Guys and St. Valentine's Day

Okay I am way ahead of schedule! Should be putting this out on the 13th or 14th if I was acting "normal"! When it comes to gender and St Valentines the guys are frequently accused of minimum effort or not planning for what some gals consider a very important holiday! While I will not try to defend my guy friends for their actions or lack of action I will say that I did learn over time (i.e. trainable) and have some suggestions for what can be a wonderful celebration of our romance.

First, the deployed spouses are at the top of our list and thank you. For the spouse/guypal/galpal at home you too serve so thank you! For those who have deployed Valentines, please send us ways that you deal with this holiday. I think being out with friends and family would be the best way to celebrate and sharing plans for a future celebration with that loved one would be a super way to help heal the wound of absence.

I have shared many wonderful Valentines with my spouse (about 38 of them actually) and here are some ways we celebrated (and yes gals you can pass these on in a kind way if that special someone needs a push). Our first Valentine was a date which my soon-to-be fiancée took me out! Yep, college guy, no money and she took me out to a nice restaurant and the standard was set high! :)

We grew from that one. Not every one was at a restaurant or out at all! Some of our best celebrations have been at home with a dinner prepared for each other. The guy might already help in the kitchen or he can plan a menu or just a course or item. Ask him to help. It is an invitation to be together. Pull him into the kitchen with a "special offer" or that new perfume! Flirting is allowed and very effective for generating interest! If he is not kitchen literate (i.e. mac and cheese is a staple) then provide encouragement and help when you see the need!

Do you have a date night or gift in mind for you? Are you thinking Valentine’s Day should be honored at home or out? Dinner or a movie or both! Do you like flowers? What kind? They get pretty expensive at this holiday. Chocolate freak? What kind? Are there any special gifts? What kind of token and if clothing what size? The internet makes it easier for guys to shop for "delicate items" but you might tell him where and what you want. Or just suggest a direction.

I have two strong memories of great Valentines! Both involved a bit of planning on my part. The first was in Panama. We went out to a restaurant in Panama City called Patio Andalusia. It was quiet, had wonderful food and had a strolling violinist playing around the tables: wow did I get points!

The second was at home. My spouse was just finishing chemo and starting radiation for breast cancer. I realized that I wanted to do something despite her not feeling well so I pulled out the cookbooks, (picked a meat to grill: a guy specialty in most cases) and searched for a meal that I could sensibly do. Voila! A plan came forth! I bought chocolates, made a menu on the computer and printed it on red paper, got some flowers and cleaned the house in preparation. I think it was the caring that made it the best and we had such a great time despite her not feeling well.

Please let us know how you celebrate and share this holiday! If someone is deployed or facing deployment how did you find ways to celebrate? Send us/share ways to enjoy this special time together with menus, gift ideas, favorite restaurants, getaways, etc! We would love to hear them and share!

Super bowl party: Beanless Chili con Carne for a crowd

What if you aren’t the world’s greatest fan of football? What if you like to get together with friends? What if you need an excuse to eat some salty, sweet or gadzooks of finger food?

Here is the answer to “what if”: Super Sunday coming our way! Super bowl Sunday is so well named. Grab all of those neat bowls that are sitting on the shelves – forget the plastic, go for the decorative fun things you bought as a souvenir at your last PSC.

Now, find foods that fit the bowls!

Beanless Chili is my favorite main attraction. I add baking potatoes diced into bean sized pieces. These add some starch to the pot, and take on the flavor of the chili. Start this early in the day, and let it simmer. Remember, there are going to be side dishes and treats, so they probably won’t be coming back for seconds. But then again, it is so good …
1 T olive oil
1 medium onion diced
2 cloves of garlic, pressed
2 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork
2 large baking potatoes, peeled and diced into bean size pieces.
A can or bag of frozen corn, to your taste
1 (16 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
2 T. chili powder
1 ( 4.5 oz) can diced (mild) green chiles
1 t salt
Dash of ground red pepper (cayenne), if desired

At least 1 ½ hours before serving:
Microwave the diced potatoes for 4 minutes with just enough water to cover them. Drain and set aside.

In a heavy saucepot or Dutch oven over medium high heat, in oil, sauté the onions and garlic for 3 minutes, just until they are starting to turn a bit brown. Add ground meats and cook until meat loses its pink color, stirring often. Pour off fat. Add remaining ingredients.

Reduce heat; cover and simmer 1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally.

Yields 14 servings

Side bowls should be full of: shredded cheddar cheese; shredded Monterey Jack cheese; sour cream; green pepper; diced tomatoes; and a bowl of tortilla chips.

How can we help?

About 10 years ago in Charleston, South Carolina there was yet another family discussion about moving and how hard it was. Our family has always been computer literate due to owning some early PC’s such as an Apple IIC, and exploring computers as teacher and student. This new thing, the internet looked like it had promise to make military family life easier! Over the dinner table the discussion continued and our creative family members (not me, I usually followed checklists!) came up with a way to help, first during PCS times and second while a family was in the new neighborhood! The idea of a website for military families took shape! is the result of that dream! After working through a long process we have a presentation for military families that helps them find resources they need. also reduces a bit of tension for some during a PCS as it offers the look ahead capability. I love what one young Marine wife said about us:

Your site is so helpful and full of information, I love it. And it's so user friendly that anyone can figure it out. should be passed out to every new spouse right along with their new military id.”

We do want to continually improve the site for you, who serve our country. We will listen to your suggestions for new categories, new installations, article interests, newsletter items, and other venues such as Myspace and Facebook. Creative ideas continue to be implemented to make your life easier! Did you know we now have over 5,000 military discounts/Rewards on the site!

Please send us your feedback at: or simply post it on the blog and we will take action!

Thank you for serving so well!

Squeals of joy & hugs and kisses

It is a beautiful thing when Grandma shows up at my door. Grandma in this instance is actually my mother-in-law. She watches my two younger boys regularly. Not only do we have our 'regular' babysitting days, she is on a moment's notice call & will be here within 30 minutes on days that I feel I might pull my hair out. (After all isn't it the mother that understands why some spiders eat their young?)

The boys squeal with joy & run with rapid feet to give her hugs, kisses and tell her all about what is going in their lives (a lot can happen in the life of a 2- and 5-year older over the course of a few days). She stands in the doorway with open arms as I peel the boys off of her to get shoes & coats on. Then in a beautiful fashion she whisks them away in her car & says, "We'll be home after dinner."

Sigh... and then there is an overwhelming quiet in my home. I can get laundry done or just sit and read a magazine. I can blast the music or watch TLC. I can go shopping or read a book. The choices are vast!

But you know what the best part is? That evening when the boys return home, they squeal with joy & run with rapid feet to give ME hugs, kisses & to tell me all about their day. What a wonderful gift she has given me!

What do you do for time off so you can have some "me-time"? Do you use the CDC, a neighborhood babysitting-group? Find a way to make time for just yourself! Your children will thank-you in the long run. I know I have it lucky with family so close. I often wonder how my own mom did it, living on the west-coast when her & my dad's family lived on the east-coast & Midwest. I have many early memories of the CDC at different bases across the country & I'm sure I gave my mom those same squeals of joy & kisses and hugs when she was done with her 'me-time'.

Are you looking for an area child care center? Find your installation on & then click on child-care on the left. There you will find military-friendly child care centers in your area. If you know of an area military-friendly child care center or in-home child care program let them know about us. A military-discount or -incentive equals free advertising on

Our Pets

This is VIGDIS!

It has been a busy week for me approving new Partners on and I enjoyed a very busy category which was Pet Sitters and Kennels. One person had seen ads and spread the word throughout her Pet Sitting association about us and I have not stopped putting their ads on the site all week! This is a real plus for you our military community because who has not had a last minute trip and needed someone to watch a favorite pet! We now have many on the site for your use and they offer a great MilitaryReward! :)

Right now our puppy (almost 16 years old but still a puppy in our hearts) is starting to slow down a bit and needs a bit of aspirin to help the old arthritis occasionally. Vigdis has lived in six locations and endured many military family hardships such as riding in a plane's cargo compartment from Cleveland to Seattle and returning two years later. She has a heart of gold and a lot of spirit and has been an important part of the family for so long it is hard to see her getting older. It tugs at the old heart strings to realize that she is almost completely deaf and blind but still loves a friendly scratch or hug! Now she has 6 acres of woods to roam and loves the game of chase the squirrel!

Vigdis joined the family while we were in Virginia and we had just returned from Iceland and we came up with an Icelandic name for our newest member (I am sure the President of Iceland at the time didn't mind sharing!).

Since then all the family have given their pets Icelandic names including Keflavik (Kefla), Reykjavik (Reyk), Valla, and Grindavik (Grinda). You should see some of the reactions we get while introducing them. This tradition did not include the grandchildren. Although we would have enjoyed that too but somehow the newer members of the family who had not lived in Iceland did not go along with that idea!

How did you name your pet? How many moves have they had and what did you do to make it easier for them? Share some of your ideas with our readers so they can better take care of their friends too!

Are you looking for an area Pet Sitting Service or Kennel ? Find your installation on & then click on Pet Care on the left. There you will find military-friendly Pet Sitting/Kennels in your area. If you know of an area military-friendly Pet Sitter or Kennel please let them know about us. A military-discount or -incentive equals free advertising on

Life has secrets that can be easy to unwrap.

It is Blue Monday today. Traditionally the 3rd Monday in January gets this title! Blue because the credit cards bills are rolling in; it is dark out there - particularly north of the Mason Dixon line and New Year's resolutions might have been broken, smashed and forgotten, and the quilt is seeping down to the kneecaps. It is a real feeling that a huge percentage of Americans are feeling now. So, meet it head on. Here are 3 dozen winning thoughts on how to climb up from the blues.

Don’t borrow trouble~ If you worry about what may happen tomorrow and it doesn't happen, you have worried in vain. Even if it does happen, you have to worry twice.

1. *Talk to a trusted individual.

2. Go to bed on time.

3. Get up on time so you can start the day unrushed.

4. Say No to projects that won't fit into your time schedule or that will compromise your mental health. (Notice this is high on the list…so you aren’t the only one over loaded!)

5. Delegate tasks to capable others.

6. Simplify and un-clutter your life.

7. Less is more. (Although one is often not enough, two are often too many.)

8. Allow extra time to do things and to get to places.

9. Pace yourself. Spread out big changes and difficult projects over time; don't lump the hard things all together.

10. Take one day at a time.

11. Separate worries from concerns. If a situation is a concern, TALK* to someone, and let go of the anxiety. If you can't do anything about a situation, forget it.

12. Live within your budget; don't use credit cards for ordinary purchases.

13. Have backups; an extra car key in your wallet, an extra house key buried in the garden, extra stamps, etc.

14. Sing. Sing in the shower, in the car, as you exercise.

15. K.M.S. (Keep Mouth Shut). This single piece of advice can prevent an enormous amount of trouble.

16. Do something for the Kid in You everyday.

17. Get enough rest.

18. Eat right.

19. Get organized so everything has its place.

20. Listen to a tape while driving that can help improve your quality of life. There is truth to the saying “What you put in your head, you put into your life.”

21. Write down thoughts and inspirations.

22. Every day, find time to be alone. (This is not a selfish goal!)

23. Having problems? Try to nip small problems in the bud. Don't wait until it's time to go to bed.

24. Make friends with Godly people.

25. Keep a folder of favorite poems, proverbs and sayings on hand.

26. Laugh.

27. Laugh some more!

28. Take your work seriously, but not yourself at all.

29. Develop a forgiving attitude (most people are doing the best they can)

30. Be kind to unkind people (they probably need it the most).

31. Sit on your ego.

32. Talk less; listen more.

33. Pick up your young one, and walk around the house, holding him/her close
- this is an exercise of love and good health.

34. Slow down.

35. Remind yourself that you are not the general manager of the universe.

36. Every night before bed, think of one thing you're grateful for that you've never been grateful for before.

* When your spouse is TDY, or deployed this is the REALLY the time when you need to be in a support group: a spouse club, Squadron, battalion, group, fleet, ombudsman meeting. Contact the Family Readiness, Fleet and Family folks on station; they can hook you up with others who know exactly what you are facing!

Tell us the name of your military family related support group. Let’s get the word out to all spouses, that there is no need to do it on your own! We are stronger as a unit - and it doesn't hurt as much.

Brace yourself Mom... It's Science Fair time!

Science Fair: Those words were the scariest words spoken by the children at the supper table. A hush fell over the room. Dale would mysteriously get a phone call to send him into the other room. Appetites were quashed. Those words work better than Slim Fast!

Lamely I would say, “Oh, this is going to be fun.” No one bought it.

I was talking to some Moms who are facing the science fair time of year, as if taxes aren’t enough… but at least with tax time, there is tax help for free on Base. However, with science fair you are on your own. The project has to be interesting, well presented, plausible, age appropriate and unique. Kids play. I was asked for ideas, their eyes were pleading: give me something simple!

We tried the experiment of growing plants in sunlight, fluorescent light, with filtered light bulbs, and no light. We over watered – therefore drowned the plants… started again… We allowed the dirt to dry before watering: death by dehydration… started again. You get the idea… science fair projects are not for the feeble. But they are beyond me.

Then there was the strips of cotton and smeared them with lipstick. We tested detergents, water temperatures, and our dryer! Lipstick residue in the dryer is ugly. Leanne did get a positive comment back on this one – her teacher liked the shade of lipstick!

Soon, your 5th through 8th grader will be coming home with the announcement: science fair time. I think the fair announcement is planned for the end of January, as the diet will power has worn off –an appetite suppressor. Dinner time throughout the American communities will share a common “ugh”. Hopefully this declaration will not occur the same day as your spouse announces the next deployment.

Buck up! Millions of folks have lived through this before. It has about the same joy factor as picking out the idea for a Halloween costume. I think ribbons should be handed out to the non-deployed parent completing a science fair project, just because!

What ideas have you done, or know of that work for a sane science fair project? Easy to complete? Bummer projects: avoid at all costs? True winner ideas? We all want our children to succeed, and without that idea… we can be stuck!

It's Cold. I've been inside for a Month... It's Soup time!

Winter seems to invite cooking in the kitchen! Ours is an open kitchen, room for several to peer into pots, bang some bowls around, gasp and cough and run when the burner sends smoke filling the house! And I watch the stove closely...
I have the best distractions available: a one year old, 2 two year olds, a 5 year old: all boys and a bunch of knee high dogs! Oh, wait... you will be a Grandma someday... but for now keep the clamor alive and well and living in your home.
Here is my favorite recipe for smashed tomato soup. Only perfected with 5 year old spirit!
1 large can of whole tomatoes dumped in a large pot and smashed, bashed and crashed with a potato masher by 5 year. Watch the triumph in the eyes when no whole tomatoes are left!
1 tiny palm sprinkling of kosher salt: larger grains - fun to see
7 freshly plucked parsley leaves - pulled apart by 2 year olds - they add such special flavor
1 chicken bullion cube. Be careful with this one... when thrown in during a testosterone rush tomato juice can travel 17 miles!
2 tablespoon of tomato paste. Perfect amount - as jobs can be equally distributed: adding and stirring.
1 scoop of leftover mashed potatoes.
Add water if necessary. We did not need to add water, as we used home canned tomatoes: another story all together!
Put the pot on low heat and allow to simmer for an hour.
Serve with grilled cheese sandwiches and Life is Good!
What do you do for winter inside breaks from reality? Children and energy go together... How do you channel this energy into good times, good laughs, good memories? Let us know some good cooking with the youngster recipes to share. We look forward to your comments: THANKS!

Some time with the ladies

Yesterday was my weekly ladies-group.

What a process to get out of the door!
Potty check, winter coats & hats, "Mom, I'm thirsty", "Mom, I'm hungry", in the car seats, "But, Mom, I wanted to sit in the other seat", seat-belts, "Mom, can I bring a toy?", where are my car keys?

We drive down the road a little bit and get to our final destination, this particular trip the back-seat was fairly quiet. Sometimes things like: 'Hands to yourself', 'Share', 'No Arguing', 'Inside voices', 'QUIET' are uttered out of my mouth every half-mile.

Out the car we shuffle: 'Hold hands in the parking lot', followed by much chasing of my adventurous two-year old; once we hit the sidewalk there is usually a race to see who can get to the door first. Inevitably one boy's feet are too big for his body & he trips; "Up-see-daises" with the brushing off of hands and maybe a tear or two (although they are usually much tougher then I would be). In we go and of course their child-care rooms are on opposite sides of the building. One boy signed in, one boy to go. I've given hugs, kisses and "See you in a little bit". AHHH and then... they are both signed in.

Now it's a simple walk down the hall to my meeting. As I walk I wonder if all the effort just to get out the door and reach my final destination is worth it. In the silence of my steps down the corridor peace settles down deep into my bones and my soul.

I grab my cup of coffee, say my hellos, and finally sit down amongst friends (who were in fact once strangers); I realize that,
Yes! this is most definitely worth it.

Is it such an effort to get to your OSC, ESC, PWOTC, FRG meetings? Is it worth it? What would you say to your fellow military wife struggling to get out of the house but so needs the fellowship of other wives? We can't wait to hear from you.

Women's Group is more than a chat and chews

Wow.... a new year, and already it seems that so much of 2008 has flown by. That is what happens when you get older.

Last year at this time, a very dear friend asked if I wanted to join our church's women's Bible study. I am a believer. I have been for many years, and I just never felt the pull of a Bible study. As a matter of fact, many years ago I went to one for 3 weeks and found an excuse to quit. It was just too “bibley".

Things and events in my life were pulling me to join this one, or at least give it a try. The first night I went and was shocked and surprised to see the number of women there. I was shocked because I never expected to see some who were attending, and also , the fact that I live in a rural Adirondack Village, and it was a snowy January, made it all the more amazing that a lot of these ladies had driven over 20 miles in snow and ice to get there.

My second surprise was that it was NOT a food fest. There was plenty of ice water to drink and a few candy dishes with leftover Christmas candy in them. (You know that hard candy you buy that looks like Christmas but tastes like ashes).

In a very short while, I learned that these ladies meant business. My pastor's wife, a new widow, as our beloved pastor had died the previous October, was the leader of the group, and she gave us the title of the book we were studying. It was Twelve Extraordinary Women of the Bible, by John MacArthur.

All I can say is that this study changed my life. Shortly after the group started meeting every Wednesday, a natural attrition always does. We went from a starting number of 18, to a regular group of 10-12....depending on the weather and the daily circumstances we all faced. I learned a lot from the book/Bible Study, but I learned so much more from these women I now love and cherish like sisters. Our lives and God's love transformed us all. We love each other, pray for each other, uphold each other, protect each other, learn from each other and cling to each other. The love of Christ is our glue, and our experiences all bond us together.

We learned on a weekly basis, that all 12 women in the Bible that were part of the study were who we are. Extremely flawed sinners, and desperately in need of the loving touch of the Savior, who doesn't care a bit about our "mess-ups" fact, I think He loves us more because of them, but He wants us to admit we need Him. All He wants is for us to say, I really need you, Lord. I am not able to get through this life with all its traps, snares, and pitfalls without your hand on me.

Yup, that Bible study changed me in so many ways. We finished and went on to the next one, Beth Moore's Believing God.... Oh my goodness. It was wonderful. The same 12 or so finished and we are avidly waiting to start our new one next week.

I will keep you informed.

Hiking Avalanche Lake Trail in Glacier National Park

This summer we went to Montana for a niece's wedding in Great Falls. We had a wonderful family time at the wedding and tacked on a few extra days to spend at Glacier National Park! What a great place to hike and the views were tremendous! We are so blessed with National Parks and this one was gorgeous!

Our niece had worked up in the park for a time and gave us her favorite trail to hike--Avalanche Lake; so off we went after a bit of map research. We found out that the trail was about 2.5 miles one way and of course it was above 5,000 feet (thin air country) and our niece was in her 20s when she hiked it ( that should have been a heads up for the two 50+ ers going on this one).

We carried a small backpack with lunch and water and set off at a leisurely pace but the trail was in the woods and started off right next to a beautiful waterfall with numerous photo opportunities. We had read and saw signs to be aware of the bears so we carried on a lively conversation most of the hike. Funny what you can think of to talk about when you are trying to just make "noise"! :)

We could not see a lot of vistas enroute due to the beautiful trees but wow when we broke out at the lake it simply took your breath away (what breath we had left from the hike!). There were nearby peaks with water falling thousands of feet from the cliffs on three sides of the lake. What a view. We sat on a log next to the lake in the open and rested and enjoyed our sandwiches and apples. Half way through lunch a female mule deer joined us for a drink from the lake and it was inspiring to see such a beautiful animal that close. Our hike down the mountain was easier than going up (except the knees which don't like all that braking action).

What is your favorite hike in a National Park? We sure enjoyed this one but I think my favorite is Moro Rock in Sequoia National Park in California! It carries many memories too but the trees and views were tremendous.

PS: We stayed at Malmstrom Air Force Base during our visit in Great Falls and the folks at the Malmstrom Inn were so helpful. If you are ever in the area you can make space A reservations at 1-406-727-8600. Glacier Park is about 4 hours north of the base and we stayed in Kalispell for a night to enjoy the park!

The Jail Bird Puppy

Vacuuming the carpet is not my favorite past time. Remembering the color of the recliner was never an issue. Enter our new puppy: Grinda, a sweet cuddly Corgi. (Disclaimer - our dogs are always puppies as long as they chew on ropes, jump at a squirrel, and bark at the TV.)

I am a large dog lover - oh how I loved our afghan hound! What we have now is a 'low rider' dog. She is a hoot and about as far from Afghan roots as can be. Her ears are really longer than her legs - and the vet said that makes her a classy lady. Or she was until she was spayed last week. She is a rescued dog. And she exudes love, and appreciation - I am certain. She also exudes 17 pounds of hair a day. That might be a bit of an exaggeration, as she only weighs 22 pounds, but the white fur is everywhere. It is especially evident on black slacks or dark sweaters. I feel she looks at it with pride - she just wants to fill our world.

I was unsure how I felt about her until she was missing 2 weeks ago. It was cold, and the weather was rotten. She wanted out. We live on some acreage - out in the country, so dogs can roam a bit. Out she went. When ten minutes passed, and no Grinda, Dale and I went looking, calling, whistling and panicking. Yes, we did love her.. YES we wanted her at our feet NOW so we could yell at her. Ha ha... Funny how the mind works.

After 3 hours, we knew something was wrong. We got in the car and visited the neighbors. Nope. No sign of our Corgi anywhere.

Then, I called the pound: dog jail. Yes, they had just picked up a corgi - what were the odds?
Let me tell you, it is the saddest thing to see your dog in one of those cages. Her collar was off, and there she laid - totally distraught on the cement ground.

We paid the $52 get out of jail fee.

Zoomed her in be spayed the next week.
I love life's lessons... Dale could run an Air Force Wing, but a Corgi... not yet!

Some times I wonder who is the pet owner... and who is the pet. I believe Grinda is training us to meet her expectations. We are working hard!
Do you have a pet? What type of research did you go through before picking your new family member?
What are the traits of your type of dog/cat/bird?
I know that Corgis certainly have traits that bred into the core of their personality.

Date Night

Last night was 'date night' with my husband, Paul. Usually we do something extravagant ... like dinner at a favorite restaurant. There is nothing like a glass of wine, food and sitting through a meal without having to keep my eyes and thoughts on the kids the whole time. Despite our almost seven years of marriage at a night out to eat Paul and I can sit and talk like we had been dating for just a couple months. Life is good!

Last night was a different type of date-night though: We put the kids to bed and then snuggled on the couch and watched a DVD that we got for Christmas, Bourne Supremacy. Somewhat boring you might say... but it was so relaxing and what else can you ask of for a date-night?

I don't like to take these moments for granted. It would have been just as easy to put the kids to bed and both of us sit back at our computers - in two separate rooms. (It happens more often then it should.) Paul's work is piling up and I can always find something to do. But instead we took the time to be a couple, in front of the living room TV, snuggled under a blanket. All we needed was popcorn but we were both too tired to make it. :) It was a nice change in routine and a fantastic 'date night'.

What do you do for your "date nights"? Do you take the time to be a couple with your spouse? I'd love to hear your tips and ideas!

Leanne from

Icelandic Potatoes

Because I posted an 'oh so different' recipe a while ago, I thought I needed to show that some sanity does simmer and brew in Icelandic kitchens.

Butter-Steamed New Potatoes. I would write the Icelandic title... but don't have the ability to use their extended alphabet.

This recipe is for 4 servings. Keep that in mind...
30 small new potatoes. They are small in deed! There isn't much dirt at all in Iceland - it is volcanic, so these tiny spuds have to give it their all to scrape through a living in the ground.

Scrub the potatoes - but not too hard. They'll fly out of your hands. Pat dry. Place potatoes in casserole with 8 T. melted unsalted butter. Roll them around to coat. Cook for 30 to 45 minutes. Shake to keep them from sticking. When done, put on a platter with chopped dill. Serve at once.

Half Fermented Trout

So... right now in Iceland they are having their winter celebration Thorrasblot - the folks around Keflavik Naval Air Station set their sights on the prospect that summer was coming. The darkness of the winter would be over. So, some of their Thorrablot ideas were for the strong of heart, stomach and mind! (I did not qualify!)

Late January or early February brings Thorrablot, a midwinter celebration where everyone eats the most disgusting ancient Norse food imaginable. Cured, rotten shark meat, Icelandic haggis, and sheep's head and testicles are all popular. It's no wonder Iceland's national drink is a burning caraway-flavored vodka.

... I thought I would share a munchie from the hinterland.

Raketrout: Half Fermented Trout. I am not making this up.
The notes say that if this is carefully prepared, it will be greatly appreciated. Is this a warning issued in the opening statement? Perhaps the rest of the living trout will love it... as not many fisherman will be jumping on the ice to catch any for this dish.

Fresh 1 pound fish - preferably river trout. Cleaned (that's always a good call) and place in salt water (1 teaspoon to 2 cups of water) for 2 to 3 hours.

Scrape the scales and slime off under running water. - Right there, I am out of the kitchen... What are they thinking? *** Clean the belly thoroughly on each fish.

Put the fish in a wide-mouthed stone jar or small wooden barrel so that the belly of each fish faces upwards. You must admit... this is a picturesque recipe!

Sprinkle a handful of kosher salt and a little sugar between each layer. Place a few pieces of wood over the trout, a heavy weight or stone on top of them and a lid over the jar. Trout should be preserved in this manner at the end of August and the first part of September when they are fat and will be ready to eat in about 3 months. Store in a cool place. Serve cold in fillets with flatbread and butter.

Yes, for 3 months you will have this sitting around.

Why I take walks for the New Year

Its a New Year! 2008! Wow! Exciting but so much to do; even overwhelming at times. Is this the year for the next assignment (PCS); return or departure of a loved one; arrival of a new family member; car running out of miles and a new one on the horizon; etc., etc., ?

Isn't life interesting but we all need to find ways to cope. One of my favorites is to take a walk. The physical exercise is great for you but the emotional exercise is sometimes even better. I can't count how many times I have worked through problems while on a walks! They can be single, with the dog, with a partner, with a friend and with the family! A family fun time with kids on bikes or being pulled/pushed is high on my list of to dos! During couple walks we talked our way through PCS issues, family issues and couple issues! I even learned a few French words and phrases while walking with my spouse preparing for a vacation to Paris one time (a promised event after being on 30 minute alert 24/7 for over 2 years).

Great Tastes

I have a bookcase of cookbooks and cooking magazines! It started as a shelf... then spilled into two and on and on. As we moved around the country and world, I wanted some of the local flavor to be part of our everyday life. So the collection began innocently.

I can remember going to a county fair in Utah (Hill AFB) with Dale. We saw the food stands and there were tacos. (Didn't have them in NYC area where I grew up.) We ordered 2 tacos - pronounced take-ohs. Oh yeah, we were newbies to the area! As we took our first bites - meat, cheese and lettuce took flight all over, I recognized the idea of local flavor and had to capture the phenomenon.

My Fort Rucker OWC cookbook is so worn, stained and earmarked that I have to tenderly pull it from the case. It has the very best meat marinade. I have the page from a Howard/KobbeOWC magazine for banana and peanut salad - a very Panamanian flavor.
There are some recipes that I look at and wonder... why? Iceland had some nasty ways of preparing preserved fish. I think they are reserved for a truth or dare party!
I would like to share some of these great tastes.

Do you have a local treat? Send us your recipe and connect it to your installation.

Here is to the new year!

Welcome 2008!

This year brings many changes with it for my household of five. In 2008 my youngest will start preschool, my middle child will start kindergarten and my oldest high school. All of this while my husband is on his first deployment. That is the change I look least forward to.

So what is my new years resolution this year? To remain positive! However, I don't want to be positive just on the outside but on the inside too. Here are some simple ideas to start with and I can't wait for the list to grow:
  1. Enjoy the moments with my husband while he is home
  2. Plan a family vacation this early spring: nothing fancy, nothing expensive, just the opportunity to get out and enjoy our family.
  3. Get to church each week. What a weekly recharge this brings, even when it is just me getting the boys up and out the door, in the end it is well worth it.
  4. Start thinking about what I can do for my husband while he is gone. What kind of care packages will he want? How can I still show him how much I love him when he is half way across the world?
  5. Meet the spouses in his group. We are all geographically seperated, since my husband is National Guard but I know that we will need each other's support through our seperation.

That's just a short list to start the year off with. How else do you stay positive? I would love to know & hear from you!

Leanne from

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