Monday, August 31, 2009

My Sister's Keeper

I do not in any way consider myself a movie critic, but this one disappointed me so deeply that I feel the need to voice my opinion. I do promise to not ruin the ending for those of you that do still want to see it.

I really don't read many books, but I saw this book in the walmart best sellers section earlier this summer to grabbed it to help break up the constant wedding planning. I did really enjoy the book. I wouldn't say it was one of my favorites, but I love books with a surprise twist ending, so this ended up being a pretty good book in my eyes.

The movie came to the base last week, so we girls planned a movie night. Everyone kept telling us we would bawl our eyes out by the end. Well, I did NOT cry! Actually, I yelped "WHAT!" at the part that most of the people in the theater were crying.

Here are a few of the things that really made me mad:

- Anna is 13 in the book, but 11 in the movie. Considering she is trying to sue her parents, the age difference is pretty significant in my eyes!

- Kate and her boyfriend, Taylor, did something together in the movie that they did NOT do in the book. I know it was all for extra drama, but I really don't think it was necessary. In fact, overall Kate is a much more central figure in the movie.

- Pretty much all of Jesse's story was left out. I figured that's just because the movie didn't have enough time.

- The guardian ad liem, Julia, is completely cut out of the movie, but again that's probably just because of time restraints. By cutting her, they also cut a pretty in depth side story of her romance with Campbell.

- Which brings me to one of the biggest disappointments; Campbell has a service dog, Judge, but no one knows why he needs a service dog, so Campbell makes up witty reasons each time he is asked. In the book, he must have come up with 10 different witty responses, but in the movie we only hear 2. Those were a nice comedic break in the book, and really they wouldn't not have taken up much time in the movie.

- How Brian came up with Anna's name when she was born is a cute little side story that I also think would not have taken much time to include, so I'm sad that they didn't.

- In the end, the REAL reason for the trial is the same in the movie and the book, and the outcome of the trial is the same as well, but a certain dramatic event at the end of the movie is too predictable, and not at all how the book ends. This was by far the biggest disappointment and is why I now wish I had never seen the movie!

Overall, if you are not a reader, watch the movie, it is actually good if you haven't read the book and don't plan to. But if you are a reader, skip the movie altogether and just read it!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Chive & Onion Mashed Potatoes

I love Ore Ida Steam & Mash Potatoes! They are so easy to make, literally just steam the bag, pour into a bowl, and mash them. When I prepare them I usually only add milk and butter, but Jake says they taste too boring. I found a recipe from the Food & Family Magazine for these Chive & Onion Mashed Potatoes.

I prepared the Steam & Mash Potatoes as usual and then mixed in half a tub of Chive & Onion Philidelphia Cream Cheese.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Parco Naturale Dolomiti Friulane

This morning, we headed up to the Dolomite Natural Park, about 45 minutes away. The Dolomites are the mountains in our area that are the very southern edge of the Alps. We planned to hike up a certain trail to see the supposed dinosaur foot print and take lots of beautiful pictures.

When we got there, it was lightly sprinkling, but no big deal. We got a few pictures before heading up the trail.

Jake took the picture too quickly, I was adjusting my sunglasses.
Here's the only picture I got of Jake.

It's Meagan & Bing!
By the time we got about 50 m up the side of the trail, it was pouring! I hadn't thought to check the forecast, but the others told me the chance of rain got greater as the day went on. With the steepness of the trail and how slippery it was, we decided it wasn't such a great day for a hike.

We did get a few really cool pictures on the way home. I think the fogginess makes the photos really neat!

Here you see the sun was really trying to shine through.

Strawberry Daiquiri Pie

I got a recipe from a friend from church, Kathy Matthews, for Lemonade Pie. This recipe calls for frozen lemonade concentrate, but the Commissary on base was completely out of frozen lemonade. They did have other flavors of frozen concentrate, so I figured this recipe would work for any of them. I chose the Strawberry Daiquiri flavor. (non-alcoholic)

Ingredients: (to make 1 pie)
Graham cracker pie shell
6 oz frozen strawberry daiquiri concentrate
1 can sweetened condensed milk
8 oz carton of cool whip (thawed)

The commissary didn't have 6 oz. juice concentrate or 8 oz cartons of cool whip, so I altered the recipe a bit and made 2 pies.

Ingredients: (to make 2 pies)
2 graham cracker pie shells
10 oz frozen strawberry daiquiri concentrate
1 can sweetened condensed milk
12 oz carton of cool whip (thawed)

Mix the three ingredients until smooth, pour into pie crust and refridgerate.

I'm kind of sad I'm selling these at the bake sale. They are so light and fruity, perfect for summer!

Checkerboard Sugar Cookies

I got the recipe from the Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade desserts cookbook.

Sugar Cookie Dough (the recipe calls for refridgerated dough, I just used the mix and prepared the dough as it says on the package)
2 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder
1/4 Cup Mini Chocolate Chips (I didn't have mini, so regular size works too)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Once you have the sugar cookie dough prepared, split it into three equal portions.
Mix one portion with the cocoa powder. Mix one portion with the chocolate chips. Leave the third portion plain.
Pinch one small ball of each portion together to form a triangle.
Bake for about 10 minutes.

The biggest pizza in Italy!

Last night, Meagan and Bing came over so Meagan and I could bake for the ACES bake sale. Here are SOME of the baked goods. Not even all of them! I'll be posting the recipes for some of my favorites later.We sent Jake and Bing to get pizza. We have never tried Bum Bum Pizza, but it's right up the road, so they decided to check it out. The regular pizza was fairly small, so they decided to get the Maxi. They didn't realize how huge they are until they were handed two huge boxes!

As a bonus, you get to see our horribly outdated flooring!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Spicy Chicken Dip

I love this dip! The original recipe is from the Food & Family Magazine. I used to get so many easy recipes from that magazine, and I haven't started to receive it in Italy yet. I'm starting to get worried that I won't get it at all!

2 10 oz cans of chicken, drained (you could probably use fresh chicken, but the canned stuff shreds so easily!)
3/4 cup hot sauce (I just grabbed the cheapest on the shelf, it was Texas Pete I think)
2 packs cream cheese
1 cup ranch dressing
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Heat chicken and hot sauce in a medium saucepan.

Add cream cheese and ranch. Mix in half the cheese.

Scoop into bowl and sprinkle remaining cheese on top.

Serve it hot or cold. I like it with triscuits, but of course it's good with tortilla chips also!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Chicken Pot Pie

I found another meal that Jake really liked! I got this recipe from the Food & Family Magazine

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
1/4 cup Zesty Italian dressing
4 oz. cream cheese
2 Tbsp. flour
1/2 cup chicken broth
10 oz. frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
1 refridgerated pie crist

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cook chicken in dressing in large skillet on medium heat 2 minutes. Add cream cheese (cubed) cook and stir until melted. Add flour, mix well. Add broth and vegetables, simmer 5 minutes.

The recipe says to pour the mixture directly in the pan and cover with pic crust, but I like to put on pic crust in the pan, then pour in the mixture, then cover with the other pie crust.

Flute the eges and cut 4 slits to allow steam to escape. Bake 30 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Spouse It Up

On Wednesday, we went to Spouse It Up, which is a lunch party for spouses. It was fun, but it was so hot that everyone had to leave early. I can't wait for the next Spouse It Up!

Here are Katie & adorable Kylie.
I was in the hoola hoop competition. I lost :(
Meagan, Katie & Kylie, Betsey, and Me

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Finally something Jake LOVES!

With every dinner I make, Jake will say it's "Not bad." I've always known Jake is a pretty picky eater, but I was starting to think that there would never be something that he just out right claimed to actually like! Well, he loves White Castle hamburgers and it is always the first meal he wants when he gets back to the US to visit. A church friend from back home, Beth Klenke, gave me a recipe for homemade White Castle burgers, so I tried it out tonight. Jake actually said it was great! GREAT! I'll admit, it did taste just like the White Castle burgers, just without all that nasty grease!

2 lb hamburger (brown & drain)
8 oz. cheese whiz or velveeta (I used velveeta)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 envelope onion soup mix
12 dollar rolls

Just mix all the ingredient in a skillet, and scoop onto dollar rolls.

Seriously, that easy!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Poppy Seed Chicken

I got this recipe from a church friend back in MO, Megan Matthews. It is not so healthy, but it is easy and fantastic! Megan recommends using the reduced sodium or low fat versions of the ingredients to help make it a bit more healthy.

5 cups chopped, cooked chicken
1 (10.5 oz) can of cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cup crushed Ritz crackers
1 tsp. poppyseed
1/2 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place the chicken (chopped) in a 9x13 baking dish.

In a separate bowl, stir together the soup and sour cream. Pour over chicken.

In a separate bowl, stir together the crushed crackers, poppy seeds, and melted butter. Sprinkle over the chicken and sauce.

Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until the top of the casserole is browned and the sauce is bubbly.

When I made this, I noticed one "tube" of crackers was a little more than 1 1/2 cups, but I did the whole tube anyway. Also, it seemed too buttery when I reheated, so the second time I made it, I used less than the 1/2 cup. (closer to 6 tablespoons) I also use way more than 1 teaspoon poppy seeds.

Jake seemed to like the poppy seed chicken, but he did NOT like the brussel sprouts I made as a side dish.

I forgot to take a picture before dinner, so you get to see our leftovers!

Parmesan Oregano Crusted Chicken

Another very easy, very yummy dinner!

Shred about a cup of fresh parmesan cheese. (preferably from the weekly market down the street) Chop about a tablespoon of oregano. (preferably fresh off the plant on the balcony) Then brush a thin layer of mayo on the chicken, and sprinkle on the cheese/herb mixture. Then flip the chicken and repeat.

Cook for 25 minutes at 350 degrees F, and flip the chicken about halfway through.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Happy Birthday to Meagan!

Last week, Meagan and I were shopping in the commissary and she was going to buy a cake mix to make her birthday cake. I think that no one should have to make his/her own birthday cake, so I told her no way, that I would make it for her! She wanted Angel Food cake with Vanilla icing. And I found cute little candles!

Here's the cake

And here's Meagan

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Silly Italian Internet

It has been a whole week since I blogged last! Part of that is because I haven't been taking any pictures. But the big problem in this silly Italian internet! No problems during the day, but in the evenings (when I usually want to blog) it is very tricky. It is very frustrating to have it cut out every 3 minutes, which requires restarting the connecting program, which takes about 3 minutes. So 3 on, 3 off, 3 on, 3 off, gets very annoying!

Enough of my vent, here is an update of some of the highlights from the past week!

On Friday night, Jake and I went to Azzano Dicimo to have dinner at Pizza Jazz with Jake's friend from work and his wife. They have an adorable baby girl and she gives me some baby fever! But I always said I want 3 years to be a "newlywed" before I become a "newlymom!"

Saturday was my daddy birthday!

On Sunday night, we went to dinner with my new friends Meagan & Katie and their husbands at Western House. I got a burger and fries! It was amazing how good it was! By the way, Katie also has an adorable baby girl. More baby fever! Then we went to the movie theater on base to see Land of the Lost. It was pretty silly, but I do love Will Ferrell.

On Tuesday morning, Meagan (my regular workout buddy) and I went to a yoga class. It kicked my butt! I've gone to yoga classes before, but they would last about 30 minutes and were never too hard on me. But the class we went to worked I think every muscle in my body, muscles I didn't even know existed. I still hurt, 2 days later!

Tuesday night, Meagan, Katie, Betsy, & I went to an ACES meeting. ACES is Aviano Community Enlisted Spouses club. The club emphasizes on volunteering around the community. All funds raised goes toward scholarships, donations, and local orphanages. It seems like a great way to get involved so Meagan and I are going to try to volunteer to help organize the Breast Cancer Awareness Walk that is scheduled for this fall.

Yesterday (Wednesday) Meagan, Katie, Betsy, & I attended the PWOC bible study. PWOC means Protestant Women of Chapel. Then that evening Jake and I went to a local store called Ovvios. It reminds me a lot of IKEA. I got a set of three kitchen towels that look exactly like the Burberry print. I'm going to try to make a Burberry apron. Watch for updates on that! We also got a new duvet cover. Ovvios is officially my new favorite store!

Today is Meagan's birthday, so we are going to the Sacile market this morning, and this evening all of us girls and our hubbies are going to Vecchio's for dinner. She loves to bake, so I got her the Semi-Homemade Desserts Cookbook. I hope she likes it!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

More Italian Cuisine

Bruschetta is another very popular Italian dish that I wanted to try out.

I didn't feel quite brave enough to chop my own tomatoes so I bought a can that already had some great Italian seasoning.
For the bread, I used two small french bread loaves (because they were 63 cents on the day old bread rack) but next time I think I may use a french bread bagette, it would be easier to use smaller slices. On the bread, I applied a thin layer of olive oil.
I drained the tomatoes, then heated them in a saucepan to try to evaporate some of the left over liquid.
Then I scooped the tomatoes on top of the oil covered bread, and topped with some mushrooms and fresh shredded parmesan. Then I cooked it in the oven for about 10 minutes.

They turned out great! Except for the fact that next time I will start with bit size bread so I don't have to cut it afterward. That was a bit of a mess!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Happy Birthday to Jake!!!

Today was Jake's birthday! I made him his favorite cake, carrot cake. The candles came in packs of 24, so we joked that he turned 24 again, instead of 25.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Bleu Cheese Burgers

We had a FANTASTIC dinner tonight! And yes, those caps were completely necessary. It really was that good! Jake made them by making two really thin hamburger patties and putting crumbled bleu cheese on top of one, then putting the other patty on top and smushing together the sides. He says we have had the grill going too many days in a row, so he cooked them up on the stove. We will definitly be having that for dinner very often!

Monday, August 3, 2009


Tonight we made kabobs on the grill. I chopped up some red pepper, and stuck those on kabob sticks with some stew meat, mushrooms and tomatos.

Grilling in the pouring rain. What a trooper!

They turned out great!

Sunday, August 2, 2009


This is the only wedding related post that I will put in my newlywed blog.

The pro wedding pics are up!

Mark Ryan Photography