Posts by Kowanda McBride:
We go through many changes in life. Our Army life brings its own changes. We move and move often. Our Soldier deploys. Our Soldier comes home. We have children. Our children grow up. Our children leave home. Our Soldier retires. We experience some ups and downs. We have joy, laughter and sadness, anger and frustration. My family is experiencing several of these Army life changes right now. My Soldier is returning soon from a year long deployment, we have all changed while my Soldier has been deployed and upon his return we will immediately move (IF the orders are ever cut). Our move will be overseas. Passports have to be made, plane reservations made and household goods have to be packed up. On top of all this, I’ve just been referred to a medical specialist for me and I’m waiting on Tricare to approve a specialist for my son.
I’m so overwhelmed and frustrated. I’ve lost interest in doing many of the things that I enjoy. I’ve been spending my time worrying about reintegration, moving, doctor visits and just getting everything done. I wish that I could just have time, lots of time, where I don’t have anything to do. Where deadlines aren’t looming.
Last year, I came across a saying. I love it. It is my second favorite saying of all time. This is it:
Do I have a friend that knows the song of my heart? Yes, I do. My husband and several of my Army Sisters knows the song. Do they sing it for me when I’ve become lost? Overwhelmed? When I’m feeling out of sorts? Yes. They do.
Do you have someone who knows the song in your heart? Will they sing it to you when you are lost? I hope so. If you don’t have someone then, I hope you find someone. Cultivate your marriage and your friendships so when you are overwhelmed, over burdened, frustrated or lost someone can sing the song in your heart to you.
Recently, Army Wife Network (AWN) had a Household 6 (HH6) competition. AWN wanted to know how other HH6’s managed their Mess Hall. The winner is Sarah of Manapproveddiet.com. I asked Sarah some questions and this is what she had to say:
- Tell us your name and a little about your family.
I’m Sarah Phillips, I’ve been married to my wonderful husband for almost five years. We are parents to four fur balls. We have a 20 pound cat, a kitten, a 90 pound golden lab, and a 70 pound black lab. They drive us crazy some days, but we love them all.
- How long have you been affiliated with the military?
I grew up with the Air Force, then I joined the Navy, then I married into the Army. If I was able to retired from when I got my first ID card, I’d be able to retire this year!
- What do you like most about being an Army wife?
I love the travel and the sense of family that develops, especially during deployments.
- What is your favorite Army resource or one you utilize a lot? Tell us about your AWN experience and how you found us.
There’s a group that was started by volunteers here in Fort Hood, the Fort Hood Army Wives on Facebook. The community in the group has been amazing! Anytime there’s a question, the members of the group try to help figure out the answer, not unlike the AWN. I found AWN through a comment a friend made on Facebook.
- Which adjectives best describe your home?
Balanced, Relaxed, Unique, Joyful
- Do you have a mentor or role model that has helped you in the Army Wife Life? How?
I don’t have a specific role model, but whenever I start feeling down about how difficult the Army Wife Life can be, I try to remind myself that many other women have been through the same things I’m going through. And many of them didn’t have the technology we have today.
- What is your passion?
My passion is my family and friends. I love bringing people together for cookouts and parties, pretty much any opportunity to feed them.
- What is your favorite food?
While we were stationed in Germany, I visited Italy and discovered margarita pizza. There’s just something about the fresh buffalo mozzarella, basil, and tomatoes that is amazing!
- Tell us how Man Approved Diet came to be.
I wanted to start losing weight, but I knew my husband didn’t want to get stuck eating “rabbit food”. I didn’t want to get stuck making two separate meals for us. So I took, on the challenge of trying to create meals that were tasty enough that he would eat it but that it would fit into a healthy diet. My husband’s only requirement when I’m experimenting is that I have a backup meal in case the experiment fails (and I’ve had a couple of those!)
- How often do you make the Stuffed Meatloaf recipe? What are some of the feedback you have received when you make this recipe?
I make it at least a couple times a month. It’s usually my go to meal when I don’t know what to make and I’ve made it for a few get together. Everyone that’s tried it, love it! I actually had a friend of mine ask me to make up a couple meatloaves to throw in her freezer for emergency meals.
- Tell us three interesting things about you.
a. I just finished up my Bachelor’s in Business Administration and I’ll be continuing on with my Master’s in Business.
b. I was in the Navy for seven years and did three deployments; two with the USS Nimitz and one with the USS Stennis, both aircraft carriers.
c. I love hiking! I’m working up to being able to do a two day backpacking hike in the fall.
- Do you have a favorite quote you live by or just love? What is it?
My favorite quote would be probably be Carpe Diem, Seize the Day
Whether I live on or off post making the house I live in stand out among the rest is important to me. I’m not a fan of cookie cutter houses. Or, neighborhoods that look almost identical. I want to be different and to stand out. So, what can you do to set your house apart? I came up with the top 5 things that I do. They are:
- Front porch decoration. I always have a wreath on my door. I like to make my own and I like to change them with the season. I go to craft stores, look around the neighborhood and Pinterest for inspiration.
- Have an accent wall. Painting is seriously a pain for me. But, it is such a great way to change the look of a room. So, I choose to do an accent wall. When it is time to move on I won’t be spending a lot of time returning walls to their original colors. Another way to accent a wall is to use light weight fabric. That’s right you can cover your wall in fabric. Simply soak the fabric in liquid starch and then smooth over the wall.
- Home is where the heart is or where the Army sends us. Many of us have these signs in our homes with all the places we have lived. I love these signs. They are great conversation starters. I wanted mine to be different. So, I chose a quote that I absolutely love, painted a board and applied vinyl lettering. My sign is “I have cast my lot with a Soldier and where he is, is home to me.”
- Dress your windows. Curtains and drapes easily change the look of a room. The hardware you choose is important, too. One of the ways to add character is to use a cornice. You can make your own. Here is how: http://pinterest.com/pin/221872719113875221/ .
- The last thing I like to do is display pictures. There are so many ways to display pictures other than the standard sofa sized picture above the couch or the school picture grouping. I took an old window, modge podge and pictures and made my own “picture frame”. I love it. Right now it is above the fire place. Another great thing about it is I don’t have to try and hang each picture up evenly.
Just because we live in cookie cutter houses doesn’t mean they have to look the same. Check out the Army Wife Network Pinterest board “Household 6” for some ideas. Or, look around your neighborhood for inspiration. Find ways to make your house your home.
Yippee! Party season is upon us from Halloween to New Years. Want to have the best party? I do. So, I got out my HH6 Party Planner and sat down with a fellow Household 6, my friend Tiffany from The Drinking Girls. We talked about food, drinks and decorations. She gave me a sneak peak at a couple of recipes from The Drinking Girls Guide to Casual Entertaining (the cookbook will be out in the spring of 2013) so keep reading so you can get these recipes, too.
I like having parties around the holidays. The house is already festive so there isn’t much to do when it comes to decorating. I asked Tiffany for a decorating tip. She suggests having a fantastic centerpiece on the table. Here is what you need:
- Tree skirt
- Battery operated strand of lights
- Wine glasses
- Floating tea light candles
- Small decorative rocks
- Large glass container
- Greenery such as pine boughs or holly sprigs
What do you do with all this? Well, you put a tablecloth on your table. Put the box (filled with books) in the center. Drape your tree skirt over the box. Take the strand of lights and ornaments and place in glass container. Set the container on the box and place the greenery around the container. To finish up put decorative rocks in the wine glasses with water and a candle. Place the glasses around the centerpiece on the table. Viola! You have a great centerpiece.
I loved the sneak peak Tiffany gave me of her cookbook. There were so many recipes that made my mouth water. Two of those recipes that I’m putting on my HH6 Party Planner are the Bacon Wrapped Bourbon Balls and the Flippin’ Phenomenal Frozen Margarita Cheese cakes. Of course, I’ll also offer cheeses, fruit and veggies. I like to keep the food simple so that I’m not cooking right up until guests arrive.
Before I make my shopping list I need to decide on drinks. Tiffany gave me her recipe for mulled wine. This beverage does double duty. Tiffany says to put the ingredients in a slow cooker on low in the morning letting it heat up all day. Come party time the house will smell festive! I also provide soda, water and some beer.
Now, I can make a shopping list. I will also use the calendar on the back of the HH6 Party Planner to create my “to do” list. Writing on a calendar all the things I need to do is an easy way to stay organized. I will know what I need to do and when I need to do it. There will be no running around crazy. I want to enjoy my party, too!
The Drinking Girls recipes:
Flippin’ Phenomenal Frozen Margarita Cheesecakes with Salted Pretzel Crusts
1 ¼ cup cream cheese, softened
1 heaping cup of Cool Whip™, thawed
¾ cup sugared lime zest, reserve ¼ cup for garnish (see recipe below)
4 tbsp Margarita Mix
4 tsp Tequila Gold (we like Jose Cuervo Especial™)
12 paper muffin cups, placed in a muffin pan
Using a hand mixer, combine ½ cup of the sugared lime zest with cream cheese until well mixed. Mix your “mini margarita” and pour it into the cream cheese mixture and use the hand mixer again. Then fold in the Cool Whip™ until well mixed. Scoop 2 heaping tbsp of cheesecake mixture on top of the salted crusts (see recipe below). Cover the muffin pan with foil and stick it in the freezer for at least three hours. These can keep in the freezer for about 2 to 3 weeks. When ready to serve, remove the paper cups and let thaw for about 5 minutes, then serve. Garnish with the reserved sugared lime zest.
Salted Pretzel Crusts
½ cup pretzel crumbs
¼ cup butter, melted
2 tsp sugar
Pulse salted pretzels in a mini chopper or food processor until you have a ½ cup of pretzel crumbs. Combine pretzel crumbs with melted butter and sugar until it well blended. Put 2 tbsp of the crumb mixture into each paper cup and press down flat with your fingers until it is all level. Now you’re ready to fill them, no baking needed.
Sugared Lime Zest
Zest of 6 limes
¾ cup white sugar
¼ tsp salt
In your mini chopper or food processor, combine all ingredients and pulse until all the zest is evenly distributed throughout the sugar and it begins to take on an almost fluffy appearance. This will keep in a plastic container for a couple of days.
Here’s a tip: Sugared lime zest also taste great over tropical fruit. It also tastes great on the rim of your glass for your sweet cocktails.
Bacon wrapped Bourbon Balls
2 8 oz. cans of whole water chestnuts, drained
1 16 oz. package of sliced bacon, cut in half (we like Oscar Meyer Center Cut)
2 cups ketchup
1 ½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
4 shots of honey bourbon (we like Wild Turkey American Honey
Preheat oven to 400. Take a water chestnut and wrap it tightly with a half slice of bacon and hold it in place with a toothpick and place in a baking dish. In a small bowl, combine ketchup, brown sugar, and bourbon. Pour over wrapped chestnuts. Gently stir until all are completely covered. Bake for 35-40 minutes.
1 Bottle of your favorite red wine
1 ½ cup brandy
½ gallon apple cider
1 Tbs clover
1 Tbs all spice
3 Cinnamon sticks
2 ½ inch slices of peeled ginger
Zest of one orange
Pour ½ cup brandy over whole cranberries and let sit overnight. Pour wine, brandy and apple cider in crock pot. Put rest of ingredients in cheese cloth and add to liquid. Cook on low all day. Before serving, remove spices and add brandy soaked cranberries.
Are you busy? Do you take care of the home, the kids, the spouse and the car? Do you volunteer? Work a full time job? Are you involved in organizations? Do you give, give and then give some more? Do you take the kids from one activity to the next? Are you always there for a friend in need?
When was the last time you took care of yourself? That’s right, when was the last time you did something for yourself? When we neglect caring for us we end up becoming empty. Ever neglect your car? If you don’t change the oil and put gas in the tank you end up with a heap of metal that does nothing. Caring for ourselves is the gasoline and oil that keeps us going.
We must care for ourselves. We have all heard the saying, “If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of someone else.” Well, it’s true. We are so busy doing for others we forget to take care of ourselves. When we don’t take care of ourselves life is not as fulfilling as it should be. Taking care of ourselves helps us enjoy all the other things we do.
Want a cure? I got one. It is the “No Matter What” list. Grab pen and paper and sit down. Take some time to think of things that you take care of you. Write them down. Choose a few that rejunvinates you. Keep it handy. Tape it to your bathroom mirror, on the refrigerator, at the coffee pot or even on your computer. Read it. Do it. Make your “No Matter What” list a part of your routine. Don’t let the day end without you having taken care of yourself, too.
Here is what my “No Matter What “ list looks like:
Kowanda’s No Matter What!
I will wash and moisturize my face every day. (This has helped my look younger than my years.)
I will exercise. (I love how I feel after a good work out.)
I will enjoy my morning cup of coffee. (I love the smell of coffee.)
What will you put on your “No Matter What” list? Below are some ideas:
- learn something new
- Go for a walk
- Play with the dog
- Take a nap
- Have lunch with girlfriends
- Enjoy a quiet moment
- Play a musical instrument
- Play a sport (Basketball, tennis, bowling)
- Explore the local area
- Go shopping for yourself
- Take a bubble bath
Whatever is on your list. Do it. Take time to care for you! Want to know what I’m going to do now? You got it. I’m going to do something on my “No Matter What” list.