30 September 2010

faux chocolate eclair

I have a favorite cookbook. It is a compilation of recipes given to me by family and friends at my bridal shower.  I am currently working my way through making every recipe in the book, and this one was submitted by both my mother-in-law and my Aunt Ann.  If two rather different people from rather different parts of the country both submitted it, then I guess I gotta try it!

B saw the title, and immediately said, "My mom's never made an eclair in her life!" But then when I started getting the ingredients out, he questioned, "Oh, you're using graham crackers? I know that one." I guess he thought I was gonna make a REAL eclair, like this:

I have re-titled this to "faux chocolate eclair," just for his overly-literal engineer brain.
But anyway, here are the ingredients:

The first step is to put a layer of graham crackers on the bottom of your dish. Both recipes said to use a 9x13, but I decided to halve the recipe since I wasn't making this for an army/church potluck/hoard of teenage boys. An 8x8 would be fine for just me and B, although I did have to get slightly creative with my graham crackers.

Rounded corners make my life more difficult
The next step is to make the filling.  Both recipes called for instant pudding, but my MIL's said FRENCH Vanilla.  I'm in no position to go against the mother of my husband, so French Vanilla it is. Combine the pudding mix and milk to well, make pudding (sorta), then add the Cool Whip in.

If anything, the Cool Whip helped it from staying that mucky yellow color.  The next step is to make the chocolate topping.  My aunt's recipe just said to use a tub of prepared chocolate frosting.  My MIL's recipe was only slightly more difficult, so I went with that.  Because I'm still not about to ruffle the feathers of the grandmother of my future children.  Powedered sugar, white corn syrup, cocoa, vanilla, milk, melted butter.  It's kinda like making a runny chocolate frosting.

Then you get to assemble.  Half of the filling over the crackers, then another layer of crackers, then the other half of the filling, then more crackers.  Yep, 3 layers of graham crackers, 2 layers of filling, then the chocolate topping.  And now for the annoying part: cover and refrigerate!

We only let it chill an hour because we wanted dessert.  But the topping hadn't hardened, and B called me out on it.  My aunt's recipe says to make this 8 hours before serving it, and she's probably right.  We ate some the night I made it, then put it back in the fridge.  Last night we ate more after dinner, and it was perfect.  Topping was hard and the graham crackers were soft.  And you know what?  It really DID taste like an eclair!  Just one you need a spoon to eat.

I wanted to do an awesome cross-section picture, but rounded corners make it just look like mush.
The full recipe now (not halved):

1 box graham crackers
2 pkgs instant french vanilla pudding
3 cups cold milk
1 8oz container Cool Whip
4 Tblsp. melted butter
3 Tblsp. cocoa
2 Tblsp. white corn syrup
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
3 Tblsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla

1. Line bottom of 9x13 pan with graham crackers
2. Prepare filling: beat pudding mix and milk for 2 minutes. Then stir in Cool Whip.
3. Pour half the filling over graham crackers. Top with another layer of graham crackers. Pour on remaining filling. Top with 3rd layer of graham crackers.
4. Make chocolate topping by stirring all ingredients together. [OR (per my aunt) use a tub of chocolate frosting. Microwave it about one minute and stir.] Pour over the top of graham crackers.
5. Cover and refrigerate, preferably at least 8 hours.

29 September 2010

my life's parallel to last night's "glee" episode

Many people know I'm a singer.  A choral singer.  I started singing around the time I could talk and apparently never stopped.  From church choir to high school concert choir to college and beyond.  Yes, I was a Glee-clubber. But in the real world, the University of Georgia Women's Glee Club was just a large female choir.  No, we didn't dance, and neither did Men's Glee.  That is called a Show Choir, of which I have never been a part.

Anyway, even though they're using the name incorrectly, I still love the show "Glee."  And last night's Britney/Brittany episode brought back a few interesting memories.  (If you didn't see it, click the link to watch it on Hulu.)  The part I'm talking about was when the club was performing at the assembly, and Sue pulled the fire alarm on them declaring, "It's a Britney Spears sex riot!"  Ah, Sue, hilarious as always.

No, I've never performed a Britney song (I don't think?), but I have had a fire alarm go off in our set and had to evacuate the building!  It happened in my last semester of college, when I was blessed with the responsibility and respect of being the Women's Glee Club president (no solos required).  Our Women's Glee had the AMAZING honor to be invited to perform at ACDA Regional Conference in Charleston, WV.  Quite a ways from Athens, GA.  It was such a huge deal because our group was a non-auditioned choir.  Why the heck were we so awesome?!  (While I think our fabulous director had a lot to do with that, the girls who couldn't hack it pretty much weeded themselves out during Drop/Add week.)  No, it wasn't a competition, just a wonderful privilege and a possible ticket for our director to take a group to the national conference in a few years. 

Our trip to West Virginia had already gotten off to a rocky start even before we left.  We did a preparation concert in Athens at a local church, and one of our girls passed out in the middle of a song.  I think I heard a thud, but just thought it was a shuffling chair or something, then noticed our director cutting us off.  (Fainting actually happened to us AGAIN later in the semester when performing for a lunch meeting of the Kiwanis Club.  Different girl though.)

Less than a week later, at our biggest performance to date in Charleston, we had just started the last piece in our set for these big-wig choral directors.  I believe it was a difficult jazz arrangement of "My Favorite Things" from the musical The Sound of Music.  There are a lot of things you can tune out when you're performing, but a blaring alarm is not one of them.  Our director cut us off ever-so-professionally, and we shuffled out of the building into the cold.  Luckily, the building was not on fire, and we were soon informed we could go back in and finish our set!  Yay!

 The problem with an interruption like that is that it kills your momentum.  The set was laid out in a specific way to showcase our versatility as a choir and capitalize on audience interest.  Well, just like in last night's "Glee" episode, the momentum was lost, and I'm pretty sure all we were remembered for was being the unfortunate victims.  However, we're good sports and like to say that our ladies were so hot, we set the place on fire!

And while I don't have a video of me singing with my college choir, here's a video from last year of me singing with the old ladies Bellissima! Women's Chorale in Virginia Beach.


And now I need to find a choir here in Pensacola.  Or maybe I'll try some theater instead?

26 September 2010

museum day, city art

Yesterday I convinced B that we should partake in Museum Day and go to the local museum in downtown Pensacola. I printed off our free ticket from the Smithsonian site, and we were off. Now, if you Google "Pensacola Historical Museum," it takes you to this site -- which sounds like the same thing but apparently isn't.  I thought we were saving $10 by getting the free ticket, but when we walked in we were informed that admission is free and always will be. Alllllright then.

It wasn't a very big museum. It was your typical small city museum with a few rooms featuring timelines about its founding and whatnot. The only thing we really learned were the actual five flags that make Pensacola the "City of Five Flags" (Spanish, French, British, Confederate, USA).  Oh, we also learned that it still costs the same amount of money ($1) to cross the bridge to Pensacola Beach that it did in the 1930's!  And here I've been complaining that it's too much!

We finished the museum in less than an hour and decided to wander around town a bit. We noticed some music coming from afar and larger throngs of people, so we walked toward that. Come to find out we ended up right in the midst of the annual Pensacola Seafood Festival! And while we weren't so hungry yet, we did enjoy walking around and seeing all the cool crafty things for sale.

Our biggest highlight of the day happened when we stopped to look at some art out for sale.  They were bright, fun cartoonish-looking prints of Pensacola landmarks as well as some kitschy things like a Waffle House and a Krispy Kreme.  BUT THEN, I went farther in the tent and immediately exclaimed "Doumar's!!"  The artist came up to me and asked if I knew of it, and I told him we just moved here from Norfolk.  He then showed me the rest of his collection of Norfolk/VB prints, and explained to me that he and his wife(?) do these digital drawings on an iMac.  And then I turned around and noticed all of his Georgia landmark ones - the Big Chicken, Fox Theatre, the Arch at my beloved UGA.  We didn't buy anything, but we did find him again and get a card.

Check out his site at City Art Market online.  He has a few Chicago prints as well, which seem to be some of his better sellers.  Maybe if this guy's at the next Gallery Night, I'll actually cave and buy something.  They really are neat, no?

24 September 2010

apostrophes: a quick lesson in punctuation

Did you know that today is National Punctuation Day?  To celebrate, we're gonna have a little refresher about my good friend, the apostrophe.

Alright bloggy friends, let's make the internet a nicer place and learn how to use apostrophes correctly.  I learned how to use my punctuation correctly back in 4th grade, and it just somehow stuck with me all the way through AP Lit. and onwards into college.  I don't know what happened to the rest of the internet (too much texting, I gather), but I'd appreciate it if my Facebook wall, the blogosphere, and other frequented internet sites weren't cluttered with ignorant abuses of punctuation.  I know, I know, you're typing too fast and your thoughts get ahead of your Elements of Style, right?*

If you're gonna have a blog, learn to proofread and EDIT please!  I'll be the first to admit that I have stopped following a blog if the grammar mistakes are getting out of hand.  It makes me cringe, and it makes me think the writer is an idiot.  Also, I absolutely refuse to read a blog with an unintentional grammar issue in its title.  I know I'm not perfect either, but at least I'm trying over here.  And I have been known to go back and EDIT posts from weeks (yes, weeks!) ago if I notice an issue.  [And, no, I would not be offended if you called me out in the comments.  Unless you're just plain wrong.]

Call me a grammar snob, but here is a 3-minute lesson, and I hope some of it sticks.
  • Plural words:  This is probably where I see the most abuse.  They NEVER get apostrophes if they're not possessive also.  EVER.  I don't care if it's a proper noun.  The President and his family are the Obamas.  I like cats, submarines, restaurants, bistros, coupons, skillets, and biscuits on Saturdays.  I could go on all freakin' day.
  • It's and its:  It's = It is (or it has).  Always.  It's a nice day for the beach. It's got amazing horsepower.  Here's a tip: It's can almost always be made into 'tis, because they are a contraction of the same phrase.  If 'tis can't work, then drop the apostrophe because you've probably got a possessive on your hand.  Its is the possessive form of it.  Did you give the cat its water?  My car lost its left front tire. 
  • Possessives:  If it is a singular noun, the apostrophe goes before the S (with the exception of It).  This is Cat's blog!  She's using her husband's laptop.  If it is a plural noun that already has an S on the end, put the apostrophe after.  We're gonna have a bloggers' meet-up at the officers' club.  
  • Contractions and omissions.  This when you get to use apostrophes a lot.  Taking out a letter?  Use one.  Combining a noun and verb into one word?  Use one.  Writing in dialect?  Use a few.  Here's a sentence where there ain't nothin' wrong.  If you're attempting some complicated experiments in the English language, I promise not to cringe if you're slightly off.
*Also, did you take note of the CORRECT forms of you're versus your in that sentence up there?  You're = you are.  Your = possessive.  I'll tackle there, their, and they're another day.

If you want to brush up a little more on your punctuation or read about why it's important, check out the book Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss.  If you're shouting "Amen!" to everything I just said, check out the site Apostrophe Abuse.  If that site doesn't make you cringe, then you really need to brush up.

And how awesome is this guy?:

Now go forth, write with correct grammar, and make your high school English teacher proud.  But don't forget to proof that sucker.

23 September 2010

thursday 5

I don't usually participate in this one (have you noticed my lack of consistency in pretty much everything?), but I think it will help sum up my feelings today. So here are things that make me feel . . .





I'm Giddy because I emailed out ONE résumé this morning for a part-time but still career-ish position with the base newspaper, and I ALREADY got called back for an interview!  I felt very drawn to apply for this one, even though I thought I would never want to work at a desk job again.  It sounds like a win-win, but we shall see Monday morning at 10am.

I'm Jubilant that I found my keys after looking for them for an HOUR.

I'm Ecstatic that "The Big Bang Theory" is back on tonight.  And B is on a 'business' trip, so no one is gonna fight me for the remote!

I'm Thankful for all the people who have given me bloggy "awards."  I would hazard to say that I'm not playing very nicely along with other bloggers, since I never re-post and pass them on.  However, it's my blog, and I pick my own content, and it's usually not what I want to blog about.

What I WILL do today, though, is say thanks to these bloggy friends:
You should definitely go over to their pages and go check them out!

I'm Giggly because I got free museum tickets for Saturday!  And you should too!  Check out what's free in your area for Museum Day at http://microsite.smithsonianmag.com/museumday/  (Consider this my first giveaway!)  B doesn't know it yet, but we'll be spending Saturday at the Pensacola Historical Museum.  It's sure to be a hoot and a holler, all for less than a dollar!  (And if my ridiculously Southern turn of phrase didn't make you Giggly as well, you may need to re-evaluate your life.)

22 September 2010

gut cut, muscle maxx, and drill bits

 I think I'm unintentionally on a quest to try every class this base gym offers.  Some of them I even got suckered into by B's female co-workers.  They like to go to a class called Gut Cut during lunch hour, which is either followed by Muscle Maxx or Drill Bits, and of course we were both invited to join in the aches and pains fun.

Let me tell you, these classes kick my tail (and my abs!).  The first one is Gut Cut.  It's a class that focuses on your core, so it's just abdominal work for an entire half-hour.  One of the slightly easier things we do is something called a Russian Twist:

Okay, I admit I don't ALWAYS do it with my feet in the air.  It still works your obliques with feet on the ground, I promise.  However, whenever they say "Russian Twist," I can't help getting this atrocity of this 3OH!3 song stuck in my head.

The Drill Bits class is the one that constantly kicks my butt though.  It's basically sports conditioning drills, reminding me of my days as a sub-par JV soccer player.  Do laps, jump rope, push ups, bear crawling, wall-sits, etc.  I haven't seen suicide sprints at this class yet, but I fully expect it one of these days.

One thing about going to these classes at the gym is that they actually have guys in them.  The other classes I've been to have been all female, to the point where I told B that they should have a "Boy Box" with tinted-out windows.  That way, B can participate in Step/Zumba/Kickboxing/whatever, and not feel like the odd man out.  Kinda like the cry room at church, right?  I really think he'd enjoy Step Aerobics if he got over the stigma [he thinks is] attached to it.

However, what I noticed about having guys in the class (especially Gut Cut) is that they WHINE.  And these are the big tough Navy and Air Force guys (and perhaps even some Marines!).  But, man, what a bunch of wailing babies!

 Have you taken any interesting classes lately?  Or heard a grown man whimper for his mommy?

20 September 2010

free is better than good, and then you grow up

We finally joined the new millennium and got a fancy TV that broadcasts HD.  It's one of those flat-screen numbers that almost every other member of the Navy blew their entire first paycheck on.  But not my husband, of course.  And I'm okay with that, because I am ridiculously frugal.  For the past few years (decade?) each of us (especially me) seemed to be living by my old AmeriCorps mantra of "Free is better than good."  And sometimes free stuff IS actually good, so the other mantra was "If it's free, it's for me!"  We applied these ideals to food, clothing, events, really anything.  I've been slowly progressing to actual adulthood and getting all these size-XXL t-shirts out of my dresser and into a donation bucket . . .  

First, let me take a minute to mourn our old television, a free handout from another Navy wife (thank you!!).  The bunny ears were also free, as I got them at one of those white-elephant post-Christmas re-gifting parties.  Yes, I actually "stole" them from another person, and amazingly, no one else wanted them!  So they have followed me around for the past 4 years, from Jax, to Virginia Beach, to Norfolk, now to Pensacola, sometimes tucked back in the closet (when I worked for Cox Cable and got everything really cheap), but then sitting proper and pretty on top of the TV since B moved into his solo bachelor pad back in 2008.

Oh grandma, what long ears you have!

Can I just tell you how much I loved the 2009 digital transition?  Yes, we had to buy this little box because the free TV wasn't compatible (government coupon FTW), but there's no "snow" any more, and a super clear picture!  Our old TV is now our guest room TV, so our visitors can enjoy all 10 channels that it picks up (less than Norfolk, but oh well).  In addition, we moved the VCR in there (also free), because B was embarrassed that we had one and didn't want it on display in our living room any more.  But it was way cheaper (did I mention it was FREE?!) than re-buying all my Disney videocassettes!  I'm not embarrassed one bit.

Even with the new television, we still refuse to pay for cable, so enter our new antenna.  Yes, we pull HD right out of the air, and it looks amazing!  Although this new antenna looks effing ridiculous, and we have the "ears" fully extended (we're a bit far from the towers -- they're all in Mobile).  We watched a few football games on our new TV this weekend, and I'm impressed!  Our one issue is that we don't pick up FOX, so I guess I'll have to watch "Glee" on Hulu (or just read the spoilers all my friends will post on Facebook). 

Didn't George Jetson have one of these bad boys?

But after our little shopping spree where we bought some other big-sticker items, I was humbled once again by this Sunday's mass readings.  If you missed it, the ending was a nice reality-check of "You cannot serve both God and mammon" (Luke 16:13).  So I'm turning off the television for now and gonna go finish the book of Genesis.

14 September 2010

it's a special day . . . for my car

Laugh at me all you want, but today I'm celebrating my car on her 3rd birthday!

Showing her off on the day I brought her home

Let me tell you about my beloved blue '08 Toyota Corolla LE that I got on Sep. 14, 2007.  Her name is Ginny; it's short for Virginia.  She got her name because I bought her so that I could move to Virginia!  I had never actually had a car before her.  I had driven the extra family car (a '95 Volvo named Vlad the Impaler) my senior year of high school, but then my sister promptly took it back when I started college. 

So I spent all my college years taking busses, bumming rides, and walking up and down large hills, and then I moved to Jacksonville for AmeriCorps with no money and making no money either, still bumming rides but also riding a bike most of the time (which was then stolen!).  Thanks to everyone I bummed rides off of -- I promise I have and will continue returning the favor to friends in need.

As for my car, she has 43,713 miles now and has seen many wonderful things in her life so far.  She has had both a Georgia tag and a Virginia one (she had to get holes drilled in her front end for that!), with a Florida one probably coming soon.  She has endured countless trips from Norfolk back to Atlanta, and she has been through every tunnel in the Hampton Roads area (her favorite being the awe-inspiring Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, although she was not a fan of the massive toll).  The farthest north and east she has been is Pelham, NY, in which trip she had to endure the obnoxious New Jersey Turnpike (and its tolls), and the farthest south and west she has been is right here in Pensacola.  Her favorite road to drive is US 58 going east between South Hill and Emporia in Virginia. 

She has been in one wreck - a very minor fender-bender on Atlantic Avenue in Virginia Beach on Labor Day weekend of 2008, but it was not her fault and she got her damaged fixed promptly.  In that same year, she got a nail in her tire tread, but it was patched quickly and cheaply.  She has had absolutely no maintenance problems and always passes inspection on the first try.  She learned how to parallel park on the streets of the Ghent neighborhood in Norfolk.  The best gas mileage she has ever gotten was 39 mpg on the highway. 

Last year for her birthday, she got a hibiscus tattoo on the bottom right side of her trunk (a "tramp stamp" as my cousin called it), and earlier this year she got some University of Georgia decals for her back window, along with a small yellow ribbon magnet to the left of her back plate.  For her birthday this year, she already got new windshield wipers, and she is asking for a new air freshener.  And maybe new tires eventually.

That's my car - happy birthday Ginny!  Here's to many more happy and catastrophe-free years together!

13 September 2010

a creative goodbye party

**Okay, so I wrote this post about the awesomeness that was my Farewell to Norfolk party almost two weeks ago.  Thanks to all the moving craziness, I couldn't find the cord to my camera then and I STILL can't find it now (argh!).  This post would be infinitely better with pictures, but it's been annoying me just sitting there in my drafts.  So I'm posting it, goshdarnit!  If I find my cord (which I KNOW I didn't let the movers take--I just have no sense of organization), I'll edit this and add them in.  But for now, too flippin' bad.**

 My goal was to leave Norfolk in style, and also get rid of some of our stuff.  Sounds like a fine excuse for a "Clean Out the Pantry" Party!

My goal was to not buy anything for the party. Come to find out, we were out of beer, so that was out the window. But I didn't buy any food.  We made "poor man's pizza" on slices of wheat bread, I made "PBJ sushi" using a tortilla, I got rid of all our eggs by making box-mix cupcakes (some were mini because I ran out of normal-size cupcake holders), and I even found some leftover jelly beans and put those out in a candy jar (no, they weren't stale!). I also put a bunch of old magazines on the dining room table and let people take what they wanted (the rest got recycled).  And as at every party I throw, the contents of our liquor cabinet were readily available :)

The idea of the party took off as more guests arrived. Especially when a certain trio of young ladies arrived and asked if they could just start cooking! It was like that show "Chopped" on the Food Network. They just looked at what we had in the pantry and went to town making pasta for everyone and getting rid of all our tomato sauces and cheese!

Another friend was inspired to make some chocolate fondue. I whipped out a small slow-cooker and she threw in chocolate chips, marshmallows, and some raspberry wine she had brought along. We found some graham crackers and animal crackers to dip in it, and it was super-yummy!

Next time I move, I'll make sure to do this again and bill it as a Cooking Party.  Maybe even hold a real Cook-Off and we'll judge people's creations and give prizes or something. 

What's the most creative party you've thrown?

12 September 2010

church "shopping"

Here we go again, trying to find a church. Sometimes I think it's harder to find a church than a place to live.  We're Catholic, so we go to mass every Sunday (sometimes Saturday vigil) without fail no matter where we are.  At our last duty station, it took us six months to find a church "home."  I initially thought I had found a good one because the priest was great, but then I realized that the community was not very social (or even welcoming to newbies), and well . . . we could just do a lot better.

So I took the advice of my then-boss, who steered us toward an amazing church called Sacred Heart.  I realized then what I had really been looking for in a church:
  • Priest.  We have to be able to comprehend what he's saying, and he needs to have passion for his ministry.  Luckily most places seem to have a priest that I like, as long he's not falling asleep giving his homily or talking with such a strong accent that he might as well be speaking another language.
  • Music.  I admit it, I'm a liturgical music snob.  We tend to go to the "big" mass on Sunday morning, so the music better be the best.  I really don't like guitars or folk music in a mass setting.  I can't stand choirs who can't sing for beans, and I like those old hymns that everyone knows, and maybe even older.  (At Sacred Heart, the music director actually wrote a lot of the music, but it all sounded like it was written 100 years ago.  And the cantors were all really amazing.)  And congregation, please do not clap at the end.  This is a mass, not a choir performance.
  • Community and adult formation.  Gotta have a nice, welcoming bunch of people.  I figure that should come if you go to a place long enough and get involved.  I also got spoiled at our church in Norfolk because of the adult formation activities.  It seems a lot of churches are only focused on their religious education for K-8 and their RCIA classes.  But even us adults could use some activities to deepen our faith and share these experiences with our brothers and sisters in Christ.  You can't just expect to build meaningful spiritual relationships at a few fish fries a year.  Sacred Heart did things like a dinner and a talk (called "gathering at table"), bible studies, justice and peace ministry, etc.  There weren't a ton of kids at the parish, so there were a lot of opportunities for adults. 
We tried our third church today, and it was another miss.  But I'm sure we'll find something eventually, even if we do have to drive to Alabama for it (umm, that's really not very far!).  The good thing about being Catholic is that young adult groups are usually regional, so we can meet others at events like Theology on Tap and Adoration hours and they aren't attached to one church.

One luxury we had in Norfolk was that we were able to walk to church, which I know I'm going to miss a lot.  But hopefully there is an awesome church in this area just waiting for us to show up!

08 September 2010

guilt-free television

I know I blogged about television yesterday, but I just wanted to share something about my completely guilt-free hands-down favorite show EVER.  It's won a gabillion and one Emmy's, and it really is the best reality show out there. I'm talking about The Amazing Race.

But I'm not just gushing today, I'm really sharing the news that one of the most popular vloggers on YouTube is gonna be on this season!  B first introduced me to KevJumba a few years back, a cute little Asian teen from Texas who makes funny videos.  People must love him, since he has over a million subscribers!  So he just announced yesterday that he and his dad (who is in most of his videos and already has an iphone app!) will be running the race!  Hopefully I can convince B to actually watch the show with me this fall, so we can cheer on our TeamJumba.

If you've never heard of him, here's one of my favorite videos of his:

07 September 2010

top 10 tuesday: guilty tv pleasures

We're back (for good this time) in Pensacola, and luckily had no major travel issues this time around. Already loving our stay at Navy Gateway Inn better than our 2-week stint at the Navy Lodge here, even if we don't have the stovetop or a "breakfast-to-go" bag every morning.  Now I need to figure out what to do with my time while B works.  Maybe I'll even make my momma (and my alma mater) proud and look for one of them job-things.

Top Ten {Tuesday}

But in the meantime, here are my Top 10 of My Guilty Pleasures on Television:

10. Say Yes to the Dress.  I used to watch this to justify how much dough we spent on my wedding dress (drop in the bucket next to these girls), but now I like to watch it for the family dynamics and the fashion.  And now there's an Atlanta version with prissy southern gals that reminds me of college.
9. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? with Meredith Vieira. Love me some quiz shows, especially while working out.
8. Sid the Science Kid. I don't have kids, and I didn't discover this show with the help of a child. I needed some background noise, didn't have cable, and this comes on PBS. And I totally learned who Ignaz Semmelweis was thanks to Sid and his grandma!
7.  19 Kids and Counting.  They may have taken things a bit to the extreme, but you have to respect a gigantic family with no debt at all and well-adjusted kids.  Plus, I love Johannah.
6.  WordGirl.  This is one of those kids' shows that adults can watch and pick up on jokes that kids don't get.  Fun for the whole family, and your kid will have the best vocab on the block after watching.
5. Ace of Cakes. I hate the taste of fondant, but I love seeing what you can do with it.
4. What Not to Wear. 10 years ago, I would've been a good candidate for this one. I especially like when the nominee is a dude.
3.  Cats 101.  I love cats, and unfortunately, my husband is allergic.  But I can live vicariously through this show on Animal Planet which showcases different breeds.  
2.  Man vs. Food.  It's a game, it's grub.  So that's two of my favorite activities, and a dude who can actually win most of the time.  I can't even win the Saltine Challenge (6 Saltines in 1 minute, no water), but it sure is fun to try!
1.  Wipeout.  It's the same spills over and over again, yet I just can't get enough.  And the more I watch it, the more I want to be a contestant on it!

03 September 2010

follow friday: jersey circus

We're headed down to GA today en route to my parents' house for the weekend and then on to Pensacola to actually LIVE there for 2 years (yikes!), but I thought I'd share a HILARIOUS website with you on this #ff!
Today I present you with . . .
Jersey Circus!

Name: Jersey Circus
URL:  http://www.jerseycircus.blogspot.com/
Tagline: at last, Jersey Shore and Family Circus finally come together.

It's exactly what the tagline says it is!  Family Circus panels with ridiculous quotes from Jersey Shore in place of the original caption.  Genius!  I'm sure Snooki and The Situation are very proud.

If you like these, you may also enjoy Garfield Minus Garfield.  And if you know of any other sites that take advantage of popular comic strips, let me know in the comments!

02 September 2010

a farewell to norfolk

It's the end of an era.  The movers have come, our place is empty, all we have left is a carpet-cleaning and a move-out inspection.  Then it's goodbye Hampton Roads!  It's actually been harder to leave than I thought it would be.  After college, I moved to Jacksonville, FL, to do AmeriCorps, and since then (or possibly before) I've sorta considered myself a nomad.  But I guess it's a bit different this time since we're the ONLY ones leaving.  College was just a bunch of entrances and exits, with everyone on roughly the same timeline.  It was good to leave Athens -- it meant that you're moving on (and hopefully up) in life.  My AmeriCorps "family" also mostly left en masse at the end of our year of service.  The others just never really left (and probably never will?).

But this time, it's us.  Just us.  And lately I've been reminiscing on my reaction to those first set of verbal orders.  The ones that said we were gonna stay here.  I was NOT happy about it.  But what was hard to convey to my friends (and the reason I really didn't wanna tell anyone) was that I wasn't upset because of the PEOPLE I've met here.  Or the neighborhood we lived in.  Or the church we attended.  All of those things I will miss very dearly.  My frustration really circled back to that nomadic part of my personality.  I felt like we were being denied an opportunity.  I mean, let's face it here, our top six picks were in completely amazing, awesome, exotic, exciting locales.  San Diego, Hawaii, Italy.  If we had actually been selected to go to any of those, I'm sure my friends would've been ecstatic for me, the adventurous one.

After I let it set in a bit, I didn't know what to think.  This could be a great thing, and I could possibly see us as the kind to never leave here (which slightly frightened me as well).  Norfolk was safe, it was fun, I had friends here.  Why was I so against staying?  I can't deny I was jealous about everyone else getting their top picks, and me being stuck here angry at the detailer for being a lazy bum didn't help matters.  But after all the roller-coaster emotions a gal can handle in one week after hearing we're staying put, it changed.  Pensacola.  Our #7 (perhaps 8? either way, pretty far down the list).  I was pretty neutral about the news.  I'd lived in north Florida before, and B had done his OCS at our newly-assigned base.  My initial reaction was just a few simple questions.  Will this be a "real" adventure?  Does this mean I'm going backwards in my life?  Is there anything to DO there?  And, um, didn't some oil thingy just explode near there*?

*Okay, technically, the Deepwater Horizon Spill didn't happen until the day AFTER I got the news.  But still.

I've come to realize that these orders are coming at a great time in our lives.  It will be such a blessing to have my family only a 6-hour drive away, after these past 3 years of driving 10 hours (still cheaper than flying though).  And with my husband on shore duty, he will be around to go with me on MLK weekend and hold our first niece, due this January.  My mom can come down and see us for the weekend when she works in south GA.  And we can drive to see extended family in Tampa and Orlando.  Or we can drive the same amount of time as from Norfolk, minus winding mountains, to see his family in Indiana.  (At least I think there are winding mountain roads, as he's never actually been on land here long enough for us to take a road trip there.)  And when we start pro-creating (or "popping out puppies" as I like to call it), our families and friends all come to us just as easily.  No worries about southern hospitality, either.  I know we'll be taken care of by the fine folks we'll meet, just like we were here.

But Hampton Roads will always hold a special place in my heart.  It is where I went from girlfriend to fiancée to wife.  It is where I had more addresses in the course of three years than I'd had in my entire life.  It is where I had one of the worst roommates ever and one of the best.  It is where I became both a "career woman" and then a "domestic" one.  It is where I first felt like an outsider, and it is where I came to feel like I fit in perfectly.  It is where I first had to "try" at making friends, and it is where my friend-network built up so much that I rarely spent a Saturday night alone.  It is where I experienced a pretty awful deployment, and it is also where I experienced a pretty amazing one.  It is where I got into my first car accident, toured my first submarine, went on my first bar crawl (and subsequently dealt with my first hangover), decorated my first cake, caught my first fish, rode in my first limo, and bought my first boogie board.  I feel like I came here as a confused girl, hoping this dating thing would work out, and will be leaving as a classy young lady.  I feel like Norfolk is where I've received my "big girl panties," and for that, I am grateful.

I truly will miss all of the friends I have made here, from fellow sometimes-lonely Navy wives to passionate Catholic kids to middle-aged sopranos to cable advertising sales assistants (and everything in between).  I'm not very good at saying goodbye in person and I often don't know what to say in these situations other than a traditional Navy toast of "fair winds and following seas," but I thought I'd do this in my own style with a Lebanese Blessing by Jeannette Abi-Nader, since, you know, I'm Lebanese and whatnot.  We  included this on the back of our wedding programs, and I think it is appropriate here as well:

May love be the gardener of your years 
Bringing forth from your grounding in God 
A harvest of wholeness and peace 
A bounty of courage and compassion

May your soul tower 
with the strength of the cedars 
Your heart pound with the power of the sea

May joy rise in you like the mountains, 
And may it be a blessing you share 
With all those you love, 
Who this day make merry 
That in you The great love of God 
Has found a home on earth

That is my prayer for everyone who has come into my life these past three years.  I won't forget you, and I hope to see you again someday!