Friday, April 25, 2014

A Gluten Free One-Two Punch: Lasagne and Macarons!

Gluten Free Lasagne from Cibo e Beve restaurant in North Atlanta area.  Bolognese, ricotta.  Pretty good.  I'd order it again.

The frozen mini-macarons I buy at Trader Joe's.  Chocolate & vanilla, so yum!

Macaron Queen at kiosk in Lenox Square Mall in Buckhead area of Atlanta.  Excellent and made with almond flour!  
Once a month, my Marine gets home early (6PM).  And, like tonight, he promptly fell asleep as soon as he sat down to pet the cat.   I "accidentally" woke him up 15 minutes later and we went out to dinner at a place I've been wanting to try.  I found it on the "Find Me Gluten Free" app.  I review LOTS of restaurants on this app, which is the reason I rarely do restaurant reviews on my blog anymore.

Anyway, we did not have a reservation but were easily seated outside on the patio near the parking lot. Buckhead is full of parking lots and garages, so not so shocking.  Anyway, the service was friendly and knowledgeable.  There was no gluten free menu, but the server and hostess (as well as the app) recommended the lasagne, and so my arm was twisted.  I had an aperitif of Moscow Mule (Oprah's favorite drink) made with ginger beer and vodka, obviously of the gluten free varieties, and served in a chilled copper mug.  The drink had a slush inside and was not full very full for $10, in my opinion, but it was good.  The best one I ever had was in a posh sports bar in Chicago, but alas, Oprah probably goes there.
Moscow Mule in chilled copper mug just like Oprah makes.

The lasagne was tasty.  The sauce was very tomato-y and I could taste a meaty, bolognese flavor.  The cheese noodles, however, were the texture of tofu.  All in all, it was good and I'll go back again.  I forgot to bring along a piece of bread (Against the Grain baguette, anyone?), but next time I shall.

Afterwards, I wanted to hop over to Lenox Square Mall to test out the real French Macarons at Macaron Queen (a chain?) in a kiosk there.  It seemed a bit disorganized, with an abundance of flavors randomly mixed in bags of 3, 5, and 8.  I bought a bag of 8 but had no idea which 8 flavors would be in there.  After taking a bite of each one (classy, I know), there was a red one with a white and red cherry filling, a mango or fruity something that had a swirl of red on the orange color, a brown sugar or burnt caramel flavor, a white super-sweet one, a pink, and a yellow lemony one and...
My 3 faves were:  a green one (pistachio?) with lemon filling, a red one with white filling (red velvet?), and a beige one (caramel?) with crystal sugar sprinkles on top.
The most exquisite French Macaron I've ever was at Epcot's French Cafe in  Disney.

Did you know real French macarons are made with almond flour (not wheat flour) so they are naturally gluten free as long as nobody cross-contaminates them?  Same with real chocolate mousse, creme brulee, real hot water corn bread, etc.  Like many French confections, they are difficult to make.  I've tried.  The pastry chef on YouTube said it took her a few tries to get macarons right.  The trick is to get the "feet" on the bottom (it looks like dried foam) and have them be slightly puffy and crisp on the outside and soft on the inside with a small amount of cream in between, Oreo style.  The Macaron Queens passed the test.  However, my all-time favorite French Macaron is from Epcot at Disney.  Ahhh-mazing!  Exquisite!

Gettin my Dance On at the Black n White Birthday party for Niese! I was the only one in solid white, Go On wiff my badd self!

Friday {Re}flection

Linking up with UK Kate today to share the past week's happenings.

Black & White Dress code birthday party was fun!  The guest of honor did a great job of looking surprised, although she admitted that she had an inkling about it.  She and her husband sat at thrones!  I danced a bunch, but my Marine was too busy conversing to dance.
    Awkward moment:  They had a photo area with a professional photographer capturing a photo of each group of guests (you buy the pictures after the party).  Being that it was almost all African Americans at the party (there was one Asian couple and us), the photogs must have had the lighting set in such a way that it ....didn't quite work out for us.  It was AWKWARD when they, cringing of embarrassment, showed us our pic and we appeared...well appeared is a strong word.  You could barely see us.  I believe they call it 'over-exposed'.  Heck, we looked like spirits.  Now that I can laugh about it, I kind of wish we'd have bought it before the swiped it away and made us take a new pic with adjusted lighting (at this time many guests were leaving and I think they may have presumed we were being finicky and forcing a re-shoot.
**gluten free note- the dinner was a buffet where I wisely chose to eat baked chicken, salad (no croutons) (Kraft dressing bottles were there so I could read label!), and fruit.  I googled Ciroc Red and found it was gluten free to drink.
Our Cat, Dahlia, with her stitches, as a result of Mr.Mittens attacking her on our porch.
Our cats enjoying the backyard, healthy cats.

Stitches.  They had to shave away her brilliant, shiny fur.  (The cats are brother and sister, half Russian Blue, which are known for their beautiful silky fur.  Hers is amazingly silky, a trait of RB fur, while his is the gorgeous blue coloring.

KITTY DRAMA:  Mr. Mittens (scroll to bottom for pic) is an orange tabby cat with white feet (hence the mittens moniker) belonging to the neighbors behind us.  He is talented, as in the way he jogs behind his owners on their morning walks, but infamous in our neighborhood for terrorizing other cats and dogs.  Our cats usually hiss him away, but Saturday, he ambushed Dahlia (we had just let her outside on our patio and seconds later heard screeching, only to look out and see Mr.Mittens fighting something, which turned out to be her, underneath him).  We chased him away, but she had to get stitches.  When the Marine found out his "baby girl" had to wear a kitty cone around her head, he was beside himself.  It was quite sad to see her banging around the hallway with it, trying to bang it off.  She did leverage it off once, but has since resigned herself to it.  A pristinely groomed cat, she is having a tough time not being able to lick her fur into it's normally ebony sleekness.  She is healing ok and we expect to take the cone off in 2 weeks.

Looking for hidden eggs
Eggs dyed with blueberries

Easter Loot

Sunday:  EASTER:  We enjoyed the sunny day in our big Georgia yard with our cats helping us hide and search for Easter eggs we hide from each other.  I dyed the eggs by placing frozen blueberries (I have on hand from making smoothies) and vinegar in the water while the eggs boil.  They looked cute!

Monday:  SPONTANEOUS BALLGAME:  I saw Chipper Jones (legendary Atlanta Braves retired baseball player) post on twitter that he was going to the game.  It was a gorgeous evening, partly sunny 70 degrees.  The game was to start at 7PM.  At  6:06 PM I texted my Marine (who usually works til 8PM or later) if we could go, figuring it would not happen.  Well, he said yes!  We arrived at the ballpark, got tickets at a deal ($17 for 2nd level), and were walking in at 6:50 PM.  I ate at the GLUTEN FREE CONCESSION STAND, which is still in section 112.  Each year the offerings are different and this year I had a Turkey Club sandwich (tasty and good texture, soft bread), a hot dog (yummy dog, poor dry bun), and a brownie (interesting texture, chalky outside, soft middle, good cocoa flavor, but not fudgy).   The game was tied and The Braves won in the 10th inning with a homerun!  I also learned Turner Field is nicknamed "The Ted".

Gluten Free Turkey Club Sandwich at Turner Field

TUESDAY:  I didn't feel well from eating the gluten free food at the ballgame last night.  But, I still did 50 minutes on the elliptical machine at the gym.
gluten free seared,baked chicken with salad and spaghetti squash (with olive oil, spices, parmesan)

WEDNESDAY:  WINNER, WINNER, CHICKEN DINNER    I exhausted myself during a 3.6 mile run in my neighborhood.  There is a big uphill at the end.  My boyfriend happened to be driving home and saw me running, lol.  So, he made dinner (we usually work together to make dinner, but he made it ALL and cleaned, of course).  He seared gluten free chicken thighs in a pan and then baked them with spaghetti squash and salad.  The chicken skin was SO crispy and delicious, he made it again on Thursday.  Funny, because we don't eat fried chicken, mainly skinless chicken.  Chicken is not my favorite.  I'm a seafood girl.  But this was FAB.
The Assailant:  Mr. Mittens

THURSDAY:  POOL DAY  I exercised in the water (G.I. Jane crawls, ouch!) at the outdoor pool on this 82 degree sunny day, and who comes over to me?  The neighbor (owner of Mr. Mittens who injured my cat).  She said she owes me a check, and proceeded to needle me about when I'm moving (everyone ALWAYS asks us that, since we're a military family, the same people here in Georgia have been asking since we got here 3 years ago, they ask every time we see them) and how long I've belonged to this gym (well, she did say it as if it's HER gym and how did I get in).
I had emailed her when our kitty went to the vet and she offered to pay half of the $315 bill, which was fine, even though I told her at least 2 more vet appts were required (follow- up and stitches removal).  However, she still hasn't paid.  This is the same woman who loudly (so everyone at neighborhood gatherings can hear her hospitality) says she's going to invite us to dinner next week EVERY TIME we've seen her for the last 3 years, yet she never has ACTUALLY invited us.  It's not our dream to go to her McMansion for a meal (anyone who is gluten free knows the fright incurred by a dinner invitation), but we feel awkward and annoyed like she's looking for appreciation for a fruitless, feckless even(?) offer.

FRIDAY:  We plan on a simple dinner at home followed by planning our European vacation.  This weekend I plan to attend the annual neighborhood ladies' brunch.  Anything else will be spontaneous.  It's supposed to be gorgeous, summery weather.

Enjoy your weekend! ”Daily

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Real Military Housewives of Blogland

Mal Smiles

Cheers to linking up with The Real Military Wives of Blogland hosted by Mal and Samantha today!   I'm so pumped to support them in their mission to dispel the stereotype of what a military spouse is by enlightening people with our actuality with an introduction, a blurb of our military journey, and one thing we'd like people to know about military life.

Raised in the Chicago area, below the poverty line by a divorced mother of 3 (she was 18 at my birth), I am the first person in my family to graduate from college (Bradley University, Go Braves!).  (My grandparents only attended school until 8th grade, but my parents finished high school.)  I was the only girl in my neighborhood not to become a teen mom, and was looked down upon by the other teenagers for not having my own baby, smoking, or skipping school!  

My mom always believed in me and told everyone I'd grow up to be a stock broker!  She and I always knew I was focused on obtaining a great education, helping disadvantaged kids, and moving far away.  At age 21, with a B.A. in my pocket, California recruited me to teach there.  I had a long, successful career teaching at-risk kids for 13 years.  I bought my own home at age 24, made a killing selling it, then waited until the market became more affordable to buy an "average, not fancy" home in my dream neighborhood.  Which, of course, is when I met my marine and, a year later, chose to rent my house out and join him on his military adventure.
Yes, I went into the bedrooms of convicted felons (yes, murders, too) to check for contraband.  Yes, I carried a firearm, handcuffs, and taser, among other tactical items.  Yes, I wore body armor.  Yes, I served warrants at 2AM and arrested people.  

Something I recommend for every military spouse/sig other:  In Georgia, I chose not to teach.  I have another degree, in Sociology, that I chose to use to become a Georgia State Parole Officer.  Yes, it was a 2 month hiring process of a criminal justice test, background checks, and a polygraph, but the part I recommend is that I went away for 9 WEEKS to the GA State Public Safety Training Center and my Marine had to MISS me, hold down the fort without me, etc., and worry about me (ie. during firearms training).  Our relationship has never been better!  I've felt a new sense of appreciation from him ever since, even 2 years later!      P.S. I knew it was wearing on him when the Sergeant Major texted me and asked when I was coming back, lol!  Guess he was a bit grumpy.

Click here for more general stuff about me.

(click here for FAQs)
After a year of dating during which we lived over an hour's drive apart (squeezing in dating around his training NATO troops in Europe), I did a trial move (I was not accustomed to living with boyfriends) with my grunt (affectionate term for infantry) to the East Coast while he was at Command & Staff College at Marine Corps University.  He had been under the impression he would be stationed in California for 2 more years, so he was nervous to tell me about unexpectedly being chosen for school across the country.  My stoic, positive, and sometimes excited reaction to his relocation bombshells is one of the things he says "sealed the deal" for him.  He had much more dramatic women in the past to the point where he dreaded sharing his news.

Since 29 Palms (Southern California desert) and Quantico (we lived in the historic and coveted "Old Town" Alexandria, VA), we have been living in Atlanta for the notoriously stressful aka "36 one-month deployments" aka "2/3 of marriages don't make it through these 3 years" that is Marine Corps recruiting duty.  This summer will be our 4th move in 6 years, to Camp Pendleton (San Diego, Southern California coast).

One thing people may not know is that some military jobs come with ACTUAL roles and responsibilities FOR the Marine's significant other!!  BELIEVE ME, I didn't realize it until we came to independent duty in Atlanta.  It was trial by FIRE!
The handbook I was given when reporting in as the CO's  "spouse".  Link below.

My significant other is the Commander of Recruiting Station Atlanta (15 stations and 105 marines that recruit the area covering a large part of the state).  The buck stops with him.  His boss, The Colonel, is in another state.  There is no Marine Base in Georgia.  He is the one who represents the Marine Corps by giving LOTS of speeches and attending many events.  He works 70+ hours a week and for those of you who are military you will understand what I mean when I say there are days that he is literally buried under a mountain of fit reps he must defeat.

Upon our arrival, there was a change-of-command ceremony in a giant park in front of City Hall where 105 Marines were standing in formation and the previous commander handed the flag (guidon) to my Marine, the new commander. The Colonel had flown in to give a speech, during which he welcomed me by name, and the outgoing CO's wife and I were given flowers for our service.  My Marine and I made a list of what our goals were for helping and supporting the military families of the 15 recruiting substations spread out all over.  
The Sergeant Major (a female!), Master Gunnery Sergeant, and their spouses and I became close.  The Sergeant Major asked me to go with her to do a home visit for a struggling recruiter's spouse.  I became part of the bimonthly PAR training and welcome committee for incoming spouses.  A few weeks later, the district FRO flew in and handed me this book, Parade Rest:  Protocol and Social Customs for Marine Officers and Spouses.  He gave a training to the FRAs and there was an entire PAGE in his slideshow presentation about ME.  The senior enlisted spouse also has a page.  There were several bullet points listing my responsibilities in areas such as fostering community and advocating.

 From creating a private facebook group to donating a mattress/furniture to giving a speech at the annual picnic, there are many tasks I have completed in an attempt to fulfill my role.  It would take a couple pages to list them all.  I was further shocked when we attended an event for the Montford Point Marines and The Commandant of the Marine Corps was present (with his wife, who also has many roles as illustrated on her fb page).  I worked full time and arranged my hours to attend events to support the command.  There is even a part of the station evaluation with a box to check as to whether the CO's spouse has undergone specific trainings.

I'm just me.  Being in a 5 year relationship without being truly "married" is a shock to some people in the military community and otherwise.  However, times are progressing and I've met Generals in the same position of enjoying a committed relationship without marriage, while their significant others are respected as such.  Some people cannot help themselves from implying that we should tie the knot, which I do consider rude, however.  Don't even get me started on the children thing.  We are happy DINKS!  Just like the Real Housewives on tv, not all military 'housewives' are married, have kids, have jobs, etc.  Diversity is something to be celebrated!

I'm still not used to it when people seem nervous to speak to me because I'm attached to their husband or wife's boss.  It's startles me when I realize that I'm 'under the microscope', such as when I stand up and turn to face the back of the room (because I've memorized the order of the annual USMC Birthday Ball Ceremony) for the arrival of the cake, and A BALLROOM FULL OF GUESTS take it as a cue to all turn around right after I do.  Once, some young wives/girlfriends scurried over to me at a ball and complimented me on my shoes.  I said, "You can't see my shoes."  They replied, "Oh, we saw when you crossed your legs at the head table."  And then there was the time where a wife was miffed at me that she and her hubs weren't seated with us at the head table.  And I was like, do people think I do the seating, or any of the planning for this ball every year?  I don't.  I do, however, answer to Mrs.  It's just easier.

So, while I'm sure many spouses out there have gone above and beyond what I'm doing, I just wanted to share my experience.  In some ways, we look forward to blending in and not being the Commander at his next duty as an XO.  But as an eternal optimist, I must reflect on this unique experience and admit the upsides.  It has been fun meeting the military husbands and wives, it's been awe-inspiring meeting so many retired and active Generals and their girlfriends/wives (the female General I met is unattached), it's been an honor to attend funerals of the fallen, it's been exciting to see young people sign up for their dream careers and come back from boot camp a new person, it's been meaningful to see my love give rousing speeches, and it's been humbling to see the sacrifice of time and unyielding effort given by these Marine families (many of whom did not choose to partake in 3 years of recruiting duty, especially when this 'sales' job has nothing to do with the Marines' real careers that often involve tanks or helicopters, for example) to make the mission and help these high school young adults achieve the title of United States Marine.

*there is an enlisted wives handbook called Roses and Thorns
*No, we did not choose nor want recruiting duty 

Friday, April 18, 2014

23 Easy Gluten Free Easter Foods to Make, Thaw, Bake, or Buy

    4 ingredient, naturally gluten free Easter egg nests from Allrecipes.  Photo from SarahisWright
Having 9 years of Gluten Free EASTER experience, let me brainstorm a list of gluten free Easter foods you can make so you can indulge and enjoy just as much or more than the gluten eaters out there:
Sit egg vertically to cut lid off zig zag style.  Chill filling before stuffing egg whites.Use chunks of black olive for eyes, carrot for nose.

  • Make your own "cadbury" eggs with recipe here.  Get Lyle's syrup at CostPlus World Market or substitute with white corn syrup 
  • Gluten Free cupcakes see photo here.  Also decorate with pastel icing or get creative with piping bags.  I use Betty Crocker gluten free cake mixes.
  • Deviled Egg Chicks (see photo above).  If you chill the filling, you can skip using a piping bag to stuff the egg whites.  I like to use an apple corer or small knife to make a zig zag shape on the egg whites to make it look more like a broken eggshell.  Add horseradish or apple cider vinegar to filling for a kick of flavor.  *beware of the mayonnaise!  The container of mayo must be gluten free/new and not shared by knives that have been used on gluten-containing bread or other products.  No crumb contamination! 
  • Candy:  Peeps, most Cadbury candy, M&Ms, jelly beans, etc.  Beware of certain chocolates (like Lindt) that contain gluten.  There are many searchable web lists.
  • Chilled Baby Shrimp pasta salad.  Just substitute gluten free pasta like tinkyada or DeBoles. 
  •  Shrimp and Cocktail Sauce
  • Blue Almond crackers with cheese (I like Brie)
  • Crudite (veggie plate).  My mom got me a gluten free spice mix at a festival that you mix with yogurt to make a dip.  You could make dill dip with gluten free ingredients. 
  •  Oven-baked Cinnamon tortilla chips with fruit salsa.  Use Rudi's gluten free tortillas or corn tortillas that are gf.  5 Star-rated recipe here  See the tropical avocado salsa I made here
  •  Egg nests (4 ingredients, naturally gluten free, use Cadbury eggs to fill)
  • Egg in the nest (fried egg in bread hole) (using gluten free sandwich bread)
  • Mini tea sandwiches.  Use gf bread, cut with metal cookie cutter for cute shapes.  Use Hormel gluten free ham with no nitrates or Hormel turkey or Boar's Head meats and cheeses or gluten free tuna (no broths in can). I use the gold can of Bumble Bee tuna with all white tuna in water.
I MADE THIS!  For $12 I bought the watering can (Michael's craft store) and fruit and one large metal sturdy flower-shaped cookie cutter (Michael's) and I used lettuce and ribbon to garnish/decorate.  Partygoers thought I bought it for $40-$60!

Gluten free frozen French Macaron mini cookies (chocolate & vanilla) from Trader Joe's.  Thaw 30 min on counter.

Soft gluten free pretzels.  Microve a few seconds.

I love this XO Double Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe.

  •  Chex mix (use gluten free ingredients)
  • Rice Krispies bars (use gf cereal like Cocoa Pebbles, Strawberry Chex, etc.) 
  •  Trader Joe's has gluten free frozen French Macarons (pic above) that I judge gluten free.  They are adorable pastel tasty bundles.  They are very difficult to make from scratch.
  • Chocolate Mousse is naturally gluten free when made the traditional way
  • Merengue Cookies (my mother calls it divinity).  It's mostly egg whites and sugar.  
  •  Wrap chunks of gluten free  (dairy free) goat cheese or pineapple in prociutto and secure with toothpicks for their own handles.
  • peanut butter blosssom cookies- just substitute for gluten free flour blend

  •  Betty Crocker gluten free sugar cookies mix (I haven't tried this yet)
  •  fruit kabobs or fruit "flower" arrangement.  I made mine from youtube video (see pic above)
  •  Gluten free XO double chocolate chip cookies (pic of box above) I made these and they are my new favorites!  Soft, chewy texture, not crumbly at all & yum
  • Whole Foods carries the microwaveable SOFT gluten free pretzels (pic above) that I dip in honey or frosting
  • Gluten Free ice cream cones filled with...cupcake batter & baked or just gelato, fro yo or ice cream 
  •  Chocolate-dipped fruit
*DRINKS-  I love to MUDDLE (mash up fruit, bonus if you use a mortar & pestle) drinks.  I web search for knockoff recipes of alcoholic or virgin versions of the muddled limeades, lemonades, and other spritzy springy drinks at Ruby Tuesday's and P.F. Chang's!  Think Watermelon Lime, or lemon with basil, mango lemonade, raspberry lime, pineapple cherry.

*ALSO try Gluten Free versions of other traditional Easter dishes at Linda's blog.

I'm on TV! And the rest of my week

Chinese jasmine
So, last weekend was The Dogwood FESTIVAL at the HUGE and awesome Piedmont Park in Midtown Atlanta.   My Marine especially loves this park, so when we got here he began holding giant FIELD MEETS where the kids/high schoolers/poolees who are waiting to go to boot camp from all over Georgia are bused in to partake in a fun fitness competition amongst the various cities/recruiting stations.  The prize is a trophy of sorts and bragging rights.  

Some parents and significant others attend to watch these kids work together to CARRY LOGS above their heads, do a formation run (and sing cadence aka military marching chants), and all kinds of calisthenics.  They even get to eat MRE's (the meal ready-to-eat that real Marines eat on deployment).  The finale is a big tug-of-war and all the recruiters and my significant other leave there hoarse from shouting so much encouragement.  It's a big feeling of "esprit de corps" and since there are so many passers-by, it's fun to see all the attention the event draws.  After parking, I can hear them long before I see them!

On recruiting duty, the active-duty recruiting families are spread out and don't see one another much, so it's nice that we communicate through our closed facebook page and some of us were able to attend this event and socialize.  

Last time I joined in by jogging behind the formation, but this time I had to be dressed up since my art class was later in the day.  I wish I had pics of the side French braid I did and the dress that garnered so many compliments that day.  My mom (super shopper) had flagged the dress for my Florida visit and I approved and bought it there.  It's coral with a boatneck, giant white polka dots, and a "mullet" hemline (high in front and low in back).  It's quite unique from a handmade fleamarket place, it flows and had a transparent yellow panel in the back.  Strangers kept complimenting me as I walked through the park.

A gluten free note- as soon as I walked into the festival, I was pleased to see a LARA bar booth offering gluten free samples of nut bars and the like.  Fun!
car covered in pollen.  photo from

POLLEN-  the pollen here in Georgia is a major spring phenomena.  I have never seen anything like it. A yellow blanket covers cars, sidewalks, pets, everything.  The pollen count spiked over 4000 lately and there are big greenish yellow clouds of it floating around.  At the Dogwood festival, I saw people wearing white surgical masks, and I knew exactly why.  It reminded me of once when the fire season was so bad in Southern California, that ash was falling from the brown sky, a burning smell filled the air (even though we were far from the fires), and they handed out masks at my work.  

The pollen was so bad that my boyfriend was sneezing and suffering from post-nasal drip for the first time ever!  So we stayed inside the mall to shop after a lovely brunch (The Cheesecake Factory kale and quinoa salad! gluten free goodness!).  We only SHOP once per season, but when we do, we go big.  The boyfriend found 7 pair of shorts at Macy's.  He has the perfect body, so everything fits like it was sewn for him, but being a redhead/ginger means that many colors wash out his complexion.  We enjoy trying things on and giving each other the yay or nay.  We appreciate each other's honest opinion.  I took part as well, finding many dresses at Dillard's, and a couple my boyfriend liked at New York & Co. where I haven't shopped in years.  I also bought Easter clothes to add to the books I'm sending my 1 year old niece at Baby Gap.  
Two dresses, two skirts and a top.  Watercolor print, sheer polka dot (center blouse), and pleated skirt a la Taylor Swift.

Maxi dress (flourescent), lace backed hippie top, and flowery print dress with boat neck and 3 layers of ruffles on each 3/4 length sleeve.  It looks very "Duchess Kate" to me.  I have avoided flowers since high school, so it's new for me.

Yellow polka dot denim shorts, ruffly top, jean jacket, canvas khaki shoes, etc.  for my baby niece.
Monday, I went to my boyfriend's office (recruiting headquarters) to WELCOME the incoming WIVES.  Every other month, a handful of new families are stationed here for the strenuous and infamous recruiting duty.  It's nothing like living on a military base (which many have gotten used to over many years), the recruiters work 70+ hour weeks, and the families can feel isolated.  There is a slide on the powerpoint presentation for "family readiness" that lists my duties as a "commander's significant other".  There is also a handbook for Officers' other halves.   The welcoming is one way I choose to fulfill that role.  
These USMC families have just undergone a stressful move, have heard nightmare stories about the work stress  on this duty and the high divorce rate during it.  Experienced military wives as well as newbies have a very full 'cup'.  They need to talk and destress about their pcs (move) and adjusting to their new surroundings before they can take anything else in.  Once they feel heard, and emptied their cup a bit, then there is room in their cup to fill it with info on what to expect and how to utilize resources and support on such a difficult independent duty.   Luckily, all of these families happened to choose Georgia because they have family here and they got their choice!

Tuesday, I did chores and 60 minutes on the elliptical trainer at the gym.  Still working out 4-5x per week, in an attempt to look great in a bikini this summer.

Wednesday, I joined the hiking group for a 5 mile hike at Sweetwater Creek.  There is an old Grist mill there and some of the trails go along the river.  It was impressive that a new mom joined us this week, carrying her infant in a front baby carrier for five miles.
This is from another day last year at Sweetwater Creek.  That's the mill ruins.
Wednesday's hike.  Sunny, breezy, great hike!
Also, Wednesday, I got an email notifying me that I am in the running to work as an "extra" (in the background) on a hiking movie being filmed on the Appalachian Trail in Georgia.  Mostly I do these gigs for fun, but this is one I was really excited about, so I'm hoping it all works out!
Where's Waldo?  Vampire Diaries- I made the cut!

Thursday, the first episode I was in of Vampire Diaries aired.  Here I am as a "traveler" with special powers (kind of like a bodysnatcher).  It's cool that I made the cut and am somewhat visible!  

Friday, today it's rainy and my boyfriend has to work late as the guest of honor at a local high school "mess night"  (high school rapport is very important in recruiting).  Here is more info on "dining in" or "mess night" as a Marine Corps tradition.   Realizing he was going to be out late, he called and surprised me with a lunch date invitation.  He is really doing so much better with time management and showing me that our relationship is a priority rather than just lip service.
Lilly Pulitzer dress similiar to mine.  photo from ebay

Tomorrow we have a birthday party to attend where the dress attire is Black and White semi-formal.  It's my first party where the guests have a color requirement.  I'm wearing a hand-me-down white Lilly Pullitzer dress my mom gave me from when she worked at the mall and got great deals.  I'm hoping my tan isn't fading after the rainy days.  I plan to wear it with gold shoes to dress it up.

Easter- being a military family. we are far from family during many holidays.  Our Easter tradition has pretty much been to color eggs, hide them from each other, and then have a picnic.  We have a huge yard here with lots of plants and hiding places.  Last year my Marine never found some and I'd forgotten which hiding spots were still unfound.  Glad it didn't happen indoors (stinky eggs in a few days)!

Hoppy Easter, everybunny!

Daily Diaries with Diaries of an Essex Girl

Friday, April 11, 2014

Another Week in Georgia Gone By...

Daily Diaries with Diaries of an Essex Girl
The big bass I caught.  Boyfriend battered and fried it gluten free. num num
It was a small showing for the drawing class I teach at Hobby Lobby but my Marine finally had a Saturday off so he took me to a late lunch at Uncle Maddio's where we both ordered personal custom gluten free pizzas.  Later we got fro-yo at  Yogli Mogli where they have the allergens listed right on the flavor signs (I like salted caramel, peanut butter and mint- I prefer the milk-based yogurts, but, like many celiacs, I do need to chew up a Lactaid tablet with my first bite) and well-contained toppings (gluten free include Butterfinger crumbles, M&Ms, whipped cream, sauces, and fruit).
Sunday, I caught a BIG FISH!
When you're with a military man, there are strict grooming standards by which he must abide.  This means he gets his hair cut (with a razor fade) every 6 or 7 days (thank goodness it's tax deductible).  Inevitably, his barber becomes a good buddy.  In our case, a fishing buddy.  We went fishing with the barber, aka "Uncle Steve" for the second time this weekend at Lake Lanier and it was chilly but fun.
The piranha electric fillet knife made easy work of the gutting.

Uncle Steve, a "good ol' Southern boy", and his buddy taught us how to "shoot" the rubber lure by pulling it toward our bellies (bending the pole dramatically toward us), and then letting go, like a SLINGSHOT so the bait would propel under the dock where the fish are gathered.  Uncle Steve is pretty serious about fishing.  The boat has GPS to locate schools of fish!
We each caught four smallish crappie and I got the big bass, over a foot long, 2.5 lbs.  Last time the barber and I caught several fish, while the Marine only got one.  Uncle Steve filleted the fish quickly with his new electric knife called the piranha.  I know bass aren't known for "good eatin'", but since Mama caught the biggest fish, it was up to Daddy to fry it up in the pan!   My bf was intimidated by the task at first, but he found a simple recipe on Allrecipes and battered all the fish in a mix of Pamela's Gluten Free Baking Mix , spices, and corn meal.  We rarely eat fried food, so it was extra tasty.  The bass was the most substantial and not a fishy flavor, beating out the crappie that had too many bones for the speedy eating boyfriend.
I'm wearing the Norwegian flag headband.  My Marine ordered it- the same one  Norwegians wore in the Winter Olympic Games.

Mandag (Monday):  I am learning more conversational sentences with my Norwegian instructor.  I can do future words and am using to practice adding vocabulary.  Flott (wonderful)!
Did you know only Danish and Norwegian use the ø?  It sounds like "eu".  So the word bjørn (bear, the animal) sounds like be-yeurn' or be-yearn'.

Tirsdag:  After a couple weeks of putting it off, I got my Marine to do some planning (reserving the movers, choosing dates) for the pcs move to California.  This used to be achieved via an office appointment at a nearby military base.  It's our first time using the website and we did not have the very first item required on the form (ugh!), but worked through the rest of it.  After I lost patience about him not knowing anything about the mystery number, I politely emailed the Sergeant Major.  The next morning, voila!
It can be embarrassing for the Marine when a significant other emails the Sergeant Major, and he was not enthused about it.  But after waiting weeks for my Marine to find time to begin this process, I needed to make progress.  The email worked and afterwards the boyfriend said it did not actually bother him because the number was not on any paperwork he had been given, so he was not at fault.
Tasty, light textured carrot cake gluten free cupcake at Cupcakelicious in Woodstock, GA.

Onsdag:  Fourteen members of the HIKING group met at the Old Rope Park in Woodstock, GA,  and hiked 3.5 miles (in under 2 hours) and then went to lunch.  It was a lovely, breezy day and the company and conversation was fun.
The lunch was at J. Alexanders (a breakfast & lunch place) that has several locations around here.  I have never been there before, and there was no GLUTEN FREE menu.  Online gluten free searching did not help, so I ordered grits, bacon (after the waitress assuring me they don't soak it on bread to drain the grease), and fruit.  Afterward, I hopped across the street in the quaint dining district to Cupcakelicious and was lucky enough to find a carrot cake gluten free cupcake.  It was light in texture and flavor, although a bit heavy on frosting, a lovely snack.  The friendly,chatty guy at the counter explained they have one different gluten free flavor each day.
Tersdag (Literally Thor's Day.  I had a grandfather named Thor.  I'm SO Norwegian!!):
I was disappointed to discover I had overlooked an email delivered Sunday asking me to work as an "extra" on a VINCE VAUGHN MOVIE being shot here in Georgia.  They needed me Thursday and Friday, so it was too late at this point.  I guess my email inbox was too clogged and I hadn't seen it.  Not meant to be, but a note to self to clean the emails out better so the good ones are more visible.  I can sort it on my laptop, but not as easy to sort on the phone.

At the gym (I've been going 4 to 5 times per week, yay!), there was an obnoxious-sounding sub teacher for my "Flirty Girl" fitness dance class so I joined the swim class instead.  It was such a sunny and lovely day, the class was in the outside POOL this time.  If you think water class is easy, I have two words for you:  Water. Resistance.  G.I. JANE is what they call the move that is like a belly crawl across the top of the water from one side to the other that I hope tones as much as it feels like it should.  My instant reward was to relax at the pool while getting bronzed (and absorbing Vitamin D, since I've moved here the Dr. said I'm deficient!).

Fredag:  My second attempt at the über-challenging "FITNESS QUEST" class.  This time I made it through, but felt dizzy and headachy from all the up, down:  overhead press squats, then down for mountainclimbers, etc.  Not sure how often I'll do that one.
I plan on advertising my art class more in hopes for a bigger showing tomorrow.   The Dogwood (beautiful trees) festival is this weekend as well as a big field meet with 500 poolees (future Marines), running and flipping tractor tires, etc.  I also plan on enjoying my latest gluten free find:  Blue Bell All Natural Fruit Bars 70 calories and bits of real fruit in there.  Super yummy.   I'll bid you adieu with a crafty creative Easter favorite of mine.  Deviled eggs that look like chicks emerging from eggshells.
Enjoy your weekend!

Here are the deviled eggs I made one Easter.  Some of the whites are jagged like shells.  It's easier (and turns out less messy-looking) when you have time to chill the mixture before stuffing the egg shells.

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