Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentine's and Countdown to Training!

As usual with holidays, I managed to go "all-out" this Valentine's Day (read: Week) and do plenty of entertaining others, and entertaining myself.  Luckily I actually took some pictures this time. So here goes with what I think is going to be a pretty long post with lots of pictures!

Last Thursday was the February wives social.  Autumn is going to be the student spouse club's new chair-wife (I just completely made that title up, but you know what I mean!), so I know the rest of the socials this year will be great, and hopefully I will be able to help her where I can.  The February social revolved around my new obsession...Pinterest projects! Woohoo! 

Not that I was ever uncomfortable at the wives' socials, I've always enjoyed them...but this was the best one yet, I think for two reasons: First of all, now that Chris is actually about to start training, I have something in common with the other wives and I am also on a similar timeline as the other wives.  This was not the case when we first moved here.  Chris was just on "casual" status, so when the other wives talked about what their husbands were doing, I really didn't have much to contribute.  Second of all, for some reason when I walked in to the February social, I felt like most everyone there was a new face.  It definitely feels better knowing you aren't the "new" one who doesn't know anybody anymore! I keep hearing that you socialize most with the wives of your husband's classmates, so I was really excited to meet another 13-06 (Chris' class #) spouse at the social...who, it turns out, had already been invited to our house (by Chris) for the dinner I was planning on hosting Sunday night! It was great to meet her ahead of time.  She and her husband are from Minnesota and it seems like the four of us are going to be friends.

So I didn't actually take a picture of MY wreath...but it basically looks like this:

We also made cards for our hubbies, which I stuck underneath Chris' keys the next day for him to find when he headed out to meetings.  We had the option of decorating sugar cookies, too, but I didn't make any of those.  Chris and I aren't complete health-nuts, but we try to avoid bringing such temptations into the house!

Chris and I had Valentines Day plans to try out a restaurant we hadn't been to yet, but as y'all know, I am always looking for an excuse to make a fancy meal, so we decided to have Valentines Day, Exhibit A on Friday night. 
This isn't the best quality picture, but this is the hutch at the moment decorated for Valentines.  Those are light-up pink and red hearts on the top and bottom.  I have been agonizing over this area ever since my Christmas decorations came down because I just can't get it how I want it.  I don't like going out and buying something just to "stick" somewhere so that it's not empty when I decorate...I like to stumble upon something lovely that I can't live without and then find a place for it.  I haven't stumbled upon "that thing" yet, but I am on the lookout! Right now I just have some silver bowls filled with fake rubies and white balls to get me through Valentines Day.

Table set for V-day dinner! I should have taken it from the other side so that you could see how the other side of that vase (containing the flowers-still living-that Chris got me at the beach) says "love".

Course #1...Tomato Parmesan soup

Chris' and my V-day present to ourselves...a spiritile that says "When we are two balloons and together our direction is up, chances are we've found the right person" by Richard Bach.  Kind a goofy quote, but we liked it and found it appropriate.  Richard Bach is the same one who said the famous quote: "If you love someone, set them free.  If they come back, they're yours.  If you they don't, they never were."  The following is a larger passage that our spiritile quote came from, which I think some of my engaged/"en"-love friends will appreciate, and which I find quite appropriate for a Valentines Day post :)

“A soulmate is someone who has locks that fit our keys, and keys to fit our locks. When we feel safe enough to open the locks, our truest selves step out and we can be completely and honestly who we are; we can be loved for who we are and not for who we’re pretending to be. Each unveils the best part of the other. No matter what else goes wrong around us, with that one person we’re safe in our own paradise. Our soulmate is someone who shares our deepest longings, our sense of direction. When we’re two balloons, and together our direction is up, chances are we’ve found the right person. Our soulmate is the one who makes life come to life.”

*The Meal*...Green beans & Cumin Mashed Sweet Potatoes (from my Paula Deen Magazine, February), and Seared Tuna (from my Southern Lady Magazine, February).

Before they hit the plates, they resided in my lovely themed serving peices

Rasberry Lemon Drops (from Pinterest)

My first attempt at Creme Brulee.  It's brown because I put chocolate in it.  The recipes I found suggested broiling them to crystalize the sugar, but it didn't really work properly and wound up melting the creme part.  It tasted good but it just didn't have the right texture. I am in the market for a torch now!
On Saturday, Autumn and I did some "thrifting" while the guys studied all day.  I didn't buy much, just an old green glass milk jug that I thought would work as a cute vase for some white flowers during March/St. Patty's Day (which I am already planning a party for...can't wait to give the details!) I also made some purchases at this awesome store we discovered in Columbus called "Dirt Cheap".  This is a store where everything has fallen off of trucks and a lot of it is you dig through all the broken trash to find treasures! Tori had told me about these type stores a while back. I'm telling you, it's a hoarder's paradise.  I'm not a hoarder, but I do suffer from "the thrill of the chase", and had a blast digging through all that junk to find a water bottle, light-up easter eggs for my front yard, and a veggie slicer.  Autumn bought an amazing (and expensive) name-brand bread machine for...$30.  Oh my gosh, the deals were incredible! I can't wait to go back.

Saturday night, one of the girls who went to the Academy with Jon and Chris threw a girls' get-together at her house, so we went to that and met a bunch of fun Air Force girls that I hope to hang out with again in the future.  The guys stayed home and brewed beer. 

Sunday was dedicated to getting ready for the fancy-pants dinner party that I've been planning for over a month.  This was the first chance I had to get some of the other married couples (we haven't met all of them) in Chris' pilot class together for a celebration of the guys' soon-to-be accomplishments.  Of course it wasn't necessary to take out silver, crystal, and fine china, all of which must be handwashed...but what's the point in having beautiful things if you don't ever use them?  I think it makes special occasions more "special" when you don't just use your every day stuff.  Now, if I used fine china, crystal, and silver for every dinner, it also wouldn't be as special.  That's why I like to break it out for the big celebrations...and I certainly think that starting pilot training (and Valentine's Day dinner) qualifies!
Drink Tray with my lovely Valentines Day cocktail that I got from Pinterest! It was much more "organized" before people started congregating around it, but you could tell it was being enjoyed by everyone :)
It may be a little hard to tell from the picture, but it had rose petals in cute (and tasty)

Valentine's Day Decor Exhibit #2...I switched things up a bit.Thanks to Autumn for making this cute Valentines Day sign (and helping me with dinner since I was running behind)!! I will be holding onto it for next year...
We had to improvise with the table cloth since it was too short for the table once we added the leaves.  I sent Chris out to Wal-Mart for some last minute things while I was cooking, and we were video-chatting on our iPhones so he could show me all the white table cloth options to pick from. I wish I could do all my shopping that way! :)
Salad and Angel Chicken (yum!) Like my trendy new chalkboard plate? Found it at a thrift store!

Brown rice and roasted broccoli with cherry tomatoes.

And on the end over there...double tomato bruschetta

Everyone cleaned their plates!
All of our guests...From L-R, Jon, Autumn, Casey and Eli, Abigail and Jimmy, and my and Chris' empty seats.  I warned everyone that if they were going to be socializing with me, they needed to be aware of my blog and that I would constantly be taking pictures!

Red Velvet cake with homemade coconut icing, topped with toasted coconut flakes, served up in glasses given to us by Aunt Bette.

 When the dinner (and the Grammy-watching) was over, we were so excited about how much we enjoyed everyone's company and how much we are looking forward to getting to know these people over the next year or so.  Hopefully this will be the first of many dinner parties to come!

Tuesday, Valentines Day, we were excited about trying a new (to us) restaurant in West Point called Cafe Ritz, which is in an old theatre.  The restaurant had good reviews online, and we were looking forward to having a set menu, which is something we really enjoy in restaurants because it allows us the opportunity to try several different things.  The menu was $50 a person, which we thought was fair for 5 courses.  At the last minute, (which I really recommend to anyone who likes to eat out) added about 20 restaurants to our area, including Cafe Ritz, so we bought a $50 gift card for just $4.  We wound up being glad because the restaurant we chose was disappointingly average.  Even though we had reservations, we waited at least 20 minutes at our table before getting any water, and a full hour before our wine was brought out and our orders were taken.  All the food was good, but not great, so we were glad that, using the gift card, we essentially got them at half price.  We got to the restaurant about 6:15 and didn't get out until about 9:45 due to the slow service.  The company was wonderful, of course, but sometimes it puts a damper on things when you go in with high expectations that aren't quite met.  Perhaps after we had spoiled ourselves with all the fancy cooking we did over the weekend, we were doomed to be disappointed! In any case, we were glad to at least try out a new place and get to listen to some music and relax for a few hours on Valentines Day.  Next time we crave a nice date-night meal, we will head back to J. Broussard, which has proven to be our favorite restaurant in the area.

The setting was definitely really nice and unique.  The restaurant is in an old would be a pretty place for a reception.

Even when an experience leaves something to be desired, we still love being together :)

When we got home and got into our bedroom, we were startled to hear this creepy, eerie, scratching sound coming from our wall.  Thinking it was some kind of creature outside, we went out to shine a flashlight, and discovered a rodent trap on our roof.  Apparently someone (I would assume in the rental office) discovered a rodent around our house and didn't feel the need to tell us! I'm pretty certain that it is either in our attic or somehow stuck  (or just living) in our wall.  I just hope and pray it doesn't burrow it's little rodent-self into the house! I have no idea what it is, but it sounds like a fat, nasty raccoon or something! If I see it, I will take a picture, but I certainly hope that I do not.

What else is going on with us? I'm working in Birmingham currently.  I got fitted earlier this week for a fashion show that I will be in at the end of March, and I just signed up to be in another one on April 17.  I can't help being a ham! I know they will be fun.  Also, I just did my last 10-mile run this weekend with an average speed faster than my goal (About 9:30 a mile), so I'm gearing up for my race, which is in just about 2 1/2 weeks!

Chris is studying, studying, studying, and this is just the beginning.  He has been dealing with the IRS claiming that he made $150K in unreported income in 2010 (believe me, we wish he did..but he didn't!) which has been a huge pain so far and just continues to get huger (I know...that's not a word). He is starting training...TOMORROW! It's so hard to believe! The first few weeks will probably be pretty uneventful as far as blogging goes because it is the "academic" phase, which consists of around-the-clock studying and test-taking.  I will keep everyone updated with everything. 

Thanks for reading! xoxox,

The Becks

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