When I lived in Charleston, we lived a good 30 minutes from any form of military community. In addition, I was a girlfriend when I was there. If you know anything about military life, yes, spouses have it hard but girlfriends have it much harder by far. They are constantly having to prove themselves to be a permanent part of military life without having any of the benefits- we have to pay to move ourselves- moving trucks, flights, etc; we can’t get onto base to access resources; we don’t have power of attorney usually or any kind of military benefits; and often our family and friends think we’re crazy for moving to be with someone without even having the all-powerful ring on our finger.

Back in Charleston I mostly hung out with just Nick

Sadly enough, the military wives, who have probably gone through exactly this entire “girlfriend experience” before are often the reason that the girlfriends aren’t taken seriously. They are then excluded from that much-needed military community that helps you deal with all the questions running through your head: “Am I crazy for moving to be with this person?” “How the heck am I supposed to feel during a deployment?” “How can I relate to people who have no idea what I’m going through?”


Moving to Hawaii and only being engaged at the time (often still not taken as seriously as a “wife”), I was fortunate to be accepted into a group of wives from the boat who didn’t look down on me for being engaged and who also didn’t look down on the girlfriends.
Ali was my only military girl friend in Charleston- Thank God for her! Miss you, Ali!
Still, military life- real military life with wives, FRG meetings (Family Readiness Group), deployments, etc- was completely new to me.


Being a non-mom (other than to my wonderful only-dog-child at the time, Maggie), I still wasn’t sure how to relate to all the wives with kids. 
When I first touched down in HI...didn't know any wives yet!
 I don’t have a problem with kids at all. Don’t get me wrong. But I’m definitely one of those awkward girls who doesn’t really know what to do or say to kids because I feel like I’m just going to sound stupid.


I always felt beyond awkward waitressing because whenever I had a table with little babies, the other waitresses were always drooling over them and asking “Oooh! How old!?” while making cooing sounds and turning to mush. I would smile awkwardly in the background and ask quietly if they were ready to order yet.


(Also, don’t think I don’t want kids someday. I definitely do. We definitely do. But we just got married, and I’ve barely spent a month with him as a married couple. Especially with military, since we lose so much of that much-needed couple time, I think it’s completely acceptable to wait a while to have kids and enjoy that time together as a couple before things completely change forever.)


When I first came to Hawaii I hit it off with one of the boat wives in particular who was also not a mom, like me. Molly and I became really close over the course of the 2 months before deployment.
Me and Molly on 4th of July
Molly was a fun-loving, surfing, high school teacher. She was a light-hearted, funny person who often took a lightly sarcastic approach to situations (such as I do). I think it helps to have that approach sometimes to situations like deployment- it can help you to stay grounded and less emotional during an experience that could just envelop you emotionally otherwise.


About a month or so before the boys left for deployment, Molly found out she was pregnant. While neither of us are really “kids” people per say, Molly knew she wanted kids and knew the timing was right to have them since she and her husband were going to be leaving Hawaii a few months later to go to California for two years. Her husband was to attend school there for the Navy, which would mean no deployments or 24 hour duty shifts for 2 years. Just nice, easy hours and perfect timing to have a child and be around to spend time with a little one.


It was really interesting for me to be friends with someone who was going through a pregnancy. I’ve never had a pregnant friend before. (I know that sounds funny…sorry!) I’ve never learned firsthand all the things one goes through while she is pregnant. I’m really happy that I got to know Molly before she was pregnant and during- it was such an educational experience!
Even our dogs were friends! My Maggie & Molly's Winston pictured.
Even though we had less in common when Molly became pregnant, she didn’t change. She still remained funny and sarcastic and most importantly, my friend. Not that I’d thought she would suddenly drop me as a friend, but part of me did really worry. Like I said, I’d never had a pregnant friend before. I know priorities and conversational topics tend to change. I didn’t know if Molly would still want to talk about going to the beach, surfing, and pain-in-the-butt students. Fortunately she did. J


Molly and her husband left the boat and Hawaii behind about two weeks ago. She was due to have her baby on Christmas day, but someone had other plans. Last week she delivered a tiny little creature. I saw the pictures on Facebook and my first thought was, “Whose baby is that?”

Molly with her new bundle of joy. :)
It was still hard to picture that little thing as the thing that Molly had been carrying all this time! It was just the oddest feeling. I knew she was pregnant the whole time she was here but to actually see the whole thing “develop” in a manner of speaking and to actually see the end result…it’s crazy.


I feel so sad in so many ways that I’m not there to actually see the little one in person. But I feel even sadder now that it’s hitting me that Molly is really gone.


See, I’m learning this is just part of military life. Meeting new awesome friends, seeing their lives change for better and for worse, growing close with someone- only to let them go as you or they move a few months later to the next location.


Thank God for social networking. It’s such a great way to keep in touch with people that sometimes it helps you stay in denial about those people really being gone from your life. Not that they’re really ever gone.


And the nice thing I hear with military life is that often you run into people at different locations and stages in their life later down the road. That gives me something to look forward to at least.


But maybe everyone is really just brought into your life for a certain period of time for a reason. I’m so thankful for having Molly as a friend here because I think she was the perfect narrator and friend to guide me through to military life- and even through knowing what it was like to be pregnant!


She helped me come out of my shell to the other ladies. She showed me it was okay to still stay me throughout becoming a military wife- I didn’t have to change who I was to make my husband look good. I could still keep a slightly sarcastic approach to military life and make jokes at it sometimes. Molly helped me grow as a person since I’ve started life here. And for that I will be eternally thankful.


But I still need to keep in mind that everyone we meet we meet for a reason. I do think I was meant to become friends with Molly. God knew that was what I needed in my life when I came here.


People like Molly have to move on though because other people need them in their lives too. Maybe someone in California is in need of a friend who understands them, and Molly will become her friend and help her along her way too.


I also hope that I can continue to grow and make friends in and out of the military community and to hopefully touch someone else’s life the way that Molly touched mine.


Whooops, things just got a little emotional.


My writing teacher in college introduced me to an amazing quote. Just like my writing teacher was there to push me to find myself through writing (and to find this amazing quote with which to relate), Molly was there to push me to be who I am at this very moment, living life right here in Hawaii.

“I am a part of all who I have met.”

-Lord Alfred Tennyson

Our lives change as we go, but I think we’re all one big mosaic of other people. Our families and friends along the way have changed us and molded us into who we are now. It’s all because of our experiences- the big ones and little ones, the good and the bad- with those people that we have the little quirks and thoughts that pop into our heads daily and even the music we listen to and the opinions we have on religion and on life. I’ve written some variation of this blog using this quote time and time again throughout the years, but it still remains timeless and ever-transforming and applicable to me.


I’m thankful to everyone who has come into my life, the good and the bad who has an impact on me and who I am today. And I’m especially thankful to Molly in this case for helping me grow as a person and as a military wife when I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I hope that someday we can meet again, maybe when I have kids of my own and she can teach me how to do that too!


But until then, thanks. :)
If you follow my Tweets, you’ll notice that I like to bake. Not just anything- but cupcakes in particular.
Cupcakes. Oh, cupcakes. Who doesn’t love cupcakes? Has anyone ever looked at a plate of cupcakes and groaned, “Oh no. Someone brought cupcakes.” I mean after eating a whole plate of cupcakes I think I could understand that comment, but otherwise I think cupcakes are one of those universally loved objects- like puppies.
Cupcakes: As lovable as puppies. (BTW, Lili is on the left!)
I never grew up baking. In fact, some of you may or may not know but I had a pretty strange childhood. I will have to blog about that at some point, but essentially I grew up in a traveling closet. It practically had an Easy Bake Oven as an entire kitchen.

I was a picky child when it came to eating and after years of trying to get me to try various foods, my mother, God bless her, simply gave up. Don’t get me wrong- she made me eat things that were good for me (which most of the time I now ironically prefer eating). But I think she figured it would be silly to teach me cooking or baking since I didn’t like to eat anything anyway.
Definitely NOT a born baker. Or blonde. Shh! At least I was knowledgable of hip sunglasses.
My first memory of baking came from my middle school home ec’ class with a six foot tall teacher with frizzy hair the color of merlot whom everyone referred to as Big Bird. It was hard to take her seriously. Especially because she also taught the eternally awkward sex education class. In fact, I can’t remember cooking or baking any one thing in particular- just general cooking. Pasta, I guess? Maybe a cake? Hmm.

But then, after moving out on my own (one of the many times) I started experimenting with cooking simple things like chicken and making box cake (Funfetti!).

I discovered eBay at age 18 which led me to the discovery of cute little homemade aprons- which truly made any form of cooking or baking automatically a masterpiece because at least I looked the part.
Love Holly's style!
I think I used to watch too much Girls Next Door circa the Holly Madison era. That girl dressed up in costume to do everything- including all those house-wifely activities like baking. I think she made it look cute.  

Enter Charleston, South Carolina a few years later.  

Charleston was like a city of dreams to me. There were so many things to try and discover. I had already begun liking different types of food before coming to Charleston, but Charleston is known for its food. And for good reason.

But one of the things I remember most about Charleston was this amazing little shop simply called Cupcake.
I love Cupcake- the food & the shop!
Cupcake is the simplest idea for a store ever. It’s not a restaurant. It’s not an elaborate, pretentious bakery. There are no orders of fries on the side. There are no fancy wedding cakes (but they do make giant cupcakes!). Nothing but wonderful, yummy cupcakes.

Cupcake has a variety of flavors of cupcakes, and they bake 9 flavors daily. The cupcakes themselves are just beautiful, with huge mounds of pretty-colored frosting smothering the tops, enough to make a poor lactose intolerant person like me suck it up and pop lactase pills like a maniac just to gobble down. Cupcake also had cute merchandise- aprons (of course), mugs (I bought one! Love it!), and adorable little tees.

One of the things I loved about Cupcake is that they had a few little tables inside so you could meet up with a girlfriend and have a cupcake. I think they even rent the shop out for Cupcake parties.

They even had little wooden Cupcake voucher coins you could purchase and give to a friend- their version of a giftcard but for exactly the cost of one cupcake each.

I loved the whole concept behind Cupcake. That darling store still appears in my dreams and makes me think about owning my own little cupcake store one day. A cute little shop where girlfriends would meet and have cupcakes and some light drinks. I just love the idea.

(If you live near or visit Charleston, SC you MUST check out one of the Cupcake shoppes! Their website is www.freshcupcakes.com. If you can't make it there- check out the Cupcake blog at http://charlestoncupcakes.blogspot.com/.)

But until we live somewhere long enough so that I can settle down and realize my latest dream of owning my own cupcake bakery, I will continue my obsession with cupcake baking and apron purchasing in my own home.
My fabulous apron & this picture are from http://www.etsy.com/shop/sassyapron
I just bought my third cupcake cookbook and my 7th apron- my first actual apron with cupcakes all over it (with matching headband). It will be dedicated solely to baking cupcakes. (From an awesome apron shop on Etsy: http://www.etsy.com/shop/sassyapron) I'm already planning my next adorable Etsy cupcake purchase. I've become obsessed with an adorable pair of hand-stamped cupcake stud earrings (from http://www.etsy.com/shop/CatherineMarissa).
Obsessed with these! From: http://www.etsy.com/shop/CatherineMarissa
I spent some time experimenting with various cupcake recipes this summer. Which was unfortunate since Nick wasn’t here, so it was just me in the house, baking for nobody in particular.

I would bake batches of 12-24 cupcakes then give away most of them to our neighbors. I thought, at least it will hopefully change their minds from calling me “the crazy neighbor who talks to her dog” to “the nice neighbor who bakes things and gives them to us.” (Ah, the joys of being a military wife when your husband is on deployment.)
White cupcakes with homemade vanilla buttercream frosting
I’ve baked peanut butter cupcakes and chocolate cupcakes, yellow cupcakes and white cupcakes. The latter had homemade vanilla buttercream icing which I received some compliments for. I made macadamia nut maple cupcakes with maple cream cheese icing. Last week for Thanksgiving I really wanted to bake pumpkin cupcakes since I wasn’t really doing any traditional Thanksgiving food otherwise. Unfortunately everyone at the store the weekend before Thanksgiving wanted to make pumpkin pie, go figure, so of course there was no pumpkin puree or pumpkin spice.

Instead I stuck with the non-traditional “Holidays in Hawaii” theme and made pineapple cupcakes with citrus buttercream frosting. Yum! 
Cup-A-Cake holders- stupid yet somewhat ingenious.
I also recently discovered Cup-A-Cake individual cupcake holders. I only recently learned that cupcakes could be frozen and eaten at a later date. If only I had known about that this summer, also known as “The Summer of Cupcakes.”

Anyway, now that I have my nifty cupcake holders, next time I bake  I plan to freeze a few cupcakes and stick them in the freezer for emergencies.

Sometimes, you have a cupcake emergency. It happens.

Basically this blog was a tiny rant on how much I love cupcakes and why you should too. (And puppies!)
Also, I wanted to tell you about this awesome new cupcake book I ordered, which isn’t so much about cupcake recipes as are my other two cupcake books, but more about fun, creative ways to decorate cupcakes. And it has fun pictures. And it’s cheap on Amazon. Check it out and look at the pretty pictures! It’s called What’s New, Cupcake?  
Highly recommend!
(By the way, if you haven't noticed by now, I am an Amazon.com addict. Just a side note, but they are one of the very few companies that actually have a free shipping deal- $25 or more of qualifying items- that is still applicable to Hawaii. Most companies, even with a "free shipping" option, often still add a surcharge to ship here. Cough-cough-Victoria's Secret-Cough. Also, Amazon tends to be cheaper than a lot of companies- I only go through them for mp3's too. In other words, I link to the items I talk about almost exclusively to Amazon because, frankly, Amazon rocks.)

And because I’ve possibly made you hungry and craving small round cakes inside pretty paper wrappers, here’s my Hawaii for the Holidays cupcake recipe from my first cupcake cookbook, Easy Cupcakes.

Tropical Pineapple Cupcakes with Citrus Cream Frosting
Makes 12
(Sarah’s note: Unless I used the wrong kind of flour, I found this barely filled 9 cups and didn’t rise much. Came out delicious but you may want to double the recipe!
The perfect Hawaiian cupcake.
2 slices of canned pineapple in natural juice
6 tbsp butter, softened
Generous 3/8 cup superfine sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Scant 5/8 cup self rising flour
1 tbsp juice from the canned pineapple

For the frosting
2 tbsp butter, softened
Generous 3/8 cup soft cream cheese
Grated rind of 1 lemon or lime (I loved the lime!)
Scant 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp lemon juice or lime juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put 12 paper cases in a muffin pan or put 12 double-layer paper cases on a baking sheet.

Finely chop the pineapple slices. Put the butter and sugar in a bowl and beat together until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the egg. Add the flour and, using a large metal spoon, fold into the mixture. Fold in the chopped pineapple and the pineapple juice. Spoon the batter into the paper cases.

Bake the cupcakes in the preheated over for 20 minutes, or until well risen and golden brown. Transfer to wire rack and let cool.

To make frosting, put the butter and cream cheese in a large bowl and, using an electric handheld mixer, beat together until smooth. Add the rind from the lemon or lime. Sift the confectioners’ sugar into the mixture, then beat together until well mixed. Gradually beat in the juice from the lemon or lime, adding enough to form a spreading consistency. (Sarah’s note: I actually found I needed to add a little more confectioners’ sugar to thicken the mix.)

When the cupcakes are cold, spread the frosting on top of each cake, or fill a pastry bag fitted with a little star tip and pipe the frosting on top. Store the cupcakes in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Thanksgiving day!
Then serve, and pretend you are in Hawaii enjoying the 80-something degree weather out on the beach with a Mai Tai in your hand. Enjoy! ;)