Monday, November 26, 2007

Daft Punk Video

On our myspace page, Tony and I have this Daft Punk song. My sister posted this video in a comment for me. I laughed so hard, these girls have way too much time on their hands...

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Addictions... new and old

Lately, I've got a few addictions... Thanks to my friend, D, who sells Close to my Heart scrapbooking & stamping stuff, I've gotten back into my old addiction to scrapbooking and... well, stamping! I've finally started Carlee's baby book, which has been a lot of fun. Also, through D I've met another lady who sells Stampin' Up! products, who also gives cardmaking workshops. I went to two of them so far and really enjoyed it. Here's some Christmas cards I made:

I made this next one last at one of the workshops, and I was rushed since D and I had to pick up the kids from the sitter's, so I forgot to stamp the leaf background onto the green part... :(

This one's my favorite... I love the colors!

I can't wait until my printer/scanner gets in the mail! Anyway, I kept adding my own little flare to all the cards and the envelopes. The hostess said, "I learn something from you guys every time we do this." And after seeing me stamp one of my cards, she told me, "You have got to join the stamp club!" It was nice to have a chance to be creative, and to hang out with girls who save every single little scrap piece of cardstock, too. :)

As for my new addiction.... thanks to the same friend, I'm now addicted to Desperate Housewives. When the show first came out, I think I saw maybe one episode and wasn't interested in it at all. A few weeks ago, I caught the last episode of season 3 at D's house, and asked if the whole show was that good. She assured me it was, so eventually last week I finally gave in and rented the first disc to the very first season. In one week, I'm almost done with the entire season, and can't wait to start season 2! I'm just hoping that the show does in fact stay this good.... I'm amazed at how complicated the characters are, I never realized how much depth this show had. Now I do, and I'm hooked. :)

Friday, November 23, 2007

A quiet house...

I sit watching the steam float above my hot cup of tea, waiting to be sipped. My thoughts are swirling around aimlessly, not wanting to settle. I figure I should just write them, and hopefully I'll be able to sleep.

Today marks the beginning of the Christmas season for many people. They put up their decorations, start their plans, begin shopping at 4:30 AM with a million other mad people (I could never understand that,) play Christmas music, and of course hang up the lights (or for the people who keep them up year round, simply plug them in.) Unfortunately, we had none of that today. I had hoped to set up the Christmas tree, and start on making my ornaments. I decided that I wanted to make salt dough ornaments this year, and have Carlee and I decorate them. But, Tony wasn't much in a holiday mood.

Last year, after Christmas flew by, I had made an entire list of family 'traditions' I had wanted to start. Carlee's getting old enough to understand the holiday, and it was really exciting. However, this past year has flown by, and December is rushing here way too fast. We have decided not to buy Carlee so much stuff, like we did last year. We went all out for some reason, got carried away in the Christmas shopping hoopla. She played with the toys for a bit of course, but not as much as we had imagined she would. So, this year I want to get her one main present, an easel/chalkboard combo, and I keep waiting for the NEX to get one in, but they still haven't. She's much more of a creative child anyhow; she loves to simply play and create with paints, colors, play dough, and play pretend.

This year, I am personally very excited because I think that we are going to be reflecting on the real meaning of Christmas much more this year than we ever have as a family. We're going to Rome for Christmas, and we've got tickets to go to Midnight Mass at the Vatican! A friend of mine asked me the other day, "Well are you going to take presents in your luggage?" I was so baffled. I couldn't imagine why I would do that, when this would be the best opportunity to let go of material things and to celebrate Christmas with Jesus and God as the main purpose, instead of what's inside the pretty wrapped boxes.

Now, my husband is not Catholic, and not very religious at all in fact, but I'm so grateful that he agreed to this trip and is being very positive about it. I feel that for me, this is going to be something I will never forget.

Religion is such a complex issue for me. I was raised Catholic, which I still consider myself, although I honestly don't go to Church, my marriage is not recognized (therefore I cannot receive Communion,) and honestly there are things that I don't agree with that Catholicism includes. On the other hand, there are also many things that I do believe in, that Catholicism at best dismisses, and at worst condemns as sins. So, my faith has always been something I've struggled to label. Personally, I believe that God honors any way that people choose to worship him, although not many people share my acceptance of religions, which is really sad.

Anyway, back to the trip. I'm very excited about it, and I'm really looking forward to experiencing Christmas this way. And to visit a place with so much history is going to be simply amazing! I'm counting down the days!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! I'm blissfully happy with a full belly. We had such a great day today. We had a potluck Thanksgiving dinner with a bunch of our friends here. Almost everything was vegan friendly! Are my friends awesome or what!?! It does help that one other family is vegan also. :)

"I brought the green bean casseroooooole!" (I always think of that old commercial, where all the ladies show up at the door singing that, haha.) I also took an Apple Cherry Crisp from Everyday Vegan cookbook. And for Tony's and my "meat-y" portion of the meal, I made Tofu Cutlets. All of my dishes came out so tasty! The green beans especially. They were awesome, better than any regular green bean casserole I've ever had, and trust me, that's always been one of my favorites, and I know it wasn't just me because everyone was saying how good they were. The tofu came out nice too, I was pleasantly surprised with it. It went along with the meal perfectly. There was also vegan stuffing, a potato dish, a corn dish (my friend says it's Pennsylvania Dutch style,) it was pretty good, vegan gravy, pumpkin, a cranberry dish, and a ginger carrot cake. Everything was so delicious!

I was so grateful at the effort everyone put in to make the meal vegan friendly. I'm so thankful for a ton of stuff: my wonderful husband, one of a kind daughter, awesome family, great friends, my freedom, my health, all the once in a life time opportunities I get here, and so much more. I could go on, but that would be a very long post. And my full belly is making me sleepy. :)

At the Kids' Table:

Our Awesome Friends:

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Stress Induced Baking Produces Yummy Results

This morning we had delicious Pumpkin Muffins from the Vegan with a Vengeance! cookbook. These were the positive result of a stressful day yesterday and getting my first Christmas present in the mail.

First, yesterday was pretty stressful for me. One of the nursery workers who watches the kids for the main base's chapel's bible study group was sick, so a friend of mine had asked me if I wanted to come in on Tuesday to fill the lady's spot. "Sure," I said. I figured I wasn't doing anything else, and it would be nice to get out of the house for a bit. Monday night, I planned out all my other errands and wrote my grocery list so that I could get it all done in one trip.

I was put in the 2 and under room and worked until noon. It went pretty good. The kids were a little fussy and cried every now and then for their moms, but it was okay. Afterward, I had to mail a few boxes at the post office. Trying to carry two boxes (one quite heavy) from the car, through the parking lot, across the street to the post office proved to be a challenge since it was impossible to do this while holding Carlee's hand. At one point she took off through the parked cars, and believe you me, I was quite upset. After 4 times as long as it should have taken, I somehow managed to open the unusually heavy door and usher Carlee inside. "Stay next to Mommy," I told her, since the last time we were in here she managed to run behind the counter, grab the attention of a Chief in a back office, who (thankfully with a smile) came out and said, "Who's trying to mail this little girl?" I had been very embarrassed, but apparently it wasn't the first time it had happened. Of course, today, Carlee failed to listen to my demand, but the door to behind the counter was not open, thank goodness.

After mailing the boxes, we headed over to the Nex to pick up a mic for Tony (who has self admittedly fallen off the deep end in WOW as he and his friends now voice chat.) Then we made our way to the food court for lunch. Subway is pretty much our only option, other than a small pizzeria in which I can order a veggie pizza senzo formaggio, but I didn't feel like waiting for a pizza to bake. So I ordered my veggie sandwich and grabbed a bag of Frito's, which Carlee usually likes. She wouldn't eat. Not only would she not eat, she wanted to run around the food court, and not let me eat. I tried to make her sit down. She wouldn't listen. I tried to hold her in my lap, but she thrashed around making it near impossible for me to eat. But I kept pulling her back up obviously against her will, ignoring the stares I was more than likely getting. I just wanted to eat.

The next stop was the commissary in order to get a whole list of things that I can't get at our neighborhood's small commissary, things I needed for our Thanksgiving dishes. By this time I was so tired of Carlee's behavior that I just put her in the seat and buckled her up, ignoring the whines, the "pleases," and the countless "Mommy I'm stuck!s" This trip actually went faster than I expected.

After making our way to the car and turning it on, I noticed how very close to running out of gas the car was. Tony had said I would have enough to get to base and to gas up on the way home. It wasn't looking that way. I drove toward the smaller base where our mail box is, constantly watching the gas level the entire time. As I drove through the gates, the car was already driving funny, I knew I should just go get gas. So I turned around and drove toward the nearest gas station (which isn't all that near when you're almost out of gas.)

"How much?" the attendant asked. Even though he asked me in English, I answered in Italian: 35 liters, please. He nodded, and I think he was a little surprised I had even attempted the Italian number. After pumping the gas, he washed the windshield for me, and started saying something else to me, but I didn't understand. Maybe he thought I knew more, I just smiled. I handed over my gas coupons and said thanks. "Grazie," he answered, "ciao, ciao." I was so grateful I had made it to the gas station.

At this point, I had to decide whether to drive the rest of the way home (since I was half way there) or to turn around and go back to the small base to check my mail. I knew there were probably boxes in there, at least I had hoped, so I decided to check the mail. However, turning left at that particular gas station is a nightmare, you can't see the oncoming traffic coming around the curve at all, and pretty much have to hope for the best if you're going to turn left there. I decided not to chance it. I turned right and drove about 5 miles before I found somewhere safe to turn around.

I made it back to base eventually and found out that in fact I did have boxes, a lot of them. It took me two trips to get them in the car. Finally done with that, I could head home. In the end, I'm glad I decided to turn back for the mail, as on the way home, I passed a pretty bad wreck. Four or five cars were on either side of the road in awkward positions. I decided that my long delay in getting to that particular spot was a good thing after all.

I finally arrived home, got Carlee inside, unloaded all the groceries and the boxes, and I was exhausted. When Carlee acts up like that when it's just us, it's very energy draining. I put the groceries up, and opened the boxes. This is where my Christmas present comes in... I opened the biggest box from my grandparents and there sat the box for a KitchenAid Artisan mixer!!!!

I've wanted one of these for years!!! I've listened with envy as my friends talked about theirs, and how great they are. Now, I had one! I immediately tore open the box and placed it on the counter. I felt like a 16 year old kid who had just gotten her first car. I carefully wiped it down with a dishtowel, getting all my fingerprints off the shiny black body. I called my grandparents right away, to thank them of course, then I cleaned out the bowl really quick and decided to use it right then. Is baking a weird stress reliever? Not to me.

Knowing of course that a standalone mixer is just a thing (albeit a very nice and helpful thing to have,) I'm even more grateful for the love of cooking and baking that my Grandma and Mom somehow instilled in me. I can remember baking all the time with my Grandma. It was always so comforting to smell the yummy scents coming out of the kitchen. And cooking, well cooking I didn't get into until I got married, because to be honest, my Mom and Grandma always did the cooking up until the day I left. But as soon as I was in my own home (a handful of states away) I found myself wanting the exact mixture of flavors my Mom and Grandma always cooked up. So I had to learn. It took a lot of practice and many inedible dinners... especially learning to make my Mom's enchiladas...

But with that love for baking, this KitchenAid just makes it so much easier! I was so amazed at it, how fast it mixed the muffin mix, how the consistency was perfect, and how quiet it was! I was in love. And as the muffins baked, and the pumpkin aroma filled my kitchen, I was suddenly completely relaxed and in a mood 100 times better than before.

The rest of the night was nice, Carlee went through her bedtime routine perfectly (which is unusual on Tony's duty days,) and, needless to say, we ate the muffins for breakfast, and started today out on a tasty note!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Why yet another new blog?

I've been chuggin' away in the blogging world for only about 2 1/2 years. In that time, I've had more blogs than I can count on one hand. Why? Well, my first blog I started when I lived in Florida, and after I moved, I felt that I needed to start a new blog to better reflect the new phase of my life. I also had various blogs for hobbies and one for recording the highlights of my daughter's life, which I still keep up. The newest main blog was Color Me Italian, which I had started because we were moving to Sicily Italy. While I have lived here for a year and a half, I feel that my blog doesn't quite represent my life right now at all.

My original hopes of mingling with the Italians, learning their language and culture, and traveling all the time did not come true completely. Although, I have learned a lot from living here, and I've had the chance to travel quite a bit, I don't often get the chance to become completely immersed in the culture here. I've realized that living in "Little America" (military housing,) raising a toddler to become a socially acceptable (or at least decently behaving) person, on top of going to college online, on top of volunteering countless hours, on top of dealing with my anxiety that still pops up every once in a while, on top all the usual countless housewife jobs that are never ending.... there just isn't much time to accomplish what I had dreamed of doing here in Sicily.... and we're already half way done with our tour here. Awesome. I will still continue trying though, until the very day we leave.

With that being said, my life obviously doesn't revolve around immersing myself into the culture here, so I figured a new blog that better represented myself would be nice. So here it is. I also decided to start a new blog, because my old blog uses an old Gmail address, and it was frustrating to check my mail with the new Gmail account and have to keep logging out & back in to go back and forth from mail to blogger. I hope my few readers will follow me to my new blog! :) I promise this one will be the last blogger move!