Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Holiday Reflection..

Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday!  I can't help but be so grateful for my wonderful friends who have been there for me all these years.  They made this holiday one of the best ones to date.  I was surrounded by friends and family every day, so much there was no down time, no time to get sad, etc.  But mean old mister roller coaster of emotions came out at my birthday dinner.  Reared his old ugly head, and got me teary eyed for about 5 seconds.  Thank goodness it was just me and my guy..I love him dearly.  He offered to call my friends and cancel my birthday drink gathering, but I couldn't do that to them.  With all the memories of Christmas past, and old traditions fading, and starting new traditions, this holiday was one of the best.  And the all those thoughts came to me at dinner..and poof.  Tears.  Not sad tears, but tears of joy.   I have spent Christmas in many exotic places: Hawaii, Oman, San Diego, Japan, Seattle, just to name a few.  This was the first holiday since 2005 that I have spent in Chicago.  My mother passed away in 2006, so I didn't feel the need to stick around for holidays anymore.  I would travel where the Navy told me to, or where my oldest brother was living at the time.  He has kids, and well..who doesn't love to spoil little ones?!  This year I saw almost all of my friends in Chicago.  I got to see my siblings that live in the city, and spend the holiday with my guy and his family.  His family is so inviting, and they make me feel so comfortable and loved.  I loved seeing my friends...just sharing a cup of coffee at Starbucks, having breakfast, or even grabbing an Irish Cider at my favorite pub just made our visits so much fun.  For me, happiness isn't material, it is being healthy, being surrounded by people you love.  My guy thinks I am crazy, that I love the Christmas card he gave me more than the gift.  Ok..I love the gift, but a handwritten note is just the best to me. 

I can't wait until I get to celebrate more holidays like this.  I feel like 5 years later, I have finally found my niche.  I have grown a lot, emotionally and spiritually.  I am happier.  I have a puppy..and she has taught me a lot about life and love.  I have also made a lot of new friends, strengthened those relationships, and had some fade.  All these thoughts came to me after I had an amazing brunch with two of my friends.  We know that we love each other, and  no matter what, we will be honest with each other, and look out for each other.  I am quite lucky to have people like this in my life.

This past holiday season, I am grateful.  For so many things.  My job, health, family, friends, faith, love, and traditions.  I hope that no matter what happens the next couple of years, I can look back at how happy I was this week, and continue to live my life to the fullest. 

Christmas 2011

Until next time...

Friday, December 23, 2011

Inspiration for the Week..

I heard this story a few years ago, when a small town in Illinois reached out for a toddler with cancer.  The people in town did some amazing things, to give this little boy a Christmas.  They decorated their houses, in the fall, to ensure that Dax, who enjoyed those lights so much, could enjoy it.  Dax Locke passed away a few days after Christmas in 2009.  His parents are huge advocates for St. Judes hospital, and are currently raising money to run the hospital for one day.  It costs millions of dollars to keep that hospital running, and they do amazing work for little kids!

You can get to the webpage here, which also has previews for the movie made in Dax's memory. 
Here is the link to his momma's caringbridge site for him. Julie still updates it on her family, and more fundraising for St. Judes. 

This is one Christmas story I will never forget.  If you missed the movie on GMC, the DVD will be out next year.  I don't have cable, or a tv right now, so I am looking forward to seeing it. 

I sometimes get down at this time of the year, because of many reasons..reading a story like this makes me realize I need to appreciate what I have, love who I have in my life,  and continue to love and remember those I have lost. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Buying American Made..

I wrote this post last month...and I have stuck to most of my buying American practices this holiday season. 

I got my boyfriend an American made tie at a local clothing shop, along with some art work from ETSY.  I love the etsy shop I bought the print from..I bought a print for myself too!

I got one niece a handmade bag, and an art kit from a local shop in Newport. 

I got my infant niece made in the USA onsies, as well as handmade ABC blocks.

I also purchased a family game for my niece and nephew..Presidents of the United States.  I stuck with handmade, and educational gifts for the most part, and to be honest, it wasn't hard.  A lot of folks think it is difficult to by just have to look at a label and do research.  Seeing how awful unemployment is in Rhode Island, I couldn't think of going any other route. 

CNN just did an expose on this today, like it is a "new" idea.  I love the idea of supporting local shop owners, and trust me, they love the business.  I am residing in a resort town right now, and any business is great for these folks. 

Some of the Newport area shops that make "handmade" include: 

Alex and Ani, amazing jewelry and bangles
Style Newport, nautical jewelry.  The owner is amazing, and extremely helpful!
Only in Rhode Island.  Food, you name it from Rhode Island.  I sent a box of goodies to my family..ranging from chowder from the Black Pearl, to soy candles. 
Resails.  A store that uses old sails to make bags, etc. 
Scrimshanders.  Scrimshaw and other artisan finds. 
Art on the Wharf.  I got a few paintings here from the artist, Anthony Gill.  Amazing sea scapes..

I am hoping to add to this list soon.  I am drawing a blank on some of the stores, but just off the top of my head, this isn't too bad!  Do you have a favorite "buy American" store or gift?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

New England Christmas

I took Bella for a walk yesterday, and stumbled upon these beautiful homes.  I love how they decorate so minimally around here.  It is gorgeous.

Taken by Megan Gill. 

This is the Thurston House, built in 1800. 

Taken by Megan Gill

Taken by Megan Gill
Josiah and Stephen Southwick House
Famous Newport Boat Builders

I had the most incredible time walking around.  I only got a few shots because it was cold, and I had an unruly pup on a leash.  She was so eager to walk!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Gift of Life

Take a look at this wonderful short clip. Robyn was my boss while in college. Such a wonderful family, and an even better story.
Amazing how this came up on my facebook feed just after I called the DMV about renewing my license.  I have always been an organ donor, but if you aren't, this may change your mind!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Inspiration this Week..

Please take a look at this video.  One strong Sailor.  May she continue to have faith, and stay strong along her journey. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Operation Gratitude

I have spent a lot of time at the post office lately mailing out gifts to family.  I saw these marked boxes with "Operation Gratitude" written on them.  Operation Gratitude is a service that assists in sending care packages to service members overseas.  How awesome is that?  What a great way to support the troops. 

Operation Gratitude Home Page

The website also includes info for smaller donations, such as a letter to the troops.  Any teachers out there who want their students to write letters?  They have instructions on that, too! 

Such a great organization, especially right around the holidays.  Keep praying for our men and women overseas...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Weekend!

I am beyond excited it is the weekend.  After a long week with school, I am ready to decompress, study a bit (crazy I know?), hang with my pup, and watch some football.

Go Navy, Beat Army!

Here is a spirit spot to make you laugh.  I love how the mids  make these.  They get more creative every year. 

Saturday, December 3, 2011


Back in October I wrote this post about cooking more often at home, and trying new recipes each week.  I have done a pretty good job about it, but this week I have to say, I may have nada.  Been busy, but will catch up.  I tend to bake and cook up a storm if I get stressed out.  Win win for everyone, because my classmates get tasty muffins as a result.  If anyone has any recipes I should try, put a link in my comments.  I am always looking for new ideas!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Finding Inspiration.

This week has been pretty long.  Quiz, Test, Quiz, etc.  Just a lot of knowledge, to prepare us to fight out in the fleet once again.  I have been in class so many hours each day, trying to get it down. 

My class is tired, a bit demoralized, and ready for the holidays.  Today, after a trainer, a few of us walked through one of the hallways of our schoolhouse.  We found a Hall of Heroes.  It had the names of everyone in our line of work, Surface Warfare Officers, who were killed in the Pentagon on 9-11.  We walked to each picture, looked at their lives, read a book about what their mothers, wives, children, friends, and shipmates said about them.  As we looked at a poster that has the names of all of the Sailors killed in the Pentagon on 9-11, I told my friends the story about Bernard Brown.   We all looked at each other, said we should come down to this hallway more often, and then went back up to our classroom and studied.

I took a break tonight to relax, enjoy a nice dinner, and sit with my pup.  I then found a movie on NETFLIX that I have been meaning to watch, Restrepo. What a brilliant documentary.  If you ever get a chance, to just sit down and watch is an hour and a half you will enjoy.  Just seeing what this platoon did, went through, and still is going through, makes me realize why I am doing what I am doing.  I am studying to become a better leader.  I hope my classmates and I can continue to help each other, learn, and decompress with each other.  I know this time in school is definitely tough, but I am so lucky and appreciative of the friendships I am making.  Proud to be here, and proud to serve.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving Recap..

I had the best time for my holiday!  I got out of work early on Wednesday..which got me to the airport early.  Then, United bumped me up to a direct flight, and got me home 4 hours early!  My guy picked me up at the airport, and we had a chance to have a nice dinner, and go to bed to get ready for Thanksgiving!

We spent the day with his family and had a wonderful Polish/American meal.  I got to meet more of his extended family.  And here is where the funny story happens.  I say funny, because I can laugh at just about anything. 

We had just sat down at a table for 10, when we ordered a round of drinks at the restaurant.  The server set down my Miller Lite, and then she dropped the tray of the remaining 9 drinks on me and my guy.  I just cracked up.  He was a bit peeved, and I just laughed.  I think his family thought I was crazy until I told them about my oldest brothers wedding.  He got married on a lake, and we had the reception dinner at a lake front restaurant.  The waitress dumped a tray of 17 drinks on my sister in law (still in her wedding dress).  So lets just say I figured...a couple of Miller Lites on Thanksgiving is nothing compared to multiple Miller Lites, and 1 Pink Lady on your wedding day! 

We spent the rest of the weekend relaxing, watching movies, having a date night, meeting up with friends, family.  It was a whirlwind, and a great time.  I don't remember a time where I was not stressed, and just enjoyed being home.

I can't wait to go home for Christmas.  There is something about Chicago..well anytime, and especially at Christmastime.  Plus, I get to snuggle with my new niece again!

How was your holiday?!

Plenty to Be Thankful For..Reveal!

Today is the reveal for the Blog swap!  I was paired up with Faison!

She sent me the cutest box!  Full of goodies from Mississippi.  I have to say the floral kleenex came in handy for class. Allergies are awful!  Included was two awesome coffee mugs, bananagrams (will come in use for a study break tonight I am sure!), magazines, ice cubes, sticky notes, and kleenex.

So glad I met you!  Hope you enjoy your box from "Rhody!"

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Brunch Menu

When I hosted a brunch earlier this month, I used the following menu.  Recipes, etc included!

Delicious Breakfast Casserole
Potato Casserole
Sweet Fruit Pizzas
Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Mimosa Bar (different juices like OJ, Peach, etc)
Bloody Mary Bar (different olives, etc)

Plenty To Be Thankful For-Special People in My Life

This is a tough subject!  I have many special people in my life. 

First  I am the youngest of a clan..and I wouldn't trade my siblings for anything.  Even though some days I may want to.


Next up...Friends..I have so many cherished friends.  Whether I met them in grammar school, high school, college, or with the Navy..I am truly blessed to have them around!


 Shipmates.  Shipmate is a word of endearment (not a slam) for you Navy friends/family.  I love having my friends that I can call shipmate.  These are people I learn with/learn from, deploy with, and have special bonds with.  The friends I have deployed with, we have a bond that no one else has.  We know, no matter what, we have each others back.

Last, but not guy.  He is the greatest thing that has happened to me.  I am lucky to have him, especially sticking with me through the tough times.  I hope I get to spend the rest of my life with him!
**I love him so much, I sent him the card below last week..ah..true love**

via Paper Source Store

Thanks for stopping by!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Plenty To Be Thankful For-Thanksgiving Traditions

You can read about Thanksgiving traditions I have had in the past .here .   Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  It is truly about everyone, giving thanks, and spending time together.  I usually spend Thanksgiving with the Navy, but the past 3 years, I spent it with my family.  This year, I will spend it with my guy and his family.  I may visit my family, too..but I still have to figure that out!  I know next year I will be far far it makes this Thanksgiving that much more special! 

As kids, I would help my mom make her world famous stuffing, while dad cleaned the house, made the pies, and entertained grandma, and my aunts and uncles.  My brothers would come in the back door of the house, dragging mud everywhere from their annual "mud football" game at the park a few blocks away.  My sister usually had to work the night before, so we would have to drag her out of bed eventually to eat with us.  Football, amazing food (especially the German food from my Aunt), and family time.  After dinner, my brothers and sisters friends usually came over for a bit, and we would play board games before they went bar hopping.    

Now I just have to get through class on Wednesday, and get myself in gear for a flight back home!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Plenty to be Thankful for-My favorite Thanksgiving Recipe

Since I won't be cooking this year, I will have to put in what I made last year for Thanksgiving.  I made a recipe for dinner with my family.  It disappeared in minutes, maybe even seconds. I might make this just for fun this year, or get some ideas from you ladies!

You can find my stuffed mushrooms recipe here.  Or if you want more Thanksgiving party ideas, check out my post from "Friendsgiving" last year.  Awesome time!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sweet Fruit Pizzas

This is quite possibly the easiest brunch addition you can make, and one of the best! 

Sweet Fruit Pizzas
Level: Super Easy
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cool time: 30 minutes
Frost time: 10 minutes
Total time: 1 hour

Premade sugar cookies.  I used premade, presliced in the refrigerator section.  24 worked!
1 pkg cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
berries/fruit for topping.  I used blueberries

I baked the cookies per the package instructions, and set the frosting ingredients to the side.  I made the frosting once the cream cheese softened.  It may look like a LOT of sugar, but really, it isn't.  It needs a lot of sugar and vanilla to "lose" the cream cheese taste.  I mixed the frosting, and set aside.  After the cookies cooled, I frosted them and added a few blue berries to the top.  Voila, sweet fruit pizza!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Plenty to be Thankful for-21st Century!

Our country, and our world has come a long way in the past 11 years. 

I am thankful for Independence.  I am thrilled that we are a society that is starting to fight genocide, and other atrocities world wide.  I am glad that countries in Europe and Africa still fight to gain independence from oppressive regimes.

I am thankful for technology and medical advances.  I appreciate that so many of my friends are in professions that make this stuff happen! 

I am thankful that the US Navy has allowed women to serve on submarines.  Women have made advances since 1994, and are continuing to do so!

I am hopeful to an end to the Global War on Terror (GWOT).  I have been in the military for a while, and I have seen a great deal.  I have deployed to places I never thought I would go before 9/11.  I have seen countries, people, and cultures that have taught me many things.  I hope that more people in the 21st century become educated, and NOT always listen to the media.  I have deployed with the media 3 times, and I see what they write and give back to CNN, Fox News, etc.  It is usually 15% of the truth.  I hope that the 21st century does not repeat past history, and our society can move forward.

via US Navy

What are you thankful for in the 21st century?  Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Plenty to be Thankful for-The Blogoverse!

I am thankful for the Blogoverse because:

I get to meet awesome people like you every day!  I learn so much and find a new appreciation for people, places, things, and professions every day when I read what is out there.  It is amazing!

I love discovering new blogs each day, finding and trying recipes (I try to post one new recipe a week). 


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Plenty to be Thankful for-Hometown!

I love my hometown, sweet home Chicago.  I was born and raised on the South Side, Beverly to be exact.  I then had the opportunity to move back for the Navy for 3 years.  I opted to live in Lakeview, and I loved every minute of it.  I hope to move back after my commitment to the Navy. 

Why I love Chicago:

It is a city with rich history.  I love the fact that our city has survived a major fire, rebuilt, and has thrived.  Chicago is the home of the skyscraper, railroad hubs, etc.  Every time I talk about Chicago to people, I get so excited.  It is my kind of town. 

Michigan Ave Bridge
Chicago has some amazing architecture.  I worked as an apprentice architect at Gallery 37 for a few summers, creating many great pieces of art, sold in galleries.  This was one of the most rewarding and amazing summer jobs I could have ever had!

The food.  Oh my goodness.  The food.  Pizza, hot dogs, steak, Italian Beef, you name it, I can tell you "my fav" places to go.
Pizza: Lou Malnatis pizza, although Barracos has a special place in my heart.
Hot Dogs: Pops hot dogs and Hot Dougs...both are amazing.
Steak: Wildfire. 
Italian Beef : Als or at Pops, both are awesome!
Burger.  Everyone needs a Billy Goat experience.  Just once.

Ahhh..Billy Goat Burger+312=heaven.  And heartburn.

Da Bears.  Sports.  Chicago fans love their teams, whether they are good or not.  I will always be a Cubs fan.  Always.

At Wrigley before I re-enlisted one of my Sailors at home plate!

What is your hometown?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Potato Casserole

Here is another amazing brunch recipe.  The guys ate it up. Seriously.  I made two batches, and they were promptly eaten.  (I doubled this recipe, and made two separate trays (disposable 9x13 baking pans...  less dishes to do...yay!)

Potato Casserole
Level: Easy
Time: Prep 15 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Total time: 1 hour

Ingredients: 16 oz tater tots (frozen tater tots thawed)
 10 oz cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup bacon (bit)
2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (divided)
1 cup corn flakes (crushed)
1/2 cup melted butter
 2 tbsp onions (minced)
  1. Cut each tater tot in half.
  2. In large mixing bowl, combine tots, soup, onion, bacon, and 1 cup cheese.
  3. Mix well.
  4. Spread in a 9×13" baking pan.
  5. Cover with remaining cup cheese, then cornflakes, then pour butter evenly over all.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until bubbly.
This recipe was simply amazing.  Who doesn't love potatoes and bacon?  I used "real" bacon bits as opposed to the fake ones you put on salad.  I think it made a definite difference in the recipe.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Plenty to be Thankful for-Guilty Pleasures

This is going to be an awesome blog swap and challenge! 

I am thankful for so many things, especially my guilty pleasures!

I have to say that Meghan's idea of Chicago prints is up my alley.  I have an awesome Chicago print found at this store that I have framed along with my favorite shots of the city.  They are sitting in storage now:(

Wine.  Good wine.  Preferably in a bottle, but I don't discriminate against box wine either.

Coffee.  I don't know what I would do every morning with out my Keurig. 

Hot baths.  I love me a good soak in the tub especially after a long run, or a bad day at work. 

NCIS.  I love this show, but haven't watched tv in a month.  Yes..that is true, over a month!

What are some of your guilty pleasures?!?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans Day

Veterans Day is a day near to my heart.  A day I remember those who have gone before me, and who are still with me, serving every day.

My family is a large military family, and I am proud of that heritage.  I am proud to be in the Navy, and continue the mission for the Global Force for Good.  As cheesy as that sounds, people would be amazed if they heard the stories of what Sailors do each and every day.  Humanitarian missions, anti-piracy operations, you name it. 

How you can make a difference for a Vet

Wounded Warrior Project

Faces of our Fallen
This Veterans day, remember why you have a day off of work.  Remember who those men and women are who fight for freedom and democracy to reign in this great country of ours.  

Monday, November 7, 2011

Delicious Breakfast Casserole

I decided to host a brunch for one of my friend's birthdays this weekend.  I get a slew of new recipes together and went to town.  I am used to making breakfast for a crowd (with Chicago Cares), but not a brunch with..lets say..mimosas? 

I made this casserole, and loved it.  Here is my version below:

Level: Easy to Medium
Time: Prep 20 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
  • pound Italian sweet sausage, casings removed
  • 1/2 cup chopped shallots
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 5 large eggs
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 2 cups grated mozzarella cheese


Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Sauté sausage in medium nonstick skillet over medium heat until brown and cooked through, breaking up with back of fork into small pieces, about 10 minutes. Add shallots and garlic and sauté 3 minutes. Spread sausage mixture in prepared dish. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Whisk eggs, egg yolks, half and half, whipping cream, 1 1/2 cups cheese in large bowl to blend well. Pour egg mixture over sausage mixture in dish. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup cheese over. Bake until top of casserole is golden brown and knife inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

I omitted the sundried tomatoes and salt because (I had a sundried tomato accident in the kitchen..I bought the wrong ones!).  I omitted the salt bc I don't usually ever cook with salt, especially if other ingredients in the recipe have a high salt content.  It definitely did not need the salt with the sausage and the cheese.  Definitely amazing.  It does serve about 8-10 people, so this is a recipe for a crowd!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

What a Weekend!

I had an awesome weekend in Newport, RI.  It was a whirlwind, but in an awesome way!

  • Went shopping.  Desperately needed some new fall shirts for the wardrobe.  Got great deals at Banana Republic!
  • Walked around Thames
  • Went to Hotel Viking for Restaurant Week.  Amazing!
  • Took Bella for some nice walks.  She enjoyed the sun and fall weather!
  • Worked on my project for "Do Something Day".  Will post about that next week! 
  • Cleaned the house
  • Went grocery shopping, ran more errands for brunch.
  • Got a hair cut.  Holy 2 inches gone!
  • Enjoyed a nice evening dancing at Christies and the Boom Boom Room
  • Made brunch for my girl's birthday!
  • Recovered on couch from a helluva time!

    Yay new hair cut!
    I am shocked as much as you are.  It is in a ritzy restaurant.  So confused..and they had a great DJ!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Buy American this Christmas..

So I saw something on Facebook today.  It sparked my interest, because my family celebrates Christmas in a different way.  We only buy for the kids, not each other.  I have 4 nieces and nephews, so we buy for them, and I wouldn't have it any other way. (Although I did buy the bf one thing, and yes, it is made in America).  One thing I did not really consider when I was purchasing gifts for the kiddos was whether or not it was made in America.  With the "occupy" movement, unemployment rates, etc going on, that should be important.  It should be important to support jobs in America, and hire Vets.  These things are important to me, and when I continue my Christmas shopping, I am definitely taking all of that into consideration. 

**I did change a lot of this, because I am not into discussing major politics here**

This year Americans will give the gift of genuine
concern for other Americans. There is no longer an excuse that, at gift
giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by American hands.

Yes there is!

It's time to think outside the box, people. Who says a gift needs to fit in
a shirt box, wrapped in foreign  produced wrapping paper?
Everyone -- yes EVERYONE gets their hair cut. How about gift certificates
from your local American hair salon or barber?

Gym membership? It's appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some
health improvement.

Who wouldn't appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, American owned
detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a
book of gift certificates.

Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plonking down
the Benjamines on a Chinese made flat-screen? Perhaps that grateful gift
receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or
driveway plowed all winter, or games at the local golf course.

There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants -- all offering gift
certificates. And, if your intended isn't the fancy eatery sort, what about
a half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint. Remember, folks this
isn't about big National chains -- this is about supporting your home town
Americans with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.

How many people couldn't use an oil change for their car, truck or
motorcycle, done at a shop run by the American working guy?

Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? Mom would LOVE the services of a
local cleaning lady for a day. (** I would love a cleaning lady...hint hint**)

My computer could use a tune-up, and I KNOW I can find some young guy
who is struggling to get his repair business up and running.

OK, you were looking for something more personal. Local crafts people spin
their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make jewelry, and pottery
and beautiful wooden boxes.

Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave
your server a nice tip. And, how about going out to see a play or ballet at
your hometown theatre.

Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.

You see, Christmas is no longer about draining American pockets so that
other countries can build another glittering city. Christmas is now about caring about
US, encouraging American small businesses to keep plugging away to follow
their dreams. And, when we care about other Americans, we care about our
communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn't imagine.
THIS is the new American Christmas tradition.

As I peruse the shops of the NorthEast, I will be sure to look at the "made in America" tags.  I will be supporting the local shop owners, ETSY, and probably will be making my own cards.  With unemployment as high as it is, I want to support these folks because I am fortunate enough to have a job.  I would love a haircut at my fav salon, maybe even an oil change for Christmas.  Why?  Because these are things I need.  I want a few things, sure..who doesn't? 

The following are websites that will direct you to made in America companies, etc.  It is amazing how much stuff I found just searching the internet. 

Friday, November 4, 2011


I love this month.  Things that remind me of fall are:
  • Yankee candles in autumn leaves and pumpkin
  • Long walks watching the leaves change
  • Hoodie weather!
  • Making apple and pumpkin pies
  • Family
  • Thanksgiving
This month I get to travel a bit, see some great friends and spend time with the family.  I get to meet my new niece for the first time, too!  I am excited about new adventures, and learning more in school. 

What do you love about November?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Washington DC

Another part of my East Coast Living and Travels!

I have been visiting the District ever since I was 16.  My brother worked in DC, so I always loved our visits.  He taught me a lot, and since he has a great memory like I do, he always remembers where he took me, and the best place to get amazing food.  I have been to Old Ebbitts about 4 times in the past two months, mostly because we went there.  It is also the go to place for my good friend E and I to go visit our former boss. 

I went to these restaurants with one of my good friends.  Loved them.  Great Italian at Il Canale, and Union Pub is like home..on the East Coast!

Il Canale.  Amazing food!

Union Pub.  Bears Mecca in DC. 

Union Pub

Go Hawks!

Oh Corey Crawford...

I am not sure when my next trip to DC will be since I am in Newport now, but I love it there, and have some amazing friends there. 

Pot Roast

I am in Rhode Island.  It got cold this weekend, and almost snowed, so I figured it was perfect for a crock pot recipe! 
I went out to buy a crock pot..and then looked for recipes online.  I kind of combined a few into one..and it turned out beautifully!

Pot Roast
Level: Easy
Time: Prep 15 minutes
Cook time: 6-8 hours

Ingredients: 1 pot roast (3-5 lbs)
                   sun dried tomatoes in oil (I used some bruscetta) (about 3 tablespoons)
                   whole mushrooms (entire container)
                   light Italian dressing (about half a bottle)

That is it.  I browned the pot roast meat on both sides, and placed it in the crock pot.  I covered it with some sun dried tomatoes, mushrooms, and dressing.  I cooked the roast for about 6 hours.  It was amazing!  Very tender and tasty.

I paired the pot roast with mashed potatoes, steamed veggies with cheese, red wine, and apple pie for dessert.  Perfect for a cold, windy Newport, RI day.  And for catching up with friends!  I swear this recipe will not disappoint!  I would have included a photo, but it disappeared. 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Maria High School

I read in the local Chicago newspaper, the Chicago Suntimes, that my beloved alma mater is scheduled to close in 2013.  I am deeply saddened, but not shocked by this news. 

Maria High School Article

This school was established by the sisters of St. Casimir on the south side of Chicago over 100 years ago.  My older sister went here, and it was a great school.  Picking a high school was tough for me.  I wanted to go to St. Ignatius, but my parents couldn't afford it.  I do not regret the choice I made to go to Maria.  The slogan there was "The right size, the right mix, the right choice".  I wholeheartedly believe that.  Each class had 300 students, it was diverse, and I got the best education possible there.  The school is in the Marquette Park neighborhood in Chicago, and a few years ago, the CTA shut down various bus lines that went to the school.  This had enrollment go from over 1000 students, to just 200-300.  There is also a neighborhood hospital right next door to the school, Holy Cross.  I believe if this bus didn't get shut down, the school would still be thriving.  My classmates came from all over the city.  I was fortunate that my brother drove me to school every day, but I took 3 buses home.  15 minute drive in a car, 1.5 hour bus ride home.  Worth every minute.

I learned some excellent life lessons here.  I also met some of my best friends at this school.  I can't even do my 4 years justice in just one blog post.  The smells from the Nabisco factory..smelling Vanilla Wafers while waiting for lunch, post practice food at Huck Finn, school dances...the list goes on.  I will have to post again in the future about this.  A Catholic education is something that is near and dear to my heart, and something that I will provide to my children in the future (if I have kids!!)

Friday, October 28, 2011


I have moved 3 times in 3 months.  I have not watched TV since October 7th.  And I can honestly say, I don't miss it.  I kind of miss the news, etc..but I just look it up online.  I had to move, settle in a new house/city/job, and start school right away.  I took my first exam today, and I can honestly say I am happy I didn't have a tv around to interfere with studying.  I did well on the exam, and I hope I don't go crazy not watching NCIS, etc etc all the time.  I didn't want to get cable while I was in Rhode Island because I am only here until May.  That is a lot of money for cable when I will be in school or studying most of the time.  Then I move again.  I am debating still on NETFLIX..we shall see if I go down that road or just use the REDBOX when I really just want to unwind and watch a movie. 

I found this website while I was thinking about how I have almost gone an entire month without a TV.  It has a lot of interesting facts about tv viewing, etc. 

I have noticed I have slept more, worked out more, read more books, and cleaned the house more without the distractions of a tv. 

Let's hope this pattern of productivity continues!!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Mexican Salad

Mexican Salad

Level: Easy
Time: 5-10 minutes
Serves: 4 people

Ingredients: Salad greens of your choice
                  1 small can of corn
                  1 can of black beans
                  1 can of garbanzo beans
                  a few tablespoons of chipotle ranch dressing
                  tortilla strips to garnish (I used Fresh Gourmet Tri Color Tortilla Strips)

I rinsed the 3 cans of corn, black beans, and garbanzo beans, and mixed them together.  I added them to the greens.  I mixed in the salad dressing and tortilla strips to garnish. 

This salad comes in around 300 total calories, and is protein heavy with the black beans and garbanzo beans.  You can add grilled chicken strips for a more hearty salad.  I paired this with a Smart Ones quesadilla to make a 500 calorie dinner.  Definitely love this.  So simple and tasty!
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Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Night Sky

Last night, I went to dinner with a good friend, and we met up with some of her friends afterwards.  As we left their house, we noticed something.  The sky.  How clear it was.  The stars.  Honestly, it was amazing.  We all just kind of stopped, and looked up, appreciating the beauty.  It may sound silly, but it was breathtaking.  That is something you don't see in a big city..


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Day 7 and 8..

Day 7

My brother and I took Bella for a walk, and explored The Point while Mike slept in.  I woke him up nicely when we got back so I could cook everyone some breakfast.  It was raining on and off that day, so we drove to the Brick Market Mall and walked around.  Many nice stores there, and up and down Thames Street.  We ducked in Speakeasy to get away from a downpour, and enjoyed a pint of Pumpkin ale.  It was just what we needed.  We then continued to Bowen's Wharf, and ended up getting some chowder at the Black Pearl.  Great chowder.  We shopped a bit after, and noticed that they can and sell the stuff.  Who wants me to ship them some chowder??  We continued to wander and shop, and stumbled upon The White Horse Tavern.  The sign said "Oldest in America".  We had to see if this was the case, so we enjoyed a pint of Guiness there.  Yes, it is the oldest bar in America.  Pretty awesome.  We went home and relaxed, talked, and then headed out to dinner at the Fifth Element.  We shared some mussels, which were made much differently that what I am used to.  Amazing nevertheless.  I had redfish and arugula salad for dinner.  Yum!  I want to come back here, too.  Most of the nice restaurants in Newport have a few appetizer selections, a few salads, and a few dinner entrees.  I like this because it guarantees fresh food, and it is easy to decide what I want!

Day 8

I had to take my brother back early to the airport today.  After that, I slept for an hour, and we went to the Hungry Monkey for a small breakfast.  My friend recommended it.  So good!  We relaxed for a bit at the house, and then headed to Bowen's Wharf for the seafood festival.  I wasn't feeling too well, so we came home and I slept until we had dinner with a dear friend of mine and her family.  We went to Anthony's.  Great for group dining.  The stuffies were amazing!
Mike had to leave the next day which was sad..but we had an amazing week together.  So happy to see him again!!!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Days 5 and 6

Day 5

Today I went for another nice run, and checked into work.  It was nice to get some initial paperwork done.  Mike and I went to a few stores, like PETCO, to stock up on food for Bella.  We stopped at the Brick Market Mall to get some sandwiches at the Italian market.  They were amazing!  We went home, took a nap, and headed out to the Breakers and to the Cliff Walk.  It was a bit overcast and rainy that day, but the tour of the Breakers was just as amazing as the last time I was there.  After the Cliff Walk, we headed to Scales and Shells.  I had the most amazing broiled scallops!  Highly recommend this place!

About to start our tour of The Breakers!

The Breakers

Amazing back yard!

Mike and I in the back of the Breakers!

Cliff Walk


True Cliff Walking..
Day 6

My youngest brother was visiting today to bring my Bella back to me!  He had some horrible flight delays, and other drama with the airlines.  This gave Mike and I some time to see some more sights.  He had never been wine tasting before, so we head to the Newport Vineyards.  Good choice!  I really enjoyed the Rochambeau and the Rising Tide.  We ate at the cafe next door, and headed up to Providence.  I needed to go shopping before we got my brother and Bella.  I have noticed one thing about Rhode Island, and it is that streets signs are not always placed...well...appropriately.  I feel like I am guessing most of the time when I am driving.  No fun. 
We got Bella safe and sound, and all 4 of us went back to Newport.  She travelled so well, which made me happy.  She had a long day, too.  After we got her settled at the house, we headed out for the traditional Thursday evening at the Officers Club.  Lobster Night!  Lobster and veggies at a great price.  I have never actually prepped my own lobster before, so it was a fun experience.  We then came home and talked for a while at my kitchen table.  I have the best table in this house.  Perfect for warm conversation!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Day 3 and 4..

Day 3

I got up very early to go run, and then go into work to check in.  I was greeted by a former Iwo Jima Sailor and a former Porter Sailor, both who work at my school now.  It was nice to see some familiar faces.  I then rushed home to change, and go to Providence to pick up Mike from the airport.  It was so good to see him!  It had been 2 months, which seemed like forever.  We drove back to Newport, and walked around the area.  We walked all up and down Thames Street, and had some drinks and lunch at O'Briens.  I would go there again for drinks, because they do have an amazing bar.  The food wasn't the best, but I would go back in the spring just to enjoy their outdoor patio.  We continued to explore Thames Street, and headed back to my place.  We relaxed for a bit, and then changed to head out to Buskers to Bear Down and watch the Bears game. 

Thames Street

Bearing Down, Newport Style!

Day 4

Moving day.  We woke up early, I made us breakfast, and we waited for the movers to come.  We met them at my storage unit, and had them move about 10 boxes into my house.  I must have my winter coats and sweaters!  After the fastest Navy moving experience to date, I made a nice lunch.  Then we unpacked some boxes and relaxed a bit.  We decided tonight would be perfect for a date I suggested a romantic sunset walk and dinner.  I am glad he went along with my plan!  We walked along the pier, sat in the park on a bench, and watched the waves and the sunset.  It was nice to just relax.  The sunset was blocked by some ominous clouds, so we left a bit early and went to Celtica for a drink before our dinner reservation.  We had dinner at Rhumbline.  It is a nice little house on Bridge Street.  We had an amazing dinner here.  Mike had the Veal Osso Bucco, and I had Pork Tenderloin.  This has to have been the best meal I have had in months.  So amazing!  I can't wait to have another date night here!

Walk on the pier..

Sun setting over Goat Island
More fun to be continued..

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My first few days in Newport!

Day 1

I left Dahlgren, VA around 6 am to start my drive to Rhode Island.  I was so happy to leave, but sad to leave my friends in VA.  It was amazing driving up 95, seeing states and cities I have never been to.  I can't wait to go to NYC for a weekend.  I have been all around the world, but I have never been there! I got to Rhode Island around 3pm, and met my realtor.  She gave me the keys to my castle, and showed me around.  It is a beautiful B&B, and I have the first floor for Bella and I.  It is perfect for my time here in school.  Great location, nice yard, and cozy.  After I unpacked my car, I walked around The Point, which is where I live.  It is a historic neighborhood, with many homes dating back to the Revolutionary War, including mine.  I took some photos, and went to an Irish Pub, Buskers, for dinner.  It was a busy day, being Columbus day weekend, and a quick dinner at the pub was just what I needed.  I then walked around the area, and wandered into The Ball and Claw.  Beautiful store with coastal goodies and gorgeous hand carved furniture. 

Day 2

I woke up and immediately started to get the house in order, room by room.  I had visitors coming, so I needed to ensure the house was organized, bedding was clean, etc.  I then went grocery shopping, and hit up the Walmart and the Stop N Shop.  The Walmart wasn't that impressive, rather small than what I am used to, and not 24 hours.  The Stop N Shop trip was a success, and I started to stock up my fridge and pantry.  I went to brunch later in the day with a friend of mine from Great Lakes.  We had some breakfast burritos at the Salvation Cafe.  Very trendy, and amazing food. I am looking forward to more brunch outings there!  After brunch I got my paperwork in order, and prepped for Monday.  I wanted to check into work, and prep for my boyfriends arrival to Newport!!

To be continued..for more food updates, and adventure..

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Dip

One of my good friends has made this for me a few times recently, and I decided to make it on my own.

Level: Easy
Cook time: 5-10 minutes
Serves: 4 people

Ingredients:  1 8 oz package of cream cheese, softened            
                   1 bottle of hot sauce (I used Franks Red Hot Sauce, add to taste)
                   1-2 cans of white premium canned chicken
                   tortilla chips or crackers

I mixed the cream cheese and chicken together in a saucepan, and added the hot sauce to taste.  I used about 1/4 of a 12 oz bottle.  My guy doesn't like spicy food, so I didn't add much for him.  Normally, I would have used much more.  This recipe is super simple, and I love to make it for company!

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Ocean State

I have officially lived in Rhode Island for about 1 week.  It has been pretty incredible so far.  I have seen a lot, but mostly felt like I ate my way through Newport this past week.  That is what happens when you have visitors! 

I have walked around a lot, and now even more with Bella.  My youngest brother brought her to Newport Thursday afternoon.  She is definitely loving the walks, the backyard, and even saw the ocean for the first time.  She just watched the waves and contemplated jumping in.  The water is cold, so there is no way I was letting her!  Many of the photos have the Newport Bridge in the background.  You can read about it here.
Sunset walk on The Point

Goat Island is across the water..

Newport Bridge..or the Pell Bridge

Sunday, October 16, 2011

More Recipes!

I have come up with a new challenge for myself.  Now that I am in Newport, and have a fabulous kitchen, I will try 1 new recipe a week.  I also have some friends I really want to have over, so we can catch up, so this is perfect!  I am going to try some recipes I have been dying to try, as well as some that get me out of my comfort zone with cooking.  Stay tuned...


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Hello Rhode Island!

I have arrived in Newport, RI.  I moved here Saturday, and it has been busy ever since.  Unpacking, walking around the new neighborhood, shopping, eating amazing seafood, etc. 

I get my puppy dog back today!  I will have to write more later, and post photos of the great week I have had so far. 


On a separate note, Happy Birthday to the Navy!  I will be celebrating tonight!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Goodbye Virginia...helllooo Rhode Island!

I will be moving once again this weekend, from Virginia to Rhode Island.  I am excited because I am going to see my guy, getting my dog back, and starting part 2 of my 3 part adventure.  I will be so happy when my class is finished tomorrow. 

I can't wait to cook again, have a place to call my own, and be out of the barracks.  Just having a kitchen, a yard,! 

Plus, I can't wait for all the adventures that I have waiting for me in New England!


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Fredericksburg Battlefield

I knew that I had to do a tourist day in Fredericksburg at least once while I lived in Northern Virginia.  It was an amazing day.  I spent the day on my own, and I took a trolley tour of the town.  The tour guide was a sprightly, entertaining retiree.  His jokes and sense of humor made the tour so much fun!  I decided to retrack some of the tour, to take pictures.  After I walked around the town, I went to the Battlefield and the Sunken Road to explore on my own. 

Visitors Center

Notice the Cannonball.  Still there!

Slave auction block.

Mary Washington's Home.

The Sunken Road

Angel of Mayre's Heights.

Self Portrait.  Must have 1.


Field artillery

I loved walking around on the Battlefield on my own.  I have developed a love of these sacred grounds over the years.  I have seen Verdun, Normandy, Pearl Harbor, and countless others. Visiting these places makes me appreciate history, and the sacrifices those fallen soldiers made.