So without further ado, here is my top secret deployment project which I have titled,
The Adventures of Flat Nick.
On August 8, 2012, my husband Lt. Nick Miller finally returned home from a six month deployment. I was so excited to see him...and almost more excited that I could finally show him the project I've been working on since the day he left.
So without further ado, here is my top secret deployment project which I have titled,
The Adventures of Flat Nick.
Special thanks to all my friends and family who put up with the very weird looks from strangers as they helped me complete this project- and also kept it a secret. Couldn't have done it without you and my good friend, wine.
Beach Day at Lanikai
I felt it was time for a website pick-me-up. Hope you like it! I think website design & graphics can be like a new hairstyle- sometimes you need a little update to feel good. That was definitely the case here. I plan on blogging more often now that I feel like my website represents me better.
Enough about nerdiness.
This deployment is chugging along, albeit slowly. But it's still progressing. Summer just officially ended. Of course, for Hawaii I don't think that really means too much. :)
I made sangria a few weeks ago for a beach day at Lanikai with my neighbor and good friend Shannon, and made it again the following weekend for a potluck with the boat wives. I got a few compliments and requests for the recipe so here it is:
Nothing goes with a beach day quite like sangria!
Beach Bum Sangria
1 bottle red wine (or whatever is left of multiple bottles of red wine)
1/2 bottle rum (I use Puerto Rican- any kind would probably work)
4-6 oz. pear or passion fruit vodka
6-8 oz. pomegranate or pomegranate-blueberry juice
1 cup sugar or Splenda
1-2 liters of Sierra Mist or Sprite
Try to make one night before an event.
Mix together wine, rum, vodka, and juice.
Cut oranges, lemons, and limes.
Mix in sugar or Splenda.
Let sit overnight (the fruit rinds will flavor the drink more and the actual fruit will soak up the alcohol and be yummy to eat later).
When ready to serve, add Sierra Mist/Sprite to taste. One whole 2 liter bottle will cause your Beach Bum Sangria to taste like it isn't as strong as it actually is. (Note: Personally I prefer Sierra Mist because I think it's a little sweeter than Sprite and I don't always need to use as much sugar/Splenda.)
Lanikai truly is perfection.
The great thing about sangria is that you literally just throw in what you have around. Another option instead of the Sierra Mist/Sprite is flavored sparkling water, such as the yummy ones they sell at Wal-Mart - which, if you have not tried yet, you need to do so asap!
If you have white wine, use that instead of the red (you may want to reduce the rum so it doesn't look gross). If you use a more dry wine you may need to add more sugar and if you use a sweet wine you may need to use less. You don't need to use the rum or the vodka if you don't want a strong sangria. I've also heard of people using bourbon in sangria.
This recipe makes a strong sangria so feel free to adjust accordingly. Makes about 2 gallons prior to adding Sierra Mist/Sprite.
This is a great all day beach drink- though I will warn you if you do the red wine version it can cause a killer headache later- keep Tylenol on hand!
Tips & Tricks for Making Friends on the Beach:
Ask people if they have an extra plastic cup you can use.
Borrow a bottle opener.
Compliment someone on their swimsuit.
Bring a dog.
Wear a gorilla costume (I actually saw someone do this at Lanikai before. Not kidding.)
Share your sangria.
Bring a d*ck towel. (If you don't watch Always Sunny, Google it. A sure friend maker.)
Wear your bikini backwards.
Okay...kidding about that last one.
Now go forth & make sangria! Comment or send me a message if you do- I'd love to hear how you made my Beach Bum Sangria your own.
Day 101 of Deployment....
I have been absolutely awful at writing lately. I’d like to say because I’ve been spending EVERY waking minute at the beach but in actuality, I do work. Albeit a part time job, but still.
I’m three months into deployment. I spent the first month pretty involved with the other boat wives (and ate a LOT of pizza), the second month I completely withdrew and didn’t want to do anything. I feel like I’m definitely coming back up from that. There’s a chart of the emotions that statistically most women go through during a deployment.
Dole Plantation's Fields
I refused to read the article for fear the psychology major in me would try to replicate the emotions needlessly. Instead I’m doing my own thing and enjoying my own therapy: the beach. The beach has been comfort to me. Other than the beach, I have been working. Actually, my position with the non-profit I have been working as a temp with has gone so well that they are going to take me on as a permanent employee! Pretty exciting. And comes with a pretty decent raise. I really enjoy working there though I adore my boss and she is leaving so I’m not sure how that will change things. I just believe everything will work out the way it should.
My sister and niece came out to visit and stayed with me just over a week. I thought it was going to be a relaxing, laid- back trip (her words!) but we ended up getting up early every day (same time I get up for work and earlier some days- though for them it was like sleeping in with the time difference) and we did a TON of stuff.
Hanauma Bay Preservation
It was awesome though. We had such a crazy week that we (and by we I mean mostly her) took over 1100 pictures. And broke two waterproof cameras. Thank God for my iPhone because it became our only camera and actually took great pictures.
Sun setting over Waikiki
Some of the highlights of the week- Paradise Cove luau, and driving around the island from Waikiki to North Shore and back down through the middle of the island to ‘Ewa (the west side isn’t really worth going to since it’s not very pretty and has a lot of homeless camps). We of course went to Matsumoto’s World Famous Shave Ice in North Shore. We snorkeled in Hanauma Bay- one of the best snorkel sites on the island, also a preservation. We snorkeled with sea turtles on a snorkel and sail trip in Waikiki. Amazing! I almost swam into a 3 ½ foot turtle floating on the surface that I thought was an overweight man drifting. Of course that was the day my waterproof camera broke. Just before we saw the turtles. Hmph.
We did a sunset (booze) cruise with the same boat, the Outrigger, the next night. Highly recommend. It rained hard but cleared up in time for the sunset. And we got to observe some military guys hitting on some young Australian tourists. Pretty fascinating, especially after a few more drinks.
Train tour of Dole Plantation
We took a train through the Dole Pineapple Plantation. Yup, that Dole. We also did the “World’s Largest Maze” at the Dole Plantation. It’s a huge maze made up of tall bushes. You have to get all the way through but you also have to find stations that are set up throughout the maze that have stencils in them so you can stencil the design onto your score card.
Who knew this is what pineapples look like growing?
The record to get all designs and get out is 12 minutes. We were in there an hour and a half. At high noon. Whew!
Saturday we visited Pearl Harbor. I didn’t take a ton of picture there and it honestly had me pretty emotional. I hope that’s the last trip I make there though it was really beautiful.
I had an amazing time with my sister and niece. We called it Camp Aloha- girls only. Even my dog is a girl. It was a blast and it was so nice to have my family come out and support me here- plus it gave me a reason to get the house looking pretty.
Pearl Harbor Memorial
Back to the beach.
I am a worrier at heart. I take after my mom who STILL mentions every time I talk to her to “Watch your drinking! You know it’s not good for you.” Even though I constantly tell her my sorority days are over and I literally have a glass or two of red wine with dinner every other night or so. So actually, Mom- red wine IS good for you in moderation which I swear I do! Sigh.
Anyway I stress about little things. Missing Nick. Having my boss leave. Work. Etc.
USS Arizona Memorial
I’ve been trying to make beach trips during the week after work. It’s the perfect time since it’s not too hot about 3 or 3:30 and I can stay for a few hours and relax.
Today I had to go in early for a conference call so I got out at 1pm and got to the beach by 2:30. While I was there I read (Eat Pray Love- so addictive!), and napped, and relaxed. It got me thinking.
Ali'i Kai Catamaran- Ladies Dinner Cruise
What is it that I love about the beach so much? It’s not the water so much. Honestly I have a horrible fear of drowning and of not knowing what’s below me if I can’t see bottom. As clear as the water is here, the lagoon I was at today still gets really deep and I can’t see the bottom and get a teeeeeeeny bit freaked that a shark or something might come up under me (we actually saw one when we were at Pearl Harbor- cliché with it’s fin sticking up out of the water and all) but I relaxed in knowing there were snorkelers closer to the entrance of a lagoon so the shark would go after them first. Morbid I know. I probably could have said they would have seen a shark before it got to me. Ah well.
Lanikai Beach- my favorite!
I didn’t grow up at the beach. I lived in Baltimore a lot of my life and the closest beach is good ol’ Ocean City, Maryland, which is roughly a 3 hour (or less if you decide you like getting speeding tickets) drive from Baltimore.
As I lay there today thinking I finally realized when it was that I grew to love the beach so much.
When I was 21 I lived in Ocean City for the summer with an old flame (which didn’t burn very brightly). I worked a lot and worked some long hours while I was there. But every week the two of us would have a day or two off. Amidst our fighting, I would seek solace at the beach.
Beach along the Windward side
Even if it was only for a few hours I would be content to be at the beach by myself because he didn’t like to go. That was my time of peace and reflection. It was my calm in the middle of a storm of a relationship. I could just sit and meditate on the waves and soak in the glorious sun.
The summer after we finally broke up, I waitressed and had lenient hours. I drove the 3 hours to the beach almost every weekend for weeks. Literally. I racked up so many miles on my car that summer.
Waila'lae Beach where Nick & I got married
Even if it was just for the day (which it usually was) I would drive the three hours there just to spend some time relaxing, drifting off into that uber-relaxed stage where you’re not entirely sure you’re asleep but don’t remember being awake as I listened to the waves. To me it was worth it. (The tan didn’t look too bad either though I’m much more careful about my sunblock usage now.)
Uhoh. Booze cruise (sorry Mom!)
As I was at the beach today I was reminded of that. I will never be an amazing swimmer and unfortunately not a mermaid (my six year old self just cried out, “NOOOO!”) but at the beach I can just close my eyes and just be. I don’t need to try to be someone I’m not. I don’t need to impress anyone. I don’t need to talk to anyone. I can just listen to the waves and relax and just breathe and drift off…
Drive home from the beach today
On the drive home today I was in a state of bliss. I always seem to accidentally time my leaving the beach (which is only about 15-20 minutes away from my house) so that I’m driving back home at sunset. All around me are the trademark Hawaiian clouds- low and wispy in the sky. Colors of powder purple and dusty pink that make me think of the smoothest, silkiest twirl of cotton candy.
These are the moments. :)
The sun setting pinkish orange across the mountains in my side view mirrors, and oldies playing on the radio (somehow it just seems perfect to listen to them at these moments).
I’m amazingly fortunate to be living in paradise and to be so close to something that comforts me so much when I’m by myself and don’t have a best friend close enough to talk to. I just know that time will continue to go by but hopefully more quickly now that I’m already at over the 100 day mark. Hopefully before I know it Nick will be home and we’ll be able to see this island- and all the other ones close by!- really soon.
Until then, I have my beach and I have my bliss. So I’m okay.
“You were given life; It is your duty (and also your entitlement as a human being) to find something beautiful within life, no matter how slight.”
-Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray Love
Nick and I have been having a lot of fun together just watching movies and spending time together.
Today is Saturday and we're planning another Mini-Moon today...after the yardwork gets done anyway. Our one month anniversary was this past week. :)
As soon as I finish typing this I'm pouring myself a glass of champagne and getting prettied up.
We have two tickets to the Ali`i Kai Catamaran dinner cruise this evening in Waikiki. Nick gave me my birthday present early- my new waterproof digital camera. My birthday isn't for another two weeks but his camera stopped working the weekend of sub ball and mine ran out of battery. And the battery charger is missing. It was time to get a new one. I'm so excited to have my new waterproof one and hope to take even more awesome beach pics now that I don't have to worry about it getting wet or anything. In fact, I believe we're going to Lanikai beach tomorrow so I'll aim to get some great shots then.
Hope everyone has a great weekend! I know we will.
Off to sip some champagne...Cheers!