A Time to Remember…Our Military

Hey Folks!  Sorry about the long absence of blogging lately.  I have been busy with vacation and spending time with the hubs now that he is finished with school!!! It is nice after two years of his school to have a normal night at home!  I finally decided to sit down and write this series of posts about America…I have been thinking about them for awhile now….

As a lead up to the 4th of July I am going to be posting a series entitled “A Time to Remember.”  In these posts I want to express some basic ideas I feel Americans have forgotten or choose to ignore.  When once our country was united together…I feel we now stand divided on everything.  As the 4th of July nears I think we need to be reminded of how amazing our country is and why we celebrate the holiday.  We need to bring back the spirit of our country rather than keep watching it fall farther and farther a part.

We need to remember our military…ESPECIALLY…as the 4th nears.

My ideas of the military have greatly changed since becoming a military spouse.  I have always had a fond idea of the military because of having most of the men on both sides of my family serve.  But, I didn’t know what it truly meant…what sacrifices the men and women and families make that belong to the military…until becoming a part of it.

Being a member of the military means being away from your loved ones on holidays, birthdays, special occasion, births and in most cases the harshest environments out there, but it means you are truly committed to making our country a safer place for everyone…not just your family.

As the 4th of July nears I think of the many wars we have fought to continue to uphold our values as a country.  I think of the many men and women who have lost their lives so we can continue to enjoy our freedoms and different ideals.  Then it brings me to think of the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  While we have withdrawn most of our troops from Iraq we still have quite a few people over there.  My eyes tend to focus on Afghanistan more now just because that’s where the Marines are being sent and because of finally finding Osama Bin Laden.  Because of the former Americans have cried out to bring our troops home and abandon the war in Afghanistan.  And on Wednesday of last week President Obama gave the American people partially what they wanted.  We will start drawing out a significant amount of our troops starting this summer and culminating right before the 2012 election.

Now as a Military Wife you must be thinking…man you must be relieved with this news.  I would tell you yes and no.  Before having married into the military I have to say I carried a much more liberal approach on the wars in the Middle East.  I really didn’t understand the point of being over there and I really didn’t understand if we were actually helping people.

Side Note:  The media does not give you a well rounded opinion of the war over there. I was just seeing one side of it.  Now for people that will say you are one of those crazy people who calls all media Liberal…..I am not calling it the Liberal media or the Conservative media.  I am just calling it the media and it…trust me on this…whether it is Fox News or CNN does not give you the whole range of information that is out there.  It will give you whatever information it deems to be able to sell ratings…period…no matter if it gives half or whole the truth….moving on.

My view of the military and the wars changed after meeting my husband and I began asking him these questions.  “Why are we over there?  What are we doing?  Are we just wasting money and lives?”  He answered “Because we are helping the people to overcome the tyranny and the oppression they have endured for probably centuries and also to try to stop the hotbed of terrorist activity that has lived in that country.” (*In so many words.)  Wow, puts it in perspective doesn’t it?

I asked then why has it been taking forever?  His answer was to tell me “How long did it take us to form democracy over here?  Not just four years did it?”  This leads in to telling me how American’s have a very short memory.  It took many long hard years from our country’s Declaration of Independence until the creation of the government we know today.  Our war was not an easy two years and wham bam we had democracy.  It took many years and many lives and much struggling to form this wonderful country.  We tend to forget that.  We tend to think it is easy to create what we have in this country in others.  And of course we are still perfecting it.  All of our citizens still do not have the same rights as others.  We are what I would call a constant work in progress.

So I would tell you yes, I am relived that they are trying to finish out this war because of the causalities, the families torn a part and the long years and mental stress our boys have been under.

But, I would tell you no because of military…the guys on the ground…don’t believe they have accomplished what they want to over there.

Now many people ask “What the heck are we trying to accomplish over there now that we got Osama?  Wasn’t that the only reason for going over there in the first place?”

Well in actuality many things.  The main reason we went over there in the first place wasn’t just to find Osama, it was to also destroy the breeding ground of terrorist activity and give the country back to the Afghani people.  Our mission is not accomplished just because we caught the head of the organization that rains down oppression over there.  We cannot leave a country in ruins just because we caught one man.  We have to rebuild and help the people over there.  We have to give the people jobs besides becoming terrorist or growing opium.  We need to help them find commerce.

The history of Afghanistan is fraught with atrocities.  The Afghani people have long memories of people coming in and making a mess and then leaving without fixing anything or helping them get back on their feet.  Their country has constantly been at war.  The hubs says their only constant has been the Taliban and the like….even if they are bad they have been their one constant.  This cycle is what our military is trying to break for this country.  They are trying this time to make it better rather than leave it in shambles.  The military has taken on roles that would often be filled by State Department people.  The military is helping with agriculture, city planning, etc. (Nation re-building type jobs.)  Why you ask?  Because we lack the number of State Department employees needed to do these tasks.  So our military is taking on roles they are not specifically trained to do.

So for the typical American to scream for all our boys to come home without really knowing why they fight and President Obama to make an announcement to withdraw a significant amount of men (against the advice of the General Petraeus  and the Joint Chief of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen)…I find this a travesty.  No, not because I want us to stay over there and keep getting guys hurt….it is more for the fact that such a fast and large withdrawal of troops could get more of our men hurt.  With such a sudden withdrawal we could see all our strides crumble.  The terrorists are just waiting for upheaval to take back over the country.  I fear for the people left to take over more jobs than they are capable of doing.

How much have our guys sacrificed over there to pull out too fast and see it crumble?  Why do we have to play politics with people’s lives?  I just wish we as American’s would get educated on the war and on the people that are fighting it.  Ask a military member or ask a veteran why they believe in this cause.  Don’t just rely on the political feeling at the moment.

American’s forget the sacrifices that this 1% are making daily on their behalf.  These members of the military volunteered to be a part of something bigger than themselves.  To keep everyone safe.  Give back to the military by sending them words of encouragement or care packages.  You don’t know what a difference it makes for moral over there.

Try looking at the website ” Joining Forces.”  This is First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden’s website to bring attention to the military and what you as American’s can do to help.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/joiningforces

I urge you as American’s to remember our military and the sacrifices they are making daily to continue to make our country what it is…safe and a country of mixed ideas and beliefs.  I especially ask you this 4th of July to remember the men and women who have died for us to continue to live a life of freedom.

God Bless,

Morgan

Advertisements
Posted in Musings | Leave a comment

Made in the U.S.A.

For the last several years I have been trying to buy things not made in China.  Now, I have nothing against the Chinese people, but I have several issues with the way their government runs as well as how their trade agreements are with the U.S.

I have found that this is almost an impossible task.  I walked around the shoe department at Macy’s and looked at all the shoe’s and found that every one of the shoes I lifted was made in China (save for one shoe).  I couldn’t believe it.  Hence I haven’t bought shoes in a year.  Sometimes I do have to fudge on the habit of not buying things made in China.  Sometimes you just can’t help it.

I will sum up my reasons why I take issue with things made in China.

#1:  While I am sure there are some bad people in America still running some sweat shops, China has no human right laws like we do.  There are just a few people over there that are making the money.  This year when President Obama and their President Hu Jintao held talks about trade agreements and human right issues….he pretty much said “We really don’t care what you have to say.  It is our country and we will do with it how we see fit.” (*paraphrased in my own words)  While I agree the U.S. can’t just go around and make everyone be like our country, I believe there is a certain way people need to be treated and paid.  So for these issues I try to avoid buying stuff made over there.

**(TOMS shoes does some of their manufacturing in China.  I think the TOMS shoe company has such a great message. At first I was annoyed….really guys you are making these shoes so that you can donate shoes to people who have no shoes and all the human rights violations China has….argh.  But, after reading their website it explained that the company goes to every single place that manufactures their shoes and makes sure that they have living wages and their human rights are not being violated.  OK…big sigh of relief.  I have no problem with your shoes anymore.)

#2:  The whole manipulation of their currency (yuan) that renders it being more expensive for us to ship products for them to buy and it cheaper for them to send us things to buy.  How is our government not seeing this as a problem?  If our products are super expensive..OF COURSE they won’t buy them.  I know they are just trying to boost their economy and their country is just looking out for itself…I just want our country to see the problem with this and do something about it.

#3:  China is known to take our products that we send over there to sell or for them to manufacture and completely rip them off.  They completely ignore our intellectual property rights (meaning patents, copyrights, etc.) on these items, take them a part (and learn how they work) and then sell them as their own for cheaper.  Even though there has been evidence of this we really do not have any control over there with this.

#4:  Lastly, there is no quality control and no regulations with the products we get from China.  Remember in the news several years ago about all the milk that was tainted with hormones.  Remember all the toys that were made in China that were recalled because they had been painted with lead based paint.  I also read an article recently (from Ashley) how some of the items that China ships us that have labels that say “organic” on them… are actually falsified because they are trying to jump on the organic bandwagon.

Now, I know that the U.S. in recent years has had huge problems with salmonella outbreaks on food, but at least if something happens we have some more accountability (even though I think the Chinese government killed some of those people who made the tainted milk).  Stemming from this quality control issue is my surprise when looking at the labels of some expensive or exclusive brands of fashion or products (such as Coach, Kate Spade, and Pottery Barn) are all made in China.  I could deal with this if when you go to Wal-Mart or Target or other stores that all their stuff wasn’t made in China too.  If China is notorious for their bad quality control then how can you expect these expensive products to be made any better than things made for discount stores.

Now, I don’t think we can blame everything on China.  We have a lot to do with China receiving so much of our business.  Because companies want to turn a profit and make tons of money they ship their products overseas.  Our government even gives them incentives to do this.

And that is the root of our problem.  American companies no longer make anything here.  Americans do not want to work for lower wages.  Over the past ten years we have seen hundreds of factories close down on our shores and no one in the government seems to find this a problem.  Ultimately, if the U.S. wants to get back on top of the game we need to start boosting our efforts to build in America again.  We need to have more production, ingenuity and drive again.  This will only happen if people start demanding from our government and our businesses that we want more Made in U.S.A. products again.

OK, off the soap box.  I didn’t mean that to turn into a rant.  I just really want people to stand up and notice that it is important for the U.S. to stay relevant for us to continue as a world power.

So, tonight I will leave you with two of my favorite Made in the U.S.A. products:

#1:  USA Pans

I LOVE these pans.  I have tried several different baking and roasting pans over the years, but these are great.  The USA pans are extremely durable and more heavy-duty than others I have tried.  They are a little difficult to find, but totally worth it.

#2:  Harvey Seatbelt Bags

I am OBSESSED with these purses, bags and accessories. My best friend Emily totally got me into these bags.  She was the first one I knew that had one and now I have one and so does my Mom and Sister.  They are durable, unique and oh so fun!!!

(*Side note:  While products that are made in America tend to be more expensive, my hubby and I have decided that it is definitely worth it.  We are helping to keep jobs in America and letting these merchants know it is important to keep the manufacturing here.*)

Now, if anyone knows of other products that are Made in the U.S.A. I would love to hear about it!  Just drop me a comment!

Hope everyone has a great night!!

Posted in Musings | 3 Comments

Handy Kitchen Tools

Well today’s blog post got hijacked by a bad batch of cookies….they weren’t horrible, but I decided that if they weren’t the most amazing cookies in the universe then what is the point of putting the recipe up for everyone to try.

Let me explain. I have been craving…I mean CRAVING some chocolate for the last two days.  I kept putting off making these cookies because I really don’t NEED the cookies.  My hubby always says to me, “But do you want the cookies?….You might not need them, but do you WANT them?”  So, I finally decided I WANTED them.

I have an insane sweet tooth.   So I have to be very careful with keeping anything sweet around the house.  My dearest hubby is not a huge sweet fan and he also is not a snacker….my two biggest downfalls…chips and sweets.  I don’t keep them in the house because well…I would eat everything.

But, the problem with this is I love to bake.  I love to try and make different desserts.  Hence the paradox.

So, to continue the story….I made some Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip cookies today.  They just weren’t as amazing as I wanted them to be.  Oh well at least the cookies gave me the great idea for this new post.

I have decided to make this concept another feature on my blog…what you ask?  Handy kitchen tools!

Now anyone that knows me knows that I am obsessed with kitchen tools, gadgets, electrics, etc.  If it is something that has to do with the kitchen I want it or I want to try it.  I have recently backed off this a bit and have been more obsessed with redecorating my house (because of the extension of my time out here), but I have a constant running list of things I want from different kitchen stores.  Yes, I am a super list maker….I believe I actually have lists of lists and usually have a couple running calendars.  Sigh…this of course is a blessing and a curse.

OK, back to tools.  I decided that some people might not be as obsessed with kitchen tools as I am and decided that with all the ones I have I could help pick the most helpful tools in the kitchen.  Or the must have kitchen tools for every chef.

My First Cool Tool:  Pampered Chef Measure-All Cup

This thing is so great!!

The red side helps measure solid or sticky ingredients for recipes.  You can use this side for cups, tablespoons, teaspoons, or milliliters.

I used this for the peanut butter (this is also great for Crisco…does anyone outside of the South even cook with Crisco anymore?).  Anyone who has ever cooked knows that if you put peanut butter in a regular measuring cup it is extremely difficult to get out….without a spatula and/or a spoon….and then you don’t even get all of it out.

With this tool you scoop the sticky ingredients into the top of the red side.  You slide it down to how much you need for your recipe and then gently push up on it.

It pops out cleanly and neatly.

Then you can turn it over to the blue side.  The blue side measures cups, fluid ounces, tablespoons, teaspoons, and milliliters.

There is a handy dandy little pour spout on the liquid side so the liquid doesn’t go everywhere.

This is very helpful for people who only want one kitchen gadget in the kitchen….or only want to clean one kitchen gadget while cooking.

Hopefully this was helpful! Check back for more tidbits and tips on tools.

Signing off to go work off the cookies!!

Posted in Handy Kitchen Tools | Leave a comment

The Kitchen Sink Pizza

I was scrounging around my fridge tonight trying to decide what to eat and noticing I have quite a few leftovers still from the previous nights…and no hubby to eat them for lunch.  After having eaten them in their original form the last couple of nights I decided to mix it up.  What is something that is easy to make and what can I throw leftovers on?  Pizza of course!!!

Now over the last year I have tried a lot of different pizza doughs and after many disasters (Pizza dough disaster of November 2010 my hubby would call it) I finally found one that is super easy to make and is oh so very yummy.

This is a basic pizza dough I found years and years ago from the Food Network and decided that it is the one I will be using from now on.  Ok now on to the recipe.

Recipe:  Kitchen Sink Pizza

  • One recipe Pizza dough (split into two)
  • Toppings from leftovers in the fridge
  • 1 or 2 cups (depending on how cheesy you like it) cheese (Mozzarella or Monterey Jack)
  • Red pepper flakes

Recipe:  Pizza Dough (Food Network)

  • 1 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
  • 1 (1/4 oz) envelope active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Yellow cornmeal for sprinkling

In a big bowl mix together the water (make sure it is between 105 to 115 degrees…no more and no less) yeast, honey, and a tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil. Let it sit there for five minutes until foamy.

Next, add in the salt and 1 and 1/2 cups of flour. Mix it all with your hand.

After it is mixed add in a ¼ cup of flour and work it with your hand.

Keep adding a ¼ cup of flour until the dough is smooth and a little sticky.  You don’t have to use all the flour. I usually use about 2 and a half cups.

The recipe calls for you to now dump the dough on a floured surface, but I believe the less things I have to wash while cooking the better.  I like to wash while I cook so that I don’t get overwhelmed at the end…and this helps with that.

So just leave the dough in the large bowl and sprinkle some flour on the dough.  Set the kitchen timer for 4 minutes and go to town kneading in the bowl. When kneading just press your palm into the dough and keep turning it to reach all sides.

When the dough is still slightly sticky but smooth you are finished!

Now place the dough on the counter while you wash out the used bowl.  Place the second tablespoon of olive oil in the bowl and make sure all the sides are covered.  Then place the dough in the bowl and turn it over making sure the oil has completely covered the dough.

Place some plastic wrap tightly over the bowl and let rise for an hour and a half (or longer if you forget about it…that won’t make a difference) till it is doubled in size.  Make sure it is in a place that doesn’t get drafts and isn’t cold or it won’t rise right.

After the dough has doubled in size….

Cut it in half with a pastry scrapper (or knife…I just like to use this because I am obsessed with kitchen gadgets and have a million of them and if I don’t use them my hubby says “Don’t we have a tool for that?”)

NOTE: This recipe is suppose to be for only one pizza crust, BUT I like thin crust so I cut it into two and make one for the hubs and one for me.

Next, preheat the oven to 500 degrees.  Sprinkle a touch of corn meal on a pizza stone. Place the pizza stone in the oven to get nice and warm while you roll out the dough.

Place one of the halves on a floured surface and press out flat. You can either use your hands or a rolling pin.

After the first piece is rolled out take the stone out of the oven and gently (because it will be hot) put the dough on the stone.

Now it is time to decorate the pizza.

I take a little bit of olive oil and smooth it over the pizza dough before I put the sauce on it.  You can make your own sauce or use bottle sauce.  I usually use the Classico brand of pasta sauces for my pizza’s.  Classico doesn’t have all the extra additives in it that other pasta sauce has.  If you look at the label you can actually recognize all the ingredients.  Sorry, label reading is for another blog post.

After that, grate the cheese from a block…block cheese is another one of my shopping habits.  Grate as much or as little as you want.

I then sprinkle some red pepper flakes all over the pizza.

My topping tonight is some shredded spicy beef that was a left over from several nights ago.  But you can dump whatever you want from the leftovers in fridge on the pizza.

Now pop the pizza in the oven for10 minutes or so.  Eyeball it to see what crispness you like.
Let stand for 5 minutes or so and dig in!!

Serve with the Rainbow Salad.

Recipe: Rainbow Salad

  • Washed lettuce (romaine, spring and spinach)
  • Cut up avocado
  • Slivered Almonds
  • Cut up carrots
  • Sliced grape tomatoes
  • Handful of blueberries
  • Top with balsamic vinaigrette

Mix ingredients all together and serve.

Tips and Tricks: 

Now you might be wondering what to do with the other piece of dough if you are only making one tonight.  Here’s a tip…

Press the dough on the lightly floured surface.  Then tightly wrap the dough in saran wrap.

Next, place the dough wrapped in saran wrap in a large freezer bag.

Place the freezer bag in the freezer and make sure it is laying flat.

Use the dough within three months.  When you use it take it out of the freezer and defrost it overnight in the fridge.  When you are ready to bake…take it out of the fridge and let it rise….maybe for an hour.  Then follow as usually with making the pizza.

Hope you enjoy!!

Posted in Cooking | 1 Comment

Welcome Aboard!

Welcome aboard to Semper Flexibilis!  Many of you not attached to the Marine Corps are probably wondering what the heck that means.  It means always flexible, which is a play on the Marine Corps motto Semper Fidelis (meaning always faithful).  This is the motto on my hubby’s battalion coin and also refers to the Marine Corps wives’ unofficial motto Semper Gumby.  Marine Corps wives have the inside joke of always having to be super flexible because we don’t know when or where the Marine Corps will send us next.  You have to be prepared for anything.

Now just a couple of years ago this would have freaked me out.  I liked to be in control of my destiny and know everything that was going to happen.  Thankfully God had mostly gotten me out of that control freak attitude before I met my loving husband…and God has been working to rid me of it ever sense.  Now I don’t take life’s uncertainly laying down…I usually work off of about five contingency plans on a daily basis.  This way I can’t be so caught off guard I have a melt down.  Of course this theory is constantly being tested.  After two years I really didn’t think I could be more caught off guard by the Marine Corps than I was a couple months ago.  Because of the government’s insane budget crisis my hubby got extended at our current location…therefore turning all of our future plans into a tailspin.  While it has taken me some serious soul searching and prayers to get over my disappointment…I do realize that God has a plan for us in staying out here even if I don’t completely understand it yet.  I am waiting for the sign of that and I know I will be waiting for awhile.  But, that’s ok.  This is just another way for me to learn patience and understand I actually have no control of my life.  I have learned that being a Marine wife is not for the faint of heart.

Over the last two years I have had first hand knowledge of the shared sacrifices that members of the military and their families (who only make up 1% of the United States population) are making during our time of war.  I want people to have a better understanding of how we are dealing with our situations, why it is important to continue to support our troops and why they believe in the job they are doing over there.  With everything that is said by the media I believe people have a skewed understanding of just what it means for our guys to be over there.

With saying that hopefully I can answer questions about our lives and also give a different perspective of the wonderful experiences I have had being associated with this lifestyle.

I decided to start this blog to have a creative outlet to try to get my writing juices flowing again.  After several years out of film school it has been hard to continue my motivation for writing.  My dear friend and writing partner Josh has tried to keep me focused on finishing my screenplay, but it has been hard with my lack of writing motivation.  I am hoping that this will help bring back my motivation for writing, be a creative outlet for my cooking and crafting projects, give me a place to express myself about today’s media (so I don’t bore my poor husband to tears at dinner about it), and hopefully keep family and friends up to date on our lives out in the desert.

Well signing off now to begin the ritual of starting dinner!!

Posted in Musings | 2 Comments