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Friday, March 30, 2012

fRiDaY FaVs!

TGIF!!! Everyone, this is my first attempt at making the blog revolve another topic besides just ourselves! A fantastic topic, indeed, but maybe not of as much interest to everyone else as it is to us! :)

We are aways trying new things, and sometimes I just can't resist passing them along so that others can enjoy them as much as we do.  Sometimes I just stumble upon something really nifty and think others would find it useful! A lot of these are probably going to be recipes.  This week I'm going to list several things...this post will be a long one!... because it's my first try at this and I have had a lot of ideas of things I'd like to share.  I will probably stick to just one or two things most weeks going forward. Most of these are not my own ideas, so I'm going to try to always put links to the original source!

Recipe of the Week: Mexican Restaurant Queso Blanco

I know I have got some Laredo's lovers out there and it has been very hard moving to Columbus and not having access to their incredible cheese dip!! I discovered this recipe online and had to give it a try...it's true.  It really does taste just like the dip in the restaurant.  Maybe even better! I'm not kidding!! And it was SO easy.  I threw this together in about 10 minutes...in the microwave!... before having Jon and Autumn over for dinner the other night. Piece of cake.  Probably cost about $4 for the whole recipe and there was enough to last for more than one meal.  

White_Queso_Dip_2


The recipe suggests using Land 'O Lakes cheese, but I actually just used a block of Kraft White American cheese slices, which were just one pound as opposed to the 1.25 pounds suggested by the recipe, but it turned out fine and I suspect the cheese slices were easier to melt than the block of cheese would have been.

Date Idea of the Week: Fondue night!

This was a tough one between a picnic and a fondue night, but I figure most people already know how to go on a picnic. You don't have to have a fondue pot to do fondue...but if you are going to cook meat in it, I would say it is a necessity.  I would definitely recommend this one, which is what we have: http://www.amazon.com/Cuisinart-CFO-3SS-Electric-Fondue-Maker/dp/B00018RR48

It is a common misconception that fondue is a huge mess and not worth the trouble.  Actually, I do not find it to be any messier than most other recipes I make.  You have to chop up a bunch of veggies and meat...all that requires is a knife and a cutting board.  You also have to make the fondue, but really all you need for that is a saucepan (if making it on the stove and transferring it to the fondue pot)...many recipes are even made direcly in the pot.  Our pot has a nonstick surface, and it comes apart from the chord, so it's easy to clean.  It's really the easiest thing in the world, so don't let it scare you!

As you can see in the below pictures from last weekend (yesterday's post), we do both cheese fondue and the "coq au vin" fondue, which is what we cook our meat in.  You can be really creative with your dippers, which is why I love it so much. For the cheese fondue, we have found that some of the best dippers are brocoli, artichokes, bread, and tomatoes.  We have also dipped celery, but have found it doesn't soften enough.  You can try with just about anything you would think is good with cheese, which is...well, just about anything.  Here is the recipe we used the other night..it was very good and came off The Melting Pot blog:

http://fonduefanatics.com/chefs-corner/recipes/  <-- Scroll down to the "Irish Aged Cheddar Cheese Fondue".  This recipe was perfect for us last weekend because we had so much Guinness left over from the St. Patty's party.

I have also used this recipe, and it was quite good as well: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Creamy-Veggie-Fondue/Detail.aspx

I used these recipes because they didn't call for any unique (i.e. expensive) cheeses.

The past few times we have done fondue, we have used the following recipe to cook our meat in.  I like it because I have found that I normally already have all the ingredients on hand (except for the mushrooms):

I make the coq au vin in a sauce pan and then transfer it to the fondue pot to simmer.

We have cooked chicken, steak (recommend filet mignon...it makes a huge difference.  When we make fondue, I ask the butcher at the store to seperate a package of filets into just a single, because we usually have some other meat dippers on hand and we don't want anything to go to waste), and tuna filets in the coq au vin and all have turned out well.  I'd like to try shrimp, too.  The steak and tuna, if you try it, can be cooked to your preference, but make sure you let the chicken cook several minutes.  The vegetables that we have cooked with our meats are cauliflower, onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms.  We tried new potatoes with it last week, but if I would have researched it, I would have found out that it is best to steam the potatoes before using them with the fondue.  They just weren't able to cook enough by dipping them in the coq au vin alone to make them mushy and flavorful.

Why do I think this is such a fantastic date night?? Maybe because Chris and I eat in front of the TV most nights, but when we "fondue", we actually sit down at the table and talk for hours.  It takes a long time to do the fondue because you have to cook everything individually.  It's kind of like a meal and entertainment, all in one. It's very romantic and fun.  It's fun to try different combinations of veggies and meat.  If you have ever been to the Melting Pot (highly recommend if you haven't!), you know what a great date night that is...and how expensive it is! Fondue night allows you to have a similar experience for a fraction of the cost.  Yes, you have to do the work yourself, which I suppose makes it less relaxing.  But I would highly recommend either investing in a fondue pot or borrowing one and giving this date night a shot!

Favorite Decor Idea of the Week: Hanging Plates

I tried this simple decorating idea last weekend and just love how it turned out! My mom and I found the plates I used at various antique stores.  You can find the plate hangers just about everywhere for around $1-2.  You could use any color plate to match your color scheme!

Here are some more pictures that I found online:
This is kind of the model I used, since the color scheme of our kitchen is yellow and blue.
Wouldn't this be fun to do! Esspecially if you collected plates from special places you had been, or as gifts, etc...

    
Craft of the Week: Doiley Candle Holders

If I were you, I would not expect a "craft of the week" every week...but this week, I actually got around to this idea that I saw at some point or another on Pinterest.  It was SO easy!

1.) Purchase some doileys at an antique store, or at my case, at Michaels.  I bought mine in Easter colors, but of course you could do them any color!

2.) Blow up some balloons to be the right size for you to fit the doileys over them and be the shape that you want once they are finished.  I rested the balloons on top of some pub glasses to keep them from rolling around.

3.)Heat up 3/4 cups of sugar and 1/4 cup of water over medium-high heat in a saucepan and stir until the mixture looks uniform, but don't boil.

4.) Dip the doileys in the mixture and get them entirely drenched. Squeeze out the excess.

5.) Drape the doileys over the balloons and let them dry...it takes only a few hours.  Then they will be solid! So just pop the balloon and they are ready to go!

The only adjustment I would make to this is because you have to mash down the bottom once they are dry to make make them stand up straight, since they are curved on the bottom from drying over the balloon.  Chris and I were thinking that if I had not soaked the centers of the doiley in the sugar mixture, and the centers had not have dried stiff, they would have rested flat on the surface I sat them on.  Hope that makes sense!

Now I would stop reading now if you are short on time, because the rest of this post is PRETTY long!

iPhone Apps of the Week...no, Month...no, Year: Cozi & Food on the Table

  Sorry, but this logo image is not wanting to cooperate with my trying to make it smaller!

If you and your husband/wife/child/boyfriend/roommate are having a difficult time coordinating your schedule and keeping everything in one, simple, organized spot...you HAVE GOT to dowload this app! If you don't have an iPhone, you can still use this online.  I bet you can get it on other smartphones as well.  Here is the site: http://www.cozi.com/

What do I love about Cozi? First of all, the calendar function lets Chris and me organize our calendars from our phones...and we can look at either the "Amanda" calendar, the "Chris" calendar, or the "All" calendar.  We could even make a calendar for Mason if we wanted to.  So now, when I'm trying to plan something, I can look at the calendar and see if Chris has a test the next day or something.  I might decide to plan whatever it is for a different night in that case. There is a text bar at the type of the calendar where you could type something like "Amanda has yoga at 5:30pm every Wednesday"...it will automatically put yoga on the calendar at 5:30 every Wednesday indefinitely.  No more having to go to a certain day on my iPhone calendar and tediously type in every bit of information...I can just type it in conversational format! Another example would be "Concert on April 21 at the park ampitheatre"...in this case, it would default to the "All" calendar and to an "All Day" event...and even fill in the location for me. 

Cozi also keeps all of your shopping lists together.  So now, when I go to the store, I have a list that I can "check" off, that Chris is able to add/delete items on as well.  So if he goes to the store and picks up  everything on the list and doesn't tell me, we won't wind up with two of everything.  And if I go to the store and he has special requests that he forgot to tell me, there's no having to make a second trip. He can add the items to the list from his phone.  The shopping lists also have the Amanda/Chris/All distinctions.

My final favorite feature (there are even more features that I don't use) is the To-Do List function.  This works the same as the grocery list, and is convenient so that both of us are clear on what we each want to accomplish during the week or weekend.
The next app I want to share is the Food on the Table app: http://www.foodonthetable.com/

You can also use the website-version of this if you don't have a smartphone.  I have already saved a good bit of money using this.  I know there is a monthly premium membership where you have to pay, but I was able to get mine for free with the code MARFREE, which I would guess will continue working through tomorrow. 

The app allows you to choose the grocery stores you shop at, and your meal preferences (meat? fish? vegetarian? low fat? low carb?).  Then it produces lists of recipes, all rated by other users and marked if they contain items that are on sale at the store you shop at.  You can click through the recipes, and add them to your recipes for the week.  From those, it gives you a grocery list.  I scan the list, mark off items I already have...and in my case, I add the items I need to buy to my Cozi list, but you could also use the list on the app if you would rather, or just print it out.  The site focuses on EASY, CHEAP meals! I like to cook unique meals out of my cookbooks pretty regularly...but some nights, you just need to...well, put "Food on the Table" and you need to do it efficiently!


Best Coupon Websites of All Time

People are always asking me when I am going to teach them to coupon.  I will be happy to give lessons on this subject any day of the week because I love couponing! Right now my stockpile is pretty low, because unfortunately, the grocery stores around here are not the best couponing grocery stores.  I haven't been to Birmingham the past few weeks, but I always do some major grocery shopping when I go because the best of the best place to coupon is Publix.  My Phi Mu big sis, Sybil, taught me how to coupon at Publix two whole years ago, and I have been getting 70%+ off of groceries ever since! You really don't even need a lesson if you just go to this website:

Once again, sorry about the huge image, but this website really deserves one!!

If you go to iheartpublix, you will find a complete set of instructions on how to coupon in general, and how to coupon at Publix.  If you live in Columbus, I would suggest keeping up with this page so that when you drive through Tuscaloosa, you can hit the Publix there.  The Publix in Tuscaloosa takes Target coupons, a huge advantage! Only some of the Birmingham Publix's (Publixes?) take Target coupons and not all of them double.  If you live in Atlanta, you will find that you can use just about any competitor coupon, and that they double.  Unfortunately, most Florida stores neither double OR offer the 1/2 off BOGO (more on that later).  Auburn Publix does not take Target coupons, but they do double.

I am going to give a brief "how to" on couponing, but I would encourage you to visit this website if you want to know more.  This is how I do it:

1.) Collect coupons everywhere you can and keep them organized.  Get a file, organized by section of the grocery store, where you will keep any coupons that you peel off of items at the store (morally acceptable according to iheartpublix.com), take from "blinkies", "tearpads", or free samples, etc.  This makes it easy to find the right coupon while you are at the store.  I also organize mine by expiration date, so that when they expire, you can throw them away (OR send them to overseas military families, who can use them up to 6 months after expiration.  For more, see http://thekrazycouponlady.com/coupons-for-military/)   IMPORTANT: If you decide to collect Sunday paper coupons and clip all of them, you will get burned out quickly! I suggest using the "insert method".  Keep the entire insert together, make a list (if you want) of what it contains along with the last expiration date in the insert so you know when you can toss it, and file it away.  If you use iheartpublix, or any other similar couponing website, they will tell you exactly what insert to go to if you need a coupon.  To decide if you even want to buy a paper, you can use http://www.sundaycouponpreview.com/, but be advised that not all cities have the best coupons...always buy the paper for the biggest city you have access to!

2.) Every Monday, go to iheartpublix.com around 10am and she will give you a preview of everything on sale for the week.  She tells you EXACTLY where to get the coupons.  If it's a printable, she will give you the link.  If it's a Sunday paper coupon, she will tell you exactly what week and which insert you will find it in.

3.) Plan, plan, plan your trip! Make a grocery list with expected prices that you will pay before and after the coupons, so you will know if some of your coupons aren't scanned correctly.  Keep in mind that sales tax is added before the price of the coupon comes off.  Therefore, if an item is $1, and tax is 8%, and you have a $1 coupon, you will still pay the $.08 in tax.

The beauty of couponing at Publix (and the reason that it is the best place to coupon) is BOGO! At most stores, the "Buy One Get One" really means "Buy each at 1/2 off". (The exception is Florida...there, the first item is full price and the second is actually free.  Therefore, to get the bet deal, you would need to purchase and have coupons for both items.) Most Publixes (Publix's?) double coupons up to $.50 and accept one store coupon and one manufacturers coupon per item.  Publix puts out tons of store coupons, and as mentioned before, accepts competitor coupons as store coupons! So consider this scenario:

Barber's Chicken Breast, normally $6.99, this week on BOGO.  I have a $.50 off 1 ($.50/1) coupon that I got out of my All You magazine (another great source for coupons)...it will double to $1.  I also have a $1/1 coupon from a Publix flyer, available at the store.  I am going to buy this chicken for $1.50 ($7.99/2 -1 - 1)...that is over 75% off! There are deals like this every week at Publix.  It will take you a while to build up a stockpile of coupons.  Once you get there, you will be set. 

Many people don't want to try couponing because they think it is too time consuming.  Couponing takes me a maximum of about 45 mins a week.  When I go to the grocery store, I will typically save $50+.  $50 for less than an hour of work is WAY more than I get paid at my job, so I would say it is worth my time!

Some people also say that with couponing, you tend to buy things you don't need.  Dang right I buy things I don't need...at the moment! Successful couponing requires you to build a "stockpile" of food, so that you can have enough to last you until the next great deal comes around.  I also buy things that I don't need at the moment, but I think may come in handy when I make a certain recipe.  I buy chips to save for a tailgate, pickles to save for a week when hamburger meat goes on sale, or bread crumbs for when it's time to try a new recipe that calls for them.  I don't build a stockpile of Zebra Cakes because we don't eat those ever.  I love buying frozen or canned items that will last a long time, until I'm ready to eat them.  You don't need to be a crazy hoarder like the people on Extreme Couponers and make an extra room in your house for coupons and stockpiles, but you should try to keep your pantry full!

Wow, I just said A LOT about couponing! Hopefully I've convinced you that it's worth your time and effort, because it really is easy once you get the hang of it.


Military Couponers:

Lists coupon matchups for the commissary.  The commissary is a little harder to coupon at because they have a more limited selection and don't discount things steeply from their regular price...but... the commissary has the lowest prices every day, so you are still saving a lot, even if it doesn't show on your receipt.

Great list of resources for couponing at your commissary



Whew, alright I think that's all! This really wasn't just a weekly "Friday Favs" post, it was a "My favorite things through the years until this Friday" post.  If I keep doing it, the others will be shorter, promise!!

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Toast to the Future...



Ahhh...another week has come and has almost gone...this week carried some news with it that required a little celebration.  I can't resist a good chance to build suspense and I just can't share this news with the blog world yet.  Keep reading over the next several months and eventually I will have to spill it.  All I'm going to say is...it's NOT a baby!!! Wanted to make that clear!

This weekend was a relaxing one and was far too short! Saturday morning was spent doing taxes...yuck! Taxes are no fun, esspecially when you owe them instead of getting the nifty refund that lots of people get!  Of course they say it is more fiscally responsible to pay taxes in April because that means that you have been earning interest on your money all year instead of giving it to the government to earn interest on, just so you can get a refund (with no interest).  That doesn't make writing checks to the government any more fun...even as a lisence-pending CPA, taxes make me so paranoid that I will leave something out, so hopefully we won't get any "screw-up" letters from the IRS!

To blow off some steam after that miserable task, Chris and I went out to the CAFB lake for a picnic.  I made guacamole bacon grilled cheese sandwhiches and homemade hummus and we brought a bottle of wine out and played with Mason.  I am just loving this weather!


Complete with homemade bread :)



Saturday night was fondue night...I had been meaning to bust out the fondue set again, and I figured that the rare weekend spent at home with no big events planned was the perfect weekend for it.




Chris had some studying to do on Monday, so I kept myself busy by making some Easter candle-holders out of doileys, doing a little decorating in the kitchen and around the house, and some other things on my list.  For lunch we made black bean burgers and they were delicious! For those of you who like to save money and who aren't scared of veggie substitutes, I would highly recommend this.  Black bean burgers don't necessarily taste like hamburgers, but they are low fat and very delicious! And get this...6 black bean burgers cost about $1.50.  I'm pretty sure you would be lucky to make 6 hamburgers for $5.  We put the leftover guacamole from the picnic along with some white cheddar cheese on them and they were dee-lish.



Monday we had Jon and Autumn over for dinner.  Autumn left Tuesday to go to Washington for a couple of weeks for a wedding so it was nice to catch up before she headed out.  Tuesday we returned to Little Tokyo and it was my turn to take a picture with the sushi "Love Boat".



Fast forward many years, and I feel like this picture of me would be a pretty good indication of what our future teenage sons could look like...haha

So, I've been doing a little updating on the blog and have decided on a couple of things.  First of all, there is a new page that I'm going to add tomorrow with all the events going on in Columbus.  Lately, I have had quite a few people ask me how I know everything that's going on, and it's mainly because I just look high and low to find some fun events to try.  However, Columbus isn't the type place that you can just google "events this weekend in Columbus, MS" and come up with...well, anything! Hopefully this page will be useful to some of our friends here, to me, and to any of our friends/family who I know are looking for excuses to visit us :)

Another thing I'm going to start doing tomorrow is something I'm going to call Friday Favs.  I know some of my friends are laughing at what a nerd I am right now! Laugh on, but I know you will love it! I am constantly coming up with recipes, tips, products, ideas, etc that I want to share with the people I care about.  I have gotten even more obsessed with this since a.) joining Pinterest, and b.) becoming an avid blog-reader. The problem with these venues is that on Pinterest, as much as I love it, it is hard to keep organized the things you would like to try, and the things you have tried.  Beyond that, it's hard to organize the things you would recommend that you have tried, and the things you wouldn't recommend.  Plus, not everyone has Pinterest, and it's not the best avenue to describe things in too much detail. 

The main problem with sharing things on this blog is that, unlike most of the blogs I read, which focus on cooking/decorating/crafting/couponing, etc, this blog isn't really about anything except for, well...us! I am not an expert enough in any field to attempt dedicating an entire blog to it, nor do I have the time.  But I do have time to write reviews about the many venues I use, whether sucessfully or unsuccessfully, to spice things up and keep them interesting.  I have been sharing these in the blog all along, but not in much detail, and I feel that they kind of "clutter" the point I am usually trying to make, which is, more or less, "here is what we did this week".  This way, if you don't care what we do, you can just read my Friday Favs posts, and if you don't care about the Friday Favs, you can just read the normal posts. 

Chris passed his test on Monday with a 90 and has another one, the hardest one so far, tomorrow on weather.  Then he is done with academics and gets to take his first flight! Everyone wish him luck and keep him in your prayers... He passed his PFT (Physical Fitness Test) yesterday and did even better on it than he did on the last one.  Next week he begins FORMAL release (this is a correction...previously I ha written permanent release, but thank goodness, it's not permanent!) which means that he will be gone a mandatory twelve hours a day.  So if he goes in at 4am, he gets off at 4pm.  If he goes in at 9:30am he gets off at 9:30pm.  He doesn't get to choose when he goes in, it's all on a schedule and will vary day to day.  We hope this demanding schedule only lasts the minimum amount of time.  The amount of time spent on formal release depends on how long it takes the class to meat certain qualifications.

So there is the update! Ever since I have gotten so into reading blogs, I have been itching to try something different with ours...we will see how it goes! I'll leave you with some pics of our house all decorated for Easter. Thanks for reading!


I am in the market for some Easter egg placemats...if anyone knows where I can get some, let me know!

That is one of my homemade doiley candle holders.


My other candle holders.

See how hard Chris is studying for his tests...wait, that's an ESPN magazine.

Yes, we have light up Easter eggs!




Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Happy St. Patty's Day, and Welcome Spring

Happy Spring, everyone! I believe that yesterday was the "official" Spring Equinox, although we have been having spring weather here in Columbus for a few weeks now.  With that spring weather has come terrible allergies for me, and I have never had allergies in my life! Luckily, they have seemed to clear up somewhat, so now I can really enjoy the weather.  Which is a good thing, because our calendar has been packed the past couple of weeks!

Before I start, I want to give a word of warning to all iPhone owners: don't download the new operating system until you have BACKED UP EVERYTHING on your iPhone! I rarely install the updates to my iPhone, so I kind of forgot the way you are supposed to do it.  You are supposed to back up everything on your iPhone to iTunes before installing updates.  Apparently, I hadn't done this since the very beginning of October.  Thursday of last week, I downloaded the new operating system, and lost all of my contacts and (worst of all!) pictures since then! That includes the phone # of basically everyone I've met at CAFB. So I am probably going to leave a lot out of this blog since my pictures and iPhone calendar are usually what I  use to remember what the heck happened over the past x number of days.  You know how sometimes your week flies by and by the time you get to the end of it, you don't remember what you did! Anyway, hopefully my experience will save someone else from having the same problem.  Luckily, thanks to my blogging, most of my pictures had already been uploaded to my computer. Also we recently started using this amazing app (would recommend to all) called Cozi which syncs my calendar and Chris', and also saves online so I didn't lose all my appointments. 

Anyway, two Fridays ago when I got back from Birmingham, Jon and Autumn and we had decided to throw a bonfire in the huge open field between our houses for the guys in our class.  We brought both our fire pits out and burned a bunch of wood and did s'mores.  Then someone...okay it was me...had the idea for the guys to take this picture...I think it is pretty funny!


Someone (NOT me) had the idea to burn that huge cardboard box...I was terrified we would light the whole street on fire, but nothing happened.  I guess that's what happens when you give a bunch of guys access to fire.  No matter how old they are, they are going to want to see what happens when you burn this or that.

The next day (Saturday the 10th) Greg and Tammy came into town for a visit.  It was the perfect day for a visit because it was career day again, and all the planes were brought out for us to tour.  I took a bunch of pictures, but unfortunately, I took them with my phone so I don't have them anymore! But Tammy took these and put them on her facebook.  I wish we would have gotten a group picture!



Chris with the C-17.  This is the one he has been leaning toward wanting to fly, but he's still undecided. 


C-17 again.


With the KC-10 (refueler)


In the F-16
 For dinner we went to J. Broussard (we love that place!) and everyone enjoyed their meal there.  We were so exhausted after spending half the day in the sun walking around that we didn't do anything after dinner! The next morning I made breakfast (Goat Cheese and Artichoke Frittatta...yum! Lost my picture though!) and they headed out around lunch.  I spent the afternoon on my cornhole project (more on that later) and Chris had to do some studying.  Later on is when I started having a complete allergy attack which kept me feeling pretty miserable for a few days. 

The rest of my week was spent fighting with allergies while trying to get ready for our St. Patty's day party.  After getting thoroughly medicated, I felt a lot better by Friday and finally cashed in the gift certificate that afternoon for a massage that Chris gave me for Christmas.  I guess my masseuse had the healing touch because I have felt just fine since then!

Chris and I were so pumped about throwing our St. Patty's day party for the class! My idea was to make it a beer tasting where everyone would bring different beers and everyone would taste each other's.  I had cups out with green dye in the bottom so that the beer would turn green.  Chris commented that I put a lot of "work" into decorating, but what he doesn't understand is that is half the fun for me! So here are some pictures of the decor:


Alright, so...starting in the back, there is our bucket full of beer in the living room area. Next to it, I put out a basket full of coozies for people to use. Then there are my Irish Car Bomb cupcakes, actually made with Guinness, whisky, and irish cream (like a real Irish Car Bomb)..they were a huge hit! A pitcher of water, and in front of it an empty plate where I put Beer Battered Fried Pickles (beer battered to match the beer theme, and pickles because they are green!).  To the left of the empty plate was spinach dip (green, again), and then all my little empty cups with green dye at the bottom to make the beer turn green.  The little green bowl next to the beer bucket was for bottle caps.  I also decorated the table with scattered beer bottle caps that I collected a while back to make a "man" table for Chris (still gotta find the time for that little project!) Also, can you see the little food labels? I made those :)

Beer cheese dip...dyed green...see, y'all, it's a theme!  Just love themes!

Kitchen drink set-up...with a little St. Patty's dish for the bottle caps.

Guacamole and pigs-n-blankets with...you guessed it..green-dyed mustard. 

Casey brought this yummy Buffalo Chicken Dip (and I had also made little food labels for stuff people brought)

Outside (patio) mini-setup

I can't believe I didn't take a picture of this sign that I made hung up in front of our hutch! Luckily, I took a picture with my phone (on Friday, after I updated my iPhone) to send to Autumn so just imagine it on the hutch by the kitchen table! It says "Everyone is Irish on March 17"

I also forgot to take a picture of this once I got it to the house, but I made it too...and you can imagine it hanging over the lamp shade in our entry-way. It says "Happy St. Patrick's Day! Eat, Drink, and Be Irish!"

Also, we asked everyone to dress for the St. Patty's day theme, and a lot of people went all out! Here are some pics:


I was completely obsessed with Casey and Eli's hilarious shirts...with each other's faces on leprechaun bodies!
Jon and Autumn brought homemade ice cream...mint chocolate chip, yum!








Nancy is the only girl in the class and she is lots of fun!

Me and Casey at our pilot partner, The Princess, later on.

Sometime over the last month or so, Chris and I decided that we really needed a cornhole board so that we could bring it to tailgates and have it at outdoor parties like this one.  Neither of us have any carpentry experience, but I got a great deal on this set (beanbags included) from the Alabama Cornhole Association while I was working in Birmingham.  They are actually used cornhole boards from their tournaments so they are the exact right size and I could paint them in an Auburn-theme.  Can't wait to bring these babies to Auburn this fall! I am pretty proud to say I painted them!



I made a couple of new discoveries on CAFB this week.  First of all...I can't believe we have been living here 8 months and didn't know there was a lake on the base! And a really pretty one, at that! We are definitely going to bring a picnic basket out here sometime this weekend. Autumn, Casey, and I brought our dogs out on Sunday afternoon and let them chase the ball in the water.  I couldn't believe how far Mason swam out to get the ball! Maybe he is finally getting over his fear of the water, or maybe he just couldn't stand the other dogs to be out there without him!





video

Also, this would have been nice to know when I was training for the half marathon: Columbus has a 10.7 mile "perimeter road" that goes around the base.  Casey (who is training for the full Air Force marathon in Ohio later this year) and I ran it and discovered several things while we were one it, such as a horse stable and a paint ball course. 

Last night, the class had dinner at our "Pilot Partner" in town, which is a business in town that "sponsors" your class by offering discounts and just helping you get acclimated to the local culture.  Our pilot partner is...surprise! The Princess (the most popular bar in town that has also has a restaurant).  We now get 50% off 3 nights a week there and 25% off 3 other nights a week.  At the dinner, they had a raffle and Chris won this amazing T-shirt:
"Only the Strong Survive"...haha! I don't know about a picture of two roosters fighting...



As you can see, Chris' mustache is getting quite impressive.  We still have 10 days to go in "mustache March" and I definitely think he could stand to win some kind of award. I don't believe I actually covered the tradition of Mustache March in my last post, so here is a brief history, and the "rule" as outlined in the instructional email Chris forwarded me from the Lt. Colonel in charge of the students (I guess he forwarded it to me so that I would believe that this actually existed):

U.S. Air Force ace Robin Olds became celebrated for a flowing handlebar
mustache he grew while commanding the 8th Tactical fighter Wing Wolfpack
during the Vietnam War, and when forced to shave it by his superior, the
source of an Air Force tradition known as "Mustache March."

The first rule of mustache march is...
Let's get things straight from the beginning:  Mustache March is not a
contest. It's a reminder of our rich Air Force heritage...For a month!
If there's a contest to be had, then I recommend the following:

1. All registered participants must be clean-shaven on March 1st, unless
they are competing in the pre-existing condition class.
2. Until March 15th, the leadership above the squadron level is 'likely' to
allow "minor" deviations from the AFIs with regard to (sts) width of the
'stache...after that, get it trimmed (sts).
3. Registered participants who shave off their mustache prior to judging are
disqualified. I recommend a Disqualification Fine of $20 to be added to our
donation to charity.
4. Participants will be subjected to a minimum of 2 photographs (before and
after) during the course of Mustache March for documentation/humiliation
purposes...and additional photographs are encouraged. It is highly
recommended that all participants get their 'before' pictures taken
willingly as you've practically all got smart phones in your pockets...as
for the "after" photos, those will be done at the to-be-organized squadron
function at the end of March. Those pics will certainly be used for "humor"
(read humiliation) purposes. Future squadron roll calls deserve some humor!
5. Here are the award categories:
Best of Show
The name basically sums it up. This award is reserved for the most
spectacular specimen produced over the course of the month.
This is utterly subjective to the judge's personal opinion(s).
Most Disturbing
When you look at this mustache, if will frighten you. We will warn others
about the sight of this mustache.
Most Fitting
Sometimes the stars align and a man and his mustache become something...
more, with a mustache.
This award is given to the mustache that makes a man greater than the sum of
his otherwise wholly inadequate parts.
Dirt-lip Award
The little follicles that couldn't...The recipient of this award can only
take solace in the fact that this is all for charity.
Preexisting Condition Class Award
This is an wholly separate class reserved for the few, proud men who choose
to wear a mustache every day of their glorious lives. Members of this class
are not required to shave their existing mustaches on March 1st. There is
only one award for this class, and members of this class are not eligible
for any other award categories.
Judging
All remaining participants must attend the March 30th judging ceremony. I
recognize that the 30th is not the last day of March, but it IS a Friday.
More details will follow regarding the squadron function to take place on
that date.
Other Mustache Categories that could be judged in an "Instant Justice"
fashion:
Wyatt Earp
Fu Man Chu
Janet Reno
Magnum PI
Free Candy in the Van
Dictator
Stalin
Groucho Marx
Warren Harding

As I have said before, I think Chris stands to win the "Free Candy in the Van" award.  We shall see...

Chris has been busy studying for his tests and doing a lot of simulations lately.  Yesterday, he did a simulation where he practiced several emergency procedures, including being ejected from the plane.  Let's hope that's the closest to a real ejection he will ever get! He has passed all of his tests so far, and hasn't even come close to failing any of them.  He got fitted for his "G-suit" this week too, which has all of these pockets that fill with air when he pulls G's while flying.   Some of my lady friends may not know this, because I didn't know it...but when you are flying, and you are accelerating very quickly or doing different maneuvers, the weight/pressure on your body may be several times that of a normal "g" (or the regular gravitational pull of the earth), which can cause you to black out or lose consciousness.  There are different methods you can use to keep from blacking out, like flexing certain muscles to keep the blood from pooling in the lower body, etc (you don't want the blood to flow away from your brain!).  The G-suit has pockets of air that inflate around your legs when the g-forces cause a certain amount of pressure to keep  the blood from flowing to the lower body. I doubt my explanation makes much sense, but that's the general idea.

Tomorrow some ladies and I are going to Starkville to do their downtown wine trail (all the stores are giving 25% off! yay!).  Friday, our friends Jaime and Jordan are having his  (i.e. their) assignment night, where they will find out what plane he is getting and where they will be stationed, so we are going to that, then to a BBQ at Casey & Eli's house. Saturday is half ruined because we have to do our taxes...yuck! But maybe if we get it done early, we can salvage the second half of the day! The Pilgrimage starts next week, so I have that to look forward to as well!

Thanks for reading this week...wow, our social life has really gotten crazy since Chris started training, but we are enjoying every minute of it.  For the time being, Chris has been able to budget his time really well and still has time to do most anything, but that will change when his 12 hours days begin.  We are making the most of it while we can.  His first flight in the T-6 is in 1 week from Friday!! Here he is with it on Career Day:




Thanks for reading!