Today I feel like I should say something profound.  I'm not profound. I'm just a 'from the heart' type of girl.  I probably share a little too much on any given day and wear my heart on my sleeve a little too much.  People always know if I'm in a good or bad mood, I just can't hide it.   Today I feel somber as my heart aches for the many men, women, and children that have lost loved ones to war over the years.  I am so thankful to them and to their soldiers; the ones have paid the ultimate price for our freedom. My heart aches for every one of these families as I know this weekend for them isn't about the BBQ's, the shopping or the start of summer.  It is about remembering a life they once had and visiting the grave of their soldier.  This weekend my heart has ached for so many, including my own husband who is fighting as we speak, he has lost so many comrades and friends over the years - I feel guilty that I have been having a 'fun' weekend, hanging out at the pool with friends and going to parties while he and so many others have been engaged in battle.  They aren't having BBQ's and hanging out in the sun - well, maybe they are hanging out in the sand and sun, but not in the way they would like to be.  My heart aches for my military sisters that have lost their husbands, and for all the sweet babies I know that will never know their Daddies or Mommies.  My hope is that each of you reading this sets aside a little time today to remember these great heroes.   Memorial day -  it is not about the BBQ.
Just a portion of the names on the memorial at the USS Arizona in Hawaii.
Basil + lime juice + vodka = divine combination  (and sometimes a headache the next day if you are not careful!)
If you are my friend and you partake in adult beverages then you have most likely sampled one of these heavenly drinks.  If you are not my friend and you just hang out here peering into my crazy life, you should run to the store, buy all the ingredients and make your own BLM's now!  (Make sure to invite some friends over, because these are deliciously smooth and you don't want to drink them all yourself.)  And always remember the rule my friend Lara (the person I got this recipe from) reminds us of:  Martinis are like boobs, one is not enough but three is too many.

Basil-Lime Martini

 15 – 20 large basil leaves
1 ¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 8-10 limes)
1 750ML bottle of GOOD vodka – I like Grey Goose  (The Grey Goose got your girl feelin' loose...")
2 cups water
1 cup sugar 

Make simple syrup by simmering sugar and water together in a saucepan until all sugar has dissolved and syrup get a tad thick.  Turn heat off, throw in all basil, and muddle (smash) together until leaves are well bruised.  (This is much easier if you have ‘real’ muddler, but you can also use a wooden spoon or potato masher, etc.)  Let cool.  Once cooled, pour basil simple syrup through a strainer to remove all basil leaves.  Using a funnel, pour the basil simple syrup into the storage container, add lime and vodka.  Put the lid on and shake. If you want one right away, just add ice to a cocktail shaker add a martini and shake.  If you are making these in advance for a party, they will last a very long time in the freezer (unless they are in my freezer) – when you pull them out of the freezer just shake and pour.  Ahhhh……

I use the "Simply Orange" containers.  A full batch fits perfectly in one of these.
*PCS season is upon us and we are feeling the effects in high gear!   This week alone I have said goodbye to two friends with several more getting ready to leave.  Boy 3 said goodbye to his best friend in the neighborhood, Boy 2 said goodbye to a very good friend, Girl said goodbye to a very good friend and Boy 1 said goodbye to his best friend.  This is the military way.  Out with the old and in with the new!  (JUST KIDDING - well kind of! ;o) As old friends move out new friends move in.  Just last night at a friend’s going away party a 'newbie' came to the party....she is just moving into the Hood, and we all welcomed her with open arms.  She had met the guest of honor only one time before....but hey, that's the military way.

So here is a recap of some of the events that happened this week:

Loop Brunch:  Saying goodbye to a dear friend and welcome to a new friend.
Volunteer of the Year Ceremony.  One fo the Battalion's very own was nominated for this prestigious award.  Amanda, in the yellow dress on the left (when looking at the picture) is an amazing asset to the battalion. She is the co-leader for one of the companies and dedicates endless hours helping make the company she belongs to one of the BEST out there!  HOOAH Amanda, I'm glad you are on our team!
 Boy 1's best friend Paul is leaving the Hood.  Such a sad day, Paul is such a spitfire and a fun teen to be around -  I have loved getting to know this boy!  He is the one with his tongue hanging out and his hand on his *breast*.  Teenage boys - such dorks, but I love them so! 
Three peas in a pod...these boys love, love, love to play. Boy 2 says goodbye to his friend L, the boy in the middle.
Stuck like glue.....right after this picture you should have seen the tears & heard the sobs.  J, girl in bright pink shirt is the one they are stuck to and didn't want to say goodbye to.
Last night we had another going away party - this time it was a surprise party, and boy let me tell you C was surpised! She had no idea - you know you have pulled off a surprise party when the guest of honor calls to tell you she is going to be an hour late. What a fabulous time we had.  C, we are going to miss you.  (C is the one standing facing me.)
So if all of that wasn't enough, this past week also included the coffee machine going on the fritz, my car going in the shop, and my steam cleaner cleaning its last carpet before it died.  THANK GOD we are all healthy and Hubby is doing well in Afghanistan. (I hope I didn't just jinx us!)

Bring on the weekend!

*PCS - for you non-military folks PCS means Permanent Change of Station or MOVING
A couple of weeks ago I went to an FRG (Family Readiness Group) ice cream social.  I'm not a HUGE lover of ice cream (although every other person in my house is), but these little guys caught my eye.  Before I knew it I had eaten 4 of them.  Seriously.  FOUR!  After asking around I found the person that made them and begged her for the recipe (OK, not much begging going on, I simply ask and received) and now I am going to share this insanely easy recipe it with you...

40 saltine crackers
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup butter
2 cups or 1 package semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips (pick your favorite!)

Preheat oven to 350. 
Spread almonds on baking sheet and toast in oven for 3-5 minutes.  (Keep an eye on them!)
Line a cookie sheet with foil
In a saucepan melt butter on stovetop. Once the butter is melted add sugars and stir till smooth.
Pour butter mixture over crackers, making sure to cover EVERY cracker!
Top with almonds...make sure you have almonds on every cracker!
Bake for 10-15 minutes or until toffee (sugars and butter) bubbles!
This picture was taken after 6 minutes, just starting to bubble....
Remove from oven, sprinkle with chocolate chips.  Let sit for 2 minutes while the chocolate chips start to melt... once chocolate chips are nice and shiny (after 2 minutes) spread the chocolate to cover all crackers!
Let sit for hours and hours until chocolate hardens, unless you are like me and can't wait, then stick them in the freezer for 15 minutes to speed up the process.  Break or cut apart and devour!!
So it's just a normal day, things are going along just fine. You make Beignets for breakfast (don't hate, it was a mix). You invite a friend over for coffee (from the coffee machine you thought blew up the day before)....she's waiting for her hubby to come home on R&R. You are excited for her. You KNOW what she is feeling. She is hoping the day passes fast and she gets that call saying her hubby is here. Life is good kids are playing. Hubby calls on Skype. Life is better! All the kids talk first. They are in heaven & you are THRILLED for them - they miss him so much! It is finally your turn. You love talking to him and seeing him even though he is blurry and looks blind (as Boy 3 points out).You are just happy you can (kind of) see him. But then out of the blue, as you are saying good-bye you get choked up. You can't talk. Tears start streaming down your face. You don't really know what is happening. Why are you crying now when you have been fine for 3 weeks? Bottom line - you miss him desperately.
This pancake recipe is very basic.  Feel free to add extracts to it to change the flavor a little, add berries or nuts for a little extra oomph, OH, and how about some chocolate chips if you are feeling a little sweet!  The options are endless with these yummy pancakes!  These pancakes are much different than "our favorite pancakes" but we try to spread the love around when it comes to pancakes!

2 eggs
5 TBL butter
1 cup mil
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 TBL sugar
4 tsp baking powder

Beat eggs in bowl.  Melt butter in microwave.  Add milk and butter to eggs, mix well. 
Put flour, sugar and baking powder in a large bowl, mix well.  Pour egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir only until the dry ingredients are well moistened, don't over mix.

Heat griddle to 350.  Drop 1/4 cup batter for each pancake onto griddle.  Cook until bubbles appear (like shown below).
Turn over and cook another 30-45 seconds.  Serve pancakes hot with a little butter, maple syrup or some yummy honey butter! 

When my MIL was visiting a few months ago she told me I should put my pantry on the blog.  Living in military quarters you either learn to organize, or you have a messy house and closets because quarters are typically pretty tiny!  This is actually a pretty big pantry for military housing!  (My friend Lori has the best and most organized pantry EVER & her pantry was my inspiration!)  I know there is some controversy over Tupperware and something funky - but whatever.  It works for me.  However I really like the jar canisters on the second shelf from the top and *might* slowly start converting to them, but it is not high on my priority list.  

Top row has everything to do with baking 
Second row - grains mostly
Third row, canned goods, syrups, honey, oriental cooking 
Bottom row is baskets filled with paper products, snacks and more oriental cooking stuff
(Spices have a cupboard of their own. I'll post another time.)

I try to utilize ever space possible and I LOVE these little shoe racks.  I use them for all sorts of stuff.  In my pantry they hold everything ~ foil, plastic wrap, box tops, plastic ware, snacks, straws, plastic bags of all sized & more!

So, there you have it.  Tiny pantry filled to capacity!
Breakfast is a big deal in our house.  We eat it every day.  I cook it almost every day.  Cereal is a rare treat; if you can call Multi-Grain Cheerio's a treat, which my kids do especially since we have found the joy of honey drizzled directly on the Cheerios.   Most mornings I cook a hot breakfast for the kids (Hubby is weird, he likes his Cheerios...go figure) and since I found this new/old cookbook "The Breakfast Book" by Marion Cunningham, (Thanks Lara!)  mornings around here are even better!  On Sunday I opened the cookbook to page 125 - Baked German Pancake.  I have never been to Germany and have never eaten a "REAL" baked German pancake so I have NO IDEA if this is anywhere close to what you would get in Germany, but what I do know is that my kids DEVOURED this pancake 'in just 1 minute' (that is what Girl said anyway).  The kids were savages and ask for a second and then a third.  These are super easy to make - I ended up making THREE of these bad boys AND they ask for them for breakfast again today - typically my kids complain if they have the same thing for breakfast two days in a row (true story).  Boy 2 made the statement "I'm going to ask for this for my next birthday, in 350 something days!"  You know it has to be good if he is already planning almost a year out! 

The recipe:

3 eggs, room temperature
½ cup milk
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
2 TBL butter – melted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter on 12-inch skillet (with ovenproof handles).

Break eggs into a mixing bowl and beat until thoroughly mixed.  Add the milk and blend well.

Slowly sift the flour and salt into the egg/milk mixture while whisking to blend.  Add melted butter and mix briskly- batter should be smooth. 
Pour batter into pan:
Bake for 22 minutes
I just LOVE the way it puffs up!
Hello beautiful!
Now the recipe says to drizzle with lemon juice and sprinkle with powdered sugar.  We sprinkled with powdered sugar, but left the lemon juice off.  Instead we used warm maple syrup and melted honey butter!  YUMMY!
Technology is amazing!  I just love the fact that theTransfer of Authority took place and hours later the families of the HHBn were looking at the pictures of their soldiers.  It is so awesome to see our guys in pictures so soon after an event.   I can't imagine what families of soldiers in previous wars went through - they would go months without hearing from their soldier's much less seeing pictures of them.  I feel extremely blessed.

Here is a note from my husband to the families back here at Hood:

Hello from Afghanistan! Task Force Maverick assumed authority for the mission in Regional Command East today from Task Force Gladiator, 101st Airborne (Air Assault). The transfer of authority ceremony included the cavalry flair of the
First Team Band who played the 'Yellow of Rose of Texas' in honor of our families at Fort Hood. Standing in formation were troopers of the 1st Cavalry Division Signal Company and Intelligence & Sustainment Company, as well as
the 101st Intelligence & Sustainment Company. The transfer of authority comes after a year of hard training and nearly a month of learning the ropes  from the outgoing unit. We're confident and ready! Mavericks!

Hubby  (OK, no he didn't really sign it that way! ;o)
 Commander, CJTF-1 HQ BN

Uncasing the colors
DSC soldiers
My handsome husband
The band playing 'The Yellow Rose of Texas' in honor of the families they left behind.
After my experience with eggs a couple of weeks back - I ran out of eggs and had to get some from the shoppette because the commissary was closed, and HEB was too far, and I needed eggs NOW! I wanted to bake for someone (and I wanted to do it now!). Typically I always buy organic or all natural eggs, but this time I had to settle for the brand they had at the shoppette which were neither organic nor all natural. NEVER AGAIN. In fact those gnarly looking eggs freaked me out so bad I decided my best bet from here on out is to go to a local chicken farmer and get all natural eggs from her.
Aren't they beautiful?!
When I went to the chicken farm it reminded me of my childhood summers when we would go to Grandpa's house out in the country of Pecan Gap, Texas. As a child driving there seemed like it took FOREVER, however I just looked it up on Google maps, and it only took 1 hour and 45 minutes to get there! (Are you kidding me?!?!? I thought it took us all day to get there!) My sister and I would fight, my sister would get pukey and we would have to pull over because Sister 2 is carsick AGAIN! It never failed; she would puke anytime we got in the car for more than 30 minutes.

My grandparents had this big white farm house with a wraparound porch. At the end of the porch was a porch swing that was hung from the ceiling. I loved sitting on that swing with Grandma. I thought the house was huge when I was a kid, but I'm sure if I saw it today it would not be nearly as big as it is in my memory. In the first bedroom to the right my
grandma had a quilting square that hung from the ceiling and dropped down when she wanted to quilt.  There was
always a new quilt on it every time we went to her house. I so wish I had one of those quilts today.

As a young child I LOVED going to Grandpa & Grandma's house. (I wonder what my Mother's version of this story would be. ;o) We always got to go out in the chicken pins and collect eggs, AND we thought this was FUN!  I remember chasing chicken and getting all muddy.  Grandpa ALWAYS wore pinstriped overalls and ALWAYS had a bag of chew in his pocket.  Grandpa had a few other animals, but I can't remember what they were, other than Puddles, his extremely FAT black poodle.  Puddles was fat because Grandpa spoiled him as much as he did his grandchildren.  After collecting eggs, we would come in the house and Grandpa would fill bowls full of ice-cream for all of us, including himself and bowl for Puddles.  (And when I say spoil, I mean with love and ice-cream.)  One more thing about Grandpa - remember I mentiioned his 'chew'?  In his house beside his blue chair in the back room, he always a spit tomb (hey, that's what he called it), that man could spit from his chair to his 'spit tomb' without ever missing.  It was so gross....big long line of brown spit going in, I can here the sound of it landing in my head. 

And I got all that from farm fresh eggs.