Ice, Ice, Baby

>> Saturday, December 13, 2008

Had an ice storm just a couple days ago. Nothing like the one that froze Norman a couple years ago, but good enough to delay West Point for 2 hours. Slept in (the best kind at that. Chilly apartment, warm and toasty under the covers), ate a couple toasted english muffins lathered with cream cheese and blueberry/lime jam (thanks Greg!), enjoyed a hearty helping of eggs de la scrambled, and downed a glass of soy. So good.

Joe and I's drive to West Point is probably the best 'drive to work' route. ever. It winds up and around Storm King Mountain, which sits right up against the Hudson River. Pics below were taken today, on my way and back to West Point.


10 Weeks Later...

>> Saturday, November 29, 2008

I can pump 43 push-ups in 120 seconds, crank 83 sit-ups in 2 minutes, run 2 miles in 15:11. For 10 weeks, I ate with, slept with, peed with, pooped with, ran with, crawled with, exercised with my trusty M16. It was with me, all. the. time.

I learned to eat my 1500 calorie meals in under 7 minutes, grew comfortable sharing 7 shower heads with 27 females, perfected the art of "YES DRILL SERGEANT!!!", mustered the courage to give my 'battle buddy' an IV, could identify members of my platoon by fart, thought of cough drops as candy and a legitimate source of food, ruck marched for 10 miles carrying 60 lbs of gear on my back, shot a 50 caliber machine gun like there was no tomorrow, threw a couple of grenades like a girl, shot live rounds while riding on the back of a convoy, didn't shower for a span of 7 days while on a mission in the field, ran an obstacle course in the woods with a bayonet while yelling "KILL, KILL, KILL!!", woke up at 4:00 freaking AM every morning...sometimes to a yelling Drill Sergeant, did every type of exercise imaginable as a form of punishment.

And despite the craziness and stressful nature basic training was and is, I miss it. There are things my buddies and I went through that will always remain with me. The comradery you build with people you eat, sleep, poop and train with is strong. By the end of our cycle, we were all definitely a family. A disfunctional one, yes, but a family.

Joe and I both going through basic has brought us the closest together we've been. Being without each other for 4 months made our reunion an amazing experience. Never had I felt so overwhelmed. Our 12 hour drive back home from Ft. Jackson, South Carolina to West Point, New York was filled to the brim with basic training stories. We had each other laughing and understanding exactly what each other meant and felt. What an experience.

Ok, ok, so here are a couple snap shots I got via cell phone camera. (They let us have our phones back 2 days before graduation day). I wish I could have snapped a picture of myself with all of my gear on, (bullet proof vest, load bearing vest, M16,
kevlar helmet, ect.) but we had to clean and turn in our equipment before we got our phones back. Hope these will satisfy your thirsty eyes for now.

Post graduation pic.

PVT Morgan and PVT McGrew chillin' before evening roll call.
(Note: PVT McGrew dawning the ever popular Army issue eye wear. Referred to as BCG's, they are a very effective form of birth control.)

My main homies, PVT Boatman and PVT McGrew.The whole gang.



>> Monday, September 15, 2008

So. The day is here. It's my turn! Wish me luck as I keep my head low and try to stay under the radar. Good stories to come. I promise.

Be back Thanksgiving day.


Pre-Box Bake

>> Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I had to do it. I had to bake something before I packed up the pans and mixer. For good reason though...because come Monday, I'll be taking a two and a half month hiatus on any sort of baking, cooking, reading, long showers, practicing (that's going to be the strangest), anything remotely having to do with entertainment. But hey, I WILL get to become best friends with an M16, throw a couple grenades, go through a gas chamber, go rapelling, become strangly accustomed showering with a plethora of others, oh the list can go ON! I really am though, quite excited about going to basic. I think it'll be one of things I'll never want to do again, but glad and appreciative that I did go through it.

Anywho, on to the food!

So I ended up whipping up a batch of chocolate chip cookies. But, not just some ordinary batch of chocolate chip cookies. No no my friends. Theeese have chick peas and flax seed meal hidden inside...

I took a recipe from Jessica Seinfeld's (yes, wife to the infamous Jerry) recipe book and did a little tweaking (mainly just the flax meal part). Seinfeld's recipe calls for the chickpeas, but I decided to use up some of the flax meal we've got sitting in the fridge. Soooo, I replaced half of the butter in the recipe with a 3 to 1 ratio of flax meal. Result, fantastic-o. And plus, these are somewhat...."healthy"....right? So like, you can eat MORE, and not feel too horribly guilty.

1 cup packed brown sugar
● 5 tblsp butter

● 1 cup flax seed meal
● 2 egg whites
● 2 tsp vanilla extract
● 1 can (15oz) chickpea/garbonzo beans, drained
● 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
● 2 cups all-purpose flour
● 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
● 1 tsp baking soda
● 1/4 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Coat a baking sheet w/ cooking spray.

2. In a large mixing bowl, beat the sugar, butter, and flax meal until smooth. Beat in the egg whites and vanilla, then the chickpeas. Add the flour, oats, baking soda, and salt, and mix on low until a thick dough forms. Stir in chocolate chips.
3. Drop the dough by the tablespoon onto the baking sheet, spacing the cookies about 2 inches apart. Press gently w/ a fork to flatten. Bake until the cookies are golden brown and just set, 11-13 minutes. Do not overbake. Transer to a rack to cool.
4. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

If you don't have any flax meal, no worries. Just double the butter and omit the flax.


Back to packing...
With cookie in hand! Muah hah haaaah!



>> Sunday, September 7, 2008

Good friend Karen invited a couple of us over to her place of abode for dinner and hang time. Her beau, Ben, arrived in Cleveland for the weekend after a summer spent in Berlin. Super great people, super great friends. Karen, born and raised in Dallas on granny's homecookin', branched out and partook of the evening's entree...tofu veggie green coconut curry with rice noodles. So grood.

Been packing up the apartment. 3rd move within a year and a half....oye! The trek up to West Point should be a rather permanent one.

Got a call from Joe last night!! So great to hear his voice. His platoon won a hand-to-hand combat competition, which yields a proud and happy drill sergeant, always a good thing. In reward for their win, they're getting milkshakes today! Wahoo! He gives many many thanks to everyone who has sent him letters...and Teen Bop articles....and babywipes. :-)


"Glaet Success!"

>> Monday, September 1, 2008

Was sitting in the living room, talking to mom on the phone....


flew by my face.

Hung up, put on Joe's winter coat, grabbed the oven mitts, a beach towel and a tennis racket. Woman on a mission. I opened up our windows and doors and turned off all of our apt lights except the lamps that sits right next to our porch. Mr. Bat flew swooped in circles, kept missing his doorway to freedom. Fiiiinally, he made a swoop pretty close to the porch door and so I came up beside him mid-flight and sorta guided him with the beach towel. Succes!!!!! Hory mory what a relief.

Mikki - 1, Bat - 0


. . . _ _ _ . . .

>> Sunday, August 31, 2008


I've been up since 2:34am, due to a sudden and freaky infiltration. Joe and I have a medium sized box next to our bed we just never took down to the basement to store. It's proven to be a nice nightstand when needed, but in actuality is just a result of our, ok maybe my, laziness. I woke up (an amazing feat considering tornado sirens don't even phase me) to a scratching noise coming from the area around the box. With a window right above the box, I first thought there was a bird or something on the ledge, doing whatever birds do at 2:30 in the morning...sleep?! But the persistence and intensity of the scratching increased...

I got up, turned on our bedroom light. *HOLY MOTHER OF PEARL, I never thought I would ever see one up close and personal, but, a BAT, darted upwards from the corner of the room and performed an acrobatic act of crazy 8's above my head. Adrenaline pulsed, my heart raced, I the bathroom, and shut the door. Dumb. Because when I scoured the courage to go back out to the living room/bedroom area....the bat was nowhere to be seen. So, I camped out with my back to a corner facing the living/bedroom in hopes of the critter showing face. While waiting, I fired up my laptop and caught up with wikipedia's entry about bats.

Did you know people get bit by bats while sleeping and don't even know it?? Their teeth are so tiny, the bites are hard to see. If an unlucky 1% member of the bat population decides to taste you, rabies will coincide, and those bitten don't even realize they're infected until it's too late.

I'm riding on 2 hours of sleep, and paranoid as all get out this little creature is going to decide to come out and reintroduce himself tonight.

My turn to infiltrate. Every. Inch. Of our apartment.


Porch Activity

>> Saturday, August 30, 2008

Our first cuke is growing to a healthy size! I'm actually not sure if it'll get any bigger than this since the pot it resides in is little on the small side...I'll give it another week....then it's time to devour.
And here resides Emilio, our avocado tree we grew from a pit. Just over a year old, and a lanky 2.5 ft tall. A trooper Emilio is...he survived our fridge-worthy-temperature apartment this past winter. A hearty avocado tree is he. The tomato plant is also a big hit this summer. We've eaten a handful of the yummies already and we've got another 5-6 on the vine, ripening as I type. Home grown 'maters are so grood.


Joe's Address

>> Sunday, August 17, 2008

Joe was alloted a 2 minute phone call yesterday and was able to quickly blurt out his official mailing address! So, without further ado:

SPC Skinner, Joseph
RN 417
A 3-47 IN BN
5480 Roush Drive
Ft. Benning, GA 31905

Feel free to write him TONS of letters, even to the point of you thinking it may be annoying. Joe will cherish each and every letter, I promise. Just a note though, he's not allowed to receive any sort of care package or food. So, be kind, save him from doing extra push-ups and keep anything you send him to simple letters and pictures.

Ready, set, go write Joe!!!!


Yeeeeeeee Haw!

>> Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Won the auditon.
We're both employed.


>> Thursday, August 7, 2008

I babysit for a wonderful family just a couple blocks down from our place. They've got a 10-month old girl, Lilly, who is the best natured little squirt around town. Always happy, always smiling. Turns the dullest of days right around into something beautiful.

Today I babysat while Lilly's Mom ran to an appointment and then grocery store. Lilly and I jammed out to Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf, played with animal blocks, bounced on her horsey, crawled allll around the house, played peek-a-boo for a solid 30 minutes (boy howdy she loves peek-a-boo), and then settled down for some quality nap time. Lilly's mom came home around dinner time, the usual, and among her bags of groceries, had a bag for me. She had bought me some of her personal favorites: chicken, white bean and veggie chili, a big carton or organic salad stuff, and a small basket of locally grown cherry tomatoes. How completely amazing. I almost cried. With Joe gone, dinner has become a reminder, and just a quick something. I'll admit.....I had shredded wheat for dinner Tuesday night. So this wonderful act of thought and kindness from Lilly's family really, really made my day. Thank you, so much.


>> Monday, August 4, 2008

Joe left for basic training today. 9 weeks to go. It's sad....but I already miss him terribly. The apartment is quiet, nobody to be silly with, nobody to eat late night snacks with, nobody to shnuggle with. This is just a small step though, to something bigger and better. It's totally worth it. Just you know, a little hard.

I can't even imagine how couples must feel when either are deployed....for 16 months. Wow.

So now it's my turn. This Sunday I'll travel back to West Point for round 2 of auditions for the Hellcats. If all goes well, I too could end up doing push-ups for a solid 2 months. Bring it on.



>> Thursday, July 31, 2008

Ahhhhhh, the beach. Where UV lovers marinate, children build sand fortresses, and if you happen to be across the pond enjoying the European variety, speedos galore. Thankfully, we didn't see any proud men sporting the mini-suit variety at Lake Erie.

Erin, Greg and I ran away from our non-AC apartments last week and enjoyed a long afternoon at Headland's State Park, only a 30 minute drive eastward from Cleveland. We relaxed, read our books, built our own little citadel of a castle, played word games, and of course swam in the lake. I can cross Lake Erie off the list now. So far I've swam in Lake Michigan, Lake Huron (*cold!), and now Lake Erien. 3 out of 5 ain't bad!

Greg "digging for good sand", and preparing for the construction of Castle Land.
Moments later, we find Erin, smashing said Castle Land. So sad.


I'm With the Band...

>> Saturday, July 26, 2008

Joe and couple other guys from American Greetings are in a band together called The Vig. Last night was Joe's first, and...due to basic training just around the corner, unfortunately last, show with them. Good times and good music.

Check out some audio clips on the MySpace page @:



>> Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Summer break makes way for free time, well spent in the kitchen.

These crumbs are remnants of what Joe and I loving nicknamed, 'Matzah Crack'. I tested out an apparently popular recipe among the Jewish this past week...and as Borat would say, it was "Great success!" The combo of matzah cracker bottom, carmelized brown sugar/butter mixture on top (baked to bubbly carmel perfection) and a healthy layer of dark chocolate couldn't be more heavenly. We finished the entire cookie sheet batch within a couple days. Oye veh. So good.

Click הר <------for the recipe.

And here, we have the remains of one of our favorite summer desserts. Fresh blueberries and strawberries, covered with a generous amount of cream. Why so good?!


Sign Here

>> Saturday, July 12, 2008

It's official! Joe has officially accepted an employment offer he received from the West Point Academy. He auditioned and won a vacancy they had for an audio engineer a couple weeks ago, and signed the papers this past Thursday. West Point has a concert band, a jazz band and a bugle corps. Of the 3, Joe will be working closely with the Jazz Knights; running sound for their live concerts and recording/mixing for any CD's they decide to produce. Pretty thweet. We're both mega excited.

To celebrate the occasion, we ate. We love food. LOVE IT. A fifteen minute walk takes us to one of our favorite joints, Tommy's, where we enjoyed a couple of finger-lickin' pitas, and grabbed a homemade peach shake on our way out to slurp on our walk home. Dericious.

Here are a couple of pics, courtesy of Google, of West Point. The Academy is located about an hour's drive northwest of Manhattan, right of the Hudson River. Beauty.



>> Tuesday, July 8, 2008

We had ourselves a great 4th of July weekend. The temps peaked at a perfect 76, our pulled pork sandwiches came out faaantastic, and our tuba tootin' friend Ken scored Joe and I free tickets to Blossom's July 4th concert; which gave way to a healthy helping of Sousa marches, some Leroy Anderson, a little Gershwin, and of course....Tchaik's 1812, complete with multiple firings of a real canon.

I've played Tchaik's ever famous piece. A couple times in fact. And even though Ken had mentioned how loud the canon had been during their rehearsals and even though I knew exactly when in the music the canon fires....I still jumped when the trigger was pulled. I jumped.....every time.

Can't complain though! Joe and I had a great time at the concert. With a bottle of tasty a concoction our friend Chubby turned us on to, and a bag of old fashioned strawberry licorice in hand, we had ourselves a grand ol' time.



>> Thursday, June 26, 2008



>> Sunday, June 22, 2008

Been testing out some non-bread machine bread recipes grood. Soft, moist, yeasty goodness. I got the recipe for the loaves pictured below here.


Sweet Ride

>> Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Napoleon: What kind of bike do you have?
Pedro: It's a sledgehammer.
Napoleon: Dang! You got shocks, pegs... lucky! You ever take it off any sweet jumps?

Not a sledgehammer and definitely not jump worthy.....but, we did score some pretty sweet bikes on craigslist this past weekend. Joe found a vintage Peugeot in amazing condition for a heck of a deal. He's currently geeking out on bike parts, plotting what his first upgrade will be. And me, I scored a Fuji from an outdoorsy/hippie/starbucks lovin' couple who had just recently moved to Cleveland from Seattle.

Riding around on our shiny 2-wheelers for nearby errands and commutes to school will definitely lessen pricey trips to the gas station. And, while we're at it, we're exercising.

The temperatures only skimmed 60 for today's high...hence the autumn-ish the midst of June.


More eats

>> Sunday, June 15, 2008

We whipped up some turkey burgers and potato wedges the other week when temperatures rose to a very uncomfortable 92. Paired with a tall glass of barley tea, it was a most delightful meal.

Here's what one lady does when temps rise above 95.... Solar Cookies.


Summer Eats

>> Friday, June 13, 2008

Ahhh, summer is finally here. Temperatures are drifting between the upper 70's and lower 80's, farmer markets are in full swing, and smells of grilling float into our apartment. It's gotten warm enough to where we don't have to close the windows at night either. They'll be open 24/7 until late September.

We moved into a new apartment 2 weeks ago. We downsized from a 2 bedroom to a third floor house converted 1 bedroom "attic." Back in the day, when Cleveland was booming in the steel era, everyone had the luxury of having a personal maid. The majority of houses built around the turn of the century are three stories tall, the third floor reserved for the live-in-maid and hence called the "maid's corners". And that my friend, is where Joe and I now reside. We love the smaller space and living with less.

We've decided to grow some edibles this summer. We've got a cozy porch that gets a good amount of afternoon sun, perfect for a tomato plant, cucumber vines, some basil, and rosemary.

From L to R: 3 pots cucumber, rosemary, basil, tomato plant. The long stick with a fro of leaves is our avocado tree, Emilio. We planted an avocado pit last summer and now he's about 2 ft. tall.

I went out to water the plants this morning and found that we have our first tomato growing already. Small, about the size of a semi-squished pea.

On another note.....
I'm learning to sew a bit.


High Tea

>> Monday, June 2, 2008

Joe and I were cordially invited to high tea with our dearest of friends, Tim and Jenna. Quite a delightful event consisting of many different types of my favorite We dressed up and had a quaint charm of a time.

Apricot Cookies
Chive Scones with Ham and Dijon
Cucumber Sandwiches sans crust
Apple Torte
Sun Tea
Pear Ginger White Tea
Mate Tea