Thursday, February 28, 2013

Spaghetti Stuff Calzone - My Take

Alright, so according to my meal plan, we were supposed to have the calzones for dinner last night. Well because of life complications, I had to switch the soup and calzones around. No biggie. Everything had been purchased and was sitting in the fridge/freezer ready to go anyway.

I was completely excited to try these calzones. They are based off of this recipe for garlic bread baked with spaghetti inside that I got from Pinterest. I'm a huge fan of baking my own bread, so I wasn't going to buy a pre-made loaf as the instructions suggest. I decided to also take it up a notch by making everyone their own little pocket of spaghetti goodness.

I used my basic pizza dough recipe (below) to make four calzones which I then stuffed it with a mix of my homemade spaghetti sauce and angel hair pasta. I brushed the outside with a mix of garlic, butter, and basil before sticking it in the oven, and then another coating when there were 10 minutes of baking time left.

As you can see, the spaghetti probably could have used a bit more sauce and definitely more cheese. It was a good concept though. I'll be trying these again with my suggested changes.

There really isn't a wrong way to do a calzone. What ingredients would you include in yours so turn up the flavor?

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Plus, extra flour and olive oil
  1. Dissolve the sugar into the warm water then stir in yeast and let sit until foamy.
  2. Add flour (reserving 1 cup) and salt to large bowl.
  3. Mix in yeast mixture, oil, and slowly add remaining flour until the dough has come together (you might need slightly more or less flour). Knead until smooth.
  4. Form the dough into a ball and lightly coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and allow to sit until doubled in size (hour-ish).
  5. Once the dough has risen, punch it down and form a ball again. Let it rise a second time, covered.
  6. When ready, roll dough out on a lightly floured surface. This can be used for pizza, calzones, garlic rolls.
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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

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Monday, February 25, 2013

Meal Planning Monday - Week 1

Well, here it is! A little bit later than I would have liked, but I blame that on Hubs. He spent the entire weekend hogging the computer to write a paper for class. I'll be heading to the grocery store in just a bit so I'll be sure to come back and update with the cost of everything.

This week, like every other, I try to make a medley of dishes using a variety of ingredients, while not letting anything go to waste. I cook for four which give us enough for dinner and a little extra for lunch the next day. On my busy days there is more than likely a crockpot meal, but I figure just about any dish can be adjusted to be a crockpot meal.

I don't normally follow the recipe exactly, but these are the exact recipes that I'll be basing each meal off of.

Week 1 Menu:
Monday: Greek Pasta Salad
Tuesday: Chicken Tortilla Soup sprinkled with Fritos
Wednesday: Baked Spaghetti in Garlic Bread with meat sauce
Thursday: Burgundy Pork Tenderloin with roasted vegetables
Friday: Fish Tacos (self explanatory? with the usual toppings)
Saturday: Bruschetta Chicken on pasta
Sunday: Pork Fried Rice with store bought eggrolls

Although we might eat out once a week, I like to plan for all seven days just in case. If a certain meal doesn't get eaten, it can always be rolled over to the next week.

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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Gone, But Not Forgotten

Today marks exactly one year that our unit lost two Soldiers in combat. It's been a whirlwind of a year since then. There have been numerous memorials, but yesterday was the first time that the unit and family members were able to come together and remember as a whole.

Fort Stewart has a remarkable way of showing tribute to it's Soldiers lost in combat. A living memorial known as Warriors Walk, surrounds the parade field where homecoming ceremonies are held. An Eastern Redbud tree has been planted along the walkway for each Fort Stewart Soldier killed in action during OIF and OEF.

Yesterday Soldiers and family members gathered at the trees to exchange memories and hugs. There were moments of silence and plenty of prayer. It almost felt like true closure, finally. I hugged one of the widows and a set of parents for probably the last time, since we'll be PCSing before any major events. I do hope to come back some day though, whether it be for an anniversary or the wreath laying ceremony at Christmas.

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Saving By Meal Planning

I'm not usually one to make New Year's resolutions, which is why I'm sharing this now and not two months ago. With us having to move twice this year along with traveling around the country for various other reasons, we're trying to save as much money as possible this year. Deployment made saving easier since there was extra money coming in and one less person in the house. Now that Hubster is back, there's no tax free income and no hazardous duty/family separation/etc. pay. In the past month I've taken many recommendations from other blogs to cut spending here and there.

Honestly, the biggest change in recent spending has come from grocery shopping. I went from spending $175ish weekly on just the girls and I, to roughly $150 for the four of us. Meal planning has made all of the difference. Before I head to the grocery store now, I plan a complete menu for the week and use my grocery checklist to buy exactly what I need. In the past I would go in blindly and pick up a bunch of random items in hopes of being able to put them together in the form of some sort of meal. This lead to many impulse purchases and tons of wasted food. Occasionally, I even had to go to the grocery store more than once a week which is a pain because a) I hate going to the grocery store, and b) more opportunities to spend money on crap I don't need.

When it comes to meal planning and shopping, I've found that the most difficult part is really just deciding what to put on the menu. Pinterest has been a lifesaver for dinner ideas! Especially CrockPot recipes! I go to Pinterest when I really have no idea where to start. I've also gotten lucky that some of my blog friends are fantastic cooks, so occasionally I steal their recipes. As a last resort, I use my own ideas and dishes that I know we enjoy. Keep in mind my memory is limited to only a few meals that I would rather not repeat week after week after week.

There are also of meal planning blogs and websites out there, however I find it hard to stick with those because they often have something like a sandwich or bowl of soup as their meal. They are a good starting place to pluck your favorite dishes out of though! I try to keep each recipe relatively simple. I don't like to go overboard with tons of ingredients or weird stuff that's hard to find. I generally dumb down the recipes that I find anyway. Everything I make is child friendly since both girls eat exactly what we're eating. I try to be relatively healthy as well, but from time to time stuff like BBQ wings sneak onto the list.

Once the weekly menu is put together, the shopping list is easy. I check what we already have in the house and then check what I need on my shopping list. The key to shopping with a list is to only buy what's on the the list. I use this pad from the Container Store. You could probably also search Pinterest for free printables.

When I meal plan, I really only plan for dinner for seven days, but my shopping list reflects breakfast and lunch. Normally lunch is left overs from the night before, or something simple such as a sandwich or light pasta. Breakfast can be anything from cereal to waffles or toast.

To hold myself accountable in the future (and maybe help you guys out), I'll be posting my weekly meal plan and grocery checklist each Monday before I go grocery shopping. Meal Planning Mondays! Woot!

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

ABC's The Taste

Influenster just released a brand challenge featuring the ABC show The Taste. It's funny because I actually watched the show for the first time last week at Hubster's mom's house. Last weeks episode revolved around wine pairings, which interests me quite a bit since I hope to grow up and become a sophisticated housewife one day. You know, dinner parties with important people and hors d'oeuvres (I had to Google that). And I like wine.

The Taste: Tuesday at 8|7c on ABC Source
So basically the premise of the show is that the contestants must present the judges with a dish, in spoon form. Just a spoon; that's it. Although it is different in the fact that they're judged by just a spoon-full of food, the judges on most other cooking shows only have a fork or two of what they're judging anyway.

One other twist is that each spoon is judged blindly. The judges have no idea who made each sample, and thus are unable to use preconceived notions when it comes to choosing their favorite. There are four teams and four judge, so each judge has their own team to mentor.

I like cooking shows in general, so this was a show that I enjoyed watching and will probably watch again.

The Taste aires Tuesdays at 8pm/7 central on ABC. You can watch the latest episode here, and make sure to catch it tonight!

Not an Influenster member? Let me know and I can send you an invite! It's a great program that gives you the chance to try out and review products for free!

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Welcome Home Banner - A Little Something Extra

While Hubs was deployed, I did my best to make sure that he was getting the prettiest themed care packages with the best stuff in them. It was just something small that I could do to show my love from a distance and make him feel special. According to him, there was some jealousy in the office regarding his packages.

When it was time for Hubs to come home I was a little sad that I wouldn't get to work on anymore little special projects for him. I did have one last little idea that was virtually free and unlike anything I had ever seen before on Pinterest or anything.

If you're a military spouse, surely you've heard of's free Welcome Home banner offer. They provide you with a free 2x4 foot or 3x5 foot banner to help welcome home your service member. All you have to do is pay for shipping. I ordered the larger size and had the grommets put in for an extra $9.49. I would without a doubt recommend getting the grommets put in.

I made a trip home for Thanksgiving and decided to bring the welcome home banner with me. I dropped it off at Hubster's fraternity house with one of his little brothers who took care of having all the guys sign it at one of their meetings. I met with other friends and family to have them sign it as well.

When we pulled into the drive, Hubs kind of did a double take. He was completely surprised by the extras on the banner. It was nice to be able to go and read all of the messages. Kind of like a welcome home card, but better.

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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Adri's Baptism

Last weekend we were in Miami to have Adri baptized and of course, do some partying! It has become somewhat of a family tradition to baptize our kiddies at the same church that my siblings and I were baptized at. It was a bit tricky to organize two baptisms in Miami all the way from Georgia, but somehow, we made it work.

This time was a bit trickier since neither us nor the Godparents were in Miami and Hubs was deployed throughout most of the planning process. We weren't sure everything was going to fall into place until the last moment, and thankfully it did since the Godparents came all the way from Maryland and a bunch of our best friends from Fort Stewart came down.

The baptism itself was just ok. I was disappointed that it wasn't very well organized and we could barely hear the deacon from the front row. When we baptized V, we all had to be there an hour early in order to get all of the family members placed and do a short run through of how things would go. None of that this time. The deacon walked in about 5 minutes before the ceremony and that was it. No instructions on who was to hold the baby for her head-dunk or who was lighting the candle. Although not a totally smooth process, it's done and my baby is baptized, so I can't really be upset.

All of the stress associated with planning the post-baptism celebration and trying to make things perfect turned me into a bit of a crazy person and a true Gemini, but looking bad it really wasn't that bad. We ordered a platter of typical Cuban snacks from one of my favorite Miami bakeries, along with a cake which was twice as big as we actually needed. I ordered extra cake on purpose to be able to freeze it and bring it back home with us to enjoy all year long, but unfortunately we left it in Hubster's mom's freezer when we stopped there to visit.

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Friday, February 15, 2013

Cruise Booked

We officially booked our next cruise today! It may seem like a crazy thing to do with what's been going on with the Triumph lately, but we're really looking forward to it. These sort of things happen pretty rarely anyway. And, if we do get stuck at sea for a few extra days, it'll be an added vacation away from the kids before we PCS and have limited access to babysitters.

After our first cruise, Hubs and I pretty much decided that cruising was the only way we'd ever vacation again. It's a great value for what you get, and you literally get to travel the world in one vacation. This will be our third cruise in the past three and a half years. We'll be sailing on the same ship that we did last time, the Carnival Liberty, but will be doing the Western Caribbean itinerary this time.

On our last cruise, we bought a future cruise certificate, which is basically just putting $100 down towards your next cruise. When you buy the certificate though, you're guaranteed on board credit when you do actually book the cruise. Since we're taking a 7-day cruise, we get $100 in on board credit. We're also Carnival Corp (which has taken a nosedive lately) stock owners which gets us an additional $100 in on board credit for this cruise. In addition to all of that fun stuff, we also have the Carnival Master Card which awards double points on Carnival purchases. In essence, Carnival has done a phenomenal job of sucking us in and pretty much guaranteeing that we'll stick around for a while.

The cruise is about two months away, which means I don't have very much time to research our excursions. So far I've been looking at cave tubing and zip lining. I'd also like to try and fit a Mayan Ruin tour in, but that's not really a huge priority and might not fit in with the excursions that we've already selected.

Since we pretty much have no clue where the Army will send us after Hubs attends the career course this summer, this could very well be our last cruise for a while. If we're sent somewhere land-locked like Oklahoma, cruising probably won't be affordable since we'll also have to book a flight to the port. Hopefully we'll get another great location (like Hawaii) after Missouri.

On a side note, we're on Hubby's last couple of days of block leave. Boo. I'm not ready for him to return to work next week and leave me alone with the kiddies again. But with Hubs at work, it should mean that I'll get back into a better blogging routine. Hopefully.

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Wordless Wednesday

We're still vacationing, thus my lack of posts. But here are some photos from the past couple of days.

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Sunday, February 10, 2013


These past two weeks have been rough blog-wise. We've been in Miami for block leave, so I've found it difficult to focus on anything blog related. I've really been pretty much disconnected from the computer other than setting up my new blog design.

There are still many updates that need to be made, but I wanted to hurry up and just switch. I still need a new button, dividers, signature, blah blah blah. I did it all myself with the help of google and tutorial blogs, so I'm pretty proud.

Yesterday we baptized the baby. Of course she was the fussy kid in the bunch. All of our good friends from Fort Stewart came down to be here for the weekend. There has been plenty of eating and drinking.

We got some lovely pictures taken at JCP as well as professionally at the baptism. I'm really excited to get the actual photos and not just the ones I've stolen off of the internet. They look great so far!

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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

That's What I Get For Trying To Be Cheap

People who know me well know that I will go out of my way to save a few bucks on almost anything. Nothing major, sometimes it's as easy as just doing things around the house myself rather than hiring someone to do it for me. The only time that I've caved in recent history is when I got a guy to cut the grass while Hubster was deployed. And that was only because a frog attacked me while I was mowing, and I am not a fan of creepy crawly little animals.

Normally, my little do it yourself projects and cost cutting works in my favor. Like when my friend and I built a fire pit, or Hubs and I installed a backsplash in our kitchen. Occasionally not everything goes as expected though. Think Pinterest project fail.

Shortly before Hubs came home, I spread grass seed all over the bare areas that were previously covered in pinestraw in our backyard. It looked promising at first, but after a growing a little, the grass all turned brown and died. We ended up having to buy expensive sod to lay down so the back would be presentable.

The other night when Hubs and I went to see Lincoln at the theater, I insisted that we park in a metered lot across the street from the mall instead of the parking garage. The garage price was a flat $6 while the metered lot was $1.50 an hour. We put in $4 to cover the two hour movie plus a little more. Well, it turns out that we were just under what we needed to pay. As we approached the car, we saw the meter-maid person driving off. Now we have to pay an additional $18 dollar ticket. Damn!

I think I've learned my lesson and hopefully from now on, I'll try to save money in smarter ways.

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Monday, February 4, 2013

Redesign Coming (Hopefully)

For the past two days I've been glued to Pinterest looking for some inspiration for a blog redesign. What I have now is a basic one that I found for free. I don't totally love it now, but it was my favorite back when I was searching for free stuff.

Recently, I entered in a contest to win a personalized design. I didn't win, even though I was convinced I would. I'm not yet desperate enough to shell over hundreds of dollars for my blog to look pretty, so I'm hoping that I can do it on my own. I'm hoping to have something pretty basic anyway.

It's been a while, but back in high school I used to do a bunch of web design. Images, html, and all! I'm hoping that even though it's been almost a decade since then, I can still remember how to do something. The tutorials that I've found through Pinterest have been an amazing help and have brought a ton of inspiration.

All I need to do now is step my creativity up and make something pretty. I've got about a week to kill here in Miami so I should have plenty of time. Although, some of our Fort Stewart friends are driving down for the baby's baptism on Saturday and I'm super excited about that!!

I've read a bunch on other blogs about some key things to include, but what are some things that you like best about your layout or other blogs in general??

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Friday, February 1, 2013

I'm Boring!

It's official! I'm a boring old person. So far I've spent my ultra exciting Friday night laying on the couch watching Dora and Bubble Guppies. Hubs, my sister, and my mom have asked why I'm not out doing something. Ehh, I really just don't feel like going anywhere. It definitely doesn't help that Hubs found my fourth gray hair today. Thankfully I have a ton of hair to cover all the grays up.

Earlier this evening I dropped off my fratstar husband off at the fraternity house, passed by my best friend's house to say hi really quickly, and then came back to my parent's house with intentions of starting and finishing a bottle of wine, but I think I'm even too lazy for that.

Tomorrow's fun filled agenda includes taking a baptism course for parents, and that's pretty much it. I've already decided that a church class is probably all the excitement that I can handle for one day. It's crazy that I have no desire to enjoy Miami. It was great when I was 17 and looking for trouble in my new car. At 25 with two kids, I'd rather take a nap.

We'll be in Miami for almost two weeks and I pray that I can change my negative Nancy attitude. There's just something about Miami that makes me angry. As soon as I hit that traffic at the county line, you can assure that the only thing you'll hear from me is cursing and rude comments. I've learned to love living in Georgia, where people are courteous and believe in using turn signals.

I'm thinking about starting a tally sheet for all of the serious traffic violations that I notice so that I can share with all of you. Driving is awful here!! So far I've brake-checked 3 people (all large trucks) for riding my ass too closely. I've also worked extra hard to speed up and not leave openings for the jerks that swerve across four lanes of traffic trying to get to the exit that we just passed five miles of signs for. But my all time favorite thing to do to piss Miami drivers off come to a complete stop at stop signs. I might be just as bad as everyone, but at least I'm consciously aware that I'm doing these things.

Hope you all have a great weekend! Pray that I don't kill anyone! (: