Friday, February 26, 2010

Military Ball

Husband and I are going to a military ball this weekend. Believe it or not, I think this is actually my first ball. We’ve been to plenty of formal banquets and other military events, but never an actual ball. (For some reason I feel the need to share how hard I’m resisting making any sort of “ball” puns: “we’ll have a ball,” “we better get on the ball,” or “keep your eye on the ball.” Ok, I’m stopping.) This will also be a historic event because, get this, I’m actually wearing a dress I wore as a bridesmaid! I’ve always heard “you’ll be able to wear it again!” whenever I’ve been a bridesmaid, and every single one of those bridesmaid dresses has been pushed to the back of my closet never to come out again. But this time, I’m actually wearing one. The dress is long, black, and really elegant. And, funny enough, it’s the dress from when I was the stand-in bridesmaid. I made sure to tell my friend (the bride) that she has great taste and that I’m happy to wear it again. Happy Friday!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Halfway There

When people ask how long we’ve been at this assignment, it seems like we’d always say, “Oh, we just got here.” It’s strange to think that now we are at the halfway point, or maybe even a little past the halfway point of being here. There’s still a lot I want to do at this assignment before we leave. In some ways, I think we do the most exploring and traveling when we’re at a place for a short time. It’s probably because we realize that we have limited time and we try to pack everything in that we want to see and do. I’ve made a “to-do” list of some things specific to this area. (For the record, it’s nice to have a “to-do” list that doesn’t have “laundry” or “cleaning” anywhere on it!) Here are some of the things on it: - Visit the National Park that’s not too far away - Eat at the steakhouse in town - Have a picnic lunch in the park downtown - Go on one of the nature tours sponsored by the park service - Get a group of friends to go to the new wine bar that just opened - Go to one of the art shows in town And finally, I want to take more pictures. It wasn’t until someone asked if I’d contribute pictures for a military couple’s farewell album that I realized that I have so few pictures here that I'm almost embarrassed. I’m going to try to make my camera work overtime. After all, I’ll need some sort of evidence that we were actually here! What’s on your “to-do” list of where you live?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Presidential Meal, Part II

I told Husband on Friday that we were having President Reagan’s macaroni and cheese for dinner. Husband did not seem to be aware of my new presidential cookbook because he asked, “What’s with all the president meals?” Anyway, he was so crazy about this macaroni and cheese that he requested that we have it again tonight. (That’s not a big surprise because Husband will love anything that’s covered in cheese.) The dry mustard gives it a little bit of a zing. Here is the recipe, if you’re interested: President Reagan’s Favorite Macaroni and Cheese ½ lb macaroni 1 tsp butter 1 egg, beaten 1 tsp salt 1 tsp dry mustard (I used “ground mustard.” I’m not sure if there’s a difference.) 3 cups grated cheese, sharp 1 cup milk “Boil macaroni in water until tender and drain thoroughly. Stir in butter and egg. Mix mustard and salt with 1 tbsp hot water and add to milk. Add cheese reserving enough to sprinkle on top. Pour into buttered casserole, add milk, and sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until custard is set and top is crusty.” (Note: I’m not sure what the “custard” is that they mention.) Enjoy! “All great change in America begins at the dinner table.” Ronald Reagan

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Presidential Meal

A while ago, my mom mentioned on the phone that she was doing some spring cleaning. “I’m getting rid of some things, like this Presidential Cookbook I’ve had for years.” I was intrigued by it and begged, “Don’t throw it out!”

On our recent visit, she gave it to me. It’s actually more like a small pamphlet than an actual book. But, it has all sorts of recipes that are supposedly the favorites of each listed president. And my mom wasn’t lying when she said she’s had it for years because the most “recent” president it features is President Reagan. I thought I’d give one of the recipes a try. If a recipe is good enough for a president, it must be pretty good, right? I decided to make JFK’s favorite seafood casserole. Here’s the recipe: New England Seafood Casserole 1 lb crab meat, canned, frozen, or fresh cooked (I used canned, and I used less than 1 lb) 1 lb shrimp, cooked and cleaned ½ cup chopped green pepper ¼ cup diced onion 1 ½ cups finely chopped celery ½ tsp salt 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce *1 cup mayonnaise 2 cups crushed potato chips 1 tsp paprika

“Combine all the ingredients except potato chips and paprika and spoon into buttered 2-quart casserole dish. Top with potato chips and sprinkle with paprika. Bake in 400 degree oven 25 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Makes 6 servings.” The recipe doesn’t include one important thing, which is to make sure you sprinkle “chowdah” or “lobstah” in your conversation while cooking it. It’ll make it much more authentic. Trust me. The recipe turned out pretty decent, and Husband really liked it. While my cooking wouldn’t be good enough for the White House, it’s good enough for our house. And remember, “Ask not what your dinner can do for you, but what you can do for your dinner…” *Edited to add: 1 cup mayonnaise. I forgot to include this the first time I posted it - sorry!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lent Begins

I actually look forward to Lent every year. For me, it’s like a clean start like New Year’s, but without the silly hats and with more meaning. In the past, I’ve given something up, like sweets. I thought about doing that again, but I realized it would probably be more of a Lenten sacrifice for Husband, since he would be the poor guy dealing with the grumpy person I would become for not being able to eat chocolate. One of the most successful Lents I’ve had was when I decided to do something nice for other people instead of giving something up. This year I’m going to do one nice thing a day for someone else (but not necessarily the same person every day). I hope that it makes me more aware of people in need and how I can help. And I hope it makes me focus on love and service, which I think is what it’s all about. I have a few ideas of some things I might do: make a meal for someone, call someone that might be lonely, give my spot in line to the person behind me, donate to a worthy cause, etc. I hope to be open to other opportunities as they come along, too. (By all means, if you have any ideas, please let me know because I’ll need at least 40 of them!) Are you doing anything for Lent? If so, please share!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

I think I got the best Valentine’s Day gift of all. I got to come home early from my work trip, so we get to spend the day together! We plan to catch up on our favorite show, Lost. Neither of us saw the first two new episodes, and I’m excited to watch the shows together. After all, nothing says romance like a TV drama with a complicated plot line, right? Hope you all have a happy Valentine’s Day, too!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Healthy Food Conspiracy

I have very good intentions of eating healthy on my work trips. Usually I make a trip to the grocery store when I arrive wherever I am and buy at least a bag of baby carrots. However, this plan doesn’t seem to be working out so well. On one trip, I bought the carrots and put them in the hotel refrigerator. And that was it. The carrots and I never saw each other again. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized I left them in the fridge. (Let’s hope the hotel maid likes health food.) Total carrots consumed = 0. On this trip, I brought 2 bags of baby carrots and put them in the hotel fridge. The next morning I discovered that the fridge setting was way too cold and everything in the fridge froze, including the carrots. I let them thaw and then ate one. Though it was orange and looked like a carrot, it tasted nothing like one. Total carrots consumed = 1. Clearly, my track record for health food on the road hasn’t been so good. Yet, my mom just gave me a bag of candy for an early Valentine’s gift. Since they’re not in the refrigerator, there’s little chance that they’ll freeze, and because I’m a chocolate addict, there’s zero chance that I’m forgetting them. Is it a still conspiracy if you happily accept the situation?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Working Vacation

The title of this post has become my mom’s favorite joke this week. She’s been visiting me while I’m on my business trip. She enjoys telling our family that we’re on a “working vacation.” She tells them, “Tootie’s working, and I’m vacationing!” I had the weekend off, and I got to do my fair share of vacationing with her. My favorite moment of the weekend was sitting outside on Saturday, which was warm and sunny, and eating an ice cream cone with my mom. Our hotel also happens to be within walking distance of a Barnes and Noble. This working vacation may not be too much work after all.