June 22, 2014

Girl's Night Out - reblog by Sarah K.

Today's post is  reblogged from Sarah's blog, Adventures of a Recent Grad (Thanks, Sarah!). In this post, she shares about a girl's night out in Bethesda. We thought you might like some ideas, too. What do you like to do with your friends in the area? Leave your ideas in the comments below!

Since rotations keep stealing our husbands away, my friend and I decided to go out on the town for some much needed girl time. We went over to Connecticut Avenue to hang out at Politics and Prose Bookstore and then we wandered next door to Comet Ping Pong for some pizza.

Politics and Prose is a sanctuary for book lovers. It has that wonderful ahhhhh.... feeling when you step through the door and is one of the must-see bookstores in America. For such a large bookstore, this place loses none of the cozy, independent book-seller vibes. The book islands throughout the store are overflowing with interesting titles that bring back elementary school memories of DEAR time (Drop Everything and Read). The store features an extensive calendar of events that are free to the public. This is one of the things I love about D.C. There is a really nice collection of free stuff to do here which makes up for some of the overpriced food. Anyway, you can come out almost every night of the year for a book signing or an author lecture, and they occasionally hold multiple events in a day. Politics and Prose also hosts a series of book clubs in their store; you can purchase your book for 20% off and then come for a free book discussion with one of 20 different groups. The highlight of my trip was meeting the Espresso Book Machine. It prints books from start to finish right before your very eyes in ten minutes or less. How cool is that? I recommend printing yourself a book when you come to visit, and don't forget to check out the sale selections on the lower level!


Back when E and I visited R & R Taqueria, I set a goal to visit local gems featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives to satisfy my inner foodie and explore the different hometowns we'll have through a career in the military. Comet Ping Pong has been next on the list for a while, so you can imagine how excited I was when I realized it was right next to the bookstore we were visiting! The photo above features the front dining area. Yes, it does look that dingy inside, but it sets the perfect tone for the laid-back pizza joint. If you walk all the way to the back, you will find the namesake ping pong tables. We were there late-ish on a Sunday night, so it was not too crowded and we had no trouble securing a table for pizza or ping pong. The main attractions on the menu are pizza and beer. Our waitress told us the bread sticks weren't that great when we were looking at appetizers, but the pizza came highly recommended. Prices are $14 for a specialty personal-sized pizza and they start at $8 for your basic cheese pizza with additional toppings costing $1-$4. I was a little sad at first that I would not be getting a giant pizza, but the quality more that made up for any qualms about quantity. Each pizza featured generous amounts of toppings and the crust was just right. Get the melted onions on your pizza! They are awesome. I would definitely like to go back for a longer visit and more pizza to do this menu justice.

June 16, 2014

Summer Reading Programs - by Emily R.

Montgomery County Libraries
Summer is here! 
As a kid, I was a big nerd (ok, so I still am) and I always looked forward to the library's summer reading program.  This area has very well funded libraries, and the summer programs and events can be amazing.  Last year I took my kids to see a dog trick show, meet farm animals, see acting groups and more.  It is easy to sign up for the library's reading program, either online or at the library and it looks like this year's prize is a lunch bag.  But, this is probably the least exciting summer reading opportunity.
B&O Railroad Museum
Last year, my son and I discovered two amazing programs.   The first is through the B&O railroad museum in Baltimore. You can print out a reading journal from their website http://www.borail.org/Summer-reading.aspx and then read 10 books about trains before your visit to the museum.  The reading journal has suggestions, but you are free to pick your own titles.  The prize is picking out a book, under a certain dollar amount, from the gift shop.  What's even better?  During the summer, if you show your military ID you get in free as part of the Blue Star Museums program.  This was perfect for my son, a train enthusiast, even at age 3.
Montgomery County Agricultural Fair
he other amazing program we stumbled upon was through the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair.  Most,
if not all, of the libraries will have a special event in July where you can come and meet the 4H fair royalty and a farm animal.  You may need to get tickets in advance, depending on your library, but this is worth it.  The event was great with learning segments, crafts, petting a goat, and my son received a great goody bag with all sorts of animal themed art supplies.  Also in his goody bag: a card for the fair's summer reading program.  After reading 5 books about farm animals, we visited the children's area at the fair and my son received coupons for a free soda (we opted for lemonade), a free ice cream cone and a free fair ride.  It was the perfect way to make a day at the fair extra fun, without the extra cost.  Kids as young as 2 are allowed to participate, and if you can't make it to a library event, you can stop by the fair office to pick up a card to track your reading on.
Has anyone else found a summer reading program they just love?

June 9, 2014

Meet the Members Mondays: Robyn R

Howdy folks!
I’m Robyn Rowley. My husband Dallin is in the Army and is about done with his first year. We are thriving out here on the east coast and can’t believe we were missing out all these years while living in California and Utah.

We love food, and our grocery budget is probably much higher than it should be. We sacrifice luxuries like cable and keeping the thermostat at 72 degrees so that we can afford to buy ridiculously expensive but ridiculously delicious delicacies, like pine nuts. We are mostly whole food, plant-based, which means that we stuff veggies in the meat and cheese drawer to fit all the produce in our fridge. Our seven month old baby girl likes to eat fresh garlic and caramelized onions, so we’re pretty sure she’s ours.

We love to bike. Last summer I seriously considered getting rid of our car and biking everywhere. Somehow we winded up buying a brand new car in April, so that didn’t pan out, but I still love to bike every day and it is my dream to someday be a car-less family.

I’m aware that at this point I probably sound like a hippie. Rest assured that I’m not.

My dad is a percussion professor, and we had a family steel band growing up. Remember the street musician who starts off “How Does She Know” in the movie Enchanted? That’s what I play. It’s the highest paying job I have ever had, which means I made more money when I was 9 than I do now that I am 27. NBD.

My current job is pretty sweet though. I am raising another human being, and when she’s sleeping, I work for a healthcare IT research firm. I can work as much or as little as I want, whenever I want, and it pays well. I learn a lot and absolutely love it. The raising another human being part of my work doesn’t pay in dollars, but I’m pretty content to be adored by her (I know that won’t last into the teenage years…).

We love being at USUHS. There is a very welcoming, community feel, and I think much of the credit goes to the SSC. So far we are liking the military experience and are excited for the crazy years ahead.

June 2, 2014

Meet the Members Mondays: Christina M

Hi!  My name is Christina MacGregor and my husband, Rob is an Air Force MS-4.  We are proud parents to Katie (6), Sarah (4), Audrey (3) and Robbie (10 months).  I was born an Indiana Hoosier, but transplanted to South Carolina at age 12.  My parents still live there, so it has been nice having them a bit accessible. 
I graduated from the United States Air Force Academy in 1999, and I met Rob while I was “awaiting pilot training” at Moody AFB, GA.  He was an A-10 pilot there.  4 months later, we were dating.  Over the next 5.5 years we dated long distance as I moved away to ultimately became an F-16 pilot and he moved away to do an overseas tour with the Army and then back to the A-10.  It was New Years’ Eve Day of 2005, 4 days before I was deploying to Iraq when he asked me to marry him. 

We spent the next 6 years hanging out in NC and Germany, and then separating from active duty at the same time (dual income Majors to dual unemployed is a bit shocking to say the least).  I was blessed to find and begin my lia sophia business and used it to supplement our income while working as a hotel sales manager and doing my AF Reserve duty while Rob attended school for his prerequisites. 
USUHS is exactly what we prayed for as this opportunity allows Rob to retire with 30 years of service by the time the commitment is over!  What a shock it was to me, though…moving to Bethesda with a 3 year old, 20 month old and 7 week old was hard enough.  Add to that becoming a stay-at-home-mom for the first time ever….and a “dependent” spouse.  From then until now, I have finally figured out that I am happiest when I can work a little…so I am doing more AF Reserve duties and running my lia sophia business with the help of a nanny.  I love the flexibility both of those jobs provide! 

So, it was never an option for me to not be involved in the SSC.  I searched it out before PCSing as I will with every base we move to in the future.  In my humble opinion, there is never a reason to NOT get connected.  You never know when you are going to need something OR even better, when someone else is going to need something that you can provide.  “It takes a village” to raise children…most civilians have their families nearby.  We have each other.

May 21, 2014

Book Club: Sarah K

Do you love to read and explore new books? Are you interested in meeting more great members of the USU Student Spouses’ Club? Book Club might be just the activity for you!
Here are two important things to know about book club:
1.  We are laid-back and welcome all members. Of course we encourage each other to read more, but if you don’t finish reading a book on time, that is no reason to miss a meeting. Share what you have read or feel free to jump in on a topic that comes up in discussion. We understand that life gets hectic, and this club provides a way to relax and catch up with friends while expanding your reading list.

2.  This book club is set up a little differently. Instead of having all members read the same book for the next meeting, we agree upon one topic instead. Everyone is free to choose a book that falls within the selected topic. This gives you a chance to be creative and read books you are interested in. At the same time, the club still has a common theme for discussion. Our meetings tend to be a blend of sharing about the book you read while answering questions from other members. Plus, you can come away with a nice list of book suggestions.
Here are some of the themes/genres we have had over the past months:
*books made into movies
*holiday book swap
*travel writing
*animals as main characters
*your spouse’s favorite

We hope to explore many more exciting topics in our upcoming meetings! Here are some ideas of what might be next: children’s literature, military/medical, plays, set in your hometown/state, chick lit, books by a single author (e.g. Austen or Gaiman), horror, short stories, award winners, mystery, novels from a certain country or time period (e.g. France or 1850-1899), inspirational, books you should have read in high school, biographies, etc.
We are open to suggestions and would love to see you at the next meeting! Our summer topic will most likely be your own summer reading list until school and normal schedules pick back up in August. If you would like to host a book club meeting, please let me know. I always enjoy the clean house and leftover snacks that come with hosting. ;) Regular meetings take place on the 2nd or 3rd Thursday of the month (we try to work around holidays and vacation days) at 6:30, and discussion starts around 7:00. Book fairs, author discussions, trips to used book stores, etc. are extra activities the club might pursue outside of regular meetings. If you have ideas for a fun group outing, we would love to hear them. Hope to see you at a meeting real soon!

-Sarah Kelly

Sarah is an SSC member and involved in book club. She also has her own personal blog at http://recentgradventures.blogspot.com/, where she posts about travel, recipes, crafts, and more.

May 19, 2014

Meet the Members Mondays: Maj H

I'm Maj and I'm the new membership committee chair. My husband Mitch is a 4th year Army student. I love the color grey, cupcakes, and nail polish. Oh and I always have candy in my purse. You know, in case of emergencies. Home is Huntington Beach. I am a true California girl at heart, born and raised in the happy sunshine of Orange County. I grew up at the beach and I always yearn for my favorite In-n-Out cheeseburger.  My husband and I grew up within 2 miles of one another, but didn't have that fateful meeting until we were both students at the University of California, San Diego.  We tied the knot in May 2011 and moved to attend USUHS soon after.

The past 3 years out here have truly been amazing and filled with plenty of learning experiences and life lessons. So far, we have endured the curriculum change, 7 away rotations and a pregnancy. December 29, 2014 we joined the kids table and welcomed our little girl Talia into the world.  In my free time I enjoy spending hours on pinterest. I love Pinning and browsing through things I know I will never make or do. When I'm not pinning or maintaining all of my wifely and mommy duties, I'm at work. I work part-time at the Graduate Education office at USUHS.

 I really enjoy meeting new people and have met my most dearest friends thanks to the USU Student Spouse Club.  I am excited to be the membership chair and look forward to welcoming the class of 2018 into the club!

May 15, 2014

Thai Red Curry Fried Rice by Nana

Today we are excited to have another wonderful recipe from Nana: Thai Red Curry Fried Rice
I love to make fried rice and fried noodle because they are so easy to pack for school and work.

If I were in China my friends would say not to eat too much fried rice, because it’s too much heat. So let me tell you why typical Chinese people drink so much green tea WITH THEIR MEALS. Yes, and it could be almost every meal. In China, we believe food can bring the balance to your body, between heat and cool. So all kinds of food ingredients, vegetable, fruit, herb medicine and even the ways of cooking have been divided into 3 kinds of categories: HEAT food, COOL food, and neither heat nor cool food. For example, watermelon and most vegetable are considered of COOL, rice (neither cool nor heat). Of cause, chili pepper is heat food, but beef and lamb are both considered as HEAT food. That’s why so much Chinese friend meat dishes also have vegetables inside, which aims to get the balance of food. Either deep fried or pan fried with oil have been considered as HEAT, so you can tell that most of fired dishes bring too much heat. Green tea has name for being healthy and also COOL, so drinking tea during or after the meal is the typical Chinese way.

 Let’s come back to the fried rice. I got the Thai red curry paste from Whole Food., You can also use green curry paste or yellow curry paste to replace the red curry here. I made the green curry fried rice before the red curry one. It’s too bland though, so I go with red curry now.

 The ingredients (serves 4): 3 cup of cooked rice, 1 vegetable pepper (I used half red and half yellow in the following picture), 6 white mushrooms, about 8 baby carrots, 10 shrimp1, 2 eggs, beans (as much as you like), 3 tablespoon of coconut milk (optional), 2 tablespoon vegetable oil (use coconut oil if you have it. It is the best for fried rice ;-)) and 1 teaspoon of salt (the curry paste already have salt, so you have to tastes it if it’s salty enough before you add the additional salt)

Step 1. Dice the vegetables you want to add in your fried rice, like following picture.

Step 2. Fry rice with beaten egg. TIPs: I know a lot of people have been told that if you want to fry rice, the rice has to be cooked COLD rice. Actually that is not very true. We usually use cooked cold rice, because it is relatively dry and hard, so it won’t be clumpy when you stair fry with other either vegetable or meat. So that means you can still use WARM cooked rice but it has to be dry. I will show you how to make it.
I added 1-tablespoon vegetable oil, and add rice with over medium heat. I beat two eggs, and pour the egg to the rice, and gently stair, until well mixed (the left picture above). When the cooked egg covers each grain of rice, it will become dry, you could tell when there’s less reflection from the rice when you stair (the right picture above). Put the rice in a big bowl when it cook, and then you can start step 3.

 Step 3. Cook red curry paste with the vegetables. Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium heat, and then put a whole package of red curry paste. Next add 3 tablespoons of coconut milk, and then quickly add chopped baby carrots and shrimp. Stir for 5 minutes and move to Step 4. 

Step 4. Add the remaining vegetables, and stir fry for another 5 minutes. When I mention stir fry, you can just stir it and leave for 5 minutes ;-). Please taste it before you move to Step 5. You want it a bit more salty than your regular food, because you’re going to add rice later ;-).

Step 5. Add the rice to the cooked red curry and vegetables. Gently stir in rice with it until well mixed.

Step 6. Serve your delicious fried rice.
I know the shrimp with tail does not look appetizing. It’s just that my hubby is a vegetarian and sometimes I sneakily add the whole shrimp so I can easily pick up the whole thing ;-).

 The rice is so delicious, because I cooked it with egg in the beginning (Step 2), which helps it gain all the flavors from red curry and other vegetables. I hope you will like the recipe. If you want to know how to cook the best white rice, please leave the comments to me. I’ve been cooking all different kinds of white rice, on open fire, gas, electronic stove etc., since I was five (not joking ;-P), so I guess I will be able to answer them.