Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Nutella Filled Crescent Rolls

Since I first tried Nutella several weeks ago while visiting my in-laws, I have quickly become a Nutella addict.  I would spread it over/dip into it just about everything I could if I thought it wouldn't taste completely nasty.  One of my favorite new snacks is to spread Nutella on some flat-bread and have a sweet little sandwich of sorts.  I even told my husband the other day how I have discovered that Nutella is a PMS-ing girl's best friend, and it would be in his best interest when he returns to make sure we have some stocked in the house every four weeks.

I had seen a pin a little while back for sprucing up basic canned crescent rolls by spreading some Nutella inside, then rolling them up and covering them with cinnamon & sugar before baking according to the regular package directions.  I decided that this would be the perfect week to try out the recipe.

It is one of the easiest recipes to make, as there's only a couple additional steps to the standard canned crescent roll recipe of open can, pull out and divide rolls along perforations, roll up, and bake.

Now, I promise I am still motivated to get into better shape, and I've been sticking with my gym routine (I've actually begun getting my lazy butt out of bed early enough in the mornings now to go before work!).  So far I've really been enjoying my treadmill days when I work on tackling the Couch to 5K training program.  I've tried starting it a few times in the past, but never made it past week 1 day 2.  Currently I have completed week 2 day 1 and am going strong.  I have found that I actually enjoy the jogging/running portions and even though I'm tired afterwards, I really do love how I feel after that 30 minutes on the treadmill!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Fontina Macaroni & Cheese

As luck would have it, right after sharing my previous post about how I'm trying to be really good about working out and getting into better shape, which includes making sure I'm eating well, I found myself in need of some serious comfort food and indulged a bit after deciding to make a Fontina Macaroni & Cheese recipe I had sitting on my recipes-to-try list.

Mac & cheese is probably my most favorite food of all time, as it combines my love of pasta with my love of cheese.  It is the absolute perfect comfort food, in my opinion.  I currently have 12 different mac & cheese inspired recipes sitting on my Pinterest recipes board, not to mention others that are saved on my computer and in my recipe binder at home, and the only thing that has kept me from trying all of them already is the fact that quality cheese is expensive, so it takes a lot of willpower to overcome my more frugal tendencies and actually purchase cheeses that cost more than $4/lb -- the 1/2 lb block of Fontina for this recipe was just over $5.

Overall I really enjoyed this dish.  The recipe is super easy to make!  You simply cook 1lb of pasta to just under al dente, toss it with 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter until melted, and then stir in 1 cup of heated heavy cream and 8oz of shredded Fontina cheese (the heat from the warm pasta & heavy cream will quickly melt all of the cheese).  Next you season it to taste with salt and a pinch of ground nutmeg before adding it to a 2-3 quart casserole dish.  For the topping, you melt 1 tablespoon of butter and then mix into it 1/3 cup of panko breadcrumbs and 1/4 cup of grated parmesan, and then sprinkle the crumb coating over the pasta.

The recipe calls for then baking the dish for 20 minutes at 400 degrees, just until the pasta is bubbly and the topping begins to brown.  The dish certainly comes out tasty when following these baking instructions, however if you want a creamier dish, I would recommend not baking it for this time, but rather just place it under the broiler for a little bit to brown the topping, as the creaminess that first exists before placing the casserole in the oven is lost a bit after the baking time.

I think this recipe would also serve as a good base for experimenting with different seasonings and other mix-in ingredients, such as chicken, shrimp, bacon, or vegetables.  And of course you can also always change up the type of pasta you use -- I usually prefer to use whole wheat pastas, but for this recipe decided to go with a fun corkscrew shape from the pasta stockpile my husband and I had amassed last summer when we were able to score boxes of it for free at the store when combining an awesome $1 off coupon with a BOGO sale.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Getting Fit

For several years now, I have not been very happy with my body.  It largely began about half-way through college, and has continued through to today.  I now have a very strong desire to change that.  I'm tired of certain clothes just not fitting quite right and having to shop for looks that help to conceal the parts of my body I'm not comfortable with.  Plus there's the extra motivation I'm receiving from my husband getting into really good shape while doing his daily workouts while deployed, and not wanting him to put me to shame when he gets home :)

Growing up, I was always on the skinnier side -- tall and thin up through when I graduated high school at almost 5'8" and around 125-130 pounds.  I was fairly active when I was younger, with some of my favorite activities being playing outside with my friends in the neighborhood... riding my bike through the street, roller blading around in my driveway, swimming in pools at neighbors' and my aunt's houses, playing hide & seek, and going on little hikes through the woods surrounding my neighborhood.  Anything that got me outside of my house and time with friends, I enjoyed.

Once I entered high school, my schedule became busier and left me with less time to spend as much time outside, however at this time I then got a job working at the local library where I shelved books.  This job kept me on my feet the entire time, where I had to move around constantly - walking, bending, kneeling, climbing - all with a stack of books in my arms (or while pushing around a 6-shelved cart loaded down with books to be filed).

Then I began college and entered the world of all-you-can-eat dining halls, late night snacks of sweets & runs to Waffle House, and of course partaking in the typical college experience of parties and the consumption of alcoholic beverages.  I had a new job that also kept me on my feet the entire time I was at work and had a hilly campus to walk across getting to and from class each day, however it wasn't enough and I slowly saw my weight creep up to 140-145 pounds.  Not anything too bad yet, but I was definitely feeling uncomfortable with my new stomach and thighs.

During my final year of college, I began dating my now-husband, and we found ourselves eating out for at least 9 out of 10 meals when we were together.  I was also very stressed in my student management position at work.  It was at this time that I also went on the pill, and quickly found myself gain another 10 pounds and got up to 155+ lbs.  I tried going to the gym on campus some during this time, but with my crazy schedule between classes, working 30-40 hours a week, and seeing my now-hubby every weekend we could, it was difficult for me to squeeze in enough time, and my twice-a-week 1 hour workouts simply didn't cut it.

Then came the summer after I graduated college.  Hubby and I had just moved in together, and both found ourselves unemployed with nothing to do for a period of about 3 months.  I was applying for full-time positions left and right, and he was busy looking for a new part-time job after moving back to my area to continue to earn some income while he returned to school in the fall.  We quickly fell in a routine of sleeping in until 11am each day, and not moving ourselves from the couch very often during the day other than to get something from the kitchen or to let Kiba outside.  During that time, I managed to put on another 25 or 30 pounds and soon found myself at the heaviest I've ever been at about 183 pounds.  I'm pretty sure my heart skipped several beats when I saw that number come up on the scale.

Thankfully August came, shortly after hubby returned to school and got back into a routine of sorts, I secured a full-time job and managed to find a routine of my own again too.  After a year of going to work each day & being a little more mobile and getting back into eating structured meals again, I had lost about 10 pounds and was in the lower 170's.  Another year of this routine, combined with taking walks most days on my lunch hour, earned me another 10 pound weight loss and I found myself hovering right around 160 pounds.

Shortly before my husband and I got married last year is when he signed his contract to join the Army, and we both decided it would be a good idea for him to work out as much as possible between that point and when he was scheduled to leave for basic at the beginning of August in order to prepare him as much as possible.  One of the gyms in our town was preparing to open a second location and was offering new membership deals for people who wanted to join, with no enrollment fee and a reduced membership rate of $29/month, so hubby and I both decided to sign up so we could go work out together, since the buddy system is always good to have when getting into a new routine.

About two weeks after we got married, the gym officially opened and we quickly got ourselves into going an average of four times a week for about two hours each day.  Between mid-April and mid-July, I had managed to knock off another 10 pounds and got down to about 150 pounds.

Once my husband left for basic, I found it to be much more difficult to continue working out, as doing anything that I usually did with him was hard for me to face without him by my side.  During that time I managed to get down to 141 pounds, however I believe much of that weight was lost during the last week or two leading up to hubby's graduation from basic, as I was so excited and nervous to see him that I could hardly eat much.  I did manage to keep that weight off after I got my appetite back... that is until Christmas rolled around.  My routine of cooking for one went back to a lot of meals out when my husband came home on leave for two weeks, and between all of the eating and celebrating that goes on at that time of year, I put that last 10 pounds back on.
Since that time, I've been sitting steady right around 151 pounds.  I had gotten back down to about 146, but then when stress hit me with this deployment, it shot right back up to 151.  My previous gym membership expired in April, and I did not wish to renew it only to have to deal with the hassle of trying to get out of the contract when we move (it was hard enough for my husband to cancel his contract when he left for basic, and they even had a military clause built in for "easy" canceling), so it's been a while since I've had a place to go to get in a good workout.

Why am I telling you all of this, you ask?  Because I want to try and get back on track, and hope that by discussing where I've been and spelling out my plan for the future on here, I'll be held more accountable for my actions.

  • Exercise: I recently purchased a voucher on one of our town's daily deal websites for a two month membership at a small local gym in the area that is open to its members 24/7 with keycard access.  They have no contracts or enrollment fees and you simply renew your membership on a month-by-month basis, so once my two months are up I am under no obligation to continue going and also have no contract to try and wiggle my way out of, which works perfect for our upcoming move.  I've been good about going so far and have been there 8 out of the 10 days my membership has been active thus far.  My goal is to make it there 5-6 days a week for at least an hour a day, getting in a variety of cardio and strength training.  I have also purchased Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred DVD and intend on working through it every day for a month as well, alongside my gym workouts.
  • Gear: I finally invested in some good running shoes so I am now no longer working out in my New Balance toning/walking shoes and have the proper support and cushioning I need for my feet and walking/running style to support my workouts.  I cringed at the thought of spending over $100 on a pair of shoes for myself, but as soon as I worked out in them for the first time I immediately knew I had made a good investment.  I have also purchased some more shorts and sports bras so I have more clothes to workout in without having to do laundry so frequently.
  • Food & Drink: Over the last couple months I have drastically increased my water consumption in order to stay better hydrated, and am continuing my trend of getting plenty of water each day.  Water has always been my beverage of choice (even as a kid, I always preferred water to any other drink), I just wasn't every very good about drinking enough of it.  Over the last month or so I have also increased the amount of protein I am eating each day, and am now working on incorporating more fruits and veggies into my daily diet as well.

I have made note of all of my starting measurements and took beginning pictures of myself as well, but I have decided to wait to share them until I have made it to the end of my two month gym membership to reveal a final before and after of the work I have done.  I certainly want to lose some weight, but more important than the number on the scale, I want to slim down, tone up, and increase my overall strength & endurance.

Monday, July 23, 2012


This weekend was the weekend of my 10 year high school reunion, however I decided not to attend.  The reunion planning committee decided to hold the reunion at a bar in downtown Atlanta, a little over an hour away from where I live.  I had thought about going, but when the people I would have most cared about seeing had decided not to attend, I decided it wasn't worth spending $70 for a ticket when I wouldn't exactly be getting my money's worth out of it, not being able to fully take advantage of the open bar given the fact that I would have had to drive myself back home that night to take care of my dogs.  And I'm sure I wouldn't have been able to eat that much in whatever appetizers they were serving throughout the night.  Maybe if they had arranged for a sit down meal of some sort, it would have been a little more worth it.  They probably then would have also gotten a better turnout that way as well, as there were many people from my class who were not happy with the plans.

So instead of paying to spend a few hours making small talk with people I haven't seen in ten years, I decided to have a quiet weekend largely at home... working out at the gym, running a few errands, going to church Sunday morning, reading a bit, and then partaking in my own form of high school reminiscing by listening to music from some of my favorite groups from my high school days while cleaning up around the house & doing some baking.  I'm sure my dogs didn't exactly care for me cranking up my iTunes while dancing around my apartment, but it sure did make washing dishes and putting laundry away a hell of a lot more enjoyable!

Friday, July 20, 2012


Like I'm sure is common of most mil-spouses going through a deployment, I tend to have dreams at least once or twice a week that my husband is home with me again.  Last night I had a dream that my husband called me to let me know that there was a chance the Army could be sending him home two or three weeks early.  Funny thing about some of the dreams I have at times is once in a great while, they come true and I find myself in a deja-vu moment in real life, usually several weeks later, if not more (I had one of those moments when at my mother-in-law's house earlier this month).

Sadly this is one dream that I know will not come to fruition.  And my husband actually laughed at me this morning when I told him about having this dream.  At least I'm not having dreams that I cannot discuss, like he is.  After asking him how he slept the night before, he said he had some crazy dreams.  I asked him what it was about, or if he could even say since there are so many things about his days that he cannot tell me, and was told that it was about work and so he couldn't share.  He then chuckled at himself in disbelief that he's now having dreams that would be considered classified.  We all have dreams about work from time to time, it just so happens that his work is all on a need-to-know basis.

But boy would it be nice though if my dream actually came true... I can wish, right?

Friday, July 13, 2012

ABC's of Me

I saw Liz over at The Optimistic Army Wife share this a couple weeks ago, so I thought it would be fun to fill out myself and share some tidbits about myself.

A. Age: 28

B. Bed size: Full -- we really need to upgrade, as a full sized bed is barely big enough for two people, let alone two people and their two dogs & one cat

C. Chore you dislike: Cleaning bathrooms

D. Dogs: I'm all sorts of in love with my two corgis... even when they misbehave

E. Essential start to your day: 6 out of 7 days each week, I have a mocha or latte to drink not too long after waking up

F. Favorite colors: Blues (especially shades with some green in them like teal, turquoise, & aqua) as well as red

G. Gold or silver: Silver, or white gold

H. Height: Just about 5'8"

I. Instruments you play(ed): Violin

J. Job title: I primarily perform business manager type duties at work

K. Kids: We just have our three fur babies right now, whom we refer to as our kids

L. Live: In a town I'm kind of tired of in Georgia

M. Mom's name: Mom

N. Nicknames: The only ones I really respond to anymore are ones my husband calls me, none of which have anything to do with my actual name

O. Overnight hospital stays: None to speak of as of yet, and I've only been to the hospital once in my life thus far (*knock on wood*), to get stitches for cutting my chin open during a bicycle accident when I was 10.  It took 20 stitches to close it up.

P. Pet peeves: Drivers who cannot maintain a consistent speed; people who complain about not having much money but still find a way to work into their budget funds for things that are not absolute necessities (i.e. getting hair professionally dyed and/or straightened, getting nails done, buying cigarettes, buying things for the house, etc...)

Q. Quote from a movie: "I shall call him squishy, and he shall be mine.  And he shall be my squishy." Sorry... like I've mentioned before, I'm a huge Finding Nemo dork

R. Righty or lefty: Righty, for the most part (I throw left handed - I'm slightly ambidextrous, which I believe I get from having a mother who is a righty and a father who is a lefty)

S. Siblings: I have a younger brother, and if you add in my in-laws I have another brother and 3 sisters

T. Time you wake up: Between 6 & 6:30am during the week, depending on how many times I hit snooze, and between 6:30 & 7:30am on the weekends, depending on how early the dogs decide to wake me up (thankfully they tend to sleep later in the winter since the sun doesn't rise as early as in the summer, which means I get to sleep later as well!)

U. Underwear: I've got some on... usually your classic bikini cut

V. Vegetables you don't like: Peppers, and mushrooms unless they're diced up really small (I like the flavor of them, but the texture weirds me out)

W. What makes you run late: I'm usually really early unless I'm waiting on my husband

X. X-Rays you've had: I believe I had one when I cut my chin open as a kid (see letter O), but otherwise the only other ones I've had are your standard dental x-rays

Y. Yummy food you make: Cheesecake

Z. Zoo animal you like: Monkeys

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Little Getaway

This past week I took some time to get away from home for a little bit and visit with my in-laws up in Virginia.  My mother-in-law had asked me several times if I'd like to visit, starting immediately after my husband left on his deployment.  After we found out in May that his time in the sandbox would be extended another month, I decided to take my MIL up on her offer to spend some time at her house to give myself a much deserved and needed summer/mid-deployment vacation, and then began working lots of extra hours throughout June to build up comp time so I wouldn't have to use any of my annual leave hours.

I left after work last Monday and drove a few hours that evening to break up the drive a little bit, eventually staying in a hotel in North Carolina with my pups.  As always, my dogs were very happy to ride in the car and get to see other people.

The last couple times they went on a long car ride and stayed in a hotel, they got to see their daddy, and I actually got the feeling after we were at the hotel for a few hours that they were expecting to get to see him again.  Our dogs are very expressive, and my husband and I have learned quite a bit about how to tell what they're thinking or feeling based on their facial expressions, body language, and sounds they make.  Thankfully they both perked right back up the next day when I arrived at my MIL's house and they got to see more people they know, as well as meet some new friends who enjoyed giving Kiba belly rubs (Saki received head massages).

For the 4th, our whole crew got together to partake in the usual Independence Day traditions of eating tons and tons of food and then going to see a fireworks show at a local park nearby.  We had toyed with the idea of heading to Washington, D.C. to see the big fireworks show, but quickly decided that we really did not want to deal with the headache of being surrounded by thousands of people at the National Mall, not to mention the traffic of trying to get in and then back out of the city.

During our get-together, I ended up having a little emotional break down, when someone jokingly made a comment about my dogs that struck a nerve and resulted in me crying profusely over missing my husband so much.  I'm pretty sure I freaked out just about everyone there, until they realized that while I did not care for the comment that was made, my crying actually wasn't about the comment itself but rather something deeper.  After talking about it with my mother-in-law, she then started to basically beg me to quit my job, leave my apartment, and move in with her for the remainder of my husband's deployment so I won't be alone any longer.  Aside from the many logistical problems that would make moving difficult, it wouldn't do anything to fix the underlying issue of needing to be with my husband.

On Thursday, my MIL decided to take me into into the city, since my only real exposure to DC was when I flew into the city several years ago to interview for a job in VA.  We spent a couple hours there, walking around to see most of the monuments and memorials in the area.

FDR Memorial

MLK Jr. Memorial ; View of Jefferson Memorial from MLK Jr. Memorial

Korean War Veterans Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

Federal Reserve Building

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Reflecting Pool (empty for construction) & the Washington Monument

World War II Memorial

World War II Memorial

Jefferson Memorial

Jefferson Memorial
Tidal Basin, from in front of the Jefferson Memorial

After the long walk circling the around all of these memorials in the 100+ degree heat, we decided to retreat to the car and then drove around the rest of the National Mall, past all of the museums so I could then ultimately see the Capitol and the White House from the comfort of our air conditioned vehicle.

We had decided to have a girls' night that evening and after having dinner as a family at Bonefish, the guys went their own way and the five of us girls went to the movies to see Magic Mike.  None of us expected much out of the movie, however we were hoping for at least a little more from it than was there.  If you haven't seen it but are interested in seeing Channing Tatum show his moves from his earlier real life stripper days (which are actually pretty good), then I would recommend hitting up your local Redbox kiosk after the movie is released on DVD.

The most memorable part of the movie for me was during the 4th of July strip club scene, after the guys started dancing on stage wearing camo pants & combat boots, when my mother-in-law whispered to me that I should have my husband dance/strip like that for me when he returns home.  Definitely not a comment I expected my husband's step-mom to make to me!

On Saturday we drove up to Maryland to visit with my MIL's cousin and meet her family.  After overloading on yummy appetizers and Chinese food, we then went out to this little park area in the middle of their neighborhood to view a wonderful fireworks show that was put on for the neighborhood residents.

This little neighborhood show was seriously wonderful.  Definitely better than the local city show we went to see on the 4th!

Other highlights of the trip included finding a new addiction after trying Nutella for the first time ever (and instantly regretting not trying it sooner!), visiting a local winery and doing a wine tasting (I love me some good wine), and making a lot of progress on the current book I am reading, Fifty Shades of Grey.  After hearing all of the buzz about it about a month or two ago, I decided to download the first book on my iPad and give it a read.  I've gone back and forth a bit about whether or not to read it while hubby is gone, as I've heard often that you'll want to have your husband around after you're done with it, but recently decided to just continue through and finish up the book, as I'm very curious to see how the relationship between Ana and Christian develops.

I made the 8.5 hour drive home on Sunday, driving straight thru except to make pit stops for me and the dogs along the way.  It surprisingly wasn't too bad of a trip to make in a single stretch.  The dogs were very well behaved and slept for most of the drive home.  While driving through the Richmond area in VA, I found an amazing radio station that plays all of my favorite alternative songs/artists from the 90's thru to now (I enjoyed it so much, I made a note of the station number so I could pull it up to listen to online while at work or home).  And then I got really excited when I had to stop for gas in South Carolina and filled up my tank for the cheapest I've gotten gas in many months...

$3.13/gallon for premium gas!  I was really jealous of the people whose cars don't require premium, as regular gas was $2.85/gallon.  But I'll take what I can get!  I've been paying around $3.50 around where I live lately, and the last time I got anything less than that was when I was in middle GA last month and filled up for $3.27 while I was on base at Robins AFB for a bit.

The dogs were both completely exhausted after we got home and slept amazingly well Sunday night.

They were so tired that I actually had to wake them up to feed them their dinner that night, and usually Kiba starts bugging me each night about 15 minutes before dinnertime in hopes that she'll get food early.  As for me, I'm still recovering from being on the go so much last week and the trip home, but I hope to be feeling better rested within this next day or so.

Overall, it was a really nice trip.  I only wish I had gotten to spend some more quality time with my brother-in-law and his fiancĂ©e, as unfortunately a lot of their time was accounted for with wedding planning appointments they had scheduled.  Thankfully we're working out plans to get together at some point in the next month or two.

Monday, July 9, 2012

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In #73

So, I'm obviously a few days late this month with my fill-in, but for good reason as I was out of town for most of last week visiting my in-laws.  Better late than never, right?  I'll be sharing some of the details of my trip this week!

1. What's one thing in the past month you would have changed?  There's actually not much of anything from June I would have changed, at least nothing I can think of at this point.  The month flew by fairly quickly for me, which is always great!

2. What was your favorite thing that happened in June? Getting to Skype with my husband for the first time in a month. I missed getting to see him.

3. What did you do to celebrate Independence Day?  I spent the day with my in-laws and some of their friends. We cooked up and ate tons of food, hung out, and then went to a local park to watch fireworks.

4. When you PCS, what items do you take with you and not let the movers pack (and if you do a DITY, what do you take with you and not box up).  When we PCS, I'll be packing in the car our important documents, my jewelry, our laptops and iPads, a bottle of port wine that hubby and I are trying to age, anything we will immediately need for our pets, and then of course as much of our clothes as I can then possibly fit into our car.

5. What are you looking forward to in July?  The two things in July I've been most looking forward to are hitting the half way point of hubby's deployment and visiting with my in-laws, both of which have now passed!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Independence Day!

Happy Birthday to our great nation!

And many thanks to my husband, and all of the other men and women who are doing their part to help keep our country safe and free.