Soup for the Single Gal

Soup is really the perfect food. There is such variety that with only $12.00 you can feed yourself for a week. It is perfectly portioned so that you won't have tons of little containers of leftovers in your fridge at the end. It takes mere minutes to heat. Its great for finals or other occasions when you really don't feel like cooking, but have exhausted your tolerance for delivery. Usually the only ingredient required is water and should you overbuy on soup and end up with a surplus lying around the house, you can always say that you are preparing for the next natural disaster by stockpiling supplies. I once met a family who kept years of food in the house in case the rapture happened after the tribulation, they had tons and tons of soup.

Today's choice was Amy's Organic Thai Coconut Soup. It has a mere 220 calories, making it a very sensible dinner and costs $2.50, which is way less than the take-out alternative Tom Kha Phak at my local Thai place. It doesn't have any onions like my local Thai place which has tons of onions in it so I might try and get hubby to try it. He absolutely hates onions. The coconut taste is light rather than overwhelmingly sweet and it has shiitake mushrooms and slices of sweet potatoes which were unexpected and yummy. I'm not fond of the tofu, but there wasn't too much of it. I may try and throw some shredded chicken in there when I make it again.

We'll see how long my soup kick lasts before I either run out of earthquake supplies or breakdown and go to the grocery store. After last nights incident with the milk-less mac and cheese and this morning's subsequent granola sans milk, I'll probably have to make at least a small grocery run very soon. Hmm...I wonder if I could go the whole 21 days that he's gone without grocery shopping? I could come up with some interesting dinners with my bare cupboards. Eh...probably not. It's still quite uninspiring.


Dinner for One?

Cooking for one is so uninspiring sometimes. This weekend I subsisted on a frozen pizza and fridge leftovers. When I'm sick I don't feel like eating much anyway. Today I pretty much scraped the bottom of the barrel and made mac and cheese without milk. I'm glad I smelled it before putting it in, because trust me, mac and cheese without milk is better than with spoiled milk. Thankfully I had a good size lunch. My brother-in-law and all of hubby's guy friends took me out to eat which was really sweet of them. I'll have leftover Pad Thai tomorrow for lunch. Hopefully I'll get together a shopping list tonight so I can hit the grocery store after work.

After all my greasy cheesy, leftover microwaved food of the last few days I'm feeling the need to go healthy for awhile. I'm craving vegetables, tea, juices and otherwise fresh cooked work intensive foods. I'll have to dig out my South Beach Diet cookbook for inspiration. Unlike Atkins where I lost 20 lbs in 30 days eating nothing but hot dogs and cheese when hubby was off at ROTC (and promptly gained it all back), South Beach tastes healthy and has resulted in my only long-term weight loss when I combined it with increased exercise. I'm hoping to create a little yoga space in our newly renovated washer/dryer workout room. It's really hard to do yoga on carpet and there really isn't room in the kitchen.

I also want to get back into fencing. The problem with having a competitive sport as a hobby is that getting back into it can be really intimidating. You know you should be beating the other person or at least making an account for yourself and instead you feel glued to the floor while your muscles no longer behave as they should and you're getting stabbed. Your watching your own body move in what feels like slow motion, your brain moving at one speed and your body following behind on a delay. I want to get back into fencing, but I have the feeling that I should be in better shape first. Thankfully with the summer weather right around the corner, I'll no longer be confined to the elliptical in the spare bedroom and will be able to jog around the neighborhood. Last year I did the couch to 5k program with good success. Perhaps I'll have to start that again once it gets warm enough.


My First Real Memorial Day

Memorial Day means so much more when you've lost someone who is close to you. I guess it really hit me tonight when I hung my American flag on the front porch struggling to reach with my husband oversees on Army orders. My cousin died November 7, 2007. I watched his burial in Arlington. I'll return to his grave whenever I visit D.C. He believed he was where God wanted him and had a real purpose in life. For that I am very happy, despite my personal sadness.

Sick, but still Inspired

Day 3 of 3 day weekend/Hubby's Army duty, and what have I done? I've done almost nothing. I was ambitious with my to-do list, planning on getting all of my gardening and yard work done, buying my home improvement supplies, cleaning the house top to bottom, cooking healthy meals to take left-overs to work all week, the list went on and one. Instead I felt like total crap. I finally drug my sick self out of bed right before Lowes closed on Saturday to save $160 on all the supplies. We also saved 15% +10% at Sears on our washer/dryer. They were having a 15% off sale + 10% off on Kenmore. The washer and dryer we wanted were Whirlpool Duets . The store gave us the Kenmore discount after a little persuasion when I pointed out that Whirlpool makes Kenmore and we could get 10% off +10% off for military at Lowes. We agreed to buy the 3-year warranty and they gave us the extra 10% off. Of course, we can cancel the warranty any time within the first year, so I'll get that ~$500 back later. All in all, with the money we got from the City and the discounts I was able to negotiate we got a way better washer/dryer set for about $1,000 of our own money. We could have replaced the ones we had with equivalents for far less, but it was important to me to get Energy Star appliances and I wanted a front-loader to save 70% water per load over a top loader. Saving money and going green are both ideas I can get behind.

The rest of the weekend wasn't nearly as productive, I basically laid on the sofa feeling sick, lonely and sorry for myself. I watched way too much HGTV, Food Network and Law and Order. Normally having time to just do my own thing would be nice, but when you don't have anyone else around and you're feeling bad its just lame. Normally I have the best husband in the world. No matter if I have a slight headache or he's the one holding my hair for me while I puke he always cares for me as if I'm on death's door. He generously gives me his zealous attention, taking care of my every need. My sister thinks I'm just high maintenance, which I probably am, but its hard to say no to someone who willingly hops up and runs for the Tylenol for you, covers you with a blanky and sits through a marathon of home improvement shows and girly movies just because he knows they make you feel better.

I'm still going to get my to-do list done before he gets home. When we first met and I saw his dorm room I was amazed. Everything was lined up, organized, minimal, and totally decluttered. He is still the neat one in the family, and having a clean house is a big zen moment for him, which totally destresses him. It doesn't happen often that the house is guest ready, but I try to make an effort to give him a clean house to come home to. If I could also get the renovations done and some of our projects finished it would be such a great way to say thank you to the man who takes such good care of me. Hopefully I won't feel like this too much longer and I can actually get started on some of these projects.

For the first time since I was 18 I'm not currently enrolled in any classes this semester. I have been taking classes fall, spring and summer semesters solid. In some ways I'm addicted to school. It's strange to not be doing something, learning something. I love new school supplies, the feel of a new (I could never buy used) textbook, and have a tingly sensation when I obsessively hit reload on the grades web page at the end of each semester. I guess I'll substitute transcript watching for highlighting when I start my Patent Bar review. The books look enormous. Vast swaths of white paper ready for my multi-colored highlighters and sticky-note collection. Ah, now all I need is some hot tea, I'm feeling inspired to start studying.


Advantages of Being a Military Wife

The City looked like it was going to take a long time to respond to our claim, leaving us with a mess of a house for months on end. They wanted more quotes from contractors, our insurance information, detailed photos, the list kept going. Then my husband sent them an e-mail which asked them to CC me on correspondence because he's going out of the country on military duty and the very next day they called with an offer! I can't help but thinking its because they felt bad making a military family wait and they decided to settle. They didn't give us the full amount of our claim, but close enough that with some careful budget planning I should be able to get the house put back together.

Hubby left last night for Germany for three weeks for his annual training with the Reserve. It really stinks to have his training in the summer. In Alaska, there aren't that many weeks of summer and having him gone for three of them really cuts into the summer. I am going to try and get the house back together while he is gone and begin studying for the Patent Bar. For whatever reason, when he is gone I am way more productive. I think it's because instead of getting home from work and trying to figure out what we both want to do, waiting around until we have consensus or worse yet, sitting in front of the TV, there is only me and I don't have excuses for not getting things done. When he's gone it's so quiet that unless I'm doing something it's really easy to be lonely.

One of the other advantages of being a military wife on memorial day are all of the sales. Lowes has 10% off for military, which I'm going to use to replace our ruined washer and dryer from the flood. I'll also pick up a few things for the flooded room.

Of course there are many disadvantages to being a military wife. I still feel isolated and a little bitter at times. We have been lucky so far in that he hasn't been deployed. This is his units year to go so the constant threat of that happening really hangs over us all the time. I was actually enrolled in law school last fall with tickets to move to Arizona and start my 1L year at ASU. I had the perfect schedule of classes and everything was falling into place. But, then we found out that he might have to be deployed as soon as October and there was just no way that I could deal with 1L year and him being deployed so I called the Dean, explained things, was denied a deferral and dropped out before paying my deposit.

This year I gave up on applying together. Hubby's window of deployment extends until this October so he can still be deployed at any point between now and then. We started saving money towards my education so I wouldn't have as many loans, I switched engineering jobs to one where I am far happier and even though I make less money I don't come home every day wishing I had not woken up and gone to work that morning. Once the threat of deployment is over and his unit is in its reset year rather than deployment year we'll sit down and weigh our options again. It's kind of nice to be approaching this with such a financially responsible plan. With the economy what it is, I really worry for a lot of law students who are taking out $100k+ loans, with no guarantee that they'll ever be able to pay them back.

I'm so proud of my husband and while I never truly love the fact that he's in the military, I know what it means to him. It has changed the path our lives have taken, and definitely added a lot of stress. But I don't think delaying law school for two years will ultimately be something I look back on with regret. I'm only 25, and while I sometimes think that's old and I've wasted time waiting, it really isn't, I have plenty of time to take care of my family and my career.


Dear City Dept. of Risk Management

Attention City Department of Risk Management:

On 4/20/08 frozen city storm drains caused the storm water drain in front of our house to begin welling up with the backed up water. This flooding is a known problem that has previously occurred. The City planned for the likelihood of this event happening by dropping a few sandbags outside our home in the spring. When the flooding occurred we immediately utilized the sand bags in an attempt to block the water from entering our home. We then called the City Public Works Department. With water coming in at an ever increasing rate, and unable to make contact with anyone who could help us at Public Works, we had to resort to calling 911. The 911 operator assisted us in making contact with someone at Public Works to come and deal with the problem. A City pumping and thawing crew was dispatched to our home. By the time they arrived the sand bags were doing little to keep water out of the house and the entire depth of the house was flooded not just the area near the doors. The rate of water was so great that it was also pouring into our crawlspace.

Because of the flood levels, which could not be contained, our home has sustained flood damage in the garage, one 309 sq. ft. room and in the crawl-space. Thankfully we were able to move most of our personal belongings to a higher level before they were soaked. On the city’s recommendation, we had Servicemaster come and do the cleanup of the flood affected areas and remove the materials ruined by the flooding and subsequent mold infestation. Servicemaster will be submitting their bill directly to the City and we will do a separate claim to submit a copy of their bill. This claim is for the reconstruction to restore the affected areas to the condition they were in prior to the flood. Additionally, this claim is for replacement of those items damaged by the flood.

...Detailed claim info...

Total: $14,399.65

So, for anyone wondering how the kitchen remodel is going and why I haven't posted in awhile, now you know. We had a bunch of friends come over and bail all of our belongings to higher ground which they did quite well. They saved almost everything, it's just in no particular order all over the rest of the house now. 1/3 of my house is under construction, probably closer to 1/2 counting the kitchen. I'm learning how to deal with claims against the city, insurance, contractors, quotes, blah blah blah. It's been a tough spring.

Halfway through flooding and the City hadn't shown up to pump yet. The water is welling up under the carpet, pushing it up. Ultimately it flooded the whole depth of the house in this room.

Water got behind the paneling and wicked up the vapor barrier causing mold to grow. I was so allergic I had to get prescription eye drops to keep the swelling down in my eyes.