21 March 2011

Desert Livin'

I used a word yesterday to describe El Paso that I've never been able to use before...green. Yes, El Paso is turning green; I believe this truly is a miracle. Actually, it's our supposedly short-lived spring, but I'll take what I can get! All of the trees (yes, there are some that survive here...) have green buds on them and some even have purple/fuschia blooms! When you're on the highway and scan over all of the neighborhoods it really looks pretty! I need to take a picture to prove to you all that it's really happening, because I have a feeling as the temperature rises, my green/blooms are going to fade...

Speaking of green things, I have attempted my hand at planting (well, potting) some flowers! The geraniums and pansies are doing well, I just have to water them frequently as it never rains here...I also tried my hand at growing my own cilantro and parsley, and believe it or not, the cilantro is sprouting! I can't tell you how proud I am of my plant babies. It was a good boost of "green-thumb confidence" when the first shoots came up! I'm just tired of paying for fresh herbs, especially because I usually only need a few sprigs, not an entire head, which means most of it goes to waste. Next on my "to attempt" list is basil and rosemary-yum. I would love to hang some flower baskets on our patio, but the wind blows so much I'm afraid they'd take flight and never return to me! They keep saying March is the windy season, but we've only had one really bad day...perhaps it comes in spurts. Although the bad day was really bad...there was a dump truck about 25 ft. ahead of me on the road, and when the dust cloud rose, I couldn't see the truck! It was frightening...

Let's see...onto Army news. Brian was in the field all last week and this week, and last week he had to run a live fire exercise. A "live fire", as they're called, is when the guys complete a mission with live ammunition...also slightly terrifying. But, Brian's platoon did really well! He came home really pumped up about it. He's got a great group of guys and NCO's (non-commissioned officers) and he says they're really working together well--such an answer to prayer! I was really praying and hoping Brian's platoon and NCO's would be a good fit, and it's turning out that way! He's in the field again all of this week, so I'm looking forward to the weekend when he comes home! It gets lonely here without him! I have been finding things to fill my time though...still working out a lot, and I'm getting back into my running routine. With the Christmas break/move, I fell out of my routine and then slacked off for a few weeks, which means my running has suffered! With the drastic change in altitude, I've had to readjust to running, especially since the nearest thing to run is the canyon, which is pretty much all uphill! In addition to trying to get into shape, I've made some really sweet friends through our Battalion and gotten to know my Benning friends even better. We had a cookout at one of their houses this past weekend and we had such a good time! Having friends you're comfortable around really helps you to feel more at home! After we finished eating/socializing, we watched the original "True Grit". Ok, confession: I do not love Western movies...they all seem to have the same plot to me. But this one is so good! Seriously, if you're not a Western-lover, try this one out...it was actually really funny in multiple parts of the movie! There's a young girl who recruits an old, rough-around-the-edges marshall and a Texas Ranger to help her find the man who killed her dad...she's reason enough to watch it! She's spunky and a little sassy, and puts those boys in there place when needed! :) I really enjoyed it.

In other Army news, our friends the Kisers are finally reunited! Nathan came home in the wee hours of Sunday morning after being in Afghanistan for a year--we're so excited for them! Shellaine did a lot while he was gone...found a vet job, moved into a house on post (that Nathan first saw when he got home!), traveled, and many other things. I'm so glad he's back! I'm definitely looking forward more to the reunion than the sending off, which is (scarily) racing towards us. I've become the co-leader for our FRG (Family Readiness Group), and we're planning various activities/fundraisers until the guys deploy, and when I look at the calendar, I realize how fast it's going to fly by, and I don't like that! In addition, Brian's going to be gone for two months before the deployment, so that's only going to make it harder to put him on that plane! He's going to Ft. Gordon, near Augusta, GA, for the month of May to a language school to learn Pashto, one of the languages spoke in Afghanistan. He'll be home for a few days over Memorial Day weekend (we hope...), and then he's off to NTC (National Training Center) for the entire month of June, and will (hopefully) be back for the 4th of July weekend. This month at NTC is when the battalion basically does a "dress rehearsal" for combat...the center is set up like Afghani villages, and the guys pratice patrols, engage in combat, talk with village elders, and the like. It's going to be great training for them and will really help them to discover what areas they need to improve in. I'm so thankful he gets to do all of this so that they'll be as prepared as possible for when the real thing comes...

As for me, I'm just chugging along! I sub for the first time this week in the middle school, so we'll see how that goes! I have the "Theater" class for half a day...should be interesting! I'm still looking for jobs and I'm hoping to get into a  "study schedule" this week...I thought with school being over I could stop studying, but now I feel like I really need to! So I'm going to crack open my Spanish, education, and ESL books, that way if someone ever wants to give me an interview, I'll be prepared ;) (or so I hope!)

Dana and Stuart, the last of the Benning crew, are arriving this Friday, and we're all so excited! It'll be so nice to have a good portion of the old gang all together again. Thanks, Ft. Bliss, for letting so many of us come out here to the desert... =)

I hope you know I'm being playful when I talk about the desert...I do like it out here! It's just that something always surprises me and most of the landscape/weather is in stark contrast to what we're accustomed to in the South! It is neat to live in a new place that's totally foreign to us. I understand why people retire in the Southwest; the weather is nice, the winters are mild, and the air is dry...no fighting humidity here! I almost think we're going to have to get a humidifier for our room because Brian and I are still getting bloody noses from how dry it is--crazy! And seriously, I've used more lotion out here than I have in my entire life! haha!

Well, that's about all from the Page household...nothing too exciting going on out here! I do want to leave you with a recipe I promised you weeks ago...it is delicious and it's not difficult to prepare!

The inspiration for this was that I was attempting to find a new protein to cook--we always do chicken or beef...

Citrus-Rosemary Turkey Breast
Prep: 20 min
Cook: 2.5 hours
Other: 10 min

3 TBSP butter, softened, divided
3 garlic cloves, minced (or more...we love garlic, but we're not vampires...)
1 (6 lb, or maybe less...) bone-in turkey breast (you can find these in the meat section; Butterball)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1-2 oranges, sliced into rounds
1-2 lemons, sliced into rounds
4 sprigs of rosemary (I used crushed rosemary, and it works fine if you can't find fresh)
4 fresh sage leaves (same goes here-I used crushed)
1/2 onion, quartered
2 C chicken broth (if you only have one can, put in a can of water for the second cup...)

Stir together 2 TBSP butter and garlic. Loosen skin from turkey (don't pull off, just up!), sprinkle salt and pepper under and on top of skin; Rub the garlic butter mixture over meat.

Place fruit slices, rosemary, sage under skin and on exposed meat, and replace skin. I also place fruit slices and spices underneath the bird for extra zing.

Rub/sprinkle remaining garlic butter mixture on top of meat. Add onion and chicken broth.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 30  minutes, basting every 30 minutes (basically, splashing liquid on top). Cover with foil, and bake for another hour. Remove, and check temperature; should be 170 degrees (or higher, if your oven cooks fast, like mine does...whoops!)

Let stand for about 10 minutes, then enjoy! This is a delicious meal! We sometimes make fried potatoes (diced red/new potatoes, splash of olive oil and butter, rosemary--in oven or on skillet) with it and they go really well!

Bon apetit! Buen provecho! Enjoy!

Also...have you ever made your own spaghetti sauce instead of using a jar of it? Try it...you'll never turn back, and it's easy! I'll post that recipe soon!


JG said...

I didn't know you blogged! :) Thanks for sharing! And I agree about the lotion. I've NEVER used to much lotion! I have to really focus on drinking lots of water!

We loved having you guys over! And I've got some GREAT Western recommendations for you, if you're interested in exploring the genre. Look up McLintock. If you like True Grit, you will love McLintock!

Lori Brooks said...

I just love you. Thanks for the update!

Jessica said...

I feel like a tad bit of a stalker with all of my picture comments and now this, but I was really excited to see that you have a blog!
I have loved the few times that we've gotten together with y'all and hope to do so more often :)