Thursday, July 30, 2009

Pushing Daisies

Can I just say that I LOVE this show! I simply love it! It is everything that I wish for from television - beautiful pictures, interesting characters, a little bit of fantasy, a little bit of suspense... Pushing Daisies one-ups even that with a soothing storytelling narrator, wonderful music, and delightful episodes all wrapped up in colorful paper and a happy bow at the conclusion. I LOVE it!

Of course, it's cancelled. I know! So sad! Just like Firefly (the other best show ever to grace television - lasted only one season). But I appreciate what this article says about Pushing Daisies. The second and last season just came out on DVD and we're netflixing it (I intend to own it later to revisit it like one does a favorite childhood book).

Do yourself a favor and watch a couple episodes - you won't be disappointed!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

It's Like a Vacation Every Day

The fishing guide asked me how we liked living in Florida. I replied, "We love it! It's like being on vacation every day!"

This is just an example. Tuesday, I read by the pool, went to yoga, and generally relaxed. When Rob got home:
Rob: "We're going to Ft. Walton Beach."
Me: "Why?"
Rob: "To get an international drivers license."
Me: "Okay."

Apparently, when you rent a car in Eastern Europe (as we are for a few days) having an international driver's license avoids needless fees if you get pulled over. We BARELY made it to the AAA place before they closed (they close at 7) and then asked them where we might find some good ethnic food. I mentioned possibly sushi and one of them immediately jumped in, "If you're going for sushi, you HAVE to go to Harbor Docks." Well, Harbor Docks it is!

I was a little worried it would be like Boatyard here in PCB with average food and excellent ambiance (Harbor Docks is on the water too). But when the sushi hit my tongue, all other senses ceased, my eyes closed, and I relished in the best sushi I'd had in a very long while.

What a wonderful jaunt to Ft. Walton Beach/ Destin!

Last night was our anniversary!!! Three years! Since we purchased backpacks for our Europe trip, we agreed that dinner in would be the best way (and most fiscally responsible way) to celebrate. Well, Mom and Dad left us with some amazing wine (we drank the Louis M. Martini Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon) and I knew our dinner had to match it. Therefore, I served:

thick ribeye with nice marbling...

homemade lime sorbet (I read that taking a bite of lime sorbet with a bite of steak really adds to the experience - and yes, I can now vouch that indeed it does!)...

farmers market green beans, sauteed to warm and crunchy like my brother Chef Martin does it...

mushrooms, sauteed with long slices of farmers market jalapenos (REALLY good! imparts spice to the mushrooms and tones down the spice of eating a jalapeno - I shall saute mushrooms like this from now on!)...

fresh figs (farmers market) roasted with a little bit of goat cheese in the "x" cut in the top, drizzled with Florida's best tupelo honey...

I was very pleased! Not only was I pleased to eat such yumminess, but the first romantic dinner I cooked for Rob (the infamous Valentine's Dinner of 2006) did not yield good results. Last night's fare was very well-received.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Parents Visit II!

Sunday morning Mom and Dad enjoyed attending church with us and we had Sunday brunch at "Another Broken Egg Cafe." Very good! Although my huge crabcake benedict made me so full I had difficulty eating the rest of the day (but not too much difficulty). I prepped my Mom for the yoga class she was barely willing to attend with me, but by the end of our prep, she felt more loose and invigorated and thought maybe she might like this yoga stuff after all. Sorry, no photos of Mom doing yoga, brothers! Sunday afternoon was as it should be, relaxing, reading, walking the neighborhood with the dogs, and playing cards after snacking on leftovers.

Monday, poor Rob had to go to work (and I say poor because it was a GORGEOUS day! - 70 and sunny). Mom and I left Dad at the house to go to yoga class (which Mom was much more excited about after our prep) and had a great time!! I'm very excited to one day visit my Mom's future yoga class in College Station (any recommendations out there?)

For lunch, we met Rob at Joey's II (from Rob's most recent hilarious post notoriety) and Joey rocked my parents' world with his stellar fresh oysters. They love raw oysters (they used to live in New Orleans and frequented Acme Oyster Bar) and are now convinced they have tasted the best oysters the world has to offer. Way to go, Joey's II!

After lunch, Mom, Dad, and I drove to Crooked Island Beach where we wallowed away the afternoon in the following way: taking deep breath after loss of breath at beautiful view, setting up sunbrella and chairs, taking a dip in the crystal clear water, realizing flies love wet skin and that they bite, taking a nice long walk to continue enjoying the beach while avoiding the flies, and watching the F-15s and F-22 fly overhead - a beautiful combination of heroic jet noise juxtaposed with slow rolling ocean waves. It was a most relaxing afternoon.

Our evening meal consisted of grilled fish (from our catch) with peach salsa, sauteed julienne veggies, fruit salad, and blueberry cobbler. I'm loving the fresh produce!

We had a great time with the Howard parents! Thanks, Mom and Dad!!!

This morning the house was once again quiet, save for my talking to Lucy and Gus. The weather once again GORGEOUS, I read Rick Steve's Eastern Europe outside in the cool morning sun while drinking coffee and thinking what a wonderful life I have. When it got a little warmer, I went inside and baked muffins with my blueberries, wrote in the blog to you, and went to yoga class toting my fresh-baked organic muffins to share. I'll leave you with some pics of our beach day and a video of soothing beach sounds, but don't say I didn't warn you about the green monster of envy.

Can you find the two F-15s?

Parents Visit!

WARNING: the following series of posts may cause envy.

Thursday evening, my Mom and Dad arrived from Texas! I had planned a fabulous itinerary and we began it Friday morning. As my family enjoys our food, meals were a large part of the plan and we began Friday with fresh blueberry scones (berries picked the day before!) and farm fresh eggs. While Rob went to work, the parents and I began our driving tour of the area. We went first to the base where we visited Rob's office, the 95th Fighter Squadron, old base housing, new base housing, and lunched outdoors on famous fish sandwiches at the Marina on base.

The afternoon had us stop by a few farmers' markets where we picked up peaches, plums, cantaloupe, mangoes, zucchini, tomatoes, jalapenos, tupelo honey, figs, and eggs. My old farmer friend was still at the large market and I met a new guy who has especially cheap prices - nice!

We picked up Rob and continued our driving tour through Panama City Beach down to Pier Park. We returned to the house in the late afternoon and commenced snacking on our fabulous produce. We made salsa, mixed up watermelon chiller drinks, and cut up our fruit, eating every other piece. Eventually, we cooked hamburgers, but the Florida spread was the true highlight of the meal!

Saturday morning started EARLY! We were up by 4:30 and out at the marina at 5:30 for a fishing trip. It was beautiful to see the sunrise over the bay. The weather was cool, the salt air refreshing, and the fishing exciting! We saw plenty of dolphins (they tried to steal our catches before we reeled them in!) and even a hammerhead shark! With the early hours of the fishing trip, we were back to the house around 10 and we decided to cook up some of our fresh catches. This spread was INCREDIBLE! Plums, the BEST mangoes we'd had since Africa, and fresh blueberries, along with other fruit. And grilled bluefish (pretty sure that's the name) fresh bakery bread, and creamy fresh eggs. YUMMY!

After showers and a nice nap, we headed to Seaside, Watercolor, and Rosemary Beach to look at the pretty little resort towns. We all decided that despite Seaside's peppiness and Watercolor's quaintness, we would prefer to stay in Rosemary Beach with its European feel and quieter ambiance. We supped at Cafe 30A and again enjoyed ourselves immensely! Our evening couldn't have been more perfect as we followed our dinner with a sunset walk on the beach.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Feeling Domestic

I picked blueberries this morning (I'm stocking up before the season ends!). I learned a great deal from the farmer about how to freeze blueberries, how to grow blueberries (I so want to!), and about random marijuana patches he found while clearing his land (wha!?).

I ate some delicious cantelope for lunch.

Rob gave me flowers! Pretty.
Yesterday, I cleaned the Jestice house with baking soda and a vinegar cleaning solution infused with lime zest from the tree outside.
I made fruit leather from this blog with my blueberries and peaches! So yummy!
And I'm about to bake cupcakes in celecration of my parents' visit! That's right! Mom and Dad are coming to Florida (driving as I write)! We're planning on having a great weekend including sightseeing and fishing as well as simply hanging out. Hope you have a great weekend too!

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Aftermath

We are going to the B-1!!

We are so blessed to have TWO (the former DO is new commander) squadron commanders fighting for Rob to get reassigned in a great airframe! We were given two choices over the long July 4th weekend: the C-17 and the B-1. The pros and cons really made it a tough decision (the C-17 has particularly good bases), but in the end we had to pick the BONE! (that's B-one). We're both very excited!

Some tidbits about the B-1: it goes fast! It's a supersonic jet (that means faster than the speed of sound). It drops a lot of bombs. Plus, it's missions are really cool!

The B-1 only has two bases: Abilene, TX and Rapid City, SD. Yes, I'm a little afraid of the cold that will meet me in South Dakota, but I'm also excited about skiing, hiking, and traveling to warmer climates in the winter. :-) No, really I am excited. To our squadron commander, if you're reading this, I really DO want to go there. Promise.

SO... in answer to your question "what's next for us?" Ha, I already knew you would ask that! Here it is. August 13th the Jestices return from Germany and we vacate their lovely house. They keep our dog and our few boxes while we travel to Frankfurt, Vienna, Prague, Budapest, Croatia, and Slovenia. We return August 31 and plan to move on base where we'll get our household goods. Finally. We plan to leave much of it in boxes and DITY (do it yourself) move to Abilene in mid-November as Rob is scheduled for the class that starts December 14. We plan on using a moving company that has us load and unload the truck while they drive it to our destination and deliver it when we've found a house (lots more convenient than having a truck parked outside asking "what houses do you have available today?")

Although his training is only scheduled for 6 months, it sounds like we'll probably be there about a year. Then, we hope to move to South Dakota for a tour (about 3 years). So, that's the plan right now. As you've learned by now, plans change, especially with the military, so I'm just enjoying my wonderful husband and this sunny day, recently cooled off by a shower of rain.


In the wake of the nuclear bomb of Rob's career path change, I have had some thoughts. In addition to the lessons learned about grief, loss, bonding through crisis, etc., I have learned about sovereignty. I realized I threw the word around a bit in explaining our situation, "We know God is sovereign and He has a plan." But what did that mean? I could only explain it roughly, inarticulately, with nothing more than a gut feeling.

Well, in my word study I learned that the word sovereign means "one possessing extreme power and authority; free from external control." This implies a number of things. It implies that my God is extremely powerful, with no one having power over Him, omnipotent. It implies He has control over that which He is the sovereign, Creator. It implies He has the ability to implement His plans on His creation via His power, omniscient. I believe all these things to be true because of what the Bible says about God. So, in essence... I have good reasons to trust my Sovereign God!

Matt Morton's sermon about sovereignty also shed some light on the subject, using "Jesus calms the storm" as his example. Jesus knew the disciples would face a storm. He wanted them to look to Him in the midst of the storm. He wanted them to trust Him. Possibly, God has something greater in mind than simply getting us out of the storm.

I am so glad that I KNOW my God is worthy of trust!

Bring me another fruity drink, Pierre

This is what we did this weekend.

One of the touristy stores here (Del Sol) is full of items that change color in the sun. My summer nail polish being packed in a box, I decided to try out this color change one! So fun!

This is in the shade...

And this is the sun...

Other weekend activities included, but were not limited to: reading our new guidebooks for Eastern Europe from Rick Steves!, finishing re-read of Harry Potter in preparation for movie, going out with friends from the squadron (always fun), sanding the trim in the Jestice house (they said we could!) in preparation to paint.

What did you do this weekend?

Fruits of Florida

Cooking has been so much fun with Florida agriculture! I relish in the farmers markets and fish markets knowing how recently my purchases were in their natural habitat. I've even found fresh eggs! And they are GOOOOD! They are almost creamy in their consistency and rich in flavor. I am not sure if I'll be able to go back to store-bought and might have to buy some chickens one day!

Here are pictures of our most recent "fruits of Florida" meal: fresh flounder, wrapped in foil with butter, garlic, salt, pepper, and scallions, and baked (this recipe was actually suggested by the guy at the fish market - don't be scared to ask them what something is, where it's from, or how to cook it - they love to talk about their produce!)...

Butternut squash, baked, then seasoned with butter and brown sugar...

Sauteed veggies...
Even our drinks were fresh-squeezed lemonade with a little cherry garnish...
And roasted plums with homemade vanilla bean ice cream. This dessert was so good they were completely gone before I remembered I wanted a picture! The plums (actually from Georgia, not Florida, but purchased here) were like candy!! mmmmm!! We're having the rest tonight, done the same way to finish off our dinner of seared bay scallops (WAAAYY better than sea scallops!), fresh salad, and crusty sourdough bread. I love Florida!

Life on Vacay

Check out one of the many active frogs that hang out on our windows at night!

Ahh, I just finished a great yoga class followed by a long walk to wear out the dogs. As they lay panting on the floor, I am enjoying a bottle of water and some fresh, plump, and very sweet blueberries.

Don't you just love it when Rob writes in the blog? I do! He he, Cold War II - This time those Ruskies are going down. he he.

I would like to elaborate on some of the things Rob wrote with my own "McKayish" take.

Check out my nifty blueberry cobbler I made for July 4! I'm a little proud. :-)

We've decided to embrace our forced stay in Panama City with wonderful results. It is a fabulous vacation spot after all and if one has to stay somewhere, this is the place to do it!! So, we're living in a luxurious house with a pool, within driving distance of more than one amazing beach, and soaking in the beautiful Florida sunshine, scenery, and scents (among the nice ones are sea, salt, sand, eucalyptus, flowers, and grass)

Our shopping trips to Destin are simply wonderful! As many of you know, my favorite pastime (one of) is looking at pretty things. Shopping definitely falls under that category. So, I gazed with awe at the wonder that is the Aldo shoe store, trying with much difficulty to determine which shoes I wanted to not only see on the shelf, but see on my foot. Eventually, I wrote a list and gave it to the clerk. She was very appreciative she didn't have to make multiple trips to the back. After much enjoyment with the delightful textures and colors that make up this shoe... (I tried it in leopard print and red straps (unavailable on the web))...

I ended up with this luscious piece of shoe candy...

As most of my new shoes are, these are my absolute favorite pair! They go with everything, look great, and are comfortable (for heels).

Additionally, the dress I got is a VERY awesome little black dress. It has halter straps that can be worn tied like a strapless dress, bandeau style behind the neck, or v-neck behind the neck - a very versatile piece for multiple occasions (yes, it's coming to Europe with me).

Rob enjoyed watching my shopping process: love everything in the store, gather best loves for try-on, enjoy try-on finding out how things look worn as opposed to displayed, pick favorite items, put everything back, look online at home for cheaper deals, reconsider my "need" for said items, decide these are the items on which I want to spend my shopping budget, return to store, re-try on items, reconsider "need", purchase items. It's a very long and involved process but, if followed, results in less than 1% regretted purchases. Guaranteed.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


Independence Day weekend at Camp Awesome was four days of patriotic conjecture. First of all Thursday is your new Friday and Monday is a creepy bonus day that you really don't expect. After work on Thursday I came home and we went to dinner at Joey's II. It is just like Joey's I (actually it is just "Joey's", they didn't have the foresight to expect their oyster bar would ever mutate into such a corperate monster) . Like I was writing, it is just like the first Joey's except with more than 6 stools at the bar. They now have a dining room with tables and a waitress and everything. The oysters are just as good and they are just perfecting their frying techniques so they now serve fried shrimp, oysters and mullet. The mullet was pretty good, it tastes like catfish. Mullet by the way is a fish from the ocean, not just that lovable hairstyle all you big city folks just wish you had the ca hones to shape your doo into. However, Joey's is down home enough that a mullet, fish or kick-butt hair, can be enjoyed by all (men, women and most definitely children alike). McKay and I watched "So you think you can dance", one of those contest shows on Fox. I watch it because it helps me understand her better. The dancers are really good but I am glad I don't dance for a living, talk about lame. Friday and Sunday we went to Destin to go shopping because nothing says freedom like buying stuff during an economic crisis. Obviously we are in a parallel universe of the United States, living in a "vacation area", but it is really hard to tell that there is a "Great Depression II" on when so many people are buying stuff. (Nobody called it "Great Depression I" because nobody ever thought that we would be so stupid to do it again; on that note, expect: Watergate II, Vietnam II, Bay of Pigs II, Crystal Pepsi Throwback, Jar Jar Binks on Ice, and Cold War II: This Time Those Ruskies are Going Down.) Friday we eat dinner at Cantina Laredo, as seen in Texas, and it was awesome. It is fine Mexican cuisine and being a franchise from Texas, they really did good. This restaurante is only recommended to those who can't get good Mexican food where you live. I miss Mexican food. We enjoyed all the basics: chips, salsa, guacamole made table side, enchiladas and a steak stuffed with a pepper stuffed with shrimp and tomatoes. The skirt steak was a little over cooked but it was still good. We passed up dessert which was: Mexican brownie, Mexican apple pie, Mexican key lime pie, and Mexican cheese cake. I am pretty sure they just put a little pomegranate sauce with chili powder in it on anything and call it Mexican. On Sunday we actually went to Destin because none of the things we saw in the stores on Friday were on the internet to buy at a cheaper price. I got some pants, McKay found shoes and a dress and we got her a hiking backpack for our trip to Europe in August. Sunday night we ate at Pier Park's Italian food place, Guigiamo's or something. If restaurants have a star scale this would be Olive Garden - 0.3 stars. The decore looked nicer and the food was okay. The outdoor dinning area would have been a very nice place to sit but a live band had placed their speakers, no kidding, 10 feet from the outdoor dinning area. Not only that but the band was a classic rock cover band with a girl singer, leaving only junk like Fleetwood Mac and Heart (uhg) in their bag of tricks and you can only take the sound of a dying cat for so long. We ate inside. Pier Park finally finished their pier, it is a beautiful concrete monster sticking 200 yards out into the water, similar to the ones in California. They do charge money to go on to the pier, WHAT? Yes, that's right $2 to just go out onto the pier and $6 if you are going to fish. The tourist trap never quits. But there were a lot of people out there, recession? Monday it rained all day. We sat inside and planned out our trip to Europe. 2 days in Germany, 3 in Prague, 2 in Vienna, and 6 days hopping Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia. Nice, not Nice, France... just nice. (Who wants to go to France any way, lame.) The highlight of the weekend was the 4th of July. We had another couple over to the house and spent the afternoon snacking and drinking by the pool. That evening we loaded up the car and went to the bay where we could see every fireworks show for 69 miles. Fireworks have become smarter, making shapes and stuff they used to only do on TV. Nothing says freedom like 8 cities blow 1/4 of their annual budget on explosives. God bless America. P.S. that wasn't sarcastic.