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You're About to be Redirected to the New Home of Ground Control to Major Mom: 4/24/11 - 5/1/11

Friday, April 29, 2011

Presenting Pumpkin #1!!!

And here she is! About 3" long so far. There's another one on an adjacent vine that's a little smaller, I'll call that one #2!

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In #39

This week's Friday Fill-In!  Enjoy!

1. Have you and your spouse agreed to live in separate locations (a geographical bachelor tour) knowing that the short-term inconvenience would have long-term benefits for your family? How did it work for you? submitted by When Good People Get Together

The answer is "almost".  When I was still on active duty, we were prepared to do separate tours when Dave received orders to Barksdale AFB while I was stationed at Fort Polk (1996).  Then we took orders to Korea, with Dave being assigned to Osan AB while I'd be assigned to Yongsan Garrison in Seoul (1998).  In both cases, we were able to work out things so we could be assigned together.  We always told the USAF we were willing to go ANYWHERE together.  They were good about it to the best of their ability.

2. What is your favorite thing about being a MilSpouse? submitted by Sarah Ruth Today

I'm very very proud of my husband's great work for our country.  I love that he is part of defending our great country!  I love that we can try to instill patriotic values in our sons...hopefully they will value what makes the U.S. an amazing thing!

3. If you could still have your spouse/significant other and your family, but take the military life out of it…would you?  submitted by Trust. Love. Believe. Bake.

Not only am I a MilSpouse, but also a Navy Brat!  I have had the military in my life as long as I can remember.  I was probably furthest departed from it my freshman year in college (however I was still a dependent daughter).  I decided to join AFROTC at the end of my freshman year.

4. What have your homecoming experiences been like after a year long tour of separation? submitted by Army Soldier, Army Wife

We have never been separated for that long...we've experienced plenty of 4 month separations, though.  We've learned from experience that taking it easy is always best...minimal travel, minimal visitors until a couple weeks after we get home.

5. If you have a child(ren) why you chose their name(s)? If not, why you would name your child something?  submitted by Tiara’s & ACU’s

Our sons are named after other men in our extended families.  Our oldest is named after my husband's paternal grandfather, while our youngest is named after my father.  There were many great men in our families and choosing names for our sons was almost too easy.  We had a more difficult time choosing a girl's maybe it's good we didn't have to stress over that.


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Checking Out a New Food Fad: McCormick's "Recipe Inspirations"

Tonight I'm making chicken tikka masala for dinner.  I never thought in a million years I'd be cooking homemade Indian food, but here I am!

I don't keep a ton of fancy spices on hand, they tend to expire before I use it all up.  But for the past few months I'd been seeing these McCormick's Recipe Inspirations at our local grocery stores and I got to thinking....

"Yes, I can smell the smoke!"

GROAN.  Anyway, in my often-difficult attempt to cook as much as I can from scratch, I pondered this product and decided this can't be too bad.  I picked up a card this week at our local commissary.  Chicken Tikka Masala.  At only $1.08 (that's the commissary price, it's probably at least double that at your local grocery stores) it already presented more appeal than a jarred simmer sauce or one of those frozen all-in-one meal kits.**

So here's what we's a card filled with little bubbles of spices.  Just enough for the recipe you're making, pre-measured for your convenience.

Flip the card over, and you have a listing of ingredients on the card, and the recipe.  So while you're on the same shopping trip you can pick up the rest of the ingredients you need.

Truth be told, I had everything in this card except for the "garam masala"...if we like this, I can pick up some garam masala at our local Asian grocery store, hold onto the card and make this in the future...
Here's my assembly of ingredients ready to go.  (Except for the salt and cornstarch, which I always have on hand).

Don't freak from the heavy cream -- you don't need a lot of it...
So when you peel the back of the card, I'm greeted with 6 individually wrapped packets of spice, marked with the type of spice and amount.  I ordinarily would whine about the amount of packaging here, but there's some utility to have the packaging this way just in case you choose not to use all the spices and you want to store it for later.

I prepared the dish exactly as the recipe recommended.  I didn't include the red pepper (which was optional anyway), but instead gave that particular packet to Jacob.  He loves red pepper flake!

The verdict?  This dish is very tasty, but didn't seem like the tikka masala I'd had in restaurants.  It was more like a chicken cacciatore with a hint of cumin.  The kids liked it, but probably didn't love it.

I probably will be trying the Asian Sesame Salmon next time.

**Please don't think I'm being all elitist or anything about processed foods.  I make meals like that once in a while.  Lately with some of our family's diet and stomach sensitivity issues, those easy-to-prepare meals are too high in sodium or other chemicals that make it tough to digest.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011


In 2009 I had tried hand-pollinating pumpkins for the first time.  (If you click the link, make sure to start at the bottom and work your way up, the posts are appearing in reverse chronological order).  After seeing award-winning pumpkins at the NC and NE State Fairs, I wanted to learn more about how one gets a 1000 lb. pumpkin...

I was surprised this weekend at all the buds that were appearing on my pumpkin plants and decided to give it a go again this year.  I had my first two female flowers open up this morning, and there are at least 4 more that will be opening up this week!

Two male flowers.  These guys are about 8" across, attracting all sorts of bugs!
One of the female flowers.  Note the "stigma" in the center, looks different than the male flower above.
A view of the bulb behind the flower.  If pollination is successful, that bulb grows into a pumpkin.
To hand-pollinate, you select a male flower, remove the petals, and get the powdery stuff on the stamen in contact with the stigma on the female flower.  I didn't photograph the actual pollination, but you can see a 2009 version here.
This bee might have been a step ahead of me, there was plenty of wildlife around to take care of things if I had missed those flowers opening.

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Monday, April 25, 2011


This is not the dead fish itself, but the calicos I killed looked VERY similar.
Yeah.  That would be me.  I killed not one, but FOUR fish today.

Back in December I mentioned the four 6"+ beautiful koi who were living in our water feature in the front yard of our current house when we moved in.  I diligently kept up with the water levels, water cleanliness and feeding of those fish all through the winter...

Let me refresh your memory here from my December 8th blog post:

And finally, I'll share my newest hobby: a small fountain/pond in my yard.  Among the fancy front-yard landscaping is a pond/fountain, a plain fountain and a birdbath!  I'm looking forward to seeing more birds in the front yard when the weather gets warmer.

The pond was certainly a nice bonus to our house -- and we were pleasantly surprised to see 4 good-sized goldfish swimming around in the pond.  The weather's been so cold the fish are more or less dormant so it isn't very interesting.  They're also pretty shy, hiding under the fountain column a lot of the time.  The algae in the pond has been a problem.  So these past few days I've been spending 30-45 minutes per day working on cleaning out the pond.  As of now, I've done a 2/3 water change, scrubbed the algae off the concrete, and I'm making sure to run the fountain during the day so the water is well aerated.  The water I add to the pond is from a well, which means I don't have to worry about chemical treatments or anything like that.  Every time I'd agitate the water the algae would stir up and become almost opaque green -- seeing the fish at all has been difficult.  Once the temperatures warm up more in a couple months, we'll start feeding them and hopefully we'll see them come out more often.

The fountain.  The pump sends the water up to the very top of the column and then it trickles down the "trays" that are spiraling around the column.  It's very pretty, but I've been challenged with setting the water pressure such that the water doesn't blast out of the trays sloppily.

Here's one of the fish on a rare occasion that the algae in the water was settled to the bottom.  The boys haven't named the fish yet (I see that coming real soon), but this one likes to hang out near the warmer pump unit when the water's cold.  We have two gold ones, and two calicos.  Each are 6-8" long.

Today I was mortified to see all 4 of the fish lying DEAD among the rocks that surround the fountain/pond.  It was really struck me as odd that all four of the fish were in one general area outside the pond.  Two of them were even on top of each other!

My first thought was foul play.  That someone physically removed all the fish and tossed them onto the rocks.  However, that was a stretch because the fish are quite shy, so far I've been the only one who can stand near the pond without the fish dashing under the fountain to hide!

But upon further thought, I realized that there were probably numerous contributors:
  • Over the weekend I had increased the time that the sprinklers run every day.  It hasn't rained in nearly 3 weeks and the yard was starting to suffer from it.  So there's a good chance the pond overflowed and the fish were outside of the confines of their pond when the water receded.  
  • The hose that runs water all the way to the top of the feature had slipped and the evaporation rate had reduced significantly.  I usually count on about 1/3 of the water sloshing out daily from the sloppiness of the water pouring down the trays of the fountain.  So there was even more water than usual in the pond.
  • One of the hoses became disconnected and water was rushing out of that loose the direction of the rocks the dead fish were on.  I wonder if the fish swam in front of that jet of water and were propelled out of the pond.
I feel awful those fish perished.  Tomorrow I will head over to the local pet store...the owner seems VERY knowledgable about fish and will help me replace these four.

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R.I.P. Webcam (for now...)

The webcam on my HBTS Rexford St. Weather Underground setup is dead.

I don't think it's the webcam itself, it's most likely the laptop that was hosting the webcam.  That dastardly "kitchen laptop" that I've kept alive all. these. years.

Anyhoo, since the screen on the laptop isn't working, I have to plug it into our TV with a VGA cable to see what it's up to.  For all I know, it's probably some update to the software that I need to download or something like that.

I'll check it out later this week -- I've a bunch of odds and ends to tend to.  New license plate for the Prius (switching from Nebraska back to Florida), squaring away our Family Care Plan, and finally squaring away our claims from our move.

In the meantime, I've removed the blankness on the tag to the right so conserve a little space.

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