc. that it distracts you from the game. At one point, he was bouncing around, and our whole row missed an entire down because he had distracted us!

We enjoyed the game, and got some serious sun. Sadly, as you know, the Colts lost. Forget that 'suck for Luck' stuff, I'm a true fan, I wanted the W as much as the players!

After the game, we headed down to the buses. I asked several security guards where we should go, until I was sure I was in the right area. I was still nervous, because we were outside the fence, and I just didn't know if it would work out.   I shouldn't have worried!  Jacob was about the fourth player out. He immediately pulled 4 people in (who I later learned were his family), then I saw him reach into his pocket to check his phone. I yelled out "Jacob!" He immediately looked up.. "Stacey?"  I grabbed the husband's hand, and security parted the fence and let us through.  Ok, mind blown.

Jacob Tamme is the nicest guy. Period. He immediately greeted us with a hug for me, handshake for the husband and asked us if everything went OK for our weekend. He introduced us to his aunt and uncle, cousin and cousin-in-law, and we hung out chatting.  

I do not want to take away from this moment at all, because we were Jacob's guests, and he is an awesome, awesome person. But of course, I realize I'm hanging out within a few feet of Robert Mathis, Dwight Freeney, etc..  and then who should walk right next to me?  Reggie Wayne!  I asked Jacob if it's rude to ask for autographs or pictures. He said no, but because it's the family area, the guys might not.  Then he called over and asked Reggie if he'd take a picture with us! I got a quick autograph, and told Reggie "You know you're my favorite." (In hindsight, I almost felt like a dork, but Reggie smiled and laughed).

At about the same time, Dallas Clark had come over, and Jacob asked him to jump in the picture.

Dallas is also incredibly nice. When Jacob explained that the husband had served two tours of Afghanistan, Dallas stopped to chat with us for a while and thank him for his service. Then he came straight over and hugged me and thanked me too! He chatted for a while, and left quite the impression. Great guy!

And then? Icing on the cake. Peyton Manning was around. I snagged a quick auto on my ticket, then Jacob got his attention. "Hey Peyton, would you take a picture with this guy? He's spent two years in Afghanistan." Peyton thanked him and posed with us!  And teased Jacob about his camera skills...

Overall, a dream weekend!   Of course the game experience was the icing on the cake, but just the chance to get away, have a nice dinner, enjoy a warmer climate was so amazing for us. We had a great time relaxing and reconnecting.

Despite my rants here, in our house, we believe we're just doing our job. We don't demand special attention, and half the time the husband won't even take a military discount. To get thank yous like this from Tammy and Jacob just blows us away. I truly can't thank them enough.  And to hear a thank you from guys often called heroes, directed to my hero, and even to me, is really, really cool.  So to Tammy and to Jacob Tamme and to Reggie, Dallas and Peyton, thank you.