Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Texas has....

I grew up in Texas. Most of my family lives in Texas. I sometimes call it home, but I always miss it. Our most recent trip to Texas was in the summer of 2011. This trip reminded me just how much I missed my family and the area they live in. I really am looking forward to our next trip back home.

Texas has a beach. Ok. Its not the GREATEST beach, but its more than what we had in Minot. I grew up going to Galveston in the summers. We didn't live far so a quick trip was easy-peasy.

Texas has an awesome indoor/outdoor water park, Schlitterbahn.

Texas has The Magic Time Machine, a themed restaurant where you are sure to have loads of fun and good food.

Texas has SeaWorld.

  Texas has Space Center Houston.

Texas has Moody Gardens, where you an explore an amazing rainforest in a pyramid, check out the aquarium, go golfing, or relax on a beach. 

Texas has a really awesome Children's Museum.

Texas has amazing food! Our favorites are the fresh seafood and delicious mexican food. Joe's Crab Shack was James' favorite. 

Best of all: Texas has my FAMILY!

Wanna see more pictures of our Texas vacation? You can view it here. Warning: Picture overload :D

Want to share pictures of where you live or one of your favorite vacation spots? Link up here with Wanda Ann at Memories by the Mile

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Recipe: Oreo Cupcakes

These Oreo Cupcakes are one of my favorite dessert recipes found on Pinterest. I stumbled upon it when I was trying to find a good recipe for our softball team's bake sale last year. These were a HUGE hit with the family, my husband's squadron (really, I get requests for these from his airman), and sold out pretty quickly at the sale. You can't go wrong with these babies, other than the calories

1 pkg Oreo cookies (regular sized)
1 pkg Mini Oreo cookies
1 pkg Chocolate cake mix (and any ingredients the box calls for)
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place cupcake liners in cupcake tin. In each liner place 1 regular sized oreo in the bottom. Mix cake mix according to directions and set aside. Chop up about half of the remaining regular sized Oreos and mix into the cake mix. Fill liners with cake mixture and bake 18-20 minutes.

Cream together butter and cream cheese, add the vanilla extract. Crush half the bag of mini Oreos. (I use my VitaMix but chopping them very fine will work as well). Frost the cupcakes after they have cooled completely. Add a mini Oreo to the top of the frosting. Enjoy! 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Recipe: Peppered Chopped Steak

I am not sure where I got this recipe, but we I have been making it for several years now. It is absolutely delicious and HEALTHY.

1 lb lean ground beef
1/4 cup cooked brown rice
6 tsp minced fresh parsley (I use dried parsley if I can't find fresh)
1/2 tsp salt (I usually don't add any at all)
4 tsp ground black pepper
Olive oil
1 onion thinly sliced into rings
1 1/3 cup grape juice (10 oz)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

Mix the ground beef, cooked rice, parsley, and salt together until well combined. Divide the mixture into 4 equal balls. Flatten the balls to make patties about 1" thick. Sprinkle the patties with the pepper on both sides.
Cook the patties on a hot oiled skillet for 3-4 minutes on each side or until the center is done. Remove the patties and set aside. In the same skilled add about 1 tbs olive oil and add the onions. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes stirring often. Add the grape juice and vinegar and cook over high for about 8 minutes or until the liquid is reduced to about 1/2 cup. Keep a careful eye on the liquid and stir often. If you notice it getting too thick and sticky then your about to burn it.
Put a steak on a plate and top with the onions and sauce.

Calories: 271, Protein: 24g, Total fat: 5g, Saturated fat: 2g, Carbs: 32g

Friday, January 11, 2013

2013 is going to be a great year!

This time of year many people do the whole ‘New Years Resolutions’ thing, but not this girl. Why make a list of stuff you want to succeed at when it typically doesn’t happen? At least not for me. How many times have I made a resolution that I would finally drop the pounds I gained after having my kiddos? Ummm…. Probably 7 times and NEVER succeeded. Last year I didn’t make that resolution and bam, lost nearly all of that weight. It seems as though if I make these ‘resolutions’ I’m bound to fail accomplishing them.

So, instead, I’m gonna tell you why 2013 is going to be such a special year for my family.

James and I will celebrate 10 years of marriage at the end of January. We have been through A LOT, but have overcome them through hard work. It was not easy. But looking back at the good and the bad over the past 10 years it’s obvious these things have only made us closer. And, I must say that I have an amazing family back in the States that have supported us through it all. The support, insight, and kind words have helped me through it (y’all know who you are).

First Thanksgiving, 2002.

Thanksgiving 2012, Vatican City. 

James and I are celebrating 10 years in the Bavarian Alps. We have some amazing friends that are watching the kids for a long weekend so that we can enjoy some time alone. (Thank you!)

(Picture borrowed from Edelweiss Lodge and resort)

I WILL finish my Bachelors in Elementary Education with a minor in Special Ed. This will be my toughest semester yet, but I know with James’ support, hard work, and few glasses of wine will help me succeed. In the Fall I will finally be working in a school while I begin my Masters. You really don’t know how much I’m looking forward to this.

(Borrowed from Liberty University's Facebook Page)

Softball season will begin this Spring which means fun times, traveling around Europe, and playing a sport that I’ve loved since I was in T-ball.

Some of the softball team and their families while exploring Pisa after a tournament. Italy, May 2012.

And, last but not least, the places we will go! 

So much to do, so much to plan. Its going to be an amazing year.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Blogger Book Swap!

Speaking of books and great reads, I just joined in on a blogger book swap.


Come check out Kimmie's blog if you would like to partake in the swap. I'm super excited to get to know another blogger and swap a book :D Even if I won't have all the time in the world to read it... but I'll try ;)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Book Review: Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

I was determined to read as many books as possible while I was on school break. It didn't happen, but I did get through two books. One book worth reviewing was Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand.

"On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood.  Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared. It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard.  So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.
The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini.  In boyhood, he’d been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and fleeing his home to ride the rails.  As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the four-minute mile.  But when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown.
Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a foundering raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater.  Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.
In her long-awaited new book, seven years in the making, Laura Hillenbrand writes with the same rich and vivid narrative voice she displayed in her blockbuster bestseller, Seabiscuit.  Telling an unforgettable story of a man’s journey into extremity, Unbroken is a testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit." -retrieved from http://laurahillenbrandbooks.com
This book was truly an amazing account of one man's experience during WWII. The book has three main parts: Zamperini's life as a boy and journey to become a great Olympian, his military career during WWII and his accounts lost at sea and a POW, and his journey to healing after his rediscovery and newly found freedom. I could not put this book down. I think I went through all the possible emotions while reading this book: intrigued, saddened, joyful, grateful, inspired, confused. You MUST read this book. You won't be disappointed.