Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Riding Lesson #4

Just wanted to post up some photos of my fourth lesson (which was yesterday). Duke didn't snap as many photos as usual because the flies at the barn were horrendous! Poor guy. They drove him crazy while he watched my lesson. Here are some pics:

I love Artie. I really wish he was my horse. :)

Now, here is one of our problems. If we are jumping a series of jumps, we do great over the first one. But, this is what the second one looks like. See how we drifted over to one side of the jump? Artie thinks it's funny. It's a problem...but we're working on it. ;)

Geez. He is such a good boy. Love this horse. <3

Parmesan-Stuffed Chicken Breasts & Spaghetti Carbonara

I love to cook. And I loove to look for new recipes on the internet. I have several cookbooks on my counter. New cookbooks. Cookbooks I have never used. I know. What's wrong with me? So, tonight I opened one of them up and found two recipes to try from this book:

Duke bought me this cookbook last year, so I was glad to finally use it.

Here is what I made.

Parmesan-stuffed chicken breasts and whole-wheat spaghetti carbonara. I just split both of the recipes in half and used whole wheat pasta. Nom, nom nom. Delicious.

Luckily, I found both of the recipes online. The recipe for the chicken is here. The recipe for the pasta is here. Enjoy! :)

The Laundry Experiment

Laundry. Yup, that's right. I'm blogging about laundry. Crazy, right? But, I don't mind doing laundry. I can deal with laundry. What I can't deal with are dirty dishes. So we'll leave those until tomorrow.

Anyway. Back to laundry. This is the detergent I usually use. Ahhhh. The smell. So nice, so clean. Gain---I think I love you. Ok. This is getting silly.

I also really like this. 

It's amazing. It's a great carpet cleaner, works great in the garbage disposal, and deodorizes. This product is cheap and does so much. It's also a great laundry booster. I love it.

I like Gain. I don't have a problem with Gain. I actually went to the store to get more. Duke was with me and he always gets distracted in the store. Hard to believe, I know. Well, he found this guy.

My husband is crazy. He wanted to buy this detergent because he thought the packaging was cool. And, well---it is pretty cool. But is was four more dollars than Gain!!! The same size bottle for four more dollars! 

I looked a little closer and realized that this bottle washed twice as many loads. It is free and clear of dyes, natural, biodegradable, and hypoallergenic. And it had a 100% money back guarantee. 

I've been having allergy issues lately, and I am trying to be more "green." So, why not? Besides, I think everyone might be overlooking the fact that it comes in a cool container

So now, the real test. How will Duke's yucky work shirts wash with the new detergent?

It passed my test. Everything washed nicely. I used some lightly scented Snuggle dryer sheets to make up for the fact that this detergent has no scent. Glad I tried this, and I think it will be my go-to from now on. Until my husband finds another detergent in an even "cooler" container. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

This Week

I've been feeling under the weather today, so I thought it would be the perfect time to relax and share a little more about my week. Let me start with the fact that I started this book this week.

Well, I finished it today and Mr. Sparks did not disappoint with this one. I will add (having read most of his books) that once I got near the end of the book, I knew exactly how it was going to end. Even so, I really enjoyed reading this. All of Nicholas Sparks' books are very easy reads and can usually be finished in a day (if you have the time.) It was a tearjerker (surprise!), so make sure you have some tissues---or a blanket---or hey, even your husband's sleeve will do.

If you have never read a book by Nicholas Sparks, I would recommend starting with The Lucky One or The Guardian. Both are amazing. But, then again, I am a huge fan of all of his books. 

Next, I had my third riding lesson this week, so I have more photos to show some of my progress! Being out of riding lessons for three years has made me sooo excited to be back in the saddle again!

I love to jump, but it is pretty new to me, and I've just gotta work on that equitation over those jumps! Thank goodness Artie is such a good boy. :) And thank goodness Duke takes photos, so I can critique myself when I get home and know what to work on next week! :)


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Yep. This is what we had for dinner tonight. And boy, was it tasty. Easy, too. I've been trying to find more recipes for my slow cooker. You know, recipes that actually look good. Sometimes it's hard to make dinner in the crock-pot without it looking like a huge pile of mush. And who wants to eat mush for dinner? Not me, that's for sure. So here it is, folks. Pulled pork that is simple and smoky. Without the smoker--err whatever it is. I had planned on serving this up on some toasted mini buns, but Duke decided that buns weren't really necessary since I made the corn muffins. I still think you just can't go wrong with some toasted buns.

Check out the recipe here. I found the recipe on Tasty Kitchen and altered it to serve 3 people. That's one of my favorite features of the site; you can change the number of servings and it will recalculate the whole recipe. If you are a member of Tasty Kitchen, see the recipe here.

Yummmmm, yum.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Our {Temporary} House

So, I am still absolutely fascinated with Pinterest. Once I get on there, I have a hard time getting away from the computer. Most of the time I spend on Pinterest is looking at the "home" category. I love to get ideas about decorating and I am always curious about how other people decorate their home. I really just love interior design. So, on that note, I thought I would take some quick snapshots of our house. Now, our house isn't really decorated how I would like it to be. We've only lived here since April, and up until that point, we didn't really own a thing! And we all know there's only so much you can do with a rental. But all the same, it's our first place together and I love, love, love it. If you look closely, you can see the ocean in the background. :)

Here's a view of the front.
Our living room.
I tend to hoard cute things.
Our kitchen. Check out the AWFUL cabinets. Ick.
I collect vintage Pyrex and other colorful kitchen wares.

Our fridge still has Duke's homecoming sign on it. :)
Cuties on top of the microwave.
Oh yes. You need to have garlic within reach at all times. And melamine dishes.
My cookbooks.
Dining room.
Oh look. It's Breena. And a painting of Breena. :)
The guest room.
Still in the guest room. I'm not even going to show our room because we have no furniture in there yet besides the bed. I know. It's ridiculous.

Well, that's pretty much it! I really, really can't wait until we are able to buy a house. I'm pretty sure I'm going to be out of control when we do. :)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

About Me

Whew! I know I haven't blogged in awhile, but I have been super busy. I had my bestie come all the way from North Carolina to visit for a few days. She is a really super cool and awesome person.

I thought I would post a few basic things about me. I know. I'm really not that interesting, but here it is. :)

I wake up early in the morning when Duke has to get up (usually 5:30 - 6:30 am) and make his breakfast and lunch. I don't think it would be fair for me to stay in the bed when he has to get up. Although, sometimes I take a nap in the day. That's a secret.

My favorite colors are aqua, yellow, orange, and pink.

My favorite food is a grilled cheese, preferably from Mimi's Cafe. So simple, but soo tasty.

I hoard collect vintage kitchen wares. 

I love to read. I really cannot decide what my favorite book is, but the worst books I've ever read were the books in the "Fifty Shades" trilogy. What an absurd waste of time. They are poorly written and utterly unbelievable. I'm also pretty sure they were written by a sixteen-year-old.

My (current) favorite bands are One Republic, The Black Keys, The Civil Wars, The Lumineers, and Florence + The Machine. They are all amazing and I never get tired of listening to any of them.

My favorite television show right now is "Bunheads!" Yes, it's for teenagers and I feel somewhat ridiculous. But it's clever and witty. I also like "New Girl."

I love, love, LOVE to wear dresses, but somehow, I always end up wearing a tee shirt and jeans instead. I know.

My favorite store is Anthropologie, but it's wayyy too expensive! Target wins second place.

I love to cook, but I wish I was better at it already. I have some work to do. I think I'm probably much better at baking.

I am a super freak about the house being clean. Seriously. I don't feel like the sink is clean if there are water spots. I don't feel like the carpet is clean if there are not vacuum lines. I know. I think I might have a problem.

I hate washing dishes, but I never use the dishwasher because I don't think that it gets the dishes clean enough.

I'm pretty sure I love my dog way too much. I can't imagine ever having a dog that I will love more. Her name is Breena and she is eight years old.

I hate Summer. Spring and Fall are awesome.

I love to antique shop. Thrift stores are pretty cool, too.

I live on a military base in a cute little duplex style house. I love it. I'm so attached to this place, that I am sure I will cry my eyes out when we leave!


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Crock-pot Pot Roast

Okay. Moment of truth here. Get ready. When Duke and I got married, I had no idea how to cook. I could bake. I've actually always preferred to bake anyways. But a girl has to cook sometime, right? At least a little bit. I grew up in a house where my mom can cook two things really well: spaghetti and a frozen pizza. Oh geez, is she going to be mad. Sorry Mom, but I spilled the beans. But it's okay. You have other things you're good at. But we'll save those for later.

Back to business. I search for recipes online a whole lot. Basically, my goal is be a domestic goddess. Wait, that's a little ridiculous. Alright. I at least want to be the best wife I can be. My husband takes care of me and lets me stay home (for now, anyway), so the least I can do is try to have something yummy on the table for dinner. On my search for recipes, I discovered the Pioneer Woman. Oh my goodness. She is AMAZING! I love looking through her recipes and her blog. The woman is practically a genius. I made a pot roast from a kit in the frozen section of the grocery store when I first moved here. Wow---that may have been our first real meal! Anyways, it was not great. The potatoes were sort of yucky and the meat was bleh. So, I began the quest for the perfect pot roast. I found the Pioneer Woman's recipe and adapted it to make it my own. Trust me, I'm no Pioneer Woman, but this is delicious. Duke and I enjoyed it so much, that I posted it on "Tasty Kitchen," which is the Pioneer Woman's online recipe community. (If you haven't been on there, go check it out. Thousands of amazing recipes!)

Here is my crock-pot pot roast recipe:

Ingredient list:

  • 2 stalks Celery
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2-½ pounds Beef Chuck Roast
  • Coarse Black Pepper, Kosher Salt And Garlic Powder, To Taste
  • 1 whole White Onion
  • 6 whole Carrots
  • 1 can (14.5 Oz. Can) Low Sodium Beef Broth
  • 1 package (1 Oz. Size) Dry Onion Soup Mix
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • ¼ cups A-1 Steak Sauce
  • ¾ cups Water
  • 2 sprigs Thyme
  • 3 sprigs Parsley


Chop celery stalks into one inch pieces. (If the pieces are longer, it’s harder to eat the celery once it’s cooked because it gets sort of stringy.) Set aside.

Heat a large skillet or pan over medium-high heat. Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil. (Be careful if the oil starts to pop as it heats.) I actually put on safety goggles for this. Sad. But True.

Generously add salt, pepper and garlic powder to both sides of the roast. (If you prefer to add fresh garlic into the crockpot instead, that’s fine, too.) I use a whole lot of coarse black pepper.

Peel the onion then cut it in half from the root to the tip. I like to use white onions because they are sweeter. (You could always use more onions if you want). Cut both of the ends of the onion off. Once the oil in the pan gets hot, stick the onions in there. The goal is to get some really nice dark color on the onions. It’ll make a big difference in the end flavor and presentation. Brown all sides of the onion halves then move them to a plate or bowl.

Wash the carrots really well and cut them into two inch pieces. (I don’t peel mine. I like the texture of an unpeeled carrot.) Stick the carrots in the hot pan with the olive oil until they develop a nice darker color on one side. Move the carrots aside to a plate or bowl.

You may have to add a bit more olive oil to the hot pan—make sure there’s some in there to sear the roast. Place the roast in the pan for about a minute or two on each side to brown it. When finished, move the roast into the crockpot.

Now, add about 1/2 can of the beef broth into the hot pan with any remaining oil. Also add the dry onion soup mix, Worcestershire sauce, and A-1 sauce. Turn the heat up until the mixture bubbles a bit. Grab a whisk and deglaze all that yummy stuff from the bottom of the pan. Remove mixture from heat.
Add carrots, celery and onion on top of the roast in the crockpot. Add the remaining 1/2 can beef broth, 3/4 cup water, and all of the liquid from the hot pan.

Add the sprigs of thyme and the leaves from the parsley sprigs on top of everything. Dried thyme and parsley is fine as well.

Cover the crockpot and cook on low for 7 hours. Smells great, right? I like to serve this pot roast with garlic mashed potatoes. Yummm.

If you are a member of Tasty Kitchen, you can get a printer-friendly version of this recipe here.
Or go here to see what Tasty Kitchen is all about! :)

I hope you'll try this recipe. If you do, please leave me a comment. :)

Friday, August 10, 2012


Have I mentioned how much I love horses? Well, I sure do! Moving all the way to California and leaving my horse back in North Carolina was hard. His name is Cory and he is an adorable 25-year-old chestnut Arabian. I've had him since I was in the eighth grade and he is the best horse ever. Now that he's 25, it makes me sad to know that his show days are over, but he is very happily semi retired at a Girl Scout camp where he is loved by many little girls.

  Such a cutie pie. 

I've been dying to get into riding lessons since we moved out here. I haven't taken lessons in three years! Why? Because back home, I worked all the time. That's another story. Well, I'm out in California now and I don't have a job. Duke thought it seemed pointless because we will be gone before the end of the year. The bad thing about not having a job out here is that I haven't made any friends. Well, I have one friend that is cool, but her and her husband live off base. I have tried and tried to be friends with some of my neighbors. I thought that us living on base would be fun. And it is, just not in the way I thought. I thought it would be like living in a tiny little cute community where everyone was friends with everyone. Not the case. Everyone here just wants to be left alone. It gets so lonely when Duke is gone. Duke has friends out here. Lots of them. And they are all really cool and nice. But, none of them have girlfriends or wives. I don't get it. 

I felt guilty asking Duke for riding lessons, because I don't work and we are hoping to buy a house in a few months. Well, Duke must have been feeling sorry for me. Haha. He took me to visit some barns a couple of weeks ago, and we decided that there was one we liked the best. I had my first lesson last night and it was amazing!!! I rode this 17.1 hh horse named Artie. He is so sweet and adorable. I just love him already.

I can't wait until next week. Duke went to my lesson like a trooper and snapped some pictures and videos. He's such a great husband. He takes care of me, lets me ride, and he loves my dog. He even offered to work on my instructor's tractor in exchange for an extra lesson for me every week. He is so sweet and such a great man. I am proud everyday to be his wife.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


I wanted to document some memories of our first anniversary so I can look back at them in a few years. Duke took me horseback riding on the beach on Sunday! I love, love, love horses. I have loved them for as long as I can remember. So, you can imagine how excited I was when Duke told me we were riding on the beach! I had never ridden on the beach before, but it is something I have always wanted to do! So, we got in the car, ate a yummy lunch in Coronado, then headed to San Diego! The barn was actually right on the US border. It was kind of crazy. We were probably two football fields from the fence and there were border control officers everywhere. All the horses at the barn were so cute. I rode a horse named Grace.

The ride was soooo much fun! It was the such a great gift. Well, we had plans to go to dinner and a movie last night, so I made sure that I was ready to go when Duke got off work. I had made him brownies and had gotten him two little gifts and a card. Well, you can imagine his surprise when he walked through the door and realized he hadn't gotten me a card. Haha. (Oh my gosh, he would be so mad if he knew I told somebody. Haha.) I really do not care that he did not get me a card. I feel like horseback riding on the beach pretty much took the cake. I don't really get upset about a lot of things, and Duke has always never really had a clue when it comes to things like this. Most men don't. Haha. Well, we went out to dinner, and we were sitting at the table and I saw a brochure for a charity called, "Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation." This is some info from their website.

"Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) emerged from the front yard lemonade stand of cancer patient Alexandra “Alex” Scott (1996-2004). In 2000, 4-year-old Alex announced that she wanted to hold a lemonade stand to raise money to help find a cure for all children with cancer. Since Alex held that first stand, the Foundation bearing her name has evolved into a national fundraising movement, complete with thousands of supporters across the country carrying on her legacy of hope."

Now, I have always tried to donate little amounts of money here and there to St. Jude's, so I was excited to learn about Alex's Lemonade Stand. Cancer is one of the worst things about human life. The prospect of getting cancer, the people that are affected, and the affects that fighting it has on your body. Everyone knows someone affected by cancer, but I cannot, I cannot imagine having a child that was going through cancer. So, I told Duke that I would much rather him donate money to a foundation like this than to get me a card. The whole point of getting a card is that you can put it in a box later for your children and grandchildren to see. Well, this is something better. Something you just can't put in a box. Something more. I believe that in life, you get what you give. I know how Duke feels about me, and I'd rather have that warm feeling of giving in my heart than a greeting card any day. So, every year on our anniversary, I want to donate money to some sort of charity; which is the best gift of all.

Learn more about Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation here.

Monday, August 6, 2012

One Year

One year ago today, I got married to the most amazing man. It's been a crazy and wonderful year. One deployment, a cross country move, and some yucky meals later, here we are. It's crazy how things change. How we met ten years ago. How it took about eight-and-a-half years for "us" to actually work out. I mean, we have seriously been through it all...or it seems like it anyway. But now that we've been through so much, marriage has actually seemed pretty easy. So far. I'm with a guy that I trust 100% (obviously, or we wouldn't have gotten married! Haha). I still get excited everyday when he walks through the door. I love that he loves "all those quirky little things about me." Weird things. Like my OCD cleaning habits and my crazy addiction to antique shopping. It's funny how two years ago we weren't even on speaking terms. Yup. It's true. You wanna know what changed that? A mutual friend was injured in Iraq. Bad. Hearing the news was awful. But worse than that, was knowing that it could have been Duke. Sure, that's absolutely selfish. But I'm an honest person. Obviously, I never would want anyone to experience that. I know of way too many military widows and wounded troops. People always say that the person you should marry is the one person you absolutely cannot live without. Well, I knew without a doubt that I could not live without Duke. And I knew right then that things had to change. Duke had screwed up big time. We all do. Heck, I've screwed up a million times. That's what makes us human. He had been trying to call me for months and I ignored him. I was basically being a big baby and holding a grudge, which I seemed to do better than anyone. But, then I realized that there is nothing that Duke could ever do that would make me want to live without him. Life is short. Too short. And that was when I knew. I picked up the phone right then and called him. I love him more than anything. It was basically written in the stars for us to be together all along. We just had to grow up. That's what happens when you meet the love of your life in the ninth grade. And for all the people that thought we would never make it...guess what? We did. And we will.

P.S. I don't hold grudges anymore. That's not who I want to be. And life is just too short.