Anchors Aweigh : September 2014


Tailgating Tuesdays: Seven Layer Mexican Dip

This recipe was given to me by my mother in law before Parker and I were married. I had forgotten all about it until a recent football party, and I am so glad I rediscovered it! This recipe is easy to whip up on the fly and a great crowd pleaser. If you have people coming over and are short on time, make this stuff!
8 oz cream cheese
1 can turkey chili
1 can fat free refried beans
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 tomato, chopped
handful of chopped green onions
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
2. Put cream cheese in an 8x8 glass pan and melt for 30 seconds. Spread evenly across the bottom of the pan.
3. Mix the chili and beans in a separate bowl and with a little salt and pepper. Pour chili mixture over melted cream cheese.
4. Top with chopped tomato, chopped green onions, and grated cheddar cheese.
5. Heat in the oven about 20 minutes or until cheese is fully melted and entire dish is hot. Serve with chips.


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Finding The Silver Lining

I've tried to take a page out of my husband's book and be an optimist in life. I do think I'm a fairly positive person, but Parker has the positive outlook thing down. I've always called myself a realist. If we are being honest, this is what we pessimists call ourselves to make us feel better. 

It's Saturday afternoon as I type this, and my husband has been gone on a boat for a week. He was supposed to be back yesterday, and then it got bumped to today. Well, now it's going to be tomorrow. It's really not the end of the world and won't even be a blimp on the radar in a few months, but it's disappointing in the moment. He is ready to come home, and I'm ready for him to be home. 

It's frustrating when you are looking forward to something and find out it isn't going to pan out. It's so easy for me to sit here and sulk, but honestly, I am sitting here and realizing all of the positives we got from this situation. Okay, there really are no positives about him being home a day later, but there are little blessings if we stop and think about it.

  • He was able to call me from the ship's phone and tell me he wouldn't be coming home. I got to hear his voice for 5 minutes, and now I don't have to worry when he doesn't come home today.  Silver lining.
  • I answered my phone when he called. He called from a random number, and I almost always screen calls from random numbers. I decided to answer this one, and I am so glad I did. Silver lining. 
  • We went in thinking there would be zero communication for the week. He was able to email from a shared email account once a day, so I always got to wake up to a note from him. This was such a welcomed surprise, and it made my day every morning. Silver lining. 
  • I'm not alone. I'm sitting here with two furballs who just want to hang out with me. They just want to love me and to be loved. They have been the best companions this week. Silver lining.
  • Parker leaving means I got to spend extra time with my girlfriends this week. My friend's husband was also on the boat with Parker, so we entertained each other and had a couple of good girls nights. Silver lining. 
  • I am disappointed because all I want to do is see and hug my husband. I love him so much that I just want him home already. I hate missing him, but I am so lucky to have him to miss. Silver lining. 

Honestly, I feel a little silly even posting this. I mean really, Parker was gone for a week. That's nothing. I have friends whose husbands are gone for the next 9 months. There is no rule on missing your husband, but let's put it into perspective. I have nothing to complain about. Someone else has it way, way worse than I do.

My point in writing this is that there are silver linings in all situations. We have two choices: we can throw ourselves a pity party, or we can find the silver linings and thank God that there are, in fact, silver linings. There are positives in every situation... we just have to be willing to see them.

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Confession: A Major Controvery In Our Marriage

Ya know, they always say marriage is about compromise. We've been doing this whole marriage thing for three years now, and I can safely say that compromise does play a huge role in marriage, especially in those beginning stages. From little changes to big changes, we had to meet in the middle on a lot of things. 

He grew up on 2% milk. I grew up on skim milk. We now buy 1%. Easy compromise. He loves to watch movies as loud as possible but starts the volume out at a normal decibel because he knows instantly loud TVs drive me nuts. I haven't ever had the chance to cook with shrimp, my favorite seafood, because I know he doesn't like it. These are all little things, but they are areas that took adapting for one or both of us. 

There is one area, however, where we have not been able to agree: peanut butter.
Yes, a huge controversy in our marriage involves deliciously tasting peanut butter. I eat a PB&J about 4 days out of the week, and crunchy peanut butter (JIF all the way), soft bread, and strawberry jelly will never stop being the trifecta. He is all about the creamy peanut butter and eats it with apples or on a sandwich. He won't touch the crunchy stuff.

This is not an area where we have compromised. I buy two jars of peanut butter- one creamy and one crunchy. The other day, Parker and I revisited the debate and I asked him to specifically identify why he liked creamy so much more. He said it obviously wasn't about taste because both peanut butters are made of the exact same ingredients in different forms, so it just comes down to consistency. Okay, my thoughts exactly! Who wouldn't want to add a little extra crunch to their lunch?! I think he's in the minority and that everyone agrees crunchy is better. He thinks I'm nuts for liking the nuttier option (pun somewhat intended).

So friends, please weigh in. We really want to know which one of us is in the majority and which one of us is in denial. So answer this: crunchy or creamy? And please do not say almond butter... it's so not the same.

PS: I realize we are certifiably insane. Welcome to our life.

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DIY: Toilet Paper Pumpkins

Yep, I have pumpkins sitting on my mantle that are made of toilet paper. It's a great little conversational starter. Seriously though, this craft took about 5 minutes to put together and cost about $5. I wanted to do something fun for Fall that wouldn't cost me an arm and a leg, and these toilet paper pumpkins were the perfect answer. You will spend more time gather materials than you will making these, and I think they turn out pretty cute! Here's what you need to make your own toilet paper pumpkins:

Toilet paper rolls
Fat quarter of fabric
Sticks for stems
Tissue Paper 

1. Lay out your fabric, and set a roll of toilet paper in the middle. Wrap 1-2 sheets of tissue paper around the sides of your toilet paper roll.
2. Tuck on corner of fabric into the center of the toilet paper roll. Continue tucking in the fabric, folding in any fabric under that won't quite meet the center of the toilet paper.
3. Fluff your pumpkin sides and work with the fabric until you have a nice round pumpkin shape.
4, Add your stick to the center, and voila! You have a toilet paper pumpkin.

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Just Go Outside

Fall is here, and it's absolutely GORGEOUS outside! The caps were obnoxious in that last sentence, but it seemed necessary because seriously, it's amazing out there. Texas doesn't really do Fall. They do a cooler summer, but being in Virginia is the first time we have really felt a Fall. We were missing out. The leaves are all turning red and orange, and there is a nice cool breeze blowing at all times. If I were a coffee drinker, I'd head to Starbucks right now and grab a Pumpkin Spice Latte because that just seems to be the thing to do.

Lately, Parker and I have been making any excuse to be outside. We head out to the backyard almost every afternoon to throw the football or frisbee. I prefer the football, but we had to temporarily switch when I jammed my finger... apparently you shouldn't try to catch a football with your finger tips. Who knew? Taking the pups on walks is awesome. I didn't know you could walk the dog and not sweat your rear end off. Fascinating.

I have been itching to go hiking, and Parker so kindly obliged this past weekend. It was my favorite moment of the weekend, and I asked if we could make it a weekly thing. There is just something about being surrounded by beautiful nature in beautiful weather with the ones you love. We left Darla at home for this one because her little legs can't do more than about 15 minutes, but Jenny had an absolute blast. This is the kind of stuff we did with her before Darla came into the picture, so I am really glad we picked it back up again. We snapped a few pictures and enjoyed hiking through the middle of nowhere. Pure bliss.


So that's it. Short and sweet today. Just do me a favor and go outside. It's too pretty not to.

Question: What's your favorite outdoor Fall activity?

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Pioneer Woman Turtle Brownies

The Pioneer Woman cookbooks are my absolute favorite. I don't use them on a daily basis because they aren't always the healthiest recipes, but man are they delicious. I made her turtle brownies a couple of weeks ago when our family came into town, and they were a huge hit. Turtle brownies are the bomb anyway, but these take it to the next level. The Pioneer Woman actually calls them "Knock You Naked Brownies"- even she said she doesn't know why. Call them what you will, they are flat out amazing. Don't let the long directions be intimidating. They really are quite simple.
18.5 oz box of German chocolate cake mix
1/2 cup + 1/3 cup evaporated milk
1 stick butter, melted
1 cup finely chopped pecans
60 caramels, unwrapped
1/3 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup powdered sugar, optional (I left this out)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9x9 baking pan.
2. In a large bowl, pour 1/3 cup of evaporated milk over cake mix. Add the melted butter and chopped pecans, and mix all ingredients together. The batter will be pretty thick.
3. Divide the dough in half down the middle and press the first half into the bottom of the pan to make the first brownie layer.
4. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until set, then remove it from the oven and set aside.
5. While the brownie layer is baking, in a double boiler or a glass bowl set over a pot of simmering water, combine the caramels and 1/2 cup evaporated milk. Stir occasionally until the caramels are totally melted and the mixture is smooth.
6. Poor the caramel mixture over the first baked layer, spreading so that it's evenly distributed. Sprinkle the chocolate chips all over the top.
7. Next, on a clean surface or a sheet of wax paper, press the remaining brownie dough into a square shape slightly smaller than the baking pan. Carefully set it on top of the chocolate chips and bake for 20-25 minutes.
8. Remove the pan from the oven and let the brownies cool to room temperature. Cover the pan and refrigerate the brownies for several hours to allow them to set. 
9. When you're ready to serve, sprinkle brownies with powdered sugar if desired and cut them into large rectangles before removing them from the pan. 


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Weekly Confessions... It's Friday, Yall

Hallelujah, it's Friday! I like to scroll through my iPhone at the end of the week and blog based on what I took pictures of. Then I realize that I only took pictures of the dogs all week, just like last week and the week before that. One of these days that will change, but really, probably not.

So, enough about that. Here's what's been going on in our world. 

I suppose it's only right if I start off with a note about the pups. I think they are starting to rub off on each other.
I had a doctor's appointment the other day, and I could have sworn the receptionist was Katy Perry. I mean seriously, look at that resemblance! I shamelessly asked how the VMAs were, and she was nice about it considering she probably gets that all the time. I'm a major creeper with this picture, but tell me that doesn't look like her!

I got nostalgic seeing this at the store the other day. Kids these days probably have no idea you used to take pictures and couldn't see them before they were developed. Who knew they still sold these antiques?!
Parker and I are loving football season. The Aggies are 3-0, so what's not to love? However, if the games could stop beginning at 9 PM, that would be dandy. I'm not in college anymore. I can't stay up that late! We bring the enthusiasm in the first half though.
Okay friends, have a fabulous weekend. And smile. It's Friday!

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The Twin Behind The Blog

My twin sister has made the occasional appearance on the blog, so I thought it might be fun to let her be this month's "person behind the blog". I had fun coming up with questions that I thought she would give snarky answers to, and she didn't disappoint. I tend to think she's pretty darn funny. So with that said, here are a few words from the twin behind the blog.

I know, we look nothing alike.

Questions and answers (my responses to her answers are in grey):

1. How do you feel about Chelsea's blog?
I definitely think she's a talented writer, and she has the ability to be both comical and inspirational in her writing.
I think she started out with a nice answer so she could ease her way in with the sarcasm. Keep reading, it comes out...

2.What would you say is your greatest achievement so far?
Potty training Sully
Dream big.

3. What's your favorite thing about Sully?
How much time do you have? He's practically perfect in every way.
Apparently Sully is Mary Puppins. 

4. What is your favorite meal?
Cookies and milk. Fat free milk because it's important to eat healthy, but full fat cookies because you only live once.
Jillian Michaels would be so proud.

5. If you could change one thing about your twin, what would it be?
I'd make her 10 pounds bigger so I could be the skinny one, and I'd concentrate it all around her middle like a giant tire.
...And then she got called a not so nice word, deservedly so. 

6. Did you ever purposely not say hi to Chelsea in the hallway in high school because she wasn't as cool as you?
If you're asking me to affirm that Chelsea was not as cool as me, then yes.
Seriously, this actually happened. She was the cooler one in high school, so she avoided me one day in the halls and pretended she didn't see me to separate her image. Um, hello, WE HAVE THE SAME FACE!  

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Family In Norfolk, Round 2!

We've lived here for two months and already gotten to host both of our families in our new home... and I love it. This weekend, Parker's parents came to stay with us and get a taste of what life is like in our neck of the woods. So basically, they experienced cooler temps, pupper obsessing, and copious amounts of food. That's our life, and I'm not mad about it.

I always say I hit the in-law jackpot, and I really feel like I did. It was just a nice weekend that brought a little taste of home. The weekend was a whirlwind, so I wanted to jot down the highlights before my scatterbrain forgets anything!

Virginia decided to bring on the Fall this weekend, so they couldn't have picked a more beautiful weekend to visit. My favorite moments of the trip were when we all woke up and walked/jogged with the pups. The weather was a crisp cool and the trees were changing colors. Beautiful. I'm all about the simple stuff.

The carrier that Parker qualified on happens to be in Norfolk right now, so Parker took the three of us to see a carrier and the plane that he flies. I'm still in awe that he landed a giant plane on a boat. I know I'm biased but this pilot stuff is just the coolest. I've gotten to tour battleships before, but this was my first time being on an actual carrier.

So that was the first day. I won't talk about how we all went home and took 2 hour naps between 6-8 PM. Hey, this was a vacation. No complaints over here. The next day, we decided to hit up the Botanical Gardens. This is the #1 thing Trip Advisor recommends to do in Norfolk and we still hadn't done it. I didn't really know how fun it was going to be to walk around a bunch of gardens, but man was it beautiful! The scenery was just so peaceful and breathtaking. Coupled with gorgeous fall weather, it was the perfect afternoon.

We took them to the beach their last day here so they could put their toes in the sand, and then we said goodbye until the holidays. I've said it 10 times so I'll stop after this, but it really was a perfect weekend.

Hindsight is 20/20, but cowboy boots and the beach is a rather stupid combination. We'll plan better next time. Happy Wednesday, friends!

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Tailgating Tuesdays: Fried Mozzarella Sticks

We are back for another round of Tailgating Tuesdays, so I thought it was finally time to share this delicious little recipe for homemade mozzarella sticks.The Pioneer Woman does it again with this recipe. Her cookbooks are my favorite, and this recipe does not disappoint. I mean it's fried cheese... what's better than that? Paired with a little marinara or ranch dressing, this is the perfect appetizer for your next football party!

Ingredients (makes 32 pieces):
16 string cheese sticks, removed from their wrappers
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
2 cups panko bread crumbs
1 Tbsp dried parsley flakes
canola oil, for frying
marinara or ranch, for dipping

1. Slice the string cheese pieces in half for a total of 32 pieces. 
2. Place the flour in a small bowl. 
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk.
4. In a third bowl, combine the bread crumbs with the parsley flakes. 
5. One by one, roll the mozzarella pieces into the flour, then dunk into the egg mixture, then roll into the panko mixture. 
6. Place the coated mozzarella pieces on a baking sheet and put into the freezer for 20-30 minutes to flash freeze.
7. To fry the mozzarella, heat 1.5 inches of canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the mozzarella pieces 6-8 at a time. Watch them closely and turn them over to brown evenly. They should cook for less than 2 minutes. Make sure the cheese doesn't start to bubble and leak!
8. Remove ready pieces to a paper towel-lined plate and serve immediately with warm marinara sauce or ranch dressing.


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Parker's Motivation Blog Post, Version 1.1

Parker decided to get his blogging on and provide a little motivation on this fine Monday. I always like when he takes over the blog for the day, and I really enjoyed reading this latest post that he cooked up. Happy Monday, friends, and take it away, husband!


Parker here! It’s Monday, and hopefully you are looking forward to the upcoming week! If not, that is perfectly okay! If you want a little motivation for the week, this quote is for you:

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”
- Lao-tzu

It is not a long quote, but a profound one! I personally “discovered” this quote during what I perceived to be a very difficult part of flight school. At the time I was learning how to fly the T-45 goshawk, and it seemed like this was a herculean task. There was so much to learn and do simultaneously that it felt like the Navy had stuck a fire hose in my mouth and let it rip. I had to learn the systems of the plane, the rules for flying in the local area, the wing SOP, the squadron SOP, NATOPS procedures, etc. I had a library of books to read and no time to read them!

Ironically enough, I saw this quote in the email signature of one of my classmates. I am not sure if he placed it there specifically for our class (we all felt equally overwhelmed) or if it had been his signature for a while. Nonetheless, this quote gave me that extra surge of motivation to help me take little steps, no matter how small, that got me through the beginning of a difficult syllabus.

My point today isn’t to talk about Naval Aviation. My point is to remind you that every step you take counts. It may seem like your goals are far off or unachievable, but the truth is: they are not! You can do ANYTHING you put your mind to by taking baby steps in the right direction. It may seem like I am blowing smoke up your ... teepee  ... but I know this is true from first hand experience! Don’t let fear or anxiety be the reason you never succeeded!



If you don’t have any cool goals in mind, here are a few fun ideas to get started:


This is “Parker’s Motivation Blog Post 1.1” because Chelsea didn’t approve of 1.0. Apparently coming on strong with motivation is just “intimidating”.

Comparison Is The Thief Of Joy

This blog post has been on my mind the past few days. Lately, I feel like the name of the game is to compare ourselves to others. I don't necessarily see a trend in comparing ourselves to the less fortunate, but more so comparing ourselves to those we deem more fortunate than us. Here's the thing:

Comparison is the thief of joy. 

Terrible example, but let's go with this: I was watching Bachelor in Paradise on Monday (judge away, friends). Three girls went on dates. All three girls thought they had a good time, until two of the girls started going into the details of what happened on their dates. The third girl then felt her date was inadequate, got sad, and broke up with the guy. She compared herself to the other girls and decided she had a bad date. I know, terrible example, but you get it, right?

I think some people look at Parker and me and think we have the perfect life. A few of our friends in college thought we had the perfect relationship and never fought. Some of our friends now think that, and I think it probably looks that way on this blog too. I'm not here to highlight the negatives, but nobody really knows the real story because a marriage is between two people, not the world. Yes, we have a pretty awesome relationship, and he is my greatest blessing in life and I am his, but that doesn't mean we don't fight. That doesn't mean we don't disagree on the stupidest things and blow it out of proportion. That doesn't mean we don't enjoy doing things on our own from time to time. I would really hate for someone to compare their relationship to ours because they have no idea how our relationship works: they aren't in it. 

We are all on different timelines in this life. Some of us get married when we are 20. Others get married when they're 35. Some never get married. The same goes with having kids. Instead of wishing we were given someone else's time table in life, we need to find the positives and blessings in the journey God has laid out for us. I know I have envied those who are able to buy a house and settle down, because that's not in the cards for us for a long time. But you know what? We get to see the world. We get to make memories in many different homes. There are positives in our journey just like their are positives for those who get to settle down sooner in life. 

So friends, stop comparing. It brings out an unhappiness that we can eliminate if only we look for the blessings. And yall, there are so so many blessings.

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Tailgating Tuesdays: Pico De Gallo Salsa

Chips and salsa are always a favorite for football parties, especially in Texas. I realize we don't actually live in Texas anymore, but we eat like we do. This recipe is a cross between pico de gallo and salsa and tastes superb on a tortilla chip. It was simple to whip up and scarfed down in minutes. I decided to serve it a little chunkier, but you could throw all of the ingredients into the food processor and puree to make a thinner salsa as well. I've done both, and both are equally good!

5-6 roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced (more if you like it spicier)
2 Tbsp garlic, minced
2 Tbsp lime juice
salt and pepper, to taste
1. Mix everything in a bowl. Seriously, that's about it. I would suggest making it the night before or early the morning of your party to let it sit. The longer it sits, the longer the flavors permeate. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve!
Serve with chips and enjoy!

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