Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hawaii, Here I Come!

Tomorrow evening, I leave for an 8 day trip to Hawaii. I am going to meet my sweet little grandson. It is just an added perk that he lives in Hawaii.
It's an especially nice time to go, because the weather in the Pacific Northwest is just nasty right now. I'm not going to miss the drizzle and clouds.
Because sweet little Jackson's parents live in a small house, and this mother-in-law doesn't want to be intrusive, I'm staying in a hotel downtown Waikiki. It's a tough gig, but someone has to do it, right?

Besides spending time with my beautiful daughter and her baby, I'm looking forward to having the lanai doors open to the Hawaiian breeze and sunshine. Have I mentioned how cloudy and yucky it is here at home?  I'm doing this for my health. I think I'm deficient in Vitamin D.  Maybe my insurance will pay?
It's too bad Nick won't be joining me. I'd truly love to have a little get away with him, and I know he would love to meet baby Jackson too. Hopefully, this summer we can go back and spend some time.

As usual, I've put off all the details that need to be done before leaving on a trip. I have errands to run, I have packing to do. I don't know why I've put off packing, it's not like I'm wearing sundresses and flipflops right now. I could have all that stuff out and ready to go.
However, my body is not Hawaii ready. I'm winter white and jiggly. It's so much nicer to hide all this in jeans, fleece and boots....but I'll adjust.
I'll update from Hawaii and post pictures of the sweet baby. I can't wait to get my hands on him!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Cheesy Corn and Chicken Chowder

After writing yesterday's blog post, I decided to dig through posts I've written in the past. I did it for no good reason, because I had plenty of other things I should have been doing.
Anyway, I came across this one, http://paula-queenofmycastle.blogspot.com/2010/11/today-i.html amongst others, and realized I mentioned a chowder that I made that day and haven't made since. Someone even asked for the recipe in the comments, and I apparently just ignored that.
On a weird note, I get an email this morning from someone who just commented on that same post, written over a year ago and wanted that recipe too. What are the odds?

So, I was forced to dig through cookbooks, bookmarked web sites etc until I found said recipe. I finally found one in one of my Goose berry Patch cookbooks (Slow Cookers, Casseroles & Skillets) that is titled: Country Chicken Chowder.
You may be asking, "How did you know this was the recipe you used? It's not the same soup as what you described?"  I'll tell you how I knew. The page in the cookbook with this recipe on it has food splattered over it. It's all the evidence I need.

The recipe in the book is this:
Country Chicken Chowder
2 T butter
1 1/2 lbs chicken tenders
2 10- 3/4 oz cans cream of potato soup
1 1/2 C chicken broth
2 onions, chopped
2 stalks celery, sliced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 C frozen corn
1 t dill weed
1/2 C half and half.
Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and cook until golden. Place chicken in a slow cooker, stir in remaining ingredients except half and half. Cover and cook on low setting for 3 to 4 hours. Shortly before serving time, turn off slow cooker, stir in half and half. Cover and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes, until heated through. (serves 8)

I'm sure I cut that recipe in half. No way the three of us needed that much soup. I also must have added some cheese in there at some point. (thus the "cheesy" part of the name)
I know I didn't add dill because that's just not like me.

So, in the post so long ago, I described it as delicious. I'm making it next week. I will let you know if I still like it. If any of you decide to make this before I do, let me know how it turns out. Clearly, I've lost my mind.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Things That Make Me Go Hmmmm....

It's January, I'm back on the bandwagon for working out, eating healthy, etc. so I went to the gym this morning.
As I'm humping it on the treadmill, I have CNN on the big TV in front of me. I saw the following story:

This was a story about a "sex surrogate"  This woman who is 67 years old and a grandmother of two, is a "registered sex surrogate"   She essentially gets paid for sex. When asked about that, she answered that no, she isn't getting paid for sex, she is an expert on touching, communication etc. That it is all body parts and not just genitals that are involved.

Excuse me?!  We have another word for people who are paid for sex and the last I looked, it was illegal.  Believe it or not, this woman is one of approximately 50 that are registered in this country.
The story goes on to say that she has had over 950 "clients" and services them mostly at her home. They showed  a shot of her bedroom. I had to wonder.... are candles and sheets a tax write-off for these people???  I can imagine they go through a bunch of them.

Shaking my head... I guess it takes all kinds.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Respect Never Goes Out of Style

I've mentioned before, that my husband recently took command of a brigade of Soldiers. This brigade is quite large and covers three different Army posts and has a combined total of 8 battalions attached to it.
Needless to say, he is very busy and even a little overwhelmed at times at the issues that need to be addressed and the tasks that need to be done every day. His schedule is so tight that he truly has trouble returning personal phone calls or even a text message during the day. I've made brown bag lunches for him lately and he is literally eating in the vehicle as he moves from one meeting to another.
In spite of this schedule, Nick made time today to have an office call with a retired General Officer that was once in the same command position as he is. Because of that, and his dedication to this brigade, this General has been named "Honorary Commander" of the brigade.
The General was involved in alumni groups and other brigade related groups until he had a stroke. Now he walks with a cane and is slow to speak and walk. Because of that, he travels with his wife, who drives him from place to place.
Because his wife accompanies him, I was invited to be a part of today's office call, to keep her company.
Mrs. General and I enjoyed chatting about grand babies, old Army ways and social traditions as our husbands talked Army. Nick briefed the General on what current brigade Soldiers are involved in and asked for his input on certain things. We also sent them away with a lot of brigade "swag"  Coffee mugs with the unit crest, a coin of the battalion the General commanded etc. The old gentleman's eyes lit up when Nick asked if he would like to have the coffee mug. He said "You're damn right!" 
As we finished up and promised to get together for dinner soon, we escorted the couple to the brigade front door.
Just as the General reached the exit door, my husband, brigade commander, called his Soldiers to attention. The General didn't miss a beat, didn't slow down and didn't look back. He simply said "Carry On"  and he left the building.
I realize I'm a bit of a sentimental slob, but I got teary eyed when Nick stood at attention and called the others to attention as well. It was a courtesy to a man who has served with honor and still wants to be involved.
I was very proud to be part of my husband's team today. I'm so humbled and grateful to have the opportunity to stand alongside the heroes that served before. They certainly deserve all the respect we can give them.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Callie's Trip

I'm sad today. Today we had to take Callie to the airport so she could fly back to Texas and start her second semester of Nursing School.

We had such a good time while she was here. I SO miss having another female in the house.
Not only did she help out last Sunday at her reception, but she and I got to spend time doing fun things together.
We spent one day in Seattle doing a little sight seeing. I had not been to the top of the Space Needle and I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to do that. There is actually a restaurant at the top that rotates as you sit and eat. It can make for a little motion sickness if you are prone to that!
We had a great seat and magnificent views. The day was unusually clear and we could see for miles.
 Here we are in the restaurant with a bit of the view behind us. We had a delicious lunch and it was truly a treat.
 Here is a view of the Space Needle from the ground looking up. It's magnificent.
 Speaking of magnificent.. check out this view. This was from the observation deck after lunch. That mountain is such a presence here. On a clear day you can see it from almost anywhere it still looks HUGE.

Here are a few views of our trip up to Mt. Rainier. It was a very snowy day and we could only go up so far, but Callie got a dose of snow and that's really all she wanted.
 Check out the size of this tree!  I actually have other photos of this tree. We have been up this road every month since October. It's interesting to see how the weather changed every month. I will share those in another post.
Nick and Alex attempting to put snow chains on the car. We borrowed those chains and didn't realize that they were too big for our vehicle. So, we didn't go all the way up as far as we could go. It's probably best, because the weather was getting really nasty.

My snow bunny. She is such a little southern girl and truly loves to see a little snow. It really doesn't take much of it to make her happy.
After being here for a week and a half, she was ready to head back to Texas to warmer weather. She's a bit of a wimp like her mother when it comes to the cold.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Holiday Reception & Etiquette

I mentioned in my last post that Nick and I hosted our very first New Year's Reception this past Sunday. The tradition has been that the commander would host his senior leaders (because there are just too many to have everyone over) to his or her home on New Year's Day. However, who really wants to do this on New Year's Day?  Not the commander and certainly not the Soldiers who work for him.
So, our decision was to do it on the 8th of January. We did it from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM in one hour rotations. We had a group at 1:00 who stayed until 2:00, then had a 30 minute break to re-stock food, drinks, etc. and then had the second group at 2:30 and so on. We saw the last group out at 5:00.
Tips for hosting this kind of event:
Cater if you can. Seriously, it's a lot of work and I was overwhelmed.
If you can't cater, go to Costco or a similar store and buy stuff that is easily put together or simply warmed in the oven at the last minute. I did lots of this and it was good.
Have help in the kitchen. My friend Carla, my daughter Callie and Nick's deputy's wife were all there and helped me so much. They completely took the stress out of the day.
Block off your kitchen if you want no one in there. I closed the door from the kitchen to the dining room, and hung a sheer curtain over the other doorway. Even then, people looked in to find a place to put empty plates, cups etc. (have someone walk through and gather trash, plates, etc. That helps too)
Have a guest book. You will want to look back after the rush and see who was really there.
At the end of the rotation, take everyone OUTSIDE to take a group photo. It ensures they are out of the house at the end of their time. Don't let them come back in! 
Mingle and have a great time!
Now for those of you attending a reception such as this.  Here are the do's and don'ts.
Don't bring a hostess gift. It's not that kind of party. It's a reception and more formal, so you are really only required to show up. For the service member invited.. it's a command performance. Don't think because it's an invitation and you can RSVP that you have the option NOT to go. Go.. you'll thank me later.
Don't ask for a tour of the home. Yes, I live in a beautiful historic home. No, I do not want 50 people at a time wandering through it. If your host/hostess want to give you a tour, they'll offer. (no one did this to me, but did to some of my neighbors who hosted receptions)
Don't take your children. Don't ask if you can bring your children. This is an official event and not a place for toddlers to be running around.
Do speak to the commander and his/her enlisted counterpart. (The Command Sergeant Major) they are a team and should always be included in a greeting, thank you, good-bye etc.
Thank everyone involved for inviting you and for opening their home. It is just the right thing to do.

I will have to say, my group was fabulous. No one was out of line, no one brought kids, wandered through my house etc.
It's a reflection on the wonderful officers and NCO's who are working for my husband. We are very blessed and humbled to be able to serve in this way.

I will leave you with a photo of Nick and me outside our home as we were getting started on Sunday. It was a blast!!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Party for Grandma

Since my last post, right after Christmas, I have been super busy.
Nick decided that he wanted to embrace some of the old Army traditions that we've moved away from since we've been fighting all these wars. He wanted to host a New Year's Reception. At our house.  I have never thrown a party of this size in my home.
Granted, it's not every Soldier in the brigade, but a lot of them.
So, we sent out invitations, figured out the time frame (they come in rotations because of the size of the group) and I started making lists.
On Sunday, Jan 8, we hosted 80-100 people in three rotations at our house. I think it went very well because of the amazing help I had. My friend Carla came over and manned the kitchen, my daughter Callie was here to do whatever needed, and the boy helped out with hat and coat check and trash duty. It was truly a team effort.

The highlight of my day, however, was a text message I got about five minutes before the first group arrived. I knew my daughter in Hawaii was in labor and about to give birth to my first grandbaby, and I was checking my phone every few minutes.
Like I said, right before the first group, I got this from my son-in-law:
"Congratulations you are now a grandmother!!  At 0924 we had Jackson. He came out 6 lbs 20 oz, and 18 1/2 inches long. 
I started crying!
Then I got this:
The water works really started flowing. Nick walked in the kitchen to see if I was ready to greet our guests, and I'm sobbing!  He said, "Seriously?  You're crying?  You're going to mess up your face!" 
Needless to say, everyone at our reception Sunday got to see a photo of my new grandbaby.

We had a wonderful day, and at every break I was texting or calling my daughter until she asked me to stop because she needed to rest.
My flight to Hawaii has been booked. I am leaving on Feburary 1 to go see the little angel. I absolutely can't wait. I love him so much already.

A picture of mama and baby. Aren't they beautiful?
I guess I need to get hopping and finish the little man's quilt now. Oy.. it's always a project hanging over me!!