The 8 Stages of Deployment

Sums it up pretty accurately

Life in a Blue One...

STAGE 1-DEPRESSION

He is gone.  You miss him so much it hurts. You obsessively check your phone and email every 4 minutes.  You send slushy “miss you so much” texts.  You spray his aftershave onto his pillow and sleep with his t-shirt every night.  You change your phone/work computer screen saver to your favourite picture of you both on holiday/smiling/totally in love/without a care in the world/at the last homecoming.  The days go on FOREVER.  You don’t go out, you don’t speak to anyone… you can’t speak to anyone.  Nobody in the world feels as empty and hollow as you do.  the sight of a “welcome home Daddy” banner brings you to tears.  This lasts exactly 2 weeks.

STAGE 2-P.M.A

In the words of the great Kriss Akabusi.  Positive.  Mental.  Attitude.  Or in other words,time to put your big girl pants on.  A fresh sense of determination fills you.  You…

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Catch Up Part 2

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Our holiday was spent on a road trip in Europe. We took the P&O Ferry from Dover to Calais and continued to Aachen, Germany to see their Christmas market. That was the first time I have ever been in four different countries (England, France, Belgium and Germany) in one day!
In Aachen we stayed at the Ibis Styles hotel and was very pleased with the value for our money. It was conveniently located to the city’s highlights and the breakfast (that was included) was quite delicious. In Aachen we saw the Christmas market and enjoyed the waffles with cream and chocolate sauce, ate some bratwurst and enjoyed the pretty lights.

Aachen Christmas market in the day

Aachen Christmas market in the day

Aachen Christmas Market at night

Aachen Christmas Market at night

Ceiling of Aachen Cathedral

Ceiling of Aachen Cathedral

Cologne Cathedral

Cologne Cathedral

We drove from Aachen to Nuremberg and had some fun on the Autobahn, maxed out at about 130 mph. We stopped in Cologne to visit the cathedral (which was amazing) and grabbed a snack at the Christmas market that was conveniently located at the base of the Cathedral!

Christmas Market at the Cologne Cathedral

Christmas Market at the Cologne Cathedral

After a giant pretzel and a little shopping we hit the road again and ended up eating lunch in Frankfurt. We found a fantastic restaurant that just happened to open up that day. Delicious gnocchi. I will have to find the name….

Nuremberg Cathedral

Nuremberg Cathedral

We made it to Nuremberg in the early evening. Just enough time, to grab some dinner at the Christmas market. The gingerbread there really does live up to the hype. After my husband trying several different mulled wines throughout the world, we have finally come to the conclusion that we don’t like mulled wine. I was perfectly happy to drink the alcohol free version as that was quite tasty.

Selfie!

Selfie!

The next day we had an amazing breakfast at the hotel, Le Meridien. It was an amazing breakfast buffet with pancakes, pastries, champagne (torture!) and made to order eggs. We needed to burn off the breakfast so we headed up to the Nuremberg Castle to see the view. Visited more cathedrals…I think our total count for Germany was 4.

View of Nuremberg

View of Nuremberg

We spent Christmas Eve in Nuremberg, had another delicious breakfast for our Christmas brunch and headed off to Salzburg. It was a shockingly warm day and almost everything shockingly was open. We visited the Hohensalzburg Castle, popped into the Cathedral and went to their Christmas market and ended up snacking for dinner. So many treats!!

View of Salzburg

View of Salzburg

19 week bump in Salzburg

19 week bump in Salzburg – first Christmas photo!

Couldn't resist these!

Couldn’t resist these!

The next day we went on a walk about. Passed the clearest lake in Germany, tried to get up to a peak but lost to the poorly marked trails. For those keeping track, European hiking trails – 2 and the Smyths – 0. We had a raclette dinner at the Schloss Fuschl Resort & Spa which was so good.

Fuschlsee Lake

Fuschlsee Lake

Next destination: Italy!

Driving through the Austrian Alps

Driving through the Austrian Alps

If you are ever driving to Venice, please don’t pay more than you need to and park at the big parking lot on the island. For only 5 Euros a day you can park at another city lot (as compared to 20 per day) and then take a 5 minute bus ride to the Venice train station. Admittedly, this is only recommended if you luggage is light enough as we had to walk about a mile from the parking lot to the bus stop. We wanted to save that money for gelato so we didn’t mind.

Ahhhh, Venice!

Ahhhh, Venice!

Another beautiful canal

Another beautiful canal

The Bump in Venice

The Bump in Venice

We loved Venice, ate very well (we recommend Alfredo’s Pasta To Go), had a lovely apartment (House 5286), went to see a show at Teatro La Fenice (so amazing), had a lovely home-cooked anniversary meal and had to leave too soon.

Doge's Palace

Doge’s Palace

We headed off to Florence, the final destination in our epic road trip.

Duomo in Florence

Duomo in Florence

Florence was amazing also. The weather wasn’t too cold so we were happy wandering the streets all day and more importantly, could eat gelato. We saw all of the sights (except for the Uffizi as it was closed on New Year’s Day) and even could relax in a couple cafes and drink a cappuccino.

David - still rocking it

David – still rocking it

We stayed at a hotel in Fiesole, which gave us a gorgeous view of the city and was just a short bus stop into the heart of Florence. We had a New Year’s Eve dinner at the hotel which was unbelievable! 9 courses (I was so full!!!) and wine to go with each course. At midnight the whole city was lit up with fireworks so we saw the fireworks from everywhere. It was amazing!

Reflection in the River Arno

Reflection in the River Arno

View from Michelangelo's Piazzale

View from Michelangelo’s Piazzale

On our way home, my husband was Mr. Super Driver and drove us all the way to Saint Quentin, France. On the way there, we finally found the winter that we had previously not found in our winter holiday! It was in the Italian and French Alps, all along. Yay for snow!

Winter!

Winter!

 

Catching up part 1

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5 months in and we have been making some memories!!

In October, we went to Scotland with very good friends that crossed the pond for a visit. Besides a huge storm rolling in and it being cold we had an excellent time. What a beautiful country!
We drove to Ayr near Glasgow and stayed in a cozy Bed & Breakfast called the Daviot House. Great breakfast!
Then we drove through Loch country to Inverness.

One of the many Lochs

One of the many Lochs

Along the River Ness in Inverness

Along the River Ness in Inverness

Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness

Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness

In Inverness, we stayed at a great Bed & Breakfast called The Alexander. We ended up staying an extra night. One day, we did a walking tour (led by the hubby) and then went on a fruitless excursion looking for a castle that ended up not being open (missed the season by 2 days!). Note to self, when traveling in the Fall around here, make sure what you plan to do is open! But we ended up making a delightful afternoon of it, by heading to the coast (Nairn) to dip our toes into the sea. Brrrrrr. If you ever go there, eat at Basil Harbour Cafe. Delicious.

Highland Cows - so cute!

Highland Cows – so cute!

On our way to Edinburgh from Inverness, we drove to the Spey river to check out some whisky distilleries. Since I’m pregnant, that means designated driver for the hubby!

Whisky Tasting

Whisky Tasting

In Edinburgh, we stayed with our friends at the Sheraton. Great location! We ended up eating at Bar Italia twice because it was convenient and yummy.

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

View of Edinburgh from the castle

View of Edinburgh from the castle

Church in Edinburgh

Church in Edinburgh

Edinburgh is on my list of places I must go see again. It is such a beautiful city. If I wasn’t still in the first trimester exhaustion stage, I would’ve walked forever. Definitely hike up Arthur’s Seat. Not too difficult and the views are amazing! Eat at Scran & Scallie. It’s a local place so you know its going to be awesome. Great service, great menu and fun drink menu that included mocktails. Looking forward to going back soon.

Pretty settled in…

We arrived in the UK 3 months ago! Funny how sometimes it feels like time flew, but then I think about how much we have done and it seems like we have been here longer. We feel so lucky that our ‘sponsors’ have been so helpful in getting us set up with life here and introduced us to some wonderful people.

We just moved into our house a few months ago but before we were  staying in a self-catering through Sherborne Cottages (if you are ever in the Sherborne area, I highly suggest you look up their properties as they have something for everyone and are very helpful and friendly) called the Teacher’s Cottage. I got to see the Abbey every day from our window.

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We now have two usable cars in country after paying for the ‘road tax’ (based on how gas guzzling your car is) and filing paperwork then you wait and we received a form in the mail that allowed us to get licence plates. Phew! The only thing I need now is the little plastic holder that sticks onto the window that displays my “tax disc”. I keep forgetting to buy one.

Anyway, we  enjoyed a short trip to Cambridge. Which was beautiful! We punted down the river Cam which included a tour of the colleges. Made me want to go back to school.

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Then we went to Munich for Oktoberfest:

Glockenspiel

Glockenspiel

Oktoberfest entrance

Oktoberfest entrance

Masses from Lowenbrau

Masses from Lowenbrau

Inside one of the big tents

Inside one of the big tents

We just got back from Scotland so that post is next. In the meantime, I’m going to make some hot chocolate because winter has officially arrived. Brrrr.

We have arrived in England!

On day one we were picked up by our sponsors from Heathrow and driven to Sherborne. Stonehenge is right on the way and you can see it from the road.

stonehenge

Stonehenge – right off the road

Upon arriving, we managed to stay awake long enough to enjoy dinner and a pop into a pub for a taste of the famous local cider. Then 11 hours of sleep. Our self-catering gave us a few groceries to get us started which was most delightful. And exciting: the bread was not pre sliced! The butter is real butter!

Our self catering in Sherborne

Our self catering in Sherborne

Red phone booth

Red phone booth

They still drive on the wrong side of the road here, and now…so do we.  The motto is “Right is right, left to live” for the continent and island respectively. We are now  proud owners of a Kia Picanto. We are naming it El Paso and are thrilled at the gas mileage and the fact that we can fit into it.

Left to live, left to live

Left to live, left to live

Flat bread italian style

Flat bread italian style

Word around Sherborne is that people are late a lot because you get stuck behind tractors going very slowly… It’s true

Country living

Country living

Instead of heart designs in your coffee, you get hearts drawn into your Guinness. I love it

Guinness Art

Guinness Art

The main street in villages are the ‘high’ street. In Sherborne the high street is called Cheap Street. Here is one of the oldest buildings on the street, built in the 1400’s.

Architectural history

Architectural history

Cows everywhere!

Cows everywhere!

Pretty Paddock Park

Pretty Paddock Park

Sherborne Abbey

Sherborne Abbey

 

 

 

 

Some nice news on a sad day

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I won an award from View Bug for a photo that I submitted in a contest. I am very excited to have a nod of approval from the judges. Go me!

Here is my ‘album’: http://www.viewbug.com/member/reinasmyth

I completely meant to write a post about my eggplant nachos that I created and then the Boston Marathon was attacked. It really hits close to home for me as a runner. I can’t believe that someone would do something so horrific at an event that is a lot of people’s big achievement. Runners and their supporters are such a charitable group of people…it’s just awful. This is actually my second attempt to try to write down how I feel about this. And it still feels unprocessed. It’s an event that is hard to process. Thankfully, everyone I know is safe and sound so I am thankful for that.

Anyway, Eggplant Nachos will be coming soon. I’m sending love to the world. Stay safe.

Recipe from my Mama

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Life  altering event! My orchid is almost blooming. This will be the first orchid I have ever been able to convince to re-bloom (quick history, it was a birthday present from my friend Michelle last June).

Blooming orchid!

Blooming orchid!

Anyway, this post is about the following email I received from my darling mother:

“The other day I made the best soup! Easy, nutritious, low fat. So because I am a good mom I am sharing.

Cooked lentils from trader joe’s in the fresh cold veggie section
Box of hearty organic veggie broth
Frozen bag of broccoli, cauliflower and something else – puttanesca or something – it has garlic butter sauce
2 medium red potatoes, sliced thinnish as in ¼ in
Couple tomatoes, chopped – this is very optional
Catsup
Bag of fresh spinach

Throw in a pan together with some spike, pepper and cook until potatoes are done

Add spinach for about 5 minutes

Really tasty, filling

And cornbread would make it perfect.”

Of course I can’t just follow it step by step because that would be to easy. So I used this as a base and played.

Step 1) Pour a glass of wine

Step 1

Step 1

Step 2)

Put all of these ingredients in a pan

Soup Ingredients

Soup Ingredients

Cooked lentils
chicken broth (2 cans)
Frozen bag of cauliflower and romanesca broccoli – it has garlic butter sauce on it
5 small new red potatoes
small can of tomato sauce
Bag of fresh spinach

a bunch of spice….onion power, celery salt, garlic powder, salt and pepper (I just threw stuff in…didn’t measure).

3)

Simmer until the potatoes are done (about 3o minutes) and then add the bag of fresh spinach until wilted.

Simmering

Simmering

4)

For the cornbread, I took a a regular cornbread recipe and spiced that up also!

Cornbread Ingredients

Cornbread Ingredients

1 cup cornmeal

1 cup gluten free flour (its all I had on hand)

4 tsp. baking powder

1/8 cup of sugar

1 tsp. salt

2 eggs

1 cup 1% milk

1/4 cup melted butter

The Spice

The Spice

5)

Add:

can of hot diced chiles

1/4 shredded cheddar cheese

 

6)

Bake at 425 for 20 minutes.

Before the oven

Before the oven

Here is the delicious final product.

Crispy Cornbread

Crispy Cornbread

Moving is a pain!

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Going through the process of our paperwork to move overseas with the military is a pain. We are told one thing only to be told another by someone else later….sigh. However, we have sent off paperwork for our official passports so at least that is being processed. Then once we have that we will send off paperwork to get our visa. Also, my medical paperwork is sent off and awaiting approval. I will definitely be opening champagne to celebrate when that is finished because I started the process last JULY! Before we even knew for sure if we were moving. HA! I’m glad we got the head start. Slowly but surely. Or as our Peruvian tour guide would tell us, pomale, pomale.

A Collection of my Favorite New Recipes (aka Thank You Pinterest Inventors!)

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ImageAt a very lovely meal (see picture above) last night (Coast in Shutters on the Beach Hotel in Santa Monica – highly recommend), we got started talking about food and cooking and we ended up planning to swap recipes. I mentioned that there were several recipes I never would have made before but finally went for it and now they are going to be in regular rotation. So I thought I would share my new favorites here as well:

1. Pan Seared Honey Glazed Salmon with Browned Butter Lime Sauce

Try saying that 5 times fast…. Ingredients that I would have never put together but it tasted amazing. I got this from www.cookingclassy.com.

Ingredients

    • 4 (6 oz) salmon fillets, rested at room temperature 20 minutes
    • 8 tsp flour, divided
    • 2 Tbsp honey, divided (make sure it is warm so you can evenly drizzle on the salmon)
    • zest of 1 – 2 limes
    • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 recipe Browned Butter Lime Sauce, recipe follows
Browned Butter Lime Sauce
  • 6 Tbsp salted butter, diced
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions

    • Working in batches of two salmon fillets at a time (or using two skillets, because you don’t want to overcrowd the salmon when cooking it on the stove-top so it cooks more evenly), place salmon fillets on a cutting board or plate and sprinkle 1 tsp flour over each side of the salmon fillets and spread flour to evenly coat. Evenly drizzle 3/4 tsp honey over each side of the flour coated salmon fillets.* Drizzle 1 Tbsp olive oil into a 10 inch non-stick skillet, swirl pan to evenly coat bottom and heat over medium heat. Once oil it hot, carefully place salmon ) in pan and cook over medium heat, 3-5 minutes per side until salmon has cooked through and bottom has nicely browned. Plate salmon immediately, drizzle each fillet with 1 1/2 – 2 Tbsp Browned Butter Lime Sauce and sprinkle with lime zest. Serve warm.
    • *note that once you remove the salmon from the plate some of the flour and honey coating will stick to the plate so I’d recommend just scraping it up with a spatula and adding it to the salmon once it’s in the pan, alternately you could just coat one side with the flour and honey then after adding it to the pan you can coat the top side with flour and honey. Either way works I’d just say don’t waste any of that delicious coating.
Browned Butter Lime Sauce
  • Place butter in a small (light colored) saucepan. Cook over medium heat, swirling pan occasionally, until butter is fragrant and has turned a tan shade (for a step by step tutorial on how to brown butter see link here, although I would recommend not to stir constantly rather swirl pan occasionally). Remove from heat and add browned butter along with lime juice, garlic, salt and pepper to a blender. Blend on low-speed for 30 seconds to 1 minute until well blended. Pour sauce into a small glass dish (note: whisk butter mixture with a fork before pouring onto salmon as it will separate, rewarm if needed).

2. Brussels Sprout and Butternut Squash Lasagna 

From Yummy Mummy Kitchen. Lots of good stuff there!

serves 6  

Ingredients:

3 cups quartered Brussels sprouts

3 cups diced butternut squash

1 Tablespoon butter

1 shallot, chopped 

6 fresh sage leaves, chopped

1 egg

15 oz ricotta cheese

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus 1/4 cup for topping 

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

7 oz fresh pesto sauce (I didn’t use all of the jar)

8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, drained of water and sliced

lasagna noodles (Fresh lasagna sheets or cooked. “No boil” does not work well in this recipe)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place Brussels sprouts and butternut squash on a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and toss to coat. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper. Roast until lightly browned in parts and tender, about 15 minutes. 

Melt butter in a saute pan over medium heat. Cook shallots and sage until tender. Add to Brussels sprouts and squash, tossing to combine. 

In a medium bowl, stir together egg, ricotta, Parmesan, and nutmeg.

Spread a thin layer of pesto over bottom of a 11 x 7 inch baking dish. Cover with one layer of noodles. Spoon half the vegetable mixture over pasta. Spread half the ricotta mixture over the vegetables. Cover with 1/2 the mozzarella slices. Top with a second layer of lasagna noodles and spread pesto over. Top with remaining vegetables, ricotta, third layer of noodles, and pesto. Top with remaining mozzarella slices and 1/4 cup Parmesan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 40 minutes or until bubbly.

3. Stuffed French Onion Soup Sliders

From Iowa Girl Eats. I would have never been bold enough to stuff cheese INSIDE of meat before, I guess it just seems too advanced but it was easy and DELICIOUS. Make sure you really mix the seasoning with the meat so the flavors are even.

Ingredients (makes 8 sliders)

  • 2 jumbo sweet onions, cut in half, then sliced thin
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2oz fontina cheese
  • 1lb lean ground beef
  • 2 Tablespoons (1/2 packet) Onion Soup & Dip Mix (I USED VEGETABLE SOUP MIX)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 8 tea or cocktail rolls, or any small bun

Instructions

  • Melt butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat (5 out of 10.) Add onions and toss to coat. Cook for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and golden brown. Turn heat down during the cooking process if onions begin to burn.
  • Meanwhile, cut fontina cheese into 8 cubes. In a large bowl, combine ground beef with onion soup & dip mix and water, then form into 8 balls. Push your thumb into the balls to create an indentation, then stuff with a cheese cube. Seal tightly, then flatten slightly into a patty. Repeat with remaining cheese and ground beef.
  • Heat grill to medium-high, then grill sliders for 5-6 minutes a side. Cover with tin foil when cooked all the way through, then let rest for 5 minutes. Toast buns briefly on the grill, then top with caramelized onions and serve.

Tips:

  • To prevent cheese from leaking out of the sliders while grilling, seal the beef tightly around the cheese, and cook them low and slow. Resist the urge to grill the sliders over a super hot flame, which will cause the cheese to bubble and burst out.

4. Rosemary Turkey Meatloaf

 My very good and oldest (in tenure not age) friend recently started a cooking blog, The No Pressure Cooker, that I have been loving. Don’t you love it when your friends are accomplished and inspiring?!
Ingredients:
1 lb ground turkey
1c dry garlic & herb bread crumbs
¼ onion, chopped
1 egg, beaten
¼ c milk
¼ c balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 ½ tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
BBQ sauce of your choice
 
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F.  Lightly spray a 9×5” loaf pan with cooking spray.
In a large mixing bowl, mix together all ingredients except BBQ sauce.  Press into prepared pan.  Pour BBQ sauce over top so that meatloaf is just covered.  Bake for 50-55 minutes or until temperature reaches 160F. Let stand for 5-7 minutes before slicing and serving.
 
I recently wrote about recipe right here!
 
And now I’m getting hungry thinking about food. Tonight I’m going a little ‘low brow’ and trying my hand at making my own version of Taco Bell’s Crunch Wrap Supreme. I am following the recipe from Culinary Couture, although I am going to add some beans . We will see how it turns out. Happy Thursday!