Thursday, January 8, 2009

Welcome 2009!

Okay so I'm a week late (or so) in welcoming in the New Year. My grandmother asked me what I thought of 2009 so far and I said that it's too early to tell. As of now I'm dreading part of it because the hubby will be on deployment and that's something we've never gone through yet, though afterwards I can join the most elite unofficial club of military wives--Deployment Survivors! Somehow I feel like my theme song for the deployment will be "I Will Survive."

Last year ended in a blur (but in a good way). We were able to go to Oklahoma and spend time with family and we rang in the New Year with my parents, grandparents, Sean and I toasting together. Unfortunately we couldn't celebrate our anniversary and it passed with it appeared only me noticing. We had always planned to celebrate it later this month when Sean gets back. We have tentative plans but nothing for certain yet...I'm working on a few ideas. And that is how 2008 ended and 2009 began. The rest of 2008 is...shall we say, history!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas to all...and to all a good night!

Christmas Day. Sean and I spent the day at home and really had our celebration yesterday during Christmas Eve. We had a nice large dinner and watched "White Christmas" and the King's Singers with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They had lots of lovely Christmas songs and carols along with a reading of the Christmas story. We opened a few presents early then at midnight toasted in Christmas with Sparkling Apple Cider and opened the rest of the presents. Cashel got a red hoodie. I'll have to upload a pic of him in it which is just so hilarious (he's not a big fan). It was interesting just doing a Christmas exchange with the two of us. He got my gifts on Christmas Eve (slacker) and wrapped them only a few hours before we opened them. I got him the complete Monty Python set, The Sound of Music, the newest Batman movie, Indiana Jones 4, two books, a box of cherry cordials, and a travel shaver set. He got me the new Sarah Brightman cd, two books, and a Buddah Board (a board you can draw on with water but he messed up my old one and I had to throw it away). As for Christmas we slept in and had a glazed ham, mashed potatoes, corn, stuffing, and homemade white bread. Yum!

We'll be heading to Oklahoma in a few days to spend Christmas with our families. We couldn't head home for Christmas so they just postponed it for us. We're spending 2 1/2 days with his family and 2 1/2 days with my parents and grandparents. Since we're flying we really hope the weather will cooperate and they delays won't be too long.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


I was tagged by Devon to list 15 things I'm not afraid to admit. They appear below in the order I thought of them:

1. I make up silly songs for random things. It can be things I hear on tv, or just things in general that I make up a little tune and words to go with it.

2. I hate the taste of alcohol. Call me a freak, but I just don't like it. I've tried whites, merlots, cab sauvs, dessert wines, mojitos, mimosas, various other mixed drinks and after everyone all I can think of is "I would MUCH rather just have a soda please!" Some I've even compared to horrible cough syrups I remember taking as a kid.

3. I enjoy crocheting. There's something really soothing about the repetition of movement of your hands. My grandmother taught me how to crochet and I'm the only one of her children or grandchildren that know how!

4. When I was younger my father insisted I knew important dates and passages from American history. He would quiz me about dates, "D-Day" and I'd respond "June 6, 1944." I also memorized (and still remember) the Gettysburg Address, the Preamble to the Constitution, the Amendments to the Constitution, etc.

5. I had my first kiss at age 16. Something must have stuck because my boyfriend at that time is now my husband!

6. Apparently when I was first learning to say my name I couldn't say "Julie" and instead I'd say "Jujee" which my mom uses as a nickname for me which was picked up by my best friend, Sarah who calls me that and from whom my husband Sean heard it and calls me that also.

7. I have never changed a diaper in my life. That's right...EVER!

8. I grew up on oldies music. No, I wasn't born in the 1950s or 1960s, but it's literally all I listened to growing up because it was the only thing on at my house. In the car my parents always listened to it, on road trips, even working on stuff in the garage or wherever it's all I'd hear. I can literally sing the chorus to every oldies song I hear (completely freaks Sean out how I know the words to them all).

9. I was on the fencing team in high school and I LOVED it! My favorite was the epee, sabre was okay...but painful.

10. I have only dated one guy in my entire life and he became my husband. Sean, in turn, only dated one girl in his entire life--me!

11. If chickens didn't exist I would probably be a vegetarian. (They're just SO delicious!)

12. I have a rare gift for puns (I just can't help myself). One of my friends even threatens to enter me in a pun competition they have once a year in Texas.

13. I'm a total history nerd. (Definitely not afraid to admit that!)

14. I'm an only child and my parents still tell stories about when I was quite young coming to them and thanking them for not having more kids.

15. My roommates and I did such crazy things when we were bored in college. We created fake theme parks, make each other into fake super heroines, painted each others faces, and even made up characters and back stories. (Ask me about Svetlana and Cosinila sometime....actually, no, don't)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day

Veteran's Day is always a special day for us to remember how far we've come thanks to the many men and women who sacrificed so we can live our lives to the fullest. So I thought on this day of remembrance, I would highlight a bit of the history and little-known facts of Veteran's Day.

In the U.S. Veteran's Day was formerly known as Armistice Day (after the cease-fire agreement of World War I was signed which ended hostilities on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month) and was changed in 1954 to its current name. In Britain and Canada today is known as "Remembrance Day" and people walk around wearing poppies. I wanted to highlight why and how the poppy became a symbol to recognize and honor our veterans and those who were killed in action. In the U.S. we more often see poppies used on Memorial Day, but they are still an official symbol and way of honoring our veterans.

According to the United States Department of Veteran Affairs:
“The poppy was adopted as the official memorial flower of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW) at its national convention in Seattle, Washington, in August 1922, following the first nationwide distribution of poppies ever conducted by any veterans organization.The VFW celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Buddy Poppy as its official flower in 1997. While profits from its sales have helped countless veterans and their widows, widowers and orphans over the years, the poppy itself survives as a perpetual tribute to those who have given their lives for the nation’s freedom.”

The tradition of red poppies to honor veterans who have sacrificed their lives serving our country originated with a poem written by a surgeon with Canada’s First Brigade Artillery Colonel John McCrae during World War I titled "In Flanders Fields".
During World War I, many soldiers died on the Flanders battlefields in western Belgium and northern France. As McCrae looked over the rows of soldiers graves, his grief compelled him to write the poem In Flanders Field.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly.
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.


Entering Newport...

Since Sean was underway for his birthday we decided we would celebrate it on another day and have an adventure.  For my birthday we went to Boston and did the Freedom Trail.  For Sean's birthday we went to Newport and saw five of the amazing, astounding, colossal palaces built during the Gilded Age (and they certainly called it gilded for a reason!).  Our first stop was the Breakers, built by Cornelius Vanderbilt II.  Here you see the gates letting in the worthy and keeping out the unwanted....
Here is the Breakers (named after the tops of
the waves that break right beside the mansion).
It is built near the cliffs so the view from this side of the mansion is just water.  Unfortunately, you can't take images of the inside, but from the outside you might get an idea that when I use the term "palatial" it applies to the in side in the grandest means.  Next, on our tour was Marble House, built by the brother of Cornelius Vanderbilt.  (Names like Morgan, Astor, and Vanterbilt are thrown around loosely in Newport as they all had their summer "cottages" here.  Yes, the breakers and all these amazing mansions were used for only two (that's right, two) months of the year!

This is Marble House.  If you can't tell from the outside, whatever Mrs. Vanderbilt wanted, Mrs. Vanderbilt received.  Imagine a ballroom filled every inch with 22 karat gold (on the walls, on the candelabras, on the seating, on the chandaliers) and you have an idea what it would be like.  Mrs. Vanderbilt idolized Louis XIV and her house is a tribute to him.  The "sun king" even appears as a large bust on the staircase.  Imagine spending millions (and millions) of dollars in the 1890s to build a house you used for only three years...

Here is the Chinese Pagoda.  It is on the front lawn of Marble House.  Mrs. Vanderbilt (Alva) wanted to be able to transport visitors to another time and place.  She even had a costumed ball with a Chinese theme where guests came in Chinese garb.  Alva was certainly not to be outdone by her guests, she wore the Hope Diamond on her headdress!  Apparently this was also a popular location for having tea. 
Now we travel a few houses over, past the Astors to visit, Rosecliff.

Rosecliff was originally the home of George Bancroft (of Naval Academy fame).  He grew roses on the property and is partly responsible for the American Rose, which is the national rose variety.  These roses lent their name to the property long after it was torn down to make way for the classical style mansion built on the property.

The mansion on the right is Chateau-sur-Mer.  It was one of the earlier mansions built in Newport.  You can tell the style is not the classical or Italianate of later mansions.  The first house built on the property dates from the 1850s, the son of the shipping magnate inherited the house in the 1870s and completely renovated the entire structure changing it to the Second Empire style you see today.  Unlike other families, they lived in this house year round and were locals of Newport. 

 Here is perhaps my favorite mansion we visited, The Elms. I thought the layout was classical and beautiful but not nearly as overdone as Marble House. Additionally, there is a beautiful sunken garden behind the property, so although unlike most of the mansions this one did not have a view of the ocean, it did have a very classical English feel.

And the culmination of the day, coming home and having Sean blow out the candles on his cake.  Happy Birthday Sean!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Yummy, Tapas!  Sean and I very much enjoy going here:

(Dev's on Bank Street in New London)

I have been waiting for our first "date night" since Sean got back from his underway and we had it tonight.  They have amazing things that I think I would like to try making sometime (though impossible to compare).  The proprietors are amazing and treat you like family.  My favorite item on their menu, "painted grapes"  (grapes covered in gorgonzola cheese then rolled in pecan bits and lightly drizzled with honey).  For the educational portion of my blog, "the original tapas were the slices of bread which wine drinkers in Andalusian taverns used to cover their glasses between sips.  This was a practical measure meant to prevent fruit flies from hovering over the sweet sherry.  But soon, enterprising bartenders were putting small snacks on the bread, and the lowly tapa (from tapa derived the verb tapar, "to cover") became as important as the wine."  

Anyway, in my spare time lately I've been writing two grants for a non-profit organization's summer camp.  It's part of an outgrowth of the grant writing class I've been taking in order to make myself more marketable and hopefully find a job.  It's definitely been a LOT more than I bargained for and I can safely say I'll never write grants for free again.  I think when you do some things for free people take you for granted more than they would if they were paying you even a nominal fee.  Little things you learn along the way...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I'll be the first to admit it, I'm not the best blogger.  I actually keep my own journal and it seems like I just often prefer to write things in there.  I'm not even going to try to made an update and fill-in-the-blanks since the last post, so I'll just dwell on life right now.  Sean got back from his first underway on Sunday.  I can't say life is back to normal because even though he was only gone about three weeks I got used to relying on myself and constantly doing my own projects.  Monday we picked up this rack from Wal-Mart to put in the garage for totes.  Instead of what I would have done previously (asking him when he'd like to help me) I dove right in.  I had everything out of the box and screwing the poles together to make the rack before he even noticed.  Instead of asking him to change the air filters, I got out a stool and opened up the grate and did it myself while he was a few feet away watching.  I don't think life will ever really go back to normal.  I was so used to him helping me on projects.  Now I'm very used to doing it myself without waiting on anyone.  It's empowering....and tiring.