Posts tagged “Alice McElwee

Income Tax Purchases

The Bagpiper and I enjoying a dance.

The 1940s Sweetheart Dance was tons of fun.

Everyone looked amazing, and though I didn’t wear the heels all night, I did get a few compliments on them.

The Marines all looked handsome in their uniforms and Cupcake was very well behaved so the night was a big success.

I got to dance with Bagpiper a few times, even though he was running back and forth onto the stage to run sound. It was nice to be able to dance a couple of songs with him.

Yesterday I was so lazy. I kept meaning to do dishes and laundry, but it never got done. I just kept pushing it off until finally I just gave up on trying to clean and declared Sunday a lazy day of doing nothing productive.

Bagpiper was more productive than I was. He bought a riding lawn mower with the income tax money since our yard is a bit on the large side (and because he’s always wanted one) and yesterday he got to test it out.

I’m pretty sure that mowing the lawn on a riding lawn mower while drinking a beer was on his bucket list, so that’s something he can cross off. He had way too much fun doing the lawn…

Bagpiper was off today and is off again tomorrow, which is nice.

Today I went walking with a friend and our daughters. It was really nice (and definitely motivating) to meet up and walk around base pushing our strollers and having a nice chat. When I got home I ordered my jogging stroller. Bagpiper agreed that since he made a big purchase for himself, I could make one too. It’ll probably be about three weeks to a month before it arrives, but that’s OK. I can’t wait til it arrives!

Since the jogging stroller I decided on was only $135 on Amazon (much cheaper than other brands that were upwards of $300), I’m also ordering (finally) the Knit Picks interchangeable harmony set. SO MUCH FREAKING SQUEE. I’ve always wanted this needle set.

I love income tax season.

 


Amazing heels and an angry strawberry Cupcake.

Tonight the Bagpiper has a gig that’s 1940s inspired.

I found out about this kind of at the last minute, so it didn’t leave me with enough time to order an awesome vintage-inspired dress online. Instead, I’m making do with what little I can find around me: a khaki pencil skirt, a black top and some amazing heels.

It’s a little hard to see, but those heels are a lilac-purple with a cream trim and big fluffy flower bow. So awesome. These are half a size too big, but that’s an easy fix. They didn’t have my size available and come on. I couldn’t NOT get these. Only $40, too!

So that’s tonight, so hopefully I can get a lot of pictures taken, cause I’m kind of excited. The uniform the Bagpiper is wearing reminds me of the WWII type uniforms so he’ll look super handsome.

I’ll be bringing Cupcake with me (since it’s probably too late to find a sitter that I trust/know and she’ll be asleep for most of it anyway). I have a cute little dress for her to wear and all I need is to go buy little white tights since it’s a little cold out.

Speaking of Cupcake, yesterday was her two month wellness check up. She’s definitely grown! Right now she’s at nine pounds and seven ounces and is 22 inches long. She received four vaccinations yesterday too. One was oral and the other three where shots in her chubby thighs.

Angry Strawberry Cupcake is still not happy about receiving those shots yesterday...

She cried so loudly. I’ve never heard her “I’m in pain” cry before and it broke my heart. I’m not ashamed to admit that I got teary-eyed at the sound. After about 10 minutes of cradling her, she calmed down and was pretty quiet for the rest of the evening. Her next check up isn’t until four months, and she’ll receive the same set of immunizations then too. I’ll probably also schedule that check up so that Bagpiper can go with me.

The rest of the weekend is going to be spent cleaning house, because the mess definitely piled up this week. I used all my extra free time knitting, reading and writing, so housework got out of control. I did manage to do all the laundry though (that was on the day of the poopy panda shirt, which, by the way, is clean and good as new). Bagpiper did the dishes this morning (go him!) so all that’s left are the bedrooms, kitchen, living room, bathroom, floors and the lawn.

Bagpiper bought a riding lawn mower, so I bet he won’t mind doing the lawn tomorrow…

…I still can’t believe he bought a riding lawn mower. Whatever. I’ll remind him of that when I buy a jogging stroller and a set of Knit Picks interchangeable needles.

Monday I start Couch to 5K….but more on that later. I need to take advantage of the fact that Cupcake is asleep.


Adventures in Mommyhood: Poopy Panda

Today was one of those days where I really got a glimpse of what being a mother is all about.

Cupcake and I had a pretty relaxing, yet productive morning. She slept most of the morning, so I took the time to get all the laundry washed and folded. By lunch time she was awake, so we had our lunches (and Bagpiper came home for lunch too, which is always nice). As she was being burped, she spit up on her clothes, so I took her to the changing table and put her in a onsie. RIGHT as I get the onsie over her head, she spits up again. On the onsie.

So I get a new onsie and put her in that. Then she took an hour nap. Afterward, I held her while I sat at my computer and watched “Ghost Whisperer” on Netflix (I’m so addicted to this show).

She’s being calm, just enjoying being in Mommy’s arms, when suddenly, I smell poo. OK. So she pooped. No big deal. I get up and take her to the changing table. It’s when I set her down on the changing pad that I realize that the poop not only leaked out of her diaper and soaked her onsie, but it’s all over my shirt.

If this doesn't wash off, I'm buying a new one. >.<

Let’s repeat: There is POOP all over my v-neck PANDA shirt.

POOP. Panda shirt. JUST BOUGHT IT A WEEK AGO.

Thankfully, it did not go down the v-neck part and onto my boobs, but still. Gross. So I carefully take off my shirt and toss it to the ground. Then I carefully take off her onsie and toss it to the ground.

So here I am, in my bra, changing the baby while our poo-stained clothes are on the floor.

Bath time (for her, not for me. I don’t have time at this point, and I decide I’ll just take a shower when hubby gets home). I throw on another shirt. It just happens to be a v-neck as well.

After that, the rest of the afternoon went pretty smoothly.

And then Bagpiper comes home and decides that today of all days he wants to try to motorboat me cause I’m in a v-neck shirt (is this tmi?). I fall to the floor laughing and then tell him the poo story…

So yea. That’s was my day.

 


Exhausted.

Today has been one of the longest days ever.

Had to take the dog to the vet on base to get her bordatello vaccine so that the groomers would continue to see her. This may not seem like a big deal, except that the vet on base apparently only does vaccincations on Wednesday and only as a walk-in. Yea. I know. Doesn’t make ANY sense.

Because this would be trying enough if were just me and the dog, I enlist the help of a friend because Me + Dog + Baby = disaster waiting to happen. So I was joined by a friend and I am eternally grateful that she was with me, cause wow.

We arrive at the vet just before they open (10a). There’s already a line about 20 people long. This line is out the door. So we’re out the door. We sign in and stand in the back (there are no seats available). After about an hour of waiting, we get seats. Baby is asleep for a lot of this (thank goodness), but of course at some point she gets hungry. I feed her, burp her and then go into the one bathroom to change her.

Oh. There’s no changing table.

I leave my friend with the dog so that I can change the baby in the car.

We waited a good FOUR HOURS before they finally saw us in the exam room. FOUR FREAKING HOURS.

While in the exam room the vet techs ask if I want to give Sushi some other shots cause she’s due for them in April. Not wanting to go through this ordeal again, I agree. They quote me a price, I say yes because I’m POSITIVE I have that amount in my checking. But then they had to give the dog some Benadryl, and neglected to tell me that was extra money, so then my card didn’t work because I didn’t have those few extra bucks in my account (silly, stupid me did not think to transfer money before I left this morning).

The vet is nice and says I can leave the dog, go get money and come back because they don’t close until 4:30pm. I’m about to do this, when my AWESOME FRIEND says she’ll pay and I’ll just pay her back later. So she pays. I’m SO grateful for not just her help today, but for that too because I really did want to go back to Foster just to come back to Kadena and the vet. So she pays and we hit up the Burger King drive-thru because neither of us had breakfast and it’s now nearing 3pm and we are starving. We get huge Whoppers with cheese and bacon, and basically have the most orgasmic lunch ever.

Afterward, we hang out at my house for a while because the husbands are not off work yet. She crochets Cupcake a cute pair of red booties to match a little dress I have for her.  She leaves and I decide to nap (Cupcake is knocked out in her crib by now — she had a long day too!). Just before 7pm Bagpiper calls and I go pick him up and we pick up some more fast food (cause I was not cooking today) and now here I am. Exhausted and sleepy.

Tomorrow I relax as much as possible. Maybe get some laundry done cause I’m running low on clothes.

Friday is Cupcake’s 2 month check up.

Next week I start a new work out program with a group called WOOP (Women on Okinawa Pavement). It’s Couch to 5K (C25K), and I’m going to be walking/running every Monday, Wednesday and Friday (Friday with the Stroller Warriors group) and then on Tuesdays and Thursdays I’ll do my Zumba.

Here’s hoping I  have no more long days at the vet and also that I can keep up with the work outs.


Happy Valentine’s Day!


Teaser Tuesday: “King of Sword and Sky” by CL Wilson

Teaser Tuesdays are a book meme hosted by Should be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

I’m currently reading “King of Sword and Sky” by CL Wilson. It’s the third in an amazing five book fantasy series. It’s categorized under romance, but honestly, I find this more fantasy than romance. Definitely worth a read if you enjoy fantasy novels.

  Trust him. Trust him when a ferocious two-ton flying predator raced towards them at ramming speed.

Here’s the full blurb (remember, this is book 3 of 5):

One passion could unite them.
One enemy could destroy them.

Rain, the proud and haunted Fey King, risked everything to follow his heart and his destiny to Ellysetta — his truemate, his love, the woodcarver’s daughter who possessed miraculous gifts she did not understand. He defied the nobles of Celieria to claim her, battled demonds and Elden mages to wed her. And now he must protect her — and his imperiled kingdom — with magic, steel, and scorching flame. For his soul-kin, the magical tairen, are dying, and only the Fey King’s bride can save them…if Rain can help his beloved embrace the magic within her and forge the unbreakable bond of passion and power necessary to save her soul.

What are you reading?



Moved.

Finally!

We’ve moved to on-base housing and love it so much more than off base. Our off-base house was gorgeous and had lots of room, but the staircase was so narrow and steep that we’d been sleeping downstairs since Cupcake was born (and after buying a king-sized mattress in November, sleeping on the couch seemed like a crime!)

So Bagpiper looked into switching us to on-base housing and we moved in a couple of weeks ago and we’re all settled and unpacked now. We have cable TV (we didn’t have that off base) and yesterday the internet was connected so I can play online again.

Our on base house is definitely a little smaller than our off base one, but it’s still plenty of room for us and the best part? AMERICAN APPLIANCES. It feels so so so so so good to have an American oven and American washer/dryer. We’re also a lot closer to Bagpiper’s job. So close, in fact, that he sometimes runs to work in the mornings. He’s even been coming home for lunch! It’s nice and we’re all happy.

Except maybe the dog.

She does really good around the baby, but I think she’s starting to get jealous of the attention the baby gets. Bagpiper and I make sure to give the dog plenty of attention, but Sushi doesn’t seem to think it’s enough and wants more and is acting out….by pooping in the house.

Yesterday she even pooped on the couch!

I was livid.

We take her out just as often (and maybe even more so) than before and she’ll pee and poop outside, but she’ll also poop inside, too. It’s becoming less frequent so hopefully she’s adjusting to having a baby in the house, but UGH! I hate it.

Cupcake is getting so big! We’re fitting into newborn size clothes now and started to smile and even giggle. I keep trying to catch that giggle on camera, but so far I haven’t been able to capture it.

She’s been sleeping through the night for a couple of weeks now and that has definitely been such a blessing. Everyone told me that babies didn’t start sleeping through the night until they were about three months old. Cupcake started sleeping through the night at just six weeks! We’re definitely very lucky!

Since I’ve been getting more sleep it’s given me more energy to get things done during the day. I’ve started writing again — I’m currently working on the first draft of a romantic thriller and I’m also editing a novella that I keep ignoring (I’m not a fan of editing/revisions). I’ve done some knitting — I made a beanie for the Bagpiper, some hats for Cupcake and I’m working on a small sweater for her. In a couple of days I’m starting a Knit-A-Long with Allyson from The Sweatshop of Love. I’ll be knitting a gorgeous cardigan for myself. I’ve ordered my yarn and it should be arriving this week.

I’ve also started a work out program. I started yesterday (Feb. 1) with Zumba 2 for the Wii. It’s a lot of fun and definitely burns the calories. I like that the game tells me how accurate my movements are and how many calories I’ve burned. I’m tracking my eating and work out habits on Lose It! I’ve used the site before and liked it, so I’m starting again. My plan is to do Zumba every day and also walk around the neighborhood every day. Next month I’m hoping to start P90X in addition to Zumba and walking daily.

P90X is a tough, tough workout, which is why I’m not starting with that. I’ve done it before and I know it works, but since I haven’t worked out in a looong time, I figure it’s best to start with walking and Zumba before jumping into P90X. I may not even start P90X in March. I may wait until April. We’ll see.

And that’s about covers the news.

Now that there is internet in the new house, I hope I can get more regular with my blog updates.


Wordless Wednesday: Cheek Love


Ch..Ch..Ch..Changes!

To say that I’ve had to make changes to my life and daily routine would be an understatement.

With Cupcake’s arrival, everything changed.

My sleep pattern is shot to hell (though last night, Bagpiper was amazing enough to take over and let me sleep all night long), the majority of my shirts have spit up on the shoulders because I haven’t had time to do laundry (or any housework) and the only meals I’m making are the quick-easy and often frozen kind (thank goodness for Bertolli meals!).

But all of that was expected.

Now that we are past the one month mark (time flies!) the new daily routine is starting to become a bit clearer and more steady.

On Monday, I Skype-chatted with my writing buddies back home (and a new one from Australia — Hi Jodie!) and we discussed our writing goals for 2012. Now, I put together some fairly lofty goals, but I’d rather aim too high than too low. And though I meant to start writing on Monday, it didn’t happen.

First, it was my birthday so I went out with some of the wives out here and celebrated. Second, by the time I got home Cupcake was waking and I had to take care of her. Third, I haven’t written since NaNoWriMo and I’m finding it hard to get back into the writing habit.

Now it’s Friday, and I haven’t written all week.

I’m beginning to realize that my normal writing habit has got to change to adapt to my new life style. I can’t just open a work in progress and spend hours writing this scene or that scene. For one, I don’t have hours to write. I have fifteen minutes here, half an hour there…

Which means, I’ve got to start being more organized when it comes to my writing. I’ve got to make a plan of action for the day/week. As in, “Today, the goal is to write THIS scene. If I finish then I will do THAT scene or plot for tomorrow’s scene.”

People, I have never been a plotter and my writing could never be described as organized.

This is a hard change, but I’m determined to do it cause I miss writing! So since I didn’t write this week, I’m using the afternoon to make daily writing goals for next week. Thank goodness for OneNote…best program ever.

Also?

I had myself a baby photo shoot…and I didn’t even wake her while trying to pose her and stuff. Go me.


Wordless Wednesday: One Month

Wow, time sure does fly.

Today, January 11, 2012, the Cupcake is one month old! Seems like we just got home from the hospital a few days ago, but it’s already been a month since she entered this world and changed my life forever.


10 Minute Power Cleaning

If there’s a downside to being sick for a coupel of weeks (other than, you know, being sick and feeling like crap), it’s that the housework piles up like zomg.

In the past, if I were to get sick, Bagpiper would pick up the slack around the house. In the past, however, he had a little more time on his hands. He’s been super busy the past few weeks — going in to work early, staying late — so needless to say, the housework piled up.

I don’t mind cleaning, but when you haven’t cleaned house in almost two weeks and you look around your home and see all the things that need doing…well, it’s daunting. Daunting to the point that you don’t even know where to start and you don’t want to start.

That was me this morning. I told myself today was going to be for cleaning, but going downstairs this morning…

…it was scary.

So I didn’t clean this morning.

This afternoon, however, I remembered a 10 minute cleaning list thing I had found weeks ago on Pinterest (my addiction to this website is seriously, seriously getting out of hand). I pulled up the cleaning list and tweaked it to suit my needs.

Basically, the cleaning works like this:

1.Break down your house into rooms — kitchen, living room, bathrooms, etc.

2. Write down tasks that need to be accomplished in each room. For example, for kitchen, my list said: dishes, counters, trash, stove top, appliances.

3. Set a timer for 10 minutes. Start in that first room and clean until the timer goes off. It’s OK if you don’t finish everything on your list in the 10 minutes. The idea is to clean for 10 minutes and then move on to the next room on your list. In my case, it was the living room. In the living room, take everything that doesn’t belong and put it in a basket. Leave it alone. You’ll come back for this stuff later. Set the timer for 10 minutes and clean (dust, pick up trash…ignore the floors for now).

4. After 30 minutes, take a 10 minute break. After your break, go back to room one, set the timer and repeat. So, if you didn’t finish the kitchen in the first 10 minutes, do it in the second 10 minutes. You repeat these steps until the rooms are clean, remembering to take a break every 30 minutes.

5. When the rooms are clean, sweep/mop/vacuum the floors. Do some laundry if it needs doing. That basket of stuff that didn’t belong in the living room? Put that stuff away.

6. Look around at your clean house and feel accomplished.

The original cleaning list can be found here. I just tweaked it to suit the needs in my house (for example, original list has you using the dishwasher. I don’t have a dishwasher, so I did dishes by hand.) and I ignored the first three steps of “Make the bed. Get dressed. Put shoes on.”

I rarely make the bed. I subscribe to the school of thought that believes making the bed is rather pointless. Also, I live in a Japanese house…no shoes inside the home. 😉

It’s really amazing what you can accomplish in each room in just 10 minutes. If you’re like me, you’ll find yourself “racing” against the timer, trying to see how much you can get done before it goes off. In my first 30 minutes, I managed to get about 95 percent of the kitchen done (all that’s left is the counters and stove top), the downstairs bathroom, the living room and dining room.

I took a little longer than 10 minutes on my first break…but I stopped to write this blog post. I’m hoping my next 30 minutes yields a finished kitchen, entry way, upstairs bathroom and bedrooms. After that, another break and then the floors and laundry. About the only room I’m ignoring is Bagpiper’s office. That’s his problem.

How do you tackle household cleaning when it piles up like zomg?


Cupcakes, Coughing and Cooking

After asking people on Twitter, Facebook and G+ to cast their vote on what bedding they thought I should get, hubby and I talked it over and decided on getting the Cupcake bedding set.

Really, he left it up to me, saying he liked both but that he thought I liked the Cupcake set more than Hello Kitty. After growing a little frustrated with Facebook — I asked people to cast a vote on the two sets I had chosen, instead I got a plethora of links to other beddings, all of which I had already seen — I decided that maybe asking for a vote was the wrong way to do things.

All I had asked for was an opinion on the two I had already chosen. Instead, I got lots of people showing me sets they liked. And while a part of me does appreciate the help, another part of me (the part ruled by pregnancy hormones) got a little frustrated. I wanted a vote on the two I liked, not more confusion with other sets! In the end, the decision is for the Bagpiper and I to make, no one else.

Decision made.

Both Bagpiper and I are very happy with the choice.

In other news, I’ve been fighting a cough the past couple of days. I spent 90 percent of today in bed reading and drinking juice, and I really think that helped a lot. I sweated out the small fever I had, and while I still have a bit of a cough, it’s no where near as bad as it was yesterday and this morning. Hopefully I’m good to go tomorrow — Bagpiper has a BBQ for work, and I’d like to go…especially since he had me make food yesterday. He asked me to make arroz con gandulesthe Puerto Rican rice I made a couple weeks ago — and I did, but then we both ate a bowl, and I decided that I should probably make another batch, since we had eaten almost half of what I made, lol.

I’ve still been on a cooking/baking binge, thanks to Pinterest, and last night was a big night for cooking.

Not only did I cook arroz con gandules (and a double batch at that), but I made a favorite meal of the Bagpiper’s — crunchy onion chicken with some diced potatoes on the side. I haven’t made crunchy onion chicken since we moved out to Japan, and he was really happy that I made it last night. I didn’t get a picture of dinner, but it’s a favorite with us — the recipe is super easy too. You can find it on the back of the French’s Crunchy Onion String cans. I normally use the regular onion strings, but last night I used the cheddar flavor. Delicious!

I also tried out another recipe that I have saved on Pinterest: Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bread.

It took a while for it to bake in my small countertop oven (I have to double cooking times), but man oh man, the wait was definitely worth it. Bagpiper had already gone to bed by the time it was finished, but when I brought upstairs to eat in bed, he opened his mouth with a little smile — eyes still closed..haha!

This morning, he woke me up before leaving for work to say that a slice of the pumpkin bread with his coffee was super delicious and he’s glad I’m on a baking kick.

Man, looking at that picture has me wanting to go downstairs and warm up a slice. Who knows? Maybe that’s exactly what I need to feel better…


Other than pink, please.

The trouble with searching for baby bedding for a little girl is that one is inundated with all things pink.

Perhaps I’m just being too picky in my search, but you’d think a person could find some variety in the search for nursery bedding. If you know me at all, you know that I prefer purple over pink any day — just look around, the site and blog are purple! However, what some of you may not know (and some of you do..) is that I detest butterflies.

Those little winged spawns of Satan just creep me out. I hate them. I don’t like them. They’re gross and creepy and ewww.

So here’s my problem. All baby bedding for girls is either pink or it’s purple with butterflies. I’ve seen some super cute pink bedding. But it’s was just too much pink for me. I’ve seen so-so bedding from purple. I say so-so, because it seems like everyone who is designing purple bedding only knows how to pair purple with butterflies.

I saw a really cute purple bedding from Target, but it’s a little on the pricey side for a mere 4pc crib set. Yes, it’s gorgeous (cherry blossom-like twigs with mini birds), but worth $265? Not really.

There are only two other purple beddings I’ve found I liked:

Click for larger image.

There is this 6pc Hello Kitty & Friends bedding set for $180. In terms of color, I really love this set. It’s a lavender-purple, with yellow and green accents. Very tiny amounts of pink that aren’t noticeable. However, I’m not crazy sold on the idea of having a cartoon character as the dominant theme of the nursery. The picture, with all the accessories added into one corner, is busy and also takes away from the appeal. I know I won’t have ALL of that, but it’s still looks like too much crammed into too small a space.

More searching yielded some maybe-bedding sets, but they all had some sort of problem. Too pricey for what I’d be getting, too busy looking, crazy pattering that hurt my eyes, butterflies, saying it was a purple bedding set but the picture is all pink….

Click for larger image.

The next set, I found is this 10pc Cupcake bedding for $90. While this one has more pink than Hello Kitty, I like the theme much more. Who doesn’t love cupcakes? Plus, it’s different from all the other bedding sets, but still cute. Not too busy looking. More pink than I’d like, but there’s something still very sweet about it (no pun intended!).

Am I being too picky?

I want to put this to a vote. You pick the bedding you like better. Maybe it will help me decide.


Sinful Sunday: Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

Looking for something delicious and decadent for breakfast? Look no further. Cinnamon roll pancakes. Mmmm.

PS. Bagpiper informs me that they taste good after they’ve gone cold too. He saved the last one and plans to eat it tomorrow for breakfast. I won’t be surprised if he eats it tonight for a snack, though.

Cinnamon Roll Pancake Recipe


Now cooking: Dill mashed potatoes and mini funnel cakes!

For the few of you who had been following my “Married to a Marine” blog, you know that Bagpiper and mine’s search for a crib had been going horrendously.

Assembling the crib. ❤

After lots of searches into various cribs, bassinets, etc., we decided that we wanted a convertible crib. One that would change from a crib into a twin size bed and up to a full size. Unfortunately, it seemed as though no one, not even the military stores, would ship overseas to our FPO address. The cribs we’d find in the stores on base were always out of stock or they weren’t convertible. It was frustrating, and we felt as though we were running out of options. Last week, however, we finally found one we liked and Friday on his lunch break, Bagpiper went out and purchased it (we waited, because it went on sale Friday. We saved about $100!). Last night, he did his first act as a daddy — he assembled the crib.

I cannot tell you how relieved we both felt to see the crib assembled in the nursery. The nursery still has a lot of work to be done before it’s ready for baby, but dammit, our baby has a crib! We ordered the bedding we wanted online, so in a couple of weeks it’ll be here, and the nursery will have more of an “awww!” appeal. For now, though, I’ve draped my old baby blanket over the side of the crib.

This morning, I awoke to Bagpiper assembling the changing table (he purchased a changing table on Friday with the crib). It was amazing to see his eyes light up doing this — his daddy duties, lol.

Clearly such an awesome husband deserves and awesome thank you.

So, I took to my newest obsession, Pinterest (seriously, I love that site — any of you on it? Want to be? I’ll send you an invite..) and searched through some of the recipes I’ve saved over the past few days.

I told him about a mini funnel cake recipe I’d found and asked if he’d like me to make them. Of course, he said yes, but I was missing a few ingredients, so we decided to go to the commissary for ingredients and groceries. While on base, I practiced driving on the left side of the road — a little weird at first, but easier than I thought it would be. After grocery shopping we stopped at a 100Yen shop, where I spent about 1900Yen — which is probably about $21-$23. But I got tons of neat stuff, so it’s all good, lol.

After coming home and putting away the groceries, Bagpiper went out to do some yard work. So I decided on making a steak-and-potatoes dinner, which is one of his favorites. I admit, this amazing and delicious dill mashed potato recipe influenced my decision on the meal. Needless to say, dinner came out phenomenal. We were both pleasantly stuffed.

Then it was time for the mini funnel cakes!

This recipe is super easy and hella delicious. Definitely a favorite and definitely something I will be doing again in the near future. The Texas State Fair is coming up, and while I won’t get to go this year and gorge out on funnel cakes and fried Snickers, I can make my own funnel cakes at home and it tastes like the real thing — only mini-sized!

So that was my Saturday, and it was a really good one, too. Tomorrow morning I’m going to try my hand at another recipe I got via Pinterest. Bagpiper is very, very excited about this one — cinnamon roll pancakes. I’ll probably do some baking with other recipes I’ve found too…

I know the holiday weekend is just starting for most of you back in the states, so what are your plans for the weekend?


Condensing!

My blogging addiction got really out of hand. Like really out of hand.

At one point, I had eight blogs I was attempting to keep up with! Guess what? It didn’t work. One or more blogs would get lost in the shuffle. If I couldn’t handle eight blogs pre-pregnancy, there’s no way I’d be able to handle it once my little bundle of joy arrives.

So I made a decision.  A couple, in fact.

The first, was to condense all my blogs into one. This one. I imported from my other sites (all except Book Addicts, which is something else entirely) into this one. I’m going to keep this as my main blog. I’ll blog about whatever the hell I feel like, from crafting to cooking to entering mommy-hood to writing and photography.

You’ll notice that if you click “home” this blog takes you to my personal website. That’s because I’m still working towards finishing my stories and the end goal is still publication. However, I also included links to Book Addicts, where I review every Tuesday, and to Wonderland Memories, the part-time photography business I’m looking to start up here in Okinawa.

The other thing I’ve changed (which I probably shouldn’t have, but I don’t really care) is my Twitter name. I went back to my original handle: adorablyalice. I really missed that name, and it feels more “me” than using my name, if that makes any sense at all. I know it’s probably not the smartest move, but I’m happy to have my old name back, and I hope it doesn’t cause too much confusion. 😉

Anyway. That’s all that’s going on…

…except that Bagpiper and I finally got a crib (he’s assembling it as I type), so I feel a smidgen more prepared for baby.


Beginnings

As I stand on the cusp of motherhood, awaiting the arrival of baby girl, I think of all the special moments and memories my husband and I will enjoy with her.

Her arrival.

Her first day home.

Her first steps.

And so much more.

These moments, so ordinary and yet so extraordinary, deserve capturing. They deserve to be preserved in picture frames and photo albums. And not just the moments I will share with my family, but the moments you will share with yours. This is why I’ve decided to create Wonderland Memories. I want to capture all those moments that make life magical.

Let me preface by saying I am not the only photographer on Okinawa. I am not the photographer who has been on the island the longest, nor am I likely the most experienced. I do, however, have a creative eye and a passion for photography. I am not starting this business to get rich or to weasel people out of hard-earned money. I’m starting it because I enjoy taking pictures and I believe that when someone hires a photographer, it should be affordable.

So if you live in Okinawa and you are graduating high school, getting engaged or expanding your family, let Wonderland Memories capture the magic of your special moments.


More crib hassles…

Today was a very, very long day.

I finally got up early enough to go to the newcomer’s briefing…something I should have done when I first arrived on island, but put off until today — about three months after my arrival. Despite doing it later than I should have, I’m kind of glad I waited. They threw a lot of information out, and I couldn’t imagine being bombarded with all of that info after being on island for less than a week.

This went on from about 7am until 2:30pm, so I didn’t get my mid-morning nap I’m used to having around 10am. After the briefing, Bagpiper and I checked the mail.

Explain to me how he received his stupid new computer before I’ve received my yarn? My yarn was shipped almost a month ago. His computer was shipped about two weeks ago. >.>

After the post office, we decided to stop at the Camp Foster furniture store, just to see if they had any different cribs in stock. SUCCESS! (kinda) They had one that we really liked — a convertible one, too — but they didn’t have a matching dresser/changing table. We asked, and there isn’t one for that brand. But, the crib goes on sale tomorrow, so what we’re going to do is stop by Kadena BX and double check what they have. If they have nothing, we’ll go get the crib at the furniture store.

To be honest, I think we’ll just get the crib at the furniture store and then get a dresser/changing table that gets as close to the wood finish as possible and just be done with the crib buying process. The furniture store did tell us they could order stuff for us from online, but that it could take up to SIX MONTHS to arrive on island.

Yea. No.

I’m tired of waiting, no way am I going to wait MARCH for a damn crib.

Once we got home, we searched online for other deals and then realized that the crib I have saved on Amazon is about the same price as what we saw on the Exchange website. Unfortunately, Amazon will ship just about anything to FPO/APO except furniture.

Fucking. Hell.

So. Yea. Tomorrow. FOR SURE OR ELSE — crib from Kadena BX or crib from Foster furniture store.

Then, next paycheck we’ll buy the stroller/car seat combo from Amazon that I want. And that better ship out here, because I have my heart set on it.


Feeling unprepared…

Last week I caught a cold. Or really bad allergies. I’m not sure, I only know that what normally would have taken me 24 hours to get over, has taken me a full week — because I’m not taking any medication…unless you count lots of sleep and orange juice.

The good news is that I’m finally on the mend, and I’m hoping tonight I can go to bed breathing and not spend two or three hours tossing and turning because I can only breath out of one nostril.

There is no bad news. Well, not really anyway.

Bagpiper and I are still struggling with the crib issue. We know what we want, we’ve seen what we want, but for some idiotic reason, the Exchange (think Target, but for the military) won’t ship overseas. We actually ordered the crib weeks ago, only to get an email a week later saying the item we requested does not ship to FPO addresses. Never mind that beneath the listing online, it clearly said: “FPO/APO Available”.

Anyway, so we’ve hunted around the BX on Kadena, saw a crib we liked, but it wasn’t in stock. They don’t know when it will be in stock again, but they did tell us they were having a big baby sale next weekend. The problem? Ninety-eight percent of everything in the catalog is only available online and only available for shipping to CONUS (continental US).

Again I say: What is the point of having the Exchange if they aren’t going to ship to overseas military bases?

Seriously, because if I lived in the continental US and the Exchange didn’t have what I wanted/needed, I’d have the luxury of going to Target, Wal-Mart or Babies R Us. I don’t have that luxury. While I would not trade the experience of living in Japan for a quick trip to Target, it would still be nice if the Exchange shipped to FPO addresses.

To be fair, there are furniture stores on base that do sell cribs, but they don’t sell the kind we want. And I’m sorry, I’m not going to pay for something I don’t want. The cribs in the furniture store are not convertible, and I don’t see the point in paying for a crib that will be in use for a year or so. I want a crib that converts into a regular bed. It just makes more sense.

So yesterday, Bagpiper and I decided to shop around Japanese stores to see if we could find a crib we liked. We didn’t find squat. New plan is to wait for next weekend and see if the BX on Kadena gets anything in that we like. If not, we’re just going to order off of Amazon and be done with it. Either way, by next weekend, we will either have a crib in our home or have one ordered online.

I hate feeling like we are totally unprepared for Baby. Only three months to go, and it’s going to go by fast. I want to have the nursery set up within the next month and a half. Even Bagpiper is feeling like we are unprepared, so that’s why we decided, next weekend (payday weekend), no matter what, we’re ordered the crib.

The paycheck after that, we’re buying the stroller and carseat. November we will buy baby items like diapers, wipes, baby powder, etc. By the end of November, we’re going to be as prepared as we can be.

My next OB appointment isn’t until September 23, and it will be the appointment that tests me for diabetes. I’ve been really good about my diet, and semi-decent about exercise. I don’t always go outside for walks, but I do make it a habit to go up and down my (steep) stairs several times a day. And other than being sick last week, I’ve been feeling good.

Baby is responding to sounds more and more now. The other night Bagpiper was practicing some music and Chopper (the band dog we were watching for the weekend) was singing along and Baby was dancing in my stomach. She’s kicking around right now while I type this blog…

…I’m still waiting on the yarn I ordered and mistakenly sent to my mom’s house in Texas. I really want to start some sweaters for the Baby. I have finished a hat, however. I’m going to start a pair of booties this evening and the rest of the week will be devoted to knitting baby blanket #1.

That’s all for now!


White Gravy & A Registry Update

Last night, Bagpiper and I went to Chili’s for dinner.

We’re low on groceries and we decided to forgo the frozen pizza in favor of dining out. We also told ourselves it was a celebratory dinner since Bagpiper is done with the rifle range and made expert rifleman! ❤

So while we’re browsing the menu (and munching on the chips and queso appetizer I love so much), I’m fully expecting myself to order either the fajita dinner or the steak dinner. What do I order? Country fried chicken strips with white gravy.

Those of you that know me, know that I detest/hate/abhorr white gravy. I’ve only ever liked brown gravy. White gravy is the devil — and I know, most of you think I’m weird. How did I survive living in the south without eating white gravy on everything? Blech. Gross.

But last night…damn. That white gravy was The Shit. As my baby brother would probably say, “It was like sex in my mouth.” (don’t ask, he says weird things)

I was dunking everything on my plate in that stupid, but OMG SO TASTY gravy. My chicken strips, my french fries…I’m pretty sure I even slathered it on my corn on the cob at one point.

So yea. Clearly, baby must get that taste from the white side of the family — AKA Bagpiper. I really felt like I lost some of my Puerto Rican points last night cause I was enjoying it that much.

My crazy cravings aside, Bagpiper and I have moved our baby registry from Babies R Us to Amazon. Not only are most items cheaper through Amazon, more items on Amazon are shippable to APO/FPO addresses — and it tells you BEFORE HAND (in the seller’s notes) whether or not an item ships to APO/FPO. I can tell you this now, all of the items we’ve registered for will ship overseas to us (except one or two, but they are pricier items we’ll get for ourselves).

McElwee Baby Registry

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some left over chicken strips and white gravy to devour.


Obon Festival

Last night, around 11:30 pm, I found myself unable to fall asleep.

Climbing out of bed, I walked to my desk to see if I could get a little writing done. I opened my latest project in Scrivener and just as I was settling down to write, I began to hear drums.

They were faint at first, but even knowing they were far away, I could tell they were taiko drums. I listened for a moment longer and it dawned on me that the drums were getting louder. Whatever was going on, it was moving closer to the house. I got out of my chair, walked to the bay window and peered out into the darkness. Other than a few porch lights, I couldn’t see much.

But the drums continued to get closer.

Another minute passed before I could just barely make out a flashing light at the end of my street. Had my view not been obscured by trees, I probably could have seen what was going on sooner, but it took another couple of minutes before I saw.

There was some sort of parade coming down my street. At midnight. On a Thursday.

Just as I was about to check on the Bagpiper (who had gone to bed very early, since he had to wake up at 3 am to go to the rifle range), he came stumbling out of bed mumbling grumpily, “What the Hell is going on?”

“There’s a parade!” I exclaimed, more awake and far more excited than he was.

“A parade? What time is it?”

“About midnight.”

“..the fuck?”

Ignoring his sleepy grumpiness, I did a preggo skip back toward the window. By this time the parade was at the house next door to mine, but it was there that they stopped. Where I couldn’t see because of trees. I waited, wondering if they would turn around and leave, go into the house or continue down the street.

Not my image, but this is what I saw coming down my street...

To my luck (and the Bagpiper’s dismay), they continued down the street. A small truck with speakers and two guys playing the sanshin (a sort of Japanese-style banjo with three strings) followed by a band of chanters/dancers playing hand held taiko drums. There was a third element to all of this, which was a guy in a different costume doing some very high-pitched, sharp whistling.

It seemed ceremonial, but neither Bagpiper nor I had any idea what the occasion was. So, we opened a window and leaned out to enjoy and watch (by this time the Bagpiper was more awake and more able to enjoy what was going on). I snapped a few pictures, but they all came out rather dark — and didn’t get any better when I tried to lighten them this morning.

However, I was smart enough to remember to take some video with my phone…

Obon Festival Parade (Opens a new window and takes you to YouTube)

It wasn’t until this morning that I learned that the parade was a part of the Obon Festival, a three-day festival to honor the dead. It’s currently 10 pm, so I guess I’ll find out in an hour or two if the parade repeats itself.

So that was my Thursday. Pretty interesting, no? ^_^


Mini Babymoon Vacation

Warning: This post is very picture heavy.

Last week, Bagpiper was on leave, so we took advantage of his days off to spend a few days in Nago (about an hour and  half north of us) and do some sight-seeing and beach bumming.

View from our hotel room.

He reserved us a few days at a hotel, and though the room was super tiny (it looked much bigger online), we weren’t in the hotel much other than to sleep, so it didn’t matter. Plus, we had a fantastic view.

The weather held beautifully the entire time we were in Nago (it’s been pretty nice all around, really). Mid-80s to Lower-90s, but with lovely ocean breezes sweeping through.

Nago. Day One.

Day one in Nago, we spent exploring. We drove around and found cute little shops and private beaches. We knew that day two would be spent at the beach and day three at the aquarium since our hotel gave us free tickets to go.

Note to self: Learn more Japanese.

So at the end of the first day, we walked into a restaurant next door to the hotel. It was the sort of restaurant where you take off your choose and sit on pillows at really low-to-the-ground tables. Unfortunately, no one in the restaurant spoke any English, and our Japanese is still limited to “Hello”, “how are you”, “excuse me” and “thank you”. The menu was written entirely in kanji, which of course, we have no idea how to read, but we made do with pictures and just sort of pointed at pictures to our waitress (who was really nice and laughed with us since we couldn’t really communicate other than pointing).

We ended up ordering small salads made of something (it was good, but I don’t know what was in it…lol), fried rice, potato wedges and pork skewers. The meal was delicious, unfortunately it wasn’t very filling. An hour later we were both hungry, so we drove up the road to the closest McDonald’s and shared a meal there.

Back at the hotel, it took us a good 20 minutes to figure out how to work the a/c and another 30 minutes for us to feel the effects of the a/c. We watched some really weird Japanese game shows on TV (still not entirely sure what it was we were watching or what the point of the game was) and watched some swimming competition.

Nago. Day Two.

Day two was pretty much spent entirely at the beach.

We drove around looking for a beach that offered fun stuff to do — Bagpiper really had his heart set on snorkeling and going on an evening cruise.

Eventually, we found ourselves at the Intercontinental Hotel. Super fancy place; it was where Bagpiper originally wanted us to stay, until the $900/night per person pricetag showed up. I don’t blame him. But, for 1,00oY we had full use of the beach and restaurants, so that’s what we did.

We rented a couple of beach chairs, Bagpiper bought a snorkeling mask and we just lounged around. Lots of fun in the sun. Day was bright and on the hot side (not nearly as hot as Texas!), but our chairs came with an umbrella, so we had plenty of shade. They offered a submarine cruise, which we really wanted to do, but their next opening was at 5pm, and we knew we didn’t want to spend all day in the same place, so we just enjoyed swimming.

Expensive hotel, but really nice beach.

It was a lot of fun, and I think going to the beach made us realize that we’re on this tropical island for the next three years. It was so surreal at times to look around and realize, “Wow. This is not a vacation. We freaking live here.” We made plans to find beaches closer to home to visit on weekends.

While at the beach, we also discovered the goodness that is taco rice. We’d heard about it before, but this was the first time we tried it. It’s basically  just white rice with all the innards of a taco dumped on top. I don’t know if it was hunger, my recent cravings for Mexican or a combination of the two, but it was really, really good.

All in all it was a really great day that left us exhausted and happy.

Nago. Day Three.

Part of the aquarium and the ocean behind it.

Our last day in Nago was spent at the aquarium. Even though we’ve already visited, our hotel gave us free tickets and there were parts of the aquarium that we didn’t get to visit the first time around.

We took our time walking around admiring all the ginormous fish tanks and we visited the shark research center. Bagpiper mentioned that the aquarium also had a beach area, so after walking around looking at fish, we walked down to the beach and did some more beach bumming.

The water was perfect and the weather was equally so. We could not have asked for a nicer day. After spending a couple of hours at the beach, we ate lunch at the aquarium buffet and had a lovely ocean view to boot.

Afterward, we drove home home and spent Friday and Saturday at home just being a bit lazy. We saw “Captain America”, Bagpiper got a haircut and we did a little shopping at the BX, since Friday we found out the big news: (of which I’m sure you’ve all heard by now)

It’s a girl!

Sunday was another busy day of sightseeing. Our landlords stopped by and took us to lunch (we ate a yummy yakiniku restaurant down the street from our house) and afterward they took us to visit Shuri Castle, the only standing castle on Okinawa.

As we first arrived, our landlords insisted that we dress up in traditional robes and get our picture taken. So, with a lot of giggling, we did.

Hello from Shuri Castle

From left to right: Girl in traditional garb, Bagpiper, Me, Sachi and Yuroshko (our landlords)

After a small uphill trek, we sat down for a show featuring traditional Okinawan dancers. This was really lovely, and I wish I had remembered to make a video clip, but I was too busy enjoying the show to remember to make a video. I did get some pictures of the dancers, however.

We watched four different kinds of traditional Okinawan dances.

The rest of the time was spent wandering inside the castle itself. I wish I had more pictures to show, but much of the castle was strictly “No camera” zones, so we didn’t get many pictures.

At one point, however, our landlords invited us to participate in a tea being held in one of the castle’s tea rooms. Admittedly, I was a bit skeptical. I enjoy tea, but I know the Japanese typically drink hot tea, and it was about 92 degrees out. I didn’t fancy drinking hot tea. But they insisted, so off the shoes came and down we sat on pillows.

I was so wrong about drinking hot tea on a hot day. While it’s probably not something I will do often, it wasn’t bad at all. In fact, the jasmine tea we drank was so refreshing and delicious (I drank two cups plain…I normally add lots of sugar, honey or lemon to my tea). Our tea was served with various types of Okinawan cookies — each of them really delicious.

After exploring the castle, our landlords had more surprises in store for us. They drove Bagpiper and I to a glass blowing factory — one that allowed Bagpiper to try his hand at making a glass cup!

This was a lot of fun. I had a blast watching Bagpiper learn to blow glass under the direction of a lot of finger pointing, mimicking and minimal translation from Sachi. He had a blast too, because he had a big grin on his face the entire time.

In the end, all the mimicking and translating worked out, because he made a really pretty blue and green cup that we will get in another week or so (it had to cool for 24 hours, and our landlady said she would pick it up and deliver it to us next week).

…and that was pretty much how we spent our babymoon vacation!

I know this post was really picture-heavy. Next time I’ll try to break it up into a couple of posts…

That’s all that’s new on our end, really. We’re having a little girl and I’ve starting building a registry on Babies R Us. You can search my name and Babies R Us will ship directly to me, which is why I decided to register with them — they’re one of the few places that will ship to APO/FPO addresses.

There’s a typhoon coming tomorrow evening, so I’m going to bring some stuff inside and make sure all the storm windows are shut. Then I’m going to settle down to watch some movies and do some knitting. Bagpiper has duty tonight, so I won’t see him until tomorrow morning.


This time next week…

This time next week I’ll know if I’m having a boy or a girl.

I’m almost halfway through this pregnancy. That’s kind of crazy.

Also..

Bagpiper just landed in Okinawa after his short trip to Guam. Says he’ll be home in a couple of hours. Woohoo!


Earthquakes and Drums!

Today was both eventful and uneventful.

Sometime around 4am, I awoke to the entire house shaking. Half-asleep I couldn’t figure out if it was an actual earthquake going on or if I was just having some weird pregnant hallucinations. Turns out, there was a 5.4 magnitude earthquake in the Ryukyu island chain, of which Okinawa is a part of.

So. First earthquake.

Then, just before lunch, Shauna picked me up and we took her dog to the groomers and then wandered around American Village for awhile. We ate lunch at Freshness Burger (after going on a hunt to exchange dollars for yen, since I forgot my ID and we couldn’t get yen off base…bad Alice).

The exchange rate, btw, SUCKS. When I first arrived it was $1=82 yen. Now it’s $1=77 yen! But the exchange machine Shauna found was $1=71 yen. So yea. Yikes.

Anyway, we had lunch and then wandered into an arcade where we discovered and played this Japanese drum game. A friend from back home later informed me that the name of this game was Taiko Drum Master. 😛

It was fun, though it took a lot of energy. But that could just be that everything takes more energy for me nowadays.

I also saw a game that looked like you could win little bouncy balls, but the balls looked like the kind from Dragon Ball Z…

And what Japanese arcade would be complete without a huge Hello Kitty game?

The back of Hello Kitty opens up and has some sort of sit down/driving looking game. 😛

We were pretty much done wandering around at this point, so we picked up her dog and then Shauna grabbed her sewing stuff and came over (she’s still here in fact) and has been having an epic battle royal with a passport holder she’s making. I was going to knit, but after almost two hours of searching through Ravelry, nothing called out to me, so I gave up and just played on the computer instead.

Bagpipe looks like he is getting on Skype now, so I’m going to talk to him…he’s currently in Guam, but he’ll be home tomorrow and then it’s a week of leave!