Military Life & Pregnancy.

This Friday I’ll be 32 weeks pregnant.  Where is the time going?  We are almost done with baby’s nursery, which is a relief, since I tend to feel like I’ll never be finished painting.

Overall, my pregnancy has been great, other than some kidney stones that decided to rear their ugly heads.  Normally, I feel well-rested & confident about what’s coming our way. I’m still running, albeit a bit slower than my norm, and have been attending a mom’s group called Hike it Baby.  It’s been really nice to make some friends, especially friends who are moms, and many who also are military spouses.

Speaking of the military, transitioning to life here has been the hardest.  When my husband and I met & got married, he was on a “shore duty” which meant his schedule was much more like a “normal” 9-5 and he came home every night.  Now, we’ve been here for nearly 5 months and he has been gone for at least 1/3 of that time and has duty days in addition to underways.  Plainly put, I miss him.  The emotions of pregnancy make his absences seem so much longer and painful and miserable, if I can complain for a moment.  When we came here, I felt ready & prepared for him to be gone more frequently, but once it actually started happening, I realized I didn’t want to be ready or prepared.  I don’t even want him to leave.  I cry every time he leaves, even though I try not to and try to wait until he has actually left.  It’s just so hard.

He will hopefully be home briefly when baby arrives, before leaving for a longer period of time.  This hurts my heart the most, because my husband is one of the most helpful and giving people and I don’t want our kiddo to miss out on any time spent bonding with his daddy.  I am so grateful for the sacrifices my husband makes, but I feel so guilty that he is going to miss out on this irreplaceable time in order to support us and help defend our country.

My plan so far is to have my husband prepare the recordable books we have been given and I also plan on making videos of him reading books/talking to play for baby.  I want to make sure he’s always on speakerphone when he calls.  I have grand plans of making videos showcasing “a day in our life” monthly to mail on flash drives, so I hope those pan out the way I am imagining them.  I also am going to buy magnet paper to print photos on that my husband can stick in his rack, and mail him photo books and pictures on a regular basis in care packages.  I just don’t feel like any of it is enough.

Hey!

Long time no post.  I keep telling myself I will make blogging a regular habit and it never happens.  I used to blog all the time on my previous blog, but not so much with this one.  Life is busy!  Let’s chunk this up into some sections to update!

Pregnancy!

On Friday, I will be 25 weeks pregnant.  Time sure is flying by, which I did not think was going to happen.  When I first found out I was pregnant in March, November seemed SO FAR AWAY, but no, it’s not.  It’s less than 4 months away, which is a little scary.  We still have SO much to do to get ready for our little nugget.  We are having our baby shower next month back home and I am so, so, so excited for that!  Until then, I will be enjoying the great parts of pregnancy (baby wiggles!) and trying to enjoy the uncomfortable parts.

Food!

I’ve had a friend staying with me most of the summer and she’s my eating partner.  I’ve been using her sourdough starter to make all sorts of tasty treats including waffles, bread, and pretzels.  We’ve also been eating out at really great restaurants.  We went to the No Frill Bar & Grill last night and got the largest order of nachos I’ve ever seen.  They were fairly epic, and certainly the best nachos I’ve had in Norfolk, top 3 overall anywhere.

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Military Life!

So Norfolk is still an adjustment.  Yesterday, the “feels like” temperature was 104 degrees.  No thank you.  I’m still adapting to the aspect of military life that my husband doesn’t come home every night.  Our last duty station was recruiting, so it was a Monday-Friday sort of job, but my husband’s “normal” job is not like that and requires deployments (both long and short) and duty every few days so he isn’t home.  It’s very weird for me, but I’m figuring it all out!

Lemon Honeydew Sorbet

So, lately, my husband and I have been super into sitting in our Adirondack chairs in our front yard, just socializing and eating ice cream cones.  By super into, I mean we do it every night, which in theory is great, but if you’ve ever been served an ice cream cone by my husband, you’ll know that his portions are large.  As much as I love our new evening routine, I wanted to create a lighter frozen treat and with a frozen ice cream maker canister and a pile of honeydew, this sorbet was born.  It’s light and only slightly sweet with a burst of fruity flavor.  It’s not something I would serve on a cone, but luckily it can be served on a spoon pretty well.:)

IMG_4787 Lemon Honeydew Sorbet

4 cups honeydew melon, chopped
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice (I used bottled, but if you use fresh lemon, you would need 2)
zest of 1 lemon

Prep work: Make sure the bowl of your ice cream maker is thoroughly frozen.  My bowl usually takes a full day to freeze completely.
1. Add all ingredients to the bowl of a food processor and blend thoroughly.
2. Transfer blended ingredients to a covered bowl or quart sized mason jar to chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
3. Pour chilled blend into prepared ice cream maker and process until frozen.  My ice cream maker usually takes 20 minutes to freeze.
4. The sorbet will be extremely soft after processing, so I recommend transferring the sorbet to a freezer-safe container to freeze more solid.

Enjoy!

Summer Panzanella Salad

Hi!  Have you ever had panzanella salad?  It’s a hearty salad made with crispy (usually day old) bread cubes, assorted vegetables and a vinegar based dressing.  It’s refreshing, but filling enough to serve as a meal if it’s too hot too cook, or you’re too tired after a long day.  It also is a great way to use up old bread and clean out your crisper drawers in your refrigerator.

 IMG_4854  For today’s salad, I made my own bread & used the oven to crisp it up and also grilled some summer squash that I had sitting in the fridge as an addition, but you can obviously make things much more simple on yourself by buying a loaf of a crusty bread such as ciabatta & using vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and peppers that you’d normally have on hand.  I’m sharing today’s recipe below, but use that as a guideline and make it your own!  Panzanella is best served the day it’s made.

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Summer Panzanella

6-8 cups crusty bread, cubed (few days old or toasted in the oven to crisp) I made my own using this recipe.
2 summer squash, grilled & chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped (I used one large tomato and a handful of cherry tomatoes)
1 cucumber, chopped (peeled & seeded if you prefer)
1/2 onion, finely chopped (I recommend red or Vidalia)
basil leaves, thinly sliced and parmesan cheese to garnish (optional)

Dressing
1/2 cup olive oil
3-4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (red wine vinegar is fine too)
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
salt & pepper to taste

1. If you’re going to grill vegetables (such as summer squash, zucchini, mushrooms or onions), prepare those first.  For the summer squash, I cut them into thirds lengthwise and drizzled each side with olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme.  Grill over high heat for just a few minutes until you see grill marks on each side, but you don’t want the vegetables to be mushy.  Remove to a plate and let cool completely.
2. Prepare the bread,  If you’re using day old bread, you can just cube the bread and toss it into a large bowl.  If you have fresh bread, cut into cubes and toast at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes or so to dry it out (a drizzle of olive oil can help with browning, if you want your bread to be browned) and then place in large bowl after it cools down.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients, taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.
4. Add vegetables to crusty bread in large bowl.
5. Pour dressing over vegetables and bread, toss together to coat. Let sit at room temperature or in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour to allow the dressing to absorb a little and soften the bread.
6. Garnish with thinly sliced basil (and some parmesan cheese if you’re feeling it!) and eat! 

We had our panzanella alongside turkey burgers with feta sauce & it was a perfect summer evening meal!

11108228_10204287488210505_1139016625066127123_n Enjoy!

Southwestern Quinoa Salad with Cumin-Lime Vinaigrette

My husband is an eater.  He prefers things featuring high spice levels, meat, cheese and basically anything wrapped in a tortilla, but I’m pretty lucky in that my husband will eat basically anything put in front of him.  Last night we compromised by having sausage burgers on homemade cheese buns, grilled potatoes (oh my goodness, so good!), and this delicious quinoa salad.  I thought it was delicious, and apparently so did he because he also had it for breakfast and a post-run snack today.  Which is all well and good, except for the fact that there’s no more left for me!  So I’ll be making this again, and you should try it too!

Southwestern Quinoa Salad with Cumin Lime Vinaigrette 

Southwestern Quinoa Salad with Cumin-Lime Vinaigrette

1 cup quinoa, dry
2 cups water or broth (I used vegetable broth)
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans (equivalent to 1 can, drained and rinsed)
1 cup corn, fresh or frozen, thawed
1 large tomato, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, ribs & seeds removed (optional)

1. Bring water/broth to a boil.  Add quinoa, reduce heat to low, cover.  Quinoa usually takes anywhere from 15-20 minutes to cook.  It should be soft and water should be absorbed.  Let quinoa cool slightly.
2.  Add beans and corn to medium sized bowl.  Mix together.
3. Add slightly cooled quinoa and vinaigrette (see below for recipe), mix together.
4. Fold in tomatoes and pepper, if using.
5. Eat!  Can be served cold or room temperature.

Cumin-Lime Vinaigrette

1/3 cup olive oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar (white vinegar would be fine)
1- 1.5 tbsp lime juice, to taste (I used 1.5 because I like the zing!)
1.5 tsp ground cumin
salt & pepper, to taste
hot sauce, to taste (optional, I used chipotle Tabasco)

1. Whisk/shake together all ingredients.  Taste and season accordingly to your preference. 
(I like to make my dressings in mason jars, so they can be quickly shaken together)

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Enjoy!

Eeeep!

I moved to Virginia.  We moved for my husband’s job and even though I knew the move was coming, and I was excited before we left, I don’t love it (yet).  I’m sure I will eventually, but right now, I just want to be home.  As I tell my husband – I don’t have a job (yet), I don’t have any friends (yet), I have no life other than grocery shopping and hanging with our dogs, and I miss my “New England life”.  I love where I’m from and usually, I love moving around, but this time I find myself in a funk, bummed out, and with no real inclination to change that.  I know it will work out and sometime our in our 4-5 tenure here, I will find my niche and I will love it.  We’re going home next weekend for Memorial Day and I’m really excited about that, and my best friend is coming down for most of the summer so that’s good too!

In the meantime, I have been buying a lot of groceries (it’s sort of my happy place), cooking a lot (and eating out a lot), and exercising a little.  Right when I start to feel in my exercise groove here, something shifts and I take 4 days off.  It’s all good though!  So, what I have been cooking?

Yesterday, I made Gruyere Rolls & Raspberry Chia Squares.  They were both delicious.  I ate a roll for lunch and a roll for dinner with a homemade veggie burger.  And, I had a toasted roll for breakfast.  I like to make the rolls much smaller than the recipe suggests, so they are more like sandwich buns or dinner rolls.  The raspberry squares are nice because they’re a little lighter than the average dessert bar (and slightly less sweet), but they do taste delicious with a little ice cream on top!

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Other things I made since we arrived (a month ago, oh goodness!) were cinnamon rolls (for my husband’s 30th birthday), a Bavarian feast, an impossible amount of salads (to combat the heat), vegan stuffed shells, empanadas, foccacia and so many meals on the grills (kabobs, burgers, veggies, shrimp, pork tenderloin).

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We’ve also been making a fence a.k.a doggy prison for the pups.  My skills at using a level are basically unmatched.

unnamed (2) Anyway, I’m hoping now with my incredible amount of free time that I can use this space as a place to unwind and share all of the recipes and food that I always meant to.  I’ll try to keep my whining to a minimum. xo