Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Peaches and Pickles


The cake of the day today was another one for a staff birthday get together at my work. Peach cake with peach filler between layers and whipped icing on the outside. It's the first time I made that icing. Had to try twice since I ended up with something resembling butter first time around. Peaches are my favorite part of this season. The cake was great today!
Things around here lately have been... well... difficult. We spoke with 2 realtors and I think we've decided to go ahead and try to list the house for sale this year and leave it in God's hands after that. If it sells, the boys and I will move ahead to Virginia. If it doesn't, we'll stay here until it does. One more decision down... so many more to come!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Transformers

Finally done and eaten! I think this was the most time-consuming cake I've made so far. I started over a week ago, I think. The only tragedy was losing one of the palm trees I made to the asphault on our way up to their house. Aydrien was the most excited which was the whole reason for doing it. We had a slightly busy but really enjoyable summer weekend!

Chocolate Cake

Going to have to just start putting these guys on my cake blog since I'm sure you all are getting tired of seeing cake after cake! I'll have another done tomorrow. This one was a chocolate cake covered and torted with ganache then wrapped in a collar of dark chocolate with some chocolate details on top. The white chocolate hearts were because I made this for a friend's bridal shower.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

NAM

Phil was awarded this yesterday at work. It's another Navy and Marine Corp Achievement Medal. This makes his 3rd of this medal which is why you see the two stars in the center. The first time you receive a medal you get the colored bar (which is orange and green in this case). Phil got his first right before we left Virginia when we first got married. Each one you get after that, you add a star on top. Now that he's earned his 3rd, he has 2 stars on the medal. Make sense? So here is what his award says (since I'm sure you can't possibly read it in the photo):

Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal
(Gold star in lieu of third award)
to
Boatswain's Mat First Class (Surface Warfare/Air Warfare) Phillipp P. Pickle Jr, United States Navy
for
Professional achievement in the superior performance of his duties while serving as Student Division Commander, Training Support Center, Great Lakes from May 2005 to September 2008. Displaying outstanding leadership and mentoring skills, Petty Officer Pickle provided Naval military instruction and training in proper watchstanding, physical fitness, military customs and traditions to over 2,000 students annually. His outstanding dedication to excellence and untiring efforts led to USS Wisconsin receiving three "Ship of the Month" and two "Ultimate Command Challenge" awards. Additionally, his efforts instilled the meaning of dedication to duty and attention to detail as an integral part to the sailorization process. Petty Officer Pickle's professionalism, initiative, and loyal devotion to duty reflected credit upon himself and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
Given this 16th day of July 2008

Another Cake In Progress


Here I was watching my least favorite show in Food Network while I'm on my knees at my coffee table. My hands covered in shortening and food coloring. I've been rolling and coloring gumpaste and fondant. The rest of my little family has been in bed for hours already. I'll be headed there shortly myself, but wanted to show off my progress toward this cake so far. The color isn't exactly right in the picture, but what you're seeing will be buildings that go around a cake in the process of being destroyed by our little Transformer friends (in the back). As you can see, they didn't spare my little palm tree in the path of their destruction. This cake is going to look awesome when it's done! Now I think all I have left is to make the flames that will come out of the buildings and bake and frost the cake. I'll be sure to post up pictures when it's done on Sunday!
Speaking of destruction. My worst enemies, the local squirrels, demolished my very first tomato of the season today. I shook my fist in the air, but they weren't around. They were probably eating someone else's barely ripe tomato as well. It was my first orange one, too! Any advice on how to keep them away from my veggies??

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Bakespace Contest #2

Bakespace is a new site to me that I've gotten all sorts of ideas from already! I decided to take on a challenge they recently posted...

The mission: Recreate a dish from one of your favorite movies, or a movie you didn’t particularly care for, but still liked the food.



So here's my movie: Stranger Than Fiction
Here's the clip for the movie:


And here is my recreation: Easy enough. Beautiful chocolate chip cookies fresh out of the oven with a glass of milk made especially for the love of my life.
Here's the recipe:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon. Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.
  4. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
I'm always looking for an excuse to try a new chocolate chip cookie recipe. This one was probably the closest to my perfect one I've tried! I love this movie. This scene rings so clearly with me and why I love to bake so much. I'm the girl who spends time baking and looking up recipes when I should be working or studying. Change the world with cookies. I can do that!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Blast Zones

Our church does something pretty different for VBS. We hold a smaller version in lots of backyards of people from the church. Each one has fewer kids, but more kids who aren't from the church who come. I think it's a great idea and hope more churches catch on... even though it's way more work for church staff who end up overworked all summer instead of just a week or two. Here are some pictures of our boys enjoying the couple of days they were able to go this week.

Video About Riverines

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Market Days

Here in Zion they're recently started hosting a farmer's market during the summer. I really enjoy going with the boys. Today Josh and I went with our friends Lyndsay and Kaylee. (Jeremiah was napping at home with Daddy). Our kids both get so excited to see each other. We had a great time even though we only stayed for a few minutes.
I think this pictures is awesome. I caught Kaylee's shoes in mid-fall so it looks a little like they're floating mysteriously. I also had my second week of teaching my cake decorating class and it went great! We went through everything and my class did really well. We were even done early!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Trying Something New


Last night I made my own fondant. Not the hugely complicated stuff, but marshmallow fondant. I have read that it tastes considerably better then the regular stuff, so I thought I would try it since I was making a birthday cake for a friend. This is a simple yellow cake with peach and strawberry filling and marshmallow fondant, of course. With that I made the flowers around the base, the three on top as well as the leaves. The flower centers are buttercream. I found it very similar to regular fondant but with a slightly different feel. It is considerably cheaper to make then the fondant you buy in the store, so I was so grateful to find a suitable substitute for that. Sorry Wilton! Happy Birthday, Lyndsay!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Weird Navy Wife

Being a Navy wife makes you weird. Most civilians don't understand what your husband does, why you are okay with moving so often, why your husband refuses to put a mini-uniform on your kids or how you could possibly feel at peace with the idea of your husband having a dangerous job. It seems the longer you stay in the more you get acclimated to this level of difference between yourself and the world around you. At first your mind is a whirl of learning acronyms, figuring out how to sign up for Tricare (our medical insurance), learning the beauty of a power of attorney and basking in the new-found beauty found in your role as a Navy wife. Most people have some idea in their head pre-marriage of what that is going to look like and most often it's wrong. Sometimes you just can't know it until you do it.
Phil and I have been married for 5 years now. I have also spent 5 solid years as a Navy wife. We were engaged just short of 2 years before getting married, so altogether I've had 7 years now getting used to this whole Navy thing. At first it all seemed so romantic. Yes, he'll be gone, but you'll get to have those great kiss reunion scenes right?? Everything is way more interesting then it is frustrating. You join Navy wife online communities full of lots of other young Navy wives who are pretty new at this yet think they've got it all figured out. Time passes and things change.
I've gotten over the crying during patriotic songs and given up altogether trying to understand why the Navy does what it does. I wouldn't call it cynical so much as experienced. I think I've kinda gotten this thing a little more under control. But not really.*
Phil has new orders now. He's going to be a part of the Riverines. What is that? Most people have never even heard of it! If you refer to their presence in Vietnam, people old enough during that time might remember seeing something like that. Most people will have no clue at all. There is no exception here for military spouses. Most wives have probably not heard about the Riverines at all. So guess what? I just started getting a feeling of normalcy back to this whole military life thing, and now I'm weird again. I'm sorry there's not much we've shared about what Phil will be doing when he gets to Virginia. It's all very touchy for me not knowing what all is okay to share openly. (Here's one new page I found interesting, though.)
To get the my whole main point with writing this post. I have finally gotten to reconnect with some of our close friends from Italy who are now also in Virginia. It was such a huge relief to find out that her husband has a job much like Phil will. Now hopefully I wont' feel so alone having someone to be a weird Navy wife with.

*This is a reference to the Giving Tree which is one of Joshua's favorite books of all time so far.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Some Down Time... Kind Of

Yesterday was the first Saturday since winter we had absolutely nothing to do. We took some well needed down time and didn't even leave the house. Talk about reducing your carbon footprint! I love that we always have something to do, but with everything going on lately, having a day to just relax and hang out felt so good. I even made muffins!
Part of why this day of rest felt so good was due to some news we got on Friday. It was not surprising news. I'd venture to say I even somewhat expected it. It's not really anything I can post up here, but it involves details on when we can expect to have to be apart. Because of this news we've now moved into a new stage of trying to decide whether we'll be even listing the house to try and sell it this year or having the boys and I stay here until next Spring. Please be praying for us as we make this really important decision and all the plans that ultimately will follow. We really need God's guidance and peace through all this!

Friday, July 11, 2008

In the last couple days we've had some good things happen for Phil and myself. We found out with all the credits Phil can count for college from his professional experience (they have a special program for this for Navy people) he's only 5 classes away from an associates degree! He'll start working on those classes next month. We're so excited he'll be able to accomplish something that has been helped along so much by his experience!
I started teaching Wilton Course 1 last night. I had 5 students total. They seemed to have a good time and laughed with me and seemed pretty relaxed overall considering it was my first time doing it (I didn't tell them that, of course). The first week seems to be pretty much the hardest for the teacher, so the hardest part is behind me, yay!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

More Berries

Today was the last day Thompson Strawberry Farm in Bristol, WI was open, so we took advantage while we could! $6.75 and an hour later, we have a huge amount of locally grown strawberries to indulge in for days to come. They are so much sweeter then the store ones for some reason. I think I might have had more fun then the boys on this trip because I have a sort of strawberry obsession. I blame my grandma for having a big strawberry patch in her yard every year. I'm pretty sure Jeremiah ate his weight in berries in the field today. Hope everyone else is enjoying this warmer weather as much as we are!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Fruits of the Season

Andy and Misty Kuhn were nice enough to let us raid the berries in their backyard today. The boys loved picking the little blackberries off the bushes. Seemed like a perfect thing to do on a hot summer day. Thanks, guys!


Sunday, July 6, 2008

Surrogate Family

With all that said yesterday about the loneliness of military life, today was quite full with friends and good times. Church was this morning which is always a great time for us to connect with friends. We usually end up leaving service a little late since we're enjoying time at the cafe' chatting. Then it was off to the parents house of our friend Eric about an hour north into Wisconsin. Navy friends and their family have a way of making us feel more at home even though we're not actually related. They understand we're far away from our biological family so they take us in as one of their own for a day. We had the pleasure of enjoying good company, dealing with, count them. THREE poop explosions in one day, and Josh even learned to swim a little! He was jumping off the diving board into the deep end only an hour or so after very tentatively walking around the shallow end. He said he wants to do it again tomorrow. He also made sure everyone knew how much he liked the pool. Maybe he will learn how to swim after all! video video
A little something that made us both kinda laugh on the way home...

Oh! And here is a before/after shot of the painting I was able to finish in the basement last night while Phil had duty. Just about done with walls now and still have the rest of the ceiling to go... one step at a time, right??

Saturday, July 5, 2008

"Adventures" of a Military Wife


It's funny this life we've chosen to live. Hours and hours away from even the closest part of our family. We only get to see family a few times a year. I get so irritated when wives sit and gripe about any particular part of military life like it's some unfair burden cast upon them that they are completely unable to control. It's not that way at all. Phil and I have decided to stay in the military even though we could get out. We have our reasons for staying in, of course. So let's keep it clear that my belly aching today is not me being a victim by any means. It is just a way of helping pass along the understanding of the things we have to live with because we decided to stay in the military. It seems there is a general misunderstanding of military families among those who aren't military, so I thought it would help to specify that.
This weekend Phillipp's Aunt Verna came for a very brief visit. We really loved having a bit of time together but it was so sad to part again. As I was sitting feeling sorry for myself, my feelings were suddenly amplified by the realization that this is not going to get any better in the near future. Soon we'll be moving to Virginia where we will not only still be far away from our family but will probably be spending quite a bit of time far away from Phil as well!
There is quite a bit of loneliness that goes along with being a military wife. Loneliness when the house is so dreadfully quite because the boys have gone to bed and Phil is on duty or working or just gone altogether because he's out to sea and there are so many long hours to pass before the boys wake up again. There is loneliness when a big holiday is coming up and all our friends have plans with extended family but ours is too far away. Loneliness comes with every move we make since we have never really had a lot of friends awaiting us at our destination. Loneliness also comes with a move when we leave all our friends that have taken us so long to find behind us. Loneliness sometimes creeps up slowly when you're waiting for a big deployment or suddenly like today shortly after Verna left.
I know this is where civilians say, "I don't know how you can do that." You just do, I guess. There's no magic to it. No special gift. It's not because I don't love my husband (thus not having a hard time when he goes away). This the life we've chosen and this is what goes along with it, so we do what we need to do. You find things that help you along the way. Sometimes it's keeping busy with things to do, sometimes it's cleaning incessantly, sometimes it's watching a whole lot of old Baywatch re-runs... and sometimes it's freshly baked peanut butter cookies... a lot of them... oh, who's kidding?! It was the cookie dough. In a minute it's also going to be going outside to pull weeds because for some reason that always makes me feel better.
So, before I go do that and take the last batch of cookies out of the oven (yes, some dough actually did make it in to the oven), here are some pictures from the tremendously fun couple of days we had with Auntie Verna and Randy.




Catching fireflies with Josh
He was very interested to watch one that was on the ground.

Yes, I have seen this look on Josh before...
This is us with Auntie Verna this morning before she left. Yes, those are my high school gym shorts if you must ask.

Jeremiah was promoted to a new kind of bed today! We changed around his crib to a toddler bed that he seems to be enjoying quite a bit!