Friday, May 31, 2013

Healthy Cookie Fail

Wahhh! After my healthy brownie disaster from last week, I was hoping to have better news when it came to my zucchini cookies. The brownies were made with apple sauce, banana, and zucchini. They were kind of gross. The kids loved them, but us big people knew better. I tried tweaking the chocolate chip zucchini recipe that I normally use to make it healthier. I've made them a bunch of times, and they're actually pretty delicious! This time I used some healthier ingredients to try and lighten them up.

I started by trading out a stick of butter for a banana. Bad one. Then I halved the sugar and added a teaspoon of vanilla in place of the other half. Not too bad. The last time I made the cookies I actually left out a quarter cup of sugar anyway. For the flour I used half all purpose, half wheat. That wasn't so bad either. Next time I might do three quarters all purpose, one quarter wheat. Leaving out a quarter cup of chocolate chips didn't hurt either. I'm not a fan of overwhelmingly chocolate cookies anyway, so it was perfect.

I'm pretty sure I went wrong with using the banana instead of a stick of butter. The cookies turned out kind of chewy, which is also what happened with my brownies. They also didn't flatten out like they normally do when you bake them.In the future, I might keep the healthy modifications minus swapping out the butter. Honestly, they aren't bad though. I've eaten three while typing this us. I'll continue tweaking the recipe until I find something perfect.

Do you have a good healthy dessert recipe?

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Thursday, May 30, 2013

It's My Birthday! Giveaway!

Today, I turn 26. One year closer to the dirty thirty. Not a particularly exciting birthday in my opinion, but I am rather excited for the giveaway that I have starting today. I was honored to have so many of my great blog friends help out with so many amazing prizes to giveaway.

For my birthday, and with the help of some of my friends, I am giving away the following:

A Blog Redesign
$25 MayBooks Credit
$15 Starbucks Giftcard
$15 Amazon Giftcard
1 Knit Slouchy Hat
Ad Space on 9 Blogs

This giveaway wouldn't have been possible without the support of the following ladies. Please take a minute to stop by their pages and thank them. The giveaway runs from today until midnight Saturday night (6/8)/Sunday morning (6/9)

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Discovering Simply Me

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Jo, My Gosh!

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Growing Up Is Actually Kind Of Fun

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BeeBee Belly

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Raising Reagan

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Faith, Love & Babies

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Not in Jersey

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Handling with Grace?

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Crafty Craziness & Living the Hooah Life

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Adventures of a Semper Fi Family

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Munchkins and the Military

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

My Summer List

With yesterday being the "unofficial" start of summer, I can't think of a better way to start the summer than to start making plans! It's probably no secret that I'm not exactly the biggest fan of Missouri so far. After being robbed on our anniversary and threatened with tornadoes, do you blame me? For some reason this town isn't exactly what I remember it being when Hubster was here for BOLC. I guess it's because at the end of the weekend, I got to get on a plane and head back home.

I'm not going to let my dislike of Missouri ruin our time here though. In order to get a better appreciate of the area, I'm hoping to explore as much as possible and make the best of it. As drove through Missouri on our way here, I already started making of list of fun stuff to do based off of the billboards. After a little research, here is my summer bucket list which is also linked up on Black Little Button.

Summer 2013 Bucket List
  • Have lunch in the caverns
  • Take a tour of a local winery
  • Rent a boat on the lake, preferably for July 4th
  • Get an annual pass to the splash park near our house
  • Visit the Gateway Arch in St. Louis
  • Ride the big rides at Six Flags
  • Find a favorite restaurant in the area
  • Get V enrolled in gymnastics
  • Take the girls to the St. Louis Zoo
  • Complete at least two sewing or scrapbooking projects a month
  • Research, make a list, and find out where we're getting stationed next. And then research some more.

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Monday, May 27, 2013

Meal Planning Monday - Week 13

I didn't get a chance to post this week's menu this morning for two reasons. First, I didn't have it ready. Since we spent the weekend away from home, Hubster and I sat around this morning figuring out what we felt like eating this week. Also, I felt like my Memorial Day post was more of a priority today.

Hubs has his first PT test of the Career Course so we aimed to keep dinner light tonight and that trend kind of continued throughout the rest of the week.

Week 13 Menu:
Monday: Orzo Tossed in Diced Tomatoes with Roasted Squash and Zucchini
Tuesday: Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breast
Wednesday: Lasagna Pockets
Thursday:  Boneless Chicken Wings
Friday: Pesto and Feta on Salmon
Saturday: Pasta Salad with Grilled Chicken Breast
Sunday: Greek Spaghetti

Hop rules:
1. Follow your hosts. Alejandra at Munchkins and the Military and Lisa at Sorority Life to Army Wife.
2. Link up your weekly meal plan or favorite recipe.
3. Check out a few other blogs!

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Memorial Day

Memorial Day has always been one of my favorite holidays. When I was younger it had to do with the fact that my birthday always fell right around Memorial Day Weekend. As I got older and more interested in the history behind the holiday, I learned Memorial Day had actually traditionally been celebrated on May 30 (my birthday). Memorial Day originated to commemorate the Soldiers who died in the Civil War and has evolved to remember all US service members lost in combat. It wasn't until last year, after Hubster's unit lost two Soldiers in combat, that Memorial Day actually meant anything though.

This photo was taken at Warriors Walk in the spring of 2011. It was taken by one of the wives from our unit at Fort Stewart of her husband. By the spring of 2012, he had his own tree at Warriors Walk. Warriors Walk is an area of Fort Stewart dedicated to the Soldiers of the 3rd ID lost in combat. To remember each Soldier, a tree is planted as a living memorial. Currently, there are 457 trees planted at the Walk, which surrounds the parade field where most homecoming reunions take place. Warriors Walk has always been one of my favorite and least favorite things about Fort Stewart. I love how Soliders are remembered in such a thoughtful way, I just hate seeing how many trees there and how many families have had their loved ones stolen from them. 

This year for Memorial Day, we don't really have plans. We'll most likely just hangout at home, or take the kids to the park. No BBQs or anything like that though. It'll be a quiet day to remember Sgt Born and Sgt Conrad as well as the thousands of others who have given their lives for our country. No matter what you do today, take a second to remember those who have sacrificed for our freedom. 

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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Carnival Liberty - Western Caribbean - Day 6

After the third day of the cruise in Mexico, Grand Cayman is a close runner up for the best day on the cruise.

Arrival in Grand Cayman wasn't until 10:00 am, so Hubster and I took our time. As we were eating breakfast, we pulled up along side the Carnival Magic. One of their newest ships. Since we're kind of Carnival addicts we kept trying to peek through the dining room windows to see the ship. After breakfast, we just decided to go outside and take a look. It looked spectacular. Nice big brightly colored water slides, a rock climbing wall, and just a generally larger ship than we had ever been on.While we were outside, we could also see the shore, and it didn't look like much. I was hoping and praying that it wouldn't be another Belize.

We had to tender to shore once again, but this time it was only a five minute ride. Since it was so quick, and they had plenty of boats to tender, there was hardly a wait at all. At the pier, we were given a map of Grand Cayman. There weren't really any beaches that we saw in the vicinity, but we did see a Margaritaville.We had a fantastic time at the Margaritaville in Grand Turk, so we decided to check this one out. It even looked like there was a pool.

It took a little bit to find the Margaritaville since it was on the second floor of a shopping-ish center. We climbed up the stairs and were excited to see a pool. With a pool bar! We love pool bars. Although the pool was kind of small, it even had a water slide that Hubster enjoyed. And that's it. That's all we did all day.

We were the only two people in the pool for what felt like hours, so we had the bartender all to ourselves. We chatted a whole bunch while he was between taking orders from around the pool. Down-under Dan was the nickname appointed to him for the afternoon, but being that he's from Australia, I'm sure he hears that a lot. Dan made us tons of drinks with lots of top shelf liquor and only charged us for some drinks at well prices. Good things happen when you make friends with the bartender.

Basically we stayed at the bar for the entire time that we were in Grand Cayman. I have no clue what other things there are to explore, but I really don't care. We had an absolute blast! The only reason that this didn't beat out Mexico, is because in Mexico we actually did something. Dan was fantastic and really kept us entertained though.

For some reason, the sixth night was the other elegant night. I'm not sure why they didn't just leave it for the next night which was a sea day, but obviously I'm not a Carnival executive, so I don't get to make that call. We thought about going to the comedy show on this night, but that didn't happen. Like usual, we went to bed. Such exciting adults we are. 

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Friday, May 24, 2013

I'd Like To Check You For Ticks

If only our tick experience was as romantic as Brad Paisley's..

I have no clue where it came from, but we discovered a tick on V. We had been playing in the back yard, but I made sure that the girls stayed on the concrete patio and avoided the grass since the lawn man hasn't been by in two weeks and the grass is pretty high.

After lunch and once Adri was put down for nap time, V and I took a shower. Is it weird that I let my three year old shower with me? It happens. I needed to shower and she insisted on joining. Anyway, in the shower I washed her hair well with shampoo and conditioner and didn't feel a thing, which further leads to my concern. A few hours later, there the tick was. Along with a hysterical toddler. Hubs checked the dog and there was nothing on him.There was nothing on the baby, and nothing on mom or dad.

Coincidentally, I was reading all about ticks the day before this happened. How you need to use tweezers and grab them as close to the skin as possible and avoid squeezing their stomachs so that you don't push all of their yuckies back into the person. Also, what I read said to avoid using alcohol or anything like that to get them off to avoid them regurgitating their yuckies.

Since then, I've felt itchy all over. I'll spare you the image of the nasty little critters, but I will share everything that I bought to combat against them. I was most worried about my house being crawling with all of these things, but it turns out they even make a solution for that.

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Carnival Liberty - Western Caribbean - Day 5

While Belize didn't quite live up to our expectations, I'm happy to say that Isla Roatan was much better. Not that we didn't totally enjoy Belize, it just wasn't an ideal cruise destination. At least not where they dropped us off.

Hubster and I woke up on the fifth day of our cruise in Isla Roatan. Since we didn't have anything specific planned, we took our time with breakfast and getting off of the ship. There was an amazing view from aboard the cruise. You could see the beach, tropical plants, and there were a couple of really neat looking sunken ships near the port.

Upon leaving the ship, we made our way to the skyride. In my Top 10 Tips for cruisers, I mentioned that excursions are normally more expensive on board. However, in this case, it was actually one cent cheaper to buy your ticket onboard. The ride was only about five minutes and it took you to the sandy beach area. Unless you you really don't want to walk or you really want to ride the skyride, I'd suggests just walking. The chairs move relatively slow and walking is faster. We got a beautiful view of the island and the ships in port though.

We took a round trip on the skyride and decided to find an some sort of your to do. Hubs was really set on zip lining, so we searched for that. We thought that we could just buy the tickets for cheaper directly from the zip line people, but it ends up that you pay for zip lining with your Sail & Sign card, so it was the same price. There were lockers available at the little zip line shack, which came in handy since you aren't supposed to take anything with you. After a short instructional video, we were on our way up the mountain. A truck dropped us off to climb a little further by foot where we started. The first station was the shortest and easiest, and the progressively got longer and higher. Although the entire thing was about an hour, it only felt like we were actually moving for five minutes. Each line went pretty quickly, and much of the time was spent waiting to be able to go. We had a ton of fun though. Hubster loved it!

After zip lining, we rode the sky ride back to the beach. Since just about everyone was already at the beach, there was hardly any wait time. There were also hardly any chairs when we finally made it to the beach. At least not any chairs in a good proximity to the beach. Thankfully no one stole the backpack that was covered by our clothes. This part of the vacation was also when I realized that maybe I've gained a little too much weight. It was slightly embarrassing trying to wiggle out of the skintight capris (do people still call them that?) I was wearing. Oh well, I hope someone enjoyed my struggle. It's funny looking back at it now.

The beach only lasted for about a half hour. We wanted to make sure that we beat the rush of people getting in line to get back on the cruise. Before heading back though, we had to grab a beer. I wasn't going to be able to finish mine, so I had my frat boy husband chug it for me. 

Once back on the ship, we got some lunch and ordered a bucket of beer. When it was time to depart, we chose to hang out in the adult pool with some more drinks. Any type of frozen mango drink that I tried was delicious! 

Before dinner we went to one of the shows. They had a comedian/magician guy performing. What he does is super impressive, but since we had seen the same show before, I wasn't really impressed. 

Dinner was great as usual and left us stuffed. So, as usual, we went to bed right after dinner. 

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Carnival Liberty - Western Caribbean - Day 4

Oh Belize.. I wish I could say more positive things, but honestly, we really weren't impressed at all. Everyone always talks about how they'd love to vacation in Belize, but I wouldn't recommend it by cruise at all, unless you like waiting or doing nothing.

Hubster and I were very excited to go to Belize. I honestly didn't know anything about the country, but it sounded exotic. Nawt! There really wasn't anything exotic any where near the cruise port.

In the morning we took our time with getting ready and having breakfast. The ocean surrounding Belize is not deep at all, which meant that we had to take a smaller tender boat from the cruise ship to get ashore. We were in no rush to wait in line to get on a little boat. We took our time getting our tender sticker, and proceeded to get our things together while we waited for our number to be called. Once they called our number, we were off pretty quickly though. The rough tender ride from the cruise ship to the terminal was about 20 minutes.

Although we really wanted to go cave tubing, Hubs and I decided against it due to the hour and a half bus ride there and back. We had no desire to spend a total of three hours on a bus to only be tubing for an hour. The same goes for beaches. They were all an hour away by boat. What we ended up doing was sitting at a bar that had free wi-fi.

After sitting at the bar for a while, we decided we should at least try to so something. The city didn't look safe enough to venture out on our own, so we paid for a horse drawn tour. Hubster and I feared for our lives for the vast majority of this tour. Seriously. Looking back now, it's kind of funny, but if we had to do it again, we probably wouldn't even bother getting off of the ship in Belize. There were a few interesting parts of the tour, but mostly, it was terrifying. We rode through not the safest looking parts of town, we were approached in our open-air carriage by the same homeless crackhead twice, and an insane rabid dog with only one eye was very angry that we passed by his house. I was half convinced that the guide was leading us to get mugged somewhere.

Thankfully, we're alive. After the tour we went back to the same bar for more drinks. Hubs traded American money for some of their money, since their bills have the queen on them. Unfortunately, that was another thing that was stolen from our car. Across from the bar was a chocolate shop where we were able to make three of our own chocolate bars.

Once our chocolate was set and ready, we decided to head back to the ship. We waited in line for a while for the tender to get us. There wasn't any shade, so the wait was rather unpleasant. They did have water though.

Back at the ship we did what we always did for lunch and grabbed a Guy's burger. The burger was followed by some lounging, napping and possibly drooling up on the Serenity deck. There was another comedy show in after dinner, but honestly, we were just to boring to go. We went to bed instead.

Day five is Isla Roatan, Honduras, which was a million times better than Belize.

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Carnival Liberty - Western Caribbean - Day 3

I'm almost positive that Cozumel, Mexico was my very most favorite port on this cruise. Hubster and I had so much fun doing our Mexican Cuisine excursion. I managed to convince our tablemates to join the excursion as well, and I'm pretty sure they had a great time.

Our day started with a knock on the door. I ordered room service the night before to be delivered in time to wake us up. Hubster and I got ready to head ashore while munching on croissants and sipping our coffee. Once we were ready, we made our way down to Deck 0, where we were pretty much off instantly.

In Mexcio, we started off by going through the Dufry duty-free shops at the end of the pier. There were tons and tons of different tequilas, amongst other touristy things. We looked around a little bit, before exiting into more touristy stores at the cruise terminal. We had some time to spare before the start of our excursion, which led us to wander. I was on the quest for free wi-fi, which I didn't find, and Hubster was looking to purchase some decorative plates for his grandaunts.

When it was time for the excursion to start, our tour guide led us to a bus which transported us to Playa Mia, an all inclusive beach resort. We started in a building that had a bunch of stoves and work stations. The point was for us to make our own lunch, and then spend some time on the beach. Before we started cooking, we had to do something very important first. Order drinks. Each student started out with two frozen drinks. At 9:00am...

After the drinks we ordered, we washed our hands, and started with the food. We worked backwards from dessert to appetizer. First we caramelized some plantains and made this delicious chocolate tequila sauce. Next was a fish entree. I honestly don't remember what type of fish, but Chef Oscar assured us that it had a very mild nonfishy taste. I'm not a seafood fan, but fine. We also made a spicy sweet sauce for that. And then, to my horror, shrimp as the appetizer. The shrimp got all cooked and pink, and then we started on the tortilla thing. It ended up being something like a bowl with shrimp on the edge. To my surprise, the shrimp actually wasn't that bad and I enjoyed the meal. Husbster, on the other hand, was five or six margaritas in and couldn't even finish. Oops.

After lunch, we were free to roam the facility. There was a beautiful beach with plenty of chairs and some trampolines out in the water. We spent some time swimming, but ended up abandoning the beach in favor of the pool, because the bar was closer to the pool. There were a couple of families with younger children at the pool. I spoke to one mom who had kids around the age of our little guys, and she said that the kids were having a good time.

In the pool, we drank like fish, Hubster rode the giant water slides a couple of times, but mostly, we just lounged and socialized. The pool area was beautifully built. There was a huge section for kids and a giant adult pool. A small bridge led to the jacuzzi which was in the center of the pool. At one end of the pool, the water cascaded over the edge into a blue tiled lounge pool. There were concrete lounge chairs built into the shallow pool. Freaking phenomenal!

We didn't get to spend as much time as we would have liked lounging at the resort, but we still had a good time. If we really wanted to stay, we could have just taken the taxi back instead of the tour bus.

Back at the ship it was up to the Serenity Deck which is basically all we did until dinner time.

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