Monday, June 29, 2009

Six months already??

Last Thursday marked the 24 week of pregnancy. Crazy how fast time is flying!!

I had my six-month doctor appointment today and all looks well. He did say that her heart rate was a little fast (160), but after lying on the table for a little while, it came down (150). You could hear her zip by the doppler thingy, so he said that she was probably in there doing somersaults or something, which caused her heartbeat to go up. So, no worries. One weird thing. They didn't weigh me, they just asked me how much I weighed. I gave them the number I weighed this morning, which, according to their charts, is four pounds LESS than what I weighed last time. So, now I'm concerned that when I go back for my 28 week appointment, it's going to show a huge gain. Blech. That's probably the hardest part about being pregnant. :( I'll get it all off, though, I know it!

Here's a picture from 23 weeks.

I'll take another picture in a month when I'm seven months along.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary...

...how does your garden grow? We aren't eating home grown tomatoes or peppers yet, but things are moving right along! Remember what it looked like a few months ago?

Here's a refresher:


Here it is today!

It doesn't look very different, but I am optimistic that those little seedlings are down in that lava-rich soil doing their thing. (...at least I hope they are.)

The squash seems to be the All-Star and over-achiever right now. It's the leafy looking stuff on the edge.

The peppers and onions are the slackers of the group.

Hey, even if we don't get any vegetables, I do have the cutest little garden markers.



We have a little bitty basil plant. Yum - basil!

And the sage has always done well. Nikko loves the smell of sage. Can't keep him out of it!


In fact, he loves being in the garden period. I wonder if that's the reason some of the stuff isn't growing? Hmm... maybe he needs some catnip.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

All things tomato....

This past Saturday, while Token was busy hitting deer on an interstate in Utah (he's fine; the rental car is totaled; I didn't ask about Bambi because I don't want to know), I attended a MWR class on how to cook with tomatoes.

Unfortunately, however, I didn't walk away from the class with much more than a full belly. I had all of these envisions of taking great pictures of every step and posting a tutorial of sorts on here, but the guy basically threw a bit of this and a pinch of that and sometimes didn't even tell us what he was doing, so, I apologize that this post will not contain well-kept secrets of a Sicilian kitchen.

It will, however, contain pictures!

This is one of our 'teachers.' In this picture, he's transferring the oh-so-red, ripe, and yummy tomatoes from one tub of water to another. This is his cleaning process.




Mmm....


After that, he enlisted the help of some would-be chefs to get rid of the core of each tomato, squeeze the seeds out in a bucket and then transfer the now seedless but no less dignified tomato into a strainer. This was to make the tomato sauce.

After the squeezers squeezed the life out of no less than 500 tomatoes, he loaded the red fruit up in his heavy-duty blender and pureed the little suckers to a pulp. From there, he transferred the puree to his wood-burning oven to cook. He said that after 10 minutes, make sure it's boiling and then cook 10 more minutes. Simple! I think he might have added salt in there, too. Someone in the group asked if he added sugar too, and she got the look of death. Blasphemous is the Italian who uses sugar in his tomato sauce!



While the tomato sauce was boiling, we went to another part of the farm to help make sun-dried tomatoes. Oh sun-dried tomatoes, how I love thee. To make them, we used tomatoes that were bigger than cherry but smaller than plum and cut them in half, but not cutting all the way through. We then lay the not cut all the way through tomato on a wire sheet-like kind of thing.

Exhibit A:

(oh, and see those ones with the greenish looking seeds? They should have been tossed, as they do not make for good sun-dried tomatoes.)

After all the tomatoes were not cut all the way through, they were heavily, and I mean HEAVILY, doused with sea salt and left to sit in the sun for 24 hours. After 24 hours, you have to come back outside and roll the outsides of the tomatoes out, because the sun causes them to shrivel and want to hide. After 24 MORE hours, they are done. A piece of basil is then put on one side of the tomato and they close 'em up. They are then stored in glass jars filled with olive oil that has only ever touched terracotta, and only the very first olive oil that comes from the press. (I think... it was something like that, but I don't remember the specifics)


So, after we essentially did this lady's work for the day (ha! kidding!), we returned to the outdoor kitchen to eat. The chef had made a traditional Sicilian ragu sauce, but it had meat so I passed. The sauce had to cook for two hours, so he had already started on it when we got there, so I don't have pictures of that process. So sorry!

We also ate some bruschetta, which is probably my most favorite Italian food of all time. The bread was toasted and delish, the tomatoes were diced up and mixed with garlic, onion, basil, olive oil and salt and pepper, and it was just yum. I tried to take a picture, but ate my piece so fast that there wasn't anything left to photograph. We also ate pasta with the tomato sauce from the smooshed tomatoes. Oh, and he served some kind of sausage, no idea what it was because sausage and I are not friends, but everyone else seemed to enjoy it!

The farm we went to is an agriculture farm, and they grow pretty much all of their own food. He gets his meat from his father who owns cows and chickens (for eggs) and it's just all very organic. This farm in particular is in the olive oil making industry and sell their flavored olive oils on base. We have a few at home and they are really good - especially the garlic and rosemary flavors.

And finally, here are three pictures that have nothing to do with tomatoes, but are from the farm and I just like them, so deal with it!


I don't know which I like better, so you get them both.


This Thursday there's a 'how to make homemade pasta' class that I'm tempted to go to. We'll see. I'd have to write about it for the paper, which makes it somewhat trickier because you have to take pictures and listen to the instructions at the same time. Now, while I can walk and chew gum at the same time, this is a bit different and would be for publication, so there's just a bit more pressure. I don't know... I'm intimidated by it! If it were just for fun and for the blog, I'd be all for it, but for the paper, I'd need the step-by-step process, and, as you can see above, it's tough, especially when the chef doesn't tell you anything he's doing! I'd have some angry Sigonellans knocking on my door for not giving them the correct flour to egg ratio or something. And my fragile ego just can't deal with that.

Monday, June 15, 2009

NAS Sigonella 50th Anniversary

Whew. What a weekend. More so for Token than for me, but let me just say, being pregnant and on your feet from 8 a.m. until 1:15 a.m. is no fun. I was so sore yesterday.

This weekend was Naval Air Station Sigonella's 50th anniversary, and both Token's job as well as mine required us to be on hand for the festivities. Token planned and organized his first large scale event, the MWR County Fair, and it went without a hitch with over 6000 people in attendance both days. Go Tokie! It was tons of fun and I think people really enjoyed themselves. Poor Token is on a plane to Salt Lake City right now, and is hopefully catching up on his Zzzz's. He's one tired puppy!

Here are just a couple pictures from Saturday's activities. (everything kicked off on Friday, but I don't have any pictures from that. There was an official ceremony, the County Fair kicked off in the afternoon, and the band Hinder closed down the event that evening. FYI - Token said they were true rock stars. I asked how he meant and he said "they were trashed." Nice!)

Saturday morning was the seven-mile base to base run. I risked my life getting this picture, but I think it was worth it!


From there, the County Fair stuff kicked off again with games, food, and rides. There was also a Sigonella vs. Italian Air Force soccer game with traditional Sicilian flag throwers at halftime and a bunch more. Oh! I also took a break from the heat and watched the movie Up. Has anyone seen it? It made me cry on a number of occasions and I left the theater kinda depressed. Not what you'd expect from a Pixar movie!

Anyway, back on track. The Navy Band performed that night and they were awesome!!! I was really surprised!


And here's a really cool picture of one of the rides that I went on.


Got ya!! I don't think Baby Girl would appreciate the centrivical force. (BTW, Token was able to feel her kicking last night!! She's getting stronger!)

The anniversary celebrations closed with a really good fireworks display. They couldn't set them off until 11 p.m. because that's when it's dark, which in turn meant that clean-up started around 12 a.m., hence us not getting home until 1:15 a.m.

I think it was worth it, but from now on, we'll be driving separately to all-day events like this. ;)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I'm determined...

... to finish this Greece recap this week. Here's the final post of our vacation, and contains mostly random pictures in a random order. Don't hold it against me, m'kay?

On Sunday, we rented a cute little SmartCar convertible and drove around the island. I was a major grouch that day and Token put up with me. I'm surprised he didn't just drop me off at the hotel and go exploring on his own. ;)

Look at this cutesy little car!


The hotel's cat, Stratos is a frisky one!

Plan foiled!

Our view from dinner one night.


Where I'm happy to say neither of us ate THIS:

::shudder::

Pretty sunset shots...

See? I was groooooouchy!!!! Rarrr...

Just random prettiness.


Baby bump picture with the sunset...

And yet again more sunset. Oh Stratos, you lucky cat who gets to view this sunset six months of the year. (the other six he's in Athens. Lucky critter!)


As they would say in Greek, The End. No, seriously, I typed "The End" in English in Google Tranlate and said to translate it to Greek and it said it was The End. See? Hahaha!

Okay, well I realize that picture is teeny, but trust me. I says that "The End" in Greek is "The End."

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Baby GIRL update!

Just got back from my doctor's appointment. I'm 21 weeks, 5 days along today. Everything looks good... blood pressure good, weight good, fundal height good. He got the results from my quad screen and everything came back negative, so that's doubly good. I'm not really feeling much, if any, movement, so I asked about that and he said not to worry because the heartbeat is strong and the ultrasounds have all been normal. He said that it gets important to feel movement at 28 weeks, but before is not as important. I have to go do my gestational diabetes test tomorrow and am hoping that'll come back negative, too. So, that's that!

Monday, June 08, 2009

Cruising on the Aegean

On Saturday, Token signed us up for a catamaran tour of the caldera in the Aegean Sea. It was really cool. There were only eight of us on this huge yacht and we felt so exclusive, especially passing by other boat tours packed to the gills with people and a loudspeaker blaring exactly what they were seeing. Ours was definitely the preferred way to see the sites.

The island of Santorini was originally a big, huge volcano. There was an eruption a long, long time ago, and the top of the volcano sank into the ocean, leaving behind what is now known as Santorini (translated as Saint Irene). Where the top of the volcano once was is now the ocean, which is called the caldera. Some scientists think that this is where the lost civilization of Atlantis is located.

::Tracie takes a bow::

Anyway, moving on to some pictures. On our tour was a married couple from Philadelphia and a gay couple, who were hilarious. It was a really fun group, especially after lunch when the captain of the boat popped open the bubbly.


Leaving the port at Oia

The island has three distinct beaches - white sand, black sand, and red sand. Our first stop was to anchor right by the red sand beach for some swimming. The water was FREEZING, but that didn't stop my little Aquaman!


And here he is snorkeling by the white sand beach.

Look at how clear the water is there! Really no need for a snorkel when you can see the bottom from standing on the boat.


The black sand beach was not so much of a beach, rather a bunch of lava mounds. The water surrounding the lava was like a hot spring, so we stopped there for awhile.


It's funny... Token was always the first one in the water. Guess there's something to be said for Aquarians loving water.


Just a cool picture of the sail. Token took this!


And finally, cruising back to the pier.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Santorini, Greece. In a word: amazing

There wasn't supposed to be a day three of our stay in Athens, but those pesky Greeks decided to have an aviation strike the day we were due to fly down to Santorini, so we had to adjust our travel plans. Word of warning to anyone traveling to Greece. Do NOT fly Olympic Airlines. Our original flight pre-strike was set to take off for Santorini around noon. The best they could do for us was put us on a flight the next day at 9:35 p.m. Even my tears and excessive rubbing of my baby belly didn't elicit sympathy from those cold-as-stone Olympic reps.

Token took pity on me and we decided to check with another airline, Aegean (awesome!) and were able to buy two tickets for the following morning at 5:35 a.m. Olympic did NOTHING in terms of vouchers for dinner, hotel, etc. Nada, ziltch. Boo on them.

So, we spent one more night in Athens, but this time at the Sofitel by the airport. We didn't really want to pay the 60 Euro fee one-way twice plus the cost of a hotel, so this was the best plan. We had a whole day in front of us, so we jumped on the airport shuttle that took people out to this shopping complex thing, and tortured ourselves walking around Ikea. It's tough shopping knowing you can't buy anything! We ordered room service for dinner and just pretty much did nothing. Oh, and we found out that our hotel in Santorini (www.ikies.com) still charged us for the night we were stuck in Athens. Nice. This is a hotel that's supposed to be known for their customer service, and I have to say I was pretty let down. It was a strike, for crying out loud. What were we supposed to do?!?!

Moving on. We got to the airport around 4 a.m. the next morning, relieved to see that flights were departing on time. The flight to Santorini was uneventful, and we flew over a bunch of Greek islands. The sun was just rising, so it was really, really pretty! However, someone with a greasy forehead enjoyed the view out of the airplane window before our flight, so there are no pictures. I didn't want to find out if swine flu was transmittable via stranger grease. Blech!

We landed in Santorini, filed in to the one and only baggage claim and collected our stuff. There was a driver from the hotel waiting to pick us up. The drive to the hotel was pretty fast, and we climbed higher and higher until we got to the town of Oia (pronounced Ia). Two staff members from Ikies were waiting for us, one to grab our bags and the other to show us to our room. Breakfast is served every morning out on each room's terrace, but since it was only 7 a.m., we had to wait a couple hours until ours was delivered. We took that time to take a couple pictures of our home for four days, and I took a quick nap.

Around 9 a.m., they came through with breakfast. It was good stuff!


When we first checked in, we were given a list of what items were available for breakfast and we kind of went to town checking things off. Token went back the second day and requested double the meat and cheese, because we had some furry visitors that begged to be fed, and we were happy to oblige.


Check out this view!

The first part of the afternoon was spent lounging around our terrace. Token tested out the private hot tub, and I read some magazines.

This was on Friday, May 15, which also just so happens to be our wedding anniversary. 5 years, Mamma Mia! We got a nice note from the hotel staff and a bottle of champagne that Token drank on our last night there.


After relaxing for a bit, we headed out to explore the town. Here are some scenery shots. This place is truly remarkable!

The blue domes are churches!


This was taken from a bathroom window!


The town was kind of like an artists' town. There were local artists selling their stuff everywhere. Blown glass is really popular, as is stuff made out of pumice.

Our hotel is waaaay down there on the other end.

After wandering a bit, we headed back to our hotel, where Token enjoyed the pool again.


We had a few more visitors, too. I think they were looking for dinner. We couldn't help them, though, because we had reservations at a place for our anniversary. Next time, kitties!

We ate dinner at this place called Ambrosia. It was so good, and the view was beautiful! We each started with a salad. For our main course, I had some kind of pasta with sun-dried tomatoes, and Token had what he describes as the best lamb he's ever tasted.


Mmm....

After eating, we decided we needed to walk a bit, so we wandered around the town for a little while and then headed back to Ikies. Fun first day in Santorini!