Monday, April 30, 2012

Dinner Menu: April 23 - 29

Dear scheming, dreaming planners,

Sometimes I am inspired by looking at menus that other, more organized people have assembled.

There are days when I just need that simple jolt of inspiration.  "Coffeecake for the weekend!  Why didn't I think of that?"  I don't always plan an exact menu, but I do prefer to do so, as it saves a lot of brain-work and shopping during the week.

With this in mind, I will post our dinner menu from the past week here for you to, perhaps, get some ideas from.  There is nothing fancy here, and nothing extravagant.  Just simple food (served, of course, on paper plates).

Chicken Soup & Rice (bones reserved and made into broth)
Roasted Cauliflower
Cheesy Bread
Chopped Fresh Pineapple
Ice Cream

Calzones (filling: jarred roasted red peppers, home-canned tomato sauce, sliced turkey, chopped organic chicken dogs, herbs & spices, mushrooms, garlic, sliced meat, onion, celery, carrot, havarti cheese*)
Raw Carrots & Dip
Sliced Kiwi
Jell-O Dish: Frozen Strawberry Shortcake Squares
*when we chopped the onions, celery, and carrot for the calzones, we chopped extra and stored it in a quart jar for the next meal.  Additionally, the dough recipe I used was from the King Arthur Flour 100 Year Anniversary book, and it is wonderful.

Spaghetti (using the chopped vegetables from Tuesday to make the marinara from home-canned sauce)
Roasted Broccoli
Pizza Bianca
Jell-O Dish: Easy Southern Banana Pudding

Hobo Pockets (Onion, organic chicken hot dogs, carrots, mushrooms, garlic, herbs, potatoes)
Corn Muffins
Sliced Oranges and Ugly Fruit
Jell-O Dish: Lemon Mousse & Berry Sauce

Hot Dogs on the BBQ topped with: homemade picallili, homemade ketchup, jarred roasted bell peppers, mayonnaise
Raw Carrots & Dip
Potato Salad
Jell-O Dish: Blended fruit in gelatin

Caldo Verde with wide egg noodles and shredded cheese

Grilled bluefish with onions and roasted bell peppers (Mr H went fishing!)

Sliced Watermelon
Ice Cream

Leftover Caldo Verde with noodles and cheese
Sliced Watermelon
More Ice Cream!

Huge calzones!  Mr H loved these.  
Roasted broccoli is always welcome
When chopping vegetables, look at the week ahead and see if you can save
some time by chopping a little extra! 
My mom-in-law sent me a ring holder - finally I will stop losing my rings when
I take them off to knead dough!  The duck-timer is from her, too! 
Pizza Bianca (White Pizza) is one of Mr H's favorites.  A chewy dough topped
with oil, coarse salt, and rosemary!  Traditional Italian dish.  
I am always hungry for Mr H's fresh-caught fish, shrimp, or crab!
Nothing says fresh like a head left in your kitchen sink!

Mrs H

Saturday, April 28, 2012

All Happiness

All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast.  - John Gunther

Dear early-morning riser,

One of my favorite breakfast stand-bys is toad-in-a-hole.  It comes together easily and in very little time, with minimal effort and few dishes.

When you make a tiny mess, you only have to clean a tiny mess!

I made toad-in-a-hole for my younger brother and sister when they stayed the night at my house once, and all three of us had a different hole-shape.

Iron Nate had a duck-in-a-hole, Kejmo had a man-in-a-hole, and I had a regular,
round toad-in-a-hole!  The shaped ones are a little more tricky to cut out,
and they don't always preserve their shape in the finished product ...
but they are fun nonetheless!

I added a sliced roma tomato with pepper and salt to my plate

This morning I made Mr H a simple, "normal" toad, using my old biscuit-cutter.

I did not create this recipe, neither do I know the actual origin; I just know my mom made it when I was little, and I make it now!


1 slice bread per person
1 egg per person

Grease and heat a frying pan on medium heat.  Butter one side of the bread.  Cut a hole in the middle using a small glass or a biscuit/cookie cutter; set the bread butter-side down in the hot pan, and crack the egg into the middle.  If you don't like a runny yolk, break the yolk with the flipping spatula.  Set the buttered circle butter-side down in the pan to toast.  Cook until the underside is stable, about 1 - 2 minutes, and then flip; flip the little round piece, too!  Cook until it is as finished as you desire.

Serve with the round "lid" on top, and with homemade ketchup, peach jam, butter, or syrup.

Note: If you find that your toad (egg) never stays in the hole properly, you may need to wait for your pan to get a little bit hotter before cracking the egg in.

Mrs H

Friday, April 27, 2012

What's It Like to be Pregnant?

Dear friends,

After my ranting post the other day, somebody brought up the question - what ARE you feeling, anyhow?  What is it like for you to be pregnant?

Kejmo gave the baby a hug right before I left for Virginia - she wrapped her
arms around my tummy and gave the baby lots of love! 
Truth to be told, I feel like every day I'm waiting to find out.  I'm curious, too - when will It All Begin!?  When will I Feel Really Pregnant!??

For the first few months (i.e. most of the time we were in California) I felt disinterested in food frequently, and sleepy from time to time.  Mr H encouraged me to take walks with him in the evenings when I felt woozy, but of course I couldn't tell anybody how I felt because I wasn't even sure yet if I was pregnant; plus, if I was, I wanted to share the big news when we went home for Christmas.  Since I wasn't complaining and griping and I was, more than anything, just having to cover up my "symptoms" and go about daily life, I never got to indulge in feeling lousy and so I think I was protected from feeling too lousy.  From growing it bigger in my mind, if you will!

Turns out I was pregnant (I finally took a pregnancy test around 3 months ... am I lazy or what?) and a doctor in California confirmed it for us.  By this time, I felt great again and I was happily going to yoga classes, kickboxing classes, and running every morning as per my former usual activities.

As you know, we shared the news with our family on Christmas leave, and they were overwhelmed with happiness for us!

Ever since I returned to Washington in January of 2012, I attended daily fitness classes to stay flexible and strong for the duration of the pregnancy and labor.  Since prior to pregnancy I had been practicing hot yoga every day (yoga for flexibility and strength, in a room heated to about 100 degrees with high humidity and excellent airflow!), I planned to continue doing so.  I asked the doctor in California about this, and she said she heartily recommended I continue with it as I had been doing it previously.

I was blessed to suffer no more sickness and very rare experiences of puking, and so my daily exercise was unhindered for the most part by any weird feelings.  There were two days, consecutive, that I pretty much just sat in class and observed, for fear of losing my stomach contents; but other than that, I practiced with as much freedom as I had prior to gestating an infant in my belly.

Between 4 and 5 months

A little farther along ... 
With all of the deep spine bends and strengthening I've been experiencing through the fitness classes, I haven't had to worry about any back-aches or stiffness.  My stomach has stayed strong and muscular, and I can still see the outline of strong abdominal muscles through a t-shirt!  My legs and arms are always being worked so they, too have retained their strength.  Pelvic floor strength is a part of almost every pose, and so every muscle I will be using to help birth the baby is getting exercised and strengthened daily - hopefully, this comes into play when the baby is coming!

Mr H, leery and a little disgusted - "What are these, baby's first yoga pants?!"
I'm only at about seven and half months along, so all this could change.  I could become too fatigued to carry on with daily exercise, or get sick a lot, or any one of a hundred thousand things that my body could experience during this process of growth.  I don't worry about those things, though; quite frankly, I ignore them altogether.  I just enjoy the moment and process my experiences without passing judgement on them or deciding what a do or don't like;  I just let them be, and let them move on.

(I am on the left) At almost 7.5 months - on the road trip!
On the right: This radiant, powerful Montana-hills mama gave birth
the next day after we took this picture!  I am available to take
pictures for a small fee ... 
The only thing that I can really attribute to the pregnancy right now is an ongoing case of the hiccup/burps!  Mr H has been more than a little entertained by my less than delicate belches, which I try to cover up hastily but are too frequent to be concealed.  If anybody knows any home remedies for that, I'll take your advice in an instant!

But when I'm not hiccuping or burping, I sometimes just feel kinda fat ... pudgy ... Hmm, not sure why that would be; and sometimes I just plain forget I'm pregnant at all, until I look down and see my stomach sticking out!

Visiting the zoo the other day ... somebody asked me if I am having pregnancy
tantrums yet, and when I said I don't know what they're talking about they
accused me of lying!  If I ever presume to throw a tantrum and blame it on
hormones and thereby justify my bad behavior, please put me back in this cage ... 

Mr H took Amanda and I to a mini-golf place near the beach ... I tried to say
my bad shots were because the baby was kicking but really, nobody believed me
Settling in to the new house in Virginia, a little over 31 weeks or so
along.  This was the day I had my first appointment with the midwives!
All of that traveling kinda got in the way .... 
I am curious and eager to meet this new baby soon!  Mr H has a very good time playing with the baby by poking my belly and feeling it kick back (no, we have not discovered the sex of the baby and will not know until birth!), although he wondered out loud the other day if he just jabbed the baby in the eye!  I'll keep you updated on the new experiences but, for now ... that's pregnancy for me!

Mrs H

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Creative Kitchen

Dear ingenious divergent thinkers,

When Mr H left for boot camp in March 2011, almost all of my Stuff was packed away into Rubbermaid boxes in my parents' shed, and there it has remained during my past year of traveling and cavorting.

I kept aside a small amount of Useful Items to bring with me when I stayed in Chicago for a few months, and subsequently when I stayed in California for a few months.  (I didn't bring any to Florida ... that trip was too short!)  I kept out such items as my favorite handy-dandy peeler, a mesh strainer, a large soup pot, a cast iron skillet, a jelly roll pan (rimmed baking sheet), an airbake cookie sheet, a blender, and so on and so forth - items that would be hard to find a replacement for (a disposable mesh strainer?  Haven't seen one yet, and your straw hat does not count!) but that could all fit into one, tightly jammed box.

A leftover bottle from Trader Joe's makes a great pitcher for orange juice -
I put chunks of concentrate in a funnel (which fortunately was in my Box of
Tricks) and inserted it in the narrow mouth of the bottle; then poured hot water
into the funnel and smashed it all around with a plastic fork.
It has been a very enjoyable year, and I've learned to be creative in the kitchen plenty of times.  Not only by using regular old fashioned skills (making whipped cream with just a jar and a lid, for instance), but also by repurposing dishes over and over.  As a simple example, a soup pot also makes a good mixing bowl, sort of.  It is, at any rate, a container, and can contain things.  A glass baking pan makes a pitiful but serviceable cutting board.  Foil makes an excellent pan in many instances.  An oven is just a well a toaster as any toaster is, and a microwave will boil water if you have no other option.  Alternatively, an oven makes a great microwave, albeit a slow one, if you have no microwave.  Mason jars are great for a double-boiler - set them in a pan of hot water and cook away!  Or a pan of hot water is great for a microwave, since the Mason jar is also working as a leftovers-container - just set the jar of soup or whatever it is you're heating in the hot pan of water, and again ... cook away!

Mincing onions for Sunday lunch was a drag with no plate or cutting board,
so I sliced them on a piece of foil and then minced them with scissors
There is always more than one way to skin a cat; you just have to remember what the final outcome is to be, and then simplify the procedure to get there.

Now that we are living in Virginia, we have a regular ol' apartment and I am eager to see my little dish friends again.  But once again we are living a Spartan lifestyle as we await the long and slow delivery of our items by Naval shipment!  Our Goode Items will arrive at the end of April, so we've been enjoying plastic silverware and we finally broke down and bought paper plates (it was getting really tiring for the three of us to share one tiny Glad container), coupled with an excellent Kitchenaid immersion blender and a row of empty Mason jars.

I love our air mattress - it has saved us many times.  And yet I am so looking
forward to having our real bed once again! 
You can always make things work ... but I am excited to get my dishes out again!

Mrs H

Monday, April 23, 2012

Little did they know ...!

Dear adventurers and at-home-stayers,

Growing up, we had a few catch-phrases that we used amongst our circle of siblings.  You're already familiar with "us kids," of course.  But there was another favorite phrase we'd use when we were playing in the backyard pretending to be on bucking broncos or stranded on the prairies of the midwest, or when we were huddled around a "campfire" lamp with our toy horses in our bedroom, setting up intricate plots and circling home-made wagon trains around to protect from wolves.

"I know," we'd say.  "Little did  they know ... Indians were just over the hill."

"How about this," we'd say.  "Little did they know ... the mosquitos all had malaria!"

"I know, I know!" we'd say.  "Little did they know ... right before they came into the room he had secretly managed to swallow the elderberries and that made his heart rate go so slow it just seemed like he was dead and when nobody was looking he was somehow able to stitch up the his leg so it wasn't dangling by a tendon and he climbed back up the cliff and saved everybody!!!"  

One day, Mandatory and I were driving from Minnesota to Ohio.  Little did we know ...

The day started out pleasant and sunny, as foreboding days commonly do.  We had stayed the night at a little motel in Minnesota just an hour from the Wisconsin border, with an innkeeper who spoke in such a whispered hush and understood so little English that it was with some difficulty we procured our rooms for said night.

We partook of the continental breakfast before leaving, but the waffles were gluey and pasty; the apple juice watery; the Nesquick chocolate mix was old and stale ... we should have taken this as a sign of warning.

We left on our merry way and made good time; in fact, we made excellent time plugging across the remainder of Minnesota, charging through Wisconsin, and then cutting off of I-90 and diving down through Illinois on I-94, our first departure from that fine interstate since we had left home.

There are no tolls on I-90, by the way.  The same cannot be said for any of the remaining interstates we traveled on our way to Virginia.

But I digress.

We arrived at our goal in Libertyville, Illinois, a little Thai food restaurant where we had called ahead with our order of various lunch entrees and drinks.  We picked up the food and then drove a short distance to a very dear friend's house, where we had planned a three-hour stop for recuperation and visitation.

I found it impossible to tear myself away from her and her precious new son (and we stayed long enough that we got to see her husband when he came home from work, as well!), and three hours quickly turned into five.

He tried to warn us, but we didn't understand baby-speak 
 We had tentatively hoped to make it as far as Avery, Ohio that night, but with any delays we figured we might get as far as Toledo.  "Looks like Toledo for the night!" we said cheerily as we got in the Jeep to head out of Dodge, stopping only for gas on our way to the interstate.  We would make it by about 8:30 PM, our latest stop yet (I'd been diligently stopping by 7:30 PM or sooner to ensure "safety" and all those sorts of things that family talk about all the time.  Of course with my lead foot and eager desire to get to Virginia quickly, this took enormous power of will).

Earlier in the day, we had called ahead to a hotel in Avery that sounded incredible for our last night on the road.  A jacuzzi in the room, a hot breakfast at six - we were ready for this.  We weren't sure if we could make it that far now with our additional two-hour delay in Chicago, but we were willing to give it a shot.  If not, Toledo was always an option.

We drove hard but we hit traffic snarls and toll after toll, and road-work speed limits which hampered our progress.  We also forgot that we would cross over the Eastern-time dateline in Indiana, and so we automatically lost an hour.  It was well after dark, and after 9:30 when we pulled in to Toledo - that is to say, when we reached the city limits and couldn't see any lights on either side of the highway.

This is the last picture we took that day ... things got too crazy for photos
We decided it was too early to stop; plus, we didn't see any hotels we liked there.  And we didn't feel like it was 9:30 in our heads; and we hadn't been driving that long, anyway.  And we really wanted that jacuzzi room in Avery.

So we forged ahead.

Does anybody else recognize this eerily similar situation?  Once upon a time in Montana ... but some of us never learn.

Looking at our maps, we could see that there were plenty of cities dotted between Toledo and Avery, so we didn't even think we really had to stop there.  What we didn't realize is that a turnpike is not like an interstate; you can't just pull off an exit, check out a few hotels, and get back on.


You find an exit that advertises four thousand sparkling hotels and resorts; thinking this sounds pretty good, you exit.  Which is what we did when, halfway between Toledo and Avery, as our energies were wearing thin and, with the road-work slowing us down, we realized we wouldn't make it to Avery.  We weren't keen on going another sixty miles any more; we were getting tired.  We called ahead to this hotel that said, Yes, we're just off the turnpike.  Yes, you can see us from the road (why didn't I ask which road?).  Yes, we have jacuzzi rooms and a hot breakfast.

So, as I was saying, we exited.  First you are faced with a wide row of toll booths, glowing in the night like demonic beacons.  Mandatory reached into the console and pulled out our bag of quarters.

Oops!   In the dark and confusion, she grabbed the bottom of the unzipped ziplock bag, and fifty dollars in quarters gushed down into the blackness of the transfer case and under the emergency brake handle.  Money sloshed through the console as she frantically scooped at it, in helpless futility.  I stopped at the toll booth and the clerk stared down at us, unamused, as we fumbled for money.  I think it was about ten dollars to get through the toll.

I paid, and we trundled on to the exit.  Mandatory was still digging for quarters in deep crevices, and I was throwing receipts and change about to add to the mess.

The exit faced us not with a road, but with another interstate.  What?!  No hotels were in sight.  I took a right and we blasted down the direction the hotel was supposed to be, the infamous Crown Inn.  Money crashed and change rattled down into the depths of the Jeep as Mandatory, by the light of the fog-resistant make-up mirror on her sun-visor, inserted her fingers into little mechanical gaps and dragged out another forty-two quarters.

As we drove, I began to realize that this Inn could be farther than we thought.  Suddenly, it appeared!

I exited the interstate and rolled slowly in, and began to wonder how this place could house jacuzzi rooms.  One level, with about twenty doors leading to rooms.  Dingy and greenish, with a bright sign advertising "$30 a night!"  Semi-trucks were parked in the gravel lot.  I pulled up to the front doors and got out, buzzed the bell, and waited until it unlocked.

Inside, a teenage Indian boy with a huge mop of black hair stared at me with large, unblinking eyes.  "I called ahead," I said, "asking about jacuzzi rooms?"

"Oh no," he said, "we don't have jacuzzi rooms."

I stared back, except I blinked a few times.  "But I called ahead ..."

"No, that's another Crown Inn, and we are not affiliated with them," he explained.  He had obviously done this before.  "Go down This and That highway, exit to East Other Highway, take Exit 10, and follow the main road down ..."

I went back out to the car.  Mandatory was still hunting for quarters.  I told her the news.  We got back on the interstate and drove a few more miles before I determined this was Utterly Pointless.  "We'd be in Avery by now if we hadn't stopped here!" I said, and took the first exit I could find, whipped around, and got back on heading towards the turnpike.

To get back on to the turnpike, we had to stop at the toll booth and get a little card that we would turn in at our next exit, which would then determine how much we were to be billed.

Once we were on the turnpike, we hauled it to Avery and rolled in by midnight.  We got off the exit and paid our fine.  Taking a right, we could see the hotel almost immediately off the freeway, and we rejoiced!  I had called them earlier in the evening and they had said they would definitely have jacuzzi rooms, no need to reserve them.


We stopped at a gas station to fill up so our morning would be a straight shot out of town.  Ironically, the pump I was at was out of paper and I had to trudge wearily inside to get a receipt, and then drove back to the hotel.  Or, attempted to.  All of the hotels were right off the main drag, with the exception of the one we wanted to go to.  For whatever reason, this one was separated from the main road by a low median and an access road.  An access road with no apparent access.  In the dark, we drove up and down trying to figure out how to get onto the access road, with no luck (in the morning we could see it clearly, but things were a little foggy by this time ...).  We tried going into other hotel parking lots, but there were no through-ways.

We returned to the main road and slowly drove in front of the Inn of our Desire.  Coins settled peacefully in the console as we came to a contemplative halt.  "Well, I just ... I don't know ..."  I was a little too tired to be formal at this point.  "Whatever, it's a Jeep."  Turning the steering wheel, I put down the gas pedal and the Jeep crawled heavily up onto the median, coins crashing down again.  We rattled and clanged, dropping over the other side like an overweight whale.  "Whatever," I said again, "let's just get to our hotel!"  We bullied our way up the driveway and Mandatory was laughing hysterically.

When we stopped, she couldn't find her phone.

I went inside to secure our room.  They told me the jacuzzi rooms were all full.  I gave them a glassy-eyed stare and said, fine, just give me a room then.  Like a robot, I filled a bowl with ice and took it back outside.  Mandatory was trying to find her phone, but she couldn't call it from mine since mine was dead, conveniently.  While I drained our cooler of food and drinks and filled it with ice, she took a flashlight and hunted.

"I have good news, and bad news!" she said.  "Good news is, I found it ... bad news is, I can't reach it, because it's in the console thingy where the quarters fell."

In our Jeep, there is a small crack about the size of a toothpick in the console where the emergency brake handle comes out.  Unfortunately, items up to the size of a small child can fall into this crack.  The phone, apparently, had.

I wedged myself into the passenger side of the car and flexed my eyes, peering around corners in the console to see the phone reposing in a heap of quarters underneath a lot of metal stuff.

"I tried to wedge my hand in there," said Mandatory, who has tiny hands, "but I couldn't get it to fit."

I remembered the median.  I remembered raw strength.  I remembered the determination of Woman.

And I contorted my hand into a small shape the size of a flattened Hotwheels car and crammed it through the crack, lengthening it as I went so my fingers would extend beyond human capacity and fumble down into the crack to reach the phone.  I felt my fingers touch it, and it slithered quietly away from my grasp.

But I remembered the determination of Woman again, and with that determination, little webs of sticky steel emerged from my fingertips and wrapped around the phone, clutching it tightly and drawing it out of the crack with inhuman power.

Mandatory took it gratefully.

"Let's go to bed," I said, and so we did.  That is what I remember of Ohio.

Mrs H

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Real Question Is, What Can't You Do With Coconut Oil?

Dear readers from the islands of Tortuga and other far-flung and exotic places,

I love coconut oil (expeller-pressed, organic, raw).  I use it as lotion to moisturize and I slather it on my tummy in the morning after my shower and in the evening just before bed, to keep my skin from getting too terribly itchy and irritated from all the growth it will need to do.  Coconut oil at room temperature is solid, although you can still dig your finger through it; if it gets warm, it softens, and if it's hot enough it will be come a clear liquid.

Coconut oil is not only delicious, but it is an ultra-nutritious food.  It is lower in calories than other fats, and it helps reduce cholesterol so it is of interest to the weight-loss community.

I use coconut oil, by the way, instead of a fancy or expensive belly lotion because I don't have the time or the scientific resources to thoroughly research all of the ingredients in most of those lotions, and I figured if I were going to be using it twice or more a day for my baby bump, I didn't want to run the risk of anything dangerous on my skin.

Now, there is quite a lot more you can do with coconut oil other than rub it on your tummy; not the least of which is, of course, to eat it!

Coconut oil is, for instance, wonderful to use if you have allergies or prefer not to consume dairy products.  Recently, two famously wonderful links regarding coconut oil came to my attention, and I figured I'd share them with you here.

The Mysterious Mrs S referred me to this link: Coconut Butter Spreads - Cacao, Goji, Banana, Strawberry
This page not only gives the delicious recipes for these more nutritious versions of butter spreads, but also explains basic, useful principles for working with coconut oil.

How to Use Coconut Oil: There Are Hundreds of Uses of Coconut Oil!  This tantalizing little blog post will lead you to 22 other scrumptious recipes that will give you ideas on how to use coconut oil.  Everything from frying fish to making ketchup to blending smoothies to making mayonnaise!  Find their additional recipes cataloged at Free Coconut Recipes!

How do you use coconut oil?  Will this be your first time trying it?


Mrs H

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Esp. one with tolls

To those with excess coinage jingling in their pockets,

Do you know what a turnpike is?  The dictionary defines it as: noun - 1. a high-speed highway, esp. one with tolls.  2. (formerly) a barrier set across such a highway to stop passage until a toll has been paid; tollgate. 

Between Washington State and Virginia, there are a lot of tolls.  This I know.

On a bright and sunny Monday, my sister Mandatory and I climbed into the Jeep and took off across the United States to drive from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean.  We had spent the last few days sorting, packing and loading with the help of obliging and generous family members.  The Navy would be moving the majority of our belongings, but they wouldn't be arriving at our destination until the end of April, and we were arriving in early April; so we needed to bring dishes, blankets, towels, and other necessary things for a few weeks of living in a mostly empty apartment.

Packing like this was nothing new to me, of course, as I had done the same thing for Chicago and San Diego.  In fact, I still had the dishes from those trips stowed in handy totes, so all I needed to do was cram them in the back of the car along with everything else.

Aside from what we would need to live on for a few weeks, we also had to pack items the Navy will not ship - firearms (they actually can ship these, but it requires extensive registration for them to transport and we didn't get around to doing that), ammunition, propane, alcohol (you know how I love my vodka), and as we later learned they also don't pack aerosol cans, spray bottles (this includes perfume), and batteries, among other things.

Then we had to pack certain items my husband, awaiting our arrival on the East coast, needed in short order, like some tools for working on the cars and other various confusing items that I did not understand, but that my brother could name and pick out of boxes and load up for me.  

We loaded the Jeep down with all the supplies we would need to live in
the new house for a month until our furniture and belongings arrive 
Kejmo tested out the passenger seat with her trusty panda!
We finished packing on a Monday.  Not only did we have to pack the Jeep, of course, but since I was leaving everything at home for the Navy to pack I had to get that all in order.

Items staying in storage in Washington had to be sorted, packed appropriately, and stowed in the top of my parents' shed.  I had a lot of canned goods leftover from the last canning season, and the Navy wasn't going to be able to ship them appropriately so I loaded most of these into the back of the Jeep, and gave the rest to my mom.  All the boxes, containing all of our belongings, that I had packed in great haste while Mr H was in boot camp had to be emptied, sorted, and some of them sorted with his assistance via Skype.  We had to offload any excess weight we could because if we were over our weight limit with the Navy move, we would be charged by the moving company - and those fees can be exorbitant!  

Items for giveaway were tossed in one pile, items for trash in another, items for the Navy to pack in another stack, and then still another heap of items was designated to come with us in the Jeep.  We sorted through the items in the shed, and the items in my little upper room apartment at my cousin's house, where everyday use things like our bed and clothing had been living since March of 2011.  Of course, I had spent the majority of the time on the road since then, so I hadn't actually spent a whole lot of time living there; regretfully, because it was beautiful, pleasant, and my cousins are kind and generous housemates.  

The majority of our belongings were stowed in the shed at my parents' house, as I mentioned above, and once all of that was sorted we loaded it into my dad's trailer and drove it over to my cousin's house.  We left it parked in the driveway for the packers to deal with upon their arrival.  

Paperwork had to be finalized and in order; since I wouldn't be present when the moving company arrived to pack our items, I asked my mom (she actually volunteered, before I asked!) to act as our third-party authorized moving agent, a fancy term for The Boss.  Mr H went to the moving and legal offices on his end of the country and drew up a special power of attorney for her and had it scanned and emailed to the personal property offices in Washington, and they added it to their paperwork and we printed off a copy for Mom to show the moving company when they arrived (they actually never asked for it).  

Before leaving on Monday, I had to ensure everything that wasn't being shipped, or items outside of the upper room that were being shipped, was tagged appropriately.  Upstairs, I put a note on our mini-fridge, on a folding table, a small bookcase, a wall-shelf, indicating they were not to be packed.  Downstairs, I put notes on some large bookcases, our chest freezer, a little couch, the barbecue, and other items that didn't fit in the upstairs room, and noted that they were to be packed.  I wrote up a master list of these items and gave it to my mom.  

She ran the move perfectly, texting any questions to me while we were on the road.  The moving company packed everything into boxes on the Thursday after I left, and the driver came on Friday to load it all into the truck.  By Friday nightfall, I was in Virginia and achieved our final destination.  

Mandatory checking messages from home at a stop in Montana
Our road snack of blueberry fizz, havarti, and crackers
Mandatory and Scenery in Wyoming
Me and a barbed wire fence. Yep
At a breakfast stop at Wall Drug, South Dakota
When Seattleites need Starbucks, let nothing get in their way
Mandatory running navigation for the trip
One of our last stops before Virginia ... Chicago, IL to visit the Mysterious
Mrs S and her new baby boy (read her birth story here!).  I compared my 30 weeks
in-utero to her 10 weeks out-of-utero ... hmm, quite a difference!
This was actually the sixth time I've crossed from sea to shining sea in my lifetime.  Adding these miles to the rest I'd traveled in the last eleven months gave me a total of 28,000 miles of trekking back and forth across the US, with 15,100+ of those miles being in a car, in under a year.  On this particular trip we obliged my husband and family members by staying in hotels along the way, instead of my normal sleeping-in-the-car-in-a-rest-area or just powering through without stopping, which nobody seemed to think was a good idea since I was almost seven and half months pregnant.  

From the Ohio turnpike to the Virginia border, we were thrilled to shell out $47.50 in tolls.  I paid for all the tolls using coins from our piggy bank, and this was particularly exciting to one toll-booth clerk who had to receive my $12.50 in dimes and pennies, ten cents at at time (protocol requires that).  She was grim-faced, but I was not interested in coughing up my "real" money on tolls.  

When they tell you they accept credit card at the toll booth, you know there's a problem! 

Our trip was serene and beautiful, completely perfect and uneventful, with the exception of one harrowing night in Ohio ...

But this post is already too long, so I'll need to save that for the next one.

Mrs H

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Where in the World Am I ...

Dear corn-fed readers and those who don't eat corn,

After flying home to the Pacific Northwest from Florida in January of this year, I had a few months to work, pack, and visit with family before leaving again to rejoin my husband at his next duty station.  A few days ago, I arrived at our new location on the East Coast!

Chilling at the baby shower friends hosted for me
Kejmo working on her entry for the baby shower guest book
Mandatory contemplates a wad of dough
My brother at the helm with a camera crew
Altogether it was an insane trip home, jam-packed with hard work babysitting, house-sitting, puppy-sitting, but very little actual sitting.

I was working to save money for the baby, which should arrive in about two months or so.  I also managed to cram in some visiting time with family, which was really, really awesome!  It was a wild ride ...

But it's all good 'cause I like wild rides.  In fact, they're the only kind of rides I like!

Mrs H



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