Venturing in Vitamix

I fell for it.

A couple months ago, we got a little bit of extra money and wound up at Costco hungry. Don’t ever go to Costco hungry.  The annoying demo salesperson of the day was a rep from Vitamix.  Not one to pass up on free samples, we had some sorbet sweetened with agave. It had frozen berries and bananas, so The Beard was thoroughly satisfied. As for me? I was left a little skeptic. And if you know me, this is when the rapid fire questions begin…

“Why pay this much for a Vitamix when my Oster is doing just fine for $40?”
“What makes this better than a BlendTec or a Ninja or any other blender out there?”
“What’s the warranty include?”
“Where is it made? What parts come from China?”

I’m a huge advocate for healthy lifestyle changes. But when the lifestyle change is $500, I have to step back and consider every single detail.  Mr. Demo-man sold me because not only did he woo our taste buds, but he helped me check off everything on my list of requirements for kitchen appliances. It also helped that at least two customers, not paid by Vitamix, came up during the demo, gauged my apprehension, and told me personally that it’s the best thing they every bought. One father of four has had his for 15 years and still makes his kids spinach smoothies on a regular basis. His younger son nodded his head in delight. Oh, to be a crunchy parent with children willing to eat greens! My dream!

After reeling back from picturing my future with a simple machine, my last question was “What color do you have?” And I made the best purchase that night.

I call him Vinny, the 6300. A la your typical gym rat meathead who can pack a punch and take orders from the boss (me):

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We got him in platinum and it’s been a dream ever since. So I may have fell for the blender trend, but to be honest, I like having a machine that can make yummy soups AND ice cream that’s healthy and tasty enough for The Beard and myself.

Instead of boring you with all the healthy things pulverized veggies can do for you, I thought I’d share a yummy breakfast/post-workout recipe that tastes like a peanut butter milkshake. I’ll be sure to share recipes of other concoctions in the future as well!

Booty Werk Shake (Thanks, T-Pain)
– 1 Cup coconut milk. So Delicious is my favorite brand and Costco sells them in sets of six!
– 1 TBS peanut butter
– 1 tsp natural unsweetened cocoa powder
– 1 banana
– 1 scoop of Nutrition 53 Lean 1 protein powder. Groupon find for the win!*
– 2 handfuls of spinach
– 1 handful of ice for a cold slushy texture

*Some of you health nuts might cringe at ADDING protein powder to this mess, but a scoop of this lean stuff is just enough to give me the boost I need with doing T25 everyday. I also can’t waste a scoop by adding it to lame ol’ water!

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Warrior Wife-ing & A Weekend With Heather

Being a military spouse can be uncomfortable, for lack of a better word.  You essentially squeeze into a small room of marriage with your spouse and see it’s already occupied by a large OD green elephant that’s going to be sitting on you the entire time you’re in the room. The elephant doesn’t care about you, it cares about getting a job done. While I respect that, it’s still an adjustment.  An in-your-face, step aside Ma’am, adjustment.

You get the bright spots, like homecomings, dressing up for balls, and having friends all over the world. But you also get the not-so-bright spots that no one ever preps or tells you about like PTSD, depression, loss, abuse, etc. The façade of the un-affected, chippy military spouse quickly dissipated for me as I found realness and strength in the people who faced these challenges head on. No fixing of the makeup or adjusting of pearls. Just tears and a will to fight for what you want–a happily ever after a hard-fought war.

Being no stranger to mean girls and their mentalities (they exist even in adulthood), I sought trusted advice from Ryan’s old roommate’s wife when they were stationed with us at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The military spouse community was one I always felt relatively new to, so back when Ryan was still active duty, my wide-eyed rookie self felt like seeking out mentors. I’ve been fortunate to get along with almost all his Army buddies and their spouses, so I knew I couldn’t go wrong with this particular Mrs. She told me about Her War Her Voice, which was a Facebook group that was a healthy sounding board for military spouses going through all sorts of situations. It had advice to not only help you understand your unique marriage, but to also understand yourself.

This connected me with HWHV’s founders Melissa and Chris. And long story short, I was invited to a retreat in Montana for spouses in 2012 that changed my life. It was a refreshing experience I got a lot out of, including women who I will always consider my sisters.

One sister, in particular, was Heather. While I was looking forward to meeting her at the retreat in May 2012, Heather’s husband Joseph was KIA in Afghanistan a month before. She understandably passed on the retreat to tend to her loss at home. My heart ached for a woman I had never even met, but longed to in order to remind her that she wasn’t alone.

Fast forward almost two years later, our retreat group never lost touch with one another, especially Heather. She was there with us in Montana in spirit and we were with her in San Diego in spirit. As she travels the country, she has been getting to meet most of our group one by one. Thankfully, she made it up to Seattle for my turn to meet her. It didn’t feel like I was meeting her for the first time. The funny thing about social media is that even though technology and distance separate two people, you can still get to know everything about them prior to a face-to-face encounter. Heather was like an old friend.

We had our fair share of laughs and a few tears, but it was mainly a fulfilling weekend of life lessons from a woman who is the epitome of the warrior that is in each and every one of us. My favorite part of our weekend was getting to hear stories about Joseph and what Heather’s marriage to him and the Marine Corps meant to her then and what it means to her now as she moves on with his memory.

Out of the many amazing goals Heather has in life, one is to make sure Joseph is never forgotten. To accomplish this, she had metal bracelets made that say the following:

SSGT JOSEPH FANKHAUSER
1981-2012 — USMC –Afghanistan
So That Others May Live – EOD

Anyone can buy and wear these by going to this site: http://www.joseph-fankhauser.com/

The condition with this bracelet is to either wear it or drop it off somewhere in the world. For example, Heather traveled to Australia recently and dropped a bracelet off at the Great Barrier Reef. Friends of Heather and Joseph take photos of the bracelet at concerts, football games, and even the Boston Marathon. They share the photos with the people who miss him and pass on his memory to many more.

Heather left a piece of Joseph here with us in Washington. We dropped off a bracelet in the Puget Sound off the Kingston/Edmonds ferry on a beautiful Saturday morning.

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She said Joseph always sang “I’m on a Boat” by The Lonely Island and T-Pain and we hilariously kept singing it on our way up to the deck. What a fitting spot to leave a little memory of this funny guy. Ryan was also given a bracelet to wear and we look forward to finding a new spot in this world for Joseph’s memory to stay.

I never pictured being a widow, but it could have happened while Ryan was deployed.  Ignoring it was hard with the reality looking at me in the face every time we said “see you later.” Meeting Heather gave a face to the kind of unthinkable grief that spouses fear, yet she represents the kind of resilience that can’t be taught or trained. It’s inherent, natural and deep inside a warrior’s soul.

Loss helps put things in perspective today, at this moment, to seize what you have and create good memories. This weekend with Heather was a good memory that I will be forever thankful for and I love that she is part of our lives.

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Ryan seeing off Heather at the airport. It was so awesome to introduce the two.

Support, love, and honesty. I learned so much as an Army wife but even more now as I stay in touch with the woman who taught me that our unique marriages carry so many more lessons that any of us ever anticipated.

Fight for your marriage.
Fight for what you want.
Fight for yourself. Even with the elephant in the room.

Rest in peace, SSgt Fankhauser!

MW

Home Improvement

So they say nesting happens when you’re expecting a baby. While I’m not with-child yet, I have to say that my nesting habits have been going on for a while. We are head over heels in love with the rambler we bought over a year ago because after renting for so long, there’s something so liberating about hammering in nails into a wall without thinking “Oh no, there goes my deposit!”

The home improvements keep coming as the nesting keeps happening.

Fun fact: Reruns of one of the best 90’s sitcoms is on the Hallmark channel. Unfortunately, it airs the same time as Jeopardy. I know, the horror.

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Nothing defines childhood crush like bowlcuts and mullets. Oh, and JTT.

I’ve poured over Pinterest, thought hard staring at hardware in Costco and Home Depot and have done extensive research on Kreg Jigs. Gone are the days when my one of my only home pieces was a small empty keg with an ironing board on it. Gone are the days when Ryan’s only light in the room was a fluorescent Bud Light sign he got from Walmart…. which still serves a strong purpose in his mancave.

Here’s a list of what we’ve accomplished so far:
– New stainless steel hardware in the bathrooms
– New chandelier over the dining room table (more light!)

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– Covering blank walls. While chalkboarding is a bit of a Pinterest cliché, I gotta say I love the look it brings to the house. It’ll be useful for when we have curious-minded children.

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Amen!

– Set up an actual guestroom that doesn’t require guests to sleep on a 4 in. mattress on the floor next to boxes of Army gear. No more couch sleeping! Also helps/pressures us since we have an out-of-town guest this weekend.
– New lights in the master bath (more light again!)
– HUGE mirror in master bath that still doesn’t change the fact that I hog the counter.

Here’s a list of things we still need to do, realistically in the near future:– Remodel the kitchen. It’s a bit small, but Ryan thinks there can be something creative done with our space.
– Build one of these bad ass shelves:

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– And take a page (or 100) out of Ana White’s site and create a farmhouse table, fit for a country cottage:

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We managed to find our essentials off Craigslist and Goodwill, saving our pennies for high-dollar items like appliances and new carpeting in the slightly distant future. Our existing dining room table has potential to be a cheap and easy project that I’m eager to start on and share. But let’s be honest, Ryan and my dad might take over since I tend to be more of an “Oops! Shit. That works, I guess” artist myself.

So lots of changes. We love our home, even if we don’t know how long we’ll be staying here. It’s hard to not want to nest when you finally have a home-y space of your own, but who know what the future will hold for us as we take on new adventures and travel to different places.  No matter what, there’s no better feeling than feeling proud of your nest, sharing it with the ones you love.

MW

We Want YOU!

UnclesamwantyouMy morning always smells like fresh coffee. The boss has a high-end espresso machine we all drink from and because of this machine we all stay caffeinated and turn into coffee snobs. Sorry diner coffee, we are so done.

Like fresh coffee, I also enjoy a freshly pressed blog post. So while I was sipping on roasted Ethiopian goodness, I came across a blog that I am thoroughly enjoying so far. So much so, that I’m looking forward to going home today and talk about it with Ryan.

Carrying The Gun is a personal blog written by Don Gomez, a former Army infantryman who left his service, pursued school to study Middle East Studies and then rejoined the Army. It started out as a writing space to collect interesting things that pertained to his thesis research and now it serves as a fascinating ground for talking points, insight and literary entertainment.

Sometimes, I think our military men and women aren’t encouraged to speak their minds for fear of sounding too opinionated for someone who is essentially owned by our government. But I’d also like to think that our mindset on this is slowly changing as once-taboo topics, like PTSD for example, are gaining a louder voice. Subsequently, the louder voice is gathering a more intrigued audience.

What I really love about CTG is how he flashes back to old photos and emails written in 2004, during his first round of service in the Army. First of all, sir, kudos to you for remembering your AKO password and being able to dig through all the personnel and junk emails that pile up too high up to sort. Second, it’s amazing to read from a perspective of a young man facing war.  I’ve only been on one side of the war, as an Army wife back home. While we do have our own battles to face, we also have the outspoken support that most military men and women haven’t had until the rise of social media.

I hope you find Mr. Gomez’s blog to be as fresh as I do.

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If you have a blog on WordPress that you highly suggest, let me know! We would love to showcase more sites on The Beard & The Bride that are worthy of good conversation and/or laughs.

And for your social media savvy folks, feel free to follow me on the Twitters @msluckystrike , where I follow sports writer Art Thiel throughout football and baseball season, post photos from IG (@Melissa_will), and also wonder why Wiz Khalifa is getting so many retweets from quotes he didn’t even coin.

MW

Lazy Saturday

Our weekends are normally pretty busy, so when plans change like it did today, it’s kind of a nice alternative to just stay home and relax. When Mother Nature decided to dump rain, we felt more compelled to cozy up.  Needless to say, after a week of T25, a rest day is really nice! Here’s how you do lazy Saturdays, Will style:

Step 1: Sleep in.
Step 2: Enjoy homemade chili brought by the father-in-law. Recipe to come soon!
Step 3: Watch the Hawks win!

So that was a start. But for some reason, I can’t be home all day. Thanks to my Auntie Celi and Uncle Mon, we had a gift card to the Yacht Club Broiler that we used for a nice seafood dinner. Before retreating back to our hermit shell, Ryan had the brilliant/evil idea of creating what he likes to call a “Chabronie” …apparently it’s a play on a term The Rock coined, “jabronie”? He had a good giggle out of it.

It’s a baked layered good made up of chocolate chip cookies, Reese’s peanut butter cups and brownies. Or what I like to call, Type II Diabetes in a Dish.

While I am a firm believer in baking from scratch, Nestle and Ghiradellli make it too easy to make this happen when you’re too lazy. Heres the lovely picture montage:

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Bake for about 40 minutes at 325ºF. It’s best to eye it as youre baking different layers requiring different settings. That’s when timers and toothpicks come in handy!

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So now we continue our Dexter marathon on Netflix and enjoy what’s left of what’s been a lazy Saturday well-spent.

♡MW

An Interview with Ryan

After going to the in-laws’ house for Ryan’s dad’s birthday last night (Happy 55th, Mike), we talked about how we could get Ryan more involved with the blog in his own way. Eventually, you’ll see vlogs and vines of him talking about guns in his man cave or how to properly eat a messy burger on the go when you’re carrying a baby around your chest. Or perhaps proper beard grooming skills? “I don’t know if we’ll have enough time!

He even suggested a segment of  what really grinds his gears. Great change of pace from recipes, right? Look at us… reaching out to all different kinds of readers. The angry and the hungry 😉

So we agreed that it would be fun for me to conduct an interview with The Beard himself. But before I do, allow me to give a little background information on his man o’ mine.

As the youngest of three boys growing up in a military family, this kid grew up playing in the dirt, building forts, pretending to be GI Joe and everything lots of kids do in their formative years.

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Not much has changed!

He joined the Army right out of high school, served overseas, and did some badass things as a mechanic and gunner.

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He also married a girl with weird hair.

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Pre-beard, circa 2008

After the tough decision of stepping away from the 20-year Army track, he took the wealth of knowledge he got from 8 years active duty and stepped into the civilian world head and shoulders above most college graduates I know. There’s something to be said about a man who will put his mental health and family first before anything. For me, it’s cool to see what opportunities he has now and the wealth of open doors he will have down the line. All because he started his adulthood with service.

You’ll never meet a more loyal, honest, genuine man. You can tell he was raised with love because of the love he shares with those closest to him.  He’s not afraid to express his opinion or his weaknesses (not always a good thing!) AND he’s pretty good at reciting lines from movies such as Forrest Gump, Old School, Step Brothers and more. I’ve never met anyone who has made me laugh more than this guy. Hopefully he can make you laugh too!

He kind of reminds me of these two combined:

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The Other Guys (2010)

aaaand this guy:

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Duck Dynasty (2012)

So I present to you, an interview with Ryan:

M: You’re not a pickup line guy, but if you had to use one what would it be? You didn’t use one with me, so I’m curious.
R: I don’t need pickup lines. I definitely don’t need it now. If I did, I’d be screwed.

M: You’ve traveled all over the world as an Air Force brat and as a soldier. Where is somewhere you’d like to go that you haven’t busted yet?
R: Austria, because that’s where my ancestors are from and I would like to see Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest in the mountains if it’s still there. Or at least go where it was, where the troops were when the war ended.
Rome, because I want to see Colessium; Paris to see the Eiffel Tower; Tahiti, because I want to be in a bungalow where the floor is the ocean. And the Philippines, because your family’s from there.

M: Anywhere in the US?
R: Arlington National Cemetery.
M: No explanation needed there!

M: Tell me what you think about gun control. Whether it be a legislative action or personal practices used at home that limits or allows owners.
R: When I hear of gun control, I think of people who are limiting what you can and can’t do. Just because something illegal, doesn’t mean it’s going to stop criminals from using them. I would like it to be mandatory for anyone over 18 to have a license to carry. Towns that implement that, crime rates are lower. It’s everyone’s right to own a gun, but it’s also their right to be responsible enough to have that gun.

M: I think everyone can agree on the importance of gun safety. Who are the best teachers for that?
R: Parents and the military. There should be mandatory military service.

M: Speaking of the military, what are the most important things you learned when you were in?
R: Selfess service, dignity and respect.

M: And speaking of guns, which one is your favorite one to shoot?
R: The Browning M2 “Ma Deuce” heavy barrel. Also known as the 50 cal.
Ryan testing an M2. Be warned! It’s loud!

M: If you could be a superhero, who would you be?
R: Ironman. Because he’s F***** badass and he can fly. Ironman doesn’t have a weakness. He’s also very rich.

M: You’re having a bad day. If money wasn’t an issue, what would be your way of turning your day around?
R: We’d get a limo to an airport and go to Maui, stay in our own secluded house in Hana that is only accessible by helicopter.

M: The holidays just wrapped up and I know you spent more time in a mall this season than you normally would in a year. What grinds your gears about malls?
R: Parents who don’t control their kids, kids who don’t listen. Walking in front of Hollister and it smells like preppy kids. I hate the cell phone kiosks because they always ask what kind of phone you have. I hate being solicited. I do not like malls.

M: What grinds your gears about OUR generation?
R: Lack of respect and sense of entitlement. A lot of kids haven’t earned what they have or earned their keep.

M: What activity do you enjoy that most other people wouldn’t enjoy?
R: Yard work. Because it’s my house. I own something and I have to take care of it. It’s relaxing and it’s a cheap, free labor.

M: Celebrity crush?
R: Sofia Vergara

M: What was the worst thing about being youngest?
R: Hand me downs. Years after the style. And I had to wear Josh’s sweater-vests. They’re actually quite comfortable.*

*Karlene, help me find photos of Ryan in sweater-vests. Bonus if he has a bowl cut.

M:What was the best thing about being the youngest?
R: I pretty much got whatever I wanted, or at least had help paying for it.

M: What qualities do you look for in a friend?
R: Honesty, loyalty and stuff in common. Friendships are based on common shit.

M: Picture your life in 20 years. What’s going on in your life?
R: We have our own business living in Maui. Kids are going to school. And I have a trophy truck as my daily driver.

M: What qualities do you hope our kids have?
R: I hope our kids have all of my qualities.
M: Even the bad ones?
R: Yeah, no ones perfect. Makes your good qualities better.
M: Any qualities of mine that you hope they have?
R: I hope they’re all just like you in every way. Book smart, sense of humor… is beauty a quality?
M: I wouldn’t say so.
R: Just put it down! That’s my answer.

M: What’s the worst advice you’ve ever been given?
R: Hearing everyone in the military tell me to wait to get married. But when you know you know. And they just try to scare you.

M: Best advice?
R: Do what makes you happy.

Got questions for the elusive Ryan? Leave a question in the comments. He’s a good talker and worthy debater. It drives me nuts.

Winter blues

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Bask. Enjoy.

This was taken by my iPhone in Maui during our last trip this past December. It’s raining here in Seattle right now and although I love the PNW, there’s just something about our second home that keeps me daydreaming about sea breezes and pina coladas.

Aloha, y’all.
MW