Wednesday, February 27, 2013


I have heard from numerous people that they have tried to comment on the blog and it will not allow them to.  I think I have fixed the problem, so comment away! Also, I know that if I am signed into Blogger/Gmail and have clicked 'Stay Signed In', it will not let me post a comment.  I have to sign out and sign back in.  Some weird quirk, I suppose. 
We do love to hear from you!
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Mulligatawny Soup - Seriously AMAZING

Found this recipe online, tweaked it a bit, and holy cow do we LOVE it! It is so easy and full of flavor! I was skeptical of the apple, but holy bajeezes it makes for a taste explosion!
I made this in about an hour and a half, but most of that time was spent doing something else and stopping by the pot to stir. 

Mulligatawny Soup


1/2 cup chopped onion
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 carrot, diced
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 T flour
3 t curry powder
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 apple, cored and chopped*
1/4 cup white rice
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts**
salt and black pepper to taste
1 pinch dried thyme
1/2 cup heavy cream, heated


1.  Saute onions, celery, carrot and butter in a large soup pot.  Add flour and curry, and cook five more minutes.  Add chicken stock, mix well and bring to a boil.  Simmer about 1/2 hour.
2.  Add apple, rice, chicken, salt, pepper and thyme.  Simmer 15-20 minutes, or until rice is done. 
3.  When serving, add hot cream.

* I used a Granny Smith apple because that was what we had in the fridge.  Use what you choose!
** Chicken:  There were no specific instructions on how to prepare the chicken, so I cooked them in a fry pan with a bit of olive oil for a bit and then threw them in the oven.  The chicken was incredibly tender and juicy!
This is excellent reheated as well!  The flavor only seemed to increase.  I can say this with certainty becaue I am writing this post during my leftover soup lunch!  YUM. Also, I absolutely love having a chopper thing for veggies! The onions, celery and carrot were chopped and ready to go in no time!
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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Where in the world. . . ?

I just couldn't stop giggling. . .

Ben and I are currently facing the question, 'Where do we go?'.  Since we can only learn so much from the internet, we are asking you for your suggestions!  Where should we look to live when we return to the States?
We both want something/somewhere new that we can make our own adventure.  We want to go somewhere that has much to offer for couples our age, treats their teachers well and has many, many opportunities for outdoor fun!! 
We currently are only going off what we already know.  Ben has applied to places in Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska and Colorado.  My personal preferences are currently Minnesota or Colorado, or somewhere else that would fill my ever-present want/need to go kayaking/canoeing.  I really am keeping an open mind despite my current preferences.  What will ultimately be the deciding factor is where Ben lands a job.
Where can we live that offers:
1.  Decent paying jobs and good schools.
2.  Plenty of opportunities to be outdoors! Kayaking, canoing, hiking, biking, rock climbing, etc.
3.  A fantastic sense of community or a way to nudge our way into one.
4.  Any kind of performances.  Plays, coffee shop bands, whatever.  We love them all.  One of my favorite things in summer are outdoor concert series. Know anywhere good for those?! :)
5.  Affordable living. 
6.  Somewhere that will get us excited about healthy living.  I luh amazing yoga studios!  Especially hot yoga.  Also, maybe a co-op or Whole Foods or some place that has a large selection of organic deliciousness. Or a baller farmers market!
7.  Somewhere that encourages people to be 'green'.  We want to recycle!  (No recycling system set up for us here in Dubai. . . I believe they have some places that do recycling, but it isn't as developed as the States.)
8.  Dog parks!

9.  A low crime rate is preferable.

10. Opportunities for young couples.

This list is not in any specific order and I could absolutely continue adding things.  These are just some of the first things that popped into my head.  I left out some of the obvious things such as proximity to family/friends or easy access to them because most of you ARE family or friends so I figured you'd likely try and lobby for where you are or close by. 

SO, let us know what you think! Positives and negatives are welcome.  You can either message one of us on Facebook or message us on here.  We look forward to hearing from you!
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Our most recent cute picture.
New things we are going to add to our list of traditions:
1.  We are going to celebrate St. George's day on April 23rd of each year.  We learned of the holiday from a friend from Spain.  He said that on this day you give a flower and a book to your special someone.  LUH that idea! SO much better than Valentine's day. . .
2.  I am going to make a little jar and Ben and I can write things on small pieces of paper to put in throughout the year.  It can be anything from something funny that was said or something we did.  At the end of the year we will go through all of the entries, read them and take time to reflect on our year.  
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Monday, February 25, 2013

Excitement for the Future!

I have been feeling a lot like this lately. . .

so to shake my funk, I am going to share a few things coming up that I am excited for!

1.  I have had that picture (^) saved on my computer for nearly a month and I FINALLY found a way to drop it on the blog.  Woooo hooo!  It's just so funny. . . Seriously, look at it.  How are you not smiling at her pain?

2.  Ben's birthday!!  We are going to do something small with our little Dubai family for his big day, then treat ourselves to a day/night spent on the World Island's where we will camp, play games and enjoy the company of our co-workers/friends.  We will likely go to Cucina for supper on his bday which is our fave. You choose which dead fish looks good to you and they cook it.  FRESH dead fish.  It's delicious.

3.  For spring break we have decided to stay in the U.A.E.  Ben has two classes coming up and property taxes are due, so we are going to be responsible.  Boo.  BUT we are going to do some friggin' awesome things!  Most exciting? SKYDIVING OVER THE PALM! We'll also do a romantic date night by going on a dhow cruise, enjoy plenty of time on the beach and maybe throw in a dessert safari!

4.  Since figuring out that I luh being a paralegal, I have looked into what bachelor's program would be my best option.  I'm thinking that a bachelor's in criminal justice would make the most sense and have started looking into it.  I have been in contact with someone at Grand Canyon University and they are currently doing a degree eval so that I can figure out what I'll need to complete and how long it will take.  I think I should have all my gen eds done (I DO have 90+ credits. . . ) and hopefully can jump right into the fun stuff! I was looking at the course list and everything looked AMAZING.  I am excited to start classes in the fall (online)!

5.  Ben and I are going to paint pottery this weekend.  No need to steal one of his man cards. . . Painting pottery is manly.  AND he may be doing it just to humor me.  :)  Therefore, he is working hard on keeping his wife happy which really means he should get like a bajillion man cards.  He is my favorite. :)

6.  While we do not know where we will land in the States, I am excited to come home and settle in! I am a huge nester, so I am already looking into different apartments in the areas Ben has applied to, as well as homes for sale to get an idea of what kind of house we can expect to be able to afford in the future.  I get most excited thinking about when we DO have our own home and the things we will be able to do!  I can't wait to decorate together - painting, furniture, wall decor.  I am excited to host friends and family at our home and have cute food and drinks for everyone.  I am excited for a yard for Grovie to roam free in and for us to have a fire pit to cozy up around and enjoy the beauty that surrounds us.

7.  My friends are growing up.  One is having a baby (WHICH I'LL BE HOME FOR!!), one is getting married, another is close to getting married. . . SO much to be excited for!!

8.  124 days until I see my family, friends and Ma!

And so much more! 

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Paralegal? Ok.

I have been struggling with the question, "What do I want to be when I grow up?", since I was about five-years-old.  At that time, the answer was easy.  I wanted to be one of the people at SeaWorld that got to swim and play with the dolphins and whales everyday.  That or a checker at Jacks because I was a classy lady.  Since then, I have wanted to be many, many different things, never quite settling on one.  This is still something I struggle with and for the time being, I think I figured it out.

I want to be a paralegal.  

Good news for me: I know how to do that.  

It may be just an AA, but I worked my butt off for it!

I think I have failed to realize this until recently because I haven't wanted to admit that what I am professionally is enough.  I am always looking for more, wanting to be better, do something better and focus on that instead of focusing on how I can improve as a paralegal.  I feel less than others, somehow.  A lot of that feeling is wrapped into the fact that I only have a two-year degree compared to others with at least a bachelor's and I am embarrassed of that.  I know that comparison is the robber or joy, but no one is perfect and we all do it.  Depending on who is asking (i.e. random stranger), I will often lie about where I went to college.  While it is likely unfounded, I feel judged when I say I attended Kirkwood.  I prefer to say I went to the University of Iowa.  It's not completely a lie . . I did go to Iowa for one semester.  BUT then I dropped out after my first fall semester and ended up at Kirkwood the next fall.  There were serious outside factors that affected my success in college and I still allow those memories to make me feel less than I am.  I am scared to go back to school, but plan to finish my bachelor's within the next two years.  Likely in something like Liberal Arts considering I already have almost 100 credits. 

The realization of wanting to continue as a paralegal occurred after a few months of working in an elementary school and realizing that I do not want to be a teacher.  At least at this point in my life.  I have no desire to do the paperwork, deal with other people's kids on a daily basis or deal with the politics.  I prefer office politics.  Can you believe it?  I enjoy having to wear professional business clothes to work and dealing with stressed attorneys.  I enjoy knowing how the court system works and learning the different pleadings and processes required in cases.  I enjoy hearing and discussing the law, reading interesting cases, etc.  I enjoyed working in family law and dealing with the clients.  I enjoy the independence that can come along with being a trained paralegal and using my knowledge to prepare the attorney for meetings, hearings and trials.  Do I want to be an attorney?  Not at this time.  Later?  Who knows.  

While I cannot continue as a paralegal in Dubai, I look forward to our return to the States to further my career.  I have looked into different states and what they have to offer, and it seems that Minnesota has some pretty awesome opportunities in my field.  They offer CLE's (Continuing Legal Education) and their paralegal association appears to be very active.  They have quite a few law firms, big and small, that have potential to offer job advancement.  If we end up in MN, great.  If not, I am ok with that, too. Other states appeared to have quite a bit to offer, as well.  I am excited to see what my future as a paralegal has in store for me. 
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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Better keep the bird under control. . .

Offensive Neighbor Loses Fight

Court Upholds Finger-Flick Verdict

A man who was jailed for a month for raising his middle finger at his victim has lost his final appeal after taking his case to the UAE Supreme Court.  The accused spent 23 days in Al Watba prison in Abu Dhabi before he was released and began his campaign to clear his name.
However, the UAE's highest court said that he was guilty of a crime, which was intended to "cause scandal to the eyes" of the victim.  It said the original sentence would remain.
The defendant who committed the crime in Sharjah, is believed to have had a dispute with a neighbor, who complained that the man lifted his middle finger as they were arguing, a claim the defendant strong denied.
The crime occurred on January 22, 2012, when the accused "openly and flagrantly breached modest and morals" by raising the middle finger.  He was originally convicted in Sharjah Court of First Instance and the sentence was upheld by Sharjah Appeal Court.
The defendant appealed again tot he Supreme Court, arguing that he was convicted solely on the word of the victim and without the evidence of other witnesses as was required by law. 
However, the court found that there were other factors in the case and said the police and courts were entitled to look at all the circumstances.
7Days - UAE
February 17, 2013

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Night Brunch Excitingness

I have officially had my first brunch experience in Dubai!  If you ever visit here, it is a MUST DO.  It has been on my Dubai bucket list for a time and the experience was fantastic! 

You may be questioning my intelligence when you read 'Night Brunch'.  Don't.  That is correct.  A 'brunch' at night.  Brunch here doesn't necessarily refer to the meal between breakfast and lunch, but is associated with bottomless booze and huge buffets of all kinds of deliciousness.  Brunches can range anywhere from $30 to $150+.  We had coups for the one we went to, so it ended up being very reasonable.

Going to a brunch is a good excuse to get dolled up.  I didn't go all out and fancy in dress, but I did play around with my hair and ended up with this masterpiece (-->).  NO I did not get the idea off of Pinterest or whatever.  I just started pinning crap everywhere and this is how it turned out.  My mother can attest to the fact that I can somehow churn out pretty hair from nowhere.  I was the girl that for fun on a Saturday morning I would play with my hair.  That started around 4th grade?  I still do it.  Seriously.
(Sorry for the explosion of girliness.)

We set out for a night on the town and were dazzled by the hotel where the brunch was taking place.  It was absolutely beautiful and we weren't expecting it.

Getting ready to go!


When we walked in we saw two large camels and I, of course, wanted a picture.  There was a guy there who was dressed up to take pictures with guests and the camel and he got a little excited and took like a bajillion pictures. . . I also pretended to kiss the camel in one of the pictures and he tried to get me to come closer to the camel, wiping its mouth with his sleeve and claiming, "Clean, clean!".  No, sir.  Not clean. 

It's Lurrrve. .. 

Camel, me, Camel Man
Camel Man insisted on taking our photo.

When we escaped Camel Man, we found the restaurant and were greeted with champagne flutes of sparkling wine.  When we were seated they poured us another glass of wine and took our drink order.  We ventured to the food area where we found a cart full of raw meat.  You selected what you wanted and handed it to the chef to cook.  Friggin' awesome deliciousness! They also had a huge chocolate fountain with all sorts of goodness to dip, a wall of cakes and other sweets, a pancake bar, an Arabic food station, and much more. 

Our reason for celebration!
Rachel, Jordan, Karen & Casey
Beautiful friends to celebrate with!
Julie, Jordan, Naomi, me & Jessi

Me & David
(Yes, I know that is not grammatically correct.)
The night progressed with good food, good drinks and great company.  We were celebrating the births of  4 February baby friends so there was plenty of merriment.  I discovered a new drink that I luh - vodka, soda water & lime juice.  REAL lime juice - not concentrate.  It is tart and yummy.  It makes me make this face ----------->

Our night ended with a cab ride home and a sick husband.  We were so tired from the long week that we both passed out as soon as our heads hit the pillows. 

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Grover Going Cray-Cray

We finally caught his cray-cray on video!!!  I swear as soon as we bust out the camera he stops what he is doing and is normal again.  He may appear as if he is being aggressive in this video, but he really isn't.  He doesn't try and bite or injure you in any way.  He just growls, runs in circles, and jumps around.  I find it to be hilarious.  If you have never met Grover or spent time with him you will likely think this video is 'meh'.  BUT if you know the little turd you might get a kick out of it.  He's such a sweet boy.  :)
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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The trouble with kids today. . .

This week while subbing for a 5th grade Spanish class I decided to turn on music the last 15 minutes of class because the kids had been rock stars.  I have a work appropriate play list on my Amazon Cloud, so I turned it on and Spice Girls started playing.  Still love them.  Yes I'm 25.  No I don't care what you think. I also cried when I got to go to the NKOTBSB concert a couple years back.  Just adding some fuel to the fire of your judgment.  

Anyway, I was singing along and dancing around and the kids looked at me like I was crazy.  Then the following conversation took place:
Kid:  What is this?
LJ: SPICE GIRLS! DUH! [while continuing silly dancing and singing]
Kid:  What are Spice Girls?

 Kid: Why can't we listen to Gangnam Style or Justin Bieber?
LJ:  Because Gangnam Style is evil.  I LOVED the Spice Girls when I was your age!
Kid:  Yea, which was like 30 years ago. . .
Another girl in the class:
Kid 2:  I like the Spice Girls!!  Do you have any Bon Jovi or Journey?

Well done, kid.  You are my new favorite. 

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Sunday, February 10, 2013

'Big Book of Grievances'

Mr. Heckles - Friends
1.  If I set my coffee mug above the passenger side right door, assume that is where I plan to rest my tuckus.  I am NOT being a kind person and saving you a seat there.  So when I stand in front of the door to open it, walk away. Go to the other side of the car.  Sit on your own side.
2. Showers are a necessity.  I suggest you take one and invest in deodorant.  And maybe drop that disgusting habit of smoking, because it really isn't adding to your personal aroma. . .  
3.  Perfume is supposed to be subtle.  I shouldn't be able to smell you 2304983490 hours after you leave the elevator.  Thank you for successfully raping my nose at 6:45 a.m.  I hate you.
4.  Thank you for honking while sitting still in traffic.  It makes me feel better, too.
5.  I really enjoy being asked the same questions over and over, every day.  Please continue to do so.
6.  Libraries are a quiet place.  So shush. Stop running. Stop bombing the shelves.  I made shelf markers for a reason.  Use. Them.

7.  Unless it is Christmas Eve morning or Christmas morning, there is not enough coffee in the world for me to WANT to have a conversation with you that early in my day.  Therefore, shush.

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Saturday, February 2, 2013

Taco Bake Deliciousness

I have recently perfected a delicious taco bake recipe that I must share with you!  It is SO tasty and crazy easy, yo!  It isn't exactly healthy, but most things delicious aren't. . . Just have a side of veggies to make you feel better about it! :)

Taco Bake:

You need:
1lb ground hamburger
2 pkgs taco seasoning (the cheese flavor is my fave - I've also used mild)
1 8oz pkg cream cheese
2 C water
Mexican shredded cheese
Penne pasta
To do:
Brown hamburger and drain grease. Add the 2 packages taco seasoning and stir until meat is coated.  Add 2 cups of water and the package of cream cheese.  Stir and heat until all ingredients are mixed well.
Cook pasta.  Drain and toss with 1 cup of Mexican shredded cheese.  Pour into medium sized casserole dish.  Spoon hamburger mixture over the noodles, covering completely.  Toss pasta so it is evenly coated in the mixture.  Evenly distribute the remaining shredded cheese on top.  Bake for 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees.  Enjoy!
*I just eyeball it for how much pasta to use. 

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Knit & Kick

As I mentioned before, I picked up crocheting again to fill up some time and made a mug cozy and small blanket.  The blanket was originally going to be a shawl to snuggle up with while reading or watching a movie, but Grover claimed it midway through making so I changed the project a bit.  I am now learning to knit.  Yay!  It is a bit more complicated and I have to concentrate more, but I am starting to get the hang of it.  I have had to re-cast the first row like five times BUT progress is happening.  I decided to give knitting a try after seeing a blanket that one of my friends completed for her newborn niece.  The pattern was more complicated than the one I crocheted and it was more substantial.  It turned out beautifully.

The main reason I wanted to learn to knit?  ONE OF MY BESTIES IS HAVING A BABY! She is still early on in the pregnancy and we are not sure of the sex (although she said, and I quote, 'I just feel like there is a penis growing inside of me.') so I went with gender neutral colors.  I am a huge fan of gray and yellow together, but the yellow yarn they had at the craft store was not a pretty color.  Instead I went with gray and a pretty green.  I am using a basketweave stitch which you can learn how to do here.  The gray will be in the center and the green on the outside.  I am excited to see the finished product! It will take quite a while, I'm sure.  It just has to be done by August when the little gummy bear joins us!

Another thing about this bestie having a baby thing - I cannot even describe how excited I am! I grew up with this girl and continue to be great friends with her and I think that adds to my excitement and joy for her.  When she told me I literally screamed and teared up and everything.  I can't wait!

Grover helping me stretch.

He's an angry elf. . .

On another note, Ben and I have slipped in our healthy eating/exercise routine and are working to get back on the wagon.  He has P90X on his external hard drive, so we brought that home this weekend, put it on the computer and have been BRINGING IT! I started out with just the stretching, which I will not do again, and today we did kempo.  If you haven't done P90X, kempo is kicking and punching.  It was fun!  The hour flew by!  We do not plan to do the P90X program, but just do the videos we want to keep in shape. After kempo, we took Grover on a walk and let him run at one of the tennis courts off the leash.  It was sprinkling, so he got pretty sandy and dirty so he got a bath afterwards.  He was not pleased. . .

5 months until we see your shining faces in the States! 

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